For the first time since I’ve been going to Cafe du Nord, it was silent during the sets. Since it was Monday, there wasn’t a rowdy bar crowd and both Chloe Makes Music and Sam Amidon fully owned the quiet.
Singer/songwriter Chloe set the tone for the evening with her spare and traveling songs, pairing the naive quality of her voice with minor chords and dark narratives. She played tunes from her upcoming release The Puppeteer which showcases her talent for wordplay and storytelling. Cellist Jen Grady (Adam Stephens, Emily Jane White) joined her, giving warm weight to Chloe’s agile and buoyant melodies. The album, produced by Christopher Chu (The Morning Benders), is coming out this fall.
Amidon stood alone on du Nord’s stage with guitar and banjo. Filling the room with droning, lonesome songs so old no one remembers who wrote them, he held the audience’s attention wholly. His stage demeanor was eccentrically charming, telling a deadpan story of a college he played where his contract explicitly stated he would lose funding if he swore during his performance. During the solemn murder ballad, “Wild Bill Jones,” he let out a keening, long winded death moan that had the audience laughing even as he stayed true to the song’s melancholy. He closed out with a cover of “Relief” by R. Kelly and had everyone singing along. His treatment of it illuminated what he has mastered, earnestly laying bare the bones of a song.