[Show Review] Ryan Cabrera, Jason Castro, Deleasa – The Space
While I may not have been excited about driving to a closet-sized venue in a bizarre industrial-looking space in central Connecticut, I did put on my EAH pants and made my way to Hamden, CT for the latest date of the Ryan Cabrera / Jason Castro / Deleasa tour.
After two local opening acts performed, Deleasa (project of singer-songwriter Mike Deleasa) took the stage. At first I was a little apprehensive about this performance. I have seen Deleasa before (actually the last time Ryan Cabrera came through the East Coast about 9 months ago) and found his act to be a little annoying, and more than a little pretentious – whatever it was he was doing, it just wasn’t working for me that night. This time however, I found Deleasa to be delightfully poppy. And pretentious. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the drum box accompaniment, maybe it was the crowd of followers I saw milling about after his VIP pre-show gathering, but Mike Deleasa the artist and Deleasa the band made a lasting impression on me as he continues to gain popularity and recognition.
Next up was the dreadlocked Texan Jason Castro. Not having seen Castro before I was very interested to see what he had to offer, and from the moment he stepped on the stage, he didn’t disappoint. My first impression was that there is no way possible for him to be in a bad mood. His genuine smile, personality, and obvious love of music would certainly win over anyone in the crowd (especially the fan-girl mom who was more than a little star struck when he passed her by the front door before the show). His musical style immediately reminded me of Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song” mixed with a younger and poppier Jack Johnson. What makes Castro unique is his talent as a storyteller, more along the vein of fellow Dallas native Bryce Avary (of The Rocket Summer). He closed the set with a goose bump rendering edition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. The jaded part of me quickly started to calculate the percentage of the audience who would have no concept of the original song. Fortunately that didn’t last long, as Castro’s performance quickly became the focal point in the room, and a terrific way to end his portion of the evening.
Finally, Ryan Cabrera took the stage, along with rhythm section/tour manager Adam Blain. This evening’s performance was not quite as polished as the one I saw back in October. One of the biggest issues that I noticed was in the vocal performance. Interestingly, when Adam was setting up the equipment and instruments on stage, he made a note of telling the sound engineer that none of his vocals should come through Ryan’s monitors. Unfortunately, this was entirely the problem during the set. Had Ryan been able to more accurately hear Adam’s background vocals, he (Ryan) could have adjusted his own performance to make up for the miscues in timing and other issues that arose. Problems aside, Cabrera’s talent alone is still enough to make for a good show. This was never more evident than when he started playing through one is earlier hits “Exit to Exit”, only to break for about a 3 minute guitar solo complete with a riff from Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”. Oh, and then he jumped right back in to “Exit to Exit” without missing a beat. Cabrera’s chops as a performer are second to none, hopefully next time it will just be a little more fine-tuned.