Bostonians flooded Tremont Street on Friday, making their way into various theaters hosting comedy acts, DJs, solo artists, and bands. Among Friday night’s crowd, groups of teens and young adults sporting cropped tank tops and funky button-ups entered the historic Royale venue.
As they made their way up the building’s marble stairs—passing extravagant chandeliers, gold-plated mirrors, and stone statues—they entered the soon-to-be packed venue. The crowd waited in anticipation for the night’s main act, Joshua Karpeh, known on the stage as Cautious Clay.
As a part of his Karma & Friends world tour, Karpeh stopped in Boston on the second-to-last U.S. stop on his tour for his 2021 album Deadpan Love. Karpeh showed off his wide range of musical talents, picking up everything from the guitar to the flute during the show. The expressive musician left everything on stage in one of his final shows on the tour.
Julius Rodriguez, also known as Orange Julius, opened for Cautious Clay, playing a selection of his instrumental jazz music that incorporated pop and R&B elements.
“Hey Boston, mind if we get funky for y’all real quick?” Rodriguez said to the crowd.
The experimental nature and groove of Rodriguez’s set foreshadowed the performance to come from Cautious Clay. Fans dressed like the mannequins on display at an Urban Outfitters store mingled between the opener and the start of Karpeh’s performance, talking about what school they go to and bonding over similar music tastes. Some fans flocked upstairs to the balcony that overlooks the stage, while others grabbed drinks from the bar.
As the lights dimmed, the augmented bass shook the venue, and a spinning triangular prism mirror reflected light beams in all directions. Karpeh then emerged with his band, singing his song “Agreeable.” He performed a flute solo for this first song, wowing the audience with his combined vocal and instrumental skills. On the second song, “Joshua Tree,” he played the saxophone and pulled off some impressive vocal runs.
Later on, Karpeh spoke to the audience about the inspiration behind some of his more somber songs, including “Box of Bones,” which he connected to the pains of being an introvert.
“The next song is a song off the album about sort of being in your head, being a little bit of an introvert,” Karpeh said. “I’m very much an introvert at heart.”
Next, Karpeh spoke about his journey to becoming an artist and a songwriter.
“I’m gonna take it back to where it all started for me,” Karpeh said. “As many of you probably know, I used to be in real estate.”
The song “Blood Type” detailed the burnout that Karpeh experienced as a real estate agent in New York City. Karpeh and his band jumped around in an aggravated fit of passion during the performance, representing the emotional turmoil that the lyrics detailed.
At the end of the song, Karpeh sang while spinning around on the stage floor, which left many of the fans muttering “Where’d he go?” or “I can’t see!” As the microphone fell to the floor with Karpeh, his vocal quality took a dip, and apart from the fans standing at the barricade or watching from the balcony, most people could not see the end of Karpeh’s rage.
The performance recovered quickly from this moment of confusion when Karpeh asked the audience if he could “try something out” and proceeded to beatbox using his flute. This was the first tour audience that Karpeh tried this trick out in front of, he said, giving the concert an intimate atmosphere with an exclusive view of his musical mastery.
Throughout the concert, he fist bumped audience members and grabbed their phones to take videos for them from the stage.
Although Karpeh could form a one-man band with all of the instruments he played during the show, a band of four accompanied him and jumped around the stage with him throughout the performance. The band simmered down for one of his acoustic songs, “Wildfire,” which proved to be a fan favorite as fans immediately cheered once they heard the track’s opening guitar notes.
As Karpeh waved goodbye to the audience, fans knew an encore was coming, as he left without yet playing his popular song, “Cold War.” He started the encore with “SWIM HOME,” which he performed with just one guitarist before the whole band came out for “Cold War” and “REASONS.”
Through the final moments of the show, when Karpeh pulled out his trombone for the last time and the drummer threw his sticks into the crowd, the performers created an intimate and experimental vibe. Fans were smiling as they exited the venue, discussing the pleasant surprise that was Karpeh’s large breadth of musical skills.
Featured Graphic by Annie Corrigan / Heights Editor
Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff