Review – Cautious Clay Brought A Bag Full of Instruments and Fun to The Bluebird Theater

This past weekend, Cautious Clay blessed the Bluebird Theater with a sold-out two-night run filled with jazzy saxophone solos and a mixed bag of musical genres ranging from early 2000s emo-punk to soulful indie-pop R&B. An undeniably talented musician, Cautious Clay and his touring band embraced the live setting, giving themselves plenty of room for guitar solos, woodwind instruments and impressive stage design that worked together to deliver a surprisingly fun experience.

Cautious Clay makes the kind of music that plays just as good (if not better) in a live setting. That being said, it would be easy to let his angelic vocal talents and laidback vibe carry the majority of his performance. The crowd probably would have been happy to hear their favorite songs played back exactly as they were recorded. Thankfully, throughout the first night, Cautious Clay continuously explored different elements of musicality, feeling out the crowd and leaning into the shifting paradigm of each track the band performed.

Cautious Clay

As lights reflected off three vertical mirrors rotating slowly in between the band members, Cautious Clay started out with a bang, immediately injecting vibrant energy into every note. After the flute made a welcome appearance towards the end of the first song, Cautious Clay’s “Joshua Tree” rang out while the crowd exploded with excitement and swaying bodies. Each aspect of “Joshua Tree” fit perfectly into the overall performance that shined bright with a jazzy saxophone solo and impressive vocal performance.

Although Cautious Clay danced around the stage during the majority of the high-energy performance, the band carefully took a step back to provide some breathing room for a stripped-back acoustic performance of “Artificial Irrelevance,” which gave Joshua Karpeh, the creative mind behind Cautious Clay, time alone in the spotlight to perform introspective lyrics about a struggling relationship torn between autonomous desires and romantic comfortability.

The slower pace didn’t last long, and the band moved into the final leg of their first night with playful enthusiasm that made tracks like “Dying in the Subtlety” and “Rapture in Blue” shine bright. Of course, Cautious Clay couldn’t leave the stage without performing their biggest hit “Cold War,” which served as a perfect encore to close out the first night of their eclectic live performance.

The second night, opener Julius Rodriguez’s groovy jazz ensemble serenaded the eager and excited crowd. As Cautious Clay effortlessly took to the stage, he opened up to fans about being an introvert, sharing that music is the vehicle through which he speaks to others. “That’s what brought us all here together,” he said. His authenticity and casual coolness spoke to the crowd that cheered him on with each syllable.

The synergy between Cautious Clay and his band was apparent — as the night went on the smiles widened across each member’s face, enticing the crowd to follow suit. It brought a youthful and passionate energy to the art of performing. When Cautious Clay held his guitar upside down (he was never taught how to play as a leftie) for “Wildfire,” everyone in the intimate venue could breathe in the soul. The song is the top track from his album, “Deadpan Love,” released last year, and explores the fact that people’s intentions sometimes get lost in translation.

As he rotated between an impressive line of instruments (even beatboxing with a flute at one point) and graced the stage left and right, Cautious Clay added extra zest to his final performance in the Mile High City, paying special attention to the front row’s reaching hands. His pure talent left its mark on attendees as many were already reliving the performance on the walk out of the Bluebird.

All Photography by Brandon Johnson