Sara Bareilles at House of Blues, 6/29/2013
When I first arrived at House of Blues for Sara Bareilles, I wasn't sure how to process the fact that the show was sold out.
For one, it was the same night as Houston Pride, and by the looks of it, half of the city was down in Montrose to watch the parade. But it's also for the fact that, though House of Blues isn't the largest venue in Houston, it's certainly large enough to garner the respect it deserves.
It's certainly seen its fair share of talent over the years, including acts like Ke$ha, Ben Kweller and this week will host a reunion show for The Geto Boys. It's got "big-name act" written all over it, yet there's something very humbling about it.
In many ways, it was the perfect place for Sara Bareilles to visit Houston in a one-off show for Mix 96.5's Hullabaloo event.
The event, which brought in an excited crowd, also hosted two openers: Churchill, who will be joining Bareilles on her upcoming tour with One Republic, as well as Youngblood Hawke. While both bands featured rock-infused pop and helped get the crowd dancing, it was clear that everyone was waiting for Bareilles to take the stage.
At around 10 p.m., she did just that, and standing at the keys of her grand piano, jumped straight into "Uncharted" and "Gonna Get Over You" -- both of which come from her 2010 sophomore album, Kaleidoscope Heart.
The crowd, which seemed as excited to be there as Bareilles was, sang along with every word.
"Can you guys come hang out at my house? You guys are fucking awesome," gushed the singer. "Well, maybe we should hang out somewhere more neutral."
After she sang her breakthrough hit, "Love Song," Bareilles explained that her bass player, Adam, was a native Houstonian. As luck would have it, it was also the evening before his mother's birthday, and Bareilles requested that the entire audience sing to her.
Needless to say, Texans are pretty damn good at singing the Happy Birthday song.
Bareilles also took that moment to do something that not many musicians of her caliber do -- introduce her band and thank her crew.
Because I'd offered my companion ticket to my sister, who is a big Sara Bareilles fan, she was able to explain that this was an all-new band for Bareilles, and it was the first time that she had performed with a female on backing vocals. My sister also mentioned it was the first time she had seen Bareilles without guitarist Javier Dunn, who recently released his new solo record, Trails. (He's about to hit it big. Mark my words.)
Shortly after, the band left Bareilles along on the stage with her piano for a few songs, and she gracefully belted out a slowed-down version of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay."
By the time the band returned, Bareilles was standing at the front of the stage for the first time all night, strapping an acoustic guitar to her chest.
"This is a song that I wrote a long time ago for a friend when I thought I was losing him," Bareilles explained. "Thankfully we worked through things and he came back into my life, but I almost feel it happening again, so I'd just like to play this."
It was then that she jumped straight into a revamped version of "Basketcase," which featured a steel guitar. But one of the shining moments of the night came when Bareilles began to play her song "Let the Rain," and instead began singing the words to Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me."
As it turns out, the two songs have the same chord progression, and I'm certain I'll never be able to hear that song the same again.