Michael Grubbs, a.k.a. Wakey!Wakey!, is the kind of performer who makes you realize how incredibly vulnerable a person has to make themselves to be a good singer/ songwriter.
At Rockwood Music Hall Tuesday night, after each of his beautifully crafted and exquisitely arranged songs came to a close, (“little presents,” as he referred to them early on in the show) Grubbs launched breathlessly into a torrent of off-the-top-of-his-head banter, as if to distract us from the fact that he’d just laid bare his soul — and his flayed, beating heart, too. Which is not to say the he isn’t comfortable onstage; he is a consummate showman.
Grubbs has the kind of voice that is literally powered by emotion. It is bell clear and it rises very quickly to a soar. You get the feeling that if he weren’t also channeling some of that emotional power into another instrument, usually keyboards, it might be more than he could control. The keys, and his bandmates, often seem to enable him to come in for a smooth landing.
Grubbs, who is based in Brooklyn, gave the impression that Wakey!Wakey! takes on different incarnations, but on this particular evening he was masterfully supported by Caitlin Moe on violin, Billy Livie on guitar and ukulele, and “Tiger”on cello; they added nuance and subtlety to Grubbs’ compositions. The combined sound of the four of playing together was nothing short of divine.
And is there any better small venue to hear live music than Rockwood Music Hall? The bar is clean and cozy, the staff is professional, and best of all the sound and acoustics are ACES! It’s the kind of place that makes you glad you are in New York City. This was week two of a four week residency for Wakey! Wakey! at the venue, so you can still catch them through the 28th. Check them out!
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