Caroline Rose Played Wonder Bar with ZeniZen, 7/26/19
Words and pics by Rose Lamela
It was February of 2018 and my new love for Instagram paid off. It introduced me to a new artist that released an album that caught my eye originally because of its humorous cover. It was Loner from Caroline Rose. I listened to it twice in its entirety. I instantly connected with Caroline Rose's music. Loner is an upbeat album with pop influences unlike some of Caroline's prior work which is more country. The unique thing about this album is, even though it’s something you can dance to, the lyrics to a lot of the songs are dark and sad. Her music made multiple playlists I created for friends in the past two years, and I always bring her up to anyone looking for new music.
Asbury Park finally became a stop on her tour this year. This was the show that I would not miss as I needed to hear Loner live. It was my soundtrack last summer; and, since this summer is so reminiscent of last summer, a live show became very fitting. It made everything jibe together so I could make sense of some of the things around me. I needed this.
Asbury is an hour's drive for me. It's a good drive usually filled with some summer shore traffic, but it's a good time to catch up on thoughts. I have been taking this drive since I was 17; and, every time I do, it seems to coincide with my need to think things through and rock out to music. I love Asbury Park despite how fast it is changing. I keep bringing that up, but I do have a very complicated relationship with this music city.
I was feeling a little lost when I got to Wonder Bar Friday night as we did not acquire a photo pass for the evening. I wear my cameras as my uniform, and it's my defense for being at shows alone. It makes me feel less of a Loner. I stood there awkwardly, and I tested out the camera on my iPhone I rarely use. I have become accustomed to listening to music with my finger on a shutter, but Friday night was different.
ZeniZen opened for Caroline Rose, and I was excited to see someone playing a keytar. I enjoyed their R&B/Jazz sound. What seemed to be a very empty place began to fill up as soon as they hit the stage. They played a few songs from their latest release, Australia. I especially enjoyed the song "Follow the Leader." The drummer of the ensemble (sorry I forgot your name) was celebrating a birthday. Caroline Rose came out with a bunch of lit up cupcakes, and we sang happy birthday at the end of their set.
Caroline is an amazing performer and extremely funny which is no surprise if you have seen any of her music videos. She was dressed in her red workout gear resembling the album's cover. Her banter and connection with the audience makes for an incredibly intimate experience. Her bandmates kept her vibe going as they all danced and played their instruments with all the passion with which these songs were written. They started to play "Money" and suddenly stopped mid song for some audience engagement and Caroline Rose's rendition of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" played on a Kazoo. After we forgot that they'd interrupted the song, they went right back into "Money" for an epic close. She played a short encore after hiding behind a curtain to exaggerate the silliness of encores and left us all feeling like we part of special night.
After the show, I bought one of my favorite albums on vinyl. I was a little shy to get it autographed, but it was worth it. Caroline Rose was so easy to talk to. I introduced myself and told her I was writing for CoolDadMusic.com. She genuinely laughed and commented on how cool the name of the blog is. I thanked her for a great performance and walked off with a newly signed album.
I drove back and, once again, listened to the album in its entirety. It sounded different to me. My thoughts were quiet and more introspective as I made my way home accompanied by an album that has helped me tune out the world around me. I always wonder how much time artists spend thinking about how their work helps other humans get through hard things in life. From one loner to another, it has totally worked its course.