Rachael Yamagata at The Observatory 06/26/13


The first time I ever heard Rachael Yamagata was while I was watching The OC in 2005. “Worn Me Down” was playing in the background, and I was instantly fixed on Yamagata’s raspy voice. The words, while heartbreaking, were absolutely beautiful, which is common in her music. Although I have been a fan of Rachael’s for about 8 years, her show at The Observatory on Wednesday was my first.

The venue was small and allowed for an intimacy that is missing in many shows. The stage was decorated with flowers, candles, and a large dreamcatcher, making the show feel all the more personal. Yamagata was accompanied by Michael Chaves on guitar. The duo played a good combination of new and old music, including “It’ll Do” and “Has It Happened Yet,” from her more recent EP “Heavyweight.”

The honesty in not only the words, but in her performance and delivery left the crowd speechless. The crowd, which consisted of mostly women and couples, was actually quiet and still during most of the set, except when talking to Yamagata. The show really felt like a group of friends listening to a girls tales. Yamagata would tell a story and someone in the audience would yell out a response or people would let out sighs of compassion. At one point I overheard someone say “I kind of wish I was heartbroken right now.”

Yamagata played many crowd favorites like “Be Be Your Love,” which you would probably recognize from the movie, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” and “You Won’t Let Me” from her 2011 release, “Chesapeake.” She switched up the tempo with a gritty angry girl-rock song titled “Sideish Friend.”  After the song was over she reminisced about her past and told the crowd, “It’s hard to be the other woman; I did that in my twenties. Not that I knew I was the other woman. Come on guys, stop judging me.” But statements like this just made the music feel more real since most of us have probably had the same experience. (If only we could all write such eloquent words to express our stories.)

The best part of the night was when Rachael sang “Duet,” which originally featured Ray LaMontagne. Michael Chaves took over the vocals for Michael, and together the pair sang with such heartfelt emotions, that like the person I overheard before, I wished I was heartbroken so I could relate to the music, if only to feel their emotions more. But like all shows, the night had to end, and the duo left the stage after an encore of “Faster,” which the crowd, unfortunately for me, picked over “Worn Me Down.”

Although Rachael Yamagata’s music has helped me through so many heartbreaks in the past, I always thought seeing her live would be, to be blunt, boring. But she surprised me. Even though she was fighting a cold, her voice captivated all my attention. I sipped my wine and enjoyed hearing her tragically beautiful stories in musical form, just to laugh a few minutes later while she told a funny joke or made small talk with the crowd.

You can still catch Rachael Yamagata on the last dates of her tour:
June 30, 2013 The Parish – Austin, TX
July 01, 2013 Sons of Hermann Hall – Dallas, TX

July 02, 2013 Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX
July 05, 2013 Vinyl – Atlanta, GA
July 06, 2013 Local 506 – Chapel Hill,
July 08, 2013 Birchmere – Alexandria, VA
July 09, 2013 Rams Head On Stage – Annapolis, MD
July 11, 2013 07:00 PMUnion Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
July 12, 2013 Maxwell’s – Hoboken, NJ
July 13, 2013 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY

Photography by Rosemary Vega

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