Friday night was the night for everyone to get out and go see a show. No matter what gig you found yourself at, you were winning. I definitely won big at Mercury Lounge to see Theo Katzman, along with opening act, John Splithoff. Theo, a founding member of Vulfpeck, has once again struck out on his own on this tour in support of his 2017 sophomore release, Heartbreak Hits.
His touring band, consisting of accomplished keyboardist/singer-songwriter Jacob Jeffries, bass wunderkind and Vulfpeck member Joe Dart, and drummer/singer-songwriter Julian Allen, was such a conglomeration of talent; I was already expecting to be blown away before Theo even sang a word. But sang he did, and he had everyone in the room eating out of the palm of his hand. With a smile plastered across his face, and an overwhelming positive vibe vibrating around the room, “Break Up Together,” “Crappy Love Song,” “My Heart Is Dead,” and “Good To Be Alone” all found their way into the earlier part of the setlist, while numbers like “My 1-Bedroom,” “Lost And Found,” and my personal current obsession, “Plain Jane Heroin” made appearances in the latter. While the subject matter might be well-trodden, love, loss and everything in between sung by a buttery smooth tenor voice like Theo’s manages to cut right through any walls you may have had up and hit you right in the feels. I literally shed some tears as soon as he opened his mouth. There’s something about the way he’s able to notes as carefully and tenderly as a whisper, but still with enough power to bowl anyone over. Theo’s vocal range is also something to write home about. Absolutely crazy the limits he can push it to.
Also true to his Vulfpeck band and music school roots, Theo wastes no time asking the crowd to sing along, which they did, or “give me a C!” which they surprisingly did. It’s clear the room was full of music school alums, casual Vulf fans, Theo fans, fans that wanted to dance AND who had appreciation for clever songwriting and masterful showmanship. It also helps when the guys on keys, bass and drums can sing backup vocals like nobodies business. Speaking of bass, Joe Dart, another huge draw for the night, was nothing short of entertaining, with his signature head bobbing. Also, in one of the more lighthearted moments of the night, Theo changed into his new tank top merch right onstage that got an overarching positive response from the majority of people in the crowd that night. Known for his undying love of tank tops, this was so fitting for his show. Laughing it off, he mentioned he was definitely single… so file that tidbit away for later.
With John Splithoff on opening act duties, delivering a soulful, and surprisingly danceable set of his best tunes, I was in absolute heaven. Splithoff has without one of the best male voices I’ve heard in a while. The fact I got to see both John and Theo in the same night is the stuff of dreams.
With a sold-out show under his belt and no signs of letting up, Theo’s fresh take on playful pop-rock is resonating with lots of people all across the world. His undeniable natural-born talent and charisma is sure to see this breakout star rise to the top in due time.
Article: Lesley Keller