Concert Review: Caroline Rose @ 9:30 Club (4/14/23)

Caroline Rose (Photo Credit: Monica Murray)
Caroline Rose (Photo Credit: Monica Murray)

‘Thanks for selling out my first 9:30 Club show!’ – Caroline Rose

Pop singer-songwriter, Caroline Rose performed at the 9:30 Club for the first time on April 14th, providing the sell out crowd with an unforgettable show. In terms of the stage set-up and the antics Caroline led the rapt audience through, it was one of a kind and thoroughly enjoyable. More on that, but the music itself proved to be hauntingly beautiful, much of it coming from a place of grief and vulnerability, and the processing of those emotions.

Caroline is touring for their newest studio album, The Art of Forgetting (via New West Records) released in March, and of course why not play the whole thing from start to finish? Caroline is from the state of New York, and started recording and performing in 2012, with five albums out so far. 

After the opener (Hammydown) finished their set, the 9:30 Club suddenly erupted into the loudest buzz of voices, something urgent and alive. Maybe because it was Spring, but the murmurs of anticipation leading up Caroline’s set was palpable, and surprisingly prescient.

Caroline and band kicked off the set with the opening track of The Art of Forgetting, “Love / Lover / Friend”, and took us on a journey through the full album of 11 songs and three short interludes that included home videos and voicemail recordings of Caroline’s grandmother. This first song was like a slow burn poem that turns sonically uplifting as the chorus builds to higher and higher crescendos.

Caroline was joined by four members of the backing band (keyboards, guitars and drums, each with a microphone for backing vocals), and indicated that they were going to ‘try a few things’, and wow they sure did! They put together one of the coolest on stage light shows I’ve ever seen at the 9:30 Club. Each band member performed behind a five-panel screen, two on each side with Caroline in the middle in the front of the screen. It started with Caroline standing alone in darkness, their face waiting within a small halo of light. Maybe a metaphor for being in a state of loneliness for a time, but a time that will end and transition to other emotions and to something more alive (presumably). As the music began, lights illuminated each panel individually, silhouetting the band members in different colors based on the song, from white to orange to red to blue to purple. Most songs had a specific color to draw out the mood, and sometimes there were no lights, rendering the panels clear enough to see each band member. It was such a wild cornucopia of visual sensations, I started to keep track of the colors associated with each song. The opening song was White.

The third song of the album, “Miami” (Orange), is about slowly going through a breakup and the aftermath. The flood of emotions – pain, longing, self-doubt – are so clear in Caroline’s plaintive voice, it feels like you’re the one experiencing the break-up. The ending includes the lyric that is the title of the album, ‘This is the art of forgetting how, you’ve gotta get through this life somehow’. The video for “Miami” is also chapter of a short film, also titled The Art of Forgetting (directed by Sam Bennett). The film, debuted in March, loosely recreates real life events, to weave together a story of navigating a transformative heartbreak.

Next came the first of the three short interlude songs, “Better Than Gold”, that highlighted a wholesome voice recording from Caroline’s grandmother and home videos of memories of youth. The other two that came later were “Cornbread” and “Florida Room”.

“Everywhere I Go I Bring the Rain” (Blue, obviously) is my favorite song from the set (and album), and speaks to facing and accepting your own pain. I especially liked the evocative chorus that was like flying high and swooping low, in a whirlwind of constant fervor.

For “The Kiss”, the panels started Clear, then a rainbow of colors burst forth at the end. It is a heartaching song about memories flooding in after a breakup, which Caroline wrote during the pandemic in 2020. It was also where they really ‘did some things’. Caroline went down into the crowd and wound around through the middle, before finding themself at the back of the 9:30 Club on top of the right side bar, preparing those below for a trust fall. They fell smoothly into the waiting arms, and crowd surfed the entire way back to the stage. Quite an impressive feat.

The last song of the main set was “Where Do I Go From Here” (Clear, then Red). It speaks to disillusionment and cynicism, but transforms to a place of hope. And the shout to the rafters chorus gave everyone listening hope that the incredible music on display would prove to be cathartic.

Since we got the entire The Art of Forgetting album in the main set, the encore included four songs in total, taken from Caroline’s last two albums, Loner (2018) and Superstar (2020), both via New West Records. Or as they described it ‘the Greatest hits’. During the break, the stage was transformed, this time with the panels at the back and each band member positioned in front of the panels. The colors now were mostly a rotating rainbow, never settling on a single color during a song. Caroline called this transition ‘Experimental Theatre’ and snarkily added that this is what ‘the modern indie musician’ must do to compete nowadays. We in the crowd were here for it.

The crowd cheered for the first two songs, and danced like no was watching for “Feel the Way I Want”. Caroline decided to join everyone again, and danced down on the main floor with the masses, for a song with a completely different vibe, one that everyone was happy to let loose for. 

The final song of the evening, “Do You Think We’ll Last Forever?”, included Caroline doing more ‘things’ by asking for the house lights to be turned off, and everyone to get out their phones and pull up the flashlight feature, and voila! the 9:30 Club lit up almost as bright as daylight with the illumination of over one thousand suns…errrr…phones. 

It’s hard not to tell you to go out and buy a copy of The Art of Forgetting, so I will instead demand you to do just that. Make sure you witness Caroline do ‘some things’ next time they visit DC!


(Performed the full The Art of Forgetting)

  1. Love / Lover / Friend (White)
  2. Rebirth (Red)
  3. Miami (Orange)
  4. Better Than Gold (home movie + grandmother’s voicemail)
  5. Everywhere I Go I Bring the Rain (Blue)
  6. The Doldrums (Clear)
  7. The Kiss (Clear, than all colors)
  8. Cornbread (home movie + grandmother’s voicemail)
  9. Stockholm Syndrome (Green)
  10. Tell Me What You Want (All colors in middle, White on outside)
  11. Florida Room (home movie + grandmother’s voicemail)
  12. Love Song for Myself (Purple)
  13. Jill Says (Clear, than Red)
  14. Where Do I Go From Here? (Clear, than Red)


  1. More of the Same (Each panel a different color)
  2. Jeannie Becomes a Mom (Panels were blurry)
  3. Feel the Way I Want (Rotating colors)
  4. Do You Think We’ll Last Forever? (Rotating colors)

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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