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Review: Rachael Yamagata @ Maxwell's 7.12.13

Rachael Yamagata

"Maxwell's. Such a beautiful place. Where's it going?", said Arlington, Virginia singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata during her sold out performance on Friday. When dates for her Dealbreaker Heart Tour were released back in April, Maxwell's was receiving high praise from long-running music publication Rolling Stone. Unfortunately, things have drastically changed and Yamagata was forced to say goodbye to a venue that she's had numerous memories in.

With a small crowd up front mingling, Oxford, Mississippi singer-songwriter Sanders Bohlke started his set with "Search and Destroy". If you've never witnessed this man live, put it on your "To-do" list immediately. The man's robust vocals can cause many soul and R&B singers to throw in the towel. For "Fighter Pilot", Sanders utilized looping pedals to create a dreamlike atmosphere surrounding the venue. He often stepped away from the mic to unleash some mesmerizing melodies. With a voice like his, the power could've gone out and you'd still be able to hear his grand vocals from five blocks away. The tune "Somewhere" got the ladies in the crowd swaying back and forth while Sanders delivered the song's chorus in various vocal ranges. Sanders ended his set with the emotionally-charged number "Soldier" which silenced an audience that was somewhat talkative during his performance.

While Sanders' setup was simple, Rachel Yamagata, with Michael Chavez accompanying her on tour, surrounded Maxwell's stage with guitars, a piano and a mini piano hooked up to a laptop. "And so we begin", said Rachael before opening her hour long set with "Heavyweight" from her latest EP of the same name. The opening keys were enough to drive her fans wild. "We're gonna play a really sad fucking song", Rachael declared before going into the next song "It'll Do". Rachael Yamagata's heartbreaking songs about relationships are personal yet relatable which was obvious with the watery eyes present in the audience. 

"What's the breakup status in the room tonight?",  Rachael asked as some ladies in the crowd discussed their relationship woes. "Damn, breakups are hard. I'm gonna make it harder for you", the singer-songwriter said before going into "Has It Happened Yet?". The song's opening lines of "Has anybody shared our bed yet/ Was it heavy, was it hot" were enough to draw miserable groans from the ladies in the crowd; one lady yelled, "My heart is breaking". Rachael stopped the song for a bit and joked about how the original line was meant to be "Have they used our coffee pot".

It wasn't just the girls in love with Rachael's tunes; the men in the crowd were just as enthralled. One male managed to yell a Lil Jon-esque "Yeah" during the opening keys of "You Won't Let Me" which had Rachael laughing along with the rest of the crowd. With Michael leaving the stage for a bit, Rachael decided to get sexy with the cut "Sunday Afternoon" which strongly showed her immense singing ability. At the end of the song, she joked about hearing the toilet flush during her moments of intensity. Unfortunately, Michael's kick pedal died before going into "Dealbreaker". The crowd managed to assist Rachael with some foot stomping which had the vocalist jokingly say, "And they say you couldn't dance to my songs". For the encore, Rachael ended her final Maxwell's show with "Worn Me Down". She did have some advice that evening on how to keep the spot open: "Lock the door. It's just gonna be us for the next ten years".