Sam MacPherson Teases New Era During Hometown Show @ NJ’s The Vogel

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PC: Sam Macpherson on Facebook

After a successful end-of-year hometown show at Asbury Park’s House of Independents in 2022, local native Sam MacPherson decided to run it back, this time at The Vogel, located in Red Bank, NJ. With just days till Christmas, lights lined the streets and holiday standards loudly greeted passerbys of a local spot called Buona Sera, within earshot of the venue, giving the quaint yet inviting sleepy town that extra dose of holiday glow.

The typical two-story concert space holds a capacity of around 800. MacPherson posted of a low-ticket warning to his socials early in the day, and the room was comfortably packed out by the time he took the stage at 9:03 p.m.

Local band Via Ripa, out of Long Branch, NJ, took the stage promptly at 8:00 p.m. for a solid 45-minute set of, according to their Spotify bio, ‘pseudo surf rock.’ Their formula is simple: somewhat indistinguishable lyric passage, extended instrumental jam, repeat. And for what it is, it works. They have the endurance and skillset of a true jam band, and their music reflects that kind of looseness and room for variation. “Summer Is Dead,” the highlight of the set, was presented well and had some emotional weight to it in all aspects of the performance. Lead singer Michael Pinckney repeatedly thanked MacPherson for the opportunity on behalf of the band, and seemed genuinely moved by the experience, looking up at the lights of a room he has probably been as a member of the crowd dozens of times with looks of pure joy.

PC: Sam MacPherson on Facebook

Sam Macpherson 

The hometown boy took the stage just under 20 minutes after Ripa wrapped, opening with “Stretch” and “Homesick,” off his stellar EP Powerlines, which came out earlier this year. The crowd, presumably made up of mostly family and friends, popped for his entrance, but seemed quite auspicious and caught up in conversation in between songs as he spoke. It felt as if they were treating it like a bar gig instead of a concert, whislt being in a concert hall.

Thrust into the music scene just a few years ago when his music began to gain traction while in college, MacPherson isn’t the seasoned performer his contemporaries may be just yet. He makes small talk while tuning his guitar, noticeably counts his way in, stands in place, and sings with his eyes either focused on one spot in the room or completely closed. It is the sign of a performer still trying to figure out how to navigate the live aspect, which is fair and valid. However, his music is translating. It is resonating with people. He writes from his perspective, from his angle, and isn’t afraid to be in touch with his highs and lows.

Even with that slight disconnect, MacPherson still sells the emotion of a song like “Routine,” the vocal highlight of the night, like only he could. The beauty of that track is defined by the minimal production emulating the seemingly fresh wounds portrayed in the lyrics… how it simply just floats on by as the listener falls into its orbit, and therefore does not cater to a live setting, but MacPherson found a way to maintain its intimacy while ever so slightly updating it to connect to a room of people rather than a single listener: “I was so accustomed to having you with me/ Falling in love was a part of my everyday routine/ I always thought you and me would never actually grow up/ We’d talk in little kid voices like we’re still treehouse young.”

New songs “Joy Again” and “August Always,” unveiled for the first time live, build on his ability to capture his emotions in the moment, offering two distinct vibes musically. The former featured an extended guitar solo from Jack MacPherson, Sam’s brother and lead guitarist, who seemed to connect with and match his brother’s vision for the tune. Assuming the tune is to be included on MacPherson’s upcoming debut full-length album, which he briefly discussed making progress on, it is sure to be one of the emotional center points of the project. “August Always” is more inward… more intimate. More of a printed polaroid than an entire portrait.

PC: Sam MacPherson on Facebook

Other highlights of the set included “Powerlines,” “How Do You Dress For The Rain,” and “Play Dumb,” a vocal showoff moment for MacPherson, who loves to sit on the payoff note until he can do so no longer: “I’d do anything to feel like you’re still stupid in love/ But I’m smart enough to know that it’ll never be the way that it was/ So I play dumb.” 2022 single “Crash Course” received the biggest pop of the night, with fans from the floor to the balcony singing every word with him. He closed with Powerlines cut “Safe To Say,” amping it up for the stage with honest, heartfelt execution.

Those who were in the know quickly moved down the block to The Dublin House, a cozy, extensively decorated late night spot. MacPherson arrived within an hour of leaving the stage, making his rounds amongst 150+ vying for his momentary attention.

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Follow MacPherson on social media: Facebook / Instagram / Tik Tok / YouTube

Setlist: 

  • Stretch
  • Homesick
  • Counts
  • Backseat (All I Got)
  • No Bad Memories
  • Forget I Exist
  • Play Dumb
  • Routine
  • Joy Again (New song) 
  • How Do You Dress For The Rain?
  • August Always (New song)
  • I Don’t Wanna See You Try
  • Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen cover)
  • Powerlines
  • Crash Course
  • Last Minute
  • Safe To Say

 

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