The last time Bay Village singer-songwriter Kate Voegele played South by Southwest, she wasn’t old enough to drink. But this time, as she told her audience at Thursday night’s Thirsty Nickel showcase, the 21-year-old was taking in everything SXSW has to offer. We can only presume she was talking about the music and not all of the gutter-dwelling drinking that goes on here. Voegele is still a sweet, young-seeming girl, after all, the type who says “freakin’” and “you guys are awesome!” onstage. She talks like one of the characters on One Tree Hill
, the tween drama in which she plays a singer-songwriter. In other words, she talks like her fans. ...
But the crowd at Thursday’s show was decidedly older and refreshingly hipster-free. And the intimate Thirsty Nickel was an appropriate venue for Voegele’s intimate songs. Her 45-minute set, backed by her four-piece band, was filled with a bunch of cuts from her debut album, Don’t Look Away
, including “Chicago,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “It’s Only Life” (recently heard in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
Voegele’s third SXSW appearance was her most confident. She’s learned to make her tiny frame stand out onstage through a series of hand gestures, body shakes, and the occasional guitar face (even though she was wielding an acoustic, and it was her guitarist who was playing the solo). Still, her set suffered through a horrible sound mix, with a muddy, buried vocal. And she ran out of time before she got to play the single, “Kindly Unspoken.” At least this time she had the option of getting really hammered to forget about those minor problems. -- Michael Gallucci