Apparently, I’ve made it my mission as an AMBY staffer to cover all the artists relating to the late CW show One Tree Hill. This isn’t a real fact, but you could swear it to be true since in short time working here, I’ve hit Gavin DeGraw, Tyler Hilton, and the other night I completed the trifecta by catching the Wakey! Wakey! show at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. You can all be rest assured that unless Bethany Joy Lenz decides to get serious about a musical career, or I decide I want to see Kate Voegele live (hint: I don’t), I might be done with OTH artists.
Unsurprisingly, I fell for Michael Grubbs (who goes by the moniker Wakey! Wakey!) when his character debuted on One Tree Hill in its 7th season. He was offered a cameo role on the show to help promote his new album, Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said the Last Time I Saw You… I spent a lot of time with this album, and jumped at the opportunity to finally see him play live.
He came alone on this night and played his set with just his keyboard. Near the beginning of his set, while welcoming everyone to the Wakey! Wakey! Show, he said he was going to make this tour more intimate by revealing things about himself to the audience: “I’m a Pisces…” he says, “…my favourite fruit is cheese. That’s all I have right now.” Between songs, he regaled the audience with stories that influenced certain songs, like a particularly drunken night that led him to waking up hungover and recording lyrics into his cell phone at 5am before falling back asleep and sleeping through his writing session. This turned into Through The Night which is a track on his new album Salvation that dropped in July of this year. His on-stage banter between songs was adorable, quirky and down right hilarious.
Much to my excitement, he knocked out some tracks from Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said the Last Time I Saw You…, including a track by the same name, 1876 – The Brooklyn Theatre Fire, and Square Peg Round Hole. He revealed that this whole album was written from a very dark place, but he insisted that the lyrics “See it feels bad now but it’s gonna get better some day” from the title track were completely honest, and that it did feel really bad, but it did get better. As someone who sat on the floor in her bathroom in her late teens with this album pouring through her headphones, contemplating life and loss and all the hurt I connected with in words of his music, it felt truly inspiring to be able to stand at his show, almost 5 years later, and hear him talk about it. To hear him tell us that it got better.
He played some really old songs, like War Sweater and Clinton St Girl, as well as tracks from his new album Salvation, which I enjoyed a lot better live and stripped down than I do listening to the album, where I feel like they are overshadowed with a lot of bad 80s synth.
Nevertheless, the show was enamouring and everything I had hoped it would be. With Andrew Austin and Ben Fields opening the show, the night was wonderfully full of sweet melodies and lovely voices.
Follow updates from Wakey! Wakey! here.
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Photos and Review by Ashley Smith |