The weather in California’s Napa Valley has been spectacular during the first two days of Live In The Vineyard, but the terrifying conditions that Hurricane Sandy ravaged upon New York City have been at the forefront of every performer’s mind, perhaps none more so than Gavin DeGraw‘s. “Don’t know if you’ve heard, but this bitch Sandy came through and f***ed up my city,” the New York City native announced to the lively crowd in attendance at the Uptown Theater last night, where he was headlining the evening’s stellar lineup that also included Martin Harley, Casey Abrams, A Rocket To The Moon, and Hedley. NYC was never far from DeGraw’s mind during his eight-song, 50 minute performance, during which he also dropped General George Patton’s famous quote “If you’re going through hell, keep going” before performing his new single “Soldier,” in an attempt to deliver some psychic inspiration to the city’s incredibly determined and resilient populus.
DeGraw is one of the more affable and charming performers on the circuit these days, so despite the heavy thoughts on his mind, his concert was far from a funereal affair. Leading the set off with “Sweeter,” his ditty about a Lothario who can’t help but cave-in to his darkest romantic desires, the crowd —all of whom were a few glasses deep in vino— immediately rose to their feet. Staying consistent with all of the performances at Live In The Vineyard, DeGraw stayed perched behind his piano for the entire set, accompanied only by a gentleman wielding an acoustic guitar. This arrangement meant we didn’t get to see any of the fancy footwork he perfected during his “fake dance career” on Dancing With The Stars earlier this year, but this stripped down set gave DeGraw an opportunity to flex his considerable storytelling muscle. He delighted the audience by giving some clues as to the origins of songs like “Chariot” and “I Don’t Wanna Be” (the song that “payed [his] college debts”), before closing his outstanding set with his smash hit, “Not Over You.”
Earlier in the day, VH1 You Oughta Know artist Delta Rae set the bar for the weekend’s best set at an impossibly high level during a performance in, you guessed it (or, more accurately, you probably didn’t) in a wine cellar. The six-piece from Durham, North Carolina has been one of our favorite bands to emerge this year, thanks in large part to their incredible ability to harmonize. On songs like “Bottom Of The River” and “Is Anyone Out There,” the vocal harmonizing between the Hölljes siblings (Ian, Eric and Brittany) and Elizabeth Hopkins reaches a level of transcendence rarely heard in music these days. And when they completed their explosive rendition of Fleetwood Mac‘s “The Chain,” the rousing applause of the audience was just as loud and thunderous as the band’s bass drum; of any cover we’ve seen this year, this one has to go down as our favorite.
Since we’re already describing this day in reverse chronological order, it only makes sense to mention up-and-coming British diva Paloma Faith‘s performance at the Sutter Home Winery at just after noon local time. Her second studio album, Fall To Grace, has been out since the spring overseas, but is being officially released Stateside on December 4. Faith currently holds the record for the weekend’s most theatrical performance, as she came out with her hair in an upswept ‘do that can only be described as Marie Antoinette-esque. Her song “Picking Up The Pieces,” which will likely be the second single on the record, went all the way to #7 on the UK charts earlier this year, and it’s got the kind of heavy emotional resonance that puts it in an extremely strong place to do some damage here in the US as well.
[Photos: Getty Images]