By all accounts, Max Frost has been on quite a run since releasing his genre-melding debut album, Gold Rush, on Atlantic Records last Fall. He performed as a special guest opening for Twenty One Pilots during their sold-out North American leg of the “Bandito” world tour, before finishing 2018 with a series of performances at radio-sponsored holiday shows. As if that wasn’t enough, Max also found time to make a number of national TV appearances, including ABC’s Good Morning America.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Max Frost might slowly ease in to 2019… But you would be wrong. The singer-songwriter and talented multi-instrumentalist is keeping his foot firmly planted on the accelerator and has embarked on a Spring headlining tour in support of Gold Rush, that is set to run through the end of April. He also recently stopped in to make his second appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan to perform his new single “Money Problems.” We managed to catch up with the energetic showman when the Gold Rush tour hit the Cat’s Cradle Back Room in Carrboro NC last week.
A solid core of dedicated Max Frost fans had conglomerated at the front of the stage while the rest of the room was slowly filling in as UPSAHL, the performance moniker of singer-songwriter and up-and-coming indie pop star Taylor Upsahl, took the stage to kick off the evening. Joined by a drummer and guitarist, UPSAHL proceeded to play a slick and sunny set of songs centered around her newly released debut EP, Hindsight 20/20. The on-stage trio were in high spirits, and like a spark in a field of dry grass, it quickly caught on and spread through the crowd. Highlights included the songs “Drugs,” “SMARTY,” and the insanely hook-laden “All My Friends Are Rich.” By the end of her all-too-short set, UPSAHL had won over the room and even the casual fans at the back were engaged and cheering. It was a solid performance from an artist who is still relatively new to the tour trail.
While UPSAHL had pulled the crowd into the room, everyone was ready to cut loose by the time the lights dropped and Max Frost started off his set with the slow-building burning of “New Confessional,” the opening track from Gold Rush. Next up was “$Dreams,” a funky mix of soul, ’90s hip-hop, and some serious dance vibes. Only a song or two in, and it was quickly apparent that Max Frost was more than just his slickly-produced recorded output. He was a solid singer, a talented multi-instrumentalist, a captivating performer, and one Hell of an entertaining one-man band. His performance was augmented by a high-end light show, and the stage was set with an assortment of instruments cluttered around a large prop reel-to-reel tape deck. Throughout the show Max pin-balled around the stage, bouncing between bass, guitar, keyboards, and drums, often within the same song, using loops and layers to build on and expand the sound. Despite providing his own one-man backing band, the showmanship didn’t stop there. Max exuded a confident swagger while finding the time to mix in some dance moves with his vocals and interact with the fans at the front of the stage. Whether delivering upbeat songs like “Paranoia” and “Money Problems,” or slowing things down with the aptly titled “Nice and Slow’” and “Eleven Days,” the audience was absolutely energized and hung on every nuance of the performance. By the time he closed out his set with the rapturous “White Lies,” the audience was completely in his pocket. The crowd was still howling with approval when he returned for a three-song encore that saw Upsahl and her band join in on a cover of Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable,” before sending everyone home with a positively anthemic version of the crowd favorite “Good Morning.”
Max Frost transcended the simple act of delivering his songs in a live setting. He pushed the boundaries of the one-man-band concept with an old-school level of showmanship that was equal parts authentic and refreshing. He truly is an artist that needs to be experienced live…
Max Frost + UPSAHL @ Cat’s Cradle Back Room Photos © Dan Kulpa // Clashdan Photography