Sensory Overload: Chase Potter applies futuristic touches to his throwback sound at Rambling House
Rambling House, a bar/music space tucked away on a blue-collar stretch of Hudson Street in the Old North neighborhood, gives off a distinctively old-timey vibe. The windows sport curtains stitched from burlap sacks, wooden barrels dot the main floor, and an upright piano stands sentry onstage. Generally, performers reflect this throwback vibe. The venue specializes in traditional and roots-leaning acts, and Sunday evenings are reserved for an old-time jam.
Considering these circumstances, singer/songwriter Chase Potter, who utilized a series of electronic loops to flesh out his one-man-band sound, could have passed for a time-traveler fresh arrived from some distant future when he visited the space for a concert on a recent Thursday. “[This technology] is really great when you don’t have a band,” he said, giving the small-but-vocal audience a demonstration of his rigging.
Potter employed this gadgetry on a smattering of songs that remained distinctively retro in nature. Minus the looped guitar and occasional bout of beat boxing, what remained was distinctly singer-songwriter fair, with the musician delivering heart-heavy tunes about relationships come unglued, broken promises, and the various missteps he’s made along the way. On “Take It As It Is,” a languid number that moved like a lazy river water park ride, the singer struggled to work up the courage to express himself to a lover. “Sinking Ships,” in contrast, plunged far beneath the surface, with the song’s narrator comparing himself to a weighty anchor dragging down everyone and everything attached to him.
Though the songs were often built around heavier subject matter, Potter tended to keep things light with his onstage banter, filling the dead space between tunes by cracking cornball jokes (“This next song is a song I wrote for Otis Redding in 1964,” the youngster said while introducing a cover of “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”). At one point he even debuted a soul-steeped jingle he hoped to pitch to a prominent sandwich chain.
It’s a playful side that melted away as soon as the music kicked in, and Potter spent the remainder of the evening either spilling his guts (“I’ll say exactly what I feel inside,” he cooed on the lilting “Truth In Mind”) or at least wishing he could (“I was never much for sharing what was on my mind,” he reasoned on another comparatively tight-lipped number).