Concert Review: Caroline Smith & The Goodnight Sleeps

Story by Thom Fountain

There’s a certain allure to seeing a virtuoso on stage. Whether it’s a pianist playing Beethoven or a saxophonist taking on Coltrane, these musicians can hold your attention and command a stage. Jesse Schuster, a key member of Caroline Smith and The Goodnight Sleeps, is that kind of musician.

Generally a band with a namesake so prominent as Caroline Smith and The Goodnight Sleeps dictates who the attention should be paid to throughout the set. And in no way did Smith disappoint, remaining a strong constant from beginning to end.

However, more often than not, my attention drifted to the lively action surrounding the frontwoman. As stated, Schuster’s guitar and bass accompaniment controlled the pace of the show. Colin Hacklander had his hand in everything throughout the night, playing every instrument on stage at some point, including a perfectly orchestrated cameo on a tom drum. Arlen Peiffer, the band’s drummer, proved one of the most entertaining performers I’ve seen, smiling and singing along to every song.

Musically, the Minneapolis four-piece provided a strong mix of folk and rock with a mainly upbeat tempo. The band, who just finished recording a new record (with no release date, yet), interspersed new and old songs, which kept fans on their feet. The new material proved a bit tricky for the group live; there were a few moments that seemed loosely thrown together, but nothing that detracted too much from the overall show.

Caroline Smith’s songwriting fluctuates from light, poppy tracks to heavier cuts on the flip of a coin, but the set always flowed seamlessly and coherently. Either way, each song had a way of getting stuck in your head – the show left the audience humming along and waiting anxiously for The Goodnight Sleeps’ next release.