ANDREW SPICE with ANDREA FLORIAN at C'est What, December 9. Tickets: $8. Attendance: 30. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Caution: if you listen to Andrew Spice in the wrong mood, the results could be disastrous. Go to his show feeling slightly blue and you're liable to end the night crying all over your date, taking a taxi home alone, paying the driver with a tear-soaked 20, sobbing yourself to sleep and waking up the next day with the kind of cloying sorrow a handful of Paxils can't cure.
Fortunately, I was nowhere near any emotional abysses at 10-ish last Thursday at C'est What , a snug bar where the modest stage, hearth, exposed brick, holly, blinking lights and lava lamps create a chalet basement ambience.
Spice ("That's actually my real name," he joked), wearing a vintage navy vinyl jacket with light blue shoulder stripes, positioned himself behind his Yamaha keyboard and commenced to tap the recesses of his soul for some profound, beyond-Thom Yorke melancholy. Most of the middle-aged crowd blathered blithely through it all, pausing only to applaud at the appropriate times.
The 21-year-old classically trained ivory-tinkler played over the inane chitchat, singing with heart-rending sensitivity about such subjects as his insecurity about his height (garnering an inevitable "aw" from the garrulous 40- year-olds) and hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard, delivering the introspective lines with a featherweight tremolo.
After making a self-deprecating joke about competing recently against an ousted American Idol contestant, Spice launched into a cover of the Gin Blossoms' Lost Horizons. He was clearly embarrassed when the sound man thought this was the last song and turned up the CD but restored the mood when he played his set out with another haunting near-murmur of a ballad so quietly woeful, one of the dudes clacking away at a game of Scrabble almost looked up.
Andrew Spice is a genuine talent whose lyrics are carefully wrought poems. Now let's get him the audience he deserves.