On Nov. 4, at Woodstock’s Levon Helm Studios, UK-based bedroom pop artist Cavetown gave an intimate acoustic performance to a small audience of fans and supporters alike.
The 22-year-old Robin Skinner recently released a new EP, “Man’s Best Friend,” a vulnerable project where he highlights the struggles of newfound fame that he has gained through the internet, specifically TikTok. The seven song effort has already gained a good amount of attention; each one has over one million streams on Spotify.
Skinner has been active since 2013, releasing five albums under the project’s name. Songs such as “Boys Will be Bugs” and “Juliet” have taken off in internet trends and have given Cavetown a name in the virtual sphere. Skinner started out with uploading covers to his YouTube channel, slowly turning his attention to releasing original music.
“Animal Kingdom,” the project that arguably set the ball rolling for Skinner, was a series of singles featuring music from other artists and highlights the charms and quirks of the artist’s sound. Focusing on an optimistic tone filled with childlike wonder, while also unreluctantly delving into the dark subjects of unrequited love and other perils of growing up, Cavetown has established a powerful connection with his young audience that also faces the struggle of not knowing what is going on in the world and even in their own lives.
On “Man’s Best Friend,” Skinner croons about identity struggles and longing through guitar strums and gentle waves of auto-tuned vocals, specifically on “I Want to Meet Your Dog.” There’s a sweet and refreshing sense of innocence about the fourth song of the album, as Skinner specifies how he doesn’t want to ask too much about his interest and her family, he just simply “wants to meet your dog.”
Skinner has stated on Twitter that he feels comfortable defining himself on the asexual and aromantic spectrums. He also has come out as transgender, and currently uses he/they pronouns. Fans feel represented and supported by Skinner’s openness about his identity. In the thread of the tweet where he identified himself, he received thanks from several users for being a beacon of representation for those communities.
In the music world we reside in today, it can sometimes be hard to find music that doesn’t focus on romantic and sexual relationships. “Man’s Best Friend” serves as a simple escape from those sometimes overpowering themes by highlighting the importance of healing the relationship a person has with themselves, and also stressing the prominence of platonic relationships in our lives, which can all too often be overlooked.
Skinner has always prioritized having a strong relationship with his audience, through his lyrics and also directly during live performances.
“Fans line up for hours ahead of shows, coordinating homemade art projects and bringing their own kazoos to play along with him,” reads Cavetown’s artist description on Spotify.
The Levon Helm Studios venue, also known as “The Barn” because of its rustic-like appearance and farm background, has a capacity of 250 people. Skinner was able to perform right next to the crowd, the front row being only a couple feet away from him. There also was a higher level of the venue, that still had an up-close and personal view of the singer-songwriter.
A photo from Reddit shows how the stage was decorated. The rug that was placed on the floor of the venue was adorned with tiny plush animals and multiple stems of fake vines. A big teddy bear laid on the back of the wall, behind Skinner while he performed, adding to the playful animal-centered aesthetic of his music as a whole.
Skinner played acoustic versions of fan favorites such as “Juliet,” as well as a collection of songs from the new album. Fans in the crowd listened attentively, quietly singing along during choruses, as he softly performed into the flower-adorned microphone stand.
The singer was wearing a dark beanie and an oversized sweatshirt, effortlessly adding to his casual attitude and familiar appearance towards his fans. He softly thanked them for coming after ending the show with a sweet performance of his most well-known song, “Boys Will Be Bugs.”
Cavetown’s next show will be on Nov. 30 in Leeds, England, and he will continue to tour through the middle of December. “Man’s Best Friend” is available to stream on most streaming platforms now.