Metro Weekly

Editor’s Pick: Patrick Watson at Union Stage

Patrick Watson will play Union Stage in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Dec. 6 in support of their album Better in the Shade.

Patrick Watson -- Photo: Leda St. Jacques
Patrick Watson — Photo: Leda St. Jacques

The man born Patrick Watson in California but raised and based in Montreal creates what has been characterized as chamber rock, or orchestral pop, music.

It’s often similar in eccentric sound to Antony & The Johnsons, except more expansive and happier, and Rufus Wainwright, yet dreamier and more cerebral, if not a little under the influence.

As a recording artist and performer, Watson has worked with The Cinematic Orchestra, a British jazzy electronic act whose name does as good a job as any other of capturing much of the sound and style in question.

It’s certainly more descriptive than “Patrick Watson,” which, in fact, is not just the name of the artist but also that of his band.

“When we started, we didn’t think we were going to be a band. We were doing a multimedia project,” Watson told Metro Weekly a decade ago, after the release of the phenomenal indie-rock breakthrough album Adventures in Your Own Backyard.

After studying classical and jazz composition, Watson began his career composing incidental music for film and TV. He initially corralled several musicians to play the music he had recorded for one specific project, and they got along so well they kept at it. In recent years guitarist Joe Grass and drummer Evan Tighe have joined Watson and bassist Mishka Stein, who has been working with Watson since that initial project.

In early December, the band will perform with a string quartet in support of the new album Better in the Shade.

A distinguishing feature of Watson’s music, specifically his singing, is his falsetto, which derives from that same boy’s voice and remains a key feature of his music all these decades later.

“I don’t know when the falsetto voice came,” Watson confided in the same 2012 Metro Weekly profile. “I don’t even look at it as falsetto. I never really think about it when I sing.”

Tuesday, Dec. 6. Doors at 7 p.m. Union Stage, 740 Water St. SW. Tickets are $30. Visit or call 877-987-6487.

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