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"The sound of airplanes flying overhead reminds me of the beginning of the song 'Back in the USSR,'" 24-year-old Floridian Matt Hires remarked during his set at the Casbah.

The intimate venue suited Hires's vulnerable vocals on songs such as pop-folk number "Honey, Let Me Sing You a Song," a sweetheart ode of lyrical simplicity. For "Out of the Dark," featured in TV's Grey's Anatomy, he requested a little help from the audience: "If you don't know how to whistle, you can hum along with this...or you can 'la la' along." Hires began the song by whistling the melody with haunting desperation.

The show was part of Hires's first tour backed by a full band, allowing him to explore an energetic rock side in songs like "Pick Me Up." Still, Hires's emotive voice was most evident when the band left him on the stage to croon "Tangled Web" and a cover of MGMT's "Kids," where he revisited the whistling that has become his signature.

Opening for Hires were Hollywood singer-songwriter Caitlin Crosby and Jason Castro of "American Idol," who set the tone with their acoustic melodies. Standing tall on stage with his distinctive long dreadlocks, Castro seemed to woo the mostly female audience with his tender love songs and unaffected personality. He rotated between a guitar and a ukulele, singing original songs as well as covers of "Over the Rainbow" and "Hallelujah."

  • Concert: Matt Hires
  • Show date: February 19
  • Venue: the Casbah
  • Seats: General admission
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