New York-based Baltimore talent Ashley Kutcher launched her biggest tour at LA’s The Echo to a sold-out crowd on Wednesday. The Survive My On Mind On Tour included material from the singer-songwriter’s 2021 EP One Eighty as well as her 2022 EP Survive My Own Mind, plus the live debut of newly-released all-or-nothing ballad “Everyone or No One” and an unexpected 90s cover. For a young talent who says she has long feared performing in front of large crowds, she appears to have overcome much of this with a confident persona, speaking to the crowd at times, owning the stage and nailing her vocals. LA-based Boston singer-songwriter Rosie Darling opened the show and will continue on the remaining nine dates throughout North America through mid-February.
Rosie Darling hit the stage with braids and wore a slightly oversized pink jacket, creating a mood with the boppy “Water Me Down” with her pretty falsetto. Darling’s keyboardist brought the perfect touch of keys to balance another wonderful vocal on the heartbreaking “Always Almost”, one of her best ballads. The feel-good, upbeat “Golden Age” had Darling smiling throughout the pounding production and on “Say Less” a vocoder effect thrust Rosie Darling’s sweet yet slightly muffled voice over smooth, down-tempo drum beats. Darling’s voice shined on “What A Convincing Illusion” with its relaxing groove and she prepped the crowd for the next song, saying “If you need to cry, now’s the time”. This preceded the delicate piano ballad “Witness”, with Darling hitting a sweet spot in her voice as well as comfort level on the stage, with fans singing together in the background. The catchy ballad “Coping” is Darling’s biggest song to date and it was moving, despite her voice slightly shaky at the end. To be fair, it was the first show of the tour, so she gets a total pass and both artists left us wanting more.
Ashley Kutcher‘s headlining set started off with an intro of rain pouring, piano keys and news, taxi cabs and NYC city streets —noise. It came to a halting calm acoustic guitar with Kutcher excitedly taking the stage in a floral corset. “Do It All Again” was the opening song, with Ashley hitting all of her notes and the vertical lights ablaze as she hit her falsetto while drummer Derek Broomhead smashed. “This is the first night of my tour. This is surreal for me”, said Kutcher. “Do you guys mind if I pick up my guitar to start? This next song is not a song that was a single, but it’s really important, off my new EP, about wanting to change for the better, even if people aren’t there for you anymore”. Kutcher almost transformed on the lovely “Only Love Me Broken”, looking rather comfortable with her guitar, closing her eyes for moments of the tune while fans joined in on key parts. The heartfelt tune leaves listeners with the universal idea of the lyric “What if I change and you leave me behind?”
Kutcher took it back to the One Eighty era with two songs, mentioning she wrote “The Night You Left” in LA with her close friend Annika Bennett about a situationship (as she likes to say) that was on and off with break ups that hurt more each time they happened. Upon announcing the title, the fans screamed and Kutcher performed this one passionately, deeply connected to the words. The audience joined in on “When You’re Not Okay” on the line “call me when you’re not okay” in unison.
“I wanna get a little deep for a second”, said Kutcher, on her newer record. “It’s a heavy EP. I felt like I always had an active mind as a child. There’s people who say there’s not an internal dialogue but it’s always happening for me. The point is, your mind can mess with you and I never thought I could get up and perform for a crowd. This EP has helped me a lot and I know it has helped a lot of you”. She played the title track “Survive My Own Mind”, gently plucking the strings and what a lovely voice that emerged. It was a completely different song once it picked up and Broomhead’s drums smashed again, and by the end Kutcher’s voice broke into amazing little runs that sounded more improvised than planned. “Nothing’s All The Time” was one of the best of the night, the vocal was stunning and the drums were incredible on this feel-good that gives absolute chills.
“So I’ve been reading a lot of books lately”, shared Kutcher. “Books are the one thing where I can fall asleep and I can just focus, not on my phone but on me. This was focused on a book I read”. She was talking about “Love You More”, a pretty, lullaby-like tune with the fans loving it and singing along, including the last line, “…but I’ll always love you more”. “This song means to me that love is not meant to make you feel up and down all the time, it’s supposed to be safe…and sleepy”. Ashley Kutcher sat center stage on the stool for her best love song to date, “Sleepy”, with absolutely gorgeous R&B-leaning vocals that were both romantic and gentle, conjuring up ballads by Meghan Trainor and Maren Morris. She soared effortlessly on “If I Could”, really feeling it and making her around the stage with pretty runs by the song’s end.
Kutcher picked up the guitar for a cover of a tune that hit the airwaves well before she was born, 1997 Sixpence None The Richer’s “Kiss Me”. She compared the pressure of picking a flavor of ice cream in a scoop shop to choosing from all the covers in the world. The opening sound wasn’t on point but Ashley handled it like a champ like nothing happened at all and the pop tune fit her voice like a glove. “We’re gonna get into the pop section now”, said Kutcher on the remaining songs, starting off with the flirtatious, danceable “Strangers”, starting to work the stage like a pop star and moving her body to the beat. She performed the live debut of beautiful new ballad “Everyone and No One”, soaring and commanding the stage and putting her mark on a tune that will probably go down as one of her top tracks.
“I first started making music in college”, said Kutcher. “I started playing gigs and sometimes people wouldn’t pay attention or they were mean. This one I played for my dad, who’s actually here tonight, my dad’s awesome. Very critical of my work, but you need that”. She finished announcing it as an “OG song” and sang “Lust”, taking a fan’s phone for a second time to film for the “content creator”. Her hands were up during moments while she sang, feeling the music and looking like a boss. Kutcher gave a shout to her drummer Broomhead, who she also mentioned handled the lighting design and she thanked Rosie Darling.
“Emotionless” started off with a genuine stank face, which turned into Kutcher smiling and taking fans’ hands as the drums were kicking. She delivered on the vocal with it’s pop and bluesy theme, with fans singing along. In preparation for the final tune of the night, Kutcher said, “This song has changed my life for the better. I owe everything to this song. I wrote this on the bathroom floor in my parents house”. “Love You From A Distance” found the rising star back at the guitar and sounding wonderful, stepping away from center stage by the second verse, making contact one last time with her fans.
Words by Michael Menachem
Photos by Nicole Ditt