Live Last Night: Ryan Cabrera

Ryan Cabrera was roundly booed during his set at College Park's Santa Fe Café on Friday night, but, unbelievably, it had nothing to do with his music.

(More after the jump.)

While the University of Maryland students in the crowd cheered when the 26-year-old singer shouted "Go Terps!" between songs, they turned on Cabrera when he asked, "what the [expletive] is a Terp?"

His ignorance of college mascots aside, the coeds in attendance embraced Cabrera, and what seemed to be an attempt to reinvent himself.

Perhaps as a way of distancing himself from ex-girlfriend Ashlee Simpson, a run on reality television, and countless teen magazine spreads, Cabrera is touring the country giving acoustic shows in college towns, per the "How to Become a Serious Musician" handbook.

Cabrera's brand of commercial pop-rock does actually sound better unplugged. "Hit Me With Your Light" and "40 Kinds of Sadness" were less hackneyed when stripped down to just singing and strumming. Songs such as "Enemies" and "Say" from the singer's 2008 disc "The Moon Under Water" -- Cabrera's first attempt to move away from the teen-targeted pop that made him semi-famous -- also benefited from simpler treatment.

Still, Cabrera, who appeared with Jesse Ruben and Zack Hexum, has an innate goofiness that he just can't mask. Inexplicably, he performed a cover of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," complete with saxophone accompaniment, and during "Exit to Exit," he insisted on beatboxing,
showing that creative growth almost never happens overnight.

-- SARAH GODFREY

By J. Freedom du Lac |  February 1, 2009; 5:25 PM ET Live Last Night
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