My first memory of Glen Hansard was of him lying on his back on the stage of Beacon Theatre, singing "Star Star," in hopes that audience would get the idea of just what the song was about. And it was the last song of his set before Damien Rice took the stage, and although I was chomping at the bit for Rice to come on stage, I fell in love with Hansard and his music. Hansard has always had this incredible warmth and charisma on stage (and elsewhere, quite frankly) that makes it seem like his shows are rather intimate affairs, no matter how many people are in the crowd. He truly is a personality, gracious and humble and yet, a definite rock star (in a broad sense of the term). I've seen a lot of concerts, it's true, performed by a lot of very talented people who put on great shows, but I haven't found too many who have that special mix of talent and personality, all the while putting on a great, great show.
Until last night.
(And full disclosure, this is a pretty biased review. And if you've read this blog, you'd know that.)
Well, about three years ago I blindly went to see Frightened Rabbit. I barely listened to them, and I don't even think I knew what they looked like. I enjoyed them, certainly, but only as much as a person could possibly enjoy a band she doesn't listen to (except if they're The Felice Brothers, of course). They certainly didn't blow me away. Not like The Felice Brothers.
This time around was different, and look, I'm not going to get into details. We all know I've basically listened to only Frightened Rabbit in 2013. All I've heard was how great they are live (but let's be real, nobody's out there writing articles about bands saying, "eh, they're pretty disappointing live," even if I wish they were) and yet, I wasn't sold. I know this is a bizarre thing to say about one of your favorite bands but I can't quite figure out what it is about FR's music that makes them so fantastic. I can name about a half a dozen bands they remind me of but they're still so great. Something sets them apart from everyone else, I just can't put my finger on what. However, I wasn't so sure they could be an incredible live act. I was actually kind of expecting them to sound just as they do on their records.
Haha, Alyssa, you are silly.
And perhaps the fact I am so into them right now has something to do with how much I enjoyed last night's show but wow, were they impressive. They do an amazing job of really elevating their songs for a live setting (as evident by "Backwards Walk"). A carbon copy of the record, their live shows are not. Apparently last night was their biggest show ever (or in the US?) and the whole band seemed to be having a lot of fun on stage, looking really pleased to be there. If you're not having fun, why should we, right? And it's always really exciting to be in a crowd of people who seem to love the music as much as you, who sing every word to every song and seem genuinely happy to be there. (In the indie world, that's unfortunately a rarity.) I always talk about collectivity at shows and that's exactly what I felt last night. And not to get all sentimental but during "Acts of Man," which is THE song that made me go, "hey, this band is pretty great," I had what my friend called "a moment." During which I just had to stop singing along because I was like, "hey, what is going on? What is this? Emotion?" (And what a song to get emotional during, eh?) And I don't mean I was crying (I don't cry during concerts. Unless it's during "Thousands are Sailing.") But it has been a long, long time since I went to a show this good. That left me floating on air and incredibly happy. And what was better was the fact that the two people with whom I went, who weren't very big FR fans beforehand, left the show absolutely blown away.
What does this have to do with Glen Hansard?
Well, let's end this post with a conversation about Scott Hutchison. I've always thought he was a great lyricist and I've grown to really like his voice but after last night, we are talking Glen Hansard levels of respect and admiration. It is refreshing to see a frontman with as much personality as Hutchison. Look, I don't need you carrying on a fifteen minute monologue up there but you know, say something to the crowd, won't you (looking at you, Bejar). I find it alienating when an artist gets on stage, plays for an hour twenty, and mumbles his or her way off the stage. It definitely makes me not want to give him or her anymore of my money. But Hutchison definitely has personality and charm and he's loads of fun to watch. As I mentioned above, he looks like he's having a lot of fun up there (he also seemed very humbled by how big the crowd was), so you just can't help but having fun yourself. There are a lot of indie bands out there that do not have their shit together, that really have no business getting on stage (looking at you, DIIV), or simply just do not seem like they want to be on stage. A lot of bands out there are just kind of hyped by all of the blogs and actually kind of well, suck. And this is nothing new, and I'm not going to sit here and tell you you should stop listening to someone like Best Coast but it's always great to watch a band who can really perform and who actually deserves your hard earned money.