One of the most underrated genres in music is singer/songwriter. Full of distinct voices, stories and sounds, original songwriters usually do not yield the largest crowds of fans nor the greatest hits. However, they oftentimes produce some of the best music of all.
Ben Rector is no exception. His music, full of character and personality, is also exceptionally crafted and intelligently written. Thus, because of the high quality of his work, I was thrilled to find his tour following the release of his new album.
Rector’s show, taking place at The Fillmore in Philadelphia, lived up to his music’s precedents. Rector is an excellent performer, intimate and friendly, just like the music he crafts. While larger, more popular artists usually put on concerts that serve as experiences, artists that have smaller followings like Rector usually provide concerts that feel more like a friend playing his guitar in the living room. It gives off the atmospheric concert feel, yet is more personal than the concert from a major label artist. This ultimately forms an unforgettable memory as opposed to an unshakable experience.
This sentiment that emitted from the concert was further enhanced through the venue itself. The Fillmore is standing room only, compact and intimate itself. There is no bad spot to watch the concert because its quaintness allows the crowd to constantly have a great view of the artist, directing all energy in the room towards the stage. As an emotional, audience-driven performer, Rector fed off this environment perfectly, engaging with audience members and utilizing his proximity to the crowd to his benefit.
Rector’s ability to craft a memory as opposed to an experience with his concert was further enhanced by his demeanor towards the instrumentalists that were part of his performance. Every artist has musicians behind him or her that anchor the performance, and Rector’s set was no different. It was the family-like nature that the group of musicians had that elevated the performance. Rector gave every instrumentalist his or her own individual moment to shine, and the improvisational character of such parts of the concert strengthened it more so.
One of the riskiest choices that paid off the biggest dividends was Rector’s choice to tap “The Band Camino” as his opening act. An alternative pop-rock band that differs from his songwriter style as a musician, Rector’s choice immediately puzzled me. Yet it was the band’s nature as fans of Rector and their true love of music, mirroring Rector’s own, that made their music, while a different genre, the perfect fit to open the concert.
Ben Rector is an intelligent musician, and his Philadelphia concert demonstrated his high-quality music. With his intelligence, he crafted a concert that is not just an experience but a memory. It was an intimate performance that will live on in the minds of the audience members, that reflected his strongest ability as a performer, not just the songs that he performed.