When Chris Farren comes onto a stage, he plays a recording of a deafening audience. He acts like he is being greeted by a crowd of thousands, even if he’s just performing for roughly 50 kids in the basement of Seymour Union. He doesn’t need the recording by the end of the performance, though, because everyone is clapping over it.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Chris Farren perform twice now; once this summer at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, and the other last Tuesday in Taylor Lounge. The venues could not have been more different, but the vibe that Farren put out did not change.
WVKC brought Farren in to perform before he begins his fall tour, and freshman Trish Camaya opened up for him. I had never heard Camaya sing before, but as soon as I walked into the Taylor Lounge to see and hear them performing their original, acoustic songs to a crowd of silent, seated Knox students, I was won over. Their voice is beautiful and soft, which goes perfectly with their sweet but not-too-serious lyrics. While many of their songs were somber, none of them were bummers or brought the mood of the room down. Their last song, “I Wanna Go Grocery Shopping With You,” repeated lines about going to Trader Joe’s to pick up bread and cheese (which sounds like my perfect way to spend any Friday night). I will most definitely be singing this song every time I walk into Trader Joe’s over Winter Break and I will most definitely be checking out more of Camaya’s work.
Farren got up on stage to a crowd of people who may not have all known his work, but he very quickly won them over. His songs are upbeat and energetic, relying mainly on his guitar, loop pedal and synth. He has visuals to go along with the sound, too: color-changing lights wrapped around the neck of his guitar, moving lights going all around the stage and of course, his moving backdrop behind him. The backdrop often features images of his own face, internet searches for animals and words such as “Visual Art.”
Like many parts of Farren’s performance, it’s not to be taken seriously, but it’s not facetious or cynical. It’s truly just fun, much like the way Farren plays recordings of himself saying, “I’m so glad to be here tonight at. . . in my favorite city in the world. . .” leaving gaps for him to lean into the microphone and say the appropriate location. It could be read as some sort of social commentary on how musicians don’t actually care about the shows they’re putting on and are more concerned with themselves, but it doesn’t necessarily come across that way. It just comes across as harmless fun and something a little bit unexpected.
At one point in his performance, Farren took his extra-long mic cord with him to the opposite side of Seymour Lounge and seemed genuinely surprised when every student in the space followed him. While that may not have been his intention, it’s clear that the students really did love the performance.
As he ended his performance with his happy, upbeat song, “Human Being” where he shouts the words “I just wanna feel like a human being” during each chorus, virtually every person in the audience was dancing and smiling. It was a perfect way to spend a rainy Tuesday evening and it lifted my mood immensely. I hadn’t felt so happy since the last time I was at a concert and I can’t thank WVKC enough for booking such a great performer and to Chris Farren for being such a positive, upbeat spirit.
Farren ends every performance by saying, “Another perfect set by Chris Farren!” and honestly, this time it felt that way.