Band Concert Review
The Fray: 'Over My Head' No More
Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island Chicago, IL, United States June 13, 2007
For a band that has made such an enormous name for themselves lately, I was expecting a mediocre live show, thinking the guys of The Fray would just go through the motions playing as unenthusiastically as possible. My assumption could not have been any further from the truth. While this band has blown up to astronomical proportions the last year or so, they have not let the success go to their heads. With a live show that could rival the best in the pop-rock scene, The Fray put on what will probably prove to be one of the best shows to come through Chicago this summer. That is a bold statement considering the acts that are coming through here, not to mention Lollapalooza in August. They showed the lively Chicago crowd their piano-rock rhythms on three consecutive nights at Charter One Pavilion -- an outdoor venue that backs right up to Lake Michigan. On a windy spring night, lead singer Isaac Slade humbled the crowd with his professionalism. He als o proved to the crowd with a cocky swagger that they've got what it takes to please a live audience. Isaac referenced one of their first out-of-town concerts that took place at Shubas in Chicago, and many could only fathom seeing such a mammoth band at such a petite venue nowadays.
The Fray became a household name about as quick as anyone could have, especially with the help of a little show called "Grey's Anatomy." While I always felt like I should write them off because maybe their success was handed to them, that is not the case at all. With a rock solid album, and an astonishing live show, The Fray is only beginning to reach the heights of which they are capable. With a respectable group of guys making up The Fray, and some very catchy songs, no age group is able to escape the grasp of their mass-media-friendly songs.
A concert series featuring The Fray, with openers Mae and OK GO, is bound to be a very successful summer tour. While one of my favorites, Mae, proceeded to promote the hell out of their new disc 'Singularity' due out August 14, 2007, OK GO surprised me with how well they did live. These Chicago natives' let us know that their live show is leaps and bounds better than their records, and the crowd seemed to be into every second of their onstage performance.
The stage setup was perfect for The Fray. The background resembled a tightly wound chain link fence-like screen, and when nothing was being projected through it, it was transparent and gave the crowd a chance to see the city of Chicago's skyline behind the stage. When they lit up this background screen, it filled the stage with bright colors that added an exceptionally intimate element to the concert. Other similar 'screens' were shaped into small lanterns that hung above the band. These would alternate colors depending on the mood of the song. It brought a little extra something to the slower songs where Isaac would sit at his piano all by himself.
About halfway through the concert, people started getting up from their seats and heading to the back of the venue, behind the bleacher seating, to watch the fireworks that nearby Navy Pier was shooting off. It was a surreal moment for many as they listened to a slower song by The Fray while watching the bursts of color light up the Chicago sky.
After many returned to their seats The Fray welcomed them back with 'How To Save A Life.' With a black and white montage running across the screen in the back of the stage, the bassist came to the front of the stage and played the xylophone for its entirety. After putting a few new songs in the mix, The Fray got everyone, singing, dancing, and laughing hysterically when they covered the Shakira hit, 'Hips Don't Lie.' Drummer Ben Wysocki came out to the front of the stage to help 'sing,' although his idea of singing was speaking all the words in a normal voice... absolutely priceless.
After getting the all the laughs out of the crowd, and taking a quick breather before receiving a curtain call from the patrons of Northerly Island, The Fray came back out and played 'Cable Car.' After leaving the stage for the first time, a heart monitor-like screen came up on the stage background, and flat-lined. When the guys started to make their way back out onto the stage, the proverbial heartbeat began again, and then they went into the beginning of 'Cable Car.' As the crowd went nuts for the guys, they kept their composure and finished off the concert with as much heart and enthusiasm as they could muster up. The Fray ended with 'Look After You' and the patrons in attendance helped sing the chorus repeatedly and it provided for quite the perfect ending to surprisingly phenomenal evening!