. : : July 4th, 2012 : : .
Revisiting concerts from the better part of a decade ago has definitely proven to be an exercise in understanding just how poor my memory is.
I can’t say I remember a ton about this particular set from The Autumn Portrait. I do remember the songs being somewhat pretty, the band fighting to be heard over the nosier band performing in the next room, and a radio personality from the local classic rock radio station being in attendance.
Listening back almost eight and a half years later, it’s like I’m experiencing it again for the first time. The feeling is odd: the band is now defunct, but frontman Freddit Mojallal is still going at it, under the moniker Freddie Future.
Of course, with a name like Freddie Future and a former band name like The Autumn Portrait, you can probably get a pretty good idea of stylistic differences you might expect.
Freddie Future is, of course, modern, synthetic pop music, but The Autumn Portrait was seasonal folk music, typical singer-songwriter stuff common in the era, bolstered by Ryan MacDonald‘s percussion and Neil Cameron‘s flourishes on violin.
The fresh ears also pick up how new Freddie was to performing. They were still a handful of months away from releasing their sophomore disc, Tired Love, and they sound a bit under-seasoned. Between song banter was joyful, playful, but mostly insular between the band members, barely acknowledging the admittedly few attendees in the room. You feel like a fly on the wall watching a group of friends jam, and joke and tease between songs.
The show is laid back and informal, but bordering on TOO informal. Striking that balance of having fun in front of your audience and having fun with the audience is one of the trickiest things performers must learn to break through, and on this Independence Day 2012 performance, The Autumn Portrait hadn’t quite figured it out yet.
That same playful, joyful banter also created a sort of disconnect between songs and band personalities. The songs are mournful, drenched in loneliness and longing — the concept of returning home comes up in about a third of the songs — and the juxtaposition of the music and the performer was jarring to me. A fun, upbeat song somewhere in the set would’ve tied things together nicely.
It needs to be said, however, there’s a handful of really strong songs in here. Freddie was wise to surround himself with MacDonald and (especially) Cameron, whose contributions elevate the songs to much loftier heights than they’d otherwise be.
This recording stands as a snapshot of a musician earning his sea legs. It’s youth and exuberance on full display. It’s talent well-beyond infancy, but not quite into maturity.
And isn’t that what live recording is all about? Capturing those moments in time that are otherwise lost to the fog of ancient memories?
I’d like to think so.
- Take Me Home
- Goodbye Apathy
- My Brother
- Tired Love
- You Help Me See The Lightd
- Can I Come Back Home?
- When I Was Young