Aaron Schaffer, Photo Editor

Strong Auditorium was packed with flannel shirts, beanies, and thick sweaters last Friday. Never before have so many students  with beards congregated at the same time. Many were students at UR, but others were the hipsters and folk-music-lovers from the city of Rochester. Chaos broke out as people searched for the last pair of seats together. Many resorted to sitting along the back wall on the hard, carpeted floor instead of sitting apart. They were all there to see one of the kings of modern folk music who was booked for a gig at UR.

Samuel Beam, better known as Iron & Wine, took the stage just after 10 p.m. Hailing from northern Canada, Doug Paisley delivered the decent but ultimately unremarkable opening act. He admitted to the audience that even he was excited to hear Iron & Wine and that he is a big fan. His songs all sounded similar: They featured his low, baritone voice accompanied with a guitar. It was a splash of folk stirred in with simplistic country music. The lyrics were decent but fairly predictable. He kept the audience’s attention for most of his set, making jokes about his age and the things he did when he was in college, which was, according to him, a long time ago.

Finally, Samuel Beam took the stage. He had a very unassuming appearance with a long, brown, scratchy beard and a receding hairline. He was dressed in semi-casual navy pants, a matching jacket, and a white button-down shirt. The audience roared as he walked onto the stage. Beam, not missing a comedic beat, said with a grin, “I love you too, mom. Thanks for coming out tonight. Next time, you don’t have to buy a ticket.”

This brought laughs from everyone and quickly shut the girls up.

The beginning of the concert was slightly frustrating. Beam asked the audience for song suggestions which led to everyone calling out their favorite song from his five studio albums. Eventually, he picked a song and silenced the crowd with the first note. “Sodam, South Georgia” is one of his more popular songs, and no one wanted to miss a single note.

Beam’s soothing voice and simple melodies may not appeal to all listeners. But to his fans, Beam’s voice is captivating; his lyrics are complex and compel the listener to replay the song many times, drawing unique reactions from each listen.

In between his songs, he joked with the crowd.

“Like this jacket?” he asked. “I dressed up for you all. That’s ‘cause I love you all.”

He told the crowd about his recent move back to the East coast.

“If I’m a little foggy tonight,” he said. “It’s cause I don’t know where any of my shit is. Yes I do, it’s all in boxes.”

Even through his major mess-ups on stage with slipped lyrics and forgetting chords, Beam remained a smooth performer. After starting “Jezabel,” one of his most popular songs, he had to stop completely. After some chuckles, he explained that practicing is not something he does very often.

“I spend my free time writing new songs,” he said.

No one in the audience seemed to mind his mistakes. When he did remember the chords and lyrics, it only excited them more.

When the crowd, after many numbers, kept up their enthusiasm, he laughed and accused the audience of being high.

“You’re all high off the sun,” he said. “It’s the last gasp of fun. It gets pretty cold here, right? This is a cold place for cold people.”

After a pause he chuckled and added, “I’m just kidding.”

This was one of the highlights of the school year. Those that couldn’t obtain tickets certainly missed out. Listening to his tracks on a music player is simply not the same as seeing him live. His appearance, personality, and improvisations during the interludes of his songs were worth twice the ticket price, and anyone there would likely drive hours to see him again.

Sanguinetti is a member of the class of 2015.


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