William Beckett brings a rousing performance

Beckett performs his set in front of an eager Rat audience Friday night.
Beckett performs his set in front of an eager Rat audience Friday night.

Longtime fans were tweeting zealous remarks, recording videos, sharing laughter and shameful vices of celebrity obsession and belting lyrics at competing vocal levels with the performers on stage. If there was any question to be asked Friday night at the College Union Board’s Rathskeller show, it was this: Who came for whom?

Something we sometimes forget is that musicians, artists and celebrities are just like us  — they’re people too. They enjoy the spotlight as much as we enjoy putting them in it.

William Beckett (formerly of alternative rock band The Academy is…) and opening band The Morning Of were no exception to this rule.

On Friday night, the musicians performed on the Rathskeller stage for an eager and eclectic audience, with seats that were filled up well before the opening set.  People came piling in, sitting on the steps, at the bar and across the dining room’s floor to behold the musical stylings of Beckett and his opening band, both emerging from months out of the limelight.

“I’ve loved (him) since sixth grade,” said sophomore business major Nicole Herviou out of deference to Beckett’s former band. “To see someone with that much talent performing … I couldn’t handle myself.” Herviou, who was managing the merchandise table for Beckett, regaled to customers her history of affinity for Beckett’s former band, TAI. She had seen the band in concert seven times before last night.

TAI has recorded three albums and three EPs since 2004. The band had traveled across the world performing for a wide and eclectic fan base before splitting in 2011.

Yet it’s no wonder that students and teenagers across the country find the musician so relatable.

Beckett’s education was cut short, and he never made it to college. He was raised outside of Chicago with two conservative parents, a stark contrast to his own socially liberal beliefs.

Beckett’s tolerant and heart-warming aura can easily be found in his music.  The songs he writes are deeply immersed in the same vices and virtues familiar to people the world over — doubt, shame, love, hope, joy, success, frustration and retribution.

With respect to his song “You Never Give Up,” he told the audience, “Everyone’s been there before. There’s always at least one person to help pull you out of (it).”

Opening band, The Morning Of, included N.Y. natives Jessica Leplon and Rob McCurdy, and lead singer Justin Wiley, who has made his home in Gloucester County, N.J. They dazzled the crowd with a set list reminiscent of punk-rock bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Brand New, a ’90s cult favorite.

Die-hard fan Neepam Shah was particularly ecstatic about the band’s singular appearance for this year. Shah, a sophomore English and biology double major, found himself virtually speechless. “I can’t believe they remembered me,” he said, speaking with them after the show.

And, the band concurred. Lead singer Wiley, whose partner had recently given birth to their first child, showed pride in his mindfulness.

The three members announced their musical reprieve in the name of taking time out for their families, work and ordinary leisure. Wiley said, “You see, we’re all just regular people.”