By Kimberly Ilkowski
Arts & Entertainment Editor
They say don’t meet your heroes, but they certainly weren’t accounting for the grace and charm fans would encounter when meeting musician William Beckett. The former The Academy Is… frontman and current solo artist visited the College on Friday, Feb. 5, for an intimate acoustic performance in the Decker Social Space which gave longtime fans an opportunity for a candid and personal display from one of their favorite vocalists.
Opening the show was the Asbury Park, N.J., indie folk duo Accidental Seabirds, who soared through a medley of bohemian songs on their homemade instruments. From tambourines strung with fishing wire and bottle caps to self-created drum pedals, the band brought its soulful sound to students. Musicians Jesse Herdman and Alex Letizia are no strangers to the College, having performed just last February at the Rathskeller alongside A Great Big Pile of Leaves.
Main act Beckett flew in that morning from his hometown of Chicago and left the night open to wherever it took him, having no specific plans for what would be featured in his set. He started the evening with an impassioned cover of a slow Damien Rice track before picking up the pace with his own song, “Slip Away.” The much more upbeat song set the tone for the rest of the performance, but as Beckett admitted, offered lyrics that did not match the song’s happy tone.
Over the last several years, Beckett has released three EPs as well as one full-length album, “Genuine & Counterfeit,” in 2013. Off the album, Beckett played the track “Cracks In The Ceiling,” which he later revealed he performed at a wedding reception for a couple’s first dance. The couple was going through a rough patch and was about to call it quits when they happened to catch Beckett’s set one night and heard the song, with the chorus bouncing of, “Cause I can’t let you go, can’t watch you drift away. No matter what it takes, I’ll bring you back to shore.” It was only fitting then, after they decided to stay together, to invite Beckett to play the song that helped them rekindle their flame.
Beckett’s fanbase is certainly a special one, with many having followed him throughout his various musical projects. With a band as earnest and relatable in its teen angst as The Academy Is…, it comes as no surprise that, in a way, fans felt like they grew up with the band. Beckett shares in that sentiment.
“I’ve noticed a lot of old, familiar faces at my solo shows over the years that I remember were in the front row when we were playing Starland (Ballroom) with The Academy Is…,” Beckett told The Signal after the show.
His solo music has undoubtedly welcomed a new, emerging group of listeners, but it holds true that as listeners grew up with The Academy Is… the guys in the band grew with them as well.
After seeing success with his band and now his solo work, Beckett says no matter how he’s performing, working with others truly helps spark his creativity.
“I enjoy collaborations. A lot of times I’ll work with a friend or a producer friend that I know we (will) turn out good music together,” Beckett said. “The band truly was a collaboration. The Butcher’s (drummer Andy Mrotek) got songs that he wrote on the records and me and Mike (guitarist Carden) wrote everything else, so we were able to work well together.”
It’s been three years since Beckett released new music, but he promised that will change soon.
“The plan is this year,” Beckett said. “A lot of new and exciting stuff happening with my next step.”
No matter what this next step in his career may hold, there are dedicated fans that will be with him the whole way through.