Monday night I went with my friend Steph to see William Fitzsimmons play at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore. Up until the point I agreed to go to the concert I wasn’t really familiar with William Fitzsimmons, though looking at his Wikipedia entry I’m sure I’ve heard his music in any number of television shows. I’m not surprised because his music is a perfect fit for those closing montages set to music that so many television shows are fond of employing these days. Anyway, she was looking for someone to go with her to this concert, and since you know I’m always game for some live music, after a quick perusal of his music on Spotify to make sure I wouldn’t hate it I agreed to go.
This was only my second time at Metro Gallery, which is a small space used as an art gallery and live performance space. Last time I was there was a couple years ago for Super Art Fight. That event was really crowded and they didn’t have anything set up on stage, so being the shorty that I am I couldn’t really see anything at all. I anticipated having similar problems during this concert, but needn’t have worried. There were far fewer people there which helped, and I must say it was the first standing room only concert I’ve been to that wasn’t outside where people sat down on the floor. So really it turned in to a sitting room only show for the most part. The very mellow music of William Fitzsimmons definitely lends itself to sitting down as it isn’t something you need to be standing up grooving to.
Also a first for me at this concert was that the opening act, Jake Phillips, is also part of William Fitzsimmons backing band. I’ve never been to a show where the opening act played, then went off stage and came back as part of the main act. I enjoyed Jake Phillips. It was just him up on stage with an acoustic guitar occasionally tapping out a little rhythm on the side of it. Sometimes it’s nice to hear just the bare bones of music.
As for William Fitzsimmons himself, I enjoyed him quite a bit. If you’ve ever read a single other concert review I’ve written on this blog you should know that I have a list of things in my head that I think contribute to creating the best live experience, and he pretty much checked off all the boxes. Lucky for him production values are pretty much just a footnote on my list. They can be cool, but are in no way necessary to be a great live artist. They just mean you have money. This was about as bare bones as you can get. Just some guys up on a stage playing music, which is fine by me.
First and foremost you know I love an artist that interacts with the audience, and William Fitzsimmons was great at that. I always like a like storytelling with my music, and he definitely had some stories to tell. Some true, some false, some who know, but all humorous. Second I always enjoy when artists mess around with cover songs during live shows. He did a little medley of Rihanna’s “Umbrella”, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (maybe, writing that down I’m now completely questioning which Nirvana song he actually played), and Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”. There was more during the encore, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Not that it mattered much to me since essentially all his songs were new to me, but he played a good mix of songs from his new album and his older stuff.
Speaking of interacting with the crowd, for most of the encore they got really up close and personal with the crowd. As I said it’s a tiny venue and it wasn’t super crowded, so it’s not necessarily the most impressive instance I’ve seen of a band playing in the audience but I appreciate it nonetheless. They unplugged, came out into the crowd, and told everyone to circle around them because they were going to finish out the show campfire style. Given the small space and the number of people there they could totally play completely acoustic and still be heard, so that was fun. One of the songs they played during this encore was Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers”, which is one of my most favorite Tom Petty songs ever and a great cover song to be heard played that way.
It was a fun show, and I’m glad I went despite it starting late (all advertised times were doors 7, show 8, but they didn’t start until 9) and keeping me up past my old lady bed time.
You can take a listen to “Beautiful Girl” one of his songs that I really like.
and also the title song off the new album Lions.