Live Review: FRENSHIP are Captivating and Contagious at Irving Plaza

FRENSHIP 2019 © Kelsey Fitzgerald
FRENSHIP deliver a captivating performance at New York’s Irving Plaza.

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It was just before 10PM on a Wednesday night and I was in front of an empty stage after an electrifying performance by Glades, the opener. I didn’t know what to expect for FRENSHIP’s performance that night, but after their set, I left completely in awe of the duo and the immense passion they have for their music. There was something very special about their performance. Maybe it was the welcoming demeanor of their stage presence or just the sheer amount of joy that was brought to the crowd that night. Everything about the night was detailed, yet flowed so effortlessly. James Sunderland and Brett Hite performed and danced like no one was watching.  It was two friends having the time of their lives.

The duo was front and center, with a keyboardist and drummer at the back. The stage was filled with plants, two fluorescent umbrellas in the back corners that illuminated to the beat of the music, and a circular neon light in the center. The perfect aura of colors and bright lights radiating positivity, just like the reassuring feeling I got when I heard their music. From shades of pink and green to blue and orange, each song had a different light production to set the mood.

FRENSHIP 2019 © Kelsey Fitzgerald

FRENSHIP 2019 © Kelsey Fitzgerald

Throughout the night, Sunderland and Brett switched between playing their respective instruments, and having a full on dance party on stage. Their stage presence and performance was captivating and their pure joy for doing what they do was contagious, as I smiled right back at them. The soothing timbre of their voices live impressed me, but what really caught my attention was the simple yet smooth dance moves they seemed to have choreographed for some of their songs. You could tell they were absolutely comfortable on stage.

The crowd that night danced right along with them, and as each song was played, the energy was heightened. They played a majority of songs off their debut album, Vacation, such as  “Wide Open”, “Won’t Let You Go”, and “Wanted A Name.”’

As the night came to a close, they announced their last song “1000 Nights” and the crowd sang every lyric with them. They exited the stage promptly. After moments of chanting and screaming from a crowd hungry for more, the band returned to the stage for the encore. Sunderland made his way down to the barricade and started singing acapella to “GOODMORNING, Goodbye.” The energy gradually picked up again through their encore, and peaked at the moment I was waiting for all night.

FRENSHIP 2019 © Kelsey Fitzgerald

FRENSHIP 2019 © Kelsey Fitzgerald

Throughout the whole set, I was wondering when they would perform their hit song “Capsize.” I was curious to see how they would integrate Emily Warren’s vocals from the track into the live performance. Would they just sing her part? Would it be a pre-recorded vocal cut of her voice? To my surprise and with unmatched excitement from the crowd and I, Celeste Tauchar (keyboardist) emerges from behind her piano at the back of the stage and starts to sing the airy runs to begin the song. It was a magical moment and Tauchar killed it to put it very simply.

After the conclusion of the “Capsize” the duo thanked everyone for coming and played their actual last song, “Anywhere But Here.” They swayed for the last time that night so in sync and smoothly to the beat of the song. It was mesmerizing.

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Vacation - FRENSHIP

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📸© Kelsey Fitzgerald

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Kelsey Fitzgerald is a currently studying business and music technology at Virginia Tech. She enjoys going to live shows in any free time she has, honing her photography skills, and is a DJ at her college radio station. Oh, and she also likes to write about music from time to time.