Always the Third Row

I never imagined that I would attend a concert in the city on a school night. But I suppose even the most studious of us will make exceptions, particularly when the concert is an event that’s been five years in the making.

My best friend, Rachel, introduced me to the band, Parachute, sometime around 2011-2012. She’d written a short story inspired by what is arguably the group’s most devastatingly upsetting song, Forever and Always, and wanted me to read it. (I warned you about the song; don’t blame me if you start crying when you listen to it.)

It was all downhill from there: Rachel sent me the remainder of the album, The Way It Was, and now here we are. The two of us spent the next three years watching the band go on several tours that skipped over the Bay Area, and we reluctantly chose not to attend their San Francisco concert last year when they opened for two headliners with whom we were completely unfamiliar.

When it was announced that the band would play at the Great American Music Hall April 19, 2016, there was no question about it. We would be there.

Will Anderson, Parachute | Photo by Courtney Cheng


Waiting for the doors to open at a concert venue is one of the best and worst parts of the entire experience. Anticipation runs high, and time passes excruciatingly slowly. This time, it was even worse — do you know how much anxiety you have when you’re waiting for a moment you’ve been envisioning for five years?

In retrospect, I needn’t have worried so much. Parachute is a relatively small band, and the venue was equally intimate. This was already enough to make the show outlive our wildest expectations. Lead singer, Will Anderson, sauntered in and out of the theater’s front door several times as fans waited to be let in. On one of these trips, he even told me that my pizza (Thank you for giving me your leftovers, Rachel.) looked good. And me, prolific foodie and writer that I am, could only say: “It is.”

Boh Doran | Photo by Courtney Cheng

As for the music… It’s difficult to gauge the quality of something when you’re so emotionally invested, but in my best attempt at being objective: the concert was wonderful.

Both opening acts — Boh Doran and Jon McLaughlin — worked the crowd well. Although she was essentially unknown to the audience, Boh Doran captivated with her soulful songs and lovely voice. Jon McLaughlin (perhaps best known for singing “So Close” in Enchanted) quickly won over the entire audience with his ability to simultaneously work three different keyboards. (I will not lie though — it was definitely an advantage that the largest demographic of this audience was teenage/young adult women who thought he was a dreamboat.)

Jon McLaughlin | Photo by Courtney Cheng

Not long after, Parachute took to the stage with a bang. Anderson is an incredibly energetic, enthusiastic performer, and it’s obvious that he loves interacting and engaging with his audience. The stage was small, but he knew precisely how often to move from one end to the other, and when to remain center stage.


The setlist was (again, I’m biased) everything I hoped and dreamed it would be — with the exception of one song, but I think that would’ve been asking for a bit too much. They balanced some of their more recent songs with old favorites, and Anderson also took the time to chat with the audience at particular moments throughout the show. (Thank you for acknowledging all of us poor souls who had work and/or school the next day.)

Everything about this show was incredibly enjoyable, and it’s likely that this show will earn the honor of being my all-time favorite concert experience — but not for reasons that you’d already expect.

Honestly, I don’t think I will ever attend another show where the lead singer jumps offstage and into the audience during the last song of the night.

Parachute | Photo by Courtney Cheng

Anderson had a very nice cotton, bomber jacket. I quite liked it. I also quite enjoyed dancing with him (and the rest of the audience) in the center of the floor. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this: He was literally right in front of Rachel and me, jumping up and down as he sang.

It was exhilarating, exciting, and unbelievable. I don’t even have words to express just how amazing those ten seconds were.

It’s one thing to attend a concert with your best friend, but to attend such a highly anticipated concert with your best friend and leave with the memory of partying with the lead singer is on a completely different level.

Thank you, Parachute, for putting on such an incredible, memorable show. Rachel and I had a lot of expectations for this, and you blew them all out of the water.

Please come back soon.

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