Dar Williams Concert Review

Story posted December 5, 2022 in

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A quiet night in downtown State College, unusually quiet and appropriately cold for a Thursday in December, welcomed the return of folk singer-songwriter and author Dar Willliams.

According to Williams, she has performed in State College many times over the past 20 years, and she commented on her pleasure to return and see how it has changed.

That night she stood facing the audience, guitar in hand, water on a stool and a man accompanying her every so often on a grand and electric piano.

The show was intimate; it felt as if she were talking directly to each individual audience member simultaneously.

No one in the audience ever felt the need to join in or check their phone, the State Theater completely dark, and the audience excitedly awaiting her next move.

She started her show strong with the song “When I Was a Boy” which is the first track on the first album she ever released.

On the announcement of her singing the song, many of William’s fans in the audience clapped and cheered in glee.

These fans obviously knew what magic was to come.

It was soon discovered by those who had never seen Williams play live before that she is one of those musicians with the rare talent of sounding better live than recorded.

On their own, Williams’ albums are a workshop in storytelling, but somewhat unengaging.

Her long ramblings of life in small towns and gray days and wishes for a better world in a Dolores O'Riordan vocal quality can fall flat when listened to successively.

But Williams' humorous and witty anecdotes discussing her life and history that inspired these songs, weaved together the event into an engaging and highly enjoyable show.

WIlliam is a writer first before a musician.

She painted pictures with words of her being flat broke in Berkeley, surrounded by panty-stealing artists and white-haired chess players as she transitioned into her song “Berkeley.”

She was self-reflective enough to describe her climate activism song “Today and Every Day” as a “very muppety song” in “more of a Fozzie Bear way than a Big Bird '' sort of way.

She used impressive vocabulary and gentleness when discussing her positive experiences in psychotherapy, which led her to write the song “What Do You Hear in These Sounds.”

She spoke of old friends, changes in the music industry, Blobfest and the importance of growth in small towns.

The show was a reflection of a woman who has spent over 30 years writing and performing what she observes and how it has stuck with her.

Other than a couple of vocal bumps from spending far too long in her head voice rather than in her deeper range, this show was smooth and exactly what it needed to be.

There was at no point a question whether the show contained bad lyricism, instrumentals or vocals because her voice and point of view pushed through so clearly and there was no better way for her to go about her performance.

After the hour and a half long show ended and a small encore, Williams left the stage and interacted with the audience members in the lobby.

A hoard of people flooded the lobby, waiting for an opportunity to speak with the singer.

If you are a fan of folk music or singer songwriters, Dar Williams is worth a listen. And no matter who you are, the next time she stops by State College, you should definitely see her in person.

Rating: 8/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Songs: “Little Town,” “Magical Thinking”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: N/A

Eliza Casey is a second-year majoring in telecommunications. To contact her, email egc5236@psu.edu.