Marc Scibilia, like Rector, is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter. His set wasn’t extravagant in the least, but it was hard to look away from him just jamming on stage with his red Gibson and crooning into his vintage microphone.
He played a fairly short set, no more than five or six songs. He’s a modern day Buddy Holly/Buffalo Springfield combo that looks like James Dean—a pretty fantastic combination if I do say so myself. The crowd frustrated me quite a bit; many of them were talking so loudly that at times it distracted me from his performance. Why go to a show if you’re just going to be screaming over the music trying to talk to your friends the entire time? But I didn’t let it take away from enjoying his songs like “Better Man,” which he wrote in a motel room on his 22nd birthday. It’s a sweet and modest song in which he’s saying he’s not good enough to be with girl but she makes him feel like he is. Obviously, “Better Man” was my favorite, but he had a few standouts like “Sideways,” his fast-talkin story of a song and “Shinin’ Like America,” inspired by the Miss America pageant, during which he toted a harmonica. He’s one of the few artists out there trying to keep the nitty-gritty singer/songwriter style alive. Scibilia embodies the effortless meshing of “old school” and modernity. If you like rugged sounds that you could listen to for hours check out his self-titled EP, physical copies of which he gave out for FRRREEEEE after the show. He can write and he’s generous, to boot? C’mon, what more could you ask for?
Thankfully, Ben Rector didn’t leave us hanging for too long after Marc Scibilia finished up his set. He opened “Never Gonna Let You Go” from his newest release Something Like This and continued on with what is perhaps his biggest hit, “White Dress.” Ben brought a tear to everyone’s eye during “When A Heart Breaks,” and immediately after made everyone laugh during the funniest part of his set, which occurred before, during, and after “Loving You Is Easy.” Every night he asks the audience for an item or topic, Ben then improvises a third verse based on whatever is thrown at him. Thursday’s topic just happened to be “bow ties,” which was so fitting considering Charleston is the bow tie capital of the universe. This was a great moment—it proved that a musician can be a huge goof and still put on a phenomenal show. Anyone who can have me tearing up one minute and in the next have me laughing out loud while singing “I want to look fly so I have to go down to J. Crew and get me a bow tie” deserves a gold star stuck to a gold medal gifted to them in the Stanley Cup.
We were then treated to the unreleased “Forever Like That,” which was immediately tucked away in the “potential wedding songs” file that most girls have hardwired into their brains. Knocking down the hypothetical “barrier” that separates performers from their audience, Rector proceeded to make our hearts melt, singing “Home,” and dedicating it to Charleston, following up with the sweet and romantic “She Is.” He got our bodies moving during “The Beat,” coercing everyone to let loose and dance when the beat drops. Since then I’ve listened to the song about twenty times, each time more enjoyable than the last. Most bands play their “last” number, leave the stage, and then come back onstage after listening to the fans chant for a good thirty seconds to a minute. Not Ben Rector, though. He has a better plan—finishing the last song, which was “Let the Good Times Roll,” not even bother leaving the stage, and launch straight into the encore. Breaking yet another performance rule, he covered Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Honestly, I didn’t think it would work but, silly me, of course he pulled it off effortlessly. As one of the crazy Whitney fans that cried when she passed away, I was very impressed with his rendition.
Ben Rector is a force to be reckoned with. He has so much soul that he just lets run wild in his music. It’s vibrant, catchy, emotion inducing, and every other thing you could desire in an artist’s work. His show at the Music Farm was hands down one of the greatest I’ve been to in Charleston since starting school here a bit over a year ago. Everything, even Marc Scibilia’s opening set, served to enhance the impact of Ben’s show. Do your best to catch him in the flesh when you have a chance, and be sure to download and listen to his entire discography on repeat as soon as you can.