Will Anderson, the lead singer of Parachute, knew just how to relate to a crowd full of William and Mary students: talk about churning butter in Colonial Williamsburg.
As a native Virginian, Anderson was happy to play up the band’s regional pride. He spent time between songs complimenting Colonial Williamsburg to cheers, though he admitted that he hadn’t applied to William and Mary — instead attending the University of Virginia — to a chorus of boos.
Parachute’s music fit the atmosphere of the Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheatre at Lake Matoaka; the easy-listening music filled the muggy summer air and the bass thumped through the soles of bare feet on the grassy tiers of the Amphitheatre. The music washed over the crowd, a mix of people who braved the mid-90’s temperature of the summer night to hear beloved old favorites and others, like me, who were unfamiliar with the band but willing to let Anderson’s smooth voice make them new fans.
I hadn’t realized before this concert was announced how much of a big deal Parachute was to some people. I recognized the band name, but wasn’t familiar with them beyond that, which was not the case for others. A few days before the concert, I asked my friends if they’d ever heard of the band.
“Do you know any Parachute songs?” I asked my roommate.
“My email address in middle school was literally parachutemania,” she said.
So, you know. A big deal.
Parachute was formed in 2006, and the fact that they’ve been doing this for a decade was apparent in their sound. Their music was polished and expertly played; they transitioned from one song to the next with little more than a pause for Anderson to grab a sip of water. He didn’t immediately say anything directly to the audience, just moving seamlessly through the opening songs. It was clear that they’ve played this set many times before. As someone new to Parachute’s music, I recognized more than one of the songs being played. I certainly wasn’t the only one singing along to “She Is Love.”
The band has considerable musical talent. Anderson would sometimes play the keyboard as he sang while a fellow band member ripped through saxophone features. Anderson would point to him — “one-way ticket to sax town, guys” — and off he’d go. The talented musicians, the radio-ready songs and the inherent nostalgia their music invoked made for a good time.
For all their talent, Parachute was fighting with the temperature, the humidity, and trying to keep the attention of a crowd that had been sweating at the Amphitheatre for hours already. By the time Anderson introduced his final song, the crowd in the grassy tiers above him had thinned out considerably. Despite the difficulty Anderson might have had with connecting in the crowd towards the back, the pit at the front of the concert stayed engaged through the whole show with a passionate knot of fans singing along with every song.
Parachute is a talented band that effectively delivered a sense of nostalgia to a tribe looking for a blast to the past. Despite the jabs from a U.Va. alum and summer air like lukewarm soup, they made the Amphitheatre the place to be this Friday night. Even as college students, it turned out we aren’t too old yet to feel the Parachute mania.