ELISE KEI-RAHN ’16
Last Tuesday evening, talented pop singer-songwriter and Trinity alumna, Rachel Platten ’03, returned to campus for an exclusive performance at The Mill. Despite currently being on a house tour, she took the time to visit her alma mater and share stories about the experiences she’s had during her time working in the music industry. Her well-attended and well-delivered performance made for an excellent and inspiring study break.
Wearing a red and white flannel over a black screen-printed t-shirt, Platten strode into the Mill’s concert room and flashed a broad smile at the eagerly awaiting audience. Although Platten graduated from Trinity over ten years ago, she seemed right at home as she mingled with the current members of the Trinitones. Platten was a member of the Trinitones during her time at Trinity. While she chose to earn a degree in International Relations during her time at Trinity, her decision to pursue a singing career is a reflection of her liberal arts education.
Despite her radiant and youthful aesthetic, as soon as she perched herself at her keyboard, Platten’s maturity as a musician began to shine through. The Mill’s newly renovated floors reflected the stage lights and emanated a warm glow around her that contrasted with the crisp autumnal nightfall outside.Unlike other performers, Platten avoided the venue’s usual platform stage and instead sat within arms reach of the students in the first row. This allowed for a more intimate performance. “I’m going to play some of my new songs for you, if you all don’t mind. But you probably didn’t know my old stuff, so it doesn’t even matter,” she joked.
Having recently wrapped up the production of her sophomore studio album, which has yet to be released, members of the Trinity community that attended the performance were among the first to hear her new tracks. Accompanied by Craig Campbell, her longtime friend and drummer, Platten ran through a new set list, which chronicled the themes of first love, heartbreak, and triumph over personal tribulations. Throughout her performance she took time to interact with the audience between songs. Through this dialogue, the audience definitely got a sense of Platten’s dedication to her art.
Later in the show, Platten confidently performed her single “1,000 Ships,” an airy, pleasurable song that reached No. 30 on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart list at the time of its release. The song contains undertones of Sarah Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson and is reflective of some of Platten’s musical influences. Another single that she performed was one that ABC Family’s popular teen drama “Pretty Little Liars” recently featured during a scene in its episode, “Begin Again”.
At times, it was difficult to distinguish Platten’s work from the likes of more prominent ‘soft-indie rocker chicks,’ but her promise became more evident when she belted “Fight Song,” which has played on NBC’s “Biggest Loser.” Platten informed the audience that she would also be playing this song for one of her biggest fans who is a young boy fighting for his life at a cancer treatment center. “I’m asking you guys to pray for him so he can make it,” she said. When she launched into the song, she maintained a very subtle balance between power and restraint in her vocal range as she crooned its powerful lyrics, “I might only have one match but I can make an explosion.”
The audience was moved by her emotional performance. When she finished her set, the audience thanked with thunderous applause. The students that attended her performance are likely to have left as new fans of this brilliant, young singer.