Denison Witmer brings Philadelphia Songs to Rockford

Denison Witmer brings Philadelphia Songs to Rockford

By Catherine Palmeno, Guest Reviewer

On Friday, September 20, The Divine Cup held an all-acoustic (for the most part) show with acclaimed headliner, Denison Witmer. The night started off with three-fifths of the Midwest band Seventy Two Others, who played a half-acoustic, half-electric set. Their blend of emotionally driven indie and folk rock pleased the audience (which, with the intimate atmosphere, was sitting down). James Stephen, an employee at the Cup, was next to play. His one-man acoustic-electric performance was stirring and thought provoking. Next were The Braves (minus their drummer), who put on an acoustic set that showed they can play amazingly plugged or unplugged.

Witmer was last to play, and certainly the most anticipated. He’s already gotten rave reviews from newspapers and magazines on his past releases and his new album, Philadelphia Songs, a melodic blend of indie rock and confessional, Elliot Smith-like lyrics. Denison’s appearance was sure to please the crowd. He took the stage with four guitars at his side (two electric, two acoustic).

Witmer played requests of his four other releases (Of Joy and Sorrow, The ’80s, River Bends and Safe Away) aside from Songs, and stated that he didn’t have a real set list because he said he “liked playing songs I haven’t played in a while and letting the audience choose.”

It was this kind of connection with the audience that has made Denison so popular with people. When he combines his heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics with the way he levels himself with his listeners, he makes you feel like a part of the show. Witmer’s purity is what makes him so likable; he doesn’t sound like a rock star, but a friend telling you his secrets. His set was a haunting tapestry of intimate music that lingered and stayed with the pleased crowd. His fans, as well as the Divine Cup were very thrilled to have him in the area, and would welcome him back with open arms.

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