SYML: The Man Who Plays With My Emotions

Author: Bridget Benevides

Sunday night, Brian Fennell, also known as SYML, finished the final leg of his tour at The Neptune Theater in Seattle. With many of his friends and family in the room, he put on a very passionate and fun performance for us, and when he said, “This is the best show so far!” I honestly believed him.

The night began with one of the best openers I have ever had the pleasure of seeing—EXES. EXES consists of Allie McDonald and Mike Derenzo from Los Angeles, California. They are said to be inspired by the people, places and things of their past. Their music was easy to fall in love with, as McDonald’s voice was smooth and unique, and she danced on stage like there was nowhere else she’d rather be. Before playing the song “Cain”, she explained that she wrote it for her first love, who passed away four years ago. Having this short back story, followed a deeply emotional song, I was enveloped in full body chills, and the crowd seemed to hold their breath as they took it all in. In the description of the Official Music Video on YouTube, there is a quote from Allie McDonald explaining how she came to write this song, and this video itself is beautiful as well. EXES is a bright new band that I look forward to getting to know better. In fact, they just released an album in September, so I know where I will be starting.

Against a blue background, Allie McDonald rests her head on the shoulder of Mike Derenzo and they stare up into the distance.
Image Courtesy of Sarah Elley

After a brief intermission, SYML took the stage with 4 other men. There were a plethora of instruments including a violin, cello, and acoustic guitar. They began without an introduction and went straight into playing the song “Connor”. After that he put down his guitar, came to the mic and said, simply, “Hi.”, which was met by enthusiastic whoops and hollers from the crowd. After introducing himself and saying how excited he was to be back in Seattle, surrounded by friends and family he said, “Everyone here is a part of my family now, so thank you for being a part of it.” This is one thing that stuck with me about his show—how casually he speaks to the audience, and how he doesn’t put himself on a pedestal or make himself seem unreachable. He plays songs about the tragic ambiguity of the human condition and goes up stage and shows the audience a part of himself.

SYML, wearing a green button up shirt, plays his blue and white electric guitar and sings intro the microphone.
Image Courtesy of Shamrockraver

SYML played his instruments so smoothly, his fingers dancing on the piano keys or gracefully picking at the guitar, that you might not even realize it was him who was playing. I was lucky because he performed all of my favorite songs: Girl, WDWGILY, Meant to Stay Hid and Where’s My Love.

The crowd was full, young and old folks all came out to hear SYML’s music.  There were many couples, embracing and laughing. There were kids, college students, and people from all walks of life. And while I wouldn’t necessarily consider his music dancing music, some people put their hands to the sky and moved joyously to the music. In terms of visuals, the show was pretty limited, but it really didn’t matter because the vibrations of the music filled the room more than any lights ever could. Simple blue, purple and white lights set the mood and the fog machine smelled like toasted marshmallows.

SYML stands on stage, playing an acoustic guitar. He is illuminated by two spotlights that originate behind him. Behind him on his left and right are two of his band members, one playing piano and the other sitting at a drum set.
Image Courtesy of Shamrockraver

He admitted that every year is crazier than the last, and it is safe to assume that most people feel the same way. Sometimes it is hard to support one and other or to talk about it, but music has the power to speak to people, and that is what is so beautiful about it.  That is what is so touching about him and the music he creates. He doesn’t just write about love, but he works through complicated emotions. He writes about loss and brings beauty to pain. He had me laughing, he brought me close to tears, I heard his music in a new light, yet again, and I fell in love even more with his words.

Bridget Benevides | He referred to singing as “throat noises” | KXSU Music Reporter

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