PA.B. did it again; a wonderful singer graced the stage in the Den at 8 pm on the 15th of February. While the posters around campus have him listed as Austin Kyle, he has since made the crossover to Austin Renfroe. “I’m going back to my roots,” he said. Austin Kyle was a way for him to stay separate from his mother’s career, but on the advice of others who have been in the business longer than him, he has decided to change to Austin Renfroe. He has been touring for three months now, his latest stop bringing him to Parkside.
He has been playing the guitar and writing songs for seven years, the process starting as a competition amongst his family members, turning into the need for him to have talent of his own, and then one day in high school he came to the realization that this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Professionally, he has been playing for four years. A fun fact: Renfroe has the same vocal coach as Usher, Justin Bieber, and Rob Thomas. His style is far different from the aforementioned names, though, with his style of music falling into what some may considered acoustic/pop.
Renfroe, a fan of love songs, made sure to sweep a few girls off their feet during his performance. A mashup of his favorite Disney love songs was included in the program, as way as spontaneous tiny bits of other songs he enjoys: “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars, “Forget You” by Cee-Lo Green, “Ordinary People” by John Legend, and the classic “Hit Me Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears were among the “tiny bits” he sang. He gave his own brand of advice, telling the boys in the room that the best way to win a girl over is to serenade her, to which more than a few girls in the room willingly agreed to.
Renfroe was charismatic and humorous, laughingly pointing out, “There’s an arcade over there just teasing me with wonderment.” He was a performer who went out of his way to include the audience. One of the highlights of the night was when he took a break from the stage and spontaneously walked around the Den, making a song up as he went around, taking the time to greet and meet some of the students who had attended. Another highlight was when he gave CD’s to a group of young children who had attended, making sure to sign the CD’s and wish them off when they had to leave early.
“People get to hear the stuff no one else has heard yet,” he said, pointing out that many of the original songs he sang were new material that had been composed shortly before he went on tour. His songs exhibited the qualities that make a true musician. “Taking Me Under” was an emotional love song while “Take Me Back” was a heartfelt breakup song. And there was variety in the performances, with a great rock-n-roll song thrown in the middle of his set. He ended strongly with the song “Say Goodbye,” closing the show with a bang.
After the show, I had the pleasure to speak with the singer for a few moments. When asked what music is to him, he replied, “I think music is an emotion that comes out in a song that people can relate to when they can’t find the words to say what they feel.” And when asked what the best part of performing is, he said, “I love when a song connects. When there’s a connection between you and the audience and people are right there with you…it doesn’t matter if it’s ten people or a million.”
Overall, the performance was fantastic. He connected with the audience, and even though he was sick he kept the energy of the set high and sang near spot-on. Renfroe was also backed by a great keyboard player and drummer. If anyone is interested in checking him out, they can find him on facebook or visit his website at http://www.TheAustinRenfroe.com.