At what point do you stop trying? When do you give up? What happens when you look back at everything you’ve done, every accomplishment, and realize you haven’t made the progress you deserve? How do you know when a career you have dedicated your life to is at an end?
These are tough questions many ask themselves every day, and even more so in the music industry where the difference between success and failure seems like a wafer thin line. These were questions Rachel Platten was asking herself a few years ago. “I had a really dark moment in December when I actually thought, ‘Can I do this anymore?’ I just collapsed on my bed and was thinking about how I wasn’t making money and nothing was sticking,” she told music journalist Rob Ledonne during an interview with The Guardian. After years of trying to breakthrough, being signed and subsequently dropped following the release of “1,000 Ships” times were tough for the Massachusetts raised singer.
Fast forward to April 2016 and she shoots on stage in front of a busy Regency Ballroom in San Francisco; stop number twenty-four on her Wildfire Tour. It is a far cry from playing to “fifteen people” at Hotel Utah a few years ago. The crowd was mixed, teeny boppers (some with fluorescent bands so they could be easily identified by parents and chaperones) filled the floor while the older crowd largely occupied the comfortable seats upstairs.
Rachel has a very energetic stage presence. Two platforms either side were helpful props as she moved over every inch of the Regency stage’s broad diameter. Arms were shooting in the air with a smile seeming to be permanently attached to her face; almost every line was delivered seemed to radiate with happiness.
The set was full of surprises; an acoustic cover of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” was a nice alternative version and even included some beatboxing from Rachel towards the end. Many in the audience being caught by surprise, those at the back wondering if it really was her making the beats with her mouth! The bigger surprise was Matt Nathanson joining her on stage towards the end of the main set. The moving acoustic interlude had people rushing to the front (and some of those in the seats heading downstairs) was a treat for the Bay Area crowd.
“Superman” provided an emotional start to the encore and served as the warm up to the “Fight Song” finale. The lyrics about not giving up resonated, the song’s delivery was uplifting and had people still singing along as they excited into the evening chill.
The start of Rachel Platten’s story is a familiar one – trying to make it in a brutal and cut-throat industry. Every step forward accompanied by two steps back. It’s funny to think when “Fight Song” was originally released it didn’t even chart. Indeed, Rachel herself realized time was running out, “I don’t have any time left.’ In this industry, there’s no pop artist that can make it past 30,” she told Marc Snetiker of Entertainment Weekly.
The right concoction of luck, hard work and determination made the next chapter turn out alright for Rachel Platten, and it is hard not to get caught up, and feel at least a little inspired by her story. The next album will be telling. New pressures as she navigates the world of fame and attention will present new challenges. Right now though she’s enjoying her moment and I am sure she’ll come out fighting if anyone tries to take it away!