Mon. Jul 4th, 2022

For many in the Philadelphia area, Wednesday Oct. 23 was just another gorgeous autumn day. For a lucky few Anberlin fans, Wednesday was a dream come true.
Anberlin is an alternative rock band that formed in Winter Haven, Florida in 2002. For the past ten years, Anberlin has been igniting souls with their music, lyrics and incredible live shows. The band’s most recent trip to Philly was no exception.
Three of the five band members (Stephen Christian, Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhaney) started their day at Radio 104.5 in Bala Cynwyd performing a special acoustic studio session for around 20 lucky fans. Radio1045’s Wendy Rollins hosted the On-Air portion and interviewed the men of Anberlin between songs. Anberlin started their set with an amazing acoustic rendition of their latest hit single, “City Electric”, off their latest album, “Devotion.” Stephen’s vocals soared with ear-pleasing pitch perfection as Christian and Joseph provided their inherent guitar skills and back-up vocals. Next up was “Impossible,” a fan (and seemingly performer) favorite off their 2007 album, “Cities.” A few interview questions ended the On-Air portion of the studio session and the band released a deep exhale that made it seem as if they were holding their breath for the entire performance.
Once off the air, Anberlin was able to relax and interact with the audience a little more. For their third and last song, Stephen asked the audience if they had any preferences. Two girls requested a popular song off their sophomore album, but the band did not feel that they could do the song justice in an acoustic setting. With a confidence I never knew I had, I called out, “Do you think you could play The Haunting,” one of my favorite songs by the band off of a lesser-known album entitled, “Lost Songs.” After a little bit of banter back and forth with the band about how they had never played it acoustically before, the band began to play a song I had long awaited to hear live. It would be an understatement to say that they nailed it. The performance surpassed every hope and expectation I had ever imagined for that performance and my heart was on fire. It was an obvious crowd pleaser and many audience members expressed what a great song choice they felt it was. I just couldn’t stop smiling.
After the performance, audience members had a chance to briefly meet the band and have a photo taken with them. During this time, it became much more obvious to fans that the men of Anberlin are so much more than rock stars. These guys are down-to-earth, hilarious and warm-hearted in addition to all that their music says about them.
Later that day, the band had a show at Union Transfer in Philadelphia with co-headliners The Maine in addition to a well-known band, Lydia, and a lesser known, but still incredible band called From Indian Lakes.
Union Transfer is a gorgeous venue, resembling a circus tent somewhat upon initial entry into the merchandise area. The stage area is reminiscent of a Medieval grand dining hall. It is big enough to give the feeling of grandeur, but not so big that the room feels empty once the crowd fills in. The audience was heavily female, which was uncharacteristic for other Anberlin shows in the Philadelphia area, and after speaking with several attendees, it became clear that the group The Maine has a large young female following.
After openers From Indian Lakes, Lydia, and The Maine performed, Anberlin walked on stage with the cool kind of confidence they always exude at performances. Their set was filled with a good blend of old and new songs as well as softer slow songs and heavy heart pounding songs to rock out to. Crowd favorites seemed to be “Unwinding Cable Car,” “Other Side,” and the show closer, “Feel Good Drag,” during which Stephen pulled fans up onto the stage to rock with the band (if only for a few moments).
Much like every Anberlin experience I have ever had, their show in Philly was nothing short of awesome. It’s the kind of show that leaves you feeling low after it’s over simply because it’s over. Anberlin has been touring the world just about non-stop for the past couple of years and, if you have never seen them live, I highly recommend that you do next time they are in town. Even if a person is not a fan of rock music, between the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd and the flawless performance and seemingly tireless force of the band, the show is an experience you are sure to never forget.
Chelsea Freeburn is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at

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