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VISITING ACT ‌ Not yet over their heads

The Fray: here to stay?

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The Fray return to Charleston This Thursday With Openers Aqualung
  • The Fray return to Charleston This Thursday With Openers Aqualung

Barely two years ago, they were gigging at the Windjammer and scraping for dates at medium-sized clubs across the Southeast. This week, they're headlining the North Charleston Coliseum. And it'll be a full house for sure. Something must be working well for The Fray.

Guitarist Joe King and pianist Isaac Slade formed the band in 2002, adding drummer Benjamin Wysocki and guitarist David Welsh shortly thereafter. In 2005, the melody-driven, delicately spiritual Denver-based pop-rock quartet sparked out of the bustling local scene to become an acclaimed songwriting act.

After releasing an EP in 2003, they tightened their anthemic, piano-heavy sound (bits of late-era U2, Coldplay, Joe Jackson, and Counting Crows) and signed with Epic Records in 2004 and recorded their debut album, How to Save a Life, in early 2005. The first single, "Over My Head (Cable Car)," enjoyed major commercial radio airplay (before 96 Wave went practically all-metal, local listeners would recognize it as the one that starts out with Slade singing, "I never knew ..."). By the year's end, they were opening for Weezer along and booking spots on virtually every late-night talk show (Letterman, Conan, Leno, and Kilborn) as well as Good Morning America.

The Fray's latest single, "How to Save a Life," became a smash follow-up hit last year, thanks in large part to its inclusion in the soundtrack to TV's Grey's Anatomy and HBO's montage of The Sopranos. VH-1 and MTV embraced them as the next Radiohead (or Linkin Park). Sorority girls swooned for them as the next Coldplay. Detractors dismissed them as a flash in the pan. Music writers struggled to get the "I never knew ..." line out of their heads. —T. Ballard Lesemann

The Fray share the stage with Aqualung at the N. Charleston Coliseum (5001 Coliseum Dr., 529-5050) on Thurs. April 26. Doors are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $34.50. Check www.thefray.net for more.

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