Sudol suddenly surfaces

Alison Sudol, who performed at A&R Music Bar on Monday.

Alison Sudol, who performed at A&R Music Bar on Monday.

Yvonne Pan, A&E Editor

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After a six-year hiatus, Alison Sudol (former stage name: A Fine Frenzy) returned onto the music scene with “Moon” on Nov. 2 of last year, under her own name. She finished out the Midwestern part of her tour at A&R Music Bar in Columbus on Monday, Sep. 9.

However, it wasn’t as if she had gone off the grid after her previous album “Pines” came out in 2012; Sudol continues to have a comprehensive acting career since her first role as Kaya in the two-time Global Globe-winning series “Transparent” in 2014. Sudol was even named one of “The 7 Most Exciting Newcomers on TV this Season” in Jan. 2015 by Elle for her role as Emma Wilson in the miniseries “Dig.”

Many more may recognize Sudol as Queenie Goldstein in the “Fantastic Beasts” series, prequel films of the “Harry Potter” series. However, despite these successes, Sudol clarifies the reason behind the hiatus in an interview with WWD last year. 

“I didn’t want to go back into music and pretend I took a hiatus because I wanted to start acting,” said Sudol. “I took a hiatus because I couldn’t bear it.”

“It” is “a damp, grey blanket of absence hanging across the landscape of [her] mind,” as explained in her note “to you who may need this” on her website, a reference to her recent diagnosis of clinical depression and anxiety.

Sudol reveals she has battled with “pain and shame” for as long as she could remember, and they affected her performance as a musician. Sudol said, “last time that I toured, I was dealing with all of this. I hid it from everyone.”

Sudol’s honesty and willingness to be vulnerable in her note and interviews extends to her performance in concert as well. Her songs are deeply emotional, discussing love and pain and she looks fragile onstage, like a shy teenager instead of a woman with an established career in her thirties.

Sudol shines on the stage. At one point, she keeps rhythm with her own drumsticks and captures the audience’s attention with her passion. When she finishes, she’s out of breath and admits that once she accidentally threw a stick into the audience. 

Local band Suitcase Runaway opened for Sudol. The band is no stranger to A&R Music Bar, having opened for Gnash at the venue in June. All of the members grew up in Cleveland and have performed at a variety of venues including Grog Shop, Mahall’s and The Flats for the Brite Winter Music & Arts Festival last February, although two of the band members currently reside in Columbus. 

Sudol asserted before she began her tour that she would not perform any songs by her band A Fine Frenzy because the name brings up unhappy memories of sexual harassment she faced. But amid pleads for an encore, she sings her most famous song, “Almost Lover,” which has more than 55 million listens on Spotify.

After the show, Sudol manned her merchandise booth, taking the time to take pictures with fans and signing posters. Up close and offstage, Sudol is the same. She stays until her last fan leaves, chatting with everyone who stops by and it is evident that she is grateful for her fans and excited to be performing again.

Sudol continues her tour this week with stops in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.