Freak Show (album)

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Freak Show
Silverchair - Freak Show.jpg
Studio album by
Released4 February 1997 (1997-02-04)
RecordedMay – November 1996
StudioFestival Studios, Pyrmont, New South Wales, Australia
ProducerNick Launay
Silverchair chronology
Freak Show
Neon Ballroom
Singles from Freak Show
  1. "Freak"
    Released: 13 January 1997
  2. "Abuse Me"
    Released: April 1997
  3. "Cemetery"
    Released: June 1997
  4. "The Door"
    Released: October 1997

Freak Show is the second studio album by Australian alternative rock band Silverchair. It was recorded between May and November 1996 and released on 4 February 1997 by record labels Murmur and Epic. It was nominated for the 1997 ARIA Music Award for Best Group, but lost to Savage Garden.

Recording and production[edit]

Silverchair began recording their second studio album, Freak Show, in May 1996 while experiencing the success of their debut album, 1995's Frogstomp, in Australia and the US.

Freak Show was produced by Nick Launay (The Birthday Party, Models, Midnight Oil).[3][4]


Frontman Daniel Johns described the album's title in 1997 by comparing the on-the-road life of Silverchair to that of a traveling carnival. The album's front cover image is an illustration of Grady Stiles, Jr., a sideshow performer afflicted with ectrodactyly, who used the stage name "Lobster Boy". The image is courtesy of Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin.[5]

Johns also stated that some of the lyrics were toned-down for release on Freak Show. Although, the majority of the songs found on the album still retain emotional and angst-fueled themes that include disease and suicide. One writer claimed the songs focused on the anger and backlash that the expectations of Frogstomp brought upon the band.[6]

Many Freak Show songs such as "Slave", "Freak", "No Association", and "Nobody Came" were performed live two years prior to their release on the album.[citation needed] A demo version of "Freak" is featured in trailers for the 1995 space combat film Screamers. This is one of the aforementioned Freak Show songs that Silverchair debuted live as early as January 1995.[7]

Several of the songs also had different titles prior to the album's release.[citation needed] These include: "Cat and Mouse" ("The Closing"), "The Proxy Song" ("The Door"), and "Punk Song #1" ("Lie to Me"). A song entitled "Punk Song #2" was recorded but not renamed; it later appeared on the "Freak" single. "Punk Song #3" ("Satin Sheets") was originally recorded for Freak Show, but was omitted from the album and included on Neon Ballroom instead.

An unreleased song entitled "Slime" was recorded during the Freak Show sessions, but it has yet to be released. The existence of "Slime" can originally be traced back to the 1996 late October/early November European press release where it is listed amongst the rest of the Freak Show track listing. The song was described in the press release as "similar to 'No Association'" but "more melodic". Thematically-speaking, it was described as the "linchpin" of the entire album.[citation needed]


Although Freak Show was shelved until February 1997 for the general public, European and Australian promotional pressings were officially circulated throughout the music press in late October/early November 1996. The release of Freak Show was originally slated for the autumn of 1996; it was later pushed back to avoid competition from Pearl Jam's No Code.[citation needed]

Freak Show was released on 4 February 1997. The album reached number 1 in the Australian charts and yielded three Top 10 singles – "Freak", "Abuse Me" and "Cemetery".[8] Its fourth single, "The Door", reached No. 25.[8] Freak Show was certified gold in the US,[9] and 2× platinum in Australia.[10]

The album was initially released on CD and limited edition cassette and 12-inch vinyl (coloured black in Australasia and yellow in Europe; limited to 3,000 copies worldwide). The CD release of Freak Show is an enhanced CD that includes interactive CD-ROM media from the making of the album. The material found on the Enhanced CD is accessed when placing the disc into the CD-ROM drive of a computer.

The Freak Box[edit]

The Freak Box
Box set by
ReleasedNovember 1997

A limited-edition CD box set was released in 1997 by Murmur titled The Freak Box, and includes the four main singles from the album as well as a bonus CD containing interviews with the band members about the singles and their respective album.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[11]
Entertainment WeeklyC–[12]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[1]

Lorraine Ali of Rolling Stone wrote "Silverchair have loads of potential. The band may still be using other peoples' riffs to guide its post-pubescent fury, but it's the enthusiasm that makes this Freak Show more than a novelty."[1]

In his review for Freak Show, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, writing for AllMusic, wrote "Silverchair were slaves to their influences on their debut Frogstomp, but on their second album [...] they're beginning to show signs of developing their own style. While they may still concentrate too heavily on Pearl Jam and Nirvana, they're beginning to fuse the elements together in a more interesting way and are writing stronger hooks. Freak Show still has its share of mediocre moments [...] but the album shows potential that Frogstomp never did."[11] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly panned the album, writing "Freak Show is one dejected screed after another, whether the subject is an abusive father ("Nobody Came") or suicide (mentioned in several songs). [...] Attempting longer, denser dirges and grafting strings and Indian instrumentation onto other tracks, Silverchair attempt to sound more adult on Freak Show. They only succeed in sounding more joyless than ever. With its squiggly metal riffs and ludicrously self-immolating lyrics, Freak Show affords the pointless opportunity of hearing what Nirvana would have sounded like had Kurt Cobain worshipped Megadeth rather than the Melvins."[12]


In 2007, after explaining that he felt Neon Ballroom was Silverchair's "first album", Johns referred to Freak Show as "some kind of dark, high school band skeleton" in the band's "closet".[13]

In 2017, The Brag wrote that the album stills hold up, "but in a different, lighter way". They also wrote that Freak Show is like "seeing your high school sweetheart many decades later – you don't feel the love, but you can remember how it felt. It's how music works sometimes. But it's enough that it works at all."[14]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Daniel Johns.

1."Slave"Johns, Ben Gillies3:58
3."Abuse Me"Johns4:03
4."Lie to Me"Johns1:23
5."No Association"Johns, Gillies3:56
7."The Door"Johns3:38
8."Pop Song for Us Rejects"Johns3:16
9."Learn to Hate"Gillies4:19
10."Petrol & Chlorine"Johns4:00
11."Roses"Johns, Gillies3:35
12."Nobody Came"Johns, Gillies6:12
13."The Closing"Gillies3:27
Total length:49:41


Additional personnel

  • Jane Scarpantoni – cello on track 6, string arrangements on track 6
  • Margaret Lindsay – cello on track 10
  • Amanda Brown – violin on track 8
  • Ian Cooper – violin on track 8
  • Lorenza Ponce – violin on track 6
  • Elizabeth Knowles – violin on track 6
  • Todd Reynolds – violin on track 6
  • David Mansfield – violin on track 6
  • Ravi Kutilak – violin on track 10
  • Matthew Pierce – viola on track 6
  • Alan Parry – viola on track 6
  • Rudi Crivici – viola on track 10
  • Pandit Ran Chander Suman – tampura and tabla on track 10
  • Ruk Mali – sitar on track 10
  • Daniel Denholm – string arrangements on track 10


  • Nick Launayproduction, recording, mixing on "Petrol & Chlorine" and "The Closing", string arrangements on track 10
  • Andy Wallace – mixing on all tracks except "Petrol & Chlorine" and "The Closing"
  • Mark Thomas – engineering assistance (Sydney)
  • Matt Lovell – engineering assistance (Sydney)
  • Steve Sisco – engineering assistance (NYC)
  • Bob Ludwigmastering
  • John Watson – sleeve art direction
  • John O'Donnell – sleeve art direction
  • Kevin Wilkins – sleeve art direction
  • Sophie Howarth – sleeve photography
  • Adrienne Overall & others – sleeve photography
  • Lydia Kullik – cover art design


Chart (1997) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[15] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[16] 22
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[17] 41
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[18] 2
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[19] 30
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[20] 28
French Albums (SNEP)[21] 20
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[22] 42
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[23] 8
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[24] 29
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[25] 53
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[26] 43
UK Albums (OCC)[27] 38
US Billboard 200[28] 12


  • The song "Freak" was featured in the Daria episode "Malled" in 1997.


  1. ^ a b c Ali, Lorraine (27 January 1997). "Freak Show review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Reviews & Previews". Billboard. Vol. 109 no. 9. 1 March 1997. p. 59. ISSN 0006-2510.
  3. ^ Nimmervoll, Ed. "Silverchair". HowlSpace – The Living History of Our Music. White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 13 October 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  4. ^ Spencer, Chris; McHenry, Paul; Nowara, Zbig (2007) [1989]. "'silverchair' entry". The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Moonlight Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86503-891-9.
  5. ^ McIver, Stuart (1995). Murder in the Tropics. Pineapple Press. p. 43. ISBN 1561644412.
  6. ^ Wooldridge, Simon (February 1997). "Freak Show Review". Juice.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "Silverchair Discography". Archived from the original on 13 October 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  9. ^ "RIAA > Gold & Platinum > Search results for 'Silverchair' (from". (original source published by Recording Industry Association of America). Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  10. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 1997 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  11. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Freak Show – Silverchair | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  12. ^ a b Browne, David (17 January 2015). "Freak Show; Ixnay on the Hombre". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  13. ^ Alessio, Dom (27 March 2007). "Silverchair: Skeletons in the Closet". FasterLouder. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  14. ^
  15. ^ " – Silverchair – Freak Show". Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  16. ^ " – Silverchair – Freak Show" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  17. ^ " – Silverchair – Freak Show" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  18. ^ "Silverchair Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  19. ^ " – Silverchair – Freak Show" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Silverchair: Freak Show" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  21. ^ " – Silverchair – Freak Show". Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  22. ^ " – Silverchair – Freak Show". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  23. ^ " – Silverchair – Freak Show". Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  24. ^ " – Silverchair – Freak Show". Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  25. ^ " – Silverchair – Freak Show". Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  26. ^ " – Silverchair – Freak Show". Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  27. ^ "Silverchair | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  28. ^ "Silverchair Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 5 April 2015.