The 15th anniversary of Riot Fest continued on Saturday with another packed day. Some of our favorite sets of the evening included The Struts, Rise Against, Andrew W.K. and Bloc Party—check out photos of those bands below!
Riot Fest 2019 kicked off yesterday on Friday the 13th. We caught sets from Caroline Rose, Mat Kerekes, Hot Snakes, The Get Up Kids, Violent Femmes, Dashboard Confessional, Descendents, and The Flaming Lips. Check out the photos below and stay tuned for galleries for Saturday and Sunday.
This past Wednesday night, The 404 Tour stopped in Chicago, bringing a lively performance from The Hunna and Barns Courtney to Park West.
The evening kicked off with British band The Hunna making their long awaited return to a stage in Chicago to perform both new material and old favorites. It had been years since The Hunna had toured The States, and they had taken a long hiatus from releasing new music until this year, so the band eased into their set with “We Could Be” from their 2016 debut album. Before the first song was even over, the energy of the band had skyrocketed, but it only continued to climb throughout their show as they played songs like “Bonfire,” “She’s Casual,” and new single “I.G.H.T.F.” During the set, lead singer and guitarist Ryan Potter threw his body into his guitar strums, climbed up on drummer Jack Metcalfe’s kit, and swung his microphone around. You could truly sense how grateful the band was to be back onstage in front of an audience far away from home ad that their return was warmly welcomed. Whether the people in the audience were fans of the band who had patiently been waiting for that return, or perhaps seeing The Hunna for the very first time, the band had every single person in the room sold on them by the end of their set.
Barns Courtney took the momentum that The Hunna had built up and propelled it to even greater heights when he burst onto the stage, twirling his microphone in the air and opened up the show with “Fun Never Ends” from his new album 404, just released this Friday. Whether intentional or not, the title of the opening song foreshadowed the lighthearted and amusing nature of the set that would follow. Besides the boundless energy he and his bandmates exuded while performing his upbeat songs, Barns Courtney also kept the audience entertained with his humorous between-song banter. Before slowing things down to deliver a solo acoustic performance of the unreleased “Hard to be Alone,” Barns invited two fans from the front row onstage, and shared the news that the couple had gotten married earlier that day— The fact that he has fans who would spend their wedding night at his concert attests to just how infectiously joyful he is as a performer. After that special, intimate moment of the set, the momentum picked right back up and finished the night on a high-note; Barns jumped off the stage to crowd surf, balloons floated around the room, and everyone danced and sang along to every song.
Between The Hunna and Barns Courtney, the 404 Tour is a blatant reminder that rock and roll is alive and well. To get your fill, see where the tour is stopping next here.
Alex Lahey returned to Chicago last week for the first time since playing Lollapalooza last year, this time headlining Lincoln Hall to a packed house.
Taking the stage first, Chicago’s own Burr Oak warmed up the crowd. Fronted by Savanna Dickhut of Elk Walking, Burr Oak is a relatively new project which allows an outlet for Savanna’s most personal songs, including the recent singles “Southsider” and “Rosemary.” The dreamy, bedroom pop songs filled the venue and connected with the entire audience— including Alex Lahey herself, who posted a bit of Burr Oak’s set on her Instagram story.
Next up, Los Angeles based Caroline Kingsbury (best known simply by her last name) took the stage with her bandmates and delivered a theatrical show. Kingsbury entered the stage donning a cowboy hat and boots, and between her synth-laced, dreamy pop songs, she told the crowd quirky anecdotes that were almost as entertaining as her energetic songs themselves. She had a stage presence and persona that immediately hooked the crowd and kept them wrapped around her the finger the whole time.
After two stellar support acts, the time had come for Alex Lahey to play her biggest headlining show in Chicago in support of her 2019 sophomore album The Best of Luck Club. The Australian singer-songwriter has been connecting with audiences across the world since 2016, with her debut EP B-Grade University.
On Tuesday night, Lahey and her bandmates entered the stage to “Welcome To The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance, which built up the energy and anticipation in the room. Once the band had taken their places onstage, they opened with the first song from the new album “I Don’t Get Invited to Parties Anymore” before launching into a stream of other new songs from the album. For the majority of the night, Lahey and her bandmates rarely remained stationary on the stage— they thrashed around and truly brought all of the songs to life with their enthusiastic stage presence. Only about halfway through the set did Lahey slow it down, when she brought out an acoustic guitar to perform “Unspoken History.” The singer acknowledged the acoustic guitar is a rare sighting at an Alex Lahey show, but the laidback performance allowed for everyone to catch their breath before the explosive second part of the show. The second half revisited some old favorites like “Lotto In Reverse” and “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me," which had everyone in the crowd singing along and dancing. The evening closed out with “I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself” from Lahey’s debut album I Love You Like a Brother, which once again had the audience echoing the words back to Lahey.
Alex Lahey wraps up her North American tour this week, but make sure you stay up to date on her upcoming shows here.
Photos of Burr Oak, Kingsbury, and Alex Lahey
Back in 2017, Australia’s King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard headlined the stage at Metro in Chicago, bringing along fellow Australian rock bands ORB and Stonefield as support acts. This past Saturday night, history repeated itself and the same lineup performed to a packed house at Aragon Ballroom.
All three acts brought a lot of new music to the stage and the crowd showed their appreciation by turning the entire floor of the venue into one massive, sweaty mosh pit. If you missed out on King Gizzard’s biggest Chicago show to date, check out our photo recap below.
Just last month, the unfortunate news broke that the annual Mamby on the Beach festival would be cancelled, due to troubles with the location. That meant that many of the artists that music fans in Chicago had been looking forward to seeing perform would no longer be in town the weekend of August 23rd and 24th. On the other hand, some of the artists were still able to book new gigs at venues around the city, and fortunately one of those artists was Nao, who performed at the Metro on Friday night.
Chicago’s own Jean Deaux took the stage first on Friday, and she did a perfect job of warming the crowd up for Nao. Jean Deaux’s set was short, but sweet, and included a ton of crowd interaction encouraged by the singer. From call-and-response style sing alongs to dance moves, the crowd remained entertained the whole time. Being her hometown, some of the audience was already well-versed with Deaux’s music, but by the end of the set she had gained the entire room’s attention and admiration with her outgoing performance style.
By the time Nao was set to take the stage, the Metro had completely filled in, and it became clear how much of a positive impact the London R&B artist’s music has had on fans, even miles away from her hometown. When the lights dimmed and Nao’s band took the stage, she actually entered from the back of the crowd, singing the entirety of “Another Lifetime” alongside her audience. While the indoor venue was obviously scaled back from the size of the festival performance, Nao’s surprise introduction made her performance even more intimate.
As the night went on, Nao continued to truly connect with the audience through her lyrics, her stage presence, and her speaking points. Nao is an artist who bares her souls in her songwriting, and when she performs, she leaves all her energy onstage. Whether she was twirling across the stage, sitting down at the edge of the stage to be physically closer to the audience, or handing out white balloons (as an homage to her Saturn album cover), Nao’s energy was something that you didn’t just watch— it was something that you felt. Everyone in the room could genuinely relate to Nao as she recited an anecdote about change and personal growth before performing her new album’s title track “Saturn.”
The difference between a good show and a great show usually comes down to the energy put out by the performer and the crowd alike, and for Nao’s Metro performance, there was nothing but positive vibes in the room that night. The show brought people of all different backgrounds into one place, allowing for strangers to share an incredible moment together.