Live Recap: Snail Mail Returns to TNK Fest for a Sold Out Show with Varsity and Lala Lala
Last year, Lindsey Jordan’s project Snail Mail played a sold out headline show at Schubas as part of Chicago’s annual TNK Festival, and this year, Jordan and her band returned to do the same. Only this time, they played to about five times as many people at The Metro.
From the moment the doors opened at the Wrigleyville venue, streams of fans took their place in the packed room for a great night of music, which kicked off at 9PM sharp with Chicago’s own Varsity. The indie pop-rock five piece delivered a short, but sweet set to warm everyone up for the rest of the night. Varsity kept their between-song banter to a minimum and smoothly transitioned from song to song in order to pack in as many of their tunes as possible into their set time. The crowd sang along to a lot of Varsity’s familiar favorites, like “So Sad, So Sad,” which got a lot of cheers when the opening chords rang out. Before closing out with one of their latest singles “The Dogs Only Listen to Him,” the band tested out a brand new song on the attentive audience.
Next, it was time for Lala Lala, the project of Chicago-based singer-songwriter Lillie West. The set kicked off with the single “Water Over Sex” from Lala Lala’s second album The Lamb, which was just released in September last year, but was easily one of my top played albums of 2018. Based on the amount of people singing and dancing along, it clearly wasn’t just me who had the album on repeat. Like the album itself, the live set showcases the dynamic production and soundscapes of the songs, ranging from the jarring, percussive intro of “I Get Cut” to the mellow and slow-building “Lala Song.” Although West’s live lineup of fellow Chicago musicians often changes with different tours based on schedules, her current band had great chemistry and seamlessly flowed with one another. West and the band closed out the set on a high note, performing West and WHY?’s collaboration “Siren 042,” which had just been released the week prior. The final song of the set featured Sen Morimoto on saxophone, who will also be joining Lala Lala on their nearly two month tour that kicked off last week.
Finally, with the crowd warmed up and anxious for Snail Mail to hit the stage, the lights dimmed and Jordan made her way onstage with her bandmates. The musicians were welcomed with an overwhelming wave of cheers and applause as they began an instrumental intro, which bled into the single “Heat Wave” from Snail Mail’s 2018 debut album Lush. The crowd immediately became a choir, echoing the lyrics back to Jordan, who gave her approval with a “sounds good” and a smile. While Snail Mail may only have one album out, the band spent 2018 touring relentlessly, and the graceful and humble nature displayed by Jordan on Thursday night was that of a seasoned, veteran performer.
Throughout the rest of the set, Jordan’s humility remained, paired with an effortless and natural stage presence that kept the sold-out crowd hypnotized. Whether it was to songs from the album, like “Let’s Find An Out” and “Deep Sea,” or earlier material like “Thinning” from Snail Mail’s 2016 EP Habit, the audience never stopped singing along. When it came time for Jordan to perform the lead single from the album, “Pristine,” she invited a couple of guests up onstage to lend a hand as backing vocalists. As the night began to wind down, Jordan closed out the set sans band to give a solo performance of “Anytime” and “Stick.”
If you missed out on tickets to the memorizing TNK show, see where you can catch Snail Mail next here.
Photos of Varsity, Lala Lala and Snail Mail at TNK night two