Filtering by Tag: Live Recap
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
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.
After releasing their brand-spankin' new EP Dispassionate in May, Together Pangea has hit the road with the recently rebranded Ultra Q and veteran garage rockers Tijuana Panthers. The stacked bill stopped by The Foundry in Philadelphia on Thursday, July 18.
Ultra Q (formerly Mt. Eddy) opened up the show with their recent singles “Redwood” and “Gool,” along with old fan favorites that had the crowd singing along. The band played a few songs off of Chroma from the band’s old Mt. Eddy days, and the popular single ‘“ Luv Robert Smith.” After making the crowd dance on their feet, Tijuana Panthers took the stage and beguiled the crowd with singles off of their latest album Carpet Denim. With a discography spanning ten years, Tijuana Panthers played a variety of hits, but a majority of the setlist was dedicated to songs off of Carpet Denim.
By the time California surf rockers Together Pangea took the stage, the crowd was ready to get rowdy. The band kicked off their extensive setlist with a few favorites from their 2017 album Bulls and Roosters, Badillac, and of course, the EP Dispassionate. Fans were feeling the surf rock so hard that security didn’t know how to handle the intense mosh pitting happening all around!
The band just wrapped up their tour in Indianapolis, but if you didn’t get a chance to catch them this time around, they will be hitting the road this fall. Check out their website for additional details and make sure to stream Dispassionate on your favorite music platform.
Photos of Ultra Q, Tijuana Panthers, and Together Pangea
More on Together Pangea:
The second day of Pitchfork Festival started off with the same sweltering heat as day one, but a fair amount of festival goers showed up as gates opened to take in the full day of music. The forecast showed continuous sunny skies all day to accompany the heat, but the fest ended up being suddenly evacuated around 5PM by a storm that came out of nowhere. The festival organizers were able to make the call just before torrential downpour hit the park, and most attendees were able to seek shelter in nearby bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, Kurt Vile and Freddie Gibbs sets were cut during the storm, but the festival did reopen after an about an hour of downtime, continuing the night with good weather. Despite the evacuation, day two still proved to be a great day with plenty of highlights. Read about my favorite Saturday moments below!
Lala Lala, the project of songwriter and musician Lillie West, opened the second day of the festival with the same all-star band roster that had performed the night prior at Metro, which included V.V. Lightbody, KAINA, Sen Morimoto and Nnamdi Ogbonnaya playing alongside West. Despite having the first set of the day, the heat, and the fact that they were coming off playing a late show the night prior, the entire band sounded as flawless and refreshed as ever. The early day crowd listened intently, even during some of the quieter moments of the set, like the performance of “Scary Movie." Lala Lala’s set also included a cover of “Slip Away” by Perfume Genius, who has also previously performed at Pitchfork Festival. Lala Lala has continuously been one of my favorite bands to see play around the city, but this set was my favorite from them to date.
Ric Wilson kicked off the Red Stage for the second day, and his set was hands down my favorite of the day, if not the entire festival. Wilson’s set had literally everything you could want from a festival show; an interactive dance party, guest appearances, and a positive message. The Chicago based artist immediately let the crowd know that he doesn’t tolerate any hate by starting his set with a call and response chant where to told the crowd “no racist, no sexist, no homophobic, and no bullshit” behavior would be tolerated here. The positive vibes continued as Wilson danced across the stage with a beaming smile. A few songs into the set, the first guest appearance came from collaborator and Pitchfork Festival alum, Kweku Collins, who played the festival last year. The energetic performance also featured an appearance from the Lane Tech marching band. And finally, Wilson closed out his set with everyone in the crowd participating in a Soul Train style dance off, which left everyone walking away with a smile on their face to enjoy the rest of the festival.
After taking a break to cool down, I moved over to the shaded Blue Stage to catch an afternoon set from Los Angele’s Jay Som. The singer’s dream pop tunes provided the perfect mid-day, chilled out set for festival goers, acting as a retreat from the chaos of the festival and the blistering heat. Jay Som and her band played through trusted favorites like “Baybee” and “The Bus Song” as the audience echoed the words back to the singer. The festival set also included a couple of new ones from the upcoming album Anak Ko, out later this summer via Polyvinyl Records.
Parquet Courts played next on the Green Stage, and they brought tons of energy along with them. It took mere seconds into the band’s first song of the set for the crowd to get amped up and start moshing, even with everyone being drenched in harsh sunlight. Starting at 4:15pm, Parquet Courts’ set took place during the day’s sweet spot, when more and more people decided to start showing up. The band’s uptempo rock tunes like “Master of My Craft” and “Total Football” were perfect for setting up the tone of the evening ahead. Unfortunately about 15 minutes before Parquet Courts’ set was slated to end, they made an announcement to the crowd that weather conditions might cut them short. After playing the title track of their 2018 album Wide Awake, festival goers were asked to calmly evacuate the site and find shelter. While it might have been cut short, the part of Parquet Courts’ set that we did get to experience was definitely a highlight of Saturday.
Following the evacuation of the festival and the downpour of rain, the park opened back up around 6:30PM for sets from Stereolab and Belle & Sebastian. As both of these bands played their sets, the sun once again shone down on Union Park and all was right— almost giving the feeling that it was a completely different day.
Before long, the sun began to set on Saturday, and it was then time for the legendary Isley Brothers to close out the night. Their spot on the festival lineup seemed a little out of place between more contemporary pop acts HAIM and Robyn, who bookended the weekend as the other headliners. However, when the brothers and their live ensemble made their way onto the stage to “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince playing as their introduction song, it was clear that we were all in for a show. As the band began their set of throwbacks, even the younger audience members who might have been unfamiliar with the group’s music could recognize bits of the songs that have been sampled by other artists. The Isley Brothers instantly had the audience moving along to their soulful music, and onstage, they had extravagantly dressed backup singers and dancers to accompany them.
More photos of Saturday featuring Lala Lala, Ric Wilson, Jay Som, Parquet Courts, Stereolab, Belle and Sebastian, and the Isley Brothers
Stay tuned for more Pitchfork Festival coverage
After the last set at Union Park on Friday, music fans made their way to Metro for a double-header Pitchfork aftershow with Lala Lala and Grapetooth. The night started with a DJ set from Title TK, who had the crowd dancing as they settled in for the night and waited for Lala Lala to take the stage.
With the crowd warmed up, Lillie West and her bandmates began their set around 10:30, filling the room with dreamy melodies and captivating harmonies. West has always been at the center of Lala Lala and toured with an array of different musicians, but her band roster for Pitchfork weekend included some of the best musicians based out of Chicago at the moment—including V.V. Lightbody, KAINA, Sen Morimoto and Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. As the group played through songs from Lala Lala’s 2018 album The Lamb, the dynamic and multi-faceted nature of West’s songwriting was showcased. Songs like “Scary Movie” and “See You at Home” took a step back and slowed things down, with the latter featuring Sen Morimoto on saxophone. “Spy” and “Water Over Sex” built up the energy and momentum, creating a juxtaposition between the smoother, more subtle songs of the night.
By the end of Lala Lala’s set, the venue had mostly filled in, and the rowdy crowd beckoned Grapetooth onstage by chanting “Friday Night! Up All Night! Red wine in my blood tonight!”—which has become a tradition of sorts at Grapetooth’s past shows in Chicago at venues like Lincoln Hall and Thalia Hall.
While the show would eventually end in a much more intense way, Grapetooth began their set with one half of the duo, Clay Frankel, taking the stage for a solo performance of a new song—armed with just his guitar and harmonica. Following the gentle introduction, Grapetooth co-founder Chris Bailoni and drummer Justin Vittori took the stage to play the single “Violent” from the band’s 2018 debut album. As soon as the chorus for “Violent” kicked in, audience members were already up in the air crowd surfing and throwing each other around in a sweaty mosh pit. The dance party continued for the first half of the set, and eventually Frankel and Bailoni welcomed their friend and Chicago musician James Swanberg to the stage right around midnight. Swanberg’s bit kicked off a steady roll of guest appearances; Lillie West returned to the stage to perform a new song she co-wrote with Grapetooth, followed by an appearance from OHMME, who sang backing vocals on “Red Wine.” Next, Ian Sweet and James Swanberg joined OHMME for the second to last song “Imagine On”— and finally, a whole bunch of friends crashed the stage for the closing song of the night: Grapetooth’s debut single '“Trouble.” While the band’s friends joined them onstage to dance and sing the catchy, mischievous anthem, the crowd continued to go wild, ending the night (and day one of Pitchfork Fest) with a bang.
Hailing all the way from Queensland, Australia, garage punk band The Chats brought their raucous, rowdy show to Wicker Park’s Subterranean venue on July 15th. Although the band was a long way from home, tickets for the gig had sold out months prior despite it being a Monday night. When the day finally rolled around, the weather in Chicago had reached blistering temperatures, but regardless of the heat, enthusiastic fans still packed into the venue like sardines in order to hear some of their favorite songs— including the infamously catchy “Smoko” from 2017’s Get This In Ya.
Following support sets from Side Action and Rad Payoff, the eager fans couldn’t contain their excitement while the stage was set for the evening’s headliner; Everyone chanted in unison, beckoning the band to the stage. When the time finally came, the tension that had built up in the room snapped as soon as the first distorted guitar riff rang out into the venue. Without hesitation, the entire floor of the venue became one rambunctious mosh pit and fans thrashed their bodies around to the night’s opening song “Nambored.” The Chats powered through many of their fast-paced punk anthems as the rowdy crowd continued to mosh, turning the Subterranean into a sweat-soaked sauna. Towards the end of their set, The Chats treated fans to a cover of “Rock & Roll All Nite” by Kiss, which they joked was a new song they’d just written on this tour before playing it.
During every single song of the night, audience members hopped up onto the stage and flung themselves from the stage to crowdsurf, but none of the songs got nearly as intense of a reaction as their hit “Smoko” did— there was consistently at least three crowd surfers up at all times during that song. When the night ended and I made my way out of the Subterranean, the heat in the room had caused the floor to become slippery. I’ve been to plenty of rowdy shows, but The Chats by far put on one of the most intense gigs I’ve ever seen.
The Chats are on tour the rest of this year— see all of the dates here.
This past weekend, Joe’s Live in Rosemont hosted the Pop2000 Tour, opening up a time portal back to fifteen plus years ago, when the acts of the tour dominated the pop charts.
After an introduction from *NSYNC’s Lance Bass, the night of nostalgia kicked off with actor/singer-songwriter Tyler Hilton, who took the stage by himself armed with an acoustic guitar. Hilton had a short but sweet set, and while he has a new album out now, he didn’t shy away from taking the trip down memory lane to perform some older favorites. Hilton took some fan requests and since the room had several One Tree Hill fans, he treated everyone to a solo rendition of “When The Stars Go Blue,” which he had performed on the show with actress Bethany Joy Lenz.
Next up, Ryan Cabrera took the stage; Like Hilton, he performed sans backing band for this tour. This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of Ryan Cabrera’s debut album Take It All Away, and his entire set paid homage to the album, keeping up with the theme of nostalgia. Between performing the hits from the album like “True,” “Shame on Me,” and of course “On The Way Down,” Cabrera recited anecdotes about the songs’ lyrics and his muses. Cabrera also showed off his chops as an entertainer when he threw in a medley of cover songs, which included The Goo Goo Dolls, Justin Bieber and Third Eye Blind.
Aaron Carter and his live ensemble were up next, and after opening with the hit he had in 2000, “I Want Candy,” Carter’s set remained a steady mix of new material with just a few throwbacks. Carter talked about his 2018 album LØVË and performed singles like “Fool’s Gold” and “Dearly Departed,” which both had the crowd singing and dancing along. By the end of his energetic set, the crowd was fully ready for O-Town to hit the stage.
Headliners O-Town didn’t disappoint in terms of nostalgia--opening up with their hit “Liquid Dreams.” While they were able to take the audience back to the days of TRL and Making The Band with their dance moves and classic songs, the band also announced that they had new music on the way this month, thanks to crowd-funding that allowed them to record brand new music. The set of course included some of the new material, but they drove home the hits of the early 2000s era by closing the night with not one, but two covers of *NSYNC songs ahead of their final song, “All Or Nothing.” Their finale was definitely the highlight of the night-- between Lance Bass making an appearance to do the choreography to “Bye Bye Bye” with the O-Town band members and the entire room belting along to the closing ballad, the entire night ended with a bang.
Photo of Tyler Hilton, Ryan Cabrera, Aaron Carter, O-Town and Lance Bass
The House of Vans Summer House Parties concert series always presents a wide array of different artists— from pop to hip hop and rock, the Summer House Parties give music fans in Chicago an opportunity to see some of their favorite artists or discover new ones.
This past Thursday night, the venue hosted an evening curated by one of my personal favorite artists: BANKS, who brought her raw and vulnerable R&B infused pop tunes to the stage in Chicago for the first time since 2017. The evening not only marked BANKS’ comeback to Chicago, but in general; With her third album being released at midnight the night of the show, this performance celebrated the beginning of a new era. Fans that had lined up around the block to attend this House of Vans performance were undoubtedly excited to hear some of the newer material performed in front of them for the first time ever, but they were also eager to revisit some of their old favorites from BANKS’ first two albums: Goddess and The Altar. When BANKS appeared on the dimly lit stage to an enthusiastic welcome, she delivered several throwbacks in the first section of the set; After opening with 2013’s “Waiting Game,” she followed up with “Fuck With Myself” and “Gemini Feed.” These songs, with their personable sentiment and their gut-wrenching sense of honesty, allow for fans to truly feel and connect with the music. In the live sense, that connection only intensified thanks to BANKS’ emotive and earnest vocals, which swirled together with moody lighting and theatrical dancing to create an immersive experience.
The production element of Thursday night’s show and BANKS’ stage presence in general seemed more developed since her last performance here— the singer appeared more at ease in front of an audience, even as she bared her soul through her lyrics. Just like her stage persona, BANKS’ new songs like “Gimme,” “Contaminated,” and “Look What You’re Doing To Me” from the new album all seem to have more intricate layers to them, signifying the growth that the songwriter has experienced in the last couple of years. As the night continued on and BANKS poured her energy into performing her songs from the past and present, the concert felt like a cathartic therapy session for both her and everyone in the crowd. When it came time for the show to end, the mood in the room was bittersweet, but BANKS’ return had been well worth the wait. After Thursday’s show, it’s clear that BANKS is back in full swing, and if you loved the show as much as I did, you don’t have to wait long for her return— BANKS will be performing at The Riviera Theatre in September with Kevin Garrett.
Photos of the BANKS House of Vans show-featuring special guest Anna Lunoe