Diane Coffee’s live performances have a magical and magnetic quality to them that are nuanced to the point of almost transcending description. Their performances are immersive in the sense that the richness of it all makes it impossible for audiences to think about or focus on anything else aside from what is taking place onstage. By all means, that is a skill and a power. Such a beguiling spell was cast over the audience at Lincoln Hall last Friday, who gathered at the beloved local venue to see the band perform during the Tomorrow Never Knows Festival- an annual concert series that takes place at Lincoln Hall and its sister venue, Schubas.
Chicago's own Yoko and the Oh No’s warmed up the crowd at 9PM sharp with their lively rock tunes, unfortunately playing their last ever show to the already packed house. The announcement of the final show had been made only the day prior, and friends and fans of the group had flocked to see the final performance. The four piece, fronted by the exuberant Max Goldstein, brought every last ounce of energy they could to the Lincoln Park venue that evening. Goldstein and his bandmates remained in sync the whole time, delivering a stellar show that had the audience hooked and hoping for an eventual reunion of the band in the future.
Nashvilles' Ron Gallo kept the high spirits going when he took the stage shortly after; kicking off his set with a trumpet, he monotonously read an introduction to his band and thanked the festival while a single spotlight shone down on him. Consisting of humor and good old fashioned rock and roll, Gallo's set had the crowd entertained from start to finish. The set contained some crowd favorites from his debut album Heavy Meta, like "Put The Kids to Bed" and "Young Lady, You're Scaring Me," but it also included brand new tunes from Gallo's Really Nice Guys EP, which had just dropped that morning. The audience reciprocated the energy that Gallo and his bandmates poured out onstage; moshing and dancing along to the music. Towards the end of the rowdy and fun-spirited set, Gallo even hopped off stage to join the crowd. If given the chance to see Ron Gallo, do not miss out on his engaging and energetic performance.
After the impressive opening sets, Diane Coffee earnestly launched into “Mayflower” - a brassy, energy-charged track with lyrics that serve as a delightfully tongue-in-cheek commentary on consumerism. The savvy selection of “Mayflower” as an opener allowed its palpable energy to serve as blueprints for the remainder of the set; blueprints through which Diane Coffee crafted an incredibly memorable and engaging performance.
Diane Coffee finds their identity in their exploratory nature, both in sound and performance. Therefore, the band is able to perform a sonically diverse setlist with a clear sense of cohesion numerous styles, tones, and influences - thus giving their music a universal appeal and multi-elemental appeal. A physical testimony to this was the fact that the audience at Lincoln Hall was noticeably diverse in age. Diane Coffee’s work contains just enough classic elements to make it timeless, and the perfect amount of innovation to make it fresh and new all at once. Elements of grit, lightness, realism, fun, and innovation have a continuous presence that entirely harnessed the attention of the crowd. These creative juxtapositions are something that does not necessarily make sense, but Diane Coffee is able to seamlessly merge these elements in a manner that results in an engaging listening experience and a dynamic live set. For the entire time Diane Coffee was onstage at Lincoln Hall, nothing existed outside of the venue doors. They possess the ability to make the audience feel as if the rest of the world is melting away, and that’s a definitive nod to their talents as musicians and as a live entity.
One cannot discuss Diane Coffee without mention of enigmatic frontman Shaun Fleming. Dauntless and charismatic, Fleming embodies all it means to be an artist and an entertainer in every sense of both words. With a habit of performing in outfits just as exciting as the music he creates, Fleming excels in mastering all aspects of live performance: he engages the crowd in a manner that surpasses the traditional “How are you guys doing out there?”, performs his work with evident skill and care, and has an ability to turn each venue he performs in into something of a warm community. His performance at Lincoln Hall was certainly no exception to this magic. If Diane Coffee has proven one thing through their performance this weekend, it is that they are a group of artists who knows how to consistently deliver. That in itself is a noted key to success, and Diane Coffee has taken that key and swiftly unlocked the door.
Relive the magic of the evening by checking out our photo gallery of all three bands, shot by Rachel Zyzda.
Yoko and The Oh No's and Ron Gallo review written by Rachel Zyzda