Wolfgang Jay at Beat Kitchen, Chicago

This weekend could not have had a better kickoff if I were dreaming. Beat Kitchen played host to one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while here in Chicago, and I thank them for getting my birthday celebration off on the right foot.

Wolfgang Jay is quickly rising in my poll of favorite Chicago bands. Here it is as it stands now:

1. Chaperone

2. Dastardly

3. Ezra Furman and the Harpoons ^

4. Fort Frances

5. Smith Westerns – 

6.Wolfgang Jay ^

7. The Congregation

8. Project Film

9. Volcanoes Make Islands

10. Joe Pug

(Wilco was not included in this poll as they are now, officially, bigger than Jesus, etc)

Last night served as the official record release for Wolfgang Jay’s LP, And We Move, which I covered here a couple weeks ago. It’s a really good record, and one that I continue to check out multiple times a week. I was a bit nervous that their sound wouldn’t translate well to a live show, especially with Beat Kitchen‘s often inconsistent sound system (I love you Beat Kitchen! Never change!) But one song in, all my worries faded away.

Everyone in the house was movin a bit. The walls were shaking, the earth was quaking, and Wolfgang Jay was ready to shake us for a moderate amount of time, but not too long. The style of music they play is so easily danceable that it almost felt awkward to not boogie at least a little. And if you take your cues from the gentleman on stage, they don’t mind showing you some moves.

There were a lot of things on And We Move that I had assumed were done with effects or aided by computers, but I saw none of that equipment on stage. Some keys/synths yes, but no computers. I was blown away by the musicality on display, especially from guitarist Jason Ryan who played most of the night with his left hand constantly on the tuning keys of his axe. The sounds emenating from the stage gave no indication that he was having troubles, but he told me afterward that he was having a challenging time. Professionalism wins out, and he never let it get him down.

One of the things I enjoy most about going to a show is seeing the performers having a good time. Wolfgang Jay looked like they were having a ball. After playing original material for about 40 minutes, the band finished their set with an explosive version of their song “One Piece At A Time,” and then attempted to leave the stage with a brilliant rendition of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like The Wolf.”

The crowd was applauding like no crowd I’ve ever heard at Beat Kitchen. They were an angry mob, and they were NOT going to leave until they were satisfied. So, ackowledging the fact that a riot would break out if someone doesn’t start playing something, the band returned to the stage for two more. I don’t remember what the first song was, I was still in shock that the crowd demanded an encore. But the second song was one I never would have thought to play, a cover of Chk Chk Chk‘s “Must Be The Moon.”

The cover killed the crowd. The cheers were loud, but eventually relented and the band was allowed to leave the stage without fearing for their lives.

If you haven’t heard And We Move yet, you can check it out here. I highly recommend it. I also urge you to seek out their next show. And bring your dancing shoes!

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