Chaperone Plays Lincoln Hall

I was pondering whether or not I should write anything at all today. I missed more shows this weekend than I hit, and with my wrist being sprained, I’d probably be better off not doing anything. But then I remembered a vow I made months ago to anyone who reads my writings: I will write about Chaperone until everyone knows how good they are. So, prepare to be enlightened on what went down at Lincoln Hall last Thursday night.

First, a couple things that I should mention before talking about the event: If you didn’t hear it last week, Shaun and Miles were on Fearless Radio talking about their upcoming single release for “Raised By Wolves” b/w “O Ye Drowning Children.” The official release is not until August 23rd, but you can hear it over at Consequence of Sound (or if you’re on Spotify). It was a great interview, which I disrupted by making Miles’ phone go off a couple times. Hilarious at the time, but regrettable afterward. A Twitter-pology was sent, and amends were made. Second thing to mention, the show last Thursday was recorded, and it’s going to be made available to the first 50 people who buy the single. This is something I would be quite interested in if I weren’t so cheap.

If you are so inclined to buy the single, which I very much recommend doing, you’ll be getting two great songs, a handcrafted sleeve, and if you’re lucky, the recording. I’ve gone on record (too) many times about “O Ye Drowning Children” being my favorite song of Chaperone’s, and I don’t think it’s hard to see why. It’s short and to the point, features some great lyrics, and gives me the excuse to scream “THEY’RE PRAYIN THAT THEIR BABIES DON’T DROOOOOWN!!!!!!”

Lincoln Hall is a lovely place to see a show. I’ve been there a decent number of times over the past six months, seeing bigtime national acts like The Felice Brothers and the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Show, and local bands like Seafarer and Republic of Lights. The sound is amazing, and the lighting is so much better than most venues that it might rank number one in Kari’s book. For me, it’s still in second place behind Schuba’s (which I believe is owned by the same people). Regardless, it’s a place I would go to on any given night without knowing anyone playing, because I know they will sound and look their best.

An opportunity like playing Lincoln Hall doesn’t come around by accident. Chaperone have been playing the local circuit for almost two years now, garnering critical praise and loyal fans. Still, they get jilted playing opening spots for such flash-in-the-pans as Streets On Fire and Aktar Aktar. That’s me speaking as a fan, of course. There are a lot of things having to do with making it in the music industry that I don’t understand. Standing on the outside, I see a band with a hundred times the depth and talent of the others, and it kills me every time. Finally now, with a release on Grapejuice Records, Chaperone is starting to get some of the recognition they deserve.

It’s been fun over the past 10 months to watch some local bands grow.  One thing that’s been happening a lot more recently, and probably is the result of the band’s comfort level with each other, is multiple singers/songwriters. It started a while ago, with “Raised By Wolves” (Miles) and then Shaylah did “Word For Man,” and most recent Mark Sheridan’s song “Son Of Love Control.” They’re all quite good. They’re all completely different, but they do have the beginnings of what I guess we can call the “Chaperone” sound. It’s an interesting mix of country, punk, soul and 70’s glam-rock that come together in a surprisingly organic way.

The live show has evolved as well. Everybody up on stage is more and more at ease with every show. I remember the first time I saw them perform was at Subterranean, and Shaun was moving, but still a bit tentative. Now I see him doing kicks and jumps. I swear one show he was thinking of pulling a Curly Shuffle, but thought better of it. When we interviewed the band at their release show, Shaylah said she always got nervous when she would be on camera, and that seems to have subsided quite a bit. Mark still hangs in the shadows, doing his thing. He comes out for his song, but that’s about it (though he does interject from his spot from time to time). Miles is the only one who has stayed pretty much the same as far as onstage presence. He just exists on stage. There is no audience, or band, or anything else. He is utterly and completely himself, and he’s one of the most energetic and fun people to watch perform.

But what about this particular performance at Lincoln Hall? Well friends, I would not hesitate in saying that this show was the best I’ve seen from Chaperone thus far. Terrible jokes aside, the band came off as charming, and the power of their performance drew a pretty decent crowd. Shaun’s vocals sounded as good as they ever have (probably thanks to the fact that Lincoln Hall actually has a decent system and people who know what they’re doing), as did Shaylah’s and Miles’. Because they have only released the five-track EP Cripple King, they play a lot of songs that most people don’t know. It’s too bad, because some of them (“Jungle Warrior” and “The Axe” in particular) are really excellent tracks.

Everything else was spot on. There’s an energy at Chaperone shows that is absent from most others. It’s all about watching five people who get on well with each other and love every second that they’re making music together. More than that it’s about the knowledge of music they have, and how they are also fans just like us. They don’t think they’re better than anyone else, they just feel lucky to be doing what they do. In a world as cynical as ours, that’s something to admire.