Fort Frances @ The Empty Bottle 10-21-11

If you haven’t noticed yet, we here at Music. Defined. are pretty big Fort Frances fans. At the mid-point of the year I had their album, The Atlas, at number seven in my top ten. If you haven’t heard it yet, I imagine your soul is yearning for something you haven’t been able to put your finger on, and you can download that something right here.

On top of putting out a great album, the band is also one of my favorite shows to see in Chicago. Lately they’ve been spreading it around, embarking on their first tours as a band. I’ve seen them three times this year as a band, and one solo performance by lead singer/Cash Money Millionaire David McMillin. Each has been impressive, and I’ve enjoyed their mix of power-pop and rock and roll along with their choice of covers (Paul Simon, The Cure, Radiohead).

This show was the second for Fort Frances in Chicago opening for the band Chamberlin. Before either of those groups hit the stage, Death Ships opened up to a warm but indifferent crowd. I liked them. They were funny on stage without getting too off track, and the songs were really well-crafted country-pop tunes.

They have a new record out called Circumstantial Chemistry, but the song they played that I really liked is called “Remains To Be Seen.” That one is off their first record, Seeds of Devastation. It features some great lyrics and nice slide guitar. Reminds me a bit of Fountains of Wayne crossed with The Jayhawks (or, to put it simpler, Rhett Miller).

The crowd gathered to the front when it was time for Fort Frances to start their show. It was nice to see so many people out for a quality band. Last time I saw them at Schubas they attracted a good audience for the venue, but it was more packed in this time out. Especially after David asked everyone to take a couple steps forward for their “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” cover.

It seems to me that since the band have gone off on tour together, they’ve become exponentially better as a live act. The first time i saw them as a group, they were already really good. Things seem to be flowing better now. Everything comes easily (or at least appears that way), and their chemistry is electric.They’ve also developed quite a following with the ladies. I felt like I was at a Justin Beiber concert being the only guy in the front row.

The setlist for this evening included some crowd favorites, including “Falling Down,” “Cities In The Dust,” and my personal favorite Fort Frances song, “White Roses.” I had shot a video of “Roses,” but the crowd was so loud around me that it was impossible to use it. Since that isn’t an option, I’ll give you a video I shot at Schubas of the great new Fort Frances song “How To Turn Back Again.”

If you didn’t make it to the show, fear not. I’m sure the guys will be back again soon. I’m currently in the process of trying to nail down a date for them to stop by Handwritten and do a Hasty Revelations session. Until then, do yourself a favor and pick up The Atlas. It really is an astounding debut album for a band from which I’ve come to expect nothing less than greatness.