When I did an interview with The Future Laureates at the beginning of April, Danny Surico said something I didn’t quite grasp at the time. He said, “We’re a pop band, but I want our shows to have the energy of a punk show.” At the time that seemed impossible-postpunk maybe, but not a real down and dirty CBGB’s in the 70’s type punk show. Saturday night, as if trying to prove me wrong, the band put on one of the most electric shows I’ve seen in a while, with Danny doing everything short of cutting his body up with shards of glass on stage.
The show was sold out, and you could easily tell that everyone in the crowd was there for the main attraction. Thanks a lot Tree and Cobalt & The Hired Guns. You’re cool, but the quicker you get off stage, the sooner we can get this party started. It was nice to see that members of the audience included some of Future Laureates fellow Chicago Roots Collective family like Trevor Jones of Molehill and Kristina Priceman of Mike Mangione And The Union (who joined the band on violin for a couple songs). The section of the room I was in, about four feet from the stage on the right, was filled with family and friends of the band, as well as the James Hyde cheering section.
As this was the release show for the bands new full-length, Fortress Sessions, they stuck mainly to new material, leading with the first tune off that record, “Galahad’s Song.” The sound at SubT was a little better than usual as I heard it, which was probably helped by Matt Daigler and Danny’s sweet harmonies. The drums, usually such a tricky thing in the small venue, were no problem at all and everything came out crystal clear.
If you know the band you already know that they tread mostly in earnest lyrics and bouncy rhythms that keep feet shuffling and grins appearing. This set was no different, charging through fun dance-y numbers like “Crooked Third Wheel” and “For Debbie.” The crowd was loving every second, but I was waiting for those quieter moments when the guys wear their hearts on their sleeves.
That came in at a few different times. When they played “Carry Me Away” I thought they were hitting it just right. My favorite performance of the evening was when they really brought it down, almost to a halt, with “Lines.” I’m a big fan of the song, but it seemed like some others in the audience were more interested in talking to each other about whatever, so that’s their loss. The phrasing was perfect and it sounded just different enough from the record that you could appreciate the small changes.
I really enjoyed the bands version of “Moonshiner.” It seemed like maybe I was the only one there familiar with that one, but I’m sure that’s not true. It’s been covered famously by Bob Dylan and less famously by Uncle Tupelo. I really liked the way they arranged it, with Joe Redmond killing the electric guitar solo.
They also covered Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” which got a much better reaction from the crowd. In fact, the only misstep the band made was following this song with a slow one. I thought there was an opportunity there to blow the roof off the venue, but I could see the counter argument as well.
This was a raucous show. Much more so than I had imagined. The next morning I woke up exhausted and aching from my neck to my feet from constant nodding and bouncing.
Generally that’s how I know if a show was good or not. The three song encore the band finished out with played toward their faithful fans. The only song I really knew well enough to sing along to was “Santiago.” The audience would have easily stayed til 3 am if the band had kept playing.
Now that their record is out, the party never has to stop. You can buy it on their bandcamp page for only ten dollars.