Fort Frances @ Schubas, 5/5/2013


I don’t have a ton to add about Fort Frances’ live show. After last night’s performance, I believe the seventh time I’ve seen them live, I’m convinced they are one of the best live acts around. Pretty much every show has given a preview of at least one new song that hasn’t been released. They also do a great job of rearranging their material, so it never feels like you’re seeing the same show again. Fresh off the early success of their latest EP, Harbour, the band played like they were happy to be in front of the hometown crowd again, and the audience-most of them three sheets to the wind due to celebrating the Mexican holiday in the traditional way-were in a frenzy for most of the evening.

The music started with The Great American Canyon Band, a fantastic duo who currently reside in Baltimore. I only caught the tail end of their set as I was at work when they went on. I’ve seen them here in Chicago before, though, and they do a great job. You can check out their new EP, Lost At Sea, in all the usual places. I recommend Bandcamp. I had a good talk with Paul Masson after the show, and it sounds like they may be back later this year so keep your eyes peeled.

David McMillin hit the stage with Aaron Kiser and Jeff Piper for what I assumed would be a barrage of songs from the new record and some older stuff sprinkled in. Quite the opposite, Fort Frances opened with a couple songs off their debut LP, The Atlas, before hitting us with “Truths I Used To Know” and my favorite song from Harbour, “Please Don’t Wait Up.” Surprisingly, they didn’t play the single that preceded the record, “City By The Sea.” I respect the decision though.


Since this was a Cinco de Mayo show, the crowd was a mix of folks there to hear some great music and some looking to party (and by party I mean talk about things that happened earlier in the day while sloppily “dancing”). There were two points where everyone in the crowd shut up and focused completely on what was going on in front of them. One was during “Please Don’t Wait Up,” thank goodness. The next was during the band’s famous cover of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s “Summertime.” The third occurred at the very end of the show, when the three gentlemen made their way to the middle of the floor to play the acoustic tune “The Wetlands.”

Fort Frances are easily one of the best Chicago bands working today, and I think before too long they’ll be known nationally as a critically praised fan favorite headlining festivals. For now, I’m happy to have them here playing at venues like Schubas where I can enjoy their music without having to battle my way through a thousand people. There will be tears when that day comes, but they will be tears of joy. There is no band more deserving of success than these guys. If you haven’t taken the time to listen, you better do it now before they start getting fun.-type radio play and you can’t stand them anymore.