Friday night Double Door hosted one of the more collaborative shows I’ve seen in Chicago this year. The Future Laureates were the headliners, but it definitely felt like a team effort, with many shout outs to the three other bands featured on that stage throughout the evening. One thing I’ve always appreciated about Future Laureates is how gracious they are, quick to point out that they wouldn’t have any chance at success without those around them. They’re good dudes, and the crowd that came out to see them was ready to party-even Green Man showed up to get his boogie on.
I arrived just after 10, thinking that Vintage Blue (friends of the site) would go on at that time. Apparently everything got pushed back, so they didn’t start until 10:45. I was hoping that they’d just come out and play a bunch of the new songs currently being recorded for LP2, but they stuck mostly to the mainstays of their live set. They played one new one, called “Currents,” which was good but I wanted more. Ryan Tibbs made up for the lack of new material by showering the audience with Halloween candy he brought on stage with him.
Despite the lack of new, Vintage Blue always rocks the house. I saw a lot of familiar faces up in the front, and they were all dancing and singing along to every song. That’s the main reason I like these guys so much-it’s always a party with them. I think they approach live shows much like Poison probably did in the 80’s-let’s just go out there, rock our balls off, and leave a wake of bodies behind us (minus the groupies and the heroin, of course). This night was no different, and it gave The Future Laureates a tough act to follow.
In a sweet moment before the band took the stage, Matthew Daigler came up with members of Milktooth and Antony & The Tramps to play a song they had just worked out in the green room. The song was a cover of the old spiritual “O Mary Don’t You Weep,” brought back into the cultural zeitgeist by none other than Bruce Springsteen on his Seeger Sessions album. Antony took the lead on guitar and vocals, while Kedgrick Pullums played flute. I didn’t catch the other names, but someone was on cello, Kristina Priceman from Mike Mangione & The Union was on violin, and there was a gentleman just singing on the far side of the stage. It was a cool arrangement, closer to the original than Springsteen’s.
The rest of the Laureates got set up, and we were off running. This show was celebrating the release of a new EP that the band just released called Everything At Once, and they opened with a couple songs from that. “The Afterlife” is one they’ve been working on for a while. I first heard it when they played a show at Metro back in March, and it’s come a long way since then. They’ve kept most of the elements it began with, but the horn arrangement is a little different and if I remember correctly the tempo changed and got a little bit faster. It’s a nice song, like most of their tunes, but it isn’t my favorite from the new EP.
That honor goes to “Sleepwalking,” which kicks off the record, but was played second on this night. I think what I like about it is that it is such a departure from what they’re known for. After a long span of time being considered a folk/pop band, “Sleepwalking” has bits of reggae, hip-hop, and a huge chorus that feels bigger than anything they’ve attempted before. It’s an ambitious song, and it works. Danny Surico did a great job of leading the song, both in the spoken word/rap section, and the giant “OH!’s” that got the crowd really into it.
I often feel that when I’m in the front for a Future Laureates show, I have to prepare a bit like I’m going into battle. Once the music starts there’s limbs flying at you from everywhere and you don’t quite know where they’re coming from. The dancing just turns into this blur of arms and legs like in a cartoon when two characters fight and it turns into a tornado and you just see elbows and shoes popping out every once in a while-that’s what the energy at a Future Laureates show is like. Even when they slow things down and do a cover of “Moonshiner,” which has got to be one of the most depressing songs ever, they rock it up and get people moving.
I moved to the back for the last couple songs of the set, just to get out from under the lights and away from the sweaty mass of fans having a ball. They attempted to leave the stage following the very next song, but that attempt was short-lived as the clamoring for more began before they could put their instruments down. They returned for two more, but I think they should have ended after the first one.
They called for any and all members of the bands that had played to come up on stage and join them-only Cesar Corral of VIntage Blue obliged. The song was a cover of Dawes’ “When My Time Comes,” which they do a brilliant version of. That song, and their performance of it, would have been a great capper. But they did one more and it was fine (note to bands: I’m available if you ever need help with your set list).
Even with the late start, this show couldn’t have been more of a success. The bands I saw were great, and the pieces of the other bands also sounded good in the brief time I heard them. Milktooth is from Tennessee, but the other three are all local to Chicago and play here quite often. If you haven’t had a chance to catch them yet, please make plans to do so. You can find info about tour dates from their Facebook pages, which I have linked to above if you click on the bands name. Everything At Once, The Future Laureates new EP, is available on Bandcamp for $5.