When it comes to concerts, there are shows you want to see and shows you NEED to see. Gloom Balloon, for me, is a necessity. They’ve only played Chicago a couple of times, and I think missing those shows would be a regret I would carry to the grave. Last night’s set at Fizz was a reminder that pyrotechnics and a million dollar sound system are not what makes a concert great-it’s the music and the personal connection you have with it.
Most of the audience knew Patrick Tape Fleming and Chris Ford before arriving for the show, so instead of being in a bar with a bunch of strangers it’s like hanging out with a family that doesn’t resent one another. It’s a fun arena to stay in for a while, and a Gloom Balloon performance needs that kind of warmth and understanding to be the best it can be. Audience participation is a must, and if you don’t give it a chance then you’ll miss out on something special.
The Songs That Couldn’t Swim is currently holding down the number 2 spot on my favorite albums of 2015, and there’s a real opportunity for Gloom Balloon to take the number 1 concert of the year as well. They exude the kind of energy and love that people half their age would have a hard time processing let alone repeating. From the first note following Bob Nastanovich’s (Pavement/Silver Jews) video intro the Gloom-y duo are going 100 miles per hour and never even think about the brakes.
The stage became a meaningless piece of wood as both men ran around the open space, singing or blowing a trumpet in the faces of concertgoers while images were projected to a screen along with each song. Wires were everywhere on the floor, but they did a good job of keeping them out of the way so no one tripped. Even if someone had, it would’ve been met with laughter I’m sure.
This is the greatest show on Earth, and I’m at once happy that it belongs to a small group of friends and “fans,” and sad that a bigger audience has yet to jump on board. Gloom Balloon is the kind of music that can bring such joy through exorcising all the pressure and pain we bring on ourselves. You generally feel a whole lot better about life in general when you leave.
You can pick up The Songs That Couldn’t Swim and Fix The Sunshine/You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Disaster from Maximum Ames Records.