Tonight in Chicago a new band called Nice As Fuck, fronted by Jenny Lewis and featuring Au Revoir Simone’s Erika Forster and The Like’s Tennessee Thomas, played their first show in town. Headlining the already cozy Subterranean in Wicker Park, they opted for an even more intimate “In The Round” show where they played on the floor instead of the stage. Music lovers that got to the venue early enough were treated with an up-close-and-personal view you rarely get with a performer on Lewis’s level when the group came out to what I think was the Jem and the Holograms theme song. There’s no music out on the internet other than some phone videos, so no one was quite sure what to expect other than quality songwriting.
What we got was a fun 45-minute set upbeat tunes ranging from the sort of silly “Cookie Lips” to the poignant “Put Your Guns Away” (guessing on that second title). Lewis made a point of making sure everyone in the crowd felt involved, making eye contact with anyone that would meet her gaze and getting in people’s faces as the music moved her through the crowd.
On “Guns” there was a palpable feeling in the room as we all sang “I don’t want to be afraid, put your guns away.” Given recent events, and let’s be honest the past decade of events, it felt good to hear everyone sing out their fears. That feeling was cut in half by the shining light of hope that only a room full of singing voices can provide.
I don’t know what their plans are going forward (other than opening for M Ward tomorrow night at Thalia Hall), but I hope this isn’t a one-off thing. The trio seems to have some great chemistry and it’s nice to see Jenny Lewis let loose and just have some fun.