Last night The Felice Brothers brought their Life In The Dark tour to Chicago for a set at one of the most intimate music halls in town, Schubas Tavern. This was the sixth or seventh time I’ve seen the band, and they just keep getting better. Life In The Dark is a brilliant record, and the deep, contemplative tunes play well in a small room. The sound system and lighting at the venue has improved greatly in the past year, so not only did the band sound amazing, I was also able to get some pictures.
The setlist wasn’t one that I would’ve made (in fact I posted my dream setlist on Twitter yesterday and it was very different from what was played). Then again, I didn’t have stuff like Triumph ’73 on mine and that song absolutely should be enjoyed live where you can really feel all the heartbreaking beauty that lies within. Eight or nine of the 22 songs played came from the new album and the others covered pretty much the whole discography so far. My number one anticipated song got played, so I was happy. It came during the car section of the show, with “Honda Civic” preceding “Lincoln Continental.”
As a band, The Felice Brothers are a joy to watch. Greg Farley’s unending energy is contagious. I love watching James mouth the words to every song the whole night whether he’s wailing away on the accordion, tickling the ivory’s, or singing himself. Ian brings it all together with his intense concentration. During one song he focused on a spot far out in the back of the crowd and did the whole number just staring at it angrily. It was honestly horrifying-do not cross Ian Felice (who, from a brief interaction I had with him, seems like a very nice guy).
The set was pretty long for a Tuesday night at Schubas, but the crowd didn’t want to leave. After the initial set ended with “White Limo” the cheers kept up for a solid five or six minutes until the band returned. They did a blistering three songs, including a cover of Jim Croce’s “Bad Bad Leroy Brown,” “Marie,” and “Frankie’s Gun.”