After catching their shows at SubT last year (one in the Spring and one in the Autumn), I could not make it to Arkells 2017 Chicago debut opening for Frank Turner at House Of Blues. They’re playing again tonight, but I am unable to make that as well. Luckily, they added a quick afternoon set at JBTV that I was able to attend. They brought out a lot of people for a noon Monday set, many of whom had been to their show last night and others who were going to go tonight (and a few who had tickets for both nights). I was probably the only one in the studio going to neither.
So, for my only Arkells experience of January I got to stand five feet from the band as they ran through some mostly acoustic versions of their songs. My fears of losing the high energy dynamic they usually have quickly subsided as Max Kerman’s infectious personality burst through as he sat behind his guitar and joked with the audience.
The setlist was a little different from a normal Arkells show, but ended up being longer than I expected. Mostly songs from Morning Report, but they did “Whistleblower” from Michigan Left. We got “Drake’s Dad,” “My Heart’s Always Yours,” “A Little Rain (A Song For Pete),” and Max switched spots with Tony and played keys on “And Then Some” so Tony could play the mandolin he brought.
After the music, the band came out to the lobby to say hello to everyone. Max made his way through the room, making sure all who desired a photo or autograph got one. He even obliged me for a quick portrait.