Friday night I had the opportunity to sit down with the trio that make up Goodbye June to chat about their new record, Magic Valley. Really nice guys that seem to be serious about making the kind of music they’ve always loved. We talked about the Nashville scene, the humbling experience of playing to festival crowds, and the last songs to which they cried.
After that, I got to see them perform. They really get after it on the stage, and I had a great time hearing the songs I’d spent the morning with live the same night. They remain pretty true to the sound on the record-eclectic, but never backing down. It’s a fun kind of music that’s perfect for a night of drinking at a bar.
This was my first time seeing MØ and it was a lot of fun. I’ve listened to her before, but can’t say I’m a die hard fan or anything. I actually went to this show to check out the opener, Tei Shi, who has a record coming out that I really like. She was a fitting warm up for the style of music MØ plays, and the crowd seemed to really enjoy her set.
Despite a long delay at the beginning of the show, and another in between sets, the fans maintained a high level of excitement that exploded into screams when she finally took the stage during the “Don’t Wanna Dance” intro. The performance was non-stop adrenaline, with MØ using every bit of the wide open stage setup, plus some when she came out into the crowd during “Slow Love.” And later she jumped into the masses and let them pass her around the sold out Metro floor like waves carrying her away from shore and then bringing her back.
As a rule I don’t write reviews of shows that I had a hand in putting together. I did take some pictures that I wanted to share, though. I did think the show was amazing for a lot of reasons, first and foremost all the great people that came out to support the show. This was my third time seeing the band in Chicago and it was easily their best crowd. Those that arrived early got a special treat, hanging out with band members before they went on, watching sound check, and having run of Tonic Room for a while.
After the set, which featured a lot of new stuff that everyone seemed to be really into and ended with a cover of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid Of Americans,” everyone was really nice and patient waiting in line to talk to the band and get some merch. I promised them that next time they return to Chicago we’ll sell out Metro, so make sure you’re telling your friends how great the experience was.
It’s been a lot of fun watching Slothrust’s rise over the past couple of years. I’ll never forget being bored at work one day when someone from Ba Da Bing sent me the single “Crockpot” and I immediately took to it. The next day I got them to send me an advance of the record Of Course You Do and they’ve been a part of my life ever since.
Last year I saw them play with Highly Suspect at Bottom Lounge, and I was so happy to hear people singing along with songs I wasn’t sure anyone else knew. And then last night they played to a sold out crowd at Schuba’s in their own headlining slot. They treated their fans to all the “hits” and gave a preview of a couple new songs, one called “Peach” and another whose name I forgot already. They also played their cover of the Britney Spears pop classic “…Baby One More Time” to the delight of all.
Glad I got there early, as fans were already bellying up to the stage thirty minutes before the opening act started. I went off to the side where I knew Leah would be set up so I could catch her shredding some guitar solos. The lighting was a little weird so I didn’t get many shots of her wailing. I was able to catch some random moments of stillness, so I’ll count that as a win. If you want to see some footage from the show, you can check out this short clip.
The director of Slothrust’s latest video, for “Sleep Eater,” was right next to me most of the night, though I didn’t say hello. Here’s his work:
Slothrust continues west on this tour. They’ll be joined by Sons Of An Illustrious Father (who are playing in Chicago TONIGHT at Tonic Room at 9pm!) starting March 15th in Denver. Hit the band’s website for full tour info.
Singer/songwriter Jens Lekman has long had a talent for making the saddest songs seem fun. Whether he’s singing about a broken heart or the failings of man in the world, he can always find a way to make a beat and melody that betrays the torment of the lyrics. He’s also quite clever with his wordplay, so it’s no surprise that his show at Metro in Chicago was a good time.
He’s on the road promoting his latest album Life Will See You Now, but the set wasn’t overrun with fresh songs. He played some old classics that thrilled the audience and kept things moving rather quickly. The only banter for the most part were quick thank you’s and song intros, but he did get a good jab on Trump in at one point. A few songs in he wanted to say a few words about the “tragedy” that happened in Sweden a couple weeks ago. Jens admitted that something big DID in fact happen in Sweden on February 17, 2017…his newest album came out. He then introduced his band and they launched into “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?”
Jens was all smiles through the whole show, hitting highlights like “The Opposite Of Hallelujah,” “I Know What Love Isn’t,” and “Black Cab.” The band came out for one encore and then Lens returned solo to play “Pocketful Of Money” with a big crowd singalong to finish the show off. The crowd was still clamoring for more so Jens returned, hoodie in hand, and declined to play stating that the moment the show ended on was too perfect to ruin. However, if fans had any songs that they didn’t hear, he would sing to them at the merch table.
I hadn’t planned on reviewing this show, seeing as I paid for a ticket like everyone else and didn’t bring the main camera or anything. I had a point and shoot with me (it’s a really nice one, but still), so the pictures kind of suck, but the show was amazing. This was already my third time seeing Ezra Furman (once solo, second with the band), and you’d think I would get tired of hearing the same songs over and over, but you’d be wrong.
One of the things I love about seeing the band shows is the crazy intensity with which they play. Everything is left out on the stage. As soon as they came out and the music started, I could feel it in my bones-they came to tear it up. This was their last show in Chicago for a while, though I’m told they’re working on a new record right now, so who knows? If they get it out quickly they might be back this summer/fall. Add that fact to their normal show and you get something really special.
They got after it quickly, turning the generally soft song “Can I Sleep In Your Brain?” into a barnburner. That was followed by “Restless Year,” “Ready Teddy,” and “Little Piece Of Trash.” The opening section was capped with “Body Was Made,” and then they took a moment to catch their breath with “Cherry Lane” and “Ordinary Life.” By the time those were over the show was half done and it felt like they’d just started.
They went through a few more before they got to a three-song, non-stop, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride. It started with “I Wanna Destroy Myself,” followed by “Tip Of A Match,” and ended with “Tell Em All To Go To Hell.” And just like that, they were done. About an hour of almost constant joyful aggression went by in a flash.
I noticed before they came out that on the setlist at the bottom it just said “(Maybe close solo).” Sure enough after a few minutes of loud cheering, Ezra returned to play one more. He said he wanted to try something he had been too afraid to play live before. A cover that he truly loved but didn’t think he could pull it off. After dedicating the song to all the vulnerable people, he launched into Dylan’s “Chimes Of Freedom.”
The energy was boundless when The Chain Gang Of 1974 took the stage at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago last night. From the moment Kamtin Mohager stepped to the mic it was a non-stop whirlwind of limbs and faces. Chain Gang is still relatively under the radar, despite being around for a decade already, and the live performance displays years of practice and confidence.
I only wish the lighting were as good for this set as they were for AFI, because Chain Gang deserves a visual document of their music that’s as good as they are. Sadly, I don’t think I delivered that here.