Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Dance Party! Tuxedo at Thalia Hall (August 13, 2019)

Tuxedo is the new collaboration with Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One. Tonight, they are bringing the party to Thalia Hall. Early on in their set, Mayer comments on how the stage looks like a game show. “I’ll take an H.” Ding! An H appears in lights towards the back of the stage. Then Jake says “I’d like to buy a vowel. I.” Buzz! Incorrect! Mayer then asks the audience for a letter and they all should out “O!” Ho! He then goes on to explain that whenever the big red button at center stage is pressed, it will shout “Ho!” Also, small keychain versions of the button are available at the merch table! You can also get one at this site along with the free app version.

Later in the night, they play “Designer Drug”, which is a bonus track on the deluxe edition of Mayer Hawthorne’s Where Does This Door Go album. It perfectly matches the Tuxedo style and fits right into the setlist. “It’s like you’re made inside a laboratory, just for me. You, you are, My designer drug!”

They close their set with their biggest hit, “Do It”. It currently has over 21 million streams on Spotify. This song is a great party jam and the audience happily dances and sings along.

Quinn Delaney

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Hawaiian Rock! Iration and Pepper at House of Blues Chicago (July 14, 2019)

The House of Blues is packed tonight for some reggae rock.  Pepper takes the stage and the crowd is soon transported to a tropical beach.  They play Ashes and everyone sways back and forth to the music. This Hawaiian band knows how to set a groove and keep it going.  They leave the stage with the audience wanting more.

Iration formed in 2004 in Hawaii and since then they have toured relentlessly earning them the honor to headline at the House of Blues Chicago. Early on, they launch into “Summer Nights”. “Getting high, thinking about the summer nights” sing the whole crowd as they sway back and forth and enjoy this great reggae groove.

For a fun cover, they play “What’s My Age Again?” by Blink-182. They don’t sing the words, however. They allow the audience to shout the lyrics along to the trumpet playing the vocal notes.

For “Last to Know”, the lead singer puts down his guitar. “Move to the beat, to the beat don’t stop” he sings as he dances around the stage. This song is from their latest self titled album. It demonstrates them exploring new territory by adding a touch of dance to their sound. It works fantastically and the crowd eats it up.

For the first encore song, only the lead singer returns to the stage to play “Falling” on an acoustic guitar. It’s a beautiful sing along and a great choice for an encore.

Cost of a ticket: $45
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Impressive Lineup! The Strumbellas, lovelytheband, and Joywave at the Taste of Chicago (July 13, 2019)

First up is Joywave, a rock band from Rochester, NY. They take the stage all dressed in white track suits. They jump right into their blend of rock / dance / electronic music.  “Don’t ever want to wake up, next to someone new” sings the band leader on “Someone New”. Later on, he mentions that one of their earliest shows was in Chicago. He remembers seeing fireworks with the Sears Tower in the background. “Who would have thought we would end up in Millennium Park 12 years later playing to dozens of people!” A few small corrections there: The concert is taking place in Grant Park and there are hundreds of people in attendance. Towards the end of the set, they play the fantastic “Tongues”. It’s impossible not to dance along to this infectious song.

Next up to the stage is lovelytheband from LA. They start off with a bang by playing “make you feel pretty”. “Spending all my money just to make you feel pretty” they sing. It’s an incredibly fun song that gets the audience up and dancing right away. Later on, the singer explains that he broke his hand and that it hurts to play the guitar, but he is powering through it. He jokes that he is taking his songs too literally. This joke refers to the song that they close their set with, “broken”. “I like that you’re broken, broken like me. Maybe that makes me a fool.”

Last up are The Strumbellas from Canada. Their fun sound filled with a lot of heys and the full band singing is similar to The Lumineers. This is good company to be in and their live show matches their energy too. It’s a great close to an impressive lineup of bands at the Taste of Chicago on the Petrillo Music Shell.

Cost of a ticket: $25
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

 

Poetic Rock! Courtney Barnett with Sunflower Beam at the Taste of Chicago (July 10, 2019)

Courtney Barnett has played Chicago many times. Lollapalooza in 2014, the Metro later that year, and Pitchfork Music Festival last year just to name a few. This year, she is promoting her new single released in April called, Everybody Here Hates You as she plays The Taste of Chicago. It is her last stop on this tour. A hot 90 degrees welcomes her as she takes the stage at a quarter to seven after Sunflower Beam successfully warmed up the audience.

Barnett’s lyrical style is a stream of consciousness style. It’s poetic in nature. “If you’ve got a spare half million, you could knock it down and start rebuilding” she sings on the beautiful crafted “Depreston”. The lyrics even look great translated into American Sign Language by the interpreter on the right hand side of the stage.

She closes her set with “Pedestrian at Best” from her album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. It’s one of her more rocking songs and a great choice for a closer. “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you!” she yells as she plays power chords on her guitar while strutting and spitting across the stage.

Cost of a ticket: $25

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

 

Reunited! Anberlin at House of Blues Chicago (June 30, 2019)

Anberlin formed in 2002 in Florida. In 2014, they broke up to spend more time with their families and other projects. They have reunited this year with a plan to tour differently than in the past. As the lead singer, Stephen Christian, puts it, they are just focusing on the band and their fans for this run. This one isn’t about money but more about comradery.

Near the middle of the show, Christian invites a fan on stage to be a backup singer. The fan invites his girlfriend to join him as well. He then surprises her by proposing. She accepts and they embrace. The band then plays the romantic song, “Inevitable”, as they dance and sing backup. “I want to be your last first kiss for all time.”

The band is clearly excited to be on tour. They play a set spanning their career with great energy throughout. This includes a set of acoustic songs in the middle of their set. The ability of a band to have the range to go from hard rocking electric rock to soft acoustic shows great songwriting ability. This has earned them a strong group of fervent fans that sold out the Saturday performance and allowed them to add a second show on Sunday.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $35
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Rocking! Sinkane featuring Mad Alchemy at Chop Shop (June 21, 2019)

Early on Sinkane plays “How We Be”, which starts off with a fantastic beat. Then, Ahmed Gallab, the lead singer and founder of the band, comes in with his fantastic vocals. “Oo-oo-ooh, we’ve got life right in the pocket.” It’s a great song to put in the set early, as it gets everyone dancing. Also, it has over 4.8 million plays on Spotify.  Soon after is “Favorite Song”, and it’s clear the dance party will continue all night. “Won’t you play my favorite song?” sings everyone in unison along to this very happy song.

Later on they play a tribute to Sudan, where Ahmed is originally from. Beforehand, he talks about the protests and political struggle currently happening in the country that his family fled back in 1989 when a dictator took control.

The close with “Telephone”. “You must be alone; why else you calling on the phone?” This song is great example of the unique blend of funk, rock, electronic, and psychedelic rock they have created. It’s a great finale to this fantastic night of music by this Brooklyn band that has a bright future ahead of them.

Also, Mad Alchemy provided an analog liquid light show that basked the stage in psychedelic colors and moved with the music. It looked superb.

Cost of a ticket: $18

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

 

Exceptional! A R I Z O N A at the House of Blues Chicago (June 12, 2019)

The House of Blues Chicago is packed to the brim tonight for a sold out show by A R I Z O N A. This band’s indie dance pop style gets everyone dancing and singing along on songs such as “I Was Wrong”.

It’s clear that A R I Z O N A is having a blast on stage. The lead singer, Zach, repeatedly says how happy he is to be on tour with his best friends. He croons how much he loves the crowds in Chicago and introduces the next song by saying “Even though we don’t know exactly when we will be back in Chicago, not a single day goes by when you don’t cross my mind!”

While the lead singer is talking to the audience, he is interrupted by a member of the crew with a shot of tequila. “This is the kind of thing that happens when you are on tour with your best friends! At least it isn’t Malort!”

Before the next song, Zach reminisces about the bands origins in New Jersey. They were planning to quit music when they decided to just record some songs for fun. The band planned to post it on Soundcloud, get a few likes, and then move on! Then he says, “If you aren’t having fun with the people you love, you are wasting your life!”

Cost of a ticket: $35

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

 

Quinn Delaney