Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Short Film Screening Style – Ok Go: The Live Video Tour at The Mesa Arts Center (December 14, 2018)

This is not your typical concert. Instead, it is more of a short film screening with live music. The evening begins with OK Go’s first recorded performance, “C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips”. They appeared on a local TV show in Chicago that could not record music, so they had to lip sync while they danced. They included a band pretending to play behind them, including two notables from NPR: Ira Glass on drums and Peter Sagal on bass!

After the video, the band came on stage and introduced the next song as their first real music video, “Get Over It”. This song remains their second most popular song on Spotify with 13.7 million streams.

Next, they described how at the end of their live shows early on, they would end with a choreographed dance to “A Million Ways” as their band signature. So, they did the dance live to the audience’s delight. By no means are they great dancers, but the performance is very humorous and fun.

Next up, they had the audience download a simple app. The app randomly assigned a music player to each user with one of five different colors.  Each player had three buttons, which each play a different note. The band then taught the crowd how to hit the buttons in time with shapes falling on the screen based on the color of their player, Guitar Hero style. Everyone was then able to play along with “What To Do”.

During one of their frequent Q&A sessions, an audience member asks if it bothers them if their videos outshine their music. The lead singer replies: “How many bands do you like for their music? Maybe ten to a thousand? How many bands do you like for their videos? One? We are happy to be that band!”

See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney


An Amazing Night! John Butler Trio at The Chicago Theatre (November 29, 2018)

John Butler Trio’s latest album Home blends in perfectly with their current catalogue.  The night begins with “Wade in the Water” and “Tahitian Blue from the new album. Both songs feature fantastic melodies, skilled guitar playing, and smooth vocals.  The set continues with “Better Than” from the Grand National album. This popular upbeat tune is immediately recognized by the audience as one would expect with 16.5 million streams on Spotify. Everyone sings along “Life’s not about what’s better than!”


In the middle of his set, John dismisses the band to play an instrumental titled “Ocean”. With just his guitar, looping machine, and pedals he creates an exceedingly full sound. During a long extended jam, a couple gets engaged up near the stage. “She said yes!” yells the brand new fiancée.  The couple is quickly congratulated by the great community of the Trio’s fans.

Butler says that the album was inspired by the struggle that comes from being a musician. He is either touring, missing his family at home in Australia, or he is at home missing his fans and the joy of playing concerts. Through relentless touring, JBT have truly perfected their own unique sound and their live shows. It was an amazing night that just flew by.

Cost of a ticket: $75
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney



Talented! Rachel Eckroth opening for Rufus Wainwright at the Vic Theatre (November 20, 2018)

Surrounded by all the instruments for Rufus Wainwright’s set, Rachel Eckroth stands at her keyboard and synthesizer. As soon as she starts singing, it’s evident she has talent. Her voice is full of depth and sounds excellent tonight at the Vic Theatre. Her keyboard playing is also beautiful along with the prerecorded bass she has playing. It all adds up to a very full sound, despite her being the only one on stage.

To introduce one of her songs, she says she wrote it about a guy she has just started dating. She then relates that she is going to marry this man, in three days! The wedding is on Black Friday in fact!

After her set, she returns to play keyboards in Rufus Wainwright’s band. They go on to play until 11:30pm. That makes it three and half hours of stage time for her with only 2 short breaks!

Catch Rachel Eckroth on tour now!

Quinn Delaney

Acoustic Tour! The Expendables at City Winery (November 19, 2018)

Tonight is day one of the first acoustic tour by The Expendables. The City Winery is a great venue that is intimate enough for this type of performance. All four members of the band are lined up across the front of the stage. The lineup is two acoustic guitars, hand drums, and an acoustic bass. “Let’s start off positive” says the lead singer and then they launch into “Positive Mind”. They go on playing many songs from their catalogue which translate very well into this acoustic setup creating a very chill vibe.

Then they ask, “What would you like to hear next? We didn’t really put together a set.” Everyone starts yelling song titles. The people in the back yell extra loud to be heard. It’s fine to ask for requests one or two times. But then the band should say no more. This doesn’t happen and thus each song is followed by people yelling their requests. It ruins the chill vibe for a while.

To close out the night, they play “Bowl for Two” as everyone sings along. It’s a joyful moment that is then heightened by them adding “Because I Got High” by Afroman in the middle. It’s such a fun tune to sing along to and a great cover choice. It’s an excellent way to close out the night.

See The Expendables tour schedule here.

Quinn Delaney

Reggae Rock: Concrete Roots at Beat Kitchen (November 9, 2018)

In 2012, the Concrete Roots formed in Chicago. In 2016, they release their debut self-titled EP. All along, they have been playing live concerts throughout the Midwest. This has allowed them to really polish their sound and put on a strong live show. The sold out crowd at the Beat Kitchen ate up their reggae rock grooves.

The lead guitarist uses a talk box very effectively to add a sound not usually heard in reggae rock. It makes for great soloing. The band consists of Robert James on vocals and guitar, Toeknee Bilbrey on drums and dubs, Noel Valasquez on guitar, Rolan Valasquez on bass, and Jay Noga on keys.

In addition to playing songs from their debut EP, they played “Good Thing Going” by Sugar Minott and “No No No” by Dawn Penn. In both instances, they truly added their own unique spin to the songs.


The Concrete Roots are off to a great start and will surely continue to build their fan base in the Midwest and beyond.

Cost of a ticket: $20

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

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

Quinn Delaney

Long Jams – Keller Williams at City Winery (November 8, 2018)

Keller Williams is a goofy kind of guy. His song titles are evidence of this. “Doobie In My Pocket”, “Fat B”, and “Freaker By the Speaker” are just a few of them.  During his show, he mostly plays acoustic guitar, but he also uses a sample pad and he sits down at the piano a few times this night. A major part of his set is the long jams with the bassist. This improvised music draws the audience in and they are transfixed until the show ends, and as they suddenly realize that three hours have passed!

Cost of a ticket: $45

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

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

Check out City Winery’s calendar for what’s next!

Quinn Delaney

A Living Legend: Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons at the Auditorium Theatre (November 3, 2018)

At 84 years old, Frankie Valli is no spring chicken. But with his performance on Saturday, he sounds as great as ever. Especially impressive is his ability to still sing falsetto. However, the one thing he can’t do is rap. He demonstrated his rap skills while joking about what type of songs he should sing for his new album. Eventually, he decided to do covers of hits from the 60s, which was a good call. He sang “Spanish Harlem” by Ben E. King and “My Girl” by The Temptations.

As an intro to a song, he mentioned that he co-wrote the next song with Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees. The disco sound of the Bee Gees can definitely be heard in this song, “Grease”.

During “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, he lowered the microphone and let the audience take the lead. Everyone sang joyfully “I love you baby, and if it’s quite alright, I need you baby, to warm the lonely night.” Another highlight was “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”. Truth be told, almost every song was a highlight. He has so many hit songs it’s hard to fathom. See one of his most recent setlists here.

The acoustics at the Auditorium continue to be outstanding. Even all the way up in the balcony, every word Valli sings is clearly audible. It’s also a beautiful view from up there.

The four backup singers were absolutely fantastic. Landon Beard, Todd Fournier, plus brothers Brandon and Brian Brigham provide solid harmonies all night along with exceptional solos. They are essential to the songs, which is why they are a favorite among acapella groups.

Cost of a ticket: $95

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!

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


Catch Jersey Boys at the Auditorium Theatre in April 2019!

Quinn Delaney