I live in a hub for live music and there’s always a million shows to see on any given night. Sometimes I can pick and chose a single show and be happy with my decision but I have become notorious for going to multiple shows a night. Last night was one of those nights and, let’s be honest, life is just too damn short to only go to one concert a night.
Thankfully one show I wanted to catch was at First Avenue Mainroom and the other at 7th Street Entry. With the two venues being attached to each other and set times being announced via Twitter, I had everything planned out as far as when I would shuffle between the door connecting the two. I had it all set that I could at least catch a chunk of all six bands gracing the stages last night.. It was going to work out perfectly… or at least it should have. In an act of irony, the punk show happening at The Entry started off on time but the indie-pop show happening in the mainroom was running on punk time (starting nearly twenty minutes later than the posted set times). It quickly turned into a night where I was winging it and I had to come to terms with the fact that I may have met my match and maybe catching every single band just wasn’t going to be an option.
Chicago based NE-HI kicked things off in the mainroom with their almost dream-like indie-pop songs. Despite being a fairly new band, it was clear that the quickly growing audience was excited to catch these guys. Their sound created waves through the air and gave off a very calming, yet very fun, energy. It was the type of music that makes you want to bob your head and tap your toe but still enjoy your personal space. Without much movement in the crowd and on the stage (other than guitarist Jason Balla who was dancing around with his guitar to the point where I couldn’t take my eyes off of him), there really wasn’t much to do other than stand there and enjoy the calming music and, with a punk show happening just feet away, I couldn’t waste any time so I made my way down to the second show of the night.
I made it into the Entry just in time to catch the final two songs of Canadian Rifle and instantly knew that I had made a mistake. Within just a couple of notes, I was having more fun watching these guys and feeling their intensity than I had had up in the mainroom getting swept off to dreamland with the calming sounds of NE-HI. With only two songs left in their set, I had to make the most of the two songs I could catch and found myself pushing through the sold out crowd to get a little bit closer to the stage. Their music was the absolute perfect pick-me-up for the wall of exhaustion I seemed to be hitting. With a sound that reminded me of early Jawbreaker recordings and an energy to match, I was more than sold. Sure, I only saw a couple minutes of them but I instantly became a fan and can’t wait to see them again.
After meeting back up with my friend/photographer who was covering the mainroom show with me, we waited as headlining act Whitney took the stage. Just like Ne-Hi, things were running late and it instantly hit me that there was no way I would be able to catch the second band in the Entry. I panicked. What do I do? Just stand here and wait? Leave here and go to the Entry and then come back to this show in a little bit? Nerves were running high but as soon as I saw Julien Ehrlich take the stage, everything calmed and all was well.
I have seen Whitney multiple times now and, although their music isn’t quite my cup of tea, there’s something about them that had me in love the first time I saw them. With drummer/ main vocalist Julien Ehrlich sitting front and center behind his drumset, the music kicked off and I was quickly reminded why I fell in love with these guys in the first place. They have a unique set up (I mean, how many bands have the drummer as the main vocalist? I know there are some out there, but not many) and an even more unique sound. Julien’s voice is high but not unnatural sounding. I could go on and on about the uniqueness of their sound but I’ve done that far too many times in the past to feel free to click here or here to read all about my obsession with this band.
Unfortunately, the calmness that swept over me when the group had taken the stage was starting to fade and, as I constantly checked my phone for the time, my FOMO (fear of missing out) was starting to come back. Sure, Whitney’s sound was amazing and I could listen to them play live for hours because it’s so much more powerful than just listening to them on recordings but, like Ne-Hi, there wasn’t much to watch. After just a couple of songs, I headed back to The Entry hoping I could at least catch a song from the second act.
I was lucky enough to catch two songs from female duo Mobina Galore. They had the intensity I was craving and the crowd had an energy to match. Sure, like Canadian Rifle I only caught two songs and, being punk bands, the songs were short, but I was more than happy that I caught them at all because I was instantly sold. These two girls were beasts on stage. The vocals were aggressive but not threatening and their sound was very classic punk. I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed as they hauled their gear off stage. I wanted to hear more from them and only wished I had caught their entire set but, I was done show hoping for the night as there were only the two bands in the Mainroom and, with my brother by my side, I was ready to settle in for the night.
Hometown heroes Off With Their Heads were up next for The Entry show. I have always been a huge fan of these guys. With lyrics that aren’t afraid to discuss those deep dark feelings we all try and hide and energetic instrumentation that makes you want to push and shove the people around you a bit, OWTH is one of those bands that I listen to on a daily basis. Their hometown shows are some of my favorite shows to catch. The crowd gets so into it and, even if you don’t know the lyrics or don’t claim to be a huge fan of this group, you can’t help but get lost in the sweat sea of people that are screaming along to every word. OWTH’s set was full of all of my favorite songs. Instead of just picking the fastest and loudest songs to play, they played songs that clearly meant something to the band members and the fans. After someone spilled the guitarist’s beer, singer Ryan Young joked with the crowd saying, “Your punishment for spilling his beer is slow songs!” Although he wasn’t kidding and the band broke into one of their more ballad-like (or as ballad-like as they can get) songs. Regardless of it was a slower, more sentimental song being played or a down and dirty fast punk song, the crowd was eating every single note and lyric up with a smile on their faces.
Closing out the night at the Entry and my night of live music overload was Iron Chic. Full disclosure, this was a bucket list band for me so excuse me while I gush over the fact that I finally got to see them live. Iron Chic’s sound is pop-punk meets straight up punk. It’s energetic and intense while still staying away from being classified as threatening or “too much”. Much like OWTH, Iron Chic has lyrics about mental health, trying to get through each day, you know– real life bullshit that many people may find hits a bit too close to home to be comfortable with. It was clear that the lyrics meant just as much to the band as they did to the screaming sold-out crowd that had turned into a giant, sweaty mosh pit within the first couple of notes. I could go on and on about how amazing seeing this band live was for me but, I feel like you’ve already read enough of my ramblings for one day. Just know that Iron Chic measured up to all of my expectations for them and then some. I may have put this band on a pedestal and my bucket list which always risks the chance of a band completely failing me but not Iron Chic. They killed it and I can not wait for them to come back to town.
There were stark differences between the two shows I went to last night. Clearly I had a favorite of the night but both shows were amazing in their own way.
Life is too short to just go to one concert a night.
Sausage Fest Meter- Mainroom: 2 out of 10; Entry: 8 out of 10
Average Age of the Crowd- Mainroom: 21; Entry: 28
Crowd Surfers- Mainroom: 0; Entry: 5
Stage Divers- Mainroom: 0; Entry: 0
Broken Bones- Mainroom: 0; Entry: 0
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Mainroom: None; Entry: Bodies, Drinks
Fights-Mainroom: 0; Entry: 0
Pukers- Mainroom: 0; Entry: 0
Drunkards Taken Out By Security- Mainroom: 0; Entry: 0
Celebrity Sightings- Mainroom: None; Entry: Members of Arms Aloft, Natalie of Contentious
Overall Score- Mainroom: 6 out of 10; Entry: 10 out of 10
Show on Deck- Katy Perry