The Vic Theater – Chicago, IL
Under one roof (The Vic Theatre), three headlining-worthy bands played in Chicago on Friday, April 4: Spoon, The Walkmen, and the White Rabbits.
At 7:45, the six members of the White Rabbits picked up their instruments and abruptly began playing. 15 minutes prior to performing, bassist Adam Russell snuck me in the side door, getting me into the show (!), but without a photo press pass (which was initially my ticket into the sold-out show). So, I’ll describe what they looked like on stage: six very well dressed (blazers, ties, cardigans, collars) men (few bands outdo the Walkmen), two of them drumming, a bassist, a keyboardist, and two guitars (one acoustic). Vocal duties were shared between two singers that sounded eerily similar. The best songs from their debut LP, Fort Nightly, were the best live for the most part, “The Plot,” “While We Go Dancing,” and “Kid On My Shoulders.” Gregory Roberts told the audience, “This is a new one we wrote right before we left,” which was driven by the the African thumping drumbeat and sounded just as good as any of the others. The six-piece’s sound was gapless, but remained amazingly uncluttered and never abrasive. A gimmicky overtone came with the business-like costumes, which paralleled the insincerity in suspect songs like “While We Go Dancing;” however, the serious, passionate live performance put a positive spin on the Rabbits’ image.
Roberts remarked, “This is the shortest the mic stand is going to go for tonight,” and when Hamiliton Leithauser, Walkmen frontman, set up on the edge of the stage, he did look gigantic in comparison. This was not the Walkmen show for you if you were looking for the hits: “Louisiana,” “The Rat,” “Look Out The Window, (the majority of Bow and Arrows) and the natural, “We’ve Been Had,” all were not played. “On the Water” was one of three new songs that opened the set, followed by the familiar, “Little House of Savages,” which the already exhausted Hamilton introduced.
“This is from our new record that we’ve been working on for three years,” delighted all Walkmen fans, “it’s called ‘If Only It Were True’.” Hamilton played guitar on this quieter, single-paced tune that opened, “If only it were true, I’d say I do.” The Hundred Miles Off songs were outstanding, which included “All Hands on the Cook” and “Another One Goes By,” the Mazarin cover, on which Hamilton’s voice sounded most like (the often compared) Bob Dylan. Perhaps the set highlight was their finale, “I Lost You,” another new album track that the Walkmen recently told Spinner, ” is our favorite song we’ve ever written.”
In between sets, everyone danced and sang along to “Kiss Off,” which was followed by cheers. Also on the loudspeaker came three awesome, very rough recordings of a childish-sounding band with almost inaudible lyrics (I did catch, “Welcome to Chicago, baby,”), which I would pay a good sum to find out about. This made for one of the better waiting experiences at shows I’ve had.
Then Spoon kicked off a 22-song, 90-minute set beginning with “Eddie’s Ragga.” “I Summon You,” came next, which is virtually impossible to mess up, and “Don’t You Evah,” the current single, raised the excitement and changed the direction of the rest of the show. The distorted, echo-y effect littered throughout the production of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was used in almost all the songs. Many were unfamiliar with “Chips and Dip” a song only found on the Love Ways EP. Britt Daniel started, “Chicago’s always been very ni-” and then refined his compliment, “Since 2001, It’s always been good us, before that it was rought! Who was at Lounge Ax?” and then launched into “Nefarious,” a song from their 1996 debut, Telephono. “Nefarious” was awesome, especially for me because it’s one of my favorites, and I had just thought to myself that it’s a shame they’d never play this one. So, after three Spoon shows, I can now mark off “Nefarious,” I’m just waiting on “Anything You Want,” “I Could Be Underground,” and “Advance Cassette.” “Nefarious” brought the show to a higher dimension with “The Delicate Place,” “Yr Cherry Bomb,” “Camera,” “Stay Don’t Go,” and “The Underdog,” to follow.
Britt Daniel then lead the band into a new direction, while still great, starting with the Paul Simon cover, (which the band has been working on) “Peace Like A River.” The first song of the encore was a solo version of “Me and the Bean,” and although the band rocks, I think I prefer Britt solo. “The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine,” and “Small Stakes,” were the songs responsible for completing an amazing night in indie rock.