Concert Review: Jukebox the Ghost, January 25th, House of Blues

Chicago – What better way to spice up the middle of a blah week than skip your night class and go to a concert? Who needs education anyway right? Wednesday was the eve of my dear friend’s 30th birthday. She has this whole long list of things that she’s not allowed to do after she turns 30 (eat PB&J, play drinking games, take shots for her age, wear glitter makeup, pretty much everything that makes life worth living) so I bought her some Wonderbread, some Smuckers, and some Jif and brought her to the House of Blues for a night out with Jukebox the Ghost and Jack’s Mannequin.

We got to the venue about halfway through the opener, Jukebox the Ghost’s, set and the place was already packed. Before I get to the music though I have to give a shout out to the venue – this was my first time in a House of Blues – I’ve always looked down on it because it’s part of a chain. I figured it would be soul-sucking money maker with no character – not true at all! This place actually ranks as one of my favorite concert venues in Chicago now. Decorated with pop top art and weird statues and masks on the walls – I’m usually one to stake out a spot next to the stage and move neither for hell nor high water nor drunken moshers for the subsequent three hours, but I couldn’t help but roam the place during the breaks between sets. The two or three full bars scattered around didn’t hurt either.

My sister and I like to call Jukebox the hardest working hipsters on the circuit. These guys just tour relentlessly, and every time I go see them I’m waiting for one of them to just pass out mid-set – I always think I should pack a sandwich from them just in case. They made it through their set with energy to spare though – playing say when, schizophrenia and good day, along with a medley of cover songs.

There’s nothing to dislike about Jukebox’s music: it’s upbeat, it’s catchy, it’s imaginative, and everyone who I’ve forced to try it out (which is many) feels an instant connection to what the band’s trying to get across – take a listen, and I promise you won’t regret it.

The main act, Jack’s Mannequin, was the second pleasant surprise of the night. I’ve never really given much thought to Jack’s Mannequin – I knew their one song, Dark Blue, and wasn’t really blown away by it, but I was absolutely blown away by their performance. Let’s start with the set up for the stage – a disco ball, Ikea lamps and a baby grand piano. There are too many bands out there who use totally overstimulating and gratuitous props for their sets that just take away from their music, but this set up was perfect: baby grand – classy, Ikea lamps – intriguing, disco ball – fun. Yes, yes and yes. The lead singer of the band, Andrew McMahon, absolutely dominated the stage in his white suit and sweet facial hair (I kept on hearing Ke$ha in my head throughout the night “I like your beard”.) He’s an excellent vocalist and although he didn’t do a lot of dancing (my favorite part of concerts is watching the band rock out) his energy was infectious and he absolutely had the crowd going. While I’m not sure that I’ll be listening to Jack’s Mannequin’s albums nonstop now (I tried them when I got home and somehow they just didn’t quite translate as well as they did live) I certainly enjoyed them in person. Overall an excellent way to spend a Wednesday.

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Posted on by Celeste in Concerts

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