Concert Review: Lady Lamb, American Wrestlers, Grounders, January 13, Lincoln Hall


TNK is always a shining light in the darkness of a Chicago winter – a festival organized by Lincoln Hall and Schubas in the dead of January when it’s so cold your eyelids freeze shut whenever you blink and you haven’t been to a social event in over a month because a) you’re afraid you’ll die of exposure and b) everyone’s too depressed to host them? Yes please.

The night started off with Toronto indie rockers Grounders. As someone whose decisions tend to be influenced greatly by what food will become available to her due to those decisions, I feel I should let everyone know that Grounders has one very endearing trait – they like to throw snacks. I mean really it only makes sense – you want your audience happy? Feed ‘em. About halfway through their set the foursome tossed out some beef jerkey to the crowd. Sure it was already opened and had probably sat in the back of their van for a couple of months, but hey, nobody was complaining, and the audience happily chewed away as the group played their unique form of indie rock/grunge/psych (a special shout-out to the keyboardist who was killing it on those laser sounds) from their self titled 2015 album.

Next to the stage was American Wrestlers. The band, led by Scottish born Gary McClure, has a much loved, DIY, low-fi, indie rock sound anchored in breezy guitar riffs and catchy lyrics. I got hooked on these guys after hearing singles “Kelly” and “I can do no wrong” from their 2015 self-titled album, and judging from other audience members I talked to, the same could be said of most everyone. Seeing McClure live is a whirlwind, literally and figuratively, as the frontman plays his guitar in a truly furious fashion, hands a complete blur. Unfortunately McClure broke a string on “Kelly” but he quickly switched out his gear, recouped his losses, and started fresh, meaning that in the end the audience won because it was just an elongated version. “I’m from Scotland” McClure told us, which brought out a few cheers and whoops, “Oh no, that doesn’t deserve applause” he told us. “I was just going to say I thought it was cold when I left, and then I came here…”. Yes we live in a terrible frozen tundra, but American Wreslters brought a spot of sunshine.

Next up: Lady Lamb. The last time I saw Lady Lamb she was playing a solo, acoustic act at Thalia Hall, opening up for The Tallest Man. While she was a delight, she was also soft and mellow and a little hard to hear except for those with their noses smooshed against the stage at the front. Nothing could have been farther from the truth Wednesday night at Lincoln Hall. The good Lady was electrifying, and there wasn’t a single person there who wasn’t laser focused on the powerful center of electricity radiating from the diminutive, leather jacket clad performer.

Fun side note: when you google Lady Lamb the first thing that comes up is a picture of Aly Spaltro in a David Bowie sweatshirt eating peanut butter out of the jar. Lovelovelove.

Backed by a male drummer and bassist, Spaltro took to the stage in a leather jacket, skinny jeans and ankle boots, and started things rolling with the gorgeous “Billions of Eyes” from 2015’s After. One of the most fulfilling things about Lady Lamb’s music is that while it has the beat and riffs necessary to keep you fully grounded and tapping your toes, her lyrics send you into flights of fancy, daydreaming about catching trains and exhuming bodies. Moving from there into “Dear Arkansas Daughter” from the same album, Spaltro took the audience on another winding tale of love, loss and truly filthy water. That’s the thing about Lady Lamb – it doesn’t matter where she’s leading – we’re all more than ready to follow.

Posted on by Celeste in Concerts

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