Monday, March 18, 2013

Veronica Falls at The Empty Bottle, Chicago - 3/14/13

Sometimes it takes seeing a band in concert to decide what level of fandom to gravitate towards. As someone who can't live without music, I literally love hundreds of bands and artists in all different genres. Between LPs, CDs, cassettes, and downloads; I feel the need to keep thousands of albums in my possession. Some of which are sadly only listened to a few times while others I've been obsessed with for more than a decade. Still with others, I'll go years without listening to, and then suddenly fall in love all over again. The bands and artists that span my collection range from: groups I like but have no desire to see in concert; groups I enjoy but would think twice before before picking up that third album; and then there are the ones that reach a peak in my musical obsession where they can do no wrong. Sure, some of their music is better than others, but you learn to love all their albums equally, as though they were a brother or sister. In cases like this, I don't feel the need to listen to music samples on iTunes before pre-ordering a new release; and I take every opportunity I get to see these artists in concert (Guided By Voices, Ryan Adams, The Black Angels, Wilco, and David Bowie all come to mind). 

Veronica Falls were a borderline band for me: I was one step towards becoming a fan for life, and one step towards being happy with the occasional new release. After falling in love with their debut single in 2010 ("Found Love in a Graveyard"), and everything else they've put out since, I finally got the chance to see them in concert. This time I made sure to get my tickets early, after just barely missing them at South By Southwest a few years back. I'm still fairly new to Chicago, so it was a pleasure to not only catch the band but also to see them at The Empty Bottle. With an excellent beer selection (including $3 Lonestar) and decent prices, a photo booth, arcade games, pool tables, great sound, this intimate rock club might be my favorite venue ever! The crowd was largely comprised of young and skinny, fashion conscious hipsters, so I didn't quite fit in, but who cares.

A local indie duo known as Love of Everything opened up the show. Led by the soft vocaled frontman - Bobby Burg, he looper layers upon layers of noisy guitar which only got more and more intense as their 30 minute set went on. At one point, he used an old flash camera next to the pickup of his guitar to add some interesting spacey effects. This was my first time witnessing these guys but won't be my last.

Cold Showers were next up and could have been an excellent headliner on their own. Their dark brooding goth tunes were a perfect soundtrack to a vampire party. With echoes of The National, The Cure, and The Smiths, the band sound was full of big pounding drums and cold bass lines, deep baritone vocals, and a guitarist that seemed to be a big fan of Johnny Marr. I was also unfamiliar with this band but really enjoyed their set. 

Veronica Falls closed the show and from the moment they walked on stage, they were
everything I hoped they would be and more! While watching the gig, I came to the 
conclusion that if I were to form any band I wanted starting tomorrow, it wouldn't be too far
off from this group. Two girls, two guys; a nice concoction of dark subject matter with light
and shimmery musicianship; vocal harmonies that were so spot-on you'd think they were lip
syncing; the Velvet Underground influenced chugging guitar rhythms of James Hoare; even the look and movement of the band onstage was all too perfect for words. Compared with the
more polished studio renditions of their songs, there was very little difference (other than the
guitars being slightly out of tune on a song). However hearing these songs live with more
prominent rhythms, louder guitar playing, and seeing the vocals all falling into sync, it really
wasn't an issue. A couple of the songs that they played which were some of my least favorite
on their respective LPs ("Wedding Day" and "Buried Alive") finally clicked with me after
hearing them in context with the rest of the set. As far as the other songs played, with only
two albums under their belt, it already felt like a greatest hits set.

After witnessing this UK band in concert, they have cemented my feelings of being one of my favorite new bands of the last 10 years..... And I will blindly buy everything they put in front of me!

The Set List

Tell Me
My Heart Beats
Beachy Head
Broken Toy
Waiting for Something to Happen
Bad Feeling
Found Love in a Graveyard
If You Still Want Me
Buried Alive
Wedding Day
Come on Over

Right Side of My Brain

Check out these bands at the following links:
Love of Everything -
Cold Showers -
Veronica Falls -

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