Joywave @ Lincoln Hall Review

Saloni Jaisingh | November 21, 2017

“Thanks, Thanks for Coming”, is both the name of Joywave’s current tour, and the ninth track off of their sophomore album, Content. In a sold-out room at the iconic Lincoln Hall of Chicago, Joywave brought their music, new and old, to life in front of an eager crowd.

Four standard PC Screens lit up accompanying Joywave on stage as their visuals. Colorful images, designs, and videos flashed across these screens, expanding on their live show experience. Then entered Daniel Armbruster (vocals), Joseph Morinelli (guitar), Sean Donnelly (bass), Benjamin Bailey (keyboards), and Paul Brenner (drums).

After thoroughly enjoying Joywave’s set at 101.1WKQX’s PIQNIQ in 2015 and seeing them open for Young the Giant and Cold War Kids this September, I was looking forward to experiencing their own headlining show and seeing how it would compare to those powerful sets.

Starting off their set with Content’s self titled song, a more ambient track that gradually becomes more intense, Joywave captured everyone’s attention immediately. Making sure to include songs from both of their albums and EPs, their nineteen song set list was sure to please any fan hoping for an eclectic setlist. Tracks such as “Destruction” and “It’s a Trip” were sure crowd pleasers, while songs such as “Going to a Place” and “Confidence” slowed down the vibes of the room. I was very excited to hear “Nice House” live, which enchanted the audience. This acoustic-based song has always been my favorite off of their debut album, How Do You Feel Now?, and I hadn’t heard it live to date. “Tongues”, a bop familiar to everyone in the concert hall, was the second to last song of the show that peaked the energy for the final time of the night.

Setlist aside, Joywave is one of those live acts that won’t have you feeling left out if you are unfamiliar with their music - you can still rock out to their material even if you don’t know the lyrics. That’s the beauty of Joywave’s music through. Strong, articulate lyrics hand in hand with unique and infectious electronic beats.

Lincoln Hall was the perfect venue for Joywave to play, the quality of production in this intimate of a setting was a great feat. With vibrant colors lighting up the packed concert hall and Armbruster’s engaging stage presence, everyone was captivated. While fans were packed in, there was still room for them to move which is good because of Joywave’s contagious rhythms. Whether fans were nodding their head or tapping their feet, Joywave had people moving.

Armbruster’s dry humor charmed the crowd and he convinced us of his love for playing shows in Chicago. He had everyone jumping up and down along with him to each track. I always thought Joywave had amazing energy, but they took it to a whole new level on this headlining tour. They demanded the audience’s attention with their captivating stage presence and interacted with the audience a multitude of times.

Joywave, naturally, finished off their set with “Thanks. Thanks for Coming”. This polite closing on behalf of the band’s part wrapped up their set and ended their show. The second leg of this tour has just been announced, and I strongly recommend checking out Joywave in a city near you. Get tickets here.

Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews via Billboard

Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews via Billboard

Bad Suns @ Metro Review

Saloni Jaisingh | October 20, 2017

Over the course of three years, I have seen Bad Suns perform in a few environments: opening for The 1975 in the Spring of 2014, playing a packed room at Schubas Tavern in the Summer of 2014, performing in the middle of a GAP store on Michigan Avenue in the Fall of 2015, filling up the Old National Centre in Indianapolis in the Spring of 2017, and now delivering my favorite set of theirs to date right here at Metro in Chicago.

I arrived at the venue eager to see what awaits me on the Love Like Revenge Fall Tour. I entered just after their second openers, Hunny, had wrapped up their set and was met with a full audience patiently awaiting the arrival of Bad Suns. While making my way through the dense crowd and to the photo pit,  I overheard the chatter of excited fans - many of them talking about set list expectations and reminiscing on the last time they saw Bad Suns. This prompted nostalgia from me as well, and I realized just how excited I was to see Bad Suns again.

At 9:30pm, the venue’s playlist was cut to silence and the crowd roared a cheer as Christo Bowman (vocals), Ray Libby (guitar), Miles Morris (drums), and Gavin Bennett (bass) took the stage. The crowd was ecstatic to hear the opening notes to “Disappear Here”, the self-titled track off the band’s latest album. Bowman belted the lyrics and the crowd echoed in unison.

Their twenty-song set featured an eclectic mix of songs off of Language & Perspective, their debut album, and their latest release, Disappear Here. It was a great surprise to hear “Twenty Years”, a song off of their 2014 EP, Transpose, included in the set as well - it has always been a favorite of mine. They accompanied each track with a unique composition of lighting and colors, expanding on their live performance experience.

The band’s vibrant act enticed the audience. Tracks such as “Dancing on Quicksand” and “Daft Pretty Boys” captivated the crowd and had everybody dancing to the California-pop melodies of Bad Suns. Bowman slowed down the vibe of the show with more reflective songs like "Maybe We're Meant to Be Alone" and “Defeated” followed by a stripped down version of the intro to “Matthew James” before he brought back the energy in the room to maximum levels. He expressed his love and appreciation for the audience a multitude of times and climbed on top of the crowd not once, but twice during the show.

It has been amazing to physically see the progression of Bad Suns through these past few years - watching them play on a bigger stage, performing to a bigger crowd, and with a bigger set juxtaposes the very first time I saw them. Their evolution in terms of music as well as stage performance was very refreshing, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this band. Get tickets to see them on the Love Like Revenge Fall Tour here.

Midnight by Lewis Watson

Saloni Jaisingh | May 2017

After a break of three years, singer-songwriter Lewis Watson embarked on his return through the release of his new album, midnight. Watson returned home to England and into the studio with a live band to record this 11-track album. Under the production of Anthony West (of Oh Wonder), the album was completed in just a few weeks.

Keeping the well-loved acoustic melodies introduced in his preceding EPs and debut album, Watson built upon his musical influences to create a new, eclectic sound. Somewhere between Ed Sheeran-meets-Jack Garratt, midnight is sonically poetic and gentle, whilst instrumentally captivating. From the ambient songs, “slumber” to the nostalgia-inducing hit, “little light”, midnight encompasses the evolution of Lewis Watson as an artist.