Kweku Collins, Whitney @ Thalia Hall

Sabrina Miresse | February 13, 2018

Concerts are for anyone and everyone. Especially around a holiday like Valentine’s Day. What better way to enjoy the holiday of love (or to spite the drag of a corporate holiday) than with a concert?

I waited, standing lightly in my New Balances, in the very rustic Thalia Hall for Kweku Collins to hit the stage and start the night off. People around me came in groups, with their significant others, and even alone to catch the Valentine’s event.

Lots of love was brought to Thalia Hall during night one of the three-night Whitney Valentine’s Day special. A local rapper, Kweku Collins and a local indie-rock band Whitney carried the night out with passion in the city they call home.

The Evanston-born rapper opened the three-night Valentine’s Day Whitney special on Feb. 13.

The crowd was very calm and despite the venue being sold out, Thalia Hall felt spacious. I overheard whispers of Whitney’s “melancholic music” and how it made people feel something.

Before Whitney brought their melancholic music to the stage, Collins brought his unique indie-rap music to Thalia Hall.

The young rapper, producer, and songwriter released his first album in 2015 just after graduating high school. He’s released an album every year since. The most recent being the 2017 “Grey.”

Collins took the stage at about 8:30 p.m. The rapper seemed excited and honored to be opening for Chicago band Whitney for their three-night special.

Walking on stage, it was hard to get a grasp on his style. Collins was wearing a white tie-dye t-shirt with a black suede flannel and straight black leather pants pulled over a mid-calf wide ankle boot—his outfit was the only criticism I had of the night.

Aside from this minor quirk, he was very charismatic and soulful on the stage, even when doing his awkward stage banter. At one point in the show it included asking the audience for some lip balm—to which the fans replied with multiple Chap Sticks being thrown at the stage.

“I feel like there’s lots of couples and shit,” Collins said to the crowd before playing his love themed songs such as the popular “Lonely Lullabies” off his 2015 debut album “Say It Here, While It’s Safe.”

The quirky and very entertaining performance from Collins was passionate and powerful. The kind of performance that gives you that tickle feeling in your chest and forces you to break a soft smile.

Before leaving the stage and introducing Whitney, Collins told the crowd to have a happy Valentine’s Day.

“Love yourself tomorrow if you love anybody,” Collins hoped for the crowd.

About a half hour later, Whitney hit the stage. The band promptly let the crowd know that the set was going to be a long one. Not only were they ready to play three nights, but the band had an 18-song set prepared for night one. A set so long that the band wrote in a five-minute break after song 10.

Sipping red wine, the band was casual and not overly interactive with the crowd while on stage. The guys opened with some of their most popular tracks: “Dave’s Song,” and “No Matter Where We Go” from their 2016 debut album “Light Upon the Lake.”

A few songs in, I decided that I had hopped on Chicago’s Whitney bandwagon. The hype over Whitney here in Chicago was always something that drew me further away from the band. However, after watching just a few songs of their intimate performance, I started to feel the hype.

Whitney is intricate. In the way that even the casual music listener can tell the band works extremely hard to get every riff and melody completely spot on.  I love the cohesiveness about their band.

Their style is the product of decades of music genres being pulled together to create a genre of indie rock music that differs from the many indie bands out there.

When watching their performance, I can’t help but think, these guys are going places.

The music from all the musicians that night made me carelessly and unknowingly smile. All eyes forward, feet tapping, hips gently moving back and forth, everyone in the concert hall in unity through music. Vibrations from sound and movement moved upwards in my spine, and a complex love for music met with the soulful rapping of Collins and Whitney’s finely tuned set made for a sensational night.

 Photo by Bridges / Closed Sessions

Photo by Bridges / Closed Sessions