Photos by: Brett Bergen
The Aragon Ballroom had an amazing weekend filled with a stellar lineup of great bands with 101WKQX The Night We Stole Christmas and the final night did not disappoint. The bands that closed out the weekend included Silversun Pickups, Foals and Highly Suspect.
Highly Suspect is touring in support of their album “Mister Asylum” with an upbeat angst that felt refreshing. Johnny Steven’s, guitars and lead vocals, belts out songs of rebellion, sadness, anger, and unrequited love throughout the set. Some of the songs that truly stuck out during the set that fit the struggle of a one sided love were “Lost”, “Bloodfeather”, and “Lydia”. Rich (bass and vocals) and Ryan (drums and vocals) Meyer are twins who round out the rest of the band. Their stage setup is pretty simplistic, but effective. Rich and Ryan are set up on the outer edges of the stage with Johnny being the center piece. Throughout their set there were a couple of guys that would come on and off the stage bringing out alcohol and other items to give to the members that felt like it was symbolizing the struggle of various vices being pushed on them in life. I’m excited to see what these guys can do as they get billed with bigger slots on various festivals and the eventual headlining tour that is to come.
Foals continued the night with a set that got the crowd in a dancing frenzy. Hailing from Oxford, England, this quintet is on the verge of being a true headlining act. They are currently touring in support of their most recent album, “What Went Down”. Yannis Philippakis, lead singer and lead guitarist, is a lyrically articulate showman. Even if you are not very familiar with the music of Foals, it was not difficult to understand what the lyrics of each track were. The rest of the group consists of rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith, bassist Walter Gervers, keyboardist Edwin Congreave, and drummer Jack Bevan. The chemistry shared between all of them translated into a fantastic live performance that gives you a sense as to why they are becoming a successful touring act. When they played the song “My Number”, the crowd began dancing in what looked like a murmuration. From there, the band’s electricity increased with each song. The songs that really stuck out that evening were “My Number”, “Mountain At My Gates”, “Spanish Sahara”, and “Inhaler”. By the time these guys finished up their set I was wondering to myself how soon it will be that they make a return to Chicago.
And then there was the final band of the weekend. For many in attendance, this was their highlight of the night. Silversun Pickups has an extremely faithful following. From talking to fans at the show, they definitely will travel to see this band live. The entire Midwest was well represented at the show. Even with the fact that this show is in support of their new album, “Better Nature”, this crowd was ready to let Brian Aubert, Chris Guanlao, Joe Lester, and Nikki Monninger know just how excited they were to have them back. Everyone who was at the last show at the Aragon back in September of 2012 were very happy to see Nikki back playing bass. That last show she had taken a leave of absence for maternity leave and the band had Sarah Negahdari of the band “The Happy Hollows” filling in for her.
The night’s set was heavily laden with tracks from BN and that was a strong point of the show. Outside of their first release from the album being “Nightlight”, the entire album is one of their best yet. Some of the best reactions towards the new album from the crowd came after “Cradle” and “Latchkey Kids”. Silversun played their hearts out and it showed. With fan favorites, “The Pit”, “Panic Switch”, “Lazy Eye”, and “Dots & Dashes”, fans were given a pretty solid early Christmas gift.