Infectious, charming, and irresistible: Night Riots at Chicago’s Thalia Hall

Night Riots band,Travis Hawley

There was electricity in the air Tuesday night at Chicago’s Thalia Hall like something big was about to happen. The crowd buzzed with excitement waiting for the night’s headliners, Run River North. But it seemed most of the crowd was there for the opening act, Night Riots. The California band were only on for about 45 minutes, but they used every minute to win over the crowd. By the end of their set, the line between supporting and main act was blurred.

Each member walked out one by one with frontman Travis Hawley sauntering out last, receiving the biggest cheers. They wasted no time and launched into “Back to Your Love” from their 2013 EP Young Lore. The bouncy beats, Hawley’s dance moves, and passionate vocals encouraged people to start moving and singing, even if they didn’t know the words. After a brief introduction, they performed “Follow You” where Hawley makes being a stalker sound so sexy. He kept up the energy between the crowd and the rest of the band. And he drove the crowd wild when he jumped down in front and held hands with lucky fans.

After debuting the new song “Nothing Personal” from their upcoming album, they played more tracks from their hit EP Howl, including “Break” and “Oh My Heart.” The band’s fusion of synthpop, electronic, and rock makes their songs fun. The bouncy music and memorable hooks put you in a good mood and get you dancing.

Hawley proved to be a charming frontman with his strong vocals, suave dance moves, and winning smile. He had no trouble getting the crowd to follow his calls for fist pumping and making noise. At one point, he asked them to get quiet and he laid on the floor. He then encouraged them to join him, which believe it or not, they actually did. The entire band has great energy. Look to the left of the stage and you’ll see guitarist Matt DePauw wildly swinging around his blond hair. Turn the right and see Mikel Van Kranenburg (bass) and Nick Fotinakes (guitar) shredding away, stomping their feet to the rhythms. But as soon as your eyes land on Hawley, it’s hard to look away. He’s that hypnotizing.

Their set closed with their breakout single “Contagious,” prompting more dancing from Hawley and the crowd. To make sure they could sing along, Hawley told the crowd the lyrics to the bridge and encouraged them to sing with him, which they did. After a crashing close, Hawley jumped into the crowd, high-fived the front row, and left the stage, leaving the crowd wanting more. Some left for the merch booth knowing they saw music’s next rising stars.

With their fun, memorable dance music and energetic, intimate performances, Night Riots will only get bigger and better. Their sets are nothing but a good time, which they clearly have while performing. Not only do they have immense energy, but they sound even better live, and know how to interact with the crowd. They commanded the stage so well, it was easy to forget they were the openers. It won’t be long until they’re headlining sold out shows.

Make sure to catch Night Riots at Riot Fest on September 17th in Douglas Park. Tickets are on sale now.

Originally Posted on AXS

Ashley Perez

Ashley Perez

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on Examiner, The Crypt 1331, Chicago Innerview, Kitty Whipp, and Reality-Comics. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Marilyn Manson, and Green Day.