Schubas Tavern was transformed into a meditation salon Thursday night at the Cigarettes After Sex concert. The band, led by vocalist Greg Gonzalez, emitted a sound that washed over the crowd like crashing waves, an effect created by Jake Tomsky’s drumming and Randy Miller’s bass. Of course, Gonzalez’s voice was the soothing wind, pushing those waves.
The crowd wasn’t as rowdy Thursday night as Gonzalez described them to normally be. However, I think part of the reason for that is is the small venue and the collective desire to just listen.
One Cigarettes After Sex fan I met Thursday is an avid concert-goer like me. “I’ve actually been listening to Cigarettes After Sex for a couple months. I really love the album. We [he and his friend] go to a lot of shows all the time, so this was definitely going to be one that I wasn’t going to miss.” Fans of Cherry Glazerr might take a liking to Cigarettes After Sex, as this concert lover last visited Subterranean to hear that band.
And it makes sense that this particular spectator enjoyed hearing Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard solo at Thalia Hall. Gibbard’s style is similar to that of Cigarettes After Sex, and Gonzalez himself.
Gibbard’s music has a way of relaxing its listeners, encouraging us to close our eyes and just think. And that’s exactly the effect Cigarettes After Sex had on me as I swayed from side to side, picking apart each individual instrument, and only thinking about the craft itself.
As Gonzalez promised, the band played new songs, including “Sunsets.” The title made absolute sense as the band played on, with a guitar riff that sounded conclusive. Every instrument melded together to bring a sound mimicking the end of a long, summer day.
Of course, the band showed off their known titles, including “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby.” I predicted this song to be one of my favorites live, and it was, with a chorus that sounds like ambient calls to help – that is, not that the protagonist in the song is calling for help, but crying to be let in by his subject.
The evening was full of sounds that have originated from different cities, including those in which Cigarettes After Sex composed its music: El Paso, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. But I think Chicago can resonate with it, too, what with its miserable winters, only to be soothed by beautiful art like this.