Big Thief Steals the Evening @ Schubas During TNK Fest

Photos by Julian Ramirez

Tomorrow Never Knows never disappoints. In addition to promoting well-known favorites all over Chicago, we're also given stellar performances by local up-and-comers. Wednesday evening brought about an evening full of performances by Midwest natives and two Brooklyn bands, packing the intimate room and giving it that weekend-level feeling. Campdogzz opened up the show, with a sultry sound that made the room sway. I first heard their song "The Well" in, well, a show about Chicago called Easy, and I fell in love with their unique style. Lead singer Jessica Price emitted her bold vocals, seemingly at ease in front of the crowd that began to fill Schubas. The band moved through songs from their debut album, easily becoming one of the best sets of the night with mesmerizing ballads that reeled us right in. Next up was Hoops. Hailing from Indiana, Hoops had a unique charm yet had some growing to do as an ensemble. With a style of Real Estate meets Mac Demarco, their sound was groovy, synth-infused, and interesting. However, their stage presence still needs a bit of work, showing that though the band has reached critical acclaim, they're still finding their footing. Never fear though, because their sound was absolutely stellar. My friend and I discussed how our only complaint about their set is that we wished their songs went on a little bit longer. Each time one ended, we clamored for more. Hoops got the room moving with songs like "Cool 2," and I can't wait to see them headline their own Chicago show soon. Sam Evian brought out a member of Whitney for a perfect brass solo, which added flair to a set that was almost so chill and mesmerizing, that it made the 11pm set time a little tough. The stage name for Sam Griffin Owens, Sam Evian showcased a sound of decades past that was more than welcome in 2017. "Sleep Easy" showcased a lilting groove, while "Big Car" gave us sounds from the '70s. Throughout the set, I was transfixed with this Brooklyn newcomer's ease onstage as well as the seamless transition from song to song. At long last, Big Thief began their long-awaited set, featuring lead singer Adrianne Lenker as the star of the show. With just two spotlights shining down, Lenker dazzled us with her raw vocals on songs like "Real Love" and "Masterpiece," showing us why their visceral album Masterpiece is one to be celebrated beyond its release year of 2016. This band doesn't need flashy lights, eight different types of instruments, and crazy sound effects. Rather, this band has pure heart and songs that speak to the core of who we are. I eagerly await Big Thief's performances in the future, but I feel that Schubas, in a small, dimly lit room, is where they truly shine amid the silent revery of their fans.
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Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks is a native Chicagoan with a penchant for words, music, art and this magnificent city of Chicago. Raised on The Beatles and learning the violin at age 9, Sarah’s passion for music began early in life. Her musical obsessions include Wilco, Otis Redding, Neko Case and Real Estate, but they truly change daily. She can be found at a concert, trying a new restaurant, or running along the lakefront path.