My return to my favorite Chicago venue was thanks to a band called Nightlands. This band brought light back into my week after a rough beginning, and it brought light into an almost empty Schubas. I had never seen the hall so empty before Thursday night, but I had no problem with it being that way. Perhaps it was a marketing mishap that led this free show not to draw the crowd it deserved, but for the first time in a long time, I could breathe at a concert and just listen.
Nightlands is a famous, professional band that’s been around for a few years – don’t misunderstand. Like many other bands of which I’ve tirelessly worked to find the name, I met Nightlands while working at a clothing store long ago. The song that pulled me out of my boredom on slow days at the store was “I Fell In Love With A Feeling.” That song would sing its tune through the airwaves at my radio station job as a segment theme not too much later.
But Nightlands didn’t play my favorite song Thursday night at Schubas, and I didn’t mind. All bands have one certain quirk to their production, and the quirk that Nightlands showcased at Schubas was its intimacy and approachability. The emptiness of the room is partially to thank; Vocalist and Keyboardist Eliza Hardy Jones and Frontman Dave Hartley stood side-by-side only feet away from where I was sitting during opener The Building (a solo act by Drummer Anthony LaMarca).
But as I’ve said in earlier live concert reviews, Schubas creates the effect of camaraderie among artists and their audiences. It’s like hanging around your best friend. It’s easy.
The band didn’t try to look a certain image. Instead, it focused on its music. And that translated on stage with songs that I knew, but hadn’t lent an ear to in awhile. Nightlands started its set with songs including “So Far So Long,” easing us into its world of calm and of colorful charm. The band focused its attention on 2017 album I Can Feel The Night Around Me, a beautiful blend of smoky synthesizer and guitar strums that resemble the drips of water.
Songs like “Love’s in Love” took me and a fellow reporter at the show into a dizzy, euphoric state. Seriously. We kept looking at one another nodding and smiling with approval.
Nightlands helped me end a dizzying week by lifting me up into the air like a feather. No, the room was not full Thursday at Schubas, but its emptiness and Nightlands’ shoegaze sound fostered a feeling of being serenaded, of being at a private concert. These artists are invested in their work and that passion shows.