Review: Jordanna Brings Top Local Talent and a Dazzling Set to First Headlining Gig at Schubas

A four-bill show at Schubas Tavern on Labor Day Eve felt like a giant, warm hug. Carefully curated by Chicago R&B headliner Hayley Jordanna (“Jordanna”), the lineup featured local, genre-bending acts—a one-of-a-kind Jordanna mixtape, if you will, of her favorite bands in the city.

Harpist and producer Michele Annise (“Yomí”) kicked it off followed by the always catchy electro-pop outfit Sports Boyfriend with Eileen Peltier’s playful, nostalgic songs about summer and breaking glasses after arriving home late from a night of dancing. Those unacquainted with the wildly chaotic rap stylings of Glitter Moneyyy (duo Ashley Renee Copton, a.k.a. Queen TrAshley, and Taylor Dariarow, a.k.a. TayyySlayyy) were in for a big, sassy surprise complete with political slurs, feminist rants, sips from a champagne bottle emblazoned in gold glitter and a certain, ahem, strap-on accessory slung around the hips of the iPod DJ/hype woman self-proclaimed as “biracial, bisexual and bicoastal.”

After the raging party that was Glitter Moneyyy came to a raucous close, Jordanna took it several notches down, tying bunches of bright gladiolas to each microphone and dashing off stage mid-set to hand out roses to the audience. The dozen songs performed were a tidal wave of emotions, energy and unabashed talent. Jordanna’s syrupy smooth voice was backed by two killer singers, keys, drums, bass and saxophone/flute—a band she eagerly doted on (and rightfully so). New single “Eu Quero Você” (“I Want You” in Portuguese) was a sultry sax-heavy jam, but Jordanna also rocked more familiar hits from the Sweet Tooth EP, released earlier this year. The acapella “Outro” was the showstopper, bringing the buzzing crowd to an entranced stupor: “Don’t break my heart / don’t leave me behind / don’t tell me you’re gone / I thought you were mine.”

Jordanna exuded a special type of confidence under the spotlight in front of a nearly sold-out room, even during a solo acoustic rendition of “Sweet Life.” She’s a performer at heart, full of grace and charisma, which may be explained in part by her former life as a ballet dancer. A more recent stint in the punk scene seemed less apparent, but there were glimmers of it in her ability to command the stage and deliver words of grit and power.

While the evening was no doubt a display of some of Chicago’s finest female-driven acts today, Jordanna shared her irks with how the show was promoted as a celebration of Chicago women. “Yes, it was a lot of women playing tonight, but I feel like marketing that way is just furthering the divide,” she said. If there was a theme at all, it appeared to be more closely tied to self-acceptance, self-love and self-empowerment. “Love yourself before anyone else,” Jordanna pronounced early on. “That’s what it’s all about.”

  This concert review was written and photographed by guest author Jessica Nikolich.
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Jessica Nikolich

Jessica Nikolich was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs. After going to journalism school in Columbia, Missouri, and working at a small-town Michigan newspaper on the banks of Lake Huron, she’s back for good to soak up as much live music, culture and craft beer as humanly possible. Her writing can be found in Chicago magazine and Chicago Innerview Magazine. In the real world, Jessica is a marketing specialist at a law firm and survives her CTA commutes binging podcasts.