After garnering major buzz across their native New Zealand and nearby Australia with their excellent debut EP, 2016’s Warm Blood, the four piece very quickly made the jump to the next level with this year’s full length Future Me Hates Me. With its ear-candy guitar hooks and provocative lyrical content, the record is easily one of the strongest rock records of the year — and it’s only the beginning for the young band.
The night began with a performance from Chicago’s own Special Death, who despite unexpectedly losing a drummer earlier in the day, put on a very fun performance — thanks in great part to the vocalist’s energy and raspy chops. From there, the night took on a more somber tone when Mother Evergreen, the latest musical project from the prolific Chicago musician Evan Loritsch, quietly took the stage. Informed by Loritsch childhood in and around the Great Lakes, Mother Evergreen’s self-titled debut is a charming outing, evoking a warm bucolic tranquility through lush orchestration throughout the performance. And while the band’s serene sound didn’t translate particularly well to the buzzing Beat Kitchen crowd, it did serve as a welcomed palette cleanser before The Beths took the stage.
Despite the palpable anticipation emanating from the crowd, The Beths took the stage with little fanfare. After a few timid albeit gracious remarks from lead vocalist and guitarist Elizabeth Stokes, the band began skillfully performing tracks from their latest record. As the night progressed, they seemed to respond well to the audience’s cheers, growing in confidence from their initial timidity. And while it’s no surprise that a young New Zealander band on their first US tour would go through some early confidence issues, it was still surprising to see considering just how deftly crafted their music is.
Nestled comfortably between Pet Sounds and Dookie, the sound of Future Me Hates Me showcases both an acute attention to the minor details and a frenzied, contagious energy. It is a sound that is both refreshingly unique but also instantly recognizable. The album is filled with backing vocals pairing perfectly with Stokes’ warbling falsettos and belting choruses, guitars with the perfect amount of reverb and drumming patterns that are energizing but never distracting. The band boasts that they all met while studying jazz at the University of Auckland, and while jazz as a sound is no longer in the equation, the idea of music as a discipline seems to inform every aspect of their approach to song craft.
Lyrically, the band is equally strong. Stokes, who primarily handles the songwriting, has a talent of squeezing a dizzying number of syllables into a hook with rhymes stretching from the amusing to the outstanding. Stokes navigates her inner most insecurities poetically, dancing from line to line while painting a complex image of mental health and emotion. Just take the title track, a song about prematurely regretting taking a risk in a relationship, “Future heart break/Future headaches/ Wide eyed nights late/ lying awake” she deftly laments in the songs chorus. Its content that is both relatable about provocative.
While the lyrics and stage presence may not have claim the same level of confidence as the actual music, something tells me things will change in the coming years for this very promising young band.
This concert review was written by guest author Adam Ramos.