Review: Snail Mail Delivered Surprising Highlights to Tomorrow Never Knows

Snail Mail and Neptune’s Core during “Pristine”

At Snail Mail’s headlining Tomorrow Never Knows show at Metro on Thursday, the highlights were surprising.

Two Chicago bands, Varsity and Lala Lala, opened the night, and per usual the Chicago crowds came out early to support their own. Both bands are crowd-pleasing openers and their names definitely added to the appeal of the sold out show Thursday night.

Lala Lala, played their hits to the head-bobbing crowd and fans sang along at levels a bit raised from a normal opening set. And then something magical happened. The paced drums of Perfume Genius’ “Slip Away” swelled through the balcony into a promise that carried the weight of your friend pulling out an unexpected sleeper hit at karaoke and inviting you to join in on the exhilarating chorus. And just as the song’s precipice is determined and remembered, the best part of the night happened before indie-darlings Snail Mail even stepped foot on the stage.

And that was a blessing for any sleepy fans in the audience — Snail Mail didn’t take the stage until 11 p.m.

Coming off their critically-acclaimed 2018 album, Lush, Snail Mail upgraded from selling out Subterranean in June to Metro by January. The band graced the stage confidently and graciously — Lindsey Jordan, lead guitarist and vocalist, thanked her manager, sound operators and openers early on. She introduced new keyboardist and guitarist Maddie McCormick, celebrating their first show with the band.

The best part of the set channeled a similar vibe — Jordan shared the spotlight during her hit single, pulling off a stage stunt familiar to fans of Drake or Taylor Swift but pretty foreign to a stage like Metro. Jordan chanted “Neptune’s Core… Best New Band… In Chicago” and the crowd echoed her. Sure enough two young red-headed girls walked onto stage in a jean jacket and jumpsuit that looked like a cuter version of what every 20-something in the audience was sporting. Jordan applauded Neptune’s Core’s cover of “Pristine” they had posted on YouTube and brought them out to join her in playing the band’s hit.

This stunt combined with Jordan’s graciousness and smiles cemented her as one of the most genuine acts I’ve seen. Although I wish there would have been more stage banter, I was grateful she moved the show along at a good pace as it was nearing midnight.

In a true test for someone who had graciously given the spotlight over a few times, Jordan sent her band away for intimate performances of “Anytime” and “Stick.” This act felt special and memorable — Snail Mail slaps but the songs start to melt together in a live set. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, the atmosphere was dreamy (dare I say – lush) but at 11:30 p.m. on a Thursday a change in pace could have done wonders to amp up the crowd.

Ultimately, Jordan was clear there would be no encore, and despite a few fans fighting to the front when the music ended anyway there seemed to be a collective sigh of relief. We had our fill and although it was enjoyable, an encore or a trip back to the next tour seemed gratuitous.

Erin McAuliffe
Erin McAuliffe