On a rainy Thursday evening I was riding the train home from work noticing all of the people sharing the car with me. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles, someone’s something. Some wore suits, some were laborers, some were kids leaving school. There was one thing we all shared while living our own little stories and narratives – exhaustion. It’s spring and everyone is adjusting to the good weather. You’re working longer hours and out of the house. You’re getting sick because of temperature changes. Everything’s coming alive again.
As my friends and I made our way to Thalia Hall and my edible kicked in I couldn’t stop thinking about the people on the train. The four of us found ourselves in the hall right as Divino Niño started their set. Admittedly, I was a fan of the band mostly by way of one of their members’ graphic design before knowing their music. Both are extremely pleasurable sensory experiences. Divino Niño were a great band to watch dial into their element for a lot of reasons but I found myself really drawn to the synchronicity the band members shared with one another. Each song found its way naturally and organically while maintaining this optimistic, upbeat charm that a lot of bands can put on but not really genuinely own. It’s a great thing to watch a band do their thing without feeling like you’re being pandered or purposefully played to.
Durand Jones and the Indications… where do we start? Prior to moving to Chicago, I was a resident of Bloomington, Indiana where a lot of these guys live and reside. I’ve seen them more than a handful of times, my friends are in one of their music videos, I saw some of their previous bands in college, and seeing them Thursday evening really felt like going home again. It’s important to note this because it does affect how I see this group and what they mean to me and if I left it out, I would get a text from someone calling me out for a biased review. That backstory explained; this band were operating on an entirely other level on Thursday evening. You’ve got a band where no member’s talent is wasted – bass that fills out songs, keys that add an irreplaceable shimmer, guitar that somehow manages to take you backwards and forwards in time, horns that bring a sort of warmth you can’t fake, drums that are the heartbeat of the band, and voices that will make you shout, cheer, tear up, and smile.
The band played through the breadth of their first album and their newest, American Love Call, and the room’s energy was immense. I mentioned the “going home” feeling but the experience took me back to the train with all of the city’s characters. Durand begins the new album with a riff on Reagan’s morning in America speech and every time I start listening to it, I’m called back to the people I see every day in the same way the song is pointing out the grittier realities of modern American life. There’s a tenderness to this band as much as there’s an urgency to point out where we can take care of one another as people. In a catalogue of songs that started out full love swinging love tunes and charmers, they’ve moved into a place where they can take their emotional core and tell a greater story, maybe even one less expected. It’s a tricky evolution to navigate in tumultuous political times. That said, there is a gentleness in Durand Jones and the Indications that can only make you feel a little more confident for brighter days and loving the people that inhabit your world, strangers and friend alike.