Review: Matt Maeson Brings Funeral to Sold Out Night at Lincoln Hall

On Monday night, singer-songwriter Matt Maeson stared out into a packed house and told the story of playing Schuba's a few years back. He said that soon after he was in Iowa, sleeping in his car in an uncomfortable parking lot, when he saw an abandoned Wendy's. He decided that would more cozy, climbed the roof with his guitar, and incidentally wrote one of his more popular tunes "Me and My Friends Are Lonely."
That moment captures the spirit of Maeson's sold out Lincoln Hall show: intimate, off the cuff, and full of story. Maeson has a full bodied voice that fill out his roots-rock songs with the youthful emotion of a man finding his ground. His tunes are anthemic and beat driven, swelling and propulsive; watching the crowd sing along, like on concert opener "Hallucinogenics", it's clear Maeson found his niche in an audience looking for bold and bruised lyrical rock based on big guitars and redemptive poetry.
Maeson is touring his latest album Bank On the Funeral, a 12 song offering that sounds as big on disc as it does in person. Album opener "I Just Don't Care that Much" has Maeson repeat over and over "I'm just living like the man on fire." His onstage presence channels this statement-- when he stepped onto the Lincoln Hall stage, it was down to business for the 26 year old songwriter, launching right into his muscular numbers with little rest for the entirety of the set.
Throughout the night, I was reminded of similar rock-anchored solo acts like Shawn Mendes, who sing about love, loss, and the long road of young adulthood. Maeson's songs are filled with references of using drugs and alcohol, and abstractly religious statements. There's a real sense of hard-earned lessons, and severe growing pains being laid bare by this young performer. And the audience, mostly young women, have clearly found solace and empowerment in Maeson tales of resilience and his impassioned delivery.
For what it's worth, I wished there was a bit more dynamic to the sound here. Maeson offers a highly energetic show, there's no doubt about that-- but the set felt at times like a continuation of the same flavor, big and bold but with little modulation. I really appreciated the craftsmanship on display, but Maeson could really highlight his signature sound by leaning into a quieter, more melodic range occasionally.
Matt Maeson continues his nearly sold out tour this month. Bank of the Funeral is available now from Atlantic Records
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Matthew Nerber

Matthew Nerber is a performer and theater artist in Chicago, and a former literary contributor with the Generation, the University at Buffalo’s longest running alternative newspaper. When not seeing or making theater, Matthew can be found at the Music Box or expanding his classic rock vinyl collection. He is a 2019 Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.