Music

Review: Alex Lahey and the Cowboys & Rocketmen of Our Time

“It’s like Rocketman up here tonight!” A glowing Alex Lahey proclaimed to the bustling Lincoln Hall crowd Tuesday night, “Well, maybe less queer… but only by a little.”

All things considered, she wasn’t too far off. While the Australian singer-songwriter may not be donning feathers and rhinestones anytime soon, her performance, along with those of her opening acts, evoked the high energy and aura of inclusion one might expect from the Rocketman himself.

The night began with a performance from Burr Oak, a solo project from Chicago’s own Savannah Dickhut. Pulling from her roots in the folksy-rock act Elk Walking, Dickhut’s music is delicate and emotional. The tranquil set was successful in providing for the small but growing audience one of the night’s few moments of reflection.

From there, things went up a notch thanks to the glam rock prowess of LA’s Kingsbury. The three-piece outfit is the brainchild and namesake of Caroline Kingsbury, who’s potent blend of pop rock manages to conjure both the immediacy of contemporary punk acts like that of D.C’s Priests as well the bouncing, synth-driven sound one would expect from a ‘80s dream pop act. Throughout the rapturous set, Kingsbury commanded the stage, impressing with a tremendous vocal range and harmonizing gorgeously with the other members of her band.

The set was nonstop energy, with Kingsbury bopping around the stage so fervently her earring even flew off at one point. “What’s a cowgirl without her earring?” Kingsbury beckoned before putting the earring back in and launching into the next song (See: The Yeehaw Agenda, or as Kingsbury referred to it when spoke after her set, The Gay Yeehaw Agenda). It’d be wise to keep your eyes on this young talent, cowpoke.

After the break, the pretty interior of Lincoln Hall began to buzz with the sounds of everyone’s favorite emo marching song, My Chemical Romances’ “Black Parade.” Which, you know, isn’t the easiest song for an indie rock band to spring off of — but Lahey was up to the challenge. Assisted by a team of 5 very talented musicians, the fiery Aussie began her set with, “I Don’t Go to Parties Anymore,” an anti-anthem showcasing her incisive lyrical ability. From there, the band covered a wide breath of material. With two full lengths and an EP under her belt, Lahey is emerging as a leading voice in indie rock with a sizable discography — evident as the crowd joined in on almost every chorus.

For those unfamiliar with Lahey’s music, it’s dynamic. Many songs feature anthemic choruses over shredding power chords, recalling more DIY contemporaries like Wavves or Best Coast. Yet, her production style lends the music a much cleaner sheen than those groups. The combination of these elements provides the music a very listenable quality. Songs are never abrasive but almost always fun and engaging — a major reason why the live show is so powerful.

Visibly tired from and hour of shredding, Lahey ended her set with the riotously fun “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself,” to great cheer. All in all, while the show may not have reached a Sir Elton John level show, it was certainly more than enough for an otherwise sleepy summer weekday night.

 

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