Review: Hand Habits Headlined an Incredible TNK Show

Tomorrow Never Knows always brings some of the best shows to Chicago and this year’s edition of the winter festival certainly delivered. One of the best evening of the fest was thanks to this overwhelmingly stacked evening at Schubas featuring the likes of Fauvely, Garcia Peoples, Fran, and Hand Hand. With interesting songwriting and guitar driven sets, this penultimate night of the fest was an excellent example of what kind of show TNK fest is capable of putting on.

Fauvely‘s opening performance really got the night going, setting the tone perfectly with Sophie Brochu incredible songwriting. Sophie Brochu led her band with an impressive confidence with a wonderful semblance of lush instrumentation that was only matched by Brochu’s enveloping voice. The clearest highlight of the set “Good News” were Brochu laments her troubles with a loud declarative “I never get good news”. Live the song feels cathartic and

While the tone may have been set, Garcia Peoples‘ set turned it up . the band’s performance was a non stop pedal driven soundscapes and I mean that almost literally. With maybe a slowdown here and there, Garcia Peoples just kept going as their jam session evolved and morphed constantly. There was never a dull moment as the stage filling band played off each other wonderfully, really drawing in the crowd and eliciting some joyful cheers during the more impressive guitar trips. The sounds revolved around their latest release, “One Step Behind”, a spiraling song that just demands to be heard live.

Fran brought the crowd back down to Earth with her calmer, more direct songwriting that is much more akin to Fauvely and later Hand Habit’s sounds. Led by Maria Jacobson, Fran deftly guided the audience through their songs full of emotion confession and moments of guitar driven explosiveness. While the instrumentation is perfectly noisy and engaging, it’s Jacobson’s voice that reigns supreme. Fran’s music has a strong personal touch, evoking emotion from the very start of every song.. Playing tracks mostly off last year’s A Private Picture, including the incredible “Company” with its yearning line of  “I’m begging for some company!” still ringing in my head, Fran sure made an impression on the sold out crowd.

Meg Duffy started her set alone, playing a brand new song for the TNK crowd. The crowd was so prepared for Duffy’s set that you could hear a pin drop. Hand Habit’s sound definitely has moments of intricate guitar work and boisterous elements, but at its core is a more somber affair and the crowd was appropriately reverent. Even when John Andrews and Keven Lareau joined Duffy on stage, the crowd remained a quite and absorbing as ever, letting Hand Habit’s full sound wash over them.

Duffy mentioned that their performances over a the Hideout early last year were some of her favorites. It’s no surprise as that set was an immaculate representation of Hand Habits’s performances, much of which was replicated during this TNK set. From playing a songs with a glass slide to full losing herself in a spirited guitar section, Duffy delivered an amazing show. This crowd certainly didn’t need any more reason to love Hand Habit’s set after all that, but at one point Duffy invited Lala Lala’s Lillie West to sing alongside them on stage. The locally based songwriter and Duffy’s voices intertwined beautifully, adding another memorable highlight to the night’s performances.

The night ended much quicker than I expected, but it was certainly a satisfying show. Duffy departed the crowd with a quick message of  “Enjoy the rest of the decade” and with a start like this, it should be too hard.

All photos by Julian Ramirez

Julian Ramirez
Julian Ramirez