Oh House of Vans, you have been missed. Ever since its inception in 2017, House of Vans has brought amazing free shows and an inviting skate park to the West Loop. Obviously the pandemic put a strong hold on the venue’s activities, but even that couldn’t silence the noise. Last year Vans launched Channel 66, a livestream inspired by public access channels of old offering up eclectic mix of DJs, live music and conversations on all sorts of topics including arts, culture and beyond. his past Wednesday marked the in-person return of House of Vans with Tierra Whack headlining the night!
As soon as I walked back into House of Vans, I breathed a sigh of relief. They managed to maintain the pre-COVID atmosphere in the warehouse venue. Certain areas were closed off but the feel was still there as the art on the walls popped as bright as ever and huge photos of Tierra Whack were scattered throughout the venue. Of course fans were rushing around getting their photo opps and enjoying the Goose Island beers at the bar. It felt like old times, especially thanks to the venue’s diligent COVID protocols.
The night was filled with nonstop DJ sets before Tierra Whack‘s time on stage. House DJ Xover kept the vibes going upstairs in the Channel 66 streaming room, delighting the dance floor below. On the main stage Hot Rod took over early in the evening for a crowd-pleasing set, playing some party standards like Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Theme that had the audience singing along.
When it came time for Tierra Whack, the crowd was more then ready. Her DJ warmed up the crowd giving away a pair of shoes and continuing the evening jams before Whack exploded on to the stage. Her bright yellow jacket was blinding under the stage lights, as impressive as her unparalleled presence on stage. Darting around stage like a mad woman, Whack gave the audience no time to acclimate to her presence. She was raring to go, diving into her extensive setlist with all the energy you could hope for.
Having just seen her perform at Pitchfork, I felt like I knew what I was in for, but I was certainly not. Whack seemed even more energized and excited to be performing for the House of Vans crowd, taking her goofy on stage antics well past 11 and giving the audience a fantastic show. Whack never let there be a quiet moment in her set. Given her first album’s rapid fire nature (all 15 songs were under a minute long) and her subsequent releases being three tightly curated three song EPs (Rap?, Pop? and R&B?), there was no doubt that Whack was going to try and fit in as much pulse-pounding energy into every song.
Whack just has a knack for getting a crowd going. Beyond the call and response of “Whack” that she peppered throughout the night, Tierra Whack wanted the crowd to be as much a part of the experience as she was. Singing happy birthday to a joyous fan, dancing at the edge of the crowd on the guardrails, bringing another to rap on stage, and even jokingly caressing one of the security guard’s heads, Tierra Whack was here to have a good time and make sure everyone else was too for this spectacular return to House of Vans.