On a night where most of the city’s foot traffic is near United Center for the Men’s NCAA Basketball tournament, downtown Chicago is still as busy as ever with Porches headlining House of Blues. I haven’t stepped foot in House of Blues since I was 14 to see A Day to Remember as a high school sophomore. The venue still has a Coyote Ugly meets Moulin Rouge vibe to it. From Texas Roadhouse inspired wall décor to the over-the-top lighting everywhere you glance, you slowly realize this venue is a vast departure from most venues Porches has played in the past in Chicago.
Dan English starts off the night as a one man can do it all show. The shoegaze meets Oasis inspired songs coming from English’s guitar instantly entertains the dismal crowd. Dan works through his solo catalogue but eventually invites Kurt from Chicago’s Tence to hop on saxophone. The sound of the Dan’s exceptional guitar work is perfectly complimented by the overpowering bass from the saxophone. This combination provides us all with the closest thing we’ll get to a dream Alex G and Colin Stetson collab. Truly a mesmerizing way to start the night.
Liam Benzvi enters the stage over a sea of red lights. He makes a call for a darker stage lighting request that echoes through the venue, very fitting given the demeanor of Liam. As another one-person act, he has less tricks and surprises up his sleeve, leaving it all to rest on his songs. He delivered a consistent set of gloomy dream pop that wass a perfect segway between Dan English and Porches.
After the solo acts, we get an act with a full band to close out the night! As the drummer and one guitarist make their way to stage, I see a man with a swagger reminiscent of Mick Jagger. Behold, it’s Aaron Maine, the ring leader of Porches. The band quickly fill the room with their intriguing dance pop synths. Despite not having a bass player the sound of Porches has been revised and honed to make the most of whatever stage they take. They have shifted from a gentler sound to a more something a little more pointed. Porches has taken songs like “Underwater” and “Mood” from their earlier work and re-worked them to fit within the sound of last year’s album, All Day Gentle Hold!
There isn’t much stage banter as they bang out song after song with the crowd clearly begging for more new than old. When first presented with the opportunity to review this show I was very skeptical of how a band once as soft and delicate as Frankie Cosmos and Mitski would fit at the House of Blues. However it’s obvious that Aaron Maine has vastly improved the feel of the band and evolved its sound since the its formation in 2013. Porches has showcased they have all the skills and poise to eventually become a big venue band they always needed to be.