Review: Fleet Foxes and Uwade Delight a Packed Salt Shed

Anticipation has been growing for months for Chicago’s newest venue, The Salt Shed. Last week that eagerness was finally satiated with the start of their Outside the Shed series and their first week did not disappoint. Their official first show featuring Makaya McCraven, Sons of Lemet and Nubia Garcia took place on August 2, giving everyone a great look at the venue’s ability to put on a show. The following night saw Uwade and legendary indie rock band Fleet Foxes take over the riverfront venue with a massive crowd, putting Salt Shed to the test (spoiler:they passed with flying colors).

The threat of some looming thunderstorms had people anxious before the show started, with a few drizzles really putting the venue’s “When It Rains It Pours” branded ponchos to good use. But thankfully the bad weather passed us by. Robin Pecknold, the lead singer of Fleet Foxes, introduced the show with the giveaway action figure of himself from Marquee Marauders Club in hand letting the crowd know that they were in for a dry and memorable show!

Uwade started off the show with a wonderful and gentle set. Immediately the crowd got a sense of who Uwalde was with a perfect set of opening songs. “Nostalgia,” one of the first songs she wrote, washed over the crowd while the following track, “The Man Who Sees Tomorrow,” touched upon her relationship with her father. The rest of her set held the same strength, really capturing the packed Salt Shed crowd’s attention, especially when she asked “Anyone a fan of Sylvan Esso?” The crowd shouted positively as she lauded the band and their label Psychic Hotline, which released her latest single “Do You See the Light Around Me?”, which she performed beautifully.

The ever-growing crowd at Salt Shed packed together tightly when it came time for Fleet Foxes to take the stage. Robin Pecknold and crew (including Uwade) emerged to cheers. Pecknold seemed genuinely enthusiastic as he recorded the crowd’s reaction. It took no time for Fleet Foxes to get the crowd going, opening their set with “Wading in Waist‐high Water” which featured Uwade singing alongside the band. It was a highlight in an evening full of them as everyone seemed to be riding the high of the attentive Salt Shed crowd.

Pecknold in particular was driven by the crowd as he continually interacted with them. “Did everyone get a free popsicle?” he asked, another promotional giveaway from the Salt Shed, this time from Pretty Cool Ice Cream. A question from an audience member at one point prompted an impromptu song “Student Debt,” which Pecknold referred to as a 20-minute workshop song. The whole evening was filled with these tiny moments that made the Salt Shed feel intimate. Later in the set “If You Need To, Keep Time on Me” saw Fleet Foxes come down to only Pecknold and Casey Westcott on piano, adding to the special cozy feeling that one would think would be impossible at a big outdoor venue.

Fleet Foxes definitely touched upon their entire discography, with their first and latest albums getting the most play this evening. It was a great mix of songs that received an interesting reception from the crowd. Of course a classic like “Ragged Wood” got a reaction and “Myklonos” was certainly met with heightened interest, but the gentle rendition of “White Winter Hymnal” didn’t get the uproarious reaction I expected. Instead it was all reverence from the packed crowd, soaking in the iconic song and not letting anything get in their way. If anything, it was the newer tracks that were getting the most audible attention, something I’m sure any band over a decade and a half into their careers is happy to see.

The crowd was certainly filled with diehard fans as the front row was undeniably familiar with Fleet Foxes’ recent setlist. After “Mearcstapa,” one audience member shouted out a request. “You want us to play ‘Killing in the Name Of’?” responded Peckinfold, a song the band had just played a few nights prior in Tennessee. Despite giving a knowing and teasing “Well…”, it was not meant to be banter about a certain band member’s mom being in the crowd that seemed to nip that request in the bud. Nonetheless the set was filled with great covers from the Big Red Machine (“Phoenix”), Judee Sill (“the Kiss”) and a quick improvised cover of “Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

When it came time for the encore, it felt like a much needed victory lap. Uwade returned to join Fleet Foxes for a pair of tracks (“For a Week or Two” and Going-to-the-Sun Road”) before the band called it a night with “Helplessness Blues,” closing out Salt Shed’s inaugural week with a fantastic show.

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All photos By Julian Ramirez.

Julian Ramirez
Julian Ramirez
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