Review: Alex G and Hatchie Bring Their Best to Thalia Hall
Every year as we make the transition from summer to fall to the dreadful winter there’s a wave of must see shows in Chicago. From Broken Social Scene to Soccer Mommy it’s been a stacked season at Thalia Hall. Last week, the former Bandcamp superstar Alex G returned to the incredible venue for two nights with Australian artist Hatchie.
Harriette Pilbeam aka Hatchie, still fresh off a tour from her spring release, Giving The World Away always provides a concert that’s a carbon copy of her releases but in the best way possible. As a touring 3 piece without a drummer the trio still makes the most of the show, with the rhythm guitarist fully cranking their whammy bar and the bassist doing double duty on the synths. Hatchie’s angelic voice gets the crowd to do their usual swaying and head bobbing, but their interest seems to dwell during the dreamy set. The sound is a little Cocteau Twins, it’s a little Carly Rae Jepsen, but on stage it’s 100% Hatchie.
The room of 20 somethings and hyper-pop music increasingly grows and there’s a more prominent chatter of excitement as the man of the hour finally reaches the stage. A vibrant group of red florescent lights pulsate as Alex G and company fill the stage. Opening with “S.D.O.S” from his newest album this year, God Save The Animals the whole song is a build up to an off-kilter eerie voice, one his fans have grown to love since 2010 or 2012 depending on whom you may ask. The quick follow up is his own replication of Americana with “Runner”, maybe the strongest song writing from Alex and one of the best songs this year. The screams and hollers of concertgoers seem everlasting but when there’s a hint of something about to be played from albums prior to the latest, the room is deafening. You can hear the overbearing bass drum explode like a blown tire for “After Ur Gone” before a screeching guitar matches the fan’s joy of an oldie being performed. Sometimes the newer material doesn’t have the exact same visceral pull as the older content, but it still showcases Alex’s ever improving songwriting skills.
There’s a succession of glorified harsh noise songs “Kicker” and “Brick” that sends the youth into some fun filled mosh pits before “Blessing” that some might call a reincarnation of peak radio rock bands like Nickelback or 3 Doors Down. It even has a music video that is the definition of vibes. The night’s setlist seems never ending, a gift to this crowd full of devoted fans, with the last song of night seemingly being “Forgive” where Alex hops on the keys while simultaneously belting out his best Americana voice once again. As the group all waves and says their goodbyes there are a few looks and glares as no one is ready to go home without hearing a few more deep cuts.
The venue starts playing music to signal it’s time to go home but it’s not the usual go home song it’s “Life is a Highway,” the iconic Rascal Flatts single from the Disney movie Cars. The band have had this running joke for the past few years where they eventually start singing and playing along to the loveable tune. The inevitable line of “What do you want us to play next” comes from Alex G. The first encore is “Mis” a somber tune back from when Alex was recording music in his college dorm room. He’s been pulling triple duty all night switching from his keyboard set-up to lead guitar while constantly singing every song. A true master class from the once labeled Bandcamp superstar. During the selection of fan echoed request the funniest moment is when you hear hundreds of people all trying to replicate the twangy solo guitar work on songs like “Gnaw” and “Crab” unnecessary but not surprising given the fanbase. Two nights of Alex G absolutely exceeded expectation even for someone who has seen the king 7 times.