Review: Winspear Perfectly Presents Their Diverse Roster at Thalia Hall “In the Round”

Winspear Records showcased a substantial roster of artists Saturday night at Thalia Hall including Brenda’s Friend, Lutalo, Video Age, and Chicago’s own Divino Niño. Performing In the Round, this was an elevated experience for fans as it made for a more intimate performance with hardly a bad view in the entire venue. I’ve always heard about Thalia Hall's In the Round shows but never actually have had the privilege of witnessing a set in the round until Saturday night’s showcase. The stage, elevated one foot, is a 360-degree setup in the middle of Thalia Hall’s standing floor; it's made to let people surround the stage on all sides creating a unique and personal concert experience.

As fans slowly trickled into Thalia Hall and around the stage, Brenda’s Friend kicked off the night with a stripped-back and personal set to the lucky crowd that arrived early enough to catch the talented pair. Their minimalist sound relies heavily on guitars and their voices, which echoed beautifully throughout Thalia Hall. Only a couple of their songs incorporate drums, which definitely made for a unique sound for the band. The crowd seemed to instantly adore them.

Shortly after Brenda’s Friend, Lutalo calmly took the stage for another soft and lowkey set. Lutalo charmed the now more crowded room with his acoustic and entrancing sound. He had little room for words as his music spoke for itself. His songs set the vibe in the room for the rest of the night; great music from amazing artists at one of Chicago’s best venues. What more could you want out of a Saturday night?

The few gaps left around the stage quickly filled in as New Orleans alternative rock band Video Age walked on stage. The room was certainly eager for this set as people inched closer to the stage. As soon as they began playing, I was instantly hooked. I had a feeling that solely based on their band name they would have a sort of nostalgic sound to them and they did not come short of my theory. Video Age have a beautifully crafted '80s pop sound that grooved the entire room. It seemed like everyone was dancing all around the stage even if just a little hip swing. It’s rare to see people dancing at shows nowadays but Video Age lifted the unspoken Footloose curse that evening; all they needed was a disco ball as the icing on the cake.

I had no prior knowledge of the first three artists and was left wonderfully surprised at the immense diversity this showcase brought. It was something to be celebrated and Divino Niño closed out the evening perfectly. At this point the crowd around the stage was dense and with no photo pit, I really had to maneuver through the crowd (nothing I’m unfamiliar with) to get some great shots. The boys in Divino Niño always dress to impress and the Winspear Review was no exception. Sporting chains, one of a kind outfits and colorful hair, Divino Niño always knows how to put themselves in the limelight. The added flair is just a bonus to their already spectacular sound. Having them play In the Round made it seem more like a party than anything else, which is what their latest record LSE emits upon listening to it. Divino Niño covered most of their bases and played a majority of their latest record, sprinkling in a few noteworthy songs from Foam as well as ending their set with a delicious cover of “Mil Horas” by Los Abuelos De La Nada.

The variety of sound that Winspear Records brought to Thalia Hall was astounding. More record labels should create showcases like this to attract new listeners to up-and-coming artists. I went for Divino Niño but left a big fan of the other three acts and a craving to deep dive into the world of Winspear Records!

All photos by Andrew Lagunas

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Andrew Lagunas

Andrew Lagunas is a freelance photographer from Naperville who specializes in portraiture and concert photography. He has an Associate in Arts degree from College of DuPage and is always looking for new creative outlets.