Review: Sam MacPherson’s Emotive Songs Connect with a Captivated Schubas Crowd

Guest review by Mary Icenogle.

For me, Sam MacPherson was love at first TikTok. When he first came across my for you page, MacPherson was playing a sample from his song “Last Minute”, and encouraging people to pre-save the song (which I actually did do). Unlike many artists with songs that go viral on TikTok, the rest of MacPherson’s discography didn’t leave me disappointed. Too often, I find myself switching from TikTok to look up an artist on Spotify only to find that I actually can’t stand their other songs. Though Sam only had four songs released prior to his biggest hit “Last Minute” (which has now amassed more than 20 million listens on Spotify), every single and project to follow has been equally captivating. With his smooth guitar playing and soft voice, MacPherson’s lyrical abilities shine through. Most of his songs aren’t overly complicated with complex production or crazy riffs—instead, listeners can connect with his deeply personal lyricism and find themselves swept up in the world he has created within his songs.

Coming off of the high of his second EP Powerlines, which had just been released into the world two weeks prior, MacPherson stopped at Schubas for a Thursday night show. The intimate, laid-back venue matched MacPherson’s vibe perfectly and fans began lining the stage. His opener, Mikey Ferrari, made his way through the crowd and up the stairs at the side of the stage 30 minutes after doors opened.

I had listened to a few songs of Ferrari’s songs in the car ride to the venue to prepare for the concert and I was impressed, but hearing him live (and some unreleased songs) I was truly blown away. With only seven songs released on streaming platforms, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect from the artist, but his performance certainly exceeded all expectations. His set was lowkey and stripped back, with Ferrari taking the stage solo, switching between guitar and piano. My personal favorite songs included “Wedding Bells” (release date: May 19), “Oxycontin”, and “Crash Course”. The common thread that ran between each of his songs was the emotion that coated his voice. Even if you can’t relate to his exact experience, you can’t help but feel what he feels. By the end of his set, he had won me over as a new monthly listener and follower.

After Ferrari’s 45-minute set, Sam MacPherson made his way through the crowd to take the stage, joined by drummer Lucas Bidran and guitarist/backup vocalist (and brother) Jack MacPherson. The singer-songwriter performed laid-back songs like “How Do You Dress for the Rain?”, “Play Dumb”, and “Backseat (All I Got)”, interspersed with some higher-energy titles like “Homesick” and “Crash Course”.

Going into the show, my favorite song was “Homesick”, yet I walked away with “First Place” on repeat in my head. His set ranged from slow swaying and a captivated attentive audience to the entire crowd dancing and jumping around. As 9:30 rolled around, his set was winding down much to everyone’s dismay. His two closers included “Maggie Will”, one of his most personal songs, according to MacPherson, and “Last Minute”, the song that first caught the Internet’s attention. His live performance of “Last Minute” was truly a showstopper and as he thanked the crowd and stepped down from the stage, there was still a buzz in the air.

Though this is Sam MacPherson’s first headlining tour, it will certainly not be the last. The show left me in awe of MacPherson and Ferrari’s talent and I’ll be sure to snag tickets every time either return to Chicago.

Follow along with Sam MacPherson here: //

This review and photos of Sam MacPherson‘s performance at Schubas are by guest author Mary Icenogle. You can see more of her photography at her website.

Guest Author
Guest Author

Our Guest Authors are occasional contributors to our site, and authorship is noted at the beginning of each piece. Some of them go on to become regular authors and write under their own bylines. If you're interested in contributing to Third Coast Review, drop us a note and tell us about yourself and what you write.