Review: Hazy Soundscapes Make for a Dreamy Night at Salt Shed

Nothing says Fall like dusting off your tallest pair of Doc Martens and pulling out your favorite all black outfit for a Cigarettes After Sex show. El Paso, Texas dream pop band Cigarettes After Sex fronted by Greg Gonzalez made their way to the Salt Shed fairgrounds last Friday for an elegant evening of romantic dreamscape music to welcome the autumn months to Chicago.

Upon walking through the gates of the shed, I was greeted by a massive Cigarettes After Sex neon sign hung above the merch table and some charming foreign music tastefully playing in the distance to set the mood for their performance. The warm glow of the light revealed, to my surprise, there were no openers for the evening; making it a one band show. Oh,and they just so happened to have sold out both nights at the Salt Shed. Although it’s not that surprising since they obtained a massive following recently; it is still highly impressive to see a venue as big as Salt Shed be sold out both nights without any supporting acts!

The fairgrounds quickly filled up and rightfully so. The anticipation loomed heavily over everyone’s head and after a tense ten minute delay; the band emerged through the foggy center of a drawn black curtain on stage. Greg Gonzalez immediately broke everyone’s heart, opening with “Crush,” his suave demeanor with his otherworldly voice captivated the entire crowd. Cigarettes After Sex strategically played with light, smoke and visuals all in black and white of course to further portray their tranquil yet tear jerking serenades. The band is heavily influenced by that noir monochrome style that beautifully matches Gonzalez’s celestial vocals.

“Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” had the entire crowd singing their hearts out. The ambient tones of the band’s music are edgy yet sentimental and can be very personal which is why I believe so many people have fallen in love with the band. They also performed their newest single “Bubblegum” which translated beautifully live. Towards the end of the set, the band played one of the fan favorites “K.” and concluded the set with “Apocalypse.” The crowd echoed loudly with their last song and to top it off they dropped down a disco ball to end the perfect night. The encore performance of “Opera House” was promptly followed but downpour of faux snow, adding to the hazy dreaminess of the night.

It was a rather special evening and to see how much effort and intention goes into their shows. Quite honestly it was nothing short of beautiful from such a classy band. Whether it was the music playing before they went on, being a solo show, or having their own specially branded shopper bags for their merch; you could truly tell Cigarettes After Sex goes above and beyond in every aspect of their art and aesthetics to elevate their fans’ concert experience.

All photos by Andrew Lagunas

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Andrew Lagunas
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.