Review: Chai’s Overflowing Energy Revitalizes Thalia Hall

Japanese Pop band Chai made their way to Thalia Hall last Monday on their “We the Chai ” tour, for a rather intimate and animated show. I knew the lucky audience was in for a treat as I got to see Chai perform at the Garfield Park Conservatory last year and their set absolutely blew me away and I have been a huge fan ever since. Their carefree bubbly demeanor shined throughout that set as they performed their uniquely catchy pop tunes.

The devoted crowd eagerly awaited the quartet to come on stage for the spectacle. This time around the four came out wearing pink head pieces that resembled squid like figures. The band is notorious for always wearing pink and some sort of extravagant costume and luckily this night was no different. They have a witty charm to them that only they can truly bring to fruition, especially lead vocalists and twins Mana and Kana; who actually were the founding members of CHAI. Dancing as well as strutting about the stage in their headpieces, the band made it clear that they were going to bring their all to their adoring fans. Early on in the set, the girls performed one of their latest singles “Para Para” a lively and infectiously catchy tune that is sure to be stuck in your head upon your first listen.

As the evening headed towards the meat of the show, Chai played some of my favorite songs of theirs all back to back! The band's other two members, Yuuki and Yuna positioned themselves at the mixing table behind Mana and Kana for a lively surprise of some live mixing and sampling on their song “Ping Pong.” It's a glitchy pop song with video game samples tastefully tucked into the track with yet another catchy chorus that I am slowly getting better at singing. The band likes to use key words in English that they sprinkle throughout their lyrics giving me clues as to what the song may be about, but regardless of anything lost in translation, there's no questioning their mastering of pop music.

Chai immediately transitioned into their song “Action” which prompted them to get into formation for a carefully choreographed number. Giving not only a vocal performance, the band danced perfectly synced to each other which made the song even more memorable live. Kana had an energetic flux to her; as her and her twin sister Mana jumped, danced, ran around the stage and sang their hearts out. I thought to myself that I both wished I had her level of energy and how I don’t think I’ve seen an artist with this overflow of vitality.

The band later performed a good flow of songs from their latest and self-titled album Chai. Their song “NEO KAWAII, K?” is their homage to striving to be a cute all female band; something that is definitely achieved upon someone's first listen to the band. Chai closed out their set with the song that first turned me into a fan, “Donuts Mind If I Do.” Its indie rock influences are what initially caught my attention, but it's the song's lively yet chill instrumentation paired with their unique and witty play on words that kept me around. Chai is definitely a gem! They are incredible performers that you can easily tell are extremely passionate about their craft. Their light-hearted music is great for a feel-good mood and is a reminder that not all music needs to be decoded with an embedded deeper message. Chai is straight to the point and they are not afraid to show the world their true personalities that shine through on their music.

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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.