Review: Sarah Jarosz and The Ballroom Thieves Give Thalia Hall Some Much-Needed Love

Last week Thalia Hall was treated to a wonderful pre-Valentine's Day gift. Amidst all the love in the air, Sarah Jarosz and The Ballroom Thieves graced the Pilsen venue's stage for an evening of incredible music highlighted by some fantastic performances.

The Ballroom Thieves started things off with a magnificent set that truly set things up perfectly. The duo of Calin Peters and Martin Earley stood at the center of Thalia Hall, facing each other throughout, and delivered gorgeous renditions of their songs. The pair shared vocal duties throughout, jumping from beautiful harmonizing to tender solo verses, always playing so well off each other. "In the Morning" was an obvious standout in their set as they traded off lines and left everyone in awe of their tender performance.

There was no time to waste as Sarah Jarosz and h,er band made their way to the stage and jumped into their set. Fresh off her latest album Polaroid Lovers, Jarosz made sure to dedicate a hefty amount of the setlist to it, just shy of playing the entire new album live. But that's all right since most of the set was stuffed with exquisite songs. Opening track "Jealous Moon" found itself in the same spot for the live crowd, ramping up the night with heartbreak song. But this was a night all about love and as the next song "When The Lights Go Out," serenaded the crowd with endless thoughts of falling completely in love.

There were plenty of older songs at play too. "Green Lights" saw the stage light switch from the warm tones of the night to the green hues to match the song. The gentle love of "Build Me Up From Bones" had the crowd completely entranced by Jarosz's pristine voice. The emotionally heavy "Morning" hit all the right notes. She explained that all the songs off Blue Heron Suite are meant to be played together, to evoke all the feelings she was experiencing during her mother's cancer diagnosis and the memories of her youth flooding in. But that didn't stop her from somehow synthesizing all that into "Morning," letting it overflow with its beauty.

One of the biggest highlights of the evening came late into the set as Jarosz stepped to the edge of the stage, leaving her guitar behind and performing with only her mic in hand. A familiar groove emanated from the band, slowly building to let Jarosz absolutely blow everyone's mind with a cover of Massive Attack's "Teardrop" The song is so iconic at this point, having been covered endlessly and being the theme song to shows like House, but it's safe for me to say that this may be the new acme of the song for me. Jarosz's voice was immaculate and the track fits snugly in her set, showing off her vocal range as eloquently as possible.

The covers didn't end there as she gave Thalia Hall a little treat in her encore with Bob Dylan's "Ring them Bells." Jarosz and the band really gave it their all for this one, taking their time with great track. She ushered the appreciative crowd off with "Mezcal and Lime," a self-assured love song that is perfect for warmer nights. But Jarosz made it work regardless of the temps outside. With lines like "You intoxicate me like mezcal and lime," you couldn't help but feel the love in the room.

All photos by Julian Ramirez.

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Julian Ramirez