Concert Reviews

Maisie Peters / Jack Gray - Schubas Tavern

Chicago, IL // October 16, 2019

Youth, talent, and storytelling filled the intimate Schubas Tavern in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Performing that evening were singer-songwriters Maisie Peters the 19 year old English musician and “The First Lady of Emo Pop” on her initial North American headline tour along with 21 year old Australian alt-pop guitarist Jack Gray in support.

The atmosphere of the 165 capacity music room, located in an old Schlitz brewery tap house established in 1903, set the stage for an entertaining night out. The venue itself was as charming as the live acts. Listed as “one of the seven most iconic concert venues in America” and having personally seen several acts get their starts there over the past 20 years it is one of my favorites. The real opener was the fried mac and cheese bites which I had the pleasure of being the first ever to try this newest dish on the menu. Severed by the friendly Debbie who along with the rest of the inviting and hospitable staff made for a pleasurable visit. While waiting for the doors to open I noticed famous photographer Paul Natkin walking out from doing a photo shoot with Jack, it was then I knew we were in for a special night.

After a brief wait the musical journey began, Aussie Jack Gray took the stage. Don’t let his good looks and smile distract you from his well versed lyrics and talented guitarmanship. He reminds me of a young John Mayer. The audience locked into this performance instantly. His between melodies banter did not come off as a rehearsed or polished production but rather spoken from the heart. As his set built you could tell from the songs explanations that they came both from a growth of individual understanding as well as an attempt to help others know their own stories and relationships at all levels. This message was most telling in “Bullet”, a song Jack wrote about the young people in his small community back home dealing with a high rate of depression and suicide.

Gray’s instrumental talent is much more advanced than his age would let you believe coming from a very musical family which included a grandmother who was a pianist and himself picking up the guitar at age 6. His authentic interactions with fans before, during, and after were clear as he took the time to listen and pose for post-show photos with those who wanted to meet him. You can tell Jack’s inspirations come from everything he experiences, big or small. This can be seen first-hand in the short video stories posted every few days on his social media captured by the talented documentarist Josh Pulford about their current trek across the United States and Canada.

After Gray’s set, the incredibly relatable Maisie Peters delighted the adoring concert goers. Opening with “Stay Young” and ”Adore You” Peters’ got the crowd moving with her quirky, vulnerable, and catchy tunes. Warning us that were would be plenty of slow and sad tunes played she invited everyone to feel comfortable and dance to their hearts content. Even at only 5 foot tall the Brits energetic and personable stage presence drew you into her organic emo girl pop. You could feel the connection grow as the UK YouTube and internet streaming known musician played her songs live for fans who had been watching her mature online. Her honesty and unconcerned with appearing cool were made evident in the stories, jokes, and quips she shared. She got a warm laugh promising everyone that “she isn’t a witch even though she often ends up living out her lyrics after she writes a song”. She also mentioned her merch modeling boyfriend Spencer who just happens to be a mannequin but quite often finds his way into her Instagram feed and stories.

Each song resonated as a top 10 radio hit from the reaction of her dedicated fan base. Later in the set, alone with her guitar and standing off the mic, she captivated a silent and observant gathering with the unplugged acoustic version of the unreleased “Back to You”. She also pointed out a group of “lads” in attendance and appreciated their moshing to her cute melody “April Showers”. Right before what should have been her encore exit she explained “it might be a safety hazard to leave the stage”, which was true with the sold out crowd, Maisie informed us that she would staying put but these would be her last two songs. She finished her set with favorites “Personal Best” and “Worst of You”.  She was joined by Christina Hizon on backup vocals and keyboard and Joel Peat on guitar and vocals.

The night ended with Maisie and Jack hanging out with anyone who stuck around, Peters even taking the time to video chat with those who could not attend in person and leaving messages on their social apps. She has come a long way from performing to open mic pub crowds in the East Sussex seaside resort town of Brighton. She could have filled a theatre five times the size but again it was the experience that will grow into friends who will bring even more friends to her next tour visits. From her growing catalog, strong social media connection, and industry buzz it won’t be long before Maisie stands out in the crowd with artists such as Sigrid, Billie Eilish and Clairo. The connections and memories will forever be with those who were lucky enough to attend this midweek personal performance.

To keep up to date with the band and what cities they are playing at, check out their websites

Maisie Peters

Website: www.maisiepeters.co.uk

Facebook: facebook.com/maisiepetersmusic

Instagram: instagram.com/maisiehpeters

Twitter: twitter.com/maisiehpeters

Jack Gray

Website: www.jackgraymusic.com

Facebook: facebook.com/jackgraymusic

Instagram: instagram.com/jackgraymusic

Twitter: twitter.com/JackGrayMusic

For photos from this show, go to: Sonic Live Media Photo Gallery

Written by: Attila Hardy, Sonic Live Media

You Tube Video

Maisie Peters at Schubas Tavern in Chicago, Illinois on October 16, 2019.

Maisie’s Set List:

1.    Stay Young

2.   Adore You

3.   In My Head

4.   Place We Were Made

5.   Take Care Of Yourself

6.   Look At Me Now

7.   Back To You (unplugged)

8.   Feels Like This

9.   April Showers

10.  Best I’ll Ever Sing

11.  Favourite Ex

12. This Is On You

13.  Personal Best

14.  Worst Of You

 

Sum 41 - The Vic Theatre

Chicago, IL // October 06, 2019

Sum 41 came to the Vic Theatre in Chicago to play an amazing show with a mixture of older songs and new. This year is a special time because “Chuck,” their third album release in 2004, is celebrating its upcoming 15th year anniversary. Also playing their new recent seventh studio album titles in descending order!

In the beginning the Sum 41 blasted off confetti cannons while singing “The Hell Song”. The crowd this show was an all ages show but there were so many younger faces singing along with the band and older fans! Sum 41 towards the end of their set played a cover of Queen “We Will Rock You” towards the end of their set, which the crowd absolutely loved! They also did two encores, the first encore they played “Never There,” (Chuck album) and “Fat Lip,” (All Killer, No Filter album). For the 2nd encore, they only played “Pain for Pleasure” (All Killer, No Filter album) which was a hair metal version!

The show was filled with rock music and smiles from everyone, including the band. Deryck Whibley, lead singer of Sum 41, had the biggest smile out of anyone in the crowd and on stage. I definitely recommend seeing Sum 41 on this tour, not because of the new album or celebrating the anniversary of Chuck, but because this was the most energy I have seen from them, they were amazing! I am a super fan of Sum 41 and this was by far one of the best shows I have ever seen them play! So go out and catch them at a city near you!

To keep up to date with the band and what cities they are playing at, check out their websites

SUM 41

Website: www.sum41.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Sum41

The Amity Affliction

Website: www.theamityaffliction.net

Facebook: www.facebook.com/theamityafflictionofficial

The Plot in you

Website: www.theplotinyou.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/theplotinyou

For photos from this show, go to: Sonic Live Media Photo Gallery

Written by: Alexandra Geshel, Sonic Live Media

Mac Demarco - Masonic Temple Theatre

Detroit, MI // September 27, 2019

On a rainy Friday evening in Detroit, fans were lined up outside the Masonic Temple for the return of the Prince of Indie Rock, Mac Demarco. It has been years since Mac Demarco had performed in Detroit, mostly performing at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. Not even rain could keep Mac’s cult following from waiting outside the gloomy weather.

 

Mac Demarco started the show off by introducing his bandmates: Joe McMurray (drums), Andrew White (keyboards, guitar), Jon Lent (bass guitar), and Alec Meen (keyboards). This team, who were not only super talented, made for one hilarious, fun night.

 

As Mac stated in the beginning of the show he was going to play some old and some new songs and that’s exactly what he did. Most songs were played from fan favorite “2” and new album “Here Comes the Cowboy”. Whether the song was about relationships or his favorite cigarette, Mac and the rest of the gang never took themselves too seriously. They went out and just had a good time. One perfect example was when they performed “Another One.” Instead of playing the piano in the intro, Andy sang the part in a hilarious manner.

 

Mac Demarco is one of the funniest, most chill artists in the business but his talent cannot be overlooked. During the last song, “Still Together,” the band took a little detour and had a mini jam session where Mac started to shred some really nice riffs on his guitar. This is also evident in the song “Choo Choo” where Mac completely kills it. If you ever get a chance to catch Mac Demarco live, you will not be disappointed.

You can stream “Here Comes the Cowboy” and his older works on any of the major streaming platforms.

For photos from this show, go to: Sonic Live Media Photo Gallery

You can catch Mac Demarco on tour:  mac-demarco.com/tour

Written by: Paul John Farinas, Sonic Live Media

Sigrid / Raffaella - El Club

Detroit, MI // September 26, 2019

Outside the sold out El Club in Southwest Detroit, fans of every age lined up early to obtain a prime vantage point in the cozy music venue. The front of the line consisted mostly of fans who had traveled hours to attend Norwegian singer Sigrid’s first headlining North American tour and first ever Motown performance. Attendees mingled as the gates opened and the line moved into the open courtyard decorated with wall murals that matched the ethnic vibe of Mexicantown. Once inside you could feel the anticipation grow as it got closer to the start time.

First, Manhattan native and Mom + Pop Music artist Raffaella Meloni (who goes by just her first name) took to the stage. With the way her talent was clearly evident, it is no surprise to learn she grew up the daughter of a music lawyer and a writer, and started taking classical piano and singing lessons from an early age. Also evident was her eclectic range of influences which include Billie Holiday, St. Vincent, and Regina Spektor.

After her first song, Raffaella jokingly told the crowd that its title was “Yippee-Ki-Yay, Motherf*cker!” which immediately drew me in since I'm a fan of both the movie “Die Hard” and the actor “Bruce Willis” (the latter was the actual title of the song). She quickly discarded her shoes and walked barefoot and up on her tiptoes as a “Ballerina” which coincidentally is the title of her newest EP. The 23 year old charmed the crowd by dancing and entertaining her way through her set which included catchy songs such as ”Sororicide” and "NASA’s Fake." Raffaella was the perfect choice as support on this tour.

After a quick setup change in the cramped performance space, the buzz grew. The room lights went dark while bright red lights shone upstage as the four-person backing band got into place. Sigrid rushed onto the stage in front of the waiting audience filled with custom made t-shirts and joyful grins and she got things started with her newest single and tour name “Sucker Punch.”

“Things then slowed down with “In Vain.” Her raspy vocals and striking lyrics (“So don't you stay if you don't mean it / If you don't feel it and just f*ck me up again”) seemed to touch several who may have used her music at one point to heal from a breakup. Next came the dance party and singalong with the first few bars of “Schedules” and just when I thought the crowd couldn’t sing any louder, "Don't Kill My Vibe" proved me wrong.”

The performance then took a more intimate feel with “Level Up” which was accompanied only by her guitarist Sondre and backup vocalist Kristina. Sigrid also took to the keyboard to play a beautiful ballad titled “Dynamite” and again, the moving lyrics (“You're as safe as a mountain but know that I am dynamite”) resonated with the attentive audience. The 16-song show ended as upbeat as it began with a pseudo encore of “Strangers” and “Don’t Feel Like Crying.”

Sigrid had quite the knack for keeping the crowd as engaged as if they were at a best friend’s coffee shop performance which was a refreshing experience that could be enjoyed by people of all ages. She had actually planned to become a teacher or lawyer, thinking a career in music would be too uncertain. The only thing we can be certain of is that on her next tour, she will be selling out venues at least three times this size.

To learn more about Sigrid, check out:  www.thisissigrid.com

To learn more about Raffaella, check out:  www.rafflalala.com

For photos from this show, go to: Sonic Live Media Photo Gallery

Written by: Attila Hardy, Sonic Live Media

Sigrid at El Club in Detroit, Michigan, on September 26, 2019.

Sigrid’s Set List:

Sucker Punch

In Vain

Schedules

Plot Twist

Business Dinners

Sight Of You

Don’t Kill My Vibe

Level Up

Go To War

High Five

Mine Right Now

Dynamite

Never Mine

Strangers

Don’t Feel Like Crying

Dodie – Majestic Theatre

Detroit, MI // September 14, 2019

On a beautiful late summer day in Detroit, a line of anxious fans wrapped down and around the big city block to enter the sold out Dodie show at the midtown venue Majestic Theatre

New Jersey native Adam Melchor warmed up the crowd with a genuine connection of his personal stories and charm. His guitar playing and singer songwriter lyrics came through especially in his song "Joy Ride," which was inspired by his laid-back parents divorce and a stolen truck parked in their front yard which was returned soon after by the police.

The young British YouTube sensation Dorothy Clark better known as Dodie took the stage with a full band including a violinist and cello player with fellow UK artist and YouTuber, Orla Gartland on backing vocals and guitar. Everyone in the band was dressed in jeans and plain white t shirts. Opening with "Arms Unfolding" the show started as a musical ballet, simple yet poetic. 

Opening with “Arms Unfolding” the show started as a musical ballet, simple yet poetic.

The young Ms. Clark expressed her awkwardness and asked for the house lights to be brought up so she could pan the audience and mentally express thanks for being a great crowd. Dodie read a sign that one of her fans played the ukulele, security pulled a fan, Claire, up on stage to play "One for the Road," as the entire band and crowd joined in. Dodie mentioned she was battling a cold but you could not tell from her voice and spirit on stage. While passing a note to her bassist as the lights dimmed it looked like she went over to kiss him which brought a chuckle to the other band-mates. 

Dodie’s connection with her dedicated fans singing every word reminded you of a private performance, yet there were a thousand of them happening simultaneously. She walked off to "Guiltless," before returning after a mixture of enthusiastic chants and clapping for an extended encore. She commented that "either the crowds were singing louder at each show or are getting more gayer.” The sweet British accented singer’s ability to have jam sessions with her band to charmed melodies made it a memorable event, including a cello solo during "Rainbow.” New song "Boys Like You" and the finale of "In The Middle" left each onlooker wanting more. Touring to captivated audiences, you can feel the grounded warmth and passion of the welcoming environment assembled. Make sure to catch Dodie as she heads from Nashville to Hollywood on her national “Human Tour”. 

To learn more about Dodie, check out:  dodie.co

For photos from this show, go to: Sonic Live Media Photo Gallery

Written by: Attila Hardy, Sonic Live Media

Dodie performing "One For The Road" with help from Claire Bosnack Live from Detroit on the Human North American Tour on September 14, 2019