Sunday, June 15, 2014

Quinn Tsan, Jones and Female Basic at The Hideout, 6/12

By Gene Wagendorf III 

Female Basic
Female Basic opened up Thursday evening at The Hideout, kicking things off with a set of throwback tunes and oldies covers reworked as harmony-heavy uke ballads. The trio, Rachel Landrum, Bekah Miller and Anna Phalen, shared and swapped vocal duties, making for a playfully dynamic performance. The mood was set with a cover of Nancy Sinatra's "Bang Bang," a rendition as cool and mysterious as a late night breeze. Female Basic glided on a mixture of guitar, banjo, ukulele and stunning vocal work, giving the show a pleasantly nostalgic flavor. That isn't to call Female Basic a nostalgia act, because they're not. The personalities of the three singers came off as clearly different- individuals with a remarkable chemistry/magic whose electricity gives these traditional tunes a fresh sound. No, the word for that isn't nostalgic, it's classic. Sprinkled throughout their aesthetically on-point and plain fuckin' fun string of originals were covers of "classics" like "Jolene," "Leader of the Pack" and a particularly exceptional romp through Diane Renay's "Navy Blue" that ought to be the new anthem of the Coney Island Mermaid Day Parade. They wrapped it up with a charmingly awesome cover of "The Sign" that, as happens with the Ace of Base version, was stuck in my head for the rest of the night.

Jones| via Facebook
Next up were Minneapolis/Chicago-based  potential challengers to the Impossible to Google Local Band Name crown currently held by Running, bluesy rock trio Jones. Clayton Hagen's nasty, deep-fried riffs sizzled across the debris of Ian Tsan's granite-heavy pugilism; a powerful combo whose explosiveness was expertly conducted through a take on the old standard "St. James Infirmary." It was a desperate performance in the best possible way, three players throwing seemingly everything they had into every note. Showing off their range, one of the next songs was a kind of fractured reggae jam sauced up by another big vocal showing from Hagen. Jones saved one of their best for last, blasting through a rocker with a Joe Perry-esque riff and some more demolition from the rhythm section. It may have been "Are You Still Gonna Love Me Now That I'm Dead?", which is streaming on the band's Soundcloud, but even if that's not it, well, now you heard a cool new song. You're welcome.

Closing out the evening was Quinn Tsan, whose set was filled with sorrowfully magnetic songs built around lush instrumentation and stellar vocals. A little bit folk, a little bit country; Tsan and her band breezed through a performance that made it hard to believe she's only briefly been on the scene as a solo artist. Her group had the versatility to pull off swaying, autumnal melodies ala Karen Elson while still allowing her free reign to get a bit more eccentric on peppier tunes- think Regina Spektor bouncing around a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah number. They were precise and sweetly comforting, deliberate while staying endearing, all while showing off a knack for mood-building that most young acts don't develop so quickly. Tsan ended the show on a song that featured some gorgeous lap steel work and another devastating vocal performance- as strong a tune as any played all night.

It's a cliche to call an act "one to watch out for," and it's even worse to slap that label on three who played in the same night. Fuck it. Keep an eye (ear?) on these bands. While this gig wasn't a formal "showcase" in any way, the embarrassment of riches in Chicago music was on full display Thursday night.

No comments:

Post a Comment