Chicago in the summer is easily my favorite place to be, not only because we get a nice break from usual all around crappy weather, but also because of our street fests that take place seemingly every weekend. These festivals bring in amazing new bands, who often will play killer shows at night at some of the local venues who sponsor the daytime activities. That was the case on Sunday night when I saw Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons grace the stage at the Empty Bottle. After previously playing at Do Divison Festival's stage, I have no idea how these guys were standing, let alone able to put on the fantastic show that they did.
Both band members, Chisel and Adriel Harris, are two of the hardest working performers I have seen. They were running all over town at SXSW and seem to always make the most at each tour stop. Every time I see them perform, I become more and more impressed by how genuine and comfortable they are on stage. For those unfamiliar with their music, they combine raw southern hymns with whiskey drinking, introspective lyrics, and a good old fashion dance party. The closing lines of one of their oldies but goodies, “Born Again” is “I've been feelin' like my old self again/Because mama didn't raise me to be no victim,” which is the perfect barometer to demonstrate the power behind their lyrics.
The crowd hung onto each word while dancing up a storm. One fan in particular made sure to bust out his dance moves front and center. He tried, but sadly failed, to get several ladies to join in his solo dance party. However, Cory took notice and was very supportive and encouraged the concertgoer to continue through the whole set, which he did.
The set they played last night was a perfect combination of new, old, and my personal favorite, requests. The highlight of the evening was watching the duo sing a beautiful lullaby, as the backing band watched just as enamored as the crowd, which was followed up by a full song performed with several tambourines, claps, stomps, and Cory's vocals that are rough but have just enough of a twang to make you question where he’s from. All in all, this band is taking what was once old and making new again. During the set Cory talked about taking the greatness of older songs and putting them back together in a new way. This ability to create new songs with a sense of nostalgia mixed in already is a great way to draw more and more fans.
The band currently has a new album, Old Believers, which is due out June 27. They also have a bunch of tour dates coming up across the country (ending in September, which includes shows with Murder By Death and Norah Jones) that I would highly recommend catching. To watch talented musicians with natural stage presence and undeniable chemistry perform music that is so familiar and welcoming with their own spin is something I don't think anyone should miss.