Chicago – New York City producers Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson rolled into the Windy City Saturday in their brand new tour bus, ready to get down. The duo have been performing in the Midwest on the Route 55 Tour, in anticipation of their debut full-length album 55. The two friends and businessmen, who perform as The Knocks, sold out Lincoln Hall, along with tour mates Cardiknox and Sofi Tukker, and brought a dance party that went well past midnight.
I first saw The Knocks back in 2014 when B-Roc and JPatt were on the The Crystal Arcade Tour with ASTR. While I was rather impressed by The Knocks’ performance at Concord Hall, who really blew me away that night were the fans. The Knocks have some incredible fans. The show this past Saturday evening was no different. Fans packed in tight, both downstairs and in the balcony. When the lights went dim and “New York City,” the opening track to 55 began to play, fans began to dance and sing the chorus, “We’re in New York City.” People then started to jump around, waving hands in the air. B-Roc and JPatt had’t even stepped out on stage yet, but a quick scan of the room showed excited faces. People looked as if they had no cares in the world. All that mattered in that moment was that The Knocks were about to unleash a furious dance party that would last close to two hours.
This time around, The Knocks gave fans a little something extra to get them going. While in the past the two men tended to stay planted behind their musical stations, this tour brings both to the front, but especially JPatt. Patterson danced around the head of the wooden stage in his black and white striped socks, singing into the mic. At times he passed the baton off to the fans up front, giving a lucky few the chance to sing along. He glistened under the lights, covered in glitter, playing his bass.
The guys played oldies like “Dancing with the DJ,” “The One,” and “Get Down 2 Get Up,” the latter of which actually had the pair getting down on the floor, then getting up. JPatt told the crowd, “This is the part of the night where we get down, and if you’re feeling freaky, get down too.” He and B-Roc slowly made their way down to the ground, like two kids standing behind a couch, pretending to walk down a flight of stairs. JPatt rolled around the floor while he sang, “Get on down.” They eventually jumped back up. Afterwards, JPatt shouted, “Chicago, you’ve gotten more down than any city we’ve been to so far!”
The Knocks also played new material, such as ”I Wish (My Taylor Swift)” and “Kiss The Sky,” The Knocks’ collaboration with Wyclef Jean. Unfortunately, unlike their New York show, Wyclef did not show up to rap along with them, but according to B-Roc, this gave JPatt his chance to fulfill his fantasy: “This is his dream. He wanted to be a rapper.” JPatt walked up and down the stage, spitting verses and giving high-fives to fans. When he was done, he smiled widely. Later he thanked the audience, telling them just how tight Chicago was. He said, ”Like I’m third generation New Yorker, you know what I’m saying? But I fuck with Chicago!”
After refilling their drinks, The Knocks came back out for an encore, starting with “Magic.” The duo asked fans to hold up their cell phones and lighters to make some magic happen. It was a beautiful sight. The night ended with “Classic.” The Knocks were joined on stage by Sophie Hawley-Weld, of Sofi Tukker. She sang the vocals, originally recorded by Powers. It was fantastic. JPatt played his bass while she sang, at times looking into his eyes, each flashing flirty smiles.
Earlier in the night, Sophie Hawley-Weld took the stage with Tucker Halpern, to put one one of the most intriguing performances I’ve seen in ages. The two make up Sofi Tukker, a NYC dance duo mixing in creative sounds and Portuguese poetry. Hawley-Weld sang and played guitar, while Halpern played their handmade book tree drum set, literally made with the kinds of old books you’d find hidden on a shelf at an old, musky thrift store. Pinocchio and an American Heritage history book – think Time Life Books – were clamped to what appeared to be a heavy duty light stand. It also looked as though microphones were clipped to each book to catch the beats, for songs like “Drinkee.” It was a sight to see! I have a feeling these two will soon be on everyone’s radar, especially once they release their debut EP Soft Animals.
L.A. duo Cardiknox rounded out the night. Lonnie Angle and Thomas Dutton make up this twosome, who recently signed with Warner Bros. Cardiknox played songs off their soon to be released album Portrait, including “Bloodlust,” “Wild Child,” and “Shadowboxing.” They also played the single “On My Way.” Hands were in the air and bodies were dancing. Halfway through their set, Angle told the room the evening was extra special because it was Thomas’ birthday. She picked up a bottle of whiskey, toasting to her musical other-half. The guitarist grabbed the bottle from her and took a swig, while the audience sang “Happy Birthday.” What better way to spend your birthday than rocking out with the Route 55 Tour in Chicago?
You too can rock out with the Route 55 Tour! The Knocks are on tour through February. Tour dates can be found on The Knocks’ Facebook page. 55 is due out March 4 and is available for pre-order on iTunes
After attending The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Sarah went on to study education at Dominican University, earning a degree in history. When not teaching, writing, or taking in a show, she is most likely to be found with a camera to her eye or hanging out in a darkroom.
You can follow Sarah Hess on twitter at @Sarahhasanh and view her music photography on her website: smhimaging.com.