Chicago – Have you ever been to a show so euphoric and emotionally charged it transforms you? Last time I felt that way was when I saw Sigur Rós. CORRECTION: Last time I felt that was this past Friday night when London Grammar made music a religious experience. Hannah Reid, Dan Rothman and Dominic ‘Dot’ Major lace indie-rock and trip-hop with beautiful, angelic vocals and savvy lyrics, creating ambient sounds that take you to a magical place inside yourself you never knew existed. Last fall this British trio released their critical acclaimed debut album If You Wait. Since then, they’ve been touring, building an ever-growing fan base, and delighting Game of Thrones fans with their cover of NXS’ “Devil Inside.”
Hannah and the boys captivated the sold out venue with songs like “Sights” and “Nightcall” (Kavinsky cover). The crowd was an interesting mix, consisting of people of all ages and demographics, who for the most part, stood quietly in awe. One guy in the balcony sliced the silence when he screamed, “I love you, Hannah!” Occasionally songs like “Hey Now” would get the crowd swaying along to the beats, and from the balcony the audience looked like a train of gentle night swells, with the stage lights mimicking trickles of moonlight. I have never seen the Metro so calm or so packed. People could be seen standing atop the radiators at the outskirts of each floor to get a better view. Okay, maybe it was just as packed when the Smashing Pumpkins played their “last” show, but the vibe at this show was completely different. I saw people smiling peacefully, eyes closed, taking in all the splendor of London Grammar. However, plenty kept their eyes wide open to take in the sublime light show that added to the tranquility of the holy affair. Hannah barely moved on stage, but nothing too flashy was needed from her or Dan and Dot. The music spoke for itself.
I found myself lost and transfixed. Reid’s wonderful range was complimented perfectly with Rothman’s dexterous guitar riffs and Major’s flawless mix of drums and keys. Before I knew it, the show was over. Ovations permeated the hall. Just as sorrow started to overcome me, the trio returned to the stage for an encore. They performed “If You Wait” and “Metal & Dust.” Both were met with excitement and applause. The evening went by much too fast, but London Grammar, as you sing so sweetly, “I will trust in time that we will meet again.”
Haerts started the night out, having replaced Vancouver Sleep Clinic when their visas were revoked. I was excited to see this Brooklyn electro-pop quintet because I love their 80s inspired synth-pop songs “Wings” and “All The Days,” but I must say I was sadly disappointed. Nini Fabi, Ben Gebert, Garrett Ienner, Derek McWilliams, and Jonathan just didn’t wow me. Perhaps they were nervous, it only being their second show with London Grammar and all? I will note that London Grammar’s equipment took up most of stage, inhibiting Haerts ability to move around. Still, Nini seemed flustered, even forgetting the name of a song, and the rest of the band often drowned her vocals out. Which is a shame because her voice is amazing. She reminds me of a young Cyndi Lauper at times. However, towards the end of their set, Nini seemed a little more comfortable and in turn, the songs felt more emotionally robust.
London Grammar is currently on tour, but good luck getting tickets. Their North American tour sold out every date. They’ll also be playing plenty of summer festivals, including Lollapalooza. If you happen to get your hands on ticket to see these guys, you must go. You can thank me later.
Haerts will be touring with London Grammar through April and then be playing a handful of festivals, including Bannaroo.
For more on London Grammar go HERE.
(All photos by Sarah Hess: smhimaging.com)
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.