Mini Mansions Brought the Fun to Chicago

Mini Mansions live by Sarah Hess

Chicago – Blue and purple lights danced around stage. The men of Mini Mansions glowed turquoise, indigo, and cyan while singing, “Do you want to have fun / Do you want a good time?” Surely everyone at The Riviera Theatre was down for both, and thanks to LA three-piece Mini Mansions, an entertaining evening was had.

The trio brought their mix of glam rock and psychedelic pop to Chicago on Friday night, for a sold-out show in support of Tame Impala. Mini Mansions formed back in 2009 by Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman, with his good friends Zach Dawes and Tyler Parkford. After a bit of a hiatus, the guys have returned to the stage, along with some new material. They recently toured with the Arctic Monkeys and Royal Blood, but in an interview with Best New Bands, Shuman revealed the band will embark on a headlining tour of their own in the fall. Stay tuned for the interview!

These supporting roles are a strategic effort to increase Mini Mansion’s fan base. While plenty of people were there to see Tame Impala, based on the applause coming from the crowd, it’s safe to say Shuman, Dawes, and Parkford did indeed make some new fans, but Chicago also confirmed the band already has some devotees. A fair amount of concertgoers sang and danced along to the songs off Mini Mansion’s recent release The Great Pretenders (Capitol Records).

Shuman proved to be a triple threat, holding down vocals while ferociously playing drums and guitar. Parkford shared vocal duties with him and manned the keys, at times like a man possessed. Dawes danced around stage with his olive green bass, at times playing it above his head. The trio almost exclusively played new material from their sophomore album The Great Pretenders, including “Death is a Girl” and “Creeps.” The exceptions being the opening Sparks’ cover “Sherlock Holmes” and the Blondie cover “Heart of Glass,” the latter sounding fantastic with a masculine touch.

Mini Mansions also played singles “Any Emotions,” their collaboration with the legendary Brian Wilson and “Vertigo,” which features Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys. The guys also performed the killer jam “Mirror Mountain.” On record, it sounds as if there’s some guitar tossed in there, but live proved it’s all Dawes and Parkford manipulating the keys and bass for some insane sounds and distortion. Very impressive, gentlemen! Between his hisses and “Ows,” Shuman riled up the room when he bellowed out a drawn out, “Chicago!”

The set ended with “Freakout!” and a dance party. The three shimmied around in their funky suits. People enthusiastically clapped along, and balloons filled with glow stick juice bounced around thanks to some creative audience members.

Tame Impala also entertained with their psychedelic jam sessions and trippy light show, which ranks up there with the epic light shows of Portugal. The Man. Our 2012 Newbie Award winners have come a long way since the release of Lonerism catapulted them into the limelight. The Aussies recently released a new single, “Disciples,” from their third album, Currents, set for release this summer. While the band didn’t play “Disciples” Friday night, they did start the night out with another new song: “Let it Happen.” Shoeless frontman Kevin Parker fell into the groove, moving to the beat, colors and shapes dancing along with him. Newbie “’Cause I’m A Man” also made its way on the set list, and dedicated fans already knew the words.

 Tame Impala live by Sarah Hess

Fan favorite “Elephant” filled the packed venue with cheers and wafting smoke, making for a major contact high. Three quarters of the way through, Parker dedicated the rest of the set to one of Chicago’s most influential funny men, John Belushi, and before ending the night ended with “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control,” he thanked Mini Mansions for their support this tour, then joked, “Those sexy boys, they buy me toys.”

Tame Impala is currently touring North America. Later this summer they’ll be playing several festivals, including Governors Ball, Outside Lands, and Lollapalooza. They’ll also be making their way to Europe at the end of August. Dates are available on the Tame Impala website.

Mini Mansions are currently on tour with Tame Impala. They’ll soon be touring again with Royal Blood and then with My Morning Jacket. Mini Mansions will also be playing a handful of summer festivals, including Bonnaroo, Leeds, and Reading. A list of dates is available on the Mini Mansions facebook page.

Photos by Sarah Hess

Sarah Hess

Sarah Hess

At the age of six, Sarah Hess discovered True Blue by Madonna. This resulted in her spending hours in front of the bathroom mirror with a hairbrush microphone, belting out "La Isla Bonita" off key. Her love for music only intensified over the years thanks to her parents; her mother exposed Sarah to The Jackson Five and had her hustling to the Bee Gees, while her father would play her albums like 'Pet Sounds' and 'Some Girls' from start to finish, during which he'd lecture on and on about the history of rock & roll. Sarah would eventually stumble upon rap and hip-hop, then punk and alternative, and fall madly in love with Jeff Buckley and film photography.

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:
Sarah Hess

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