Smith Westerns And Sky Ferreira At Chicago’s Vic Theatre

Chicago – It was a serene homecoming for Chicago natives Smith Westerns, something that seemed to bother front man Cullen Omori. “You guys still alive out there? You look like you’re sleepy,” he quipped between songs. Perhaps the culprit behind any perceived lack of energy was the bands’ solid hour’s worth of dreamlike glam rock that produced more sways and gentle hand claps than headbanging and devil horns.

One by one, they comfortably plucked stand out tracks from their last two albums, effortlessly transitioning from catchy hook to hook. Cullen’s early 90’s Keanu Reeves hair flopped back and forth during solo measures, but there still seemed to be a lack of spark for a hometown show. While well known tracks like “Weekend” and “Varsity” got the couples in the crowd moving, it was obvious the band sensed a lack of Smith Westerns experienced audience members, an issue that resulted in a quick send off and no encore.

The band themselves played solid and looked comfortable, but the overall sound mix seemed a little bass heavy and could have used more emphasis on guitarist/keys player Max Kakacek’s keyboard to reach the same textural effect that made their latest album “Soft Will” a great listen. However, it was nice to hear the band dig back into their catalog and pull out their Lo-fi roots with “Be My Girl” off their debut self titled album, which Cullen attested was written at a time when they were simply, “looking for free beer, trying to get a nut”. 

A more realistic explanation of disenchantment with the headlining band was probably due to the majority of the turn out more interested in the opening act, current indie-pop phenom Sky Ferreira. After an immense fog of smoke accumulates on stage for a solid two minutesshe moseyed up to the microphone like an inmate on the green mile before kicking things off with “Boys”, the opening track from her recent album “Night Time, My Time”.

Her feet never left their original placement, standing her ground like a British Royal Guard as she belted out arena ready choruses during “24 Hours” and “Love In Stereo”. The ambiance of hazy distortion, fuzzed synth, and industrial rhythm amidst the smoke and stage lights provided the perfect backdrop for the grungy tank topped singer, especially on the blurry buzz saw onslaught of “Omanko”.

While her timidness on stage still seems evident, it’s clear that Sky is an artist with massive potential and has the musical capabilities to be packing in bigger venues within the next year. After all the dazed and strung out pop tunes reach the conclusion of her set, she closes with her distinctly intimate R&B jam “Everything Is Embarrassing”, a song that grooves like Keith Sweat for hipsters and serves as a perfect send off to a cold Saturday night in the city.


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