Chicago – Despite being a Tuesday and a school night, U.K. rockers The Vaccines packed Lincoln Hall, selling out the venue, filling it with excited fans young and old, for the English Graffiti Tour, bringing their fantastic mix of indie, garage rock, and punk.
The foursome recently released their third album, English Graffiti, hence the tour name, and so as expected, Justin Hayward-Young (lead vocals, guitar), Freddie Cowan (lead guitar, vocals), Árni Árnason (bass, vocals) and Pete Robertson (drums, vocals) played a fair amount of new material, including “Minimal Affection,” “Give Me a Sign,” and “Dream Lover,” the latter of which drew heavy applause and incited the first proper sing-along of the night. However, the guys also played plenty of older material, like “Teenage Icon,” “I Always Knew,” and the song that really riled up the crowd, “If You Wanna,” from their debut What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?. Fans danced around, smiling and singing loudly, like a gaggle of giddy teenagers.
The Vaccines have been taking over America, playing sold out gigs and performing along side Mumford & Sons, including several Gentlemen Of The Road Stopovers. Over the years the quartet has made a few stops in Chicago, performing at Lollapalooza, opening for Phoenix at the Aragon, and playing Lincoln Hall. Watching their performance, it’s clear they’ve been at this awhile, learning the ins and outs, understanding how to connect with a crowd. Had this been a show somewhere in England, it’s safe to say the seasoned performers would be playing a much larger venue with hoards more screaming fans. Surely, it’ll be that way here soon enough, but for now fans can enjoy the intimacy a venue like Lincoln Hall provides. I imagine The Vaccines enjoy it too, as smiles filled their faces throughout the evening. Young leaned into the crowd from the small stage, getting the ladies excited. Even the fans further from the action were filled with delight. Halfway through the set, I slunk to the back of the room, where I found fans singing, dancing, and cheering along with equal fervor. The intensity doubled during “20/20,” a fast-paced number that also had Best New Bands’ Tony Hardy moving at Glastonbury Festival, this summer.
Frontman Justin James Hayward-Young aka Jay Jay Pistolet kept fans going all night with his witty banter. Young noted that last time they played Lincoln Hall people complained online about them not doing an encore; he quipped, “No one asked for one!” This time around, when The Vaccines left the stage, the room erupted with screams and cheers. Fans chanted, “One more song.” The lads obliged. Young came out alone, with his acoustic guitar, and performed “No Hope,” from Come of Age, without the rest of the band. Although, he certainly wasn’t alone. The audience sang along word for word, making for a magical moment – my favorite moment of the night – that will never be forgotten. The rest of the band then returned for “Radio Bikini” and ended the night with “Nørgaard,” practically bringing fans to their knees.
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.