For the last three nights of 2017, Chicago rapper Noname transformed Lincoln Hall into her own personal living room, greeting fans and cracking jokes from the balcony as part of her Coming Home concert series. Each night of the sold-out event was its own unique experience, featuring different surprise guests that were introduced like family before a nearly glowing Noname took the stage every time with the charm and charisma of a Chicago homecoming queen.
NOVEMBER 8, 2017. One year since the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. A year marked by environmental catastrophe, overt racism, rampant misogyny, and increasingly irreconcilable political divisions in a country that has lost its capacity to speak with those who hold opposing views from whichever echo chamber is currently disseminating its version of reality.
This feeling of despair casting a cloud over our collective consciousness was exacerbated by a recent few weeks that saw a horrific mass shooting at a music festival, followed by a horrific terrorist attack on a bike path, followed by a horrific mass shooting at a church. Followed by an unknown number of episodes of regular run-of-the-mill violence in a country awash in guns, paralyzed by partisanship, and increasingly incapable of outrage.
Yet for two hours on a Wednesday night in Chicago, it didn’t matter that America had stumbled into electing a small-minded, self-obsessed, orange-tinged national embarrassment as its commander-in-chief. No, for two hours on a Wednesday night in Chicago, none of that mattered. Because I got to see my favorite band.
Chicago’s House of Vans has only been open for eight months, but it didn’t take long for it to become one of the hottest underground venues in the city. “Secret gigs” and last-minute extravaganzas had already created quite a buzz around this West Loop venue, so when The National announced an intimate free performance ahead of their appearance at the Obama Foundation Summit, the heat turned to smoldering. With a dedicated squadron garnishing the back alleys of the venue in 40-degree temperatures hours before the band’s Monday night set, inside the sprawling lair felt crystalline and somewhat spooky — not unlike the cover of 2007’s Boxer.
BY ERIN MALYSA
PHOTO BY ALYSSE GAFKJEN
Bully’s sophomore album, Losing, struggles endearingly with the same ideas and situations that popped up on their debut offering Feels Like, in which singer Alicia Bognanno screams and coos into the mic so truthfully it almost hurts. Partially driven by dating truths and exposing the things we try to hide, “Running” deals with anxiety and wanting to tell the person you care about that you “get it” (and possibly even “get them”) with words that sometimes fall on deaf ears or emotionally closed hearts. On “Kills to be Resistant,” the guitar work by Clayton Parker shreds into the chorus and allows Stuart Copeland to thrash and fill the song with rhythmic beat rocking. Meanwhile, Bognanno opens up a bit but maintains defensive walls for protection, softly oohing a heartsick sigh that builds and releases into a snarling “fuck you” scream.