(More pictures HERE)Last night was the first time I've been to Bottom Lounge. It's huge. There's the main bar, the actual music venue, the upstairs bar and a large patio. Each of these spaces is easily the size of most other bars and restaurants I've been to in Chicago. I don't know what the "cool kid" consensus is on Bottom Lounge, but I thought it was a great space and I'd go back and see a gig there any day. Most of the venues here are old theaters, which is nice, but this place is more like a warehouse in the middle of nowhere. It's a beautiful warehouse, mind you. With good music.
Both of the opening acts that were originally scheduled pulled out, or something else happened to them to make them disappear. So we got Von Iva. They're a rocking female three-piece from San Francisco (which they made sure to point out between every song). The lead singer had a bit of a Karen O. vibe going for her, and girl can sing! She wore short shorts and thigh-high boots and looked like she could (and would) beat the shit out of anyone who got in her way. I love a good frontperson, and that she was. I haven't had a ton of great luck with opening acts lately, but I think I might have to check them out.
I discovered Glasvegas about a year and a half ago though, of all places, MySpace. I was at a point where I felt stagnant musically and was trying desperately to seek out anything new that might make me feel like my go-to bands make me feel. At the time, they didn't have an album out, but I got ahold of their EP and loved it. When their album came out, I have to admit, I didn't listen to it for a while. I put it on the backburner because I was listening to a lot of "winter music" like Ryan Adams and just wasn't ever in the mood. When I finally did give it a fair shot, I liked it, but only listened once or twice and again forgot about it. It was only when Jon bought us tickets to see them a few months back that I put it on rotation in my iPod again.
They're Scottish. They have some of the thickest accents you've ever heard in music (completely different from Primal Scream), but somehow, even if you don't understand all of the words, you get what they're saying. They have such an interesting range of sounds, from slow acoustic to dark, almost electronic, to garage punk. I was hoping that their album would translate well live, and it did. What surprised me the most about the show, though, was the crowd. I think it surprised the band too. There were a few times when the lead singer, James, looked pretty genuinely touched that everyone (at least where I was standing) was so into it.
During the last song of the set, 'Daddy's Gone', he stopped singing and let the crowd take over, which, I must say, we succeeded in doing and then some. We were suddenly at a football match, chanting along, one big happy chorus/family/group of fans all cheering for the same team to succeed. Yes, this happens at concerts with some frequency, but for a relatively unknown band playing in America (I don't listen to the radio, so if they are on the radio regularly, then color me dead wrong, but I don't think they are) with the aforementioned heavy accents, it must've been pretty mind-blowing, no?
On a side note, I do find it a little weird that the biggest sing-along of the night (there were other, less intense sing-along moments during 'Go Square Go' and It's My Own Cheatin Heart That Makes Me Cry') came during a song that is so personal and painfully beautiful. As someone who openly admits to having some pretty legitimate daddy issues, 'Daddy's Gone' has always given me goosebumps as I listen alone in my headphones. So what was it like belting it out in a big crowd of people with the author of those words looking down on us? The only way I can think to describe it is cathartic in the most awkward way possible. Glasvegas -- therapists in training? Perhaps. Anyway, back on track...I'll never forget the looks on the faces of the band during that song in particular. Smiles that said, "Fuck yeah, we're doing it!" It was a great thing to be a part of. They thanked us, said something nice about Chicago, and James proceeded to kiss the hands of the women who were close enough to the stage to be kissed (mine included, which made me more than a little red in the face, I'm sure) and shake the hands of the guys.
(This is one of those moments where he kind of looked in awe of everything. Hand on head, mouth hanging open, etc. It was adorable.)
After they left the stage, we said hello to some people we knew and chatted for a while before taking off. Walking back to the train I was giddy. We ran into the lead guitarist, Rab, who I didn't even notice until I heard Jon say hi to him. He was still wearing his t-shirt and jeans, despite the 30 degree weather, which makes him tougher than I'll ever be, and chatting with some chick. I had no desire to bother him or intrude, so we did gave him the obligatory "Great show...you guys are awesome...hope you enjoyed your first time in Chicago" and crossed the street to head up to the Green Line.
We made it home pretty late and by the time I got ready for bed and settled down it was already 2am. Today was rough, but it was all worth it. I can't stop gushing about what a great time I had. I haven't properly gushed about a concert since...Stereophonics*? Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed all of the concerts I've been to in Chicago, it's just that I expect more out of some of them than others.
*I 've liked the Stereophonics for years and years, but I'd seen them before, in 1999 and 2002, and found them pretty boring. Maybe it was the venue, but when I saw them last year, they were a different band completely. Really really great and a pleasant surprise indeed.
So if you ever get the chance to see Glasvegas, take it! Tickets to our show were only $15, so they're affordable and worth every penny. If you have a few bucks to spare after getting your tickets, buy their album. I don't have to convince you to buy their album, because if you see them live, they'll convince you to buy their album.
I think you'll be hearing about them for decades to come. Allan McGee likes them, they make great music, and they are already making headway in the U.S. Not only was 'Geraldine' used in a Rhapsody commercial that was on TV regularly last year, but 'Daddy's Gone' was featured pretty prominently on last night's episode of Chuck -- fuck-word and all.