Sky Ferreira at the Metro
Last week was a concert marathon for me. Usually, my weekdays are consumed with bus rides from work, walks to yoga, and kitchen conversations with my roommates, but this time it was a Sky Ferreira show on Wednesday and a Bleachers show on Thursday. This is how my “24 Hours” went.
Sky Ferreira was playing at the Metro, a Chicago staple, and one of my favorite venues in the city. Kayla and I did our traditional stop at Gman’s Tavern before the show. We chatted over our drinks while Kayla reminded me that Sky Ferreira is chronically late to her concerts. So, we took our time–chatting about how excited we were, the resurgence of indie sleaze, how we found her music, work, friends, and giggles in between. We spent about an hour there before we decided we should probably head in. Keep in mind, she was supposed to go on around 8 (this is an important note for later).
Kayla and I made a ten step journey into the Metro, where I took a quick glimpse of the crowd. The venue was packed, there was a mixture of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings, all clearly users of Tumblr back in the day. We shuffled to the right side of the stage, next to three groups of friends who were eagerly buzzing about seeing Sky Ferreira after her 10-year absence. Ambient DJ music was playing in the background of the crowd, who was increasingly becoming more and more frustrated that she was, at this point, 45 minutes late. Every time I turned my head, I saw another person checking Twitter or asking their friend, “Do you think I have time to pee?” Kayla and I resorted to making up extreme stories about what Sky Ferreira was doing backstage. We settled on her playing Animal Crossing and letting the time slip away. Finally, at 9:05, Sky Ferreira emerged onto the stage with a sea of cheers swallowing the venue and the time lost.
She opened the night with the track “Boys” (after a five-minute “technical difficulty”). Sky Ferreira was decked in a long coat, her signature platinum blonde hair, and backlit neon lights that, unfortunately, made it almost impossible to see her. My favorite tracks of the night were “You’re Not the One” and “Blame Myself.” She sounded great on the stage, and occasionally traveled to one side or the other, waving to the cameras pointed at her. The crowd was engaged and grabbed the arms of their friends when their favorite song came on. We bounced around and sang to every word. It is impossible not to move to Sky Ferreira's music. There is something about her poppy, indie rock sound that grows on you and with you in different stages of life.
This show gave me mixed feelings. I loved being able to sing along to songs I sang in my trashy high school car, thinking that no one understood me. Yet, she was almost unbearably late, and the venue curfew made her show about half as long as other ones. Sky Ferreira was only on stage for an hour, leaving a lot of fans confused, turning to their friends and asking “Is that really it?” Kayla and I ranted over our late-night hot dog stand stop. I think what made the show enjoyable was the crowd's excitement and nostalgic connection to her music. Kayla said it best when she told me she still remembers listening to “Heavy Metal Heart” in her teenage bedroom on 8Tracks. At the end of the night, I was happy that Kayla and I relived our angsty teenage Tumblr days for an hour.
Bleachers at Aragon Ballroom
Post my bus ride home and quick chat with the roommates, I made my way to Uptown to meet my friend Sierra for a pre-Beachers drink. The first time I saw the Bleachers I went with my dad. We saw them at a small venue in Boulder, Colorado. I remember not wanting to go because, at that time, I thought you had to know every song to go to a concert (this is not true, always go to a concert, especially if your dad is asking you to go). I loved that concert, I still talk about it, and when I saw they were coming to Chicago, I knew Sierra and I had to go.
Jack Antonoff, lead singer of Bleachers, is a music legend. As an incredible artist, but also producer, he’s produced some of the best albums in recent years. From Taylor Swift’s Evermore to Lorde’s Melodrama, and Lana Del Ray’s Norman Fucking Rockwell, his imprint is strong, and his influence on indie music cannot go unrecognized. Since the first Bleachers concert, I dove head-first into their music, and it still sneaks its way onto my playlists now.
We made our way into the Aragon Ballroom, a hugeee venue. It was packed like sardines that night, and we had to take multiple pauses and what felt like a million “so sorrys” until getting decently close to the front of the crowd. We waited anxiously for the show to start watching the little countdown clock they had on the screen. Finally, a fake street light emitted a yellow hue, and one of the incredible saxophone players came onto the stage. The venue erupted into cheers and WOOOOs–they filled every space of the ballroom. Antonoff went directly to the piano with an eager, yet grounded energy. He has a passion for his music that you can’t ignore. He’s a performer, running around the stage, putting on and taking off his guitar, but also controlling the temperature of the crowd, feeding and taking in everyone's cheers.
The band has a beautiful chemistry, and Antonoff acts as their unofficial conductor. He asks for more and less with a switch of the hand, their eyes are on each other and the crowd, all in all, they know how to put on a damn show. Their setlist included a mix of new and old tracks, and of course crowd favorites like “Rollercoaster” and “I Wanna Get Better” (which featured a beautiful confetti pop).
Sierra and I grabbed each other and screamed the lyrics, watched in awe as the saxophonists soloed it out, and smiled as wide as possible when everyone was getting up on each other's shoulders. My favorite part of a Bleachers show is that everyone there has a personal connection to each song. The couple in front of us was married, and when “Let’s Get Married” came on they couldn’t take their eyes off of each other. The two frat boys next to us went crazy for “You’re Still a Mystery,” and Sierra and I lost our minds for “Don’t Take the Money.” The crowd acted like this Thursday night was a Friday. Everyone let loose, danced, screamed, and sang their hearts out. Antonoff is a treat to watch. The Bleachers is a show you do not want to miss. So…that was my “24 Hours” of concerts, and yes, it was worth being 15 minutes late to work the next day.