Friday, March 19, 2010

Company Of Thieves - March 18, 2010

Those long wait times between sets are always frustrating as a fan, especially when you can see the instruments all ready to go, like wrapped presents under the Christmas tree, with the band just waiting it out until the posted start time. It is refreshing to see a band so excited to jump on stage and play that they rip into the set list ten minutes early. Such was the case with Chicago's Company Of Thieves on Thursday night.

The extra time allowed them to take an extra new track or two out for a test drive. The half-a-dozen new tracks the quintet managed to squeeze in fit wonderfully within their eclectic songbook. From the energetic opener, "Pig", to the bosa nova flavored epic closer, "Like A Storm", allowing the band to show their explosive chops, it was clear the band is spreading their wings even further for the sophomore album. The smoky jazz of "Gorgeous/Grotesque" had front woman Genevieve Schatz singing through gritted teeth before the song unwrapped itself into a thick, bluesy solo for guitarist Marc Walloch and more of the belted-out vocals that makes Schatz such a force on stage. The best of the new material was easily the "Won't Go Quiet", with a breezier acoustic backing shining the spotlight directly on Schatz's amazing vocal skills. The song is good enough to serve as the lead single from the new album, which they have been hard at work writing material for over the last six months.

The band did a great job hitting as many fan favorites as possible with the rest of the setlist, though it is hard to hit everyone's favorites from an album as consistently brilliant as their debut without playing everything. An oddity on the album, the uneasy "Old Letters" is a live gem without the orchestral backing. Schatz introduced the hard-hitting "Pressure" as a song written when they were sacrificing everything for the band and playing open mic nights. It leaves you wondering what other mind-blowing talents are playing open mics. "The Fire Song" combined a thundering celebration of music with some of the most emotional vocals of the night. Set staple, "Oscar Wilde" came with a 'thank you' to XRT for their support. The band had a blast playing their biggest hit, clearly still as in love with the song's shimmering riffs and anthemic hook as fans are. At one point, the show was listed on Lincoln Hall's page as a 'special acoustic performance'. That changed weeks ago, but the sparse "Even In The Dark", with only Walloch on acoustic guitar to back the vocals, made you almost wish it had remained acoustic.

Company Of Thieves is one of those magical bands that, regardless of what time the set ends, you are left completely awake, in awe, and in need of more. The end of the regular set left fans chanting "Four more songs!", rather than the usual refrain of, "One more song!" The band tore through the bouncy pop of "Under The Umbrella" for the too-brief encore, before unleashing Walloch's guitar prowess on the fiery instrumental coda. The announcement that they will be at Lollapalooza is a bittersweet one, as you are left knowing their infectious rock will land on more ears, but also knowing the unfortunate 'no Chicago shows three months before or after' rule will keep the band out of local venues for a bit. At least that should give them time to record the much-needed follow-up to Ordinary Riches.

In Passing
Old Letters
Queen Of Hearts
The Fire Song
Nothing's In The Flowers
Oscar Wilde
Even In The Dark
Won't Go Quiet
Like A Storm

Under The Umbrella

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