Last Thursday we saw De Novo Dahl, Bedouin Soundclash, and Hot Hot Heat at the Vic in Chicago. Punch line: great show, very fun. More below the fold.
De Novo Dahl, the first opening act, is a fun indie pop band from Nashville. Their music and their stage presence are lively, witty, and engaging, and the music is well-crafted. For my taste the drummer was a bit too busy and loud, but that’s just a slight nit-pick. They only played for about half an hour, which was not enough as far as I was concerned!
Bedouin Soundclash is from Toronto, and is primarily a trio, although on tour they have a fourth guy traveling with them for percussion, extra guitar, etc. Musically they are also quite interesting, very reggae and ska influenced. I thought their drummer was absolutely amazing; they played for about 40 minutes and I was transfixed by him the whole time! His kit was set up left-handed, and he had a nice assortment of cymbals, all of which made it even more interesting for me to watch him. There was one song in particular (don’t remember the name) where my husband leaned over and said “gee, these guys aren’t influenced by the Police at all, are they?” I had two complaints about their show, and both might just be a consequence of the sound engineering. They had the bass guitar and the bass drum miked really high, so much so that the bass was driving my diaphragm in a really uncomfortable way that detracted from the music. Also, the lead singer’s voice was kind of mutter-y in that pre-Fables of the Reconstruction Michael Stipe kind of way. When you listen to their studio recordings his enunciation is better, so it’s either bad sound engineering for the show or that they clean up his voice in the studio recordings. In any case, other than seeing the drummer, I enjoyed them less live than on recordings.
Hot Hot Heat (also from Canada, Vancouver) was a nonstop energy ride. The lead singer’s stage presence is a combination of Mick Jagger, Peter Frampton, and Napoleon Dynamite (he’s a skinny guy with big, curly strawberry blond hair). The music is very upbeat, so everyone in the place was dancing and singing for the whole show. Musically they were very tight; their songs are in a somewhat narrower range/are a lot more similar across them than their two opening bands. In addition to being a tightly played show, it was fun because the band really engaged with the audience. On the last song they were pulling audience members up on stage to dance with them, which was also really fun.
In short, I’d recommend checking out all three bands, either recorded or live.