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« The High Dials @ Double Door Saturday, 1/15 Review: The Besnard Lakes @ Lincoln Hall, 1/13 »

Review Thu Jan 13 2011

Review: The Helio Sequence, California Wives @ Lincoln Hall, 1/12

tnkSponHeader.jpg It'd been almost two years since the Helio Sequence played Chicago. Back then it was opening for Keane at the Aragon. Last night they were at the friendlier-sounding Lincoln Hall for the first night of Tomorrow Never Knows Fest. After a lengthy delay between sets, guitarist Brandon Summers and drummer Benjamin Weikel emerged from behind the curtain and immediately put forth an engaging performance highlighted by Weikel's energetic and chaotic drumming. The Portland duo have made a career of blending the raw Pacific Northwest indie-rock sound with ambient music and some psychedelic leanings. Take a little Quasi, a bit of Tristeza, some American Football and you'll eventually get the Helio Sequence.

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Helio Sequence drummer Benjamin Weikel (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

Summers' guitaring was crisp and dynamic across songs from all of their albums, including "Converter" from last year's split with Menomena and a new one called "One More Time" that they've only played live twice. He also handled harmonica on a few tracks from their latest Keep Your Eyes Ahead and his vocals sounded excellent. (This is a guy who lost his voice years ago, so it's worth noting that he definitely has it back, though he's not much of a screamer.) But where the Helio Sequence really separated themselves as a headliner was simply in being completely professional. There was no hint of nervousness. Both seemed totally thrilled to be playing for the crowd. They were confident in their songs. (This is more than I can say for some of the openers.) And neither the guy who repeatedly yelled requests for "Knots" nor the photographer who literally sat on the stage inching closer and closer to Weikel's setup took them out of their element. Over an hour-long set, they brought the goods and entertained like a band eager to prove that they haven't lost a step.

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Helio Sequence guitarist Brandon Summers (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

California Wives opened with a quick set (better than overstaying your welcome, right?) that was a little short on stage presence aside from politely thanking the audience for getting there early. I missed the first ten minutes (Thanks, CTA!), but caught two of their best songs in "23" and "Blood Red Youth" that evoke thoughts of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart dropping a bit of cute twee in favor of heavy earworming synth lines. There are a lot of Chicago bands that seem just on the cusp of breaking big and they're one I'd bet on for 2011.

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California Wives' Jayson Kramer (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

Read all our Tomorrow Never Knows coverage.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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