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Review Tue Apr 12 2011

Review: Sharon Van Etten @ Lincoln Hall, 4/9/11


"I write moments," says Sharon Van Etten. Judging by her lyrics, Sharon Van Etten has had many heavy-hearted moments. On Saturday night at Lincoln Hall, she let the audience in on those moments as she sang the universal feelings of frustration, betrayal, obsession and the let down that comes with love that isn't, doesn't and just can't work. She does it all with minimal instrumentation and an emotively sweet folk sound.

Symbolically, Sharon Van Etten opened her Lincoln Hall set alone. There were no backup singers, no costumes, no displays of multi-colored lights, no smoke; just Sharon and her slow electric guitar strums. With which, she beautifully portrayed her feelings of anguish and frustration in "Consolation Prize" from the album Because I was in Love. The moral of the story was: no one wants to be a consolation prize. And Lincoln Hall stood silently letting the message fall over them.

Following two solitary songs, Sharon invited Doug Keith (bass) and Ben Lord (drums) on stage to pick up the tempo and shake Lincoln Hall out of its melancholy with the folk-rock "Peace Signs" off her recent release Epic. She later brought Laurel from opener Little Scream to help with the backing vocals for "Save Yourself." During which, Sharon's rich, warm soprano wrapped itself around the crowd while Sharon remained mostly expressionless. In fact, she remained mostly emotionless for the entire set. It's almost as if she'd already dealt with all the things behind her lyrics and can now lay them out for the audience to experience. Not to say, in any way, that there is a lack of emotion in her lyrics; quite the opposite. Songs like "Don't Do It" beautifully portrayed the frustration of a person wanting someone to do one thing when they're clearly just gonna do what they're gonna do. Her words impart frustration; Sharon just doesn't look like she's frustrated anymore.

Finishing the formal set, Sharon played "One Day" and then stepped behind an old school organ box for the upbeat, at least relatively speaking, song "Love More." "Love More" started wretchedly, with Sharon's soft yet warbling vocals metaphorically chained to a wall in a bedroom but, unlike some of her other songs, ends with hope in a true friendship that flipped her world right side up and "made [her] love more."

The band played a three song encore before the lights went out. Opening for Sharon Van Etten was Chicago's own dreamy indie-pop band In Tall Buildings and amazing new-folk singer-songwriter Little Scream. The trio of bands made for an introspective evening of folky slash indie pop music.

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Davis / April 12, 2011 10:27 AM

Are you sure were actually at that show? The songs were heavy, but Sharon's delivery was far from emotionless!

Also she didn't play an REM cover it was a Fine Young Cannibals cover.

Kristin / April 12, 2011 11:29 AM

It looks to me like this hack reviewed the Bowery Ballroom show and did not attend last Saturday's show. Lame.

Michael / April 12, 2011 1:17 PM

Hey people! Perhaps you should take your vitriol out of you mom's basement. I was at this show and have seen SVE several times. This was not SVE's finest hour and was a pretty sad showing compared to the other time's I've seen her. And the Fine Young Cannibals cover... sucked especially with no talent Little Scream contributing. The reviewer messed up on the first encore song. I would have too. I was mentally checked out after the snoozer the first hour was. And I live SVE more than I should.

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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.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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