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« Pulling Strings: For Classical Music in Chicago, You Got a Guy - October 2012 Preview: Calexico @ Lincoln Hall 10/15 »

Review Tue Oct 09 2012

Review: Tilly and the Wall @ Lincoln Hall 10/8

By Abigail Covington

Tilly and the Wall is a great band and Lincoln Hall is a marvelous modern venue, but when your sound guy is messing around on his iPhone during sets, it doesn't matter if you are Bruce Springsteen at the Sydney Opera House, the concert will be fraught with errors. From start to finish Tilly and the Wall's run at Lincoln Hall on Monday night was bogged down by unfortunate events. There was the inattentive sound guy who took a reactive rather than proactive approach to level setting. There was the overly emotional and sauced fanboy who clawed his way onto the stage, hugged Neely Jenkins and Kianna Alarid, and then sketchily lingered among the band members. There were the off-key harmonies and the breaking voices among the band. There were some issues, OK?

However, there was also tap dancing and rhythm that rocked the placid crowd from the bottom of their feet to the crowns of their heads. At first, I felt full of promise when the band thundered onto the stage with a rousing call and response of "When we say oh, you say fuck," backed by some Nebraska-style step dancing, but my hopes were quickly dashed when they then tore into their yet-to-be-perfected live rendition of "Love Riot" the first track off of their new album, Heavy Mood. The song is cacophonous and noisy in nature, but what was emitting from the speakers sounded more like misfired strums and hums than artful distortion. Thankfully, the volumes on the lead guitar came back from the outer spheres of the universe and towards earth where the other instruments held steady during the second song, making "Alligator Skin" much more balanced and enjoyable than the opener.

From here, Tilly and the Wall hit a gleeful stride that included some crowd-pleasers like "Thicker Than Thieves," "Night of the Living Dead," "Dust Me Off," and "Beat Control." During these songs, each of the band members was playing the part of those winsome, forever young darlings that the world first fell in love with in 2004 when Wild Like Children debuted. And even though some of them are married now and others have children, all of them sang the lyrics "Forty ounces is never enough, we wanna pass out in your yard" with spooky sincerity, as if recapturing moments of their youth right in front of the audience's gaping faces. These lyrics coupled with the Kianna and Neely's go-go dresses and Zooey Deschanel-level cute choreography had the whole crowd swooning for more. And more came in the form of Jamie Presnell, Tilly and the Wall's famed tap dancer. She was electrifying, despite the rest of the band's foibles, and her tapping served as the axel upon which the rest of the band rotated.

Of course, just when I think all the kinks have been ironed out, a three-part harmony goes completely awry on one of the band's best new songs "Static Expressions." I surveyed the crowd to see if anyone seemed to mind the band's fumble and it was clear they did not. In fact, half the front row had managed to follow that one young drunkard's walk right onto the stage during the song while security was nowhere to be found. Undeterred, the band played through the song with admirable enthusiasm and well-feigned appreciation for the fans until finally a perturbed attendee at the back yelled "paging security" at the end of the song. With order restored, the band played their final song, "Pot Kettle Black," with guts and gusto and let each instrument ring cacophonously for seven seconds creating a rock and roll sound effect on par with the ending of a Guns 'N' Roses ballad. It was relatively badass, especially for a band that sometimes comes across as folksy.

After a not-so-tense two minutes, they came back out one by one for their encore in which they let the audience decide which songs they would sing. The crew weathered the many requests and silly sing-alongs with infectious smiles and a deep sense of gratitude, and I couldn't help but consider their origins. "Those Nebraskans sure were raised right." I thought to myself as I observed their good manners and happy interactions with the (to say the least) spirited crowd.

So, as the night drew to a close with good enough renditions of "Lost Girl,"
"Bad Education" and "Reckless" I ultimately decided that there were just as many good moments as bad moments in the concert. I felt for my overall reaction as I considered all the variables and it turned up positive. At the end of it, Tilly and the Wall still managed to light me up inside because the merriment of their music and their charitable dispositions outweighed the evening's imperfections.

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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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