Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, February 29

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Interview: Mehran Jalili Finds a Rock Band for the Flamenco Guitar Preview: Soul Summit Chicago Hosts the Menahan Street Band This Friday »

Concert Fri Nov 09 2012

Review/Photos: Sharon Van Etten @ Cabaret Metro 11/07/12

Gapers Sharon Van Etten top.jpg

There is a certain way in which Sharon Van Etten has always been powerful. Her grace and elegance were never an issue in making her songs great and her live performance memorable. At the same time, it seems each visit to Chicago, her fans see a woman that is slowly transforming into someone who is stronger and who makes the songwriting seem less like simple poems and more like challenges to the psyche. We're seeing her take control and possess more of her songs both instrument wise and lyrically even though she's now playing with a band behind her. In other words, it still seems like it's coming from Sharon Van Etten and even in her most cool and collected moments where she's joking around, there's a sense that she feels good taking herself seriously because that's exactly what her songs deserve.

Gapers Sharon Van Etten 1.jpg

Gapers Sharon Van Etten 2.jpg

Along with this sense of self assurance comes the ability to make certain risks, which also enhances the stage presence. In previous tours when she merely had her debut album 2009's Because I Was In Love, her live sets were kept straight forward. They were still ones to treasure but they were also more predictable in the sense that she kept to playing the songs as they appeared on album vs. changing them in any way. Van Etten is now able to wait for the mood to develop on songs like "Serpents" for example and in that space we appreciate the song more for it's own sense of complexity. She's rocking out increasingly more than ever too but she never seems like she's having fun until between the songs. Instead, she seems content, nay devoted, to taking each song to its next level during the playing of it. Her sense of concentration and poise is admirable but it's also very intriguing to watch because one feels how much she's invested in each chord progression and word that she sings. One couldn't be too sure where the songs were headed during the live set but it was enjoyable where she took them.

Gapers Sharon Van Etten 3.jpg

Gapers Sharon Van Etten 4.jpg

It would be remiss not to mention the band's stellar playing throughout, however. Van Etten herself played guitar and Omnichord with three total back up band members on Harmonium, Bass, Drums, and Keyboards. There was a nice sense of them all getting along, knowing each other's sense of timing, and even harmonizing vocally at times. The cinematic visuals of buildings, snow, trees, and other scenes of nature also helped the band seem increasingly picturesque, at times like enchanted woodland dwellers, throughout their 80 min. long set.

Gapers Sharon Van Etten bb.jpg

Gapers Sharon Van Etten bb3.jpg

Gapers Sharon Van Etten bb5.jpg

In addition, one can't really speak of Sharon Van Etten without mentioning her sense of humor, which was still quite evident in between songs. Early on, she expressed some happiness and acknowledgement of the excitement in Chicago over Obama's victory and (though most of the audience cheered) when one person yelled "F-(swear word) Politics!" the band pretended the person had yelled "Proctologist!" and started talking about seeing a Proctologist before introducing their next song, "Give Out," which increased the hilarity of the moment. She also talked about living with her parents for a year and was really honest about the journey she's taken in her life. When someone in the audience quipped, "I bet you saved money!," Sharon Van Etten responded "Yes, and they saved my life."

Gapers Sharon Van Etten 5.jpg

Gapers Sharon Van Etten 6.jpg

Not only did she show appreciation for her family but for her friends in New Jersey who spent time with her when she was writing some of her early songs in a basement and there was definitely a sentimental side that showed itself as it often did in earlier tours. It was funny to hear another devoted fan up front who was possibly seeing Sharon Van Etten for the first time emphatically exclaim "You're really good! This set was great!" but she was probably echoing the mood and sentiment of many. We've all found something that can last. It's Sharon.

Gapers Sharon Van Etten 7.jpg

Gapers Sharon Van Etten 8.jpg

Gapers Sharon Van Etten 9.jpg

Gapers Sharon Van Etten 10.jpg


Gapers Sharon Van Etten 6setlist.jpg

GB store
GB store

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

GB store


Featured Series


Transmission on Flickr

Join the Transmission Flickr Pool.

About Transmission

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...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Sarah Brooks,
Transmission staff inbox:



Transmission Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15