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Concert Mon Mar 31 2014

How to Dress Well and Forest Swords Soothe Lincoln Hall

(Photo by Amanda Koellner)

Some of the most interesting bands truly transcend the genres and descriptions placed on them.They make music beyond the norm, in lieu of the confines that try to define them. Forest Swords and How to Dress Well embody this sentiment. Both have been bestowed as experimental and ambient R&B (or the ridiculous PBR&B). It would be easy to just stop there, but it would be a massive disservice to the immersive and incredible music they make. After a month of touring together, they ended their trek at Lincoln Hall and put on a unique show.

Forest Swords' music fills a room like no other. Almost instantly the crowd felt themselves swimming in Matthew Barnes' darkly toned music. He was accompanied by a bassist, whose sound intertwined with Barnes' soft electronic noise perfectly. Barnes minimal arrangements burst to grander and more intricate creations in this setting. Maniacal clanging offset the soothing beats that pulled the crowd in.The set was a hypnotic dream as Barnes' and his bassist played against a backdrop of images ranging from beatific flowers slowly falling to haunting burning patterns. Forest Swords played continuously, merging songs together for nearly the entire set, leaving few moments for the crowd to cheer and applaud. However, the crowd got the chance to show their approval after the dizzy array of images at the end of Forest Swords' set.

How to Dress Well (Photo by Amanda Koellner)

How to Dress Well's set felt more like a private family show than the usual Lincoln Hall concert. Throughout the show Krell made mention of friends and family in attendance, constantly noting his nervousness when performing in front of them at this homecoming show. Krell and his new band, featuring Broken Social Scene's Justin Peroff, played a collection of mostly new songs from a forthcoming album. At times it seemed like they were working on the songs in the moment, mitigating through a few technical errors and asking the sound technicians to change the ambiance of nearly every song. It might have seemed like too much of a look behind the curtain for some, but Krell's earnestness turned the set into a wonderful experience.

How to Dress Well (Photo by Amanda Koellner)

Krell spoke with the audience at length, expounding the emotional stature and origins of his songs. "Childhood Faith in Love" was influenced by pop punk genre that Krell was enamored with as a 14 year old. He positioned "Suicide Dream 1" as his favorite song to sing, making him feel beautiful in its execution. This feeling spread out to the audience as his radiant voice echoed through Lincoln Hall. Krell alternated between two mics throughout, allowing him create rich and sweeping soundscapes that really captured the audience. "Very Best Friend", a song that Krell called his happiest, surged with a vibrant dance rhythm. "No More Death", which How To Dress Well plays exclusively live, showcased Krell's intensity and sincerity.

How to Dress Well (Photo by Amanda Koellner)

How to Dress Well ended their set with the familiar "Set it Right" off 2012's Total Love. Krell returned for encore alone, noting that the previous songs were all that his band knew at the moment. He continued with his refreshing candor, speaking of reaching new place in life. He wants to have a baby, even though he is so afraid of the utter fragileness of their existence. Krell relates a funny tale as he shortly looked after a friend's child, where his fear imagined the baby's peaceful sleep as a sudden passing, causing Krell to quickly awaken him. It was this moment that prompted him to write the tentatively titled "Bad Shit Outweighs the Gladness". Krell found his voice and softly sang, lamenting the terrible world innocent children have to face. Krell and his music may constantly delve in to sadness, but it always serves as a reminder to do better. The lullaby certainly left its mark on the Lincoln Hall audience, everyone leaving with a little more gladness than they came in with.

How to Dress Well (Photo by Amanda Koellner)

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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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