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Transmission
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Concert Wed Apr 23 2014

Sam Smith Lays it Down at the Vic

Sam Smith.jpg

Sam Smith's "Nirvana" is one of those songs. You know, the kind that you listen to five (okay, maybe ten) times in a row because the experience of hearing it floods dopamine to your brain over and over, making you feel noticeably happier, emotional, and hungry for another listen despite having it on a loop. So when Sam Smith kicked off his show last night at the Vic with "Nirvana," you can imagine the insanity the opening notes inspired. Those kinds of songs come around only a few times a year, but when they do, they are gift. And that is precisely what Sam Smith is: a gift to the music world.

Known to most as the voice behind painfully hip electronic brethren Disclosure's 2013 summer anthem, "Latch," it was really only a matter of time until Smith broke out as an artist in his own right. With a Boy George meets modern R&B meets Marvin Gaye vibe (no easy feat to achieve those comparisons!), Smith's solo EP, Nirvana is a modern spin on a classic gospel soul sound. But honestly, the acoustic version of "Latch" alone practically guarantees Smith success. Factor in his SNL appearance a few weeks ago and we're looking at an artist on the cusp of wide recognition and acclaim.

Chicago was the last stop on his American tour, and Smith seemed to savor the moment: as an artist, it was also probably the last show he'd perform before the release of his album. Last night, he occupied the rare space between breakout star and up-and-comer leaving the edge of obscurity--few situations are as gratifying to be in, both for an audience (who feels like they're experiencing something exclusive and exciting) and as a musician, who must know they are at the end (and beginning) of an era. It was almost bittersweet. Almost.

Lucky for us, Smith played two unreleased songs slated for his June album, In the Lonely Hour. One was an absolute burner of a ballad; the other had a bouncing beat that recalled the swing of a Charles Bradley single. Smith's impeccable band filled his songs with the right splice of R&B and soul, while Smith himself owned the stage with confidence.

Despite his assurance, Smith's face never lost its reverence. He would frequently pause and chat between songs, all the while expressing a deep gratitude to the audience and his fans at large. It was as if he couldn't believe the massive, sold-out crowd at the Vic was there just to see him--ha! Listening to him sing, it's laughable that he feels any modicum of surprise--with a voice like that, and an already impressive wealth of actually good songs with no album out yet, even the most basic fan can see Smith's career will be a slam dunk. But still, it's refreshing to see an artist humbled by his success, not inflated by it.

"No offense to the UK," he said while beaming, "But you guys are way better." Cue the insane screaming from the crowd which didn't need stoking in the first place.

The energy at the Vic was the special kind reserved for breakout artists who deserve every fan and download and accolade and positive review that is coming to them. It was a joy to see and hear. Smith's voice is otherworldly: He didn't miss a single note, didn't skimp on any belting of hard-to-reach registers, and was essentially a perfect, humble Brit gentleman. And let's not forget: He has an absolutely killer coif.

 

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Classical Wed Aug 06 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - August 2014

By Transmission

Before the main classical season kicks into gear in the next month or two, take advantage of these local artists and ensembles playing throughout the city.

Read this feature »

Blogroll

  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
BackStage
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
ChicagoMusic.org
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
CHIRP
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
Daytrotter
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Do312
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
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Oh My Rockness
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Resident Advisor
Songs:Illinois
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

  Venues:

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

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Atavistic
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Hozac
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


Events

Fri Aug 29 2014
The Cooke Book @ Lincoln Hall

Fri Aug 29 2014
The Bad Examples @ Mayne Stage

Fri Aug 29 2014
North Coast Music Festival

Fri Aug 29 2014
Chicago Jazz Festival

Sat Aug 30 2014
J. Davis Trio @ Metro

Sat Aug 30 2014
The Cooke Book @ Lincoln Hall

Sat Aug 30 2014
Kermit Ruffins @ FitzGerald's

Sat Aug 30 2014
North Coast Music Festival

Sat Aug 30 2014
Chicago Jazz Festival

Sat Aug 30 2014
African Festival of the Arts

Sun Aug 31 2014
What's Happening? Block Party @ Longman & Eagle

Sun Aug 31 2014
North Coast Music Festival

Sun Aug 31 2014
Chicago Jazz Festival

Sun Aug 31 2014
African Festival of the Arts

Mon Sep 1 2014
African Festival of the Arts

Wed Sep 3 2014
Creepoid, My Dad, & Shahman @ Township

Thu Sep 4 2014
Owen Pallett & Foxes in Fiction @ Metro

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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...
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Editor: Anne Holub, anne@gapersblock.com
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