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« Alvvays Bring Sunshine Vibes to Schubas, 11/17 Rock Riffs and Indie Moods: Brad Sawicki and Bryan Kveton at Stars Align »

Tomorrow Never Knows Mon Jan 19 2015

Family Crest Wrapped up TNK Festival at Schubas Sunday Night

family_crest.jpg

"It's like speed dating. You have no idea who we are but just smile and pretend you're enjoying it. It'll be over soon," Bryan Simpson of The Whistles and the Bells told the crowd at Schubas Sunday night. The openers for Sunday night's TNK headliner The Family Crest were self deprecating and delightful, a far cry from the cringe-worthiness of speed dating. The group created a unique brand of bluegrass/folk/rock with a diverse set of instruments (a good warm up for the orchestral Family Crest), including a range of strings -- guitar, mandolin, banjo, and stand up bass. Simpson's voice is both sharp and haunting - an appropriate conduit for the group's songs which deal with rather heavy themes including questions of belief and faith.

If I was impressed with the range of instruments before, it was nothing compared to seeing Family Crest squeeze themselves onstage. The seven piece group (I didn't even know you could fit seven people on Schubas' stage, let alone seven people with instruments, although the group clearly does okay in small spaces, as evidenced by their excellent tiny desk concert) took to the stage with a guitar, a bass, drums, a flute, a trombone a violin and a cello. You know it's going to be a good show when there are more than three stringed instruments onstage -- especially when they're bowed.

The very well dressed orchestral indie group (a lot of suspenders, hats and ties onstage -- they're a very dapper band) whipped the Schubas crowd into a state of high energy. Liam McCormick can belt it out for sure, but with the wall of sound being created by the range of instruments around him, the sound becomes downright awe-inspiring. Moving in crashing waves of crescendos, I couldn't help but imagine their music visually as a roiling body of turbulent water -- mesmerizing, powerful and dangerous -- especially on "beneath the brine" which the group played early on in the set. Yet even with the dramatic music being created onstage, the band still manages to keep the feel of the show light. Part of this for sure is the band's charmingly humble stage presence. Flutist Laura Bergmann told the crowd, "This is our third time in Chicago, and we can't believe that we're headlining a festival for a couple hundred people at Schubas." My bet is next time they come through Chicago they'll be playing for a couple hundred more than the lucky ones that caught them at Schubas.

 
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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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