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Review Fri Apr 17 2015

José González and Ólöf Arnalds Left A Beautiful Impression on Lincoln Hall

josegonzalez4.jpgThere something incredible in the simplicity of a beautiful voice imparting a story through a song. It may seem like an obvious observation, but when this deed is accomplished with as much passion and sincerity as José González and Ólöf Arnalds did this past Wednesday, it becomes a revelation. These two musicians craft their infinitely loving songs with full regard of their emotions; wearing them right on their sleeves and letting the listener take them in. They had a two sold out nights at Lincoln Hall and I was lucky enough see one of their performances that were completely filled with grace and life.

olof arnalds.jpgÓlöf Arnalds' set the tone for her set with "Innundir Skinni", instructing the crowd to collaborate with her ethereal voice and carry the lovely "lalala" bed of the song. Her voice was barely a whisper as she spoke with the crowd throughout the night, but her voice rose mightily when she sang along with her guitar and ukulele. It was a wonderful symmetry between the sides of her voice, presenting each song with the honesty and kindness they deserved. She spoke of her son who just lost a tooth before "Bright and Still", giving the song about a parent's love or their child an even stronger and more captivating meaning. "Beauty lies in how you observe things" and Arnalds, truly letting her beauty shine for the crowd to observe.

olofarnalds.jpgAs Arnalds tuned her uke for a second song an audience member clamored out a request for "Crazy Car". She quickly obliged and switched back to her guitar, gently approving of the request. Arnalds joked and prepared them for the solitary guitar solo of her set, mimicking an over the top demeanor while she plucked her tender strings. Arnalds brought the song to its end point, asking the audience to sing with her in a canon and echo the chorus of "Don't go in the crazy car" to one another. The effect created by the back and forth came off beautifully. Arnalds eyes glowed brightly, revealing a sense of wonder and pride during the entire performance.

Before leaving, Arnalds made a request of her own. She purposed singing a final song without the aid of her instruments or microphone as a show of thanks to the lovely venue and crowd. She stepped to the side of her mic and the reverent crowd became even more hushed. Her voice carried the Icelandic melody throughout Lincoln Hall, leaving a lasting impression of her gorgeous ability.

josegonzalez.jpgThe sold out crowd at Lincoln Hall greeted José González and his band with a burst of cheer and applause. Appreciation and a smile swept across his face. It was made very clear early on that the the majority of the crowd were die hard fans of González. As the stage lights dimmed, González's expression became focused on the weighty songs of his performance.

josegonzalez2.jpgGonzález's songs really push some powerful and thought provoking images that he and his band performed with unbelievable poise. With "Killing for Love" González explores the dark and scary territory that love can fall into, urging to question the length of ones desires. Questioning continues on in "What Will", where González pushes away ideas of status quo and dogma with the suggestion action. Under any other hand these songs could seem heavy handed, but González and his band bring in subtleties with their instrumentation that soft the message while still letting it flow through.

josegonzalez6.jpgWhile the sound of his songs were at their fullest and most intricate with his band, it was the three songs in the middle of the set where González stood alone that had the most impact. These songs became gripping serenades between González and the crowd. "Hints", "Crosses" and The Knife cover "Heartbeats" invoked a rare intimacy. It was amazing to see how much calming energy González could exert on his own as a single light engulfed him while the drawn mountains, planets, and stars that adorned the background glowed bright.

josegonzalez5.jpgThe setlist was peppered with some wonderful covers that González completely made his own. "Hand On Your Heart" is worlds apart from Kylie Minogue's version as González seeps the song in melancholy. He finds a way to do the same with Massive Attacks' massively recognizable "Teardrop", transforming the original experimental track into contemplative folk. González's versions of these compositions are so identifiably his that they could easily be confused as originals. One of the biggest highlights came with the sort-of- cover of Barbarossa's "Home". Bandmate James Mathes, who wrote the song, took the lead on it and breathed a completely different life into set.

josegonzalez3.jpgGonzález's final two song summed up the evening festivities quite elegantly. He returned to the stage presented them to the audience as new songs, but the word fell on the audience's ears like hearing from old friends. "Let It Carry You Away" has compassion flowing through every moment of its sound. It acts as a reminder of enjoying what around you as you move along through life. Certainly the crowd took this message to heart as the let their selves be taken in by the band. José González lead everyone out with "Leaf Of/The Cave", continue the ideas of reflection and appreciation of life as he and the band sang "Let the life lead you out" in cheerful proclamation.

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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


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Auditorium Theatre
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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

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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
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Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
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Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
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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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