I dare you to find a room in the Chicago area that experienced greater catharsis than Beat Kitchen during the group sing-a-long of The Hotelier’s “An Introduction to the Album,” the opening track on their widely-acclaimed 2014 sophomore album Home, Like Noplace Is There.
Spirit of the Beehive, a relatively new act, was the first opener for The Hotelier, playing post-rock influenced emo and kicking off the awesome night of punk rock music.
The second opener was Oso Oso, a band out of Long Island that’s been creating a lot of buzz for their first full-length album, Real Stories of True People Who Kind of Looked Like Monsters. They played several songs from Real Stories, some from their earlier self-titled EP and even reminded the audience how much money DraftKings.com is giving away every single day. Highlights included their single “Josephine” and the closer of their older EP, “Mike Isn’t Down With Punctuation.”
Next up was the only Midwestern band on the bill, Cleveland’s Runaway Brother. From their opening track, “Blueberries,” the band displayed an impressive capacity for harmonizing in the nosebleed range. They tore through a set heavy in songs from their 2015 album Mother, including “Harvest,” “Catch,” “Hold Me Down,” “Virgin Rock,” “Reprise” and “Moth.” Singer Jacob Lee’s voice was a force to be reckoned with through all eight songs.
And that brings us to our headliner. By the time The Hotelier took the stage, the crowd had expanded from a few people in a room to a packed house that stretched almost to the exit. And as they began their first song, a fast-paced rendition of “In Framing,” it was clear they intended to satisfy every person present. From there, they launched right into the lauded confessional “Your Deep Rest.”
The Hotelier then played a rousing rendition of “Title Track (There is a Light)” from their debut album It Never Goes Out before returning to tracks from their second album. They announced they had finished recording their third record, to be released in 2016, and previewed a couple of songs; they even dedicated one called “Sun” to their merch guy for his birthday. (Happy birthday, Matt!)
One of the major highlights of their performance was their performance of “Introduction.” Even within a genre built on diary-esque confessions, The Hotelier is incredibly willing to tear open and examine their existences on the stage. The literary lyricism of “Introduction” flows almost like a spoken word poem with melody, and the crowd chanted every word with enthusiasm. The small, rabid fandom of the emo genre comes from the crowd’s ability to identify with the performers, who sport the same plaid flannels, cool-guy-jackets and emotional struggles as the audiences they play to. The concert felt like a group therapy session, where everybody came together and sorted through their issues; the band played the part of the psychiatrist on the couch, prodding the right issues to help alleviate everything.
The other major moment was the final bars of the last song, “Dendron.” The closing stanza of the track is an immensely powerful admission of guilt, ending with a screamed “Tell me again that it’s all in my head,” a reminder that everyone has their demons, even if they can’t be seen.
Favorite music of 2015 thus far: Runners in the Nerved World – The Sidekicks, Heck No, Nancy – The Obsessives, Painted Shut – Hop Along, AOID – Ratboys. And check out LiL PEEP.
Reasons behind the band name: I’m obsessed with bears, and the Chicago Bears are my favorite football team.
Thoughts on Chicago: It’s our second time playing Beat Kitchen (first in 2014 with Marietta) but our fifth time playing Chicago. But at the same time we’ve only actually spent five days here. It’s definitely a cool city, cool place to play.
Thoughts on the tour: It’s our first time doing a tour with the same bands every night, and we already knew two of them, which is cool. And this time we’re not playing a bunch of basements. It’s just really cool to be associated with these bands, like it’s an honor (not to be cliché).
Thoughts on the current punk rock scene: There’s definitely a clear divide, like there’s lots of bands doing cool shit, but also lots of bands being kind of ignorant of the scene. Like lots of bands play shows with no regard for the people they’re playing to and without a good understanding of how to handle a crowd. The other day there were a bunch of people in the audience who were definitely there just to mess with the guys in The Hotelier, and they handled it really well. It’s cool to see when people can do that, like handle it and be respectful.
Thoughts on punk rock as an underrepresented genre: I think because it’s not a super mainstream community, you can keep a lot of dialogue open. If there were more people in it, I think the ability to really be honest about things would start to disappear.
WNUR Media Team
Jason Sloan: Writer, interviewer | Nina Matti: Copy Editor | Lauren Harris: Editor