Music Review: London Grammar at Lincoln Hall

by Kyle Smart

There is nothing I love more than being in Chicago on a weekday night. There is so much life, people are going about their daily routines, and the city moves with you. But above that, it is fantastic to go into the city to an area that isn’t dense with tourism. On Thursday, Oct. 3rd I made my way into the Northern part of Lincoln Park to get to my now favorite venue, Lincoln Hall.

Lincoln Hall is a tiny venue that, at max, can probably hold 500 people on the floor and on the small second level balcony. The front is a small restaurant with about 10 tables and a bar. Then on either side of the bar are double doors into the stage and floor which is one of the nicer set ups I have seen. It is by far the most intimate I have been too, no railing, so the front row is touching the stage, which is hardly two feet off the ground. For a tall guy like myself, i didn’t feel very far below the performers.

This beautiful, clean, and niché venue was host to headliner London Grammar and opener Jaymes Young. I had never heard of Jaymes Young, but I was thoroughly impressed with the young Seattle man. His earthy voice like that of Ben Howard was mixed with a more electronic and bass filled atmosphere that was mellowed and smooth. A beautiful mix of indie pop, classic rock elements, and modern electronic music.

Songs like opener Moondust and Dark Star with an eerie tone mixed with compelling lyrics instantly sold me, and closing song Two More Minutes brought in more drums and guitar to give us something to dance too. But I have to say, Young’s cover of “What is Love?” was so unique and unexpected, I was blown away. Ever find someone who covers a song better than the original? That’s what I am talking about. Young was fantastic, and a great compliment for the band to come.

It wasn’t too long, and London Grammar took the stage. The trio from the U.K. brought so much power to every one of their songs. I’ve been listening to them for a while now, waiting as each single was released and then their first album. Needless to say, I really love this band and their mix of Florence + the Machine vocals with The xx style melodies and ambiance is perfection to me. Each member displayed such skills and enthusiasm during the show.

Lead singer Hannah Reid held herself in the classiest mannar and sang gracefully, while guitarist Dan Rothman and keyboardist/percussionist Dot Major played phenomenally, even through the occasional trouble with instruments. The intimacy of the show allowed us to actually talk to the band between shows, and they heard every word we said. They were quirky, funny, and honestly so excited to be in the states sharing stories and music with us.

Every song from “Wasting My Young Years” to “Strong” was great to finally hear live; Grammar’s talent is uncanny. The show was fulfilling even though I could listen to them for hours on end. After the show, it was relatively easy to get out, until the band popped out with Jaymes Young and talked to everyone, sometimes relatively funny comments. Rothman pointed to me and said “I saw you up front, have a good time?” His shy demeanor on stage starting to disappear, whereas Hannah’s first question was “How tall are you” making note of the fact that I towered a good 6 inches over them.

They were just normal people, getting to know every fan, and enjoying some of their first experiences in the U.S. It was everything you could have wanted from them.

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