Lily and Madeleine at Schuba’s Tavern

by Kyle Smart

There really isn’t anything like a small show. Only one hundred or so people coming together to enjoy music without the hype and obnoxiousness that comes with huge shows. One opener, and a main act; easy as that.

On Saturday, January 25th, I braved the weather with my girlfriend to go into Chicago, up to Schuba’s Tavern, to see the sister act Lily & Madeleine perform. We found  Lily & Madeleine on NPR: Tiny Desk Concerts, where I was instantly sold on their simple, soft sound and touching lyrics. Normally I am not a fan of folk subgenres, but this folk pop blend was refreshing, and the girls have voices and great as their personalities. The shocker though, the sisters are only 16 and 18 years old.

This was my first time at Schuba’s Tavern, and I was a little disappointed how the front was a local dive, where anyone could come for a drink. So most of the concert goers were forced to the back of the room to the doors leading to the stage room, which opened about twenty minutes before the show. Once you get to the stage, it isn’t too bad. It holds maybe 150 people, and has the smallest stage I have ever seen. But hey, it’s a small show.

The opening act was decent. The Lost Cartographers, a duo of one guy on banjo/guitar and a female on guitar and vocals. They share a simple folk sound like  Lily & Madeleine, but honestly, The Lost Cartographers were forgettable and most of their songs just blended together.

Now,  Lily & Madeleine on the other hand, were phenomenal. Lily plays guitar, Madeleine plays keyboard/piano, and the both sing together. They also had a cellist play with them, which only helped bring their sound to life. Lily & Madeleine’s voices sound beautiful together as their instruments mixt to create a perfect, soft, and simple atmosphere that had the entire crowd swaying and humming along.

All of their songs are quieter and slower. They have that singer/songwriter vibe going on, and again it isn’t my favorite genre, but I found myself not caring about anything else when I listened to them. The way the girls sing songs like “Devil We Know” and “Spirited Away” are beautiful and I was so relaxed listening to them; I have never been to such a relaxed show.

The girls are the sweetest people in the world. The way they would smile after each song was like a little victory for them, and they always thanked the crowd for coming out and for being so attentive. Occasionally Lily would mess up on the guitar at the start of a song, and she would apologize as the crowd kept supporting her and giving words of encouragement. It was such an honest show; Nothing was staged, even the encore was true. You could see them debate on stage what they could play, and on a whim, they picked a cover of a Fleet Foxes song they hadn’t played for quite sometime.

The honesty and simplicity of the show was perfect. While everything else was just standard,  Lily & Madeleine shined and made it all worth it. I expect to see these girls again, and I know they will gain recognition with their honesty, simplicity, and beautiful music.

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