Milo Greene thaws Chicago with sunny LA vibes

By Copy Editor

The piercing winds swirling outside of Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., begged to intrude on the glowing, warm March 5 Milo Greene show, but the sold-out gig emulating lights of purplish reds and hazy oranges was in its own encapsulated cocoon.

After hustling inside to shed off coats and find a spot, the crowd was immediately awash with the sweet, charming sounds of the show’s opening band, Wardell. The five members share their hometown of Los Angeles with Milo Greene, and their California-drenched sound brought some heat to defrost the Midwestern fans and start the night off right.

Fronted by brother-sister duo Sasha (vocals) and Theo (guitar/vocals) Spielberg—the children of acclaimed Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg—the touring newbies were comfortable in their own skin and filled the air with equally calming vibes. Sasha’s remarkably strong vocal skills were crisp, concise and just plain sweet—she was the icing on the band’s cake. Her croons dreamily complemented her brother’s echoic, Beach House-like guitar chords, the deep bass tones and the softer supporting bits of keyboard and drums. “Love/Idleness,” the song doubling as the band’s album title, captured the truest form of Wardell’s soul-pop essence—it brought listeners to the beach with its lazy rhythm, melodic hook and genuine warm-heartedness.

After the quirky siblings exchanged a goofy banter and informed the audience of the band’s recent debut album release in February, the underdog quintet became all the more delightfully adorable. The red afterglow of Wardell’s set slowly faded out, only to be reinvigorated with an illuminated Milo Greene backdrop that replicated a bright blue neon sign.

A giant cloud of fog spilled onto the stage and covered the anxious crowd—the buzz of excitement for the band’s emergence vibrated the venue’s walls. The fog began to glow orange, almost as if to signify the start of the set. Curtis Marrero (drums), Graham Fink (bass/vocals), Andrew Heringer (guitar/vocals) and Robbie Arnett (guitar/bass/vocals) walked out from behind the backdrop and lay in wait for the entrance of the band’s frontwoman, Marlana Sheetz (vocals/guitar/keyboard). Sheetz glided on stage right on cue for “White Lies,” the second song on the group’s Jan. 27 album, Control, and a perfect buildup track to kick off the entire set. Despite Arnett’s bass not working for the whole first song, he admitted the technical error with a chuckle to the fans who were too psyched up to notice the slip.

“Chicago, this is probably gonna be my favorite show all tour,” Sheetz told the enamored audience. “Don’t disappoint me.”

Marrero and his drum set were hidden behind the four vocalists silhouetted in the cloudy aura at the front of the stage. The show’s impeccable lighting was hard to ignore—it stuck to shifting tints of orange, purple, blue and red, and the band was glittering in its own beautiful, hallowed frame.

The band seized the crowd with its vocal harmonies during “Don’t You Give Up On Me,” a song from its self-titled 2012 debut album. Fink, Heringer, Arnett and Sheetz carried their own separate tones, but a powerfully rich chorus rang out when the four members’ voices aligned. This was not their first time singing together, and the harmonic talent the four vocalists exhibited is something unattainable for other bands.

Similar to the band’s warmer-uppers Wardell, Milo Greene’s Los Angeles-ness kept the heat wave inside Lincoln Hall. The band’s West Coast vibes dug deeper and darker in emotion, and each song transmitted a different meaning shown through the musicians’ faces. The stage flushed blue to match the feelings of “Cutty Love” as a light hit a huge disco ball, speckling the audience in a twinkling, starry universe. Fink, along with his bandmates’ harmonies and the chanting audience, led the last passionate chorus a capella, “Even if your heart stops/ I’ll be there to hold you up/ Even as the world turns/ I’ll be there to watch the fire burn/ Burn us both alive.”

The self-proclaimed cinematic pop band exposed its deepest side, but the dedicated and loving fans embraced the group with open hearts all night long.

“Feeling pretty raw tonight, huh Chicago?” Arnett teased. The crowd’s cheers soared louder. “You make us feel so loved.”

As a way to cap off the rawness, the band excitedly covered Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago” during its three-song encore, completely enthralling and reenergizing the audience. The band seemed to have the most fun performing the beloved Sufjan song and turned it into a bouncing jam-out session—Arnett added in sleigh bells and Marrero’s drums held their own special beat.

Wanting to leave the crowd with something lively, the band closed its set with “Lonely Eyes,” an electro-sounding, heavy-beat dance song off Control. The crowd left satisfied with ears filled and bodies warmed by music all the way from the West Coast.