One not so fine night in music

By Amanda Murphy

Some days start off great, with an energetic jolt out of bed. But as the day goes on, you miss your bus, spill lunch on your new shirt and come home to a lovely pile of cat poop on the ground. Left Field Management’s “Biggest Show Ever” on Jan. 19 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., very much resembled one of those days.

The concert, which featured four local bands, represented a wide range of good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. From varieties of bluegrass to folk to progressive rock, the show represented the current Chicago rock music scene in its fullest. But though the diversity could play to its advantage, it lacked cohesiveness. The bands were too varied in their background, staging and style, creating an awkward and sometimes irritating experience.

Beginning with opening act Bailiff, the strongest of the four groups, the audience was given a touch of blues and bluegrass mixed with some jam-band tendencies. Lead singer Josh Siegel laid it all on the line, never missing a note or a chance to wow the audience. The rest of the band followed suit, with the guitarists maintaining a strong stage presence and the drummers happily bouncing in the background, working together as a team or, well, a band­—something that isn’t as common as one might hope. What Bailiff lacked in lyrics, it made up for everywhere else, from well thought-out guitar riffs to effective, suspenseful buildups.

Then things got tricky. The night’s next act, The Bears of Blue River, brought a more relaxed and mellow performance. But the contrast of Bailiff to the Bears wasn’t flattering. That’s not to say they are not a good band. They are. And I would highly recommend catching them at their next local show. But as sometimes happens, the band seemed to be out of synch. The music didn’t carry its usual vibrancy and full folk sound. Everyone has off days, and past shows of the band have proven its musical capabilities and prominence in the indie-folk scene. It can be safely assumed that it wasn’t a reflection of the band itself but rather an off night.

As things continued to spiral downward, the next band to take the stage, the five-bodied The Kickback, didn’t do the night any favors. The worst act of the evening, the band’s alternative rock sound didn’t mesh well with the previous two groups’ country roots. Starting its set sounding more like Vampire Weekend and even dressing in the same just-got-out-of-work-from-their-desk-jobs way, the band slowly began to deteriorate. The inconsistencies of the music were frustrating and made it difficult to gather what the band was trying to do. As the members’ clothes literally began to go from button-up shirts to sweat-stained T-shirts, the group began to sound less like just another indie-pop band and more like one trying out for the next Warped Tour.

A sigh of relief greeted the well-established Chicago band Northpilot when it took the stage. The band, which recently moved up to a five-piece ensemble, has built a strong reputation and following in the local community. The constant practice proved itself in this situation. The band has attractive elements, like catchy choruses, a strong male vocalist and the sweet interludes of female vocalist Danielle Mint. And although Northpilot’s sound was a little too generic for my taste, it ended the night on a positive note.