Leave it to Lucas to drag me out to a bar in Chicago to see one of the few artists he actually enjoys. In complete honesty though, “drag me” wouldn’t be the appropriate phrasing. While it was Lucas who proposed heading down to the Chi to see a bar concert headlined by English folk band Skinny Lister, I too had witnessed them perform an opening set at the Orpheum in Madison, and I was down to see more.
Skinny Lister had three openers join them in the second floor of the Bottom Lounge: P.M. Buys, 6’10, and Onward, Etc. The lineup progressed perfectly through the night. P.M. Buys was a Dylan-influenced folk singer/guitarist, complete with harmonica holder. He was accompanied by a female singer as well and together kicked off the night right.
Next up was Chicago folk band 6’10, took the stage, and we were immediately intrigued by the instrumental arrangement. They had both a ukulele and a mandolin on the stage, making them immediately elite in Lucas’s eyes. We later found out the band is fronted by the 6′ 10″ tall (<<< band name) Flatfoot 56 frontman Tobin Bawinkel. This was a pleasant surprise, and it gave the band an extra ounce of credibility to their experience and songwriting skills. They currently have a Kickstarter campaign going to fund their first album, and only need a couple hundred more dollars until they reach their goal.
The final opener was Onward, Etc., and they provided the perfect transition from softer folk to the more upbeat and heavier music of the genre. Their music most uniquely features a violin, and their set reminded me of Frank Turner, but I don’t know how much of that translates to their studio recorded music on Spotify.
Finally, we have the band of the hour, Skinny Lister. Having listened to their first and only album about one and a half times leading up to the concert, I recognized a few songs, was able to stomp along happily to most all of them, and was especially happy for their performances of “John Kanaka” and “Rollin’ Over”. “John Kanaka” is simply too fun to sing along with. Vocalist/persistently bubbly performer Lorna Thomas was on point as expected, we drank rum from the band’s flagon (basically a big jug; it’s a signature piece of their shows that they pass it around the crowd), and had a blast with maybe 150 other people in the venue for the show.
I also got to play a Metallica-themed pinball machine for free at the bar and had Popeye’s chicken for the first time at the train station, so I’d say it was great night in more ways than just the concert. I’m off to North by Northeast tonight, so I’ll be back with a recap of that by the end of the month. Peace.