Happy new year, Chicago! It’s been a nice little break for me from the written word, but it’s time to get back on the horse and let you know my thoughts (whether you care or not) about the musical performance I saw with my eyes and heard with my ears. I’ll also tell you about the cookies I tasted with my mouth and smelled with my nose. Did I get to all five yet? No. I’m sure I touched something… Ah, yes. The camera, which I used to record “Waltzing Topside” and “Witches & Sailors.”
Now, before I get started, I know what you’re thinking. “Jesus Christ, is this guy really gonna talk about Chaperone again? I just read about them in the RedEye and the Reader. Now I have to read about them here, too?”
Yes. Here’s the deal Chicago: I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something in Chaperone’s music that speaks to me like no other Chicago act right now. Music is a personal thing, so I understand if you feel differently, and I feel the need to speak out.
I’ve taken the band on as my cause, whether the band likes it or not. I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, it’s hard for me to get excited about things. So, when I do find something that brings out the geek in me, I want to inject whatever that thing is into the zeitgeist. So forgive me, Chicago. I will not rest until Chaperone is the second biggest band in the city (Wilco will of course remain number one in all of our hearts).
Friday night at The Hideout, I was welcomed at the door by an interesting fellow. He said that I was on the list, but that Kari was not. An easy oversight to make, so I asked him to check again. As it turned out, Thom couldn’t get both of us on the list because The Hideout only gave them a few spots. Not a huge deal to me, really, except I didn’t have any cash on me, so I had to go to the ATM (which cost me at least $2.50!) Kari was about ready to go ape on the dude, though. So, sorry Hideout. You probably lost a customer for good on that one. Enjoy your eight dollars.
Anyway, after that debacle I talked to Thom for a few minutes, met his lady friend, who seemed nice, and then went to check out Ami Saraiya and The Outcome.
If I had to sum up this band in a word, it would be “whimsy.” Luckily, I don’t have to do that, but if you want to skip ahead to section seven of this report, that’s the Cliffs Notes version.
Ami Saraiya has a unique voice. When I listened to her songs on MySpace, I thought she had a certain Norah Jones quality to her. On stage, that doesn’t come through as much. In fact, if there had been a harp up there, I would have assumed I was at a Joanna Newsom concert. Some folks think that’s a way of saying it was bad, but I rather enjoy Joanna Newsom’s interesting voice.
What I didn’t like about the show The Outcome put on was that they came across, to me, as trying a bit too hard. They were having fun, that’s for sure. But there was a vibe coming through that told me something was amiss here.
The Outcome featured a new guitar player for the night. In his moment to shine, he lit up the stage with a great solo. I wish I could tell you the name of the song that was in, but I can’t. Ami said it, but I don’t remember.
The reason I don’t remember is that at the time, I was enjoying one of Miles’ delicious Lemon Poppyseed cookies with an almond glaze. It was unbelievable. If nothing else, people should be going to these shows for the ridiculous cookies. There were other kinds, too, but I couldn’t eat one after that little piece of Heaven.
Back to Ami Saraiya for a second. The band seems to be pretty good. Lots of instrument changes. Some accordion on stage, which is never a bad thing. Actually, the comparison I had stuck in my head the most was with Beirut. The band isn’t as big but there are elements that were similar to me. So, if you like Beirut, maybe give them a look.
Ah, the main event. Like a great piece of prime rib following a delicious appetizer and salad, Chaperone took to the stage to deliver the hearty piece of the meal that was this particular show (both figuratively and literally if you take the cookies into account).
It’s great to see a band so in tune with one another that they can come off as effortless on stage. Even when something goes wrong up there, like a guitar string breaking, they just roll with it and move on.
A lot of the songs played at this show are not on the Cripple King EP that they released last year. No surprise, really, since that only has five songs on it. Since I haven’t heard most of the songs, except for at SubT way back in October, it was nice to pick up on some things that I hadn’t noticed before.
Example: Miles is as crazy a bassist as he is an amazing cookie baker. His high energy play and hopping around the stage add a bit of fun and excitement to what is already a stellar live act.
Another bit that you pick in the live show is how passionate a singer Shaun Paul is. When you hear the recorded version, you can tell that a lot of emotion and thought went into the songs, both lyrically and musically, but seeing the songs performed live; hearing every scream and whisper like he’s talking to each member individually. Well, you really need to check it out for yourself. In particular, the song “Jungle Warrior,” which I didn’t get on video and now I’ll have to wait until the next time I see them to hear it again (unless someone from the band has a recorded version they would send me — you have my email address).
Here I’m going to make a statement that some will find shocking, and justifiably so. Mark Sheridan is the Keith Richards of Chaperone. And I don’t mean that he hates Shaun Paul and is only there to make money. I find it very amusing watching Mark perform. Ninety percent of the time he has his eyes closed. About the same amount of the time he seems like he isn’t doing anything. But, if you remove him from the equation, the sounds don’t add up. I’m sure the people in Chaperone realize this and have told him as much. If not, maybe they will hide this article from him and continue to use him as a whipping post.
So, Chicago, whaddya think? Are you with me on this one, or do I have to go it alone? I’m completely willing to carry the weight alone, but I’d rather not. Tell a friend. Tell two friends if you have more than one. And, after you tell him/her/them, invite them to accompany you to Subterranean on February 11, where you will find not only Chaperone, but also Jon Drake (and possibly The Shakes, but I’m not sure), Rachele Eve and Julie Meckler. If you’re nervous about inviting them, make it a group outing so you won’t be alone, it will be more comfortable, and more people will get to enjoy Chaperone, so it will make me happy.
- Chaperone is a local Chicago band made up by the following members: Shaun Paul (guitar/vocals), Miles Doornboos (bass/vocals), Shayla Kloska (percussion/vocals), Thomas Des Enfants (drums) and Mark Sheridan (keys/guitar)
- Cripple King is available on iTunes for a steal at $4.95.
Chaperone performing “Waltzing Topside” At The Hideout