“How has it been eight months since the last time I came here?”
The question or a variation of it snuck in my head just as I was settling into Lincoln Park’s posh music house a smidge north of Fullerton Ave. Lincoln Hall is a beautiful space, really, with kind lighting that envelopes its visitors with a sweet touch. The venue’s also got a professional air about it that just hangs there like it’s been a reputable Chicago institution for X amount of years instead of merely approaching its second birthday. Look, Lincoln Hall can walk now!
The last time I made it out, I was still ga-ga for Canasta and had experienced Elsinore for the first time live. I’ve since seen Canasta a handful of times, and Elsinore — Champaign’s finest quartet — I saw not too long ago performing over Record Store Day in their home city.
Side note: Some day soon I hope to document my travels down 57 south and the midwestern characters I and a friend thankfully encountered. She shot video and took pictures, so that end of it is taken care of. It’s about that time that I hold up my end of our unspoken agreement of immortalizing our adventures in Record Store Day 2011 by jotting down the things we saw.
Anyway, it was UMMA who I went to see this week at Lincoln Hall, and it’s them that I’ll digest verbally a little here. A band so new, actually, that it’s unclear whether they prefer UMMA or umma. I went with all caps the last time because I thought that met consensus, but I’ve since seen both spellings parading on the interwebs. For consistency’s sake, I’ll stick with UMMA.
Rachele Eve and Dan Price share vocal and guitar duty in the project and, at least when I saw them, they were accompanied by a pair of cellists. Of course, Rachele and Dan will be constants from here on out, but I’d like to think they’d be accompanied at live shows with a revolving door of musicians and instruments. Not that two cellos aren’t interesting enough. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such dedication to pairs — two vocals, two guitars, two cellos. The uniqueness, then, to Monday evening’s performance is commendable. I just envision an adaptability to UMMA if Rachele and Dan so choose.
I brought a friend with me on Monday, and after UMMA laid out their first tune on us, all Elizabeth had to say, really, was: “Wow.” And that about summed it up for me, too. The gentleness to Rachele and Dan’s guitar work, the dueling cellos and, well, Dan and Rachele’s pipes, was a beautiful blend of chilling folk. It was enough to make me want to purchase their recording that evening had they had one for sale.
In lieu of music, they offered tomato plants to listeners who promise to raise them with love, which, again, was uniquely UMMA.
UMMA doesn’t have much available publicly now, so I’ll redistribute “Sand Dune Undone” from an earlier post:
Before I go, a note on Lincoln Hall. I don’t mean to sling mud here, but the culture inside the space is largely one I had difficulties digging into on Monday. And I don’t know that it’d be honest of me to review my night without sharing the total experience.
More specifically, the attitudes I encountered by the people who work there were just cold. It’s as if the people working Monday were totally unaware that my and others’ ticket and drink purchases are the reason they get paychecks.
The guy at ticketing didn’t seem to care who would be on stage that night and, failing to find my name on the guest list after a quick once-over — not particularly damaging, for Rachele is worth it — he abruptly ended his search without a hint of sympathy. “So that’ll be eight bucks, then.”
Also, as live music begins to play, be sure not to hold open the doors for even a moment. You won’t be kindly told a reason why, of course, but you will get a pair of thrusting arms in your face denoting the universal sign of “OK, in or out, boys.”
After awhile, I kinda felt like the kid getting yelled at at the library for speaking just above a whisper.
I get what Lincoln Hall is trying to do. It wants to be a classy music establishment and charge $7 a draft because it can, but there’s a way to be that venue without the unnecessary sass. Because hey, this is Chicago not New York.
In fact, Space, in Evanston, is in my mind the venue Lincoln Hall aspires to be. It’s elegant, while at the same time super friendly and warm. You feel like a part of a community instead of commandeering your own island.