Elsinore @ Subterranean (8/12)

Wicker Park, what in the hell is the matter with you?

Here you are — you privileged, well-to-do hipsters — with one of the region’s most promising talents at your fingertips, and not all of you, but certainly a significant number of you thought it more important to talk about whatever it is you talk about — discord, vintage fashion, yourselves — instead of bowing down and embracing the enigma that is Elsinore.

I mean, here’s some visual of the guys playing a brief set inside a Champaign record store earlier in the year:

Can you spot the back of my head?

And no, Champaignians didn’t stuff the small space because Elsinore’s the only consistent entertainment in town.  It’s that they recognize ability — I’ll go ahead and make the generalization! — and fire back devoted attentions.

Chicago can do that, too — I’ve seen it — just not our dear friends inside Subterranean. That’s been my experience, at least, with the venue. Every time I go, sizable audiences pack the place, only to let me (and perhaps the band) down for being so disengaged that it’s distracting.

And how that’s done with Ryan power stancin’ up front, stretching his mouth completely ’round the mic, spittin’ out vocals as wondrous as Freddy Mercury… I can’t say. Hipsters just don’t understand.

Elsinore, though, did their part in pumping out a rockin’ release show — their first gig of any kind in the Chi since headlining Lincoln Hall almost a year to the day. Lots of new stuff was had — including amped versions of “The Thermostat, The Telephone” and “Ultraviolence” — and, even, a handful of tunes not yet available to the public. Those unexpecteds, I’m sure, kept even the most devoted Elsinorites on their toes. True of me at least.

I like the new ones enough — “Life Inside an Elephant” is the new EP’s best asset, I think — yet little could beat live renditions of Yes Yes Yes tracks. I mean at any live show, all you really wanna hear are the hits. And lately I’ve listened to their 2010 full-length more than any other album. So variations on the familiarity of replayed recordings were welcomed.

The biggest surprise? The titular “Yes Yes Yes” — the song you’d expect to be played at an Elsinore show. Not only is it their most accessible piece, but chains like Kohl’s are even re-purposing it into their national advertising. So if there’s one tune all of, say, Subterranean is going to know, it’s “Yes Yes Yes.”

But maybe that’s just it. All that routine and regularity has turned “Yes Yes Yes” into Elsinore’s prevailing anthem. It rocks harder live than it does on record and, at least, engaged the room over anything else on the night. I wonder, though, if my opinion would differ had they played “Landlocked” and “In the Sea & Air” back to back.

My crew and I walked in midway through Minor Characters’ opener, and I think I’d be willing to review their stuff once they get some of their catalog recorded on disc — or cassette, as the cool kids are doing these days. They’ve got a nice, relaxed sound about them, and I’m anxious, really, to hear what they’ve got in store for Chicago later in the year.


  • Record releases continue for Elsinore in St. Louis and Champaign before a number of east coast dates. Check out this page for times and tickets.

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About Eric

Hello there. Email your things to chicagotunes[at]gmail[dot]com.
This entry was posted in Elsinore, Minor Characters, Show Review, Subterranean. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Elsinore @ Subterranean (8/12)

  1. Pingback: Minor Characters – Minor Characters EP | Chicago Tunes

  2. Pingback: California Wives @ Schubas (11/12); Minor Characters @ Subterranean (11/10) | Chicago Tunes

  3. Pingback: My favorite sets of the year: 2011 | Chicago Tunes

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