A “Tag Along” Concert Review: Quasi At Chicago’s Lincoln Hall

Tag and Robin

While some of us were frolicking around the Maypole and getting our Beltane celebrations on, two of True Endeavors’ finest were on the road to Chicago to catch Portland-based indie rockers, Quasi, live at Lincoln Hall.  Tag Evers and Robin Anderson returned from the show exhausted, delighted, and eager to share their experience with our faithful blog readers.  Read on for a concert review complete with photos, video and an mp3.

Robin Anderson: One of the best things about music is experiencing it with others. Saturday night I was fortunate to hear great music in wonderful company. My boss and friend, Tag, had a spare ticket to see Quasi at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, and generously offered it to me after I “liked” his Facebook status about the show. Quasi’s concert at the Annex two weeks prior was the best concert I had ever been to; I was thrilled to hear such talented musicians once more. Within an hour of making plans, he and I were on the road to the Windy City.

Tag Evers: It was really awesome that Robin was available last minute to go with me to Chicago. I’m big on spontaneity, not so big on planning ahead, so I often end up doing things like this by myself. As enjoyable as that can be, it’s even nicer to have good company. On the way down, we had a great conversation about a number of topics, including a riff on the “free market,” social costs, and the economics of the music industry. I learned a lot about Robin, and while I’m happy for her that she’s moving to Portland, Quasi’s hometown, I’m going to miss her a bunch.

RA: Getting into Chicago was easy; parking was not. After searching several side streets and asking a few people from the area for advice, we pulled into a spot just as free parking started for the evening. The neighborhood housed blues clubs, small businesses and old theaters, and is a place I hope to visit again someday. Upon reaching the venue, Tag and I grabbed a bite to eat while talking about artists we’d seen or were looking forward to hearing in the future.

TE: We made it to the venue in a little over two hours, but then we spent over a half an hour looking for a parking space! Lincoln Hall is a relatively new club operated by the good folks who do Schuba’s, and this was my first time checking it out…same for Robin. Reminds me a lot of the Bowery Ballroom in NYC. We had dinner in their cute restaurant: Flatbread with goat cheese and a beet salad. Yummy!

Tag dinner

RA: Before the show got underway, Tag and I chatted with Quasi’s founding members Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss at the merch table. Both were amiable and warm; happy to pose for a photo and speak with us for a bit. As Tag chatted with Janet, I spoke with Sam about his involvement selling merchandise online for my favorite record store in Portland, Exiled Records. The dedication and perseverance of independent music shops like Exiled is to be lauded, and I am grateful to Sam and the others at the store for the breadth and depth of their selection. Tag and I expressed our enthusiasm for Quasi and their show that night once more, then headed on into the concert space.

Sam Robin Janet

TE: Janet and I had a funny conversation. I’ve known her about ten years, and she commented how we’re both still doing it. I said, “Well there’s not much of a retirement plan in this indie way of life.”  As she chuckled in agreement, I added “I’ll probably die with my boots on.” To which Janet said, “Well, you won’t be alone.” And I’m thinking, How sweet is that? Janet’s with me in solidarity, all of us backing each other up in this struggle to survive, to stay true to our ideals. She added, “At least you’ll have your boots.” I busted up laughing and said, “Well, they’re not really boots, they’re Converse,” showing her my new Chucks.  “That’s even better,” she said.   The moral of the story: wear comfortable shoes and you’ll never die alone.

RA: Let’s Wrestle, a trio of charming London rockers opened the show. Fronted by Wesley Patrick Gonzalez, a British version of Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, Let’s Wrestle serves up fun pop rock laced with hints of post-punk. Fog machines covered them in mist throughout their energetic set. The group closed with their song “We are the Men You’ll Grow to Love Soon,” but the audience needed no convincing of that; the crowd at Lincoln Hall had already fallen hard for Let’s Wrestle.

Let's Wrestle

TE: Let’s Wrestle were a lot of fun in a cheeky sort of way, their bass player was amazing, and they all had that quirky British accent thing going for them. My favorite song of theirs was one in which the chorus went something like: “We all wish we were Husker Du.”  I thought, Of course, that’s perfect. Who wouldn’t?

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Enjoy this free download from Let’s Wrestle:

Let’s Wrestle – “We Are The Men You’ll Grow To Love Soon”

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RA: When Quasi took the stage, they revved up the audience right off the bat with “Repulsion,” the raucous, distortion-laden first track on their latest album American Gong. The group’s strengths as a trio shined through on their new songs, bassist Joanna Bolme enhancing the rich rock sound of Janet Weiss’s drumming and Sam Coomes’ vocals and guitar. Warmth and camaraderie within the group were apparent throughout their set. Janet laughed and grinned at Sam’s playful stage antics as the audience cheered along at his goofy, wide-eyed facial expressions. He treated his guitar like a toy wooden horse for “Little White Horse,” and later in the set heaved his leg onto the keyboard. Quasi has been together for over sixteen years now, and they are still having fun.

Quasi

TE: Sam Coomes is the quintessential front man. He’s so totally into it, bouncing around the stage when playing guitar, going for the occasional scissor kick, jumping off the monitor wedge into the air with reckless abandon. Sam’s lyrics are weighty—full of wry observations about how to live life authentically in a consumer culture. And, given the fact that Sam and Janet used to be married, there’s that too—the fragility of human relationships.

Quasi Sam Coomes

RA: The latter half of Quasi’s set brought out the group’s more mellow songs, and showcased Coomes on keyboard instead of guitar. As Coomes observed, there was a strong “pro-keyboard sentiment” in the audience that night. With the keyboard housed in a coffin-like wooden case, a haunting quality lingered in lyrics about life and its challenges. The subtle yet determined drumming on songs like “It’s Raining” and “Everything & Nothing At All” echoed the persistent nature of doubts and relationships gone wrong. Quasi’s slower songs offered the intimate reflection found in the group’s louder rock jams but at a more pensive pace.

TE: At one point Sam went nuts on the keyboard, playing it with his head, his knee, and his foot; karate chopping the keys, pounding with his fists—furious, intense, and beyond wild. The band could go from a quiet song to this kind of fury and it wasn’t the least bit jarring. I think I preferred these more chaotic moments, with Janet’s drumming matching Sam’s manic intensity, and Joanna on bass, off to the side, keeping it all anchored so it didn’t get too heated up and explode.

Quasi

RA: After an encore that featured a jam with Let’s Wrestle to celebrate the tour’s finale, as well as requests by longtime fans in the audience, the concert wound to an end. Tag and I returned to the car, and made our way to back to Madison, reflecting on a great night as the rain fell.

TE: The first encore was “Peace and Love,” but the peak moment for me was the very last song of the evening, a cover of The Who’s “Heaven and Hell.” Here’s the video:

TE: Robin and I are a both a bit directionally impaired, so it took a while to find where we had parked. We came across a church with this cool mural, and finally found my Jeep and made it back to Madison about 3:45 am.

mural

I was strung out on caffeine so I didn’t get to sleep until dawn. I’m exhausted as I write this. Can’t wait to do it again.

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4 Responses

  1. This was a lot of fun. We’re going to miss you Robin. On the other hand, we’ll be able to visit you in one of the coolest cities in the country!

  2. I had a wonderful time, too, and will be sending my best to True Endeavors from the west coast. Concert-going visitors are always welcome!

  3. […] of my favorite concert memories this past year included Quasi at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, accompanied by Robin Anderson, erstwhile True Crew member; The National […]

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