On the eve before Thanksgiving, The Falcon took one last flight before calling it a day, donning their hoods and being placed back in their mews (yeah okay, so I may have Googled some falcon facts or whatever). The four-piece played their last show for the foreseeable future at the Metro in their – kind of – hometown of Chicago. Joining them to round out an amazingly strong lineup were Wisconsin’s Arms Aloft and comedian Kyle Kinane along with Chicago locals, Typesetter.
As all great Metro shows go, the pre-party drink-a-thon started next door at GMan, a bar owned and operated by Metro. For those of you not from the Chicagoland area, GMan is the equivalent of the music scene’s Cheers. There is rarely a time when I cross the threshold without instantly recognizing a few faces; tonight was no different. As I grabbed my Tito’s and soda, I noticed an eight top of friends on one side of the bar and as I walked into the newly remodeled back room, there were about twenty more. The chatter mostly pertained to holiday plans, right wing gun toting uncles and a headcount of how many Malort shots everyone would be doing before the night’s end. I took that as my cue to leave and walk over to the venue.
The room was bare but slowly filling up as Typesetter took the stage. While I’ve covered a number of shows at Metro, I have never been on the photography end of the coverage. Ready to pop my photo cherry, I plodded into the photo pit with my camera out and ready to go. “You can’t have that,” a staff member told me as I passed. “No flash.” He was pointing at my external flash. Ladies and gentlemen, we have just reached the first panic inducing obstacle of the evening. I removed the flash, politely thanked him (always be kind to the venue staff!) and began to pray. Dear Annie Leibovitz – wait you’re not dead. Either way, please don’t let me fuck this up too badly without a flash. After some setting adjustments, I started to see images on my display screen again, hoped for the best and started to calm down.
After frequenting as many shows per week as I possibly can cram into schedule, I have somehow mysteriously never seen Typesetter in the four plus years since I’ve moved back to Chicago. This is not for lack of effort on their part either; they’re always playing. But I was finally able to witness what my friends have been raving about. The five piece plays indie rock that may border on shoegaze. (Complete disclosure: I’m too old to understand what that definition means anymore). Ferocious and melodic, Typesetter plowed through their set as a strong opener for the night.
Arms Aloft was next on the bill for the evening. While the band may still be slightly under the radar throughout most of the country, they have been playing and cultivating a decent sized fan base here in Chicago for years. Their latest LP entitled What A Time To Be Barely Alive was released earlier this year to rave reviews. It’s the perfect commentary on the state of our existence, especially with the results of the recent presidential election. Their set consisted of a decent mix of old and new. But that didn’t seem to matter to the crowd, who were shouting along to every word.
I had previously interviewed Kyle Kinane a week before this show and before he even had joined the tour. The one thing that came across loud and clear was his concern for what could go wrong when being strangely slotted between two musical acts. How would the energy of the crowd hold up? How would the audience feel about just standing around while he paced on stage? His concerns started to meld with mine. How do you actively photograph someone who isn’t moving much? What if all my photos look the same? How do you write a review of a comedian? (Note: apparently, you just talk about your fears and pose a lot of questions to waste line space!). But as soon as Kyle came onstage, all of that went out the window. I thought he was hilarious, as always, and the audience seemed to agree. He even shot down a drunken heckler with the greatest of ease as he joked that he would love to be able to just break into a song and drown out the drunk at that exact moment. All in all, I think that the change in pace of the lineup was well received.
The room went dark. I could no longer see the back of the crowd as I looked beyond the barricade from the photo pit. Someone tried to start up the “Hen-nes-sey” chant before the band was even on stage. Too soon, bro! Too soon. But, it was finally time for The Falcon. The four-piece super-group took the stage to Star Wars’ “The Imperial March”, which was a strangely fitting choice. The band members were introduced just before they rapidly broke out into “Sergio’s Here”, the latest single from Gather Up the Chaps. “War of Colossus”, “If Dave Did It”, “The Routes We Wander”, “You Dumb Dildos” “Unicorn Odyssey” and “They Angry Cry…” also made appearances on the set list. Should I go listing song after song? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Just click around on your iTunes and pretend you were there. That song? Yeah, I’m pretty sure they played that one.
Brendan explained to the crowd that the whole of the band was either sick or fighting off terrible colds. The stage presence did seem a little forced in comparison to the other times I had seen The Falcon throughout the year. But that had little impact on the actual performance of the songs. If a sick and somewhat hoarse Brendan Kelly can power through “Hasselhoff Cheeseburger”, then you can do anything. The audience didn’t seem to take note either, as they screamed along to songs about drinking, blacking out, cocaine and black teeth. As the set ended, the band dismounted the stage and infiltrated the audience as ‘You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon played in the background. They rallied up the audience for one last conga line that became so long that it snaked its way through one door of the Metro and out another. Although it was a party trick that I had seen at their previous shows, it still hadn’t gotten old and somehow it remained the perfect last hurrah of The Falcon… at least for now.
Check out our full photo gallery from the evening’s festivities below!