London Grammar Live At The Metro Chicago (Review)

“What show are you at? Who’s performing?”

“Oh, it’s a hipster band.”

This chat between two strangers I read via their text messages (hey, the girl was right next to me) can sum up my experience at London Grammar’s show in Chicago on April 4th at the Metro. Now, before we move on to the actual experience of their gig, I gotta get something off my chest –

I hate the Metro. It’s a venue I loathe going to, even moreso since the Congress shut down last year, which was the only other venue I hated more than this one. Despite my distaste, the Metro is proving itself to be the alternative / rock music venue option for Chicago.

Most of my qualms with the Metro lie with its sound setup. More often than not, it doesn’t do bands full justice of what they are capable of delivering. This unfortunately occurred for London Grammar’s set.

They’re known for their trip-hop, bass heavy beats so I looked forward to vibrating limbs during their set. Alas, it didn’t happen, and I unfortunately felt underwhelmed by their performance. With heavy mood lighting (blues, purples, and jarring whites) and even their light projections, the vibe of the set was twinged with nostalgic angst.

Going into the show I swore to not compare a London Grammar concert to The xx (whom I’ve now seen perform three times). This proved to be nigh impossible since every single person surrounding me was incessantly comparing London Grammar to The xx. I saw it as an injustice to London Grammar – yes, they are a trio group and yes, they use a lot of electronic sounds and drum setups but their overall ambience is darker. With this, though, I do have to admit that London Grammar’s live performance isn’t as musically entertaining as an xx show despite how talented they are in a live setting. You can’t knock them so hard because I actually like the lo-fi image they’re going for – it’s homier and comforting.

But shit, man, Hannah Reid’s voice is fucking amazing. I was instantly floored by her vocal talent and strength of her voice. She belted out their songs with such passion and charm even after she told us how she had just woken up from a nap.

I still have chills from her voice.

The first song I ever heard by London Grammar was their cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ and it became an instant favorite of mine. Their covers are other-worldly, transforming brilliant tracks like Kavinsky’s ‘Nightcall’ into truly unique compositions.

Their performance of songs like ‘Hey Now,’ ‘Strong,’ and ‘Nightcall’ were among the darkest I’ve heard at a live show in a long time. They did make sure to shake things up with ‘Wasting My Young Years’ and ‘Metal & Dust’ which served to get the crowd to start moving.

Overall, London Grammar is doing something right as indicated by their sold out tour in North America. Getting to hear each band member speak to the audience was a lovely experience, since each one emanated true charm and humility. Reid may be the face of the band, but Dan Rothman and Dominic Major are pillars for the trip-hop trio. If you’re down for a sonically dark evening, I’d recommend checking London Grammar out if they’re in a city near you.

Just make sure the venue’s sound setup is solid.

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