Photo by Mike HariUntil you have consecutive days over 70 degrees in Chicago, old man winter remains relentless, unpredictable and unmerciful. Thus, Thursday marked my unofficial start of the summer and second-layer of clothing emancipation with sun, microbreweries and rooftop patios wrapped by skyscrapers. While Wrigley and the Cell has yet to open to crowds, the stalwart Metro opened its doors to provide the perfect way to wind down the day with a mellow, chilled lineup of Deanna Devore, The Invisible and Bonobo.
Deanna Devore is a Toronto songwriter who's chosen Chicago as her home away from home, working with local musicians Shawn Rios and Jody Miller since her arrival. This year she's added keyboardist Dan Moulder at her recent Double Door appearance and debuted backup vocalist Rachele Eves Thursday night. Even as she retweaked her music from her self-titled EP, Deanna returned the lush, lavish sound of the EP with the most recent addition. The uptempo newfound sound shone through with opener "In Stride," which gives into a dreamy, surreal breakdown over Deanna's unique singing. Her voice holds the warm resonance of a jazz singer, yet with the urgency of rocker.
Nearly as multifaceted as her voice is Dan's keys and synth duties. The combination drew to mind James Dewees' work on The Get Up Kids' Something To Write Home About on Devore's "Take Me Through The Night." On the other side of the stage, Rachele gave Deanna more freedom to focus on her guitar, lending a higher range to match Dan's Rhodes work. The dual vocal duty shone through on the debut of "Notice" with the punctuated voices elevating the song over Jody's prominent bass. With these changes, the Metro experienced the best showing of her newfound, rock-orientated sound that evening as she took to a nearby floor tom during closer "Count to Ten."
Serving as the bridge between Deanna and headliners Bonobo, the opportunistic The Invisible extended their SXSW stint into a mini-U.S. tour supporting the other Europeans. Not even accounting for the British accents, The Invisible sound as if TV On The Radio came from early 1980s funk. The three piece has a newfound, beat-driven psychedelia akin to dance more than extended electronica. I went in, much as Dave Okumu admitted through his blog in regards to TV On The Radio, unaccustomed and left sold. "Monster's Waltz," which was a standout Thursday, represents their stage show. Leo Taylor layers a complex, tribal rhythm over Dave Okumu's funky, cleanly plucked guitar. They waned and drifted, not in different directions, but a collective swarm wherever their musical whims took them.
Until Dublin-based In The Black Box tuned me into Simon Green, Bonobo was one of those artists or DJs that failed to blip my musical radar. For those like me, he is a British DJ focused more in the type of downtempo beats you'd hear in lounges or the early days of Adult Swim. Thursday night, Bonobo took the bassist reigns accompanied by five musicians and singer Andreya Triana. Sans required orchestration, the next hour and a half lent the coolest breeze experienced that day.
The evening leaned towards his recent Black Sands album, which was more ambient and atmospheric than his Smartbar DJ set later into the night. He impressively blended live instrumentation over synthed beats much the way Jean-Christophe Le Saoût does as France's Wax Tailor. Instead of Tailor's jazz feel, Bonobo's live and DJ sets mirror the organic, natural vision of Black Sands' album artwork. "The Same" proved to be the eclipsing song of the night with a gorgeous baritone saxophone blended over the songbird Andreya Triana's voice. The sax soared across the pleasantly bobbing audience as the delicately plucked guitar lent a soothing sort of raining rhythm wash over. Andreya herself could have been the headliner, smoothly enrapturing the captive Chicagoans with her expressive motions.
As night cooled the day, something in the air just told you winter rounded the corner thanks to our neighborhood Deanna Devore, along with some cross-the-pond help from The Invisible and Bonobo. While radio has yet to get a true memorable summer hit, I know who I'll be listening to when the humidity jolts that thermometer into the 90s.