On June 11th, the lovely Clearwater Theater of West Dundee became home to Elgin-based trio The Love Shots as they celebrated the release of their first full-length album Crooner. Blending styles from groups like Joy Division and the Smoking Popes, The Love Shots have coined their own unique sound that they refer to as “death-wop.” With vocals by Danny Craig that range from smooth and soothing to hard-hitting and intense, paired with upbeat instrumentation by help of bassist Rob Nelson and drummer John Perrin, this group must be seen live to truly appreciate their immense amount of talent.
As the lights went up and began to illuminate the otherwise dark stage, vocalist Danny Craig was met with an eruption of applause and cheers from family, friends, and fans as he belted out the opening verse of smart-ass anthem “I Know What I Want.”
Wasting no time, the boys went straight into second song of the evening “Excuses, Excuses,” which was played a little differently than usual. On this particular evening, mid-song they segwayed into “You're the One That I Want,” made popular by 1970's film Grease. After the brief switch over, they flawlessly went straight back into their original to finish it off.
The set continued with comical tracks “Kill” and “10 Speed Boyfriend.”
Written in the late 1920's but made popular in 1956 by sisters Patience and Prudence, sweet and easy-going “Tonight You Belong to Me” was revamped and given some flair when preformed by these boys. As the set went on, heart-melting vocals speak the cold, honest truth in “Stay,” complete with cutesy little backing “doo-wop wops.”
Excitement and surprise took hold of the crowd when they were presented with “What a Witch,” a new song not yet recorded. Nelson hinted at the creation of a second cd in the near future. One of my personal favorites from the album coincidentally ended up being one of the crowd favorites of the night as everyone sang along to “Husband Undercover.” A simple song that, with heartfelt lyrics paired with Craig's somewhat desperate twang in his voice, pleas that there is “no need to find another, I'm your husband undercover.” I'm a sucker for cute slow songs, what can I say?
Later, the show was kicked up a notch when the driving “Pure Pleasure” was played, followed a little later by “Banshee” and “Shutterbug.” Two songs off of the band's 2009 demo that were re-mastered for the new album. Both really got the crowd going, with just about everyone in the room singing and dancing along. It was about at this point in the night when I noticed that the performance jitters seemed to fully fade away and the connection between performers and crowd hit its peak.
At the close of the night, honest and upbeat “Panico” was thought to be the show closer after everyone exited the stage. However, after a few short minutes of fans cheering for an encore, the guys ditched their button-ups and ties and ran back out to cover “The KKK Took My Baby Away” which they cleverly mashed with “Last Kiss,” originally recorded in the 1960's but most commonly recognized by Pearl Jam's cover of it.
Personally, if anyone were to tell me that they were planning to mash those two songs together and cover them at any show, I would have to bite my tongue to prevent myself from ripping them to shreds. 1. You don't cover the Ramones, you just don't, and 2. What the hell? Seriously, “Last Kiss?”.. gah. I must say though, I was actually blown away. The Love Shots pulled off what most acts can't – they take the songs they want to cover, put a spin on them, and own them.
After the show, when questioned about recording, Craig and Nelson both agreed that it went smoothly. One of the only challenges they faced was scheduling recording time around everyone's already busy schedules. Craig comments that: “Long weekends can equal mean spirits, but we got through it, and had a great time in the end.”
Be sure to catch The Love Shots on their first ever U.S. tour, which is currently being planned.