A trio of power played to a sold out Lincoln Hall on Friday, January 19th as part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival, a five-day event that presents rising indie acts from around the country to the city of Chicago in various venues around town. It ran from the 17th to the 21st and as part of one of the festivities, local band Yoko & The Oh No’s and Philadelphia’s Ron Gallo supported headliner Diane Coffee and each blasted the packed crowd with danceable riffs, raucous noise, and theatrical rock and roll.
First on the bill was Yoko & the Oh No’s, who happened to be playing their final show ever under that name. The band played a set of glamorous hard rock led by a fabulous frontman named Max Goldstein dressed in a retro, burlesque-style outfit. He belted out his deep and powerful voice backed by the crunchy and catchy tunes from one guitar player, a bass player and a drummer. He emitted, trendiness, viciousness, and true rock sex appeal, and the songs oozed cool that the crowd eagerly soaked up as the show was just beginning. It’s a shame to think that was Yoko & the Oh No’s final show – they played such a fiery set. But a glint of hope was caught at the end when the final song was introduced as “a new one that may or may not get released, who knows…the future and all.” Who knows, maybe we’ll hear from Max Goldstein and the band again!
Ron Gallo was up next and the crowd couldn’t have been more excited! The three-piece band is fronted by guitarist and namesake, Ron Gallo, who came out on stage with a shiny and slick red guitar in hand, wearing overalls and a beanie. After a stiff trumpet ditty rang out, played by Ron himself, announcing the start of the set, the group got to work and delivered sludgy guitar attacks on top of loud rock rhythms with thoughtfully delivered lyrics. The set included songs from their new EP, Really Nice Guys, which was only just released that day and a piece of poetry delivered by Ron behind a wall of heavy metallic droning after he jumped down into an ecstatic crowd. They were the loudest of the night and the crowd acted accordingly; there was a perpetual mosh pit, tampons were thrown on stage, and cheers and jeers howled from his fans.
Finally, the headliners took the stage. Diane Coffee, also known as Shaun Fleming and former drummer for the band Foxygen, delivered classic-style pop songs with big emotive choruses, soulful versus, and a distorted guitar here and there that would take the song on a fuzzed-out, spaced-out freak-out. The songs were powerful, catchy, romantic, psychedelic, or some combination of all four!
Diane had sparkles all around his eyes and was dressed in a messy suit with geometric patterns all over his pants – like a southern preacher who’d abandoned his congregation to start a space cult. His energetic eccentricities on stage complimented true talent. His guitar playing had solid rhythm and his solos had straightforward emotion. His vocal range was impressively extensive and between songs, he spouted rapidly delivered banter, all while two screens beside the stage played movies of blooming cactus flowers, spacey skies, or animated portrayals of Diane himself.
He had a backing band consisting of a guitarist, a drummer and bass player, and a keyboard player. But the most eye-catching members of the band were a trio of backup singers. Dressed like celestial goddesses in flowing turquoise robes with sparkling makeup and jewelry, they maintained constant Mona Lisa-esque expressions and brought a classy mysticism to the set with elegant dancing and vocals like a powerful chanting chorus. The crowd thinned over the course of the final set but those who stayed until the end turned the Lincoln Hall into a dancehall that had an atmosphere of romance and soulful jubilance all to the soundtrack of Diane Coffee.
The last night of Tomorrow Never Knows at the Lincoln Hall was a truly great show. Three solid sets performed by three fantastic bands, all at the top of their craft, and while Yoko & the Oh No’s might be no more, they were given an excellent send off and played a wildly good show. Ron Gallo rammed through the crowd like a rock and roll locomotive, and Diane Coffee played to all of our emotions with a psychedelic, soulful rock sound and endless energy and entertainment. With these groups already at a highpoint, we really can say that tomorrow never knows what they’ll bring us next. I, for one, am pretty excited to find out.