Empress Of, Injury Reserve & Jen Stark For House Of Vans

I arrived at the House of Vans at around 7 p.m., anticipating a long line waiting to see a free show being held in this notably cool venue. The doors opened at 7:30 p.m., and I gained access to the venue with ease. I strolled around the large skate park turned venue, taking photos at the various stations of artwork, which were created by the talented Jen Stark, and being projected onto the walls. Vivid colors of the rainbow were imposed around the room in swirly, drooping patterns that seemed to slide down the walls. I was amazed at the intricate light show that was being projected around the entirety of the stage. The oozing colors were a delight to the guests present at the show, sipping on complimentary drinks from Goose Island & Virtue Cider.

Photo: Kaylie Plauché (IG – @Keepngupwkp)

While in one of these colorful rooms where one could take souvenir photos to take home, I heard the blaring of an electronic bass begin. I walked out into the main concert area and saw a band announce themselves as “Injury Reserve”. The crowd bopped their heads to the first song or two, and then the lead vocalist of the group began to become aggravated after a few tracks. 

Photo: Daniel Boczarski (IG – @danielboczarski) 

He yelled, “If you guys are going to be doing this head nodding dance to all of my songs, then this is going to be a long night”.

This announcement changed the dynamic of the crowd. The band started playing some harder songs and the middle of the crowd began to violently mosh. The lead singer and ⅓ of this rap triplet, was extremely animated while on stage, running and jumping around, while another band member danced alongside him. The third member ecstatically hit every note on the electronic board while his facial expression and actions made everyone in the crowd feel his excitement. Injury Reserve raps and makes beats on themes of current day problems in society. This was a lively opening act that kept the crowd on their feet throughout their performance. 

Not much time had passed when the main act, Empress Of, galloped onto the stage. 

Photo: Kaylie Plauché (IG – @Keepngupwkp)

The projections intensified as multiple colors began to glow from the background of the already rainbow colored stage. Empress Of, otherwise known as Lorely Rodriguez, began the show by belting out a few airy lines of an electro-pop song. She was wearing a leopard print short sleeve button-down shirt that was open to reveal a tight black shirt, a pair of dark dickies, and custom old-school leopard print Vans (a perfect outfit for the skatepark converted venue). She was performing alongside her keyboardist who was just as into the music as Lorely was. 

Photo: Kaylie Plauché (IG – @Keepingupwkp)

Empress Of brought a bubbly presence to the stage throughout the show. She sang “I Don’t Even Smoke Weed” towards the middle of her set, a crowd favorite. The vibe in this audience differed from the opening act. The dancing changed from moshing sporadically, to playful and buoyant dancing. Lorely sang in both Spanish and English and had no trouble hitting those high, drawn-out notes in a few of her most popular songs. She ended the show on a slow song and thanked the crowd, her best friend, and the House of Vans before smoothly stepping off of the stage.

Photo: Daniel Boczarski (IG – @danielboczarski) 

The House of Vans, Injury Reserve, and Empress Of all put on a great show with the help of Jen Stark’s mesmerizing Animations. The music, artwork, and venue itself all came together for one incredible night that was truly a great experience, and I look forward to attending upcoming House of Vans events, along with looking out for these three artists.

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