Words by Elise McGannon / Photos by Allison Lapinski
Meg Duffy’s second Hand Habits record, entitled placeholder, is chock full of raw songs that will make you sad. Listening to it, you can tell Meg is singing about their own experiences, and audiences can relate by visualizing people in their own lives that perhaps fit into the songs. The album’s title track, “placeholder,” is a song that meant a lot to me personally during a rough time in my life – ‘I was just a placeholder/ a lesson to be learned,” are painful lyrics that hold so much weight.
One might assume that seeing Hand Habits live wouldn’t be much fun considering the bands sad content – but this couldn’t be more untrue. TNK Fest by Lincoln Hall and Schubas Tavern showcased Meg of Hand Habits this past chilly Saturday night. Local Chicago band, Fran, opened the show along with groups Garcia Peoples and Fauvely.
Meg has been a part of the movement normalizing queer relationships through music whether they know it or not. placeholder is full of sweet tunes and pleasant melodies but the lyrics prove to be stinging to one’s heart and reminiscent of past relationships that went sour. Meg sang “jessica” a few songs into the show, a song about someone who seemed to have hurt the writer, “Holding out for someone and your heart gets hollowed out/ Jessica, I forget/ You shattered my reality/So, I forget.” After finishing the song, Meg said “wherever you are,” referring to Jessica in the song.
A few months back in 2019, Hand Habits had performed at The Hideout in Chicago. Meg mentioned this show during their performance at Schuba’s and how it was one of their absolute favorite live performances ever. Lily West of local Chicago band Lala Lala took the stage alongside Meg to sing back vocals on “can’t calm down.” These details among others, such as local group Fran opening, made this a very Chicago-proud night. You could feel the love for the city emanating from the audience, from Meg, and from the many other Chicago musicians in the audience such as Lala Lala and Tasha who both came out to support Meg.
Hand Habits will be embarking on a month-long Europe tour supporting Angel Olsen – and WLUW can’t wait to see what magic Meg will spin post tour.