By: Anaïs Turiello
On a warm Thursday evening within the ornate walls of Thalia Hall, the energy was slowly building in the audience, soon to be in full eruption as Chicago’s very own, Manwolves took the stage.
Before they entered the spotlight, however, another Chicago artist, Kari commanded our attention, bouncing between soothing R&B to lively Hip-Hop, causing the audience to wave their hands and raise their lighters. With a voice reminiscent of Chance The Rapper, Kari showcased the qualities of a true star with a bright future. He was not standing alone however, but was instead surrounded by the talents of his band, who used a wide variety of instruments to add to the sound. Switching from guitar to saxophone and even to flute, the performance was layered with unique sounds fitting in like pieces of a puzzle.
Kari then gave over the stage to Manwolves, who came out dancing to an exuberant track beneath blue lighting, setting up their instruments while the crowd cheered in building anticipation. Although seated amongst spaced-out chairs, the audience immediately jumped to their feet as lead singer, Jamie McNear, opened with a simple “Hey, what’s up? Long time no see.” With the prominent trumpet filling the room, the crowd began to dance as the band showcased their genre-bending abilities through the fusing sounds of hip-hop, rock, and jazz.
After a handful of songs, there is an instrumental interlude with a slow-building progression. It sounds almost like a full orchestra with all members hitting each note precisely and blending together perfectly. Under purple and green lights, the audience is swaying and dancing along to the rhythm as it bounces between unique sounds.
They soon begin the opening notes of one of their most loved songs, ‘You’ and the crowd erupts in passionate and drunken screams, reciting the lyrics in full force back to them. The 6-piece then add an additional voice to their ensemble, introducing her as their friend Ruby, AKA Ruby LaPorta, who slowly gains her confidence as her quiet melodies turn into spirited screams, fusing in with that of McNear. As the song concludes, they all leave the stage rather suddenly, leaving the audience hollering for more.
Not long after, the members trickle back onto the stage, picking up their instruments one by one, adding to a slow and groovy rhythm. The sweaty bodies in the audience started to get giddy and by the middle of the final song, many abandoned their seats and rushed to the stage, attempting to once again feel some sense of mosh pit normalcy. Beer went flying as everybody danced, giving us a glimpse of a post-COVID world (and a great reminder to get vaccinated). And with that, the mic was dropped, bows were taken, and the lights went up, with the energy still pulsing through the room.