Dancing with Dante Elephante

Article and photo by: Justina Cufré

The snow outside of Schubas Tavern fell like confetti as the warmth from the inside lured us in. Blue and purple lights onstage illuminated the instruments that would soon be used to produce awe-inducing sounds. Calming music bounced off the wooden floor, walls, and beams as the enthusiastic early comers of the crowd sat on the side, chatting with loved ones. The coziness of the environment invited a feeling of unity with the rest of the audience.

The first openers were 81355 (pronounced “bless”), and they couldn’t have initiated the night any other way. The heavy drums, guitar, and bass instantly elevated the energy of the audience, but it was the band’s combination of soulful rap verses with angelic vocals that caught the attention of every ear in the venue. They performed songs from their latest album, This Time I’ll Be of Use, such as “Capstone”, “Hard 2 Find”, and “Thumbs Up”, their melodic harmonies echoing across the space.

Jacob Sigman entered the stage as the second opener, with nothing but a piano and his soothing voice. The lights changed to yellow and orange, directly complimenting the artist’s warm personality. He performed songs such as “Get Your Love”, “The World is Ending”, “Good Morning Beauty Queen”, excitingly engaging the audience by having us participate in call and response or snapping through one of his 30-second songs. In one instance, he even asked the crowd to contribute with the name of three objects, and once he heard “glasses”, “pickles” and “shirt”, his improvisation began. The audience cheered ceaselessly as he seemed to write an impromptu song effortlessly. His set ended and the crowd clapped for the two openers, and the main event was just about to begin.

Bathed in pink and purple lights, Dante Elephante climbed onstage to introduce themselves, and immediately began to perform their beloved, funky, disco-infused hits, including ones from their new album, Mid-Century Modern Romance, such as “Jeni”, “Santa Barbara”, and “Never Trust a Junkie”. The groovy sounds of the band filled the air as the audience swayed and sang along to the honey-sweet melodies.

Having explained that many of the band’s shows had been canceled, frontman Ruben Zarate exclaimed that the one city they had to perform in was Chicago, and the city cried back.

The show wrapped up as Ruben climbed down the stage and joined the crowd (with a mask, of course) to sing “Call Me on the Phone” alongside the exhilarated audience members. While singing, dancing, and swaying with everyone, I felt held by the warm sentiment of shared art, and at that moment, it seemed like the show would never reach its bittersweet end.

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