Revisiting Past Angst with Current Joys

Article By: Mary Dixon

The excitement was palpable waiting in the biting Chicago cold just outside the historic Thalia Hall. Friends huddled together shuddering with anticipation and the feeling didn’t fade even when we were ushered into the sauna that was the packed theater. Stepping into Thalia Hall, which blended seamlessly into the shops surrounding it, felt like stepping into another time: a time that could perhaps be summarized as a classical theatrical world populated by the most aesthetically committed ‘90s grunge concert-goers. 

The 19th century Opera House welcomed a hoard of folks dressed in vast varieties ranging from grayish browns to brownish greens. Flannel and denim with the occasional sparkle covered the scene. By the time we got settled into the pit, Dark Tea had already begun the opening set beautifully riling the crowd into an unquenchable thirst for more vibey, danceable hits. People bounced along in the comforting psychedelic haze; everyone was floating on pure musical ecstasy. Their brilliant drummer and killer guitarist were exceptional and complimented Gary Canino’s spoken word elements with their technical musical skill. They left us humming the refrain of “Academy Award” as we added their best to our Spotify playlists. 

The dance floor only grew more crowded as we waited for Current Joys to take the stage. If it weren’t for the bumping bass lines, you could probably hear heartbeats beating in sync with each other. Blue light shrouded each member of the band as they eased us in with the calm chords of “Become the Warm Jets” right before blasting us into light and sound with a banger like “Blondie”. I do have to take at least one sentence to commend the work of the lighting designer on this show. Each beat was perfectly punctuated by an equally captivating visual. 

Watching Nick Rattigan feel out each measure with his eclectic dances and full-body belting was an experience I won’t soon forget. It made his guitar playing that much more impressive. 

Current Joys appeased audience’s shouts to play “My Motorcycle” and did that masterfully. Each verse was personal and you could feel it in each member of the band and in the refrains of the audience. The bass guitar grounded everyone while Rattigan growled out our deepest anxieties and passions. Headbangers balanced sway moments, and there were even a few opportunities to wave “lighters”. 

The angst was so perfectly teenage I’m almost certain I heard someone say “Bro, tonight was a movie,” as we left the theater. Okay, it was me. It was the kind of night that would only be complete by driving a beater up the freeway with the windows rolled down, blasting the songs we just danced all night to. I had to settle for a silent Lyft ride in a neat 2016 BMW, but I promise the energy was there. Next time I’ll do it right. Until then, Current Joys.

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