Article and Photo by Aly Westrin
The infamous Thalia Hall, in the heart of Pilsen, filled with a crowd eager to see the Chicago native, Fruit Bats, on Friday, April 29th.
The show started at 8pm when the venue started filling up as the opener, Johanna Samuels, prepped the crowd for Fruit Bats by performing work from her newest album, Excelsior! , and sharing stories of her tour with the Fruit Bats so far. Alongside band members Harrison Whitford on guitar, Garret Lang on bass, and Sean Mullins on drums, Samuels first time performing at Thalia Hall was a memorable performance driven by her encapsulating heartfelt melodicism.
While waiting for Fruit Bats to take stage, Thalia Hall filled with anticipation for some live folk-rock, lots of which was written in various apartments throughout Logan Square, said singer-songwriter, Eric Johnson. Performing in his hometown, Chicago, with family members filling the audience, this was a significant performance for Johnson to reflect on his success in his music career.
Fruit Bats have a real unique sound with an indie-folk-rock influence in their music. When trying to describe their music a range of artists come to mind; I hear notes of The Lumineers, The Smiths, Keane, and even a little bit of Elvis Presley. With comparisons of this variety, it is expected that their fan base would be so diverse in age and that is exactly the crowd that made it to Thalia Hall that night.
To hear Fruit Bats’ most recent album performed live for the first time in Chicago, a crowd including generations from Boomers to Gen Z created a headbanging energy in the venue that was undoubtedly something very few musical artists can create. It was wholesome, fun, and something that I hope everyone gets to experience at least once in their life.
I’ve thought long and hard trying to find the perfect words to describe the Fruit Bats and after much thought I landed on–gnarly rock stars. It was a set full of guitar solos, keyboard solos, headbanging, and vocal ranges I hadn’t thought possible until hearing Johnson sing “Gold Past Life” live. Thanks to guitarist Josh Mease, bassist David Dawda, Drummer Josh Adams, keyboardist Frank LoCrasto, and honorable mention to Johnson’s long hair, these rockstar qualities were undeniable.