Transforming the Stage with George Clanton

Article and Photos by Josie Stahler

Friday night at Metro is always an exciting place to be. This evening, however, felt different from the rest as George Clanton would take the stage with two opening bands for an evening of vaporwave.

The first act to take the stage was death’s dynamic shroud, a trio playing electronic beats. The group was a feat of wonder, playing sampled tracks that felt simultaneously inventive and nostalgic. Keith Rankin, James Webster and Tech Honors truly came together as a group on stage. Their new single, “Who I Say I Am” has this build from quiet to emotionally moving. They were a great start to the evening ahead, like a starter to the vaporwave meal we were about to ingest.

Frost Children took the stage next, coming on with instant energy. They have the indie sleaze electronic bearings of artists like The Dare and The Hellp, but their own unique style and angelic vocals to set them apart. Lights flashed across the crowd and the concert venue temporarily became an exciting sweaty nightclub. Their track “FLATLINE” stuck out for transition of soft vocals to yelling. Angel and Lulu Prost had this charisma that radiated through the venue. 

With two wonderful openers it was only right George Clanton would finish off the night bringing down the house. It was clear from the moment of set up that this would not just be a concert, but a visual performance. The crew wheeled stacks of old TV screens onto the stage, and in the back was a massive wall of colorful LEDs. George came on stage in darkness and the crowd went wild. He said Chicago is full of people “Who pretend to like deep dish pizza but in reality love thin crust” which made everyone laugh. Then the fun began. 

Clanton opened with “Living Loose” and suddenly the stage was transformed. Smoke filled the room and the wall of LEDs lit up like a dance. The TV screens started playing a compilation of videos, from Earth spinning on its axis to old 90’s cartoons. It instantly filled me with a yearning for a time that I experienced when I was young: VHS tapes and early internet pixels, traces of a simpler era when media was consumed at a slower pace. 

George Clanton himself gave the performance his all. Dancing around the stage backlit by the lights he turned into a walking 8-bit video game character, then came back to reality when he moved to the sides of the stage. He focused his attention on the crowd, checking in with fans as they danced and leaning into them during heightened moments. He even crowd surfed a few times, which the crowd loved. The entire room danced and found themselves entranced with the scene laid out before them.

The crowd sang along especially loud to the single “I Been Young” off Clanton’s latest album, Ooh Rap I Ya. It’s a message that rings true set to a track that would seamlessly work as the finale in any 90’s teen movie. Clanton also came back on stage for an encore with a performance of “You Lost Me There”. Sounds of synth filled the room and everyone held their hands in the air like they were at a Sunday worship service. It was a beautiful end to a sonically and visually appetizing evening. 

George Clanton, Frost Children and death’s dynamic shroud are on tour through the U.S. now through October, 26th, 2023.

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