So my last show of 2011 was a cross between a really fun show and also a really obnoxious show. It was like all the frat boys and every single hipster around the 21 year age mark, showed up. If I never heard “that whats Im talking about” again at a show, Id be *very* happy!
Penguin Prison never disappoints. While he is technically a one-man artist, he does play with a full band. But its definitely his show. He wastes no time with engaging the crowd and by the time the first song has started he’s working up a frenzy dancing in the middle of the crowd. Everyone crowds around him trying to snap pics, while the band continues to play.
He starts with “Golden Train” that is beat-synth-heavy and his very high vocal range. It works to get the show starting. Not coming on too strong, but giving people a slow(ish) groove to start the dancing. Soon enough hes back on stage, guitar in hand, and is playing “The Worse It Gets”. The crowd gets into it by the time the chorus comes and he dances on stage.
He keeps the tempo building in the show, building up the groove in each progressive song. The crowd is non-stop dancing. Its fun booty-shaking music. “Dont Fuck With My Money” is when it really begins to get even more dance-y. The song, which sounds like it should have been around in the 80s (Jackson years), must be one of the catchiest songs of the year. As Penguin Prison takes to the floor again, hes playing right in front of me, a coy smile on his lips. Hes completely charming and its hard not to get swept up in the entire act.
By the time the show is near closing, he busts out an even more catchy song. If you werent dancing before, there is no way you werent when this song comes on. It feels like Chic came alive and by now the 70s and 80s are in full force. Its as if New Edition, Prince and all those bands came together to create this song. Its brilliance!
The two openers were very different bands. The second band Vacationer was from the lovely state of Hawaii. The guys were the most chill, cute guys ever. Their music was pretty catchy in a chill-wave/relaxed sorta way. They definitely would have fit great on a set with Best Coast or plenty of bands like that. Their music didnt quite fit with the upbeat dance heaviness of the other two. Would still easily recommend checking them out.
Chicago is home to some of the best dance-y bands. Gemini Club is yet another reminiscent of Hey Champ and Flosstradamus (no surprise that they remix each others songs). As I was coming from a work party, I missed part of their set. So disappointing as they were easily by far one of the best bands that I came across in 2011. With pounding dance beats, and a darkish dance-y sound, they sounded incredible. Surprisingly not many people were there, but those of us who were totally were engaged and loving it. “Mary’s Day” is fun, catchy and oh so danceable. One band that Ill be looking for more of during the next year.
Happy New Year! Stay safe! And till next year. With hopefully lots more great shows!