Streetlight Manifesto’s concert at the House of Blues in Chicago was one of the most energetic, passionate, and professional concert’s I have seen. And man have I seen a lot of concerts. Granted, The House of Blues is one of the better venues you can go to with it’s smaller size, incredible sound and it’s accessibility.
With the benefit of the venue on it’s side as well as Streetlight’s incredible and well-practiced set, there were few places that this show fell short in. The bands played great, the crowd was absolutely insane with energy during Streetlight’s set and I was able to stand back and enjoy the music as well as participate in the writhing mass of people that were on the main floor below the stage.
There were a variety of artists that opened up the show ranging from a full band to two singer-songwriter artists. The first one to play was Rodeo Ruby Love which was a rock band consisting of piano, two guitars, bass, one male vocalist and one female vocalist. The band did a great job of warming up the crowd by sharing their easygoing and fun-loving style. The band’s songs were very relatable and fit right in with the rest of the acts as well as Streetlight’s set. Although the crowd wasn’t jumping to every beat, everyone reacted better to the opener than most other shows I’ve seen.
Everyone seemed to be having a great time with great friends while enjoying the music and relaxing before the craziness that everyone was waiting for. Overall, Rodeo Ruby Love did a great job performing a flawless set that provided a great representation of their sound as well as the vibe that would start of the show.
The next artist to perform identified himself only as “Mike P.”, a proud Asian-American songwriter and label owner that started off his set in a unique way. Before he entered the stage, a large screen dropped down in front of the stage and proceeded to play a video addressing a variety of topics ranging from Asian-American influence (and lack-there-of) in pop culture, his favorite albums and heroes, and an inspiring section on diminishing racism. Just as the video started playing, Mike P. was already on stage playing his songs that provided the live soundtrack to the video. This was a memorable way to start off a set and it definitely got the crowd interested in what was yet to come.
The rest of the set was pretty traditional as Mike P. shared his material wielding only an acoustic guitar and his voice. His songs contained everything from his love of a TV show actress, to simple tunes written for kids. Mike P. lightened the mood in a memorable way and broke through any fourth wall that may have been present by actively engaging with the crowd by asking questions and even playing down in the pit for a song. The only criticism I really have about this part of the show is that Mike seemed to do a bit more talking than playing towards the end of his set. Although it is always great to see an artist be down to earth with the crowd, there were some parts that felt more like a comedy act than a musician’s set list. In the end, Mike P. managed to bring everyone’s spirit up and get the crowd going into the following act.
The third artist to play was Dan Potthast, lead singer of MU330. I had heard Potthast before on his split record with Toh Kay, “You by Me: Volume 1” where both artists covered each other’s songs. I really enjoyed that album and was excited to see Potthast perform live. Although I may have set my expectations a bit high, I have to say that was honestly the lowest point of the show. Potthast performed without mistakes and appeared to have shown the crowd his style sufficiently, but I found his act to be rather boring and redundant.
At the time, the atmosphere was great and the crowd was having a great time, but it wasn’t until the latter part of Potthast’s set that I found him to be more of a cheesy stand-up comic than a genuine musician. He played many joke songs and I felt he was trying too hard to be funny onstage by talking to the crowd instead of just playing his music for everyone. I may have been mislead by his split album and I may just as well have put the bar a bit high for him, so I am giving Potthast the benefit of the doubt on this one, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed in the content of his performance.
The final act and headliner that everyone had been waiting see, Streetlight Manifesto, took the stage about 10-15 minutes after the end of Dan Potthast’s set. The place had been buzzing with excitement of the band all night and as chants of “Streetlight! Streetlight!” started to fill the air, in one swift movement the band was onstage performing a song of their new album “With Any Sort of Certainty”. The second this song started, the crowd was going wild by pushing and moshing and jumping as well as almost everyone in the place screaming their hearts out to the vocals of each song.
The band’s set mostly stuck to their more popular songs from each album but the band still played a couple older songs as well as a song from Kalnoky’s (lead singer/guitarist) side project, Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution. With the crowd’s physical energy rising to each hit song Streetlight played, a kind of snowball effect formed as the place got more and more energetic every time the next song played.
There was barely a moment to breathe or recollect as Streetlight left little to no time in between songs. This is something that I found very professional and satisfying as we had all been waiting for our moment to indulge in the energy that the band brings.
The band played for over an hour without and signs of slowing down during the set as Streetlight was explosive from start to finish as the crowd seemed to be sinking in every moment of it. The band ended things off but only for a few minutes before the crowd demanded an encore where Streetlight came back to play a few more songs. There were times I was in the crowd, jumping and singing along as well as times I was able to hang back and intensively listen to the quality of the set. Both were incredible as the crowd was one of the craziest I have ever seen and the sound quality that the venue provided along with the band’s performance was flawless and unforgettable from start to finish.
This show was one of the best shows I have been to downtown and despite the minimal lulls that were scattered throughout the night, the artists played well and the crowd was one of the best I’ve seen. Streetlight Manifesto is on one of their last big tours that will be ending in December so make sure you look up a date near you because it will be an experience you will remember! Their merch store is also currently selling everything 25% off so if you are itching to grab some new band merch, head on over there and pick something up!