My first show of 2018 came and went in just about an hour. I ventured to Schubas Tavern – a small bar in Lakeview whose back room has a capacity of just 165 – to see one of my favorite rising acts of the moment, Yoke Lore. Adrian Galvin, the brains behind the operation – had a busy 2017. He toured with acts like Aquilo and Overcoats, released his second EP, Good Pain, and even had a debut performance at SXSW last March. Despite his past projects performing in Walk The Moon and Yellerkin, Galvin seems most at home performing under Yoke Lore.
Galvin grew up with extremely artistic parents – his mom was a director, his father an actor and sculptor. These forms of self-expression were evident throughout his childhood and was continuously immersed in painting, photography and ballet. His first true musical passion stemmed from learning to play the drums.
You’re probably wondering what exactly Yoke Lore means – which is something I wondered as well after I stumbled upon his music over the fall last year. The word “yoke” is defined as “a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull.” See an image below:
A lore is a sort of storytelling that is usually passed down through time by word of mouth. “Yoke Lore” is the idea of sharing stories and experiences that define a person and being able to create a connection with someone over shared experiences, which is what Adrian hopes to do with his music. His catch phrase, which is all over his social media, reads “The stories of how we are bound.”
Galvin started his set promptly at 9:15PM with his song “Beige,” which happens to be my personal favorite. I was just about a minute late into the set due to getting my tab paid late at the bar (ha, it’s really my own fault) and the show started off on the wrong foot for myself. I got over it quickly as I heard the majority of the song. He continued the set with performing an unreleased song (he played maybe three unreleased songs total but never hinted at a release date for a full length album. I will continue to wait impatiently).
Galvin’s attempts at maintaining a dialogue between songs came off as difficult for him to achieve, despite it being extremely endearing and sweet, garnering laughs of encouragement and a ton of smiles from the audience. His in-depth explanations of his work represented the amount of thought and intelligence that he provides to every word of every song – like he wanted to write a novel about each song’s origin when he really only had about 30 seconds to really get his point across. And for the record – I thought to myself multiple times that I would love to sit and listen to him talk about his passion and inspiration for hours.
I had only been to Schubas two other times: once was a band (who shall remain nameless) who sold maybe 50 tickets (the venue holds 165) and the second time to see Léon (she sold it out). It was nice to see that the crowd was full and that the majority of the audience was invested in the music – despite it not being a completely sold out show. But the energy – coming from Galvin and the crowd combined – could have fooled anyone as a sold out performance.
Galvin’s stage presence, passion for the music and overall charisma is traits that hardly go unnoticed. Despite his calm and quiet demeanor that he seemed most at home at during his moments of conversation between songs, he truly came alive during each song, and his ability to craft a sound so unbelievably unique to himself is truly something stellar to watch and be apart of.
In an interview with Atwood Magazine, Galvin mentions how hard it is to perform with emotion without necessarily allowing himself to feel what the songs are about and that the skill is really a balancing act, which I really enjoyed:
“It’s like, alright, I’m in this place now, I’m back in this concept and this set of ideas and this relationship and these people. You kind of have to view it from an arm’s length, a little bit, in order to be okay. But that’s been an interesting, like, spot of growth, and seeing how I can at once really summon the emotional value of each of these songs, but at the same time keep it at an arm’s length where I can do it without collapsing.”
Highlights of the show included Galvin performing Savage Garden’s 1998 one-hit wonder “Truly, Madly, Deeply,” – which Galvin had to start over after technical difficulties but did so with grace and humor, and the performance of his biggest song to date, “Goodpain,” which tackles the ideas of going through hard experiences but being able to come out of the woods stronger and more aware than ever.
Although this is a super small venue and not the best set-up (I was in the back for the majority of the show but moved up for the last 3 songs or so and it was truly a different show experience), I was impressed with Galvin’s ability to entertain a crowd and keep us interested like he has been performing professionally for years. The project’s ability to infuse electronic sounds with a banjo (yes, a banjo) while simultaneously crafting and challenging the current pop landscape makes him one of my rising acts to watch this year.
Galvin was extremely gracious in his performance as well with his interactions with the crowd, thanking us multiple times: “A lot of people thank me for what I do, but I’m really just thankful for you guys listening” and all he really hopes is for people to “See themselves in him because when he looks out at the crowd he can see himself in others’ faces.” How sweet!
Yoke Lore promised he would be back “soon” (maybe Lollapalooza?)
Keep an eye out for more show reviews. Here’s the next list of shows I’m going to:
- Feb. 2: First Aid Kit at Riviera Theater
- Feb. 10: Rostam at Lincoln Hall
- March 1: Gabrielle Aplin at Bottom Lounge