Show Reviews

Show Review: Females in Music – Dagny at the Subterranean and Sunflower Bean at Lincoln Hall

As 2018 continues, I’m happy to say that it’s May and I’ve continued writing about every show I’ve attended this year. It’s no easy feat and trying to find time to write about my experiences takes a lot of will power – but I’m going to try really hard to keep going! I Recently I had the chance to attend another two concerts in Chicago – the first was a show from Norwegian pop singer Dagny featuring support from Baum (one of my current faves) at the Subterranean in Wicker Park – and New York natives Sunflower Bean at Lincoln Hall with support from female rockers Dream Wife.

4/30/2018 – BaumDagny / Subterranean

It’s been about two weeks since I saw Dagny – and I’ve been trying to find the time to write a review on it: it’s never too late! After I saw Sunflower Bean, I was trying to find a way to combine the show reviews – but only if I could find some sort of common ground as to why I was writing about four different artists in one post. I then realized that it made perfect sense to write about all of these artists in one post – each one was a female musician (Sunflower Bean has a female singer and two male bandmates) – but it still works. They all have very different sounds and genres and I thought it would be cool to highlight their uniqueness in terms of each other.

I had been following Dagny’s career for awhile – I want to say that I had discovered her debut single “Backbeat” just about two years before the show – and I was ecstatic to attend the show after opening act Baum (shout-out to her) got me into the show by adding me to her guest list. I hadn’t been planning to go to the show because – if you haven’t noticed – I go to a lot of shows, and I really need to start budgeting better.

The show was on the last Monday of April – and I remember feeling particularly cheery about going to the show because it was unusually warm and sunny (that didn’t last long as we ventured into May). For it being on a Monday and still in the school months, I was impressed with how many people attended the show – it wasn’t sold out, but pretty crowded. I am not too familiar with Dagny’s fans but they seemed a bit younger – maybe high school students. My guess is a lot of people have discovered her since she toured with Lany last fall. If you haven’t heard of her, Dagny has had a handful of popular singles like “Wearing Nothing” – and she just recently collaborated with Seeb for the song “Drink About You.” It was released on May 4 and already has 20 million + streams on Spotify.

Dagny also had a song on her Ultraviolet EP featuring BØRNS. If these aren’t impressive stats on their own, she was recently featured on a remix of The Wombats’ song “Turn.”

I’m surprised that she hasn’t landed on any upcoming festivals, but I guess she’s still making a name for herself in the states. She hasn’t even released a full length album, so her success is impressive in that regard.

I have written about Baum several times on this website so I will spare you the details – but she’s another upcoming musician based in Los Angeles who has been releasing stellar singles – and recently released her debut EP. I love her themes of female empowerment and body positivity and it’s even better that she has a great voice. I had no idea she would be opening for Dagny and I’m quite honestly more of a fan of her music than Dagny’s – but no hard feelings at all. I enjoyed both of their performances.

It was cool to see Baum perform in person – to my knowledge she hasn’t been touring TOO much and seeing her billed on a few shows with Dagny made me super excited for her. It’s cool to see an artist you admire at the early stages of their career and I can say with 100% certainty that many Dagny fans walked out of that show as new fans of Baum.

When it came time for Dagny to perform, I was impressed with her comfortable demeanor onstage as a headliner at her own show. Like I mentioned before, Dagny recently toured supporting LANY, so I’m not sure that she has been performing as a headlining artist for very long. I enjoyed her anecdotes she shared in between songs – it turns out that one of her band members fell down the stairs at the venue a few hours before the show and he had a serious injury because of it! Needless to say they were able to make it lighthearted. I didn’t know every single song that she sang, I was surprised that she had as many songs as she does, considering she has no album out nor has one coming out anytime soon, so it was cool to see the fans know the majority of the songs.

Like I mentioned earlier on, Dagny has recently been featured on a track with DJ “Seeb” – and the song is just okay to me. It’s definitely my least favorite track that she’s been on – so I was pleasantly surprised when she didn’t sing the track. My guess is because it’s still fairly new and it’s not her own song – performing it live would risk fans not knowing it.

My favorite moments from the show included the performance of “Wearing Nothing” and “Love You Like That” – both have over 10 million streams each. Her biggest song, “Backbeat,” has 34 million.

Click here to visit Dagny’s website and here for her Spotify.


5/11/2018 – Dream WifeSunflower Bean / Lincoln Hall

I had heard Sunflower Bean’s music in passing over the years, but I didn’t become a real fan of their stuff until I heard their second album, Twentytwo in Blue, that came out in March of this year. I was immediately hooked on their sound and a lot of reminded me of Fleetwood Mac – an all-time favorite of mine.

To get a feel for the vibes offered from this album, check out an excerpt from a Pitchfork review:

“Sunflower Bean are a proper charm offensive: They’re young, but come off as experienced beyond their years. They’re stylish, but not styled. They’re clearly a rock band, but they’re also kinda chill and never sound like they’re here to do either to an extreme. They’re a coed trio outraged in the ‘Can you believe this shit?’ default of the current moment; in a recent Billboard interview, Twentytwo in Blue was credited with the foresight to anticipate #MeToo, the Stoneman Douglas High School protests, and Black Lives Matter. If you could focus-group the platonic ideal for “lovable rock music for 2018″ into existence, it would sound and look a lot like Twentytwo in Blue.”

There isn’t a song on the album that I don’t enjoy – and I love each one for different reasons. I knew that seeing them in concert would bring the same effect – low-key and mellow but upbeat and full of heart. That’s how I felt about the album and later – their headlining performance at Lincoln Hall.

First, I want to share my thoughts on Sunflower Bean’s opening act, Dream Wife. I had stumbled across this band after seeing their name appear on this year’s Lollapalooza lineup and was insanely intrigued by their sound. Dream Wife, a band from London, is comprised of three female musicians and a male drummer – creating feminist punk rock music that’s perfect for 2018. They are a little more shouty than the majority of music I usually listen to – but I found it fitting for the content they are singing about and of course, the genre they are creating music for.

My friend who went to the show with me was definitely not prepared for their loud, aggressive sound but I personally found it refreshing and unlike 99% of the music I usually listen to. While I’m not entirely sure it’s a genre of music that I would go see on a daily basis, but I couldn’t help but smile and bop my head along to their performance. It’s always fun and inspiring to see women succeeding in male-dominated spaces (AKA punk music) and I loved being able to see them at an early moment in their career. This is how I connected this opening act with Baum, the opener from earlier in the post. Both female acts making waves with their music, both extremely different in sound and style.

Dream Wife plays at Lollapalooza this year on Friday, August 3.

I’ve been to Lincoln Hall for shows plenty of times throughout my years but this was the first show I decided to sit in the balcony for. I’m glad I did because people ended up starting a mosh pit in the crowd (this is a hard no from me, folks). I enjoyed watching the show from above, it seemingly made sense for me to do so with Sunflower Bean for some reason. It was nice to admire the band, the crowd, even the dancing bartender from an unobstructed view and it gave me the chance to really enjoy the music without being distracted by the people around me.

Sunflower Bean, made up by bandmates Jacob Faber, Julia Cumming and Nick Kivlen, seem wise beyond their years (I believe they are all under 24-years-old). I think this goes back to the style of music that they are performing that gives their aesthetic a vintage, mature feel, that again, I can’t help but compare to Fleetwood Mac. Even their outfits were so retro and 1960s inspired and it truly felt like I could have been watching a live show in the middle of 1965.

The band opened with their song “Burn It,” from Twentytwo in Blue – and I truly couldn’t think of a better song to start the show with. I think it’s the song that sums out the album’s sound perfectly – and it’s also one of my recent favorites from the album, so hearing it first was a great start to the show for me. I really appreciated seeing Sunflower Bean because although I love a good overdramatic show with lots of graphics, lights, etc. – this show seemed like they just wanted to focus on the music – no gimmicks (and guys, I’m a Taylor Swift fan, I can appreciate a good gimmick). This was another reason why I felt like the show was straight out of the 60s.

The band wasted no time getting into their performance, performing their current single “Twentytwo” third out. It ended up being one of my favorite songs to hear live during the show – my favorite song from the album is called “Memoria,” but I felt that Julia struggled to sing that one at my show over the other songs – it may be because a lot of her vocals are higher pitched on this track compared to others. It felt harder to hear her sing the words when I didn’t have any issues hearing her during any other song. That was a bit of a letdown, but I listen to this song on the regular anyway, so it is what it is!

I also REALLY enjoyed the band’s Neil Young cover of “Harvest Moon,” I know the song (it’s super famous, of course) but something about hearing them sing it really stuck with me and I would love to hear a studio version of the performance. They really made it sound like it could have been their own song.

I’m super surprised that Sunflower Bean isn’t playing Lollapalooza this year – but I highly recommend checking them out during their next show in Chicago. Hopefully sooner rather than later!

Click here for their website and here for Spotify.

Thanks for reading – this was a long one.

– Kristin

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