You know what they say about siblings, right? You may not like each other some days, and you may not ever have a close relationship with them. However, there’s a special type of bond that comes with being family that never fails.
Cue the Closner sisters: Natalie, Meegan and Allie. Natalie is the oldest of the three: Meegan and Allie are sisters. These three ladies make up the trio better known as Joseph, a indie/folk/pop—whatever you want to call it—singing triad whose 2016 breakout album I’m Alone, No You’re Not put them on the map. Known for their insanely (as close to) perfected vocals and intimate style of songwriting, Joseph came to fruition after Natalie wanted to liven up her career has a solo artist. She recruited her two younger sisters for the job, and the rest is history.
The band’s next body of work, Stay Awake, was released in Sept. 2017, followed by a few more months of touring. Early in 2018, Joseph’s follow-up album to IANYN and Stay Awake was “already 90% written” when something shook the sister’s bond to a near breaking point.
During a trip to the PNW for a performance, Meegan and Natalie were arguing about something (the details were not explained in this Paste Magazine article) that eventually led to them getting in a car accident after Allison had been driving while simultaneously attempting to mediate the fight between her sisters. Natalie was so upset that she immediately got out of the van and ran a few blocks to a friend’s house who they were staying with.
They were able to talk out the fight and were able to tap into their emotions for the show they had to perform later that night:
“If you’ve ever experienced reconciliation, you’re more connected to that person than you’ve ever been,” she [Natalie] continues. “And then to add on top of that, now we’re going to use our vocal chords and these sounds to transmit emotion and feeling to this audience, people who are so happy to be here and so present with us. It’s just cosmic. It was huge. It was such a special night.”
The rollercoaster of emotions that had been building up over not days or months, but years, inspired the creation of the song “Fighter,” which was the lead single for their recently released album, Good Luck Kid.
The crazy thing about this story is that “Fighter” seems as though it’s the driving force for an album that has catapulted Joseph into a new era of musicianship—and it wasn’t even one of the songs initially created for the project! Not only is the track the first one on the album and introduces it quite perfectly, but it also seems to perfectly encapsulate where the sisters are in their lives and in their relationships with each other. Good Luck, Kid seems like a natural progression on their musical journey, yet still allows them to take risks in their songwriting and production choices.
Joseph hadn’t had a performance in Chicago for just about two years when I saw they were returning for a show just eight days after the album was released and I was eager to see how things had changed (or stayed the same) with their live set. I had seen them three times prior: once at Lincoln Hall in October 2016, again at Lollapalooza the following summer, and one more time at Thalia Hall that next month. You can imagine that seeing them 3 times in a year span meant there wasn’t much room for change or growth in their sets, which is okay and not what I was expecting as I continuously paid money to see them live.
Here we are TWO years later and lots of things had changed. For the sisters, obviously, and for myself— and probably a lot of their fans. I had graduated college, started working full time, all that stuff that makes you have more than one existential crisis…you get the gist.
Good Luck, Kid tells a story of feeling of self reliance and resilience in the face of struggle. It’s to take life by the horns and accept what’s ahead of you when you really, really don’t know how you’re going to handle it. You could feel that message hang in the air of the show this past weekend at The Vic Theater.
Seeing the sisters perform again truly felt like I was revisiting my group of friends that I hadn’t seen in a couple years: most of everything felt familiar to an extent, but enough time had past for me to have questions I would want answered about their journey.
One thing I’ve always admired about Joseph is their ability to be versatile in their singing styles. Good Luck, Kid has moments of understated strength, exemplified in tracks performed like “In My Head,” “Side Effects” and “Room For You,” and songs where they can really belt it out, like “Half Truths,” “Revolving Door” and “Without You.” All six of those tracks were performed during their set in Chicago and 12 out of the 13 tracks from GLK were performed (one of my favorite tracks was the one left off the setlist, but we can’t have everything, I suppose).
While the majority of the performance was dedicated to those new songs, it was a pleasant surprise to hear some of the band’s older tracks that also happened to be some of my favorites from them. “Canyon,” the opening track from I’m Alone, No You’re Not, was the second song of the night and was met with some of the biggest cheers of the night. Also on the bill—”Lifted Away,” “SOS,” “Blood and Tears,” (my personal favorite) and “I Don’t Mind,” were all tracks that seemed to be curated specifically to help emphasize a bigger message that all made sense as the crowd spilled out into the street in the rain.
Joseph’s vocals were on point, per usual. The feeling of love, trust and passion that has always been at the forefront of Joseph’s career was evident. But something else felt new. Whether it was the songs’ heightened sense of vulnerability that left you feeling an uneasy sense of sadness, (“Revolving Door”) or the call-to-action, “let’s burn the establishment to the ground” feelings of “Good Luck, Kid,” – there is a sense of urgency to address, take in, and accept these emotions that seem more alive compared to previous performances. Feeling a million emotions at once and accepting that chaos and embracing it. Messing up on high notes but still going for it —Allie personified this specifically and was embraced with cheers from the audience. “If you’re going to mess up, do it big,” she said.
Life is one big game of trial and error and it really is unavoidable. Friendships crumble, you get in fights with your family, and someone you really, really love may really, really hurt you down the line. But the true testament is how you are able to react and handle the curveballs that come your way. Of course, this sentiment may be more serious for some, and some of us may only ever have to deal with messy relationships or messing up at work while others struggle to pay their rent or for groceries. Regardless, we are all in this fight together—cheesy but true.
Check out more photos from the evening. All by Nic Kosirog-Jones, shot for Chicago Haze.
Click here to check out Joseph’s upcoming tour dates.
9/27 – Maggie Rogers (TBD)
9/28 – Clairo (TBD)
10/1 – flor
10/10 – Sam Fender
Thank you for reading!