Noname’s set at Foellinger last Friday, began with DJ’ing from Urbana’s upcoming artist Faraje Aduwo, otherwise known as Jus Wav. He kept the crowd warm and enthusiastic until and long after the arrival of another local rising star, CJ Run. CJ Run has everything you look for in an opening act: energy, style, and an underrated surplus of talent. They know how to appeal to an audience, engaging the majority of the crowd in reciting lyric-based chants every other song. One song asked that we shout “Amen, amen.” While I don’t attend church regularly, if a church could make me feel as I did during that song, I’d consider going on Sundays.

  “You say got a boyfriend/ But I don’t give a damn about your boyfriend/ You say you want a best friend/ Well I’m not really tryna be your best friend/ I’m just tryna get into your bed and/ Make you feel a lot better than the next man.”

    That’s the chorus from CJ Run’s track “Spaghetti” off of their recent album ForgetMeNot. This song highlights the unapologetic, witty, and honest nature of CJ’s personality as an artist remarkably well.

CJ Run     

    It was now time for Noname to bless the stage. Noname’s band came out first and played her in with style and grace. The keyboardist’s background vocals were especially smooth and inviting, I noticed them clearly in every song. Noname came out onto the stage with a sway and a smile. She greets the crowd with the type of warmth you’d expect to hear from your childhood best friend upon reuniting. Noname’s first song “All I Need” gave the crowd a taste of what they were in store for: poignant lyrics, ecstatic flow, and a great night.

    The band’s swingin’ bass lines and perfectly timed hits of the Hi-Hat made for an amazing dynamic to be fostered between Noname and the beat. At times Noname would lay off the microphone and let solely her band take the wheel, driving minutes of a song into an explosion of emotion. Right when you think the song’s going to climax off of instrumental, Noname’s voice shines through the speakers adding a sucker punch to the musical barrage. Noname bombarded the crowd with nostalgia, performing her verses off of old hits such as “Lost” by Chance and “Comfortable” by Mick Jenkins with timeless finesse. 

Noname

“Damn, that got dark so fast that was crazy. Don’t worry we have two happy songs next, kind of.” — Noname after performing “Casket Pretty”

    The last song prior to the encore Noname performed was “Yesterday” my personal favorite. Noname extended the control she showed over her band to the crowd, conducting us to sing the song’s chorus at first loudly, then quietly, and finally what I’d like to describe as warmly.

    I hadn’t experienced a night filled with so many genuine smiles from a celebrity figure in a long time. Not many performances can parallel what Noname’s stunning concert last Friday achieved in terms of atmospheric intimacy and positivity, but if I had to pick one performance that paralleled it, it would be Chance The Rapper’s performance at Lollapalooza in 2014. This similarity shouldn’t be surprising, as the two have been counterparts of sorts working together off and on since their friendship which started during their time together in the  YOUMedia project.

    After Friday’s performance, there’s no doubt in my mind that Noname has cemented her power and style as an artist who can shine independently in the limelight. Noname took Foellinger Auditorium by storm and left a rainbow in her wake.

Noname Personal

If you’ve ever uttered the words, “I’m a sucker for acoustic tunes and introspective lyrics,” then The Shins is the band for you. I’ll be the first to say it if it makes you more comfortable to share: I’m a sucker for acoustic tunes and introspective lyrics. Not to mention James Mercer’s divine vocal chords, I could fall asleep to his voice. And I have. On multiple occasions.

This is The Shins’ first LP in five years, the last being Port of Morrow in 2012. Although this new record, Heartworms, loses some of the acoustic qualities found in the previous albums, it incorporates some new elements: a lil pop, a lil twang, a lil synth. It is definitely their most diverse album yet. Regardless of the tweaks in sound, it still gives ya that indie alternative fix. In addition to this, the album design is tremendous, real nice on the eyes. It’ll go perfectly with your room decor and partially-eaten fruit.

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Some notes on a few of my favorites on the album:

“Name for You”

  • released as a single, the first taste of the record
  • a good one for uncoordinated dancing/introspective thinking

“Mildenhall”

  • a good one for driving with the windows down and playing at an appropriate volume (because it’s punk to be considerate of the people around you)

“Heartworms”

  • title song and worthy of being so
  • a good one for swaying/laying down, lifting your gaze to the ceiling, and letting your eyes glaze over

The album contains eleven songs, clocking in around forty-two minutes, which is the perfect amount of time to avoid responsibility and instead indulge in the sweet sweet sound of The Shins.

They’ll be headlining the Sunday of Lollapalooza in Chicago this August, so if this album peaks your interest, you can see experience ~live~.

The Shins’ previous albums will always have a special place in my heart, but I can absolutely make room for Heartworms. I’d highly recommend a listen.

I couldn’t tell if my stomach was uneasy because of the pungent smell of cigarettes and beer that filled the room or if it was because of how excited I was for the upcoming concert.

Ever since I saw that my friend was listening to “Don’t Move” by Phantogram on Spotify and then proceeded to listen to the track for myself, I’ve been hooked on the electro dream-pop band. When I saw that Phantogram would be performing at our very own Canopy Club, I cleared my schedule from the usual nap and late night dinner to make time for my new found love.

The opener for the show was a band known as The Veldt, a quartet from North Carolina that fuses sounds of indie, soul, folk, trance and ambient genres. Before the concert, I had never heard of The Veldt and was apprehensive as to what they’d perform. Hours later I left Canopy Club twenty dollars poorer but wearing a shirt with The Veldt’s logo on it.

If you’re a fan of Spiritualized, the 90’s space rock band, I’d be surprised if you don’t enjoy The Veldt’s content. The band capitalized on the individual talent of each member—the lead vocals from Daniel Chavis were especially ethereal. The musicianship of the band as a whole is nothing short of impressive. There was no truly defined or catchy rhythm during the set, but rather a constant intermingling of vastly different sounds. The band worked like a well-oiled machine, each member working as a cog to create something bigger, a sound, which can only be described as eclectic.

Following the strange hour-long set of The Veldt, Phantogram was due for their turn with the bustling crowd. Phantogram is comprised of only two members, Josh Carter who plays the guitar and Sarah Barthel who plays the keyboard. Airy vocals, echoey synths, and swirling guitars characterize the band’s style. Inspired by the likes of David Bowie and the Cocteau Twins, their sound shouldn’t come as a surprise.

As the duo walked on stage—Barthel wearing a leather jacket and mesh halter top, Carter dressed in black jeans and a t-shirt—the crowd exploded. Unphased, the duo immediately launched into their set, starting with “You’re Mine” from the band’s most recent album “Three”, immediately followed by “Same Old Blues.”

There were no pauses between songs until the fourth, and even then, it couldn’t have been over a minute. Phantogram’s tempo matched the electric energy of the crowd or that of a student frantically trying to finish an essay one hour before it’s due.

The speed of the concert was noticeable—if the worst thing that I have to say about a concert was that it was too fast, then that means it was a pretty good concert.

The best part of the show was watching how Barthel and Carter would play off of each other, it felt like they were the only two in the room. Barthel’s aesthetic was the epitome of “manic pixie dream girl.” Coincidentally, either due to static or a draft, her hair would occasionally stand up on end, which accentuated this look even further. On the other end of the spectrum, Carter kept it simple and smooth. He was the needed grounding for both Barthel and the crowd.

Phantogram had a perfect balance, feminine and masculine, spacey and steady, heavenly and grounded. One member would take vocals while the other would jam on their respective instrument. They’d switch back and forth constantly like a game of tag.

I think the reason I enjoyed the concert so much was because of their versatility. Slower songs like the ballad “Answer”, were refreshing breaks from louder jams like “Mouthful of Diamonds”. The signature aspects of the duo’s style could be heard in both. That plurality, in my opinion, is what makes a band a band.

Highlights of the night included my two personal favorite songs “Don’t Move” and “Barking Dog”. “Barking Dog” was their first encore song and was aided by projections of old home videos on the back of the stage. Watching security yell at the two girls who had been annoying me all night was pretty good too.