Show Review: Thirdstory Brings The House Down

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Photo Credit: syra____ on Instagram.

Three attractive men playing instruments and combining harmonies that could make a baby cry. The epitome of Third Story: a pop R&B soul trio comprised of Elliott Skinner, Ben Lusher, and Richard Saunders – forming in New York City in early 2014. The band became viral sensations for their beautifully arranged covers on YouTube. Five of the six videos have over 1.5 million views on Facebook.

From my understanding, Ben and Elliot met at Berklee College of Music – and later met Richard Saunders and developed the idea to start creating and recording music together. The band was born!

The group’s talent grabbed the attention of Tori Kelly – another musician who also went viral on YouTube – and she invited the group to open for her Unbreakable tour in spring 2016. This is where my introduction to the group begins. I went to see Tori Kelly at the Rosemont Theater in May 2016 with my mom and sister – we are all fans of her music and incredible voice. I specifically remember walking into the theater from the lobby after hearing an unrecognizable song by three voices – with some of the best blended harmonies I had ever heard in my entire life. They were singing “Searching For a Feeling,” which is probably still my favorite song by the group to date. I was amazed by their abilities to balance the emotion of the song with perfect vocals – and I mean, they seriously sounded perfect.

By the end of their set, I discovered the group’s name was Thirdstory and I was immediately obsessed with their music. At this part in the band’s career, they had only released one EP – Searching. I listened to this EP constantly and listened to their covers on YouTube, hoping to hear new material from them (little did I know I would wait nearly two years for more releases – but I waited patiently). That summer, the band announced that they would be touring – with a stop at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall in September 2016 (my favorite venue in the city).

I got tickets, of course, and the show eventually sold out. I ended up having my first day of classes that day – starting my junior year of college – and of course, I had a night class from 6 to 8pm that day. The show was scheduled to start at 8pm. I have such a distinct memory of bolting out of class, dropping off my backpack and my apartment, and jogging to the venue. Luckily for me, they were all in less than a mile vicinity of each other. The second I walked in, the band happened to be performing their cover of Taylor Swift’s “Style’ (and I’m sure none of you have forgotten how much I love Taylor Swift). I was out of breath but ouldn’t help but laughing that I had walked in the moment they begun singing that song.

The group performed their three released songs and a handful of covers. There’s only so much you can do when you only have a small amount of songs released to the world. Regardless, the show was a VIBE and I really enjoyed it and was hoping to hear more from them in the near future.

A couple months later, the band re-released their song, “G-Train,” featuring a verse from rapper Pusha-T. I won’t say much about this because I truly prefer the original over the remixed version, but it was a step in the right direction in terms of new music. I would assume that the production of their album was halted when they announced that they would be touring with superstar Chance the Rapper on his Be Encouraged Tour – one that  lasted six months – April 2017 to October 2017. This was a huge moment for the group and it was really exciting to see them blow up to such a status in just under a year from the first time I discovered them. They even performed with Chance at his Tiny Desk Concert for NPR (which better mean they will get their own soon).

Fast forward a few months to early 2018. Thirdstory announced the release of their debut album in the beginning of the year – out on March 9, 2018.

I was extremely amped for the album – and if you put two and two together, you can guess that I loved the album enough to go see their show at Thalia Hall last week. I couldn’t believe how  much the band had grown in about a year and a half since I first saw their headlining show in September 2016 – Thalia Hall is a big, beautiful venue and hearing their vocals in such a space was truly a privilege.

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Photo Credit

There’s few shows like this one where you can truly appreciate the artists’ musicianship and the true talent that’s embedded in everything they do. Sure, I would say that every musician I choose to see in concert are inherently talented, but like I mentioned earlier – two of these band members went to school for singing and performing. There is a higher caliber of musicianship that comes out of performers who have this type of training (at least to me), and it was really cool to experience.

The band ran through their set effortlessly but with enthusiasm, amazement and humility. It was really great to see how grateful they were for being able to perform and noted the appreciation they had that they were able to have friends perform with them that night. The musician Peter CottonTale was slated to open the show as a special performance for one night only – and newcomer and friend to the band, Grace Weber, was touring with them as well (she’s playing Lolla, ladies and gents). Although I didn’t see either opening acts, it was an interesting night to see that the guys of Thirdstory curated a special night of performances and were happy to be sharing the spotlight with the other artists. It gave a sense of community and belonging to the crowd – as if we were all sharing the same feelings about the night. Maybe I’m just super emotional about music, but it was really beautiful!

My favorite moments include their cover of Drake’s “Hotling Bling” – I just realize now as type this that Billie Eilish also did a cover of this song at the show I was at before this one – I love coincidences! They were both super different and cool to compare the two after the fact. Another one of my favorites, “G-Train,” was great too, and the entire crowd joining together to sing “Still In Love” was a great moment of the show. If you like soulful music and beautiful harmonies, you should definitely listen to Thirdstory!

Thanks for reading.

Here’s my concert calendar:

4/18 – Phoebe Bridgers
4/26 – Tom Misch (if I can find tickets!)
5/11 – Sunflower Bean

– Kristin

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