Show Review: Frenship, Yoke Lore And Imaginative Pop Music

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Last weekend, I was lucky enough to cover Frenship and Yoke lore at Lincoln Hall – my favorite venue in Chicago. The sold out show – taking place on the last Saturday of April – was just about the halfway mark of the band’s first headlining tour – The “Good Morning, Goodbye” tour that has been hitting all major U.S. cities and even making stops in Canada. This is impressive, considering the band has yet to release a full length album.

If you’re looking for a little background information on the band, here’s an excerpt on a previous post I wrote on them for Ones To Watch:

In the span of just over a year, indie-pop duo Frenship has catapulted to success after the massive success of their song, “Capsize,” featuring Emily Warren. Released in June 2016, the song is on the way to reaching over half a billion streams – and led them to earning the #2 Breakout Artist nod for 2016 from Spotify and a feature on Shazam’s 2017 Emerging Artist list. The song’s viral success paved the way for the duo, comprised of James Sunderland and Brett Hite, to land on a handful of massive festival bills in 2017 like Lollapalooza, Outside Lands and Life Is Beautiful (check our interview with them at Outside Lands here).

I specifically remember listening to their massive song “Capsize” all summer in 2016 and it’s been one of my favorite songs since. Fast forward to Lollapalooza 2017 and I was happy to see them land on the lineup. Despite their performance being later in the day (good for those who don’t show up until 4pm), I was already planning on seeing someone at the same time – but exciting news! Frenship had been scheduled to perform an acoustic session at the Toyota Music Den. For those unfamiliar, Lollapalooza has small, acoustic performances in a hidden area of the festival every year to perform 3-4 songs for a smaller crowd. This is where I got to see Frenship for the first time.

I enjoyed the performance and was happy to see them again in Chicago this year. They have released at least four songs since, and they have grown massively in terms of population, considering they are one of the few artists who have returned to perform at Lollapalooza for the second year in a row. This rarely happens – other artists who have done this range from Chance the Rapper, Halsey and A R I Z O N A. I would expect that Frenship will have a much bigger crowd this year and will be performing on a larger stage.

I was also excited to go to this show because the opening act, Yoke Lore, is one of my current favorites. I won’t go into much detail because I have a very specific review on his headlining show at Schuba’s this past January. Click here to see it.

A couple general comments I have was that 1) I was super impressed with Adrian’s upped stage presence – he has a very sincere and endearing quality about his performance and music, and he seemed to be more comfortable and confident being on stage in just a three month transition from the time I saw him at a headlining performance. It’s always really cool to see artists that you admire grow and develop into the confident artists that you know they can be (this is getting cheesy) but I walked away from this show knowing that he had gained fans that may have been unfamiliar with his music prior to the show.

Below are some photos that my friend, Nic took during Yoke Lore’s performance.

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The relationship between Yoke Lore & Frenship’s music style was something I hadn’t really thought of before I heard that they were touring together, but I realized quickly how much it made sense. I hate trying to declare genres for musicians, because I think it can be limiting and may lead someone to think one way about an artist that is inaccurate – but I think I would consider both of their music to be pop (indie pop/electropop/whatever you see fit) and both very reimagined takes on what pop music is. I find that Yoke Lore has a very clear storytelling quality to his music that gives that extra element to his live performance. He always seems very open with sharing the inspiration behind the music and that’s the thing that really makes me invested in an artist. After all, “lore” is just another word for “stories.”

As I listen to Frenship’s music more and more, I think about how they have lyrics that remind me of the ones from some of  my favorite folk artists write – like Joseph or First Aid Kit. I think this was an interesting comparison because their music is quite the opposite of folk – but it terms of tying it back to Yoke Lore – they rely heavily on the lyrics to tell the story of the music, but blending it with electronic sounds gives it an extra kick. The percussion elements in their music makes it a more laid-back style of electropop that definitely gives the listener a feel that they are absolutely a California-based band.

Like I said above, I had seen Frenship perform acoustically but I really had no idea what their real performance style was like or what to expect from a live show. I have to say that I did not expect as much energy and crowd interaction that I ended up getting out of the show. I tend to go to performances that are upbeat, but not as much “hey let’s all dance and jump up and down a lot and climb on speakers” – it’s nothing that I prefer or don’t prefer, it’s just a style of performance that I tend to see more in a festival setting compared an artist’s headlining show. I was really impressed with the band’s ability to get a crowd going – after all the show was sold out, but I was not aware of how many fans would be singing along to all of the words! Even I wasn’t at that step – and I’ve been a fan of their music for awhile.

For a band that doesn’t have a full length album released, it feels like Frenship’s sound and performance style has been crafted to near perfection – they sang through 14 songs with ease. One was a new, unreleased track, the rest all songs that they have released since 2015. Their older songs still ring true to their aesthetic, but it seems like the more songs they released, the more refined their sound becomes. I find it so interesting that they are able to write and release music that are inherently different in terms of songwriting topics but always sounds like it is THEIR song. Songs like “Carpet” – a track that they opened the show with – and “1000 Nights” seem like it was at the experimental stage of the group, whereas “Love Somebody” (probably my personal favorite) and “Goodmorning, Goodbye” seem like the band knows where they are going in terms of sound more than ever.

The band’s biggest song, “Capsize” (mentioned above) prompted quite the singalong with the audience, and allowed bandmate Celeste to shine on Emily Warren’s solo. Celeste plays keys for the band and also sings and writes her own music. Closing with an older track was an interesting move – but it almost made the show come full circle – much like the band’s logo.

More photos from Nic below.

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What’s on the calendar:

May 11 – Sunflower Bean
June 1 – Taylor Swift
June 2 – Taylor Swift
June 3 – Bon Iver

^ That’s going to be an insane weekend. Let’s hope I survive.

Click here to read all of my show reviews. Another is coming next week.

– Kristin

 

 

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