Show Review: Now, Now Returns To The Spotlight After A Six Year Break

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I’ve been listening to “SGL” (stands for Shot Gun Lover) by the Minnesota-based band Now, Now for over a year. A song with a melody that’s hard to get out of your head and one that’s so catchy, it ended up being added to every single one of my seasonal playlists since last summer.

I hadn’t heard of Now, Now before I heard that song, but it was enough to make me a fan. The band has been M.I.A during my formative years while I was developing and shaping my music tastes – their last full-length album release was in 2012 (I was a senior in high school). After bandmates KC Dalager and Brad Hale continued the band after guitarist Jess Abbott left the band, the now duo came back strong with “SGL” – but didn’t release anything else for another year, leaving a mysterious mark on the internet after six years of radio silence.

Once their newest album, “Saved,” was out for the world to hear, I was hooked. The album is easily one of my favorite releases of the year thus far, and knew I had to see them perform in Chicago once the show at Lincoln Hall was announced. I wasn’t sure what to expect because of Dalager’s quiet voice and cryptic demeanor, but I knew that it would be an interesting sight to see.

The show did not sell out but still seemed crowded nonetheless. The irony about this performance is the fact that the band had performed at the same venue exactly one year prior – how does that sort of thing happen? And they gushed about how excited they were to be back onstage.

I was immediately thrown off when the band opened their set with the song that I had been so obsessive about for over a year – “SGL” !!!! I was like !!!!!!! complete shock. I was so thrown off that they were opening with their biggest song and honestly I didn’t enjoy that it was the opening track. But I guess they wanted to start their show off with a bang!

Despite the energy that was evident with the opening track, it seemed to fade quickly as the first few songs that the band played seemed a little off to me and was verging on the point of being an uncomfortable viewer. The band seemed to be a little nervous and I just think I was expecting more of a vocal delivery from KC, who does have a quieter, more understated performance, and a more reserved, shy stage presence onstage. It was just not what I was expecting because I think so much of their album has a really unique and interesting energy that didn’t really translate in a live performance in the way that I was expecting it to.

That’s really hard for me to say because not only do I love this band’s album and it will definitely land on my top list of the year, but also because I have a hard time critiquing live performances when I know that I personally would never have the guts to sing onstage in front of a ton of people.

Regardless, I think that the band also could have had a better audience to perform in front of, everyone seemed a little sleepy and just in a daze. Not too many people were singing along or even attempting to sway to the beat of the songs…it just felt awkward. I do think that the momentum picked up again after Now Now started performing some of their older music, which seemed to have perked up a lot of the audience members. After singing two older songs, “Prehistoric” and “Wolf,” my favorite moments of the show appeared when they sang “Saved,” “Know Me,” “MJ” and “Set It Free” which are all standout tracks from the new album.

If you watch a few minutes of the band performing an NPR Tiny Desk concert, I think you can gauge what I mean about KC (lead singer)’s demeanor and stage presence.

I didn’t enjoy the show as much as I was expecting to, but I still had fun and was happy to hear a lot of my favorite songs from their new album. Not sure if I would ever go see them in concert again, but it’s not like it’s to the point where I regret buying a ticket or anything. Since they were on such a long break in between albums, I would assume that the band’s overall abilities as live performers will continue to grow and blossom as they keep touring and working on performing the new stuff.

Now Now will be back in Chicago in the fall, as they are touring with St. Lucia. Click here for a list of their tour dates. Click here to stream their music on Spotify.

My concert calendar:

7/21 – Pitchfork Music Festival
7/24 – Sylvan Esso
7/28 – Snail Mail at Wicker Park Fest
8/2-8/5 – Lollapalooza

Click here to read every show review I’ve written in 2018. Hint: I’ve written a post about every single performance I’ve seen this year so far!

– Kristin

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