Seeing indie rockers Lydia perform again this past weekend was like seeing an old friend for the first time in years. I had seen the band perform a couple times with The Maine when I was in my early teen years – nearly ten years ago – and it was a big jump to see the band perform again at their own headlining show.
Let’s start with some surprising revelations I had at the show: Lydia has some extremely dedicated fans. Obviously the band has found success in their music since they have been releasing and touring their albums for fifteen years – but I never knew that their presence onstage at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall would garner high-pitched screams from a few females to my left that would give One Direction stans a run for their money. I’ll give it to them, the band, comprised of singer Leighton Antleman, Matt Keller and Shawn Strader are some good looking dudes. Combined with their clear passion and artistry they have poured into this project for over a decade, it’s really not a surprising revelation that their fans see them as heartthrobs.
“We’re gonna play you some goddamn music,” Antleman proclaimed as he walked onstage barefoot, receiving a whole lot of hollering from the audience. Lydia’s energy was infectious. Lots of grinning and bemusement on their end, seemingly surprised that so many fans came out to see their show on a Friday night in Chicago – a point that Keller referenced more than once, making the band as endearing and grateful as ever.
Lydia opened the 17-song long set with a couple fan favorites: “Hospital” and “When It Gets Dark Out,” two songs from 2008 and 2015 releases, respectively. The next song, “Sunlight,” was one of my favorites from the band’s July 2018 release, Liquor.
While lots of the show was digging deep into Lydia’s discography – six albums worth – my personal favorite moments were from Liquor, as the album has given the band the opportunity to experiment with new sounds, something that Antleman likes to focus on while creating and producing new music. Check out a quote from a recent interview with Audio Femme:
“I would hope we’re not pinning down a specific style. I really enjoy when people say that our style on every album is different. I would really hope we’re not just making the same albums over and over again.”
While Lydia has continued to stay in the lane of indie rock & pop throughout their albums, they have continued to re-invent their aesthetic with every album release without straying away from the roots of their sound. After touring with bands like The Maine (as I previously mentioned) and most recently Moose Blood, it’s interesting to see how these influences have affected their sound and style of performance. While I was just 13 or 14 when I first saw Lydia perform way back in the day, I think their experience opening up for other artists has given them the confidence to be headlining performers.
Lydia’s overall aesthetic of quiet, DIY indie rock music is reminiscent to one of my all time favorite bands, From Indian Lakes. Both have an ability to create quiet & understated bodies of work powerful in their own right, creating music open to interpretation that allows the fans to create their own conclusions based on their own lives.
Being relatable can be tricky these days, and a lot of mainstream musicians may not be singing about typical things that the average Joe goes through in life. Lydia has an ability to thread their experiences and stories through a steady narrative that, no matter what sort of sound they tackle, always remains constant.
Remaining constant is something that Lydia clearly excels at, considering how long their career has lasted and how much they continue to grow as musicians. It felt like I was coming back home to a genre that I was very much invested in as a young teenager but it has been able to grow with me, and that’s not an easy feat that many artists can successfully execute.
I would definitely recommend checking out Lydia if you ever get the chance and seeing them live again has made me want to delve a bit deeper into their older catalog and see what I missed out on over the last few years. I have no doubt in my mind that they’ll be around for at least a few more years…maybe another fifteen!
Special thanks to the band for inviting me out to the show.
What’s next? Lots of shows in the works that I’m trying to cover. In the meantime, heres what’s on the books…
Taylor Swift – 9/15 (round 3 of the #reptour).
Mitski & Overcoats – 10/25
Maggie Rogers & Mallrat- 10/30
Click here to read the rest of my show reviews.