Concert Review + Photography: Noah and the Whale and Lindi Ortega at the Empty Bottle (Chicago)

The Empty Bottle recently hosted Lindi Ortega (Toronto) and Noah and the Whale (London) for an evening of intimate and pop-infused folk; a second weekend of an invasion of British folk artists that began the weekend before with Johnny Flynn, Laura Marling, and Mumford & Sons.

Lindi Ortega took the stage with just herself and her guitar, in front of a rather thin audience of a couple dozen. She performed a short, country-tinged set of acoustic songs with a strong, talented voice. Her music holds a pop-influenced touch that lacks the typical artificiality of said genre, instead using a distinctive emotion that touches each aspect; lyrics, voice, and guitar. Amid waves topping with cresting quivers and dipping into soft whispers, her voice reminds of an early Rilo Kiley before the producers began caking layer upon layer until the original, raw feel was nearly absent. Granted, she sings heavily of lost or a sorrow-tainted love, but it was a refreshing set nevertheless hearkening back to the simplicity of a voce and a guitar. She currently has a $2.49 four-song EP up on iTunes.

The other bookend of folk that night was Noah and the Whale, visiting the States for the first time since the SXSW festival. Coming off of their album finally reaching our shores, the folk-pop group and audience ended up building upon each other’s energies for a memorable first show in Chicago. Topped with participated claps and spontaneous bouts of dancing, Charlie Fink & Co. steered through much of Peaceful the World Lays Me Down, including an A-Sides cover and new songs from their to-be-recorded sophomore full length. Tom Hobden and Urby switched duties on the harmonium amidst fiddle and bass duties, keeping the arrangement lively. Concerns over the absence of Laura Marling’s supporting vocals were quickly dashed when Lindi Ortega came on stage during the middle of the set. The easy crowd favorites, 5 Years Time (featuring Ms. Ortega) and Rocks & Daggers, swept winds of a folk revival throughout the Empty Bottle, involving crowds in ways you expect in other music concerts. Noah and the Whale will be swinging by again in December. Even if you or friends haven’t heard the music before, go or bring them with, since it’s a good time all around.


Lindi Ortega with Tom Hobden (Noah and the Whale) (via Smugmug)

Lindi Ortega | Noah and the Whale

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