Concert Review + Photography: Sky Larkin and Blood Red Shoes at Subterranean (Chicago)

Blood Red Shoes (Brighton, England), Sky Larkin (Leeds, England), and the Streets on Fire (Chicago)
October 29th, 2010
Subterranean in Chicago, Illinois

Gallery: Blood Red Shoes and Sky Larkin at Subterranean

Going to a show at Subterranean the Friday of Halloween weekend promised to be entertaining. Not just in the sense of what interesting costumes might show up at this hipster hot spot. I’m talking about the Sky Larkin show. This trio out of Leeds, England consists of Katie Harkin, Douglas Adams and Nestor Matthews. As they set up a Roland Juno keyboard with a Korg perched a top begged to be played.

The show had an illuminated pop-punk feel. I would hate to pigeon hole this band by deeming them a power-pop-punk band, but something about their live show definitely gives way to that old Seattle grunge sound at times. (Think The Breeders and Sleater Kinney) Afterall, they did record their new album, Kaleide there. The Subterranean was only about half full, but fans lined the top balcony and filled the floor beneath, bopping their heads and stomping their feet back and forth.

There is no second guessing the energy this band puts out during their live shows. It’s contageous. Watching Nestor on the drums, he emulates Jim Hensons “Animal”. Douglas not only keeps the feel on the bass, he also lends his fingers on “Tiny Heist”, while Katie bounces back and forth on her guitar singing, her vocals reminiscent of a young Juliana Hatfield with the cuteness to match Jenny Lewis. Let it be known, Katie Harkin is a doll. Sporting an Amoeba Records tee, mini skirt, tights, and converse it’s easy to see how she can become an instant heartthrob.

Midway through their set Harkin gave a PSA of another Leeds band, Pulled Apart By Horses. “If you like that song and if you like four shirtless, hairy men from Leeds, please check out this band, Pulled Apart by Horses, who do a cover of it.” Harkin laughed. Also in attendance  was UK band, Johnny Foreigner showing support.

As the band played the title track, “Kaleide” for their final song,  the crowd jeered with excitement. There is no doubt that this UK rock trio will return back to the states soon for another tour. Whether the crowd was comprised of fans or new inductees, they gave good reception and there was no lack of a damn good time. Subterranean was filled with good reception to a promising upcoming break out UK band in the states. “That is what I would call fucking excellent.” A man said behind me as the band left the stage.

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Insert John: Blood Red Shoes, I only knew off of two 2008 tracks “Doesn’t Matter Much” and “You Bring Me Down” off their Box of Secrets. I remember hearing popular things of them, but they unfairly were set aside in my mind due purely to the visual limitations of digital music. At Subterranean, I was confronted with the folly of doing so. For lack of better comparison to general American culture, they put the Ting Tings‘ bite to shame on stage (side note: from what I’ve heard of the new sound of that other duo, Blood Red Shoes will be replacing them in my little convoluted music world). With a blend of seemingly early 2000s Jade Tree-era indie rock influenced by pop punk, Laura-Mary Carter stands alone as a guitarist and singer, second to Johnny Foreigner’s Kelly Southern in terms of “Damn, I would not want to be on that musician’s bad side” given her ferociously talented guitar work. Steven Ansell, similarly, feels far more authentic than his contemporary Jules De Martino when he hammered sticks to snare on “Colours Fade”. (Not knocking the Ting Tings; they’re talented. It’s just they need to stick to a core just a little longer than jump on the Hilfiger fashion cultural bandwagon to avoid the deathly passing label of fad.) End commercial break. On stage, the UK duo commanded the audience with as much vigorous pounding rock as Chicago’s own two-piece, Local H, continues to do today.

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