Monthly Archives: August 2022

Fantastic! Cults at Lincoln Hall (August 27, 2022)

The Cults are very excited to be back on the road. This is one their first shows since the pandemic. They play a lot of songs from their latest album, Host, which was released in 2020, and a lot of older ones too.

Midway through the set, they play “You Know What I Mean”. The contrast in this song is excellent. It starts off so slowly and sweet, but then the crashing guitars come in and crank it up to a new level.

To close out their set, they play “Abducted”. “He tore me apart because I really loved him. He took my heart away and left me to bleed out, bleed out.” The driving melody coupled with the driving vocals sound great tonight.

Nobody left the venue when they left the stage, as they all knew an encore was coming. Sure enough, they return very shortly after. After just the first note of “Go Outside”, the audience erupts and the music stops. The lead singer says “Psych”! It’s not clear if it was a technical glitch, or them just teasing the iconic xylophone start of the song. They start again and then it stops again after a few notes. Then, on the third time they play the whole song.

To end the night, they play “Always Forever”. It’s their biggest hit with over 258 million streams on Spotify. They bring out a special guest, Cullen Omori, the guitarist from Smith Westerns.  “You and me always forever. We could stay alone together.” It’s such a beautiful song and a fantastic close to the night.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $30

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Joffrey Ballet © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

Celebratory! Chicago Dancers United Presents Dance for Life at The Auditorium Theatre (August 13, 2022)

Lead Photo: Joffrey Ballet © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

Dance for Life is an inspiring event that merges talent and philanthropy into one spectacular evening. It brings together the best Chicago dance companies and all proceeds go toward the Dancers’ Fund; a resource which provides financial assistance to professional dancers in their time of need, including covering medical expenses. It is one of the many ways our vibrant dance community joins forces to care for its own.
As dance enthusiasts entered the Auditorium Theatre this year, one could immediately feel the infectious joy that carried through the evening with each performance as this was the first Dance for Life at The Auditorium Theatre since the pandemic began. The joy and support from the audience radiated to the dancers who in turn delivered a magical evening filled with grace, beauty, precision, and undeniable talent.
Below you will find the program, along with information for upcoming performances by the dance companies that participated in this year’s Dance for Life.

Chicago Dance Crash © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

Chicago Dance Crash performs the Chicago premiere of “Us vs. Them,” a section of its 20th anniversary work Booms Day! choreographed by Annie Franklin to music by Man From Sol, Jonah k, and Overlook.

Next Performance: Booms Day – August 26th to September 10th at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater performs Parallel Lives, choreographed by Co-Founder and Associate Artistic Director Gary Abbott to original music by Evangelos Spanos, based on La Folía. This modern work is inspired by poor working women who’ve shared life-changing events, both beautiful and tragic.

Next Performance: At the Auditorium Theatre on November 5th.

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater performs Baile de Luis Alonso, choreographed by Irma Suárez Ruiz to music by Gerónimo Giménez, based on a one-act lyrical play by Javier de Burgos that premiered in 1889 at the Teatro Español. Composer Giménez fell in love with the production; in 1896 it opened as a zarzuela (Spain’s light opera) at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid to great reviews.

Next Performance: At the Auditorium Theatre on October 1st

Giordano Dance Company © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

Giordano Dance Chicago performs Shirt Off My Back, a jazz work choreographed by Ray Mercer to music by Max Richter, Ólafur Arnalds, and Bongi Duma. Beginning with indistinct whispers, fluid lines, and undulating torsos, Mercer modulates the go-for-broke energy with interludes of liquid partnering and solos. A brief section underscores the strength of the company’s men in precise unison moves. The dancers make swift exchanges across space, volleying shirts on and off from dancer to dancer. A rousing wind-up culminates in an ecstatic group finale.

Next Performance:  Catch the Light at the Harris Theatre on October 21st and 22nd

The Joffrey Ballet performs Élégie by Yoshihisa Arai set to Morceaux de Fantasie by Sergei Rachmaninoff, performed live on piano by Jorge Ivars. Élégie is about a love gone by—not just the loss of it, but the passion and beauty that comes from time spent with another. It’s an homage to the meaning that can come from the deepest, most visceral human connection. The dancers embody Rachmaninoff’s incredible score, making the experience both visual and auditory.

Next Performance:  Beyond Borders at the Lyric Opera from October 12th to 23rd 

NAJWA Dance Corps performs sections of The Guinea Suite, choreographed by Mouminato Camara to live percussion: “Guinea Fare,” a celebration of the Susu people featuring a dance women perform for marriages, naming ceremonies, and female initiations, and “Sorsene,” an initiation dance for the young of the Baga people from the Boke village of Guinea, West Africa.

Next Performance:  Not yet announced

Trinity Irish Dance Company © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

Trinity Irish Dance Company performs American Traffic, a progressive Irish dance work choreographed by Michelle Dorrance and Melinda Sullivan, set to drums and hand percussion by Steven Rutledge. The work offers a hybrid of Irish step and American tap that plays at the intersection of rhythmic sensibilities and rebellious histories.

Next Performance:  Not yet announced

Quinn Delaney

Hilarious and Talented! Donovan Woods Opening for Matt Nathanson at The Vic Theatre (August 26, 2022)

They have chairs set up across the first floor of the Vic Theatre tonight. They usually only do this for comedy shows. But then it turns out this is part comedy show as Donovan Woods is hilarious. He starts out by saying he is the opener, but that no one should freak out, because he is very good. After the first song he says, so, ya, that’s what I sound like. It’s a very funny cocky attitude.

Later on, he introduces a song by saying it is the one that couples ask him to play at their wedding. Firstly, he says, he isn’t going to do that. Especially not for a first wedding. It’s more of a second wedding song. And besides, the second wedding is the good one. The audience is cracking up.

Donovon says he is from a small town in Ontario, near the border to Michigan. A few people cheer. He then says there is no reason for applause, he isn’t a fan of his hometown. Also, people in Canada don’t cheer when they hear the name of the city or province that they live in. He then warns that the next song mentions Chicago a lot, so please don’t cheer. He then begins to play “Here in Chicago”. After the very first line, everyone cheers and he stops. “Ok, it was funny that time,” he says.

For the last song, he says people would ask him to play it because it inspired them to build a treehouse for their kid or take them to Disneyland. Just chill out he says. Just go and play catch for 15 minutes. This is a great example of his self-deprecating humor because this song is truly inspirational to make big plans. It’s a beautiful song and a great way to end his stand up set, with music.

Cost of a ticket: $45 and up

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Funky! Thundercat opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Strokes at Soldier Field (August 19, 2022)

Thundercat takes the stage right at 6:30pm on a beautiful 80 degree night in Chicago. He is wearing a yellow track suit and he is ready to rock. With his band, they launch into some funky tunes. He is playing a six string bass guitar with his bandmates on keyboards and drums.

On “Overseas” he sings about traveling with his girl.  “I wanna meet you in Brazil, Take you to a place that you never been before”. “Or maybe meet up in Japan, Baby we can just hold hands”. During Chicago winters, this sounds great. But during the summer, there is no better place in the world to be than Soldier Field for this show!

Midway through the set, he asks who has seen the new Dragonball movie. Not many people respond. “There aren’t many of us,” he says, “but this next one is for the fans” as he begins playing “Dragonball Durag”.

After just 30 minutes, his set is over. It was just a small sample of his music, but he surely gained some new fans tonight.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $295 (100 level)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Funny and True! Campaigns, Inc. at TimeLine Theatre Company (Through September 18, 2022)

It is 1934 and the race for California’s Governor is heating up. Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle and many other books, is the democratic candidate. With Charlie Chaplin on his side, he is running a strong campaign. Frank Mirriam, the Republican incumbent, decides to hire political consultants. They decide to run ads presenting things that Sinclair’s characters said in his books as if he said them himself. It’s a strong smear campaign.

Leone Baxter and Clem Whitaker are the political consultants. Frank Mirriam assumes Clem is doing most of the work since he is the man. The audience is conflicted in hoping Leone can be successful as a woman in this male dominated field while also not supporting her cause. There is also some chemistry between Leon and Clem.

Photos by Brett Beiner Photography

While this production is very funny, it is also very upsetting realizing how similar it is to our current issues with “fake news”. The play shows how effective these political consultants can be in having their candidate win, instead of the best candidate. Will Allan has truly written a great piece for his first full-length play.

Terry Hamilton is excellent as Frank Mirriam. Anish Jethmalani (In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play) is great as the inspiring Upton Sinclair with an EPIC plan. Tyler Meredith (The Columnist, Spinning) is great as Leone Baxter, who is unfazed by bending the truth to win. Yuriy Sardarov is great as Clem Whitaker, who is Leone’s greatest supporter and ally. Dave Honigman is excellent as Charlie Chaplin, who is rightfully hesitant to be public about his politics. Mark Ulrich is hilarious as the incumbent Lt. Governor who doesn’t get much respect from Mirriam.  Jacqueline Grandt is superb in her many roles including Eleanor Roosevelt, who strongly disagrees with her husband on some issues. David Parkes is solid in his many roles, including as FDR, who delivers one of the biggest surprises of the show.

When entering the theatre, you will notice a large screen playing clips from screwball comedies of the 30’s. A big part of the set is located behind this movable screen. Thus, the best seats are on this side of the theatre, about 3 rows up, towards the middle aisle.

Get tickets now for Campaigns, Inc. through September 18th!

Cost of a ticket: $47

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Poetic! Courtney Barnett at The Salt Shed (August 16, 2022)

Courtney Barnett has played Chicago many times. Lollapalooza in 2014, the Metro later that year, Pitchfork Music Festival in 2018, and the Taste of Chicago in 2019 just to name a few. This year, she is promoting her new ablum released in 2021 called Things Take Time, Take Time. A cool 70 degrees welcomes her as she takes the stage at a quarter to nine after Alvvays and The Beths successfully warmed up the audience.

Early in the set she plays “Avant Gardener”. “The paramedic thinks I’m clever ’cause I play guitar, I think she’s clever cause she stops people dying.” This is such a perfect line in such a beautiful song.

Barnett’s lyrical style is a stream of consciousness style. It’s poetic in nature. “If you’ve got a spare half million, you could knock it down and start rebuilding” she sings on the beautiful crafted “Depreston”.

Later on she plays “Pedestrian at Best” from her album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. It’s one of her more rocking songs and a great choice for an outdoor show. “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you!” she yells as she plays power chords on her guitar while strutting and spitting across the stage.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $64

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Excellent! Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park (August 15, 2022)

The Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park is packed with Broadway fans tonight. It wasn’t as crowded as it was in past years, but there was still a long security line that took about 15 minutes to get through. The audience was excited for every single performance, but a few stood out. One was “The Best” from TINA. The singer was strutting across the stage the whole time and belting her heart out Another one was “Forgiven” from Jagged Little Pill. It’s such a raw rocking song that was performed fantastically. It’s going to be a great year of Broadway in Chicago performances!

Here is the list of all the shows that were featured:

Wicked – September 28 – December 4, 2022

The Lion King – November 17, 2022 – January 14, 2023

Dear Evan Hansen  – December 6 – December 31, 2022

Chicago – January 17 – 29, 2023

Les Misérables – February 15 – March 5, 2023

1776 – February 28 – March 12, 2023

TINA – The Tina Turner Musical – March 14 – April 2, 2023

Jagged Little Pill – April 11 – April 23, 2023

Disney’s Aladdin – May 17 – 28, 2023

MJ – August 1 – September 2, 2023

For special offers, visit this summer concert page.

Cost of a ticket: $0

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Excellent! Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen at The Salt Shed (August 10, 2022)

It’s a perfect 78 degrees at the brand new Salt Shed for the Chicago stop of The Wild Hearts Tour. Marty Lennartz from WXRT takes the stage to introduce Sharon Van Etten. He recalls being blown away by her performance at Schubas and sticking around afterwards to meet her. He also mentions that Angel Olsen used to live in Chicago and that in his book, she’ll always be a Chicagoan.

Soon after the introduction, Van Etten takes the stage in a reflective shirt that looks like it is made of mirrors. Midway in the set, she plays “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”. Everyone sings along to the chorus “Every time the sun comes up, I’m in trouble.” It’s a beautifully simple song that sounds excellent live.

To close out the set, they play “Seventeen”. “I used to feel free / Was it just a dream? / Now you’re half shy / Think you’re so carefree / But you’re just seventeen.” It’s a fantastic song about remembering the freedom of being a teenager. It’s the perfect song to close out her performance.

Sharon returns in Angel Olsen’s encore set to play the song they released together, “Like I Used To”. They also play a cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Without You”. “I can’t live if living is without you!”  It’s a fantastic collaborative end to a great night of music.

See the full setlist of the previous night’s show here.

Cost of a ticket: $78

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

So Fun! Broadway in Chicago Presents The Devil Wears Prada at the James M. Nederlander Theatre (Through August 21, 2022)

The book version of The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger was released in 2003 and became a New York Times Bestseller. The film version was released in 2006 starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. The first preview performance took place on July 19, 2022. After the Chicago run, it is planned to head to Broadway.

Andy is a new college graduate who has been looking for a job for six months. At the last minute, she gets an interview at Runway magazine with the Chief Editor, Miranda. She doesn’t know much about fashion, but she still surprisingly gets the job. She struggles with the work at first, but with the help of Nigel she gets a makeover and begins to fit in. While she is laser focused on her career, her friends and boyfriend feel neglected. Will she find a balance between her work and personal life?

A handful of the songs by Elton John are great. However, another handful could use some work. There is a good balance between the amount of dialog and the songs.

Taylor Iman Jones is excellent as Andy. She truly transforms from the beginning of the show to the end. Beth Leavel is fierce as Miranda. She is a strong and powerful boss. Javier Muñoz (Hamilton and In The Heights on Broadway) is great as Nigel, who has an excellent song in the second half.

Photos By Joan Marcus

The outfits in the show are stunning in appearance and in number. The set is also impressive as it spins around and as it tranforms from New York to Paris. It is definitely Broadway quality.

Cost of a ticket: $153 (Back Orchestra)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Get tickets now for The Devil Wears Prada through August 21st!

Quinn Delaney

Top 7 Moments of Howie Day at City Winery Chicago (August 4, 2022)

1. Early on he introduces a song saying he barely remembers how to play it. The song is “Secret” from the Australia album. It turns out that intro was an early example of his sense of humor.

2. Later, he starts a song saying it is by a small Irish band. It is “One” by U2. His version sounds amazing. It’s very impressive.

3. Next up is a “deep cut”, according to Howie. It is his biggest hit, “Collide”, which has over 376 million streams if you count both the regular and acoustic version together. In the middle of the song, he jokes that he doesn’t get paid if he doesn’t play this one.

4. Another song is introduced as a once in a decade song. One that he feels is one of his best. It is “Treetops”. He says that a few couples used it as their wedding song. And rightly so, as it is a very romantic song.

5. At one point, he talks about his DIY merch. It is some art that he created during the pandemic shutdown. Some of it includes handwritten lyrics to “Collide” and other songs.

6. The next song is “Be There”, he says. The audience doesn’t react much. “I guess not”, he jokes. Afterwards, he says how the song could be transformed into a country tune called “Beer There”. With some encouragement from the crowd, he goes on to play a minute of this version. He sings in a spot on low country voice and alters the lyrics hilariously to be in the country style. He says he could do a whole set that way.

7. Throughout the whole night, he uses a loop pedal that allows him to layer up his sound and make it sound much bigger than just one person on stage.

See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney