Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Electronic Dance Pop! Great Good Fine Ok with Tedious & Brief at Lincoln Hall (April 17, 2022)

Tonight, Great Good Fine Ok bring their style of electronic dance pop from New York City to the Lincoln Hall. Right when they take the stage, they throw out small flashing lights and glow sticks into the crowd. The dancing starts early with “Not Going Home”. The melody is infectious.

At the perfect moment in the set, the keyboard player brings out a keytar and plays a solo that has the crowd jumping for joy.  It’s a pure rock and roll moment. The visuals at the show are outstanding. The lead singer is wearing a sparkling white jacket and he throws out glow sticks. This band really brings the party with a beat that gets everyone moving. .

For the encore, they play “Take It or Leave It”. From the moment they play first few notes, the audience starts moving with big smiles on their faces. “Oohh ooh oh. Will you take it or leave it? Will you run away when I need it?”

If you are looking for a fun and energetic band to dance the night away, Great Good Fine Ok is the band for you.

See the setlist for their 4/11 show here.

The opener, Tedious & Brief were great as well. Check out “Middle Class”.

Quinn Delaney


Excellent! Donna Missal Opening for Chvrches at the Aragon Ballroom (November 19, 2021)

Donna Missal and her band open with “How Does It Feel”. This smooth track starts their set off strong and gets the audience moving.

Midway through the set they play “Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead. Missal’s voice sounds excellent on this song accompanied by just an acoustic guitar. She says it is one of her favorite songs.

Second to last is “Best Friend”. This one is a good rocker and Donna truly uses her voice as an instrument here as she varies her volume and pitch expertly.

They close with “Let You Let Me Down”. “I let you let me, let me, let me down, down, down” she sings in the chorus as she falls to her knees and then fully on her back. You can feel her releasing the pain of this breakup through this song.

Through this short opener set, it’s clear that this band has a bright future. Catch them on tour now!

Cost of a ticket: $68

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

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

Quinn Delaney

Stellar! Lucky Boys Confusion at Bottom Lounge (November 5, 2021)

Lucky Boys Confusion stopped doing Songs From a Scene 10 years ago. But now they are bringing it back. When they were just getting started, they found it very difficult to book any shows, even as opener. So they promised themselves that if they ever reached a point where they could help other bands by giving them opening slots, they would do just that. And so, Songs From a Scene was born. Tonight’s openers are The Dog and Everything, The Gelheads, and Til Morning.

They start with “City Lights” and instantly the party is started. One of the lines took on a new poignant meaning post pandemic:  “Feels like this episode should end, and I miss my friends.” Another great moment is the slow build to the climax of the lyric:  “I can’t breathe this Midwest air tonight, oh ya!” Everyone is singing along is so happy to be out again seeing live music.

Next up is the fun and catchy “Atari”. “I don’t want to stand here and say I’m sorry, I just want to drink beer and play Atari!” The joy from this song is infectious as everyone has a huge smile on their face.

Later on they play, “Not About Debra”. This song has one of the best riffs ever. It’s so smooth and fits perfectly in this song.

Every single song they play tonight is stellar. This band has been going strong for 24 years and will be a staple of the Chicago music scene for many years to come. 

See the full setlist here.

Stubhy Pandav also has a new project called Mr. Ms. & the Infusions. The name is a nod to his MS diagnosis. Check out the first single, “Hallelujah”. 

Also, check out our LBC review from 2017.

Cost of a ticket: $30

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value –

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


Masterful! Shawn Mullins at City Winery Chicago (November 2, 2021)

“Cocaine’s free and the music’s loud, backstage at the Hollywood bowl” sings Shawn Mullins early on in his set. This is a fun ode to California, though actually it’s all just about LA specifically. He says inspiration for writing the song was Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”.

Later on he plays “Twin Rocks, Oregon”, which sounds a lot like “Lullaby”. It has the talking while gently playing the guitar leading to a big singing portion. He should do more of these style of song, it’s his signature sound.

Towards the end of the set, he plays “Beautiful Wreck”. “I’ve lost count of the times I’ve given up on you” he sings. The audience is fully engaged watching this master of songwriting and singing perform this beautiful song.

Afterwards, he stands up, as if to the leave the stage. The audience gets up for a standing ovation. He then sits down and says, “this counts as an encore.” After playing “House of the Rising Sun”, he stands up again. Is this the end of the show? He then grabs the other guitar that has been sitting on stage for the entire show and sits down again. At last he launches into 1998 hit, “Lullaby”, which has over 32 millions streams on Spotify. It’s another great song about LA. “It’s kinda like Nashville, with a tan.” “Everything’s going to be alright, Rockaby, rockabye, rockabye”. It’s a perfect end to a fantastic night of music.

Photos by Janet Mami Takayama

Quinn Delaney

Excellent! Michigander at Lincoln Hall (October 28, 2021)

As soon as Michigander enters the stage, they launch into “Better”, which has a strong driving beat and immediately gets everyone moving. “I don’t want to live without you anymore” sings Jason Singer, the lead singer of the band.

Later on, they play “Reds”. This is just one of many songs that sound a lot like the great band, The War on Drugs. They both have long lasting guitar chords with strong repetition that creates a great atmosphere.

To introduce the band, Jason does a little skit with each of the band members. Firstly, the bass player, Connor Robertson, says he came up with an original riff that he would like to play. They then launch into a Tenacious D song about getting kicked out of the band. Then, the lead guitarist, Jake LeMond, says he is feeling down because of seasonal affective disorder. Jason gives him a hug with their guitars making a whole bunch of noise being pushed together. The other guitarist, Dylan Grantham, is new to the band. They don’t have a skit yet, so he just gets a normal intro. Lastly, the drummer, Aaron Senor, says they just wrote a song called “West Chicago”. Jason then proceeds to sing a completely improvised song while Aaron pretends to sing along like he knows the words. This is just like the recurring sketch that Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig do on SNL as Garth and Kat.

Before the finale, Singer says this will be last song. They aren’t going to play an encore. He begins by singing acapella “I’ve got high hopes. I’ve got high hopes, but they let me down. They usually let me down.” He then stops and the audience sings it without the band. It’s a very cool moment. Then the band joins back in and rocks it out.

At one point, Singer mentioned this is their first show playing in a venue with a balcony. This surely will not be the last time as their future looks bright. See them next in Chicago with the Lumineers on December 6th at the Aragon Ballroom.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $20
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Excellent! Andrew McMahon at The Chicago Theatre (October 19, 2020)

Andrew McMahon loves to play live and he is so happy to be on stage again. He was last in Chicagoland for a drive-in show at Boomer’s Stadium in Schaumburg on October 2-4, 2020. He also played Chicago’s Riot Fest in 2015.

This is the Three Pianos tour where McMahon tells many of the stories behind the songs. The name of the tour is in reference to the three pianos he has toured with over his career. The one on stage tonight is the third one.

To introduce the second song, “Ohio”, he talks about how his family moved from Ohio to Southern California when he was a kid. “Everything’s going to be better on the west coast” he sings. This was a big event in his childhood.

He tells a few stories about an ex-girlfriend that he just refers to as a green-eyed girl. The songs about her are “She Paints Me Blue” and “The Mixed Tape”.

McMahon talks about connecting with his wife, Kelly, and his quest to date her. He wrote “Walking By” for her and played it for her younger sister first. Looking back, he says, this was a bit awkward. But after a few weeks, they became a couple, so it worked out.

Andrew talks about getting the amazing call from Disney and being asked to write a song for Pete’s Dragon. He collaborates with Lindsey Stirling and together they create “Something Wild”. She also played Chicago this year back in August. See our review here.

For the finale, he brings out the openers: Zac Clark, who was in Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness as the keyboard player for 10 years, and Annika Bennett, who had never toured before. Together, they all play “La La Lie” in a great happy conclusion to the night.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $80

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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

Quinn Delaney

Good Jazz – Cyrille Aimee at City Winery Chicago (March 3, 2020)

Cyrille Aimee is a very talented French jazz singer. She is joined by two other fantastic musicians. Ryan Hanseler is on piano and Alex Warshawsky plays the bass. They open with a Sondheim song from Follies. She sings a lot of Sondheim songs this evening which she recorded on her 2019 album, Move On: A Sonheim Adventure. Within each song, they always add a jazzy improv jam.

They also perform a few of her original songs. They blend right in with the covers showing her songwriting talents.

For the encore, she chooses a blues song, “Loud Talkin Woman” by Helen Humes. “Loud talkin woman, why don’t you keep your man at home.” “I live up five flights of stairs, and your man loves to climb.” It’s a scintillating song and a great closer.

Cost of a ticket: $36
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney



Fantastic Set! Phillip Phillips at City Winery Chicago (January 30, 2020)

Tonight at City Winery is an intimate evening with Phillip Phillips and Errol Cooney on acoustic guitars.

Early on, he says that the song “Maneater” has a scary title, but it isn’t a scary song. So, he decided to make a scary version, which he goes on to play. It is more creepy and spooky than the original. It’s a bit unusual to have a cover so early in the set, but he makes it work.

“Home” is a crowd favorite. “Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.” The beautiful lyrics along with the great guitar playing are a great fit.

“Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin is a great choice for a cover in this set. Phillips sounds excellent playing and singing this song.

During “Unpack Your Heart”, they launch into an excellent extended jam reminiscent of a Dave Matthews Band show and the similarities don’t end there.

It was a fantastic set and everyone left with a smile on their face. He is very charming and really knows how to handle crowd. He could easily become as big as Dave Matthews and he is definitely talented enough to do it!

Cost of a ticket: $60
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It+
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Alternately Delightful and Disappointing – Mandy Patinkin at the Chicago Theatre (January 23, 2020)

It might be that you are a fan of Mandy Patinkin’s from “Homeland” or “The Princess Bride,” but chances are that if you’re buying tickets to see him in concert, you’re more concerned with his Broadway credits. But Patinkin is more than Georges Seurat, Ché and Archibald Craven. So if you were just hoping to hear his show tunes, the show will alternately delight and disappoint.


The show confuses, particularly with “From The Air,” a spoken word piece from Laurie Anderson, an avant-garde performance artist. The lights dim and Patinkin sits and delivers this piece that makes you wonder if you are at a bad college performance that you forgot to get high for. “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country” is another low light.



Also bizarre is “Refugees/Song of the Titanic.” Patinkin sings beautifully in Yiddish against a backdrop of videos and photos of refugees, including footage of those who have drowned. After the song, Patinkin sings two Sondheim songs from “Company” and then the show is over. The effect is jarring.



You have witnessed something incredibly painful and are left with no context. Patinkin works with the International Rescue Committee ( to “bring global attention to the ongoing refugee crisis.” But he shares nothing of his work. There is no intro nor lead-out. And following it up with “Sorry/Grateful” and “Being Alive”? Not the right choice.



This aside, he is still Mandy Patinkin. Hearing him sing “Sunday” is alone worth the price of the ticket and “Being Alive,” though oddly placed, was magnificent. And though the song choices of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Over the Rainbow” are hokey, it’s still a joy to hear him sing them.


But still, you’ll leave the theater wondering. . . what the hell did I just see?


Edward Boyle

Excellent! Funkadesi featuring Amyna Love and Nicholas Barron at City Winery Chicago (January 2, 2020)

Funkadesi have been playing together for 23 years. They combine styles of music from all over the world including India, Nigeria, and Jamaica.

“Makhana” is one of the Indian songs they play tonight. It’s a very upbeat fun song that would fit right into a Bollywood musical. The band member from India says the chorus translates to “I love my sweet butterball!” Later in the evening, the band leader, Rahul Sharma, brings out his sitar. Along with Lloyd King on jazz flute, they wow the audience.

They cover a couple Bob Marley songs, “Stir it Up” and “No Woman, No Cry”. Valroy Dawkins sings the lead in a very raspy voice.

The band also brings out a bunch of guest artists. One of these is the daughter of the drummer, Amyna Love. Her powerful and beautiful voice combined with her excellent guitar picking makes for a great performance.

Another guest is Nicholas Barron. He tells a crazy story about squatting and busking in London It leads to him being arrested and then deported back to America. He goes on to sing “When the Fat Lady Sings” about living life to the fullest and not waiting to go after your dreams.


It was a great kickoff to the “Year of Chicago Music”.  The 3 hours just flew by. Learn more about Funkadesi here:


Cost of a ticket: $20 and up

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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


Quinn Delaney