As a sold out crowd trickled into Metro Chicago, the hype was building for one of the most anticipated tours of the fall. Nothing but Thieves, grandson and Demob Happy did not disappoint.
British rockers Demob Happy kicked off the early show with a sound much bigger than their three-piece lineup would suggest. The band wasted no time in showing the early crowd a good time, earning Nothing But Thieves vocalist Conor Mason’s praise as “the best British band.”
Demob Happy might have been opening the night, but their tasty guitar riffs and stellar harmonies are going to shoot them straight to headlining shows in no time. The band rocked out to “Fake Satan,” “Strange Things” and closed their killer set with “Be Your Man.” Those who arrived early were so excited, they demanded even more music before the band made their exit.
Nothing But Thieves curated an incredible lineup for their fall run, augmented by Fueled by Ramen newcomer grandson. The Toronto rapper/singer burst onto the scene with breakout single “Blood//Water” and hasn’t stopped moving since. Taking the stage in a Donald Trump mask (with middle fingers held high), he was joined by a trio of incredible rock musicians who brought songs like “6:00”, “Best Friends” and “Stick Up” to life.
Combining his signature gritty electronic sound with live rock instrumentation created a wall of sound that had the whole venue bouncing. Grandson’s stage presence can only be described as frenetic. He’s also known for his outspoken political views and spent several moments between songs encouraging his rapt audience to vote and effect real change on their world. He ended the all-too-short set with “Blood//Water” and had fans rushing to the merch table for a moment with the charismatic performer.
Metro was packed to the brim with eager fans by the time Nothing but Thieves was ready to perform. The British quintet has had massive success overseas and it’s easy to see why- their musicianship is the most powerful in the alt-rock scene. Unfortunately, Mason was battling a cold and apologized to his fans for “squawking” through the band’s set.
Despite his illness, Mason gave his performance everything he had and it showed. NBT opened with the first track from their most recent album, Broken Machine, and kept that energy for the rest of the night. Fans swayed to a beautiful rendition of “Soda” and jumped in unison for the heavy-rocking “Live Like Animals” (which has an epic Nine Inch Nails-esque guitar breakdown).
The band decided to cut two songs in the middle of the set, jumping right to an acoustic piano version of “Particles.” They also included fan favorites from their debut record and everyone screamed the words to “Ban All the Music” and “Trip Switch.”
Guitarists Joe Langridge-Brown and Dominic Craik, bassist Philip Blake and drummer James Price played seamlessly, providing excellent backup for Mason’s impressive falsetto.
“This song is dedicated to the city of Chicago,” Mason said with a wry smile as the band ended their set with “Sorry.”
We knew they’d come back for more, though, and the encore may have been more energetic than the set itself. The fans were more than happy to scream “Amsterdam” back at Mason while the rest of the band rocked it out.
Metro came alive on Thursday and it’s pretty clear that Nothing But Thieves will be welcomed back with open arms every time they return.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel