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Show Review: Chicago took a late night trip down memory lane with The Academy Is and Midtown

It’s hard to believe that after a full day at Riot Fest, we’d be on our way to even more music, but that’s exactly the name of the game for this festival. Saturday night found Atlas at Concord Music Hall for the reunion of two scene staples- Midtown and The Academy Is.

When both of these bands announced their temporary comebacks, fans flocked to snag tickets and sold out the Chicago venue. It was a thrill to be pressed up against the stage waiting for each band and seeing the joy on the faces of diehard fans who’d left the festival early to secure prime viewing spots.

Midtown emerged with very little fanfare but to enormous applause- even the band looked mildly shocked at the response to their reunion. Frontman Gabe Saporta did his signature leap from the drumkit and an incredible night began.

The band dusted off all the classics- from “Like a Movie” to “No Place Feels Like Home”, the room sang along. They joked about playing a few more shows before they all get too old and their kids don’t believe that any of them were in bands, to the delight of the fans. Reunions are sometimes tough to get behind, but the evident joy that they guys displayed at being back onstage together dispelled any fears that the night would be anything but a killer time.

The Academy Is also reunited seven years prior at the very same Riot Fest and they couldn’t resist coming back for more. Both bands credited each other for getting the other back in front of a crowd, spreading the love that reverbated from the scene in their heyday. Opening with “The Phrase That Pays”, TAI shook the room with their energy and that of the fans.

The band drew from their three acclaimed albums for a killer setlist that took us all on a trip down memory lane in the best way; sending nostalgic millennials back to their MySpace days with every track from Almost Here that played. We couldn’t resist screaming along to “About a Girl” and “Black Mamba” and by then voices were getting hoarse from a packed day of live music.

TAI brought out more original members of the band for a special rendition of “Attention” before nearly stomping through the stage on “We’ve Got a Big Mess On Our Hands”. Fittingly, they closed with “After the Last Midtown Show”, but the night wasn’t through with us yet. 

For the first time in years, The Academy Is and Midtown/Cobra Starship had a proper live collaboration as Saporta re-emerged for an encore of “Snakes on a Plane”. They’d chosen a fan from the meet and greet to perform Travie McCoy’s part and we’re not sure that anyone in that room will experience that level of sheer happiness for awhile.

Sweaty and exhausted fans spilled into the streets, determined to get home before the last day of Riot Fest and to remember such a special show for as long as possible.

Check out all the photos from a magical night!

Story and photos by Olivia Khiel