LITTLE GREEN CARS: A Performance About Honesty and Vulnerability at Chicago's Metro

 All images by Annie Zidek

All images by Annie Zidek

by Nohemi Rosales

The last time I saw Little Green Cars perform at Lincoln Hall in 2013, I was blown away. 

Though the audience back then was small, with less than half of the main floor filled up, they left a lasting impression on their Chicago audience. 

Three years and a new album (Ephemera) later, they returned to Chicago for their May 5th performance at Metro. This time the turnout increased significantly, filling up not just the main stage, but the balcony and both VIP sections - proving a true come-up for the band. 

If you don’t yet know who the Little Green Cars are, do not fret. I am here to tell you.

To put it simply, a harmonizing quintet of 20/21-year olds from Ireland who are honest, emotional, and a little awkward, but equally inspiring and breathtaking.

What makes them truly admirable, is that all members (Faye O'Rourke, Stevie Appleby, Adam O’Reagan and Donagh O’Leary) have been friends since secondary school and have been playing music together for just that long. 

Not all bands have come together under the unity of friendship – but for Little Green Cars, this unity is something obviously evident in their performances. From the setup of their stage, with four microphones lined up evenly apart from each other, to the way they take a step up at the exact same time when harmonizing, one can’t help but to see them as one magical, beautiful entity.

Standing under a shower of green lights and smoke, they began the show with “The Party” from Ephemera, their newest album (released in January of this year). It was a brilliant first song choice, as the lyrics were telling and set the mood for what the rest of the show would be like:

“Now it’s over. And they’re leaving. Did I try too hard to tell them how I feel? Did it sound like a joke? So I’m going to wreck your party. Because I’ll make you cry the tears that I can’t. I don’t wanna wreck your party.”

Little Green Cars’ music is known for being sad, intimate, and personal - though their upbeat melodies contrast these darker kind of lyrics. And what better way to be honest with your fans about your feels than to start a show with the song you wrote about it? 

But of course, they didn’t wreck the party, they light a match and had the audience captivated and singing along. Right before their 7th song,“John Wayne” from their first album Absolute Zero, Stevie Appleby stopped to tell the importance of the song - how a fan went up to him after one of their shows and told him how John Wayne had influenced him after a friend committed suicide. Appleby ended his short speech by saying,

 “I say this because I feel that when I’m up here, I have to say something worth saying. So I want to say that this song should inspire you to be honest about how you feel. To tell the people you love that you love them.” 

Something that really struck me while watching the show progress was the way that they performed - how they closed their eyes and relaxed while performing - truly focusing on the meaning behind the lyrics beyond their stage presence.

This is especially true for Faye, one of the two lead singers, whose killer vocals were like a cool wave of comfort the entire night. While singing “Ok Ok Ok” (which she wrote in High School) from Ephemera, the room grew incredibly quiet. Everyone had their eyes on Faye and became still; her voice transcending the audience to the pain and beauty in the lyrics: “But if you touch me and I scream, just remember what I mean. I'm alright.” Not only were her vocals outstanding, but so was her humble presence on stage - the way she clenched her hands, blew kisses, and bowed to the audience to say thank you. She definitely goes on my list of badass women.

As the audience looked up on stage starry-eyed and clinging to the last few seconds of “The Consequences of Not Sleeping” (what everyone thought would be their last song) Little Green Cars stopped and took to the floor. They climbed over equipment, the front barricade, and over people’s heads until they made it to the center of the floor, where they were engulfed by the audience that looked on in anticipation of what would occur. 

A warm yellow light that resembled a sunset flooded the hall as they played the last song “The Factory” from their newest album and the last words they sang,“I’m alive again,” echoed long after Little Green Cars returned back to the stage, bid their farewells, and left.

Stevie Appleby, lead singer aside Faye, who I got the chance to speak with after the show, told me about their ending. “You really have to have a lot of trust and be open to being vulnerable in situations like that. Our audience could have definitely shredded us to pieces if they wanted to, but it was a really intimate space for us to be singing in, surrounded by everyone.”

Stevie discussed the importance of honesty and vulnerability in their music, saying, ”I wish I had known how to be vulnerable when I was younger. And I know that now, so that’s what inspires me to make music - to be the person I needed when I was younger, maybe to somebody else. Because being vulnerable is the strongest thing you can do.”

For someone who believes in the power of vulnerability, I left the show humbled and touched. I haven’t been able to stop listening to the raw, but necessary reminders that manifest themselves in Little Green Cars’ music.

If you ever need to let your wounds bleed, to be honest about your pain, and to give into the beauty of feeling, you need this humble bunch of artists in your life.

For more info on Little Green Cars:
http://littlegreencars.com