The Perfect Summer Playlist Additions: Knox Hamilton and Coasts

By Genevieve Kane 

As we welcome in the month of May, we are reminded that summer is just beyond the horizon and approaching fast. No one wants to enter the summer season without a flame playlist prepared, and I know one band that has got you covered. The first time I heard Knox Hamilton’s hit song "Work it Out" on the radio two summers ago, it immediately caught my attention. I fell in love with it instantaneously. My sister and I listened to "Work it Out" on repeat and deemed it our summer anthem. Knox Hamilton is the perfect indie pop-rock band to deliver some fresh summer vibes when you need them most.

Naturally, I was very excited to see them live, and at a very intimate venue like Lincoln Hall no less. Their faces were lit by an electric blue light. Boots, the frontman of Knox Hamilton, entertained the crowd with sharp witty banter between songs. “You guys are a very polite crowd,” he joked at one point. And he was not wrong. Being in the audience felt like attending one big love fest. “I love you!” the infatuated crowd would shout to them. It was clear that not everyone in the audience was there for Knox Hamilton in the beginning, but it ultimately did not matter because they won every person over before they had even finished their set. Boots would jokingly ask the audience which songs they would like to hear, prefacing it by saying, “We’re not going to play Wonder Wall...not again.” They then broke out into another one of my personal favorites, "How's Your Mind." 

Knox Hamilton delivered a little nugget of summertime sublimity amidst the lingering fog of spring. By the time they had finished playing "Work it Out," there were salty streaks of tears rolling down my cheeks. Although the temperature outside may have been hovering around 40 degrees, Knox Hamilton made it feel like summer in my heart.

I wasn’t as familiar with Coasts as I was with Knox Hamilton, but I was on such an adrenaline high that my excitement at that point in the night was through the roof. As Coasts began their set, Liam Willford (guitar), James Gamage (bass), David Goulbourn (keys), and Ben Street (drums) graced the stage in their respective spots. The focal point of the stage was a lonely microphone, as the beginning riffs of "Wallow" rung throughout Lincoln Hall. Lead singer Chris Caines then emerged and grabbed the mic in one grand swoop. Their long legs and bobbing heads of hair, were a spectacle in and of itself. Coasts dominated the stage with large gestures and motions, which was then countered by their quiet English demeanor in between songs. Chris would say a few humble words in between songs; always ending with a little, “cheers” which of course would then be followed by an eruption of shouts from the audience.

I was really digging their Two Door Cinema Club vibe, despite the fact I felt a little out of place because it seemed as though everyone around me knew practically every word to every song the band would play. Regardless, it was a very fun crowd to be a part of, especially when Coasts played "Modern Love." However, the audience really went nuts when Coasts ended the night with "Ocean," which is the first song on their self-titled album.

Although we still need to fight our way through May, summer is coming up, and I know exactly who I will be listening to thanks to this killer show. Knox Hamilton and Coasts are definitely worth adding to the summer playlist.

BETWEEN A SEA OF JEAN JACKETS AND FLANNEL: The Thermals hit Chicago's Lincoln Hall for A Night To Remember

All images by Megan Leetz
Review by Genevieve Kane

I found myself enveloped in a sea of jean jackets and flannel as Lincoln Hall grew increasingly packed on a dreary Wednesday night. However, the melancholic weather did not deter the massive crowd from accumulating in the small Chicago venue. The house was cramped full, like a package of sardines, all the way to the back and up in the balcony. The driving force behind this coalition of Doc Martin wearing folk? Portland’s own punk band, The Thermals.

The band released their first album, More Parts per Million, in 2003 and has acquired a growing fanbase ever since, which was very apparent last night. The crowd was composed of people both young and old, equally writhing in anticipation for the arrival of The Thermals.

A fog lingered in the air in the typical fashion one has come to expect when attending a show at Lincoln Hall. All was dark, with the exception of the light emanating from the massive “LH” marquise in the center of the room. Then, it begun.

The first few notes of their song Into the Code rang out and reverberated against the walls of the venue. The room literally shook with fervor as the audience went nuts. The stage was lit by a spectacle of vibrant hues of reds and blues. Frontman Hutch Harris graced the stage alongside bandmates Kathy Foster (bass), and Westin Glass (drums). They were also joined on stage by Jessica Boudreaux, lead singer and guitarist, of Summer Cannibals (the opening act). The on-stage chemistry between the four of them was electric.

The night was kicked off by two songs from of their latest album, We Disappear. Their set was mainly comprised of songs off their 2006 album, “The Body, the Blood, the Machine.” The Thermals alternated between playing tracks off of those two albums throughout the night. They also made sure to incorporate some of their older work as well.

Songs flowed seamlessly into one another as they were transitioning between them, and the audience did not miss a beat. Hands flew to the sky in anticipation as the song, Hey You, started playing. Everyone was waiting for the lyrics, “Hey you” to ring out, so they could join together in pointing their fingers at Hutch as he extended his hand right back to the crowd. The band’s interaction with the audience was phenomenal; they presented themselves as being quite tangible to encourage crowd participation. Any quiet lulls between songs, which were few and far between, were filled with the enthusiastic hollers of the responsive crowd.

The Thermals began their encore by playing the song, No Culture Icons off of their first album. The satisfaction that swept over the crowd was palpable. It was a moment of overwhelming contentment and bliss for everyone-the kind of bliss that words can only go so far to describe. It felt similar to the sensation of putting socks on cold feet, or spontaneously hearing a song on the radio that you hadn’t heard in years but you knew once held great meaning to you.

The audience was great and everyone felt comfortable being in such close quarters with one another. The Thermals dominated with their killer stage presence, and gave a stellar performance that Lincoln Hall will be sure to remember.