It’s impossible to be a casual Veils fan. Once you hear the sense of desperation inherent within Finn Andrews’ vocals, you’re hooked. Unlike many bands in this modern age, The Veils have no air of pretense or sense of even standard performance. It’s purer than that and much more human. It’s undeniable that The Veils are capable of composing songs that fit within an indie rock genre with remarkably memorable guitar rifts and the lovely bass playing by Sophia Burn. This is tremendously apparent in songs like “Three Sisters”, “Calliope!”, and “The Letter”. However, it’s the utter raw vulnerability of Finn Andrews that comes out more than anything when you see the band live.
The Veils were back headlining in Chicago and the devoted crowd couldn’t be happier. Touring to support their third and most recent 2009 release, Sun Gangs, the band continues to have a deservedly growing fan base. Most thrilling is the way Andrews can yell and plead so vividly in songs like “Pan” and “Jesus for the Jugular” which seem even more intense live than on record. At the same time, he has the ability to be so gentle, talking dreamily about listening to Roy Orbison and Elvis between songs and maintaining a sense of humble modesty, thankful for the crowd’s awe.
It should also be noted that Andrews is adept at playing both keyboard and guitar, which he alternated between throughout the night. “Sit Down by the Fire” was especially brilliant with Andrews on keyboard. Regardless of the instrument he was playing, the rest of the band held up the backbone of the songs well, even when it seemed Andrews might have a breakdown. At one point, the crowd witnessed him banging the bottom of his guitar against the stage and crying out with the most primal seeming anguish. It’s not clear how Andrews can balance out such great depths of darkness with the brightness and light hearted sensibility of songs like “Advice For Young Mothers to Be” but he seems to do this better than anyone.
Throughout their 50-minute set, you get the sense that The Veils aren’t playing songs because it’s a living or because they are seeking fame and fortune. It’s the sense of the vital need to create that comes forth more than anything, which is why they deserve an audience more than anyone. It’s the essence of them as honest artists that make it impossible to turn away from it. In this modern world full of unhappy falseness, to quote “Calliope”: “What’s there left to believe in? / You’re all I’ve left to believe in.”