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Trashcan Sinatras: 9 August 2009 - Chicago

Frances Reader and the Trashcan Sinatras at Schubas Tavern, Chicago

9 August 2009 - Schubas Tavern, Chicago / Words and Pictures by Kirstie Shanley

Fans of Scotland’s five-piece Trashcan Sinatras were thrilled last Sunday night to have the opportunity to see them playing songs again from their previous five studio albums as well as new material. Devotees were also excited to be able to purchase their newest, soon to be officially released album, In the Music, which the band is planning on touring on more extensively in the fall. Despite that The Trashcan Sinatras have technically been around for nearly 25 years, its members don’t seem worn down. They haven’t lost their ability to be truly engaging live, finding a balance between subtlety and devoted cries.

It’s been at least five years since Chicago has seen these talented Scots, who write songs so melodic and sincere that one can’t help but feel an immediate nostalgia as soon as each one draws to a close. Additionally, the melodies are often sing-songy, like a lullaby even though sometimes about more serious topics. Lead vocalist Francis Reader was as humble and modest as his songs suggest, thankful for the sold out crowd and an audience who knew all the lyrics by heart.

Instead of playing most of the soon to be released album, the band indulged long time fans (some had driven across states to be at the show) by playing their favorites, including some of their most prominent, such as “I’ve Seen Everything,” “Weightlifting” “Easy Read,” and “Orange Fell.” They also played “Prisons” and melded it seamlessly into a cover of George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.” The new songs were not in any way a departure for the band in terms of style and melody. Trashcan Sinatras are definitely not looking to reinvent themselves but are more than willing to provide us with comfort music full of reassuring heartfelt lyrics and accompaniments.

Though there was a great deal of instrumentation on stage, including bass, guitar, drums, and keyboards and ample guitar pedals, the songs sounded the opposite of cluttered throughout the set, not weighed down by any one instrument at any point. Missing was the usual sense of distortion one typically hears when pedal effects are used. Aside from Frances Reader dominating the vocals overall, it felt like each member was contributing in his own way equally and wholeheartedly to create something wonderful.

Easily receiving a boisterous encore after over an hour of playing, the band rewarded fans with another 20 minutes of songs including,“All the Dark Horses,” “Ealies” and “Send For Henny.” Though most of the city was over in Grant Park witnessing the end of Lollapalooza and Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell take the stage with a swooping overhead helicopter, those at Schubas felt perfectly at home, blissful to be part of a smaller and more sacred gathering.

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