Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Jordan Swanson
The third show in The House of Vans summer season was curated by Julien Baker, featuring performances from Macseal, Wye Oak, and herself headlining, with art by Ariel Wolfe Baldwin and Lauren Asta. This show was sold-out, so the venue was absolutely packed.
As people began to pile inside, those already inside sipped on their free Goose Island beer as they looked at the art installed. It was a mix of abstract art and pop art based on Baker’s songs. A few people braved the rain to buy food from the food truck outside, enjoying it under some tents set up.
Macseal started off the night. The pop punk band, who hails from Long Island, has a sound that’s ripped from 2006. They recorded an LP back in March and announced that it’ll be dropping soon, but didn’t give a date. Catch Macseal back in Chicago at the Subterranean on September 11th!
The second band was Wye Oak. The electronic indie pop-rock duo was founded in Baltimore in 2006. Their fifth album, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs was released in February 2018. Halfway through their amazing performance, they said that this was their first performance in 8 months. Amazingly, the band still sounded extremely tight.
The crowd was starting to get anxious while they waited. The suspense was building up for Julien’s performance. The 23 year old, who’s opened for artists such as Death Cab for Cutie and Paramore, just walked out and started to play.
She had great stage presence, a hush falling over the crowd as soon as she stepped on stage. The House of Vans, packed to capacity, had fallen silent.
She started playing her sad songs, occasionally stopping to take a sip of tea or to great the crowd. After receiving a lot of applause near the end of her set, she said “Thanks for clapping and physically showing your enthusiasm” which led to more clapping.
It was just her and her guitar for about half of the show. Baker swapped out her acoustic guitar on a few songs for a piano. She was not alone on stage for the entire time, though. She had a violinist join her for a few of her songs.