For one it’s the Empty Bottle, far and away the best space to see live music in the city — I think Township, maybe The Hideout round it out. And two, that the setting has remained the same gives me the kind of wiggle room to step back and judge their progression from set to set to set.
That I’ve seen them pre- and post-Pitchfork swoop in is huge, as the kind of growth exhibited Thursday — even from their (pre-Pitchfork) totally fantastic record release about a month and a half earlier — is noticeable. Let me expound some.
Essentially, Outer Minds displayed more confidence than the pair of shows I’ve seen them play earlier in the year. They were sharp; they were tight. I think by now they recognize that they must brave a certain kind of fandom that they, as a band, have not had to confront with in the past. It all seems rather new to most of them. And I like that.
And yet there’s a kind of name recognition now. A number of people I bumped into Thursday said they came out to see, principally, Outer Minds – not headliner Mark Sultan. That’s giant, folks, as it seems it isn’t uncommon for people to disregard even top bills they’re familiar with. Chicagoans, me included, came out Thursday for Outer Minds.
The bands remains, still, fabulously approachable. They’re kicking around before their set, and they stick around through the end of the night. They haven’t let the Pitchfork thing get to their heads, and how mature of them to do so. I don’t know for certain, but I’ll go ahead and assume that their set at Pitchfork’s music festival in July will be their biggest show, as Outer Minds, to date. What a tremendous thing to have weighing on their shoulders, as they so kindly open for Mark Sultan on a Thursday eve in Chicago.
I will say, though, that their set missed the kind of energy I remember from their February and April shows. Still fun? Oh, toooootally. But instruments like tambourine, keyboards, drums; they need to — I think — be pounded upon by now. They need to be clobbered because they’re physical instruments that buzz when struck. Three of their five instruments are this way, and all the more reason to do so.
It seems, due to festival restrictions, that this might be the final Outer Minds show before the Pitchfork set in July. I sincerely wish ‘em the best. Do Chicago proud, Outer Minds!
- The Chicago-based Outer Minds is Zach Medearis (vocals, guitar), A-Ron Orlowski (bass), Brian Costello (drums), Mary McKane (keys, vocals) and Gina Lira (tambourine, vocals). | Facebook
- The debut LP is yours for $12. | Southpaw Records
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