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Sparklehorse rides into Chicago

Sparklehorse / Jesse Sykes
Double Door
Chicago, IL
Feb. 21, 2007
Jesse Sykes
Jesse Sykes

Story by Martha Berner
Photos by Sarah Alair

After a five-year hiatus between studio releases, Sparklehorse is trading in the orchestra and symphony for a more guitar laden, poppier cast of songs. Welcomed by a full house at Chicago's Double Door, the band played such favorites as "Apple Bed" and "Eyepennies" from the dreamier 2001 release It's A Wonderful Life and kept indie rocker heads bobbing with more up tempo numbers like "Don't Take My Sunshine Away" and "Shade and Honey" from the new release Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain.

Maybe it was just the effect of the nearby fan blowing the hair from his face throughout the show or the stage lights shining through like rays of sun, but lead singer and Sparklehorse mastermind Mark Linkous seemed to commandeer the stage more like a rock 'n' roll bad ass and less like the introverted, indie enigma of shows past. You would never have guessed that he was fighting off a bout of the stomach flu, and I'm guessing that's what the fan was all about (he doesn't strike me as the type to go for that Liz Phair effect, and I'm not talking about her Exile in Guyville days!). I was admittedly drawn to the Dave Grohl effect this had on his stage presence and amused by the irony of it all.

Linkous captivated the audience with his whispering vocals and surreal lyrics and the show was a good balance of Sparklehorse past and present. After a dedicated demand for an encore, the band came back out and finished up with a moving "Gold Day." When asked about touring in an earlier interview Mark Linkous stated, " I'm just gonna let myself enjoy it."

Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter got the crowd warmed up with material from their new release Like, Love, Lust & The Open Halls of the Soul and had a trance like effect that left me feeling like I had just been thrown back to the mid-sixties. With long, dark hair draped around her face, Sykes' presence on stage was a mixture of sweet beauty with a mysterious edge. Her vocals, striking a resemblance at times to both Grace Slick and Bjork, were woven gracefully throughout the sometimes haunting melodies of her performance that evening.
Jesse Sykes
Jesse Sykes

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