A Bleachers playlist blends the pop electro-synth beats of Depeche Mode and New Order with the acoustic country-rock inspirations of Bruce Springsteen.
A crowd of 5,000—nearly reaching the limit of one of Chicago’s largest inner-city venues by squeezing folks against the interior’s walls—echoed lyrics at the top of their lungs to an extended version of the Bleachers song How Dare You Want More, following the directions of a sweaty frontman Jack Antonoff. The four-minute song was transformed into a nearly 10-minute tune, with extensive breaks for solos from other members of the band. Loud drum beats from two separate kits sharply hit the air, followed by Antonoff guiding the crowd to repeat the verse, “tonight we’re gonna drown the sound out,” after him. Two saxophonists, alto and tenor, battled by delivering a combination of bright and brassy blows into the room, again followed by crowd participation in singing. Then a mellow bass solo, ending with Antonoff and fans singing as one, truly “taking the sadness out of [Thursday] night.”
The blues-driven rock band has graced a number of Chicago stages in the past, but mainly smaller ones such as Schubas Tavern, Subterranean and the Riviera Theatre, as well as some festival appearances including Riot Fest. Being the first time the full band headlined an Aragon Ballroom show, there was immense energy, gratitude and pride ringing throughout the room on Oct. 28. After a recent release of their latest album Take The Sadness Out of Saturday Night, the show warranted a bigger venue this time around—possibly marking the direction of its reach in the future. Headed by Antonoff, the band’s music has often been written, recorded and produced by Antonoff himself in the past, without the presence of a full band. The songs are written in a more stripped-down style, but once performed in full they bring a sound and experience unlike any other. The touring band delivers a show that feels deeply personal to the city they’re in, with everyone dancing, sweating and smiling in an absolute euphoric state.
Bleachers’ latest album vibrates the same upbeat instrumentation they have had on previous releases but pays homage to a hometown feel of warm acoustics, driven by inspirations of New Jersey and Bruce Springsteen. Antonoff has always noted Springsteen as one of his biggest musical inspirations, being a New Jersey native himself. The latest album comes full circle by featuring Springsteen on the song Chinatown, with the renowned country-rock artist playing guitar and singing backup vocals on the track.
The album as a whole addresses the struggle of badly wanting to hold onto joy and positivity but not quite understanding why it’s so difficult to do so. Antonoff writes for himself but ends up writing for everyone else at the same time. He addresses simple concepts of heartbreak, inner struggles and dealing with the curveballs of life, but by bringing in a full band and driving the songs with instruments Bleachers turns melancholy feelings into a celebration. Their music allows for a moment of accepting what is and letting the music take control of mind and body. Bleachers confirms that one can feel utterly sad and happy all at once—that’s just life.
The band does not leave room for one to question their passion and dedication to giving fans their all during a performance. They have an immense energy that one cannot take their eyes off of, and a humbly warm sound that is impossible not to continue listening to.
Start with the song Stop Making This Hurt, and you might hear synth-pop beats reminiscent of new wave duo Erasure. Bleachers blends synth with a plethora of instruments.
Pay attention to the prominence of bluesy horns and the piano timbre, containing a blend of harmonics.
Visit Bleachers’ website for upcoming tour dates for the remainder of the year and March of 2022.
Kendall Polidori is The Rockhound, Luckbox’s resident rock critic. Follow her reviews on Instagram @rockhound_luckbox and Twitter @rockhoundlb.