Article by Joshua Krol
Photos by Davis Bergstrom
It was a cold and windy night in Chicago last weekend, with the rain beginning to fall just as people began scurrying inside Concord Music Hall to find warmth within the chill vibes of Bonobo, the night’s headliner. Bonobo, real name Simon Green, has been a unique force in the electronic scene for the last fifteen years. His impeccable talent to seamlessly blend funk, trip-hop, and jazz has earned him a steady following, and the vibes were in full effect for his set in Chi-town that night.
In support of Bonobo’s Midwest return, the musical lineup included a collection of local DJ’s including Nauss, Sleepy Pilch, Vapor Eyes and Striz. These hometown homies really got the night started right, throwing down smooth beats that got us all loosened up and ready to party. As the lights grew dim on the final DJ of the local showcase, the stage crew started to break down the equipment, and began setting up for the final opener, Nightmares on Wax.
George Evelyn, who goes by Nightmares on Wax, is a vinyl junkie from Europe whose chill-house and downtempo tunes have been well received in the electronic scene for years. Evelyn opened his set by letting the Bob Marley classic “Is This Love” play out under deep blue lights that had the crowd singing along. Suddenly, the track stopped and tempos switched. Lights began to turn from blue to bright as Evelyn dropped a Drum-N-Bass sampler that surprised the crowd as they began to move more feverishly.
Following the fast paced purge, Evelyn eventually slowed things down again. The rest of the set stepped in more of a funk and soul groove with a Biggie Smalls remix intertwined. Just past midnight, Nightmares on Wax ended his set as more people began to fill up the intimate venue for the headliner.
With dark red lights covering the stage, Greene took his place behind the DJ booth, put the headphones on that were around his neck and started to build. He bounced from side to side, delicately twisting knobs and shifting noise levels. Before long, the buildup met its breaking point and the beat dropped into the jangly “Kiara” to the crowds delight.
Bonobo was able to control his entire audience all night with his powerful yet meticulous approach to dance music. Not long after he took the stage you could see everyone’s hands in the air and the whole venue getting down. Spanning his entire catalog, Bonobo ripped through a plethora of hits including “Cirrus” alongside selections from his latest EP Spotlight.
Bonobo treated fans with close to two hours of lush landscapes on what was one of two select United States dates (NYC being the second). Samples varying from trumpets, strings and other world instruments made for a monumental night.
Greene will be touring overseas in the coming year, including a stop at Canada’s infamous Shambala Music and Arts Festival. It was obvious by the tremendous ovation he received that Chicago is anxious for his return to the windy city.
All photos by Davis Bergstrom for Compose Yourself Mag.