After a bit of a touring hiatus, the New Deal made their return to Chicago last Friday night. It had been almost two years since they played Chicago’s Logan Square Auditorium and the last time was a throw-down, from what I’ve heard. The last time I saw the New Deal was nearly three years ago at the Middle East in Cambridge, so Friday night was somewhat of a reunion for us. The band did not disappoint, as they brought their high-energy blend of live jamming and modern dance music to a room full of enthusiastic fans…
Over the years, my one issue with the boys from Toronto is that their music is kind of a trade-off between the perfection of really full dance music and the spontaneity of a band that can change things on the fly. That’s not to say that I am not a huge fan of their live show, but if you are going to play music that can be grouped into the electronic variety, you have to be able to change with a genre that seems to reinvent itself nearly every year.
Playing before the show and in between sets was a nice DJ that kept the crowd moving when The New Deal was not. DJ Lou Dooben, pictured below, spun a solid two sets of some really nice dub and psychedelic tracks. I’ve honestly never heard of this DJ or the collaboration he is a part of, Phamily Gathering, though I’m definitely going to keep my eye on this group in the future.
I’ve been attending a lot of concerts recently and most of them have been “indie” bands more than anything else. It was really refreshing to see an act that plays what I consider to be a full concert: two sets, both around an hour long. I’m not sure who decided a band could play for fifty minutes and call that a concert but it should not be that way. To put it in perspective, the band’s first break in music came forty-five minutes into the show. Now that’s how you come out and start the night off proper!
I must say that the band’s hiatus — at least as the New Deal — brought some new energy and increased depth to their music. They really impressed with their ability to bring the crowd into a frenzy at several points during the first set. Darren Shearer (drums) showed off his beat-box skills a few times (pictured below). Jamie Shields’s virtuosity was on full display, playing the the keys and synths like he had four arms. The first set included a strong mix of bouncing house jams and some ambient slow-downs. About midway through the first set, they went into a break-beat sequence that was absolutely fantastic! There are very few bands that can do this live, and the New Deal is one of the best at it. I absolutely loved these five or ten minutes of the concert.
In my opinion, reviewing these guys is easy, because the second set was very much like the first. I had no idea what songs they were playing and it didn’t matter. It was a straight dance party. A lot of the folks who were on the sidelines during the first set, definitely loosened up and got into the mix during the latter half of the show. The entire place got loose. I swear, by the very end of the show I had unknowingly moved clear to the other side of the room, I think simply by the movement of the crowd. I wish these guys toured more, because the dynamic of the music only really shines through when you’re there in person, and this was another really strong night for the New Deal!
A special thanks to Adam George for snapping all of these amazing shots (more below).