Ten year anniversary tours are a weird trend of late. Many times, it feels like a popular band just plays a record that made them so popular that they’ve actually been playing most of the songs for the last decade anyway. Other times, it pulls a band back from the grave to see what was in an attempt to regain the energy that made the album special.
I expected Nightmare of You’s 10 year anniversary tour of their self-titled album to be the latter, but their recent show in Chicago was a far different experience. Instead of being a show of what could have been, it was a celebration of what was and the appreciation of an audience that still cared about them.
Nightmare of You have always felt like an enigma to me, as they never caught on the way that they should have. Nightmare of You, their debut album was a stylized, glamour-soaked indie pop album that seemed keen to take over the music scene. In the mid 2000’s, bands of similar ilk (Panic! At the Disco, The Academy Is…, etc.) became household names quite rapidly. NoY’s sound was instantly ensnaring for those who heard it, light and sweet, but with enough sexually tense lyricism to make Pete Wentz jealous. Unfortunately, the band disappeared soon afterward.
Only in recent years have they seemed to begin working again, with a smattering of demo releases on Bandcamp and one-off shows. This anniversary tour, though, proved that their debut still held the attention of fans after so long and the shows reflect that. Chicago’s date was oddly intimate and drawn out as little as possible. Much like the album itself, the show was magnificently paced with significant impact, proving its point and leaving the enjoyment intact.
The only opening act, Chicago’s Even Thieves, is a relatively new band with just some singles online and an EP handed out after the show. However, they harbor a massive talent. Even Thieves cover the stage almost entirely with two guitarists, bassist, drummer, keyboardist and singer.
Even Thieves are a talent waiting to be found. Their music is a sweet mixture of Angels & Airwaves coupled with the steadied guitar work of a ‘wannabe’ Oasis. While some of their rock songs ran a tad long, although they would immediately jump ship into a pop punk song and spring momentum back into the room. Their main flaw was just that not enough people knew who they were. Most heads in the crowd bobbed, but few sang back. But if anything can make or break a band, it’s a powerful closer.
Several members took to the back of the stage to join in on individual snare drums coupled with an amazing drummer, creating a massive marching band style percussion conclusion that ended their set on an incredible high note. Seeing them gave me the same sense that Nightmare of You instilled so many years ago – there is something great hiding beneath the surface that just needs to be uncorked.
Taking the stage, Nightmare of You jumped immediately into album opener, “The Days Go By Oh So Slow”. For a band that has been out of the scene for a while, NoY sound nearly perfect live. Singer Brandon Reilly belted each song with an exact precision, despite seeming slightly nervous on stage.
While their songs sizzled, the night settled into a chilled scene, contrary to the energetic songs. The crowd barely seemed to move, save for head bobs and the rambling mouths singing along to each song. Rather than dance, the audience seemed more focused on hanging onto each and every note of songs that hadn’t come to Chicago in many years.
From the agonizing dance beat of “My Name Is Trouble” through to the whimsical finale, “Heaven Runs On Oil”, NoY created a hypnotic wave over the venue. Reilly spoke briefly between songs, not about the album or to give nonchalant thank yous, but just so the audience could get to know them a little better. It allowed the audience to become a part of the show as much as they were watching it. At one point, Reily invited anyone who wanted to recite a poem onstage, only to pull a man from the front row up who delivered some quick prose before disappearing back into the crowd.
The anniversary tour of Nightmare of You is a celebration of continued interest and mutual respect. Rather than expect the audience to relive what the album was, the band invited them to remember what it meant to them. The entire show was a reflection about what made it special, without specifically addressing the fact, making the entire event a casual conversation with the very people who had supported it for so long.
This show meant more than the usual anniversary tour. It wasn’t a rehashed, fleshed out version of a usual tour date, nor a one off for a dead band. It felt like a memory playing out on stage. The laid back format, and the way that the band treated the audience like friends, as though they were playing at a wedding, made the entire performance feel more personal. Reflecting on an album and what it meant to you to begin with can be more powerful than just a casual listen through, especially in a room full of people having the same experience.
by Kyle Schultz
Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and has nightmares of himself. WHAT?! OH NOES!
I saw them in Manhattan last month, and they totally killed it. I wish they had played some songs off their EP, but I know that wasn’t the focus of the show.