Last Night: Smith Westerns At Fitzgerald's
We're guessing Fitzgeralds' Sunday crowd was either comprised of pleased Packers fans or the athletically apathetic, because minus a few audible team shout-outs, one could barely even tell the Super Bowl took place. Instead, fans - of music, not football per se - crammed into Fitz' snug downstairs room to catch a set from Chicago buzz band Smith Westerns.
It's tough to write about Smith Westerns and not at least acknowledge their tender ages; none of the band could so much as (legally) enjoy a beer onstage when their self-titled debut album was released in 2009. In fact, they still can't. Smith Westerns introduced the band's lo-fi gritty-yet-glam sound; the album was fittingly recorded in an actual basement, which is maybe as close to defining true "garage rock" as it gets.
Fast-forward seven months (which is like, years to teenagers) and Smith Westerns are now touring in support of their sophomore release, last month's Dye It Blonde. The record continues where Smith Westerns left off: It's fuzzy and grainy, and full of glam-rock guitar tones; however, Blonde's tracks appear more polished than their predecessors, while successfully managing to preserve the band's grit and youthful abandon.
Naturally, we were curious whether this progress would transfer live, especially since it's been announced the band will support alt-rock deities Wilco on their upcoming tour.
The fresh-faced foursome kicked off their set with Blonde track "Still New," an evident Ziggy Stardust nod with a singsong melody and wailing guitar riff. Front man Cullen Omori donned a psychedelic-print button-down, his tousled hair covering his face as he sang; the get-up seemed to only confirm his palpable '70s influences a la Bowie and T. Rex.
Omori led the band, with limited banter, through a solid set of mostly new tracks, with a sprinkling of older additions like "Dreams," "Tonight," and Smith standout "Girl in Love." "Weekend" shone, with its efficiently divergent vocal harmonies, sunny chorus, and distorted guitars.