We had a chance to escape and enjoy one of Chicago’s last “mild” nights before the second iteration of the polar vortex swept through. How fortunate were we to spend the evening with Phillip Michael-Scales and Briar Rabbit at the From Your Bones record release show.
Opening for Briar Rabbit were Julia Klee, Dirty Pigeons, and Todd Kessler and the New Folk.
Briar Rabbit started the set with “Indian Summer” and proceeded right into one of my favorites from his debut, “The Company You Keep”. Through the rest of the set Phillip touched on most, if not all, of the tracks from From Your Bones.
The audience was even treated to “Gifted Girl Blues”, which the band was performing for first time live.
I was enjoying the Briar Rabbit tunes so much that when they started playing something I didn’t instantly recognize as theirs, it threw me for a bit of a loop. Upon realizing I was watching them play “Hit Me Baby One More Time”, I was ecstatic. I mean, who doesn’t love a Britney Spears throwback? Oddly enough, the band flowed seamlessly from that slice of 90’s pop into another track from Briar Rabbit & The Company You Keep, “Tread Lightly”.
Brought to life on stage with as much feeling as I had anticipated was “Lock Up Before You Leave”. This heart-wrenching song ended with a pause as the audience absorbed both the lyrics and the performance. We were quickly snapped out of that mindset as Phillip prepped the audience for their finale. “Quit being so damn attentive!” he joked. So, well, we did.
The audience quickly snapped into a different mindset for Briar Rabbit’s closing song. Energy filled the space as we waited for music to begin. The show ended with “So Long”, one of my favorite tracks off of From Your Bones. Way back in August, the track was released as a precursor to the album, and its live performance lived up to everything I had been hoping it would. Briar Rabbit and his band did a phenomenal job, but what really brought the song full circle was the audience participation, including clapping and the singing of Briar Rabbit’s affectionately nicknamed “Choir Rabbits”.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – one of my favorite parts about a Briar Rabbit show might be Phillip himself. He looked so happy and enthusiastic playing, and sometimes he smiled during musical interludes and looked like he was truly meant to be a performer – even when his banter is off (his words, not mine!). It’s people like him and performances like last Saturday’s that truly give me faith in the music industry.