My wife and I just got back from a quick trip to Chicago to catch the incomparable Sharon Van Etten in concert at Thalia Hall. I first encountered Van Etten’s music about a decade ago during the release cycle for her second studio album, Epic. I was working as a music journalist at the time and that LP’s hypnotic standout track “One Day” had become one of my favorite songs of the year.
I never had a chance to see Van Etten live during that era, though, and it seemed like I might not ever get the chance after she stopped touring and recording back in 2015.
She came back with a vengeance last Friday, supporting her great new record Remind Me Tomorrow with a savagely engaging set. Draped in smokey red and blue hues that would be at home in The Roadhouse from Twin Peaks (where she has appeared as a musical guest, by the way), Van Etten had full command of the stage.
Although I really came for her older songs like “One Day,” “Serpents,” and “Every Time the Sun Comes Up,” it was new songs like “Comeback Kid,” “You Shadow,” “Jupiter 4” and a killer rendition of “Seventeen” that were the most arresting parts of the show, performed with ferocity by Van Etten and her band.
Of course this musical diversion meant breaking from my normal training routine, so my wife and I ended up knocking out our 14-mile long run in Cincinnati on Friday morning before making the drive to Chicago, and then getting in our 10k recovery run after we arrived back in Cincinnati on Sunday. That arrangement was a little exhausting, but doing our long run on a brisk February morning in Chi-Town didn’t sound terribly appealing either (all of this despite the fact that I am somewhat realistically hoping to qualify for the Chicago Marathon at some point in the near future).
Van Etten’s current tour of the US is short, and it only lasts a few more days (and most of those dates are sold out), but you should definitely check her out if you have the chance. I hope we don’t have to wait quite so long to see her on stage again.