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Hop Along & Speedy Ortiz @ Thalia Hall (pics)

photos by Angelo Fiore, words by Calley Nelson

East-coasters Speedy Ortiz and Hop Along played a packed show last Thursday (5/19) at Thalia Hall, the Chicago stop of their co-headlining tour. This show had local support from The Love of Everything, the solo project of Joan of Arc/Make Believe’s Bobby Burg. On this tour, Speedy Ortiz and Hop Along have been taking turns playing headliner, and it was Hop Along’s turn to take a shot at the last song.

Speedy Ortiz opened with “Taylor Swift,” an early single about having too many boyfriends, leading into “The Graduates.” Songs like “Raising the Skate” attempted to move the crowd, but the audience opted for timid observation as Dupuis rattled complex lyrics with the diction only poetry majors seem to possess. Dupuis showcased her right as a guitarist with “Ginger” before leaping into “Puffer,” a song that shows how exciting Speedy Ortiz’s range and experimentation can be, evoking the wave of early 2000s pop. Most songs hold a welcomed jam session, but when they don’t, Dupuis takes the lead, offering her often-shrill vocals for the alternative-pop star title. Helmed by her band, she took twitter song requests, thanking Chicago for “being drunk and earnest… in the best way!” before launching into “March 6th“ for the closer (you know, that one song Hannibal Burress played drums for during SXSW last year?)

Hop Along opened their set with “Waitress” and a huge crowd singalong instantly broke out. The band quipped with the audience about whether Art of Pizza or Lou Malnatis served the better deep-dish (Lou Malnatis, duh) before playing “The Knock.” What Hop Along excels at is drawing their listeners in with a springy beat, layering tough subject matter over what seem to be upbeat songs. In “Horseshoe Crabs” lead singer Frances Quinlan flipped from raspy croons to airy highs almost effortlessly, then, the band threw themselves into the highlight of the night with “Laments,” a ballad about the complications of settling down, followed by their most recognizable song, “Tibetan Pop Stars.” The band gave a shout out to their Chicago-based poster artist before playing “Sally II,” a song they say they haven’t played in Chicago for a while. Briefly swapping instruments to cover Nirvana’s “Sappy,” Hop Along joked about the future of their lineup.

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