How to Dress Well + Julie Byrne played the MCA (review, video)
by Evan Lee
Last night (9/4), How to Dress Well (aka Tom Krell) brought his current tour through Chicago for a sold-out, hometown performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art. HTDW, which now tours as a four piece, were joined by Seattle singer-songwriter Julie Byrne, who kicked off the night with her warm, intricately finger-picked tunes.
How to Dress Well's headlining set consisted largely of songs from album of the year contender "What Is This Heart?". Krell delivered his songs confidently and enthusiastically, with his live band proving a dynamic counterpart to his decidedly powerful voice. While a venue more conducive to audience movement than the fully seated MCA might have better suited upbeat songs like the '90s R'n'B-worshipping "Very Best Friend," the room's fantastic acoustics more than compensated for that when they made pitch-perfect performances of slower songs like "Suicide Dream 1" and "2 Years On" all the more haunting.
Intimacy was the word of the night-- the entire performance felt refreshingly casual and never seemed overly-rehearsed. Krell joked with his band and the audience in-between his heart-wrenching songs. At the end of set highlight "Set It Right," Krell brilliantly interpolated Young Thug's hook from Rich Gang's track "Lifestyle." While I wasn't sure how Krell could successfully follow such an entrancing set, he found a way when he returned to the stage to offer a seemingly off-the-cuff, a cappella rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Look to You." Krell stumbled and forgot some of the lyrics, but his imperfect performance perfectly encapsulated the intimate and friendly mood that How To Dress Well curated the entire night.
Check out some video footage of "Cold Nites" from the MCA after the jump...
How To Dress Well - "Cold Nites" @ MCA 9.4.14