The mood was effervescent and effulgent last night at Chicago’s City Winery, which, despite its promotion, had more than just savory cocktails with the potential side effect of intoxication; no, even wine and other consumed drinks couldn’t numb the senses of the magic that took place; along with the low-lit blue hues and elegantly hung white lights, the real source of allure was local favorites Company of Thieves, who played an acoustic set to a sold out crowd. It’s only sensible that its two founding members, Genevieve Schatz and Marc Walloch, decided to share a stripped down performance and revert to their roots of how they began as a band, for the dynamic presented was truly one of its own and inevitably entrancing. Certainly, the band is notorious for wowing crowds across the country with a full band and its hearty melodies and heartfelt lyrics, but this setup absolutely epitomized an even deeper sense of spectacularity from start to finish. As if that wasn’t enough to sway the crowd into a stupor, there was even a customized Company of Thieves wine available for purchase during and after the event.
The performance featured a melodic myriad of songs from the band’s catalog: old-school favorites like “Oscar Wilde” and “The Fire Song” were well-received, as well as releases off of their latest album (Running From a Gamble), such as “Tallulah” (featuring UI’s co-ed jazz a cappella ensemble, No Strings Attached), “Look Both Ways” and “Nothing’s in the Flowers.” Two new, unreleased songs were featured, too (“Too Tired” and “Younger”), not to mention covers by The Strokes, Lauryn Hill and Nina Simone, who Schatz giddily admitted to being a fan of since she was at least 12 years old. She said, “My friends were listening to Britney Spears and N*Sync and making dance routines to them; I followed along because you gotta’ have friends, but secretly I was listening to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. I’m coming out of the closet!” The way she belted out “In the Dark” confirmed just how thorough of a listener she had been for so many years, as she emulated utmost perfection with the tune, but also enhanced it with her one-of-a-kind smooth, smoky vocals and sprightly storytelling in her hand gestures. Every song Schatz delivered with flawless brilliance and beyond, and Walloch matched with his five-star quality guitar expertise; the crowd could literally feel every emotion the two experienced as they played, but even on the most serious of songs, Schatz often emitted a buoyant giggle to lighten the intensity. She didn’t even need a microphone to accentuate her empyrean and superlatively controlled, yet projectable voice, though the addition of it ensured the audience would sprout goosebumps and maintain them infinitely for the night.
The camaraderie between Schatz and Walloch was even more visible at this event, for the two laughed at one another playfully throughout the entire set. Walloch even joked that the band was going to move into the wine business, where Schatz quickly said, “…which would just include us posting stickers of our faces on wine bottles!”
The evening was indubitably unforgettable, and those who were unable to attend will have another chance, for the band will perform for a second evening at the City Winery on March 19, and tickets are available here. Check out the band on Facebook and Twitter (@cotlife) for more information.