Last time the Raveonettes were in town they played a free show at Cubby Bear—a somewhat unlikely venue (though once an alt-scene haven) for their cultivated cool, surprising since their switch to the ultra-hip Vice Records with 2008’s Lust Lust Lust. This time around, the band stopped by Chicago’s vastly more appropriate Lincoln Hall to support their fifth LP, Raven in the Grave, released only a day before the show.
Tamaryn started off the night with a short set that was all hair and silvery vocals, complemented and echoed by bandmate Rex John Shelverton’s swirling guitar. It’s been tough to characterize last year’s debut The Wave as anything other than shoegaze, and the performance—particularly the lumbering bass on “Mild Confusion”—also felt like a resurgence of bands like The Black Angels, Darker My Love and A Place to Bury Strangers that were releasing records at the end of the last decade. The album is loaded with so many other rich influences, yet seen live it didn’t give much body to songs like “Love Fade” and “Coral Flower,” which shimmers with thoughtful production on the album. Tamaryn’s pristine low-registers got lost in the rest of the setup, sounding more like an effect than the interplay she teases out between alto whispers and heaving vocals.
Raveonettes entered the stage with the sweeping guitar bends of Raven opener “Recharge and Revolt,” then segued into the soft “War In Heaven” and the album’s first single, “Forget That You’re Young.” Looking almost like a Reid brother, guitarist Sune Rose Wagner took on more singing duties than usual, taking turns with bassist/vocalist/fashion plate Sharin Foo. Their set picked up after the old Chain Gang of Love favorite “Noisy Summer” and their breakthrough “Love in a Trashcan” on Pretty in Black.
On headphones, Raven sounds innocuous compared to Pretty in Black, and it seems like the band has traded in their Danish disaffection and L.A. surf sensibilities for goth-pop melancholy. Onstage though, Raveonettes expanded those reflective spaces, oftentimes beating them into a garage-style pulp with two stand-up drum sets on either side of the stage kicking things along. They played nearly the whole record, and when a fan requested another entire album be played after the encore, Foo even joked, “We played way too many cover songs this time.” The band ended instead with Raven’s closing track “My Time’s Up,” giving the wistful waltz yet another garage jam treatment.