Young Fathers @ Bottom Lounge [Chicago] - 11/19/2018

Not too long before Mercury Prize-award winners Young Fathers were set to perform at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge, doors and set times were pushed back an hour, meaning the band wouldn’t hit the stage till after 11 PM. But a cold Monday and a late start time didn’t stop a crowd of 500 strong from spending a crisp hour or so with the Scottish trio, who combine hip-hop and rap, tribal percussion, anthemic vocals, and warm synths for an intriguing, utterly danceable mix.

Cursive frontman Tim Kasher at Thalia Hall in Chicago (Photo by  Alex Schelldorf )

Cursive frontman Tim Kasher at Thalia Hall in Chicago (Photo by Alex Schelldorf)

The true joy of Young Fathers, though, is seeing vocalists Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole, Graham Hastings, and their touring percussionist Steven Morrison, in a live setting. As they did with their show at DC’s Rock and Roll Hotel in 2015, the band came out, performed an efficient, razor sharp 14 songs, eschewed banter, and then left the stage, passing on an encore as they do for every performance.

On its surface, for a band that seemingly exists outside the world of punk or hardcore, these decisions might be viewed as curt, even dismissive of their fans, to not acknowledge them and give thanks. But that couldn’t be further from the truth; it’s merely a band sure of themselves, who do not feel beholden to current expectations of live shows as spaces for planned “encores” or endless noodling. What’s more punk than that?

Touring in support of their latest, Cocoa Sugar, which came out earlier this year on Ninja Tune, the group played a career-spanning set, with selections from their three albums and two mixtapes. If Young Fathers happens to be near you at any point in your life, there’s no two ways about it: see this band live.

Atlanta’s experimental post-gospel band Algiers opened. Their latest, The Underside of Power, was released last year on Matador. They will embark on a UK tour early next year.

Photos by Alex Schelldorf

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