CONCERT REVIEW: Soen – Oceans of Slumber Live at Lincoln Hall


Chicago is renowned for being home to some of the country’s most acclaimed concert venues. Lincoln Hall resides just north of downtown and has been voted as one of the best spots for live music in the city by sites like Yelp and Foursquare. The owners of Schubas Tavern opened their second location in 2009 in a hundred-year-old building and have been hosting transcendent live appearances since. Soen picked well to make this their Midwest stop on their one-month-long North American tour.

The chilly Tuesday evening last week was the first night of the band’s 20-show run. The doors opened an hour later than advertised and the line wrapped around the historic hall into the alley. As everyone stood among the dumpsters and made friends with rats that scurried between trash piles, the line finally started to move and soon the dark comforting warmth of the venue fell on the freezing fans. A pleasant hum of humans scrambled about softly as the quaint venue began to fill. Soon the lights went out and a trio took the stage. Oceans of Slumber came armed only with vocals, keys, and bass. Frontwoman Cammie Beverly smiled and said, “We might look a little different tonight”. This Texan group decided to present their work in a more stripped down fashion on this run of shows. They took the fortitude of their more known Doom/Prog vibe and translated it into this gothic, ethereal and emotional ride. They played a variety of numbers, including a couple tracks from their latest release Starlight and Ash (Century Media Records) and a Björk cover. Dobber Beverly’s piano playing comfortably waltzed with his wife’s vivacious vocals. Dressed like royalty in crown and dress, Beverly belted her words with pure conviction and angst. Though the mic maneuvered in a way to block her at times like a shield, her honest proclamations created an intimate and transparent experience. This shift in gears was well received by the packed out room and the focus on Beverly’s skill had everyone enamored. This soft, sensitive mood highlighted the real soul, grit, and strength of this act.

The pint-sized hall grew toasty as the jovial crowd grew antsy waiting for the headliners. Soon Soen strode onto the stage with flair, charm, and delight. Opening with their popular piece, ‘Monarch’ off their 2021 full-length Monarch (Silver Lining Music) had the room roaring. Faces from the crowd beamed as they jived and jammed with the band cranking out a variety of fan favorites. The vocals were occasionally shared between three of the five members. The power in the compatibility of each guy was profound and enchanting. Martín Lòpez (ex-Opeth) charged in with his substantial sound that anchored the elegant work on strings and keys. Joel Ekelöf’s vocals projected with ease, expertise, and precision. Each member had a steadfastness and Ekelöf effortlessly allied with their strength to expose their true innovation and intelligence. Pieces like ‘Martyrs’ and ‘Covenant’ cheerfully rippled over the crowd by the passionate and poignant playing. This group gives off a prim and proper aesthetic with their straight backs and constant smiling. Ekelöf did not hog center stage and often stood back to share the attention with other band mates. True teamwork and comradery was felt between them. A coy, thoughtful gleam caught their eyes as they banged out songs from all over their discography. The cadence and thrum of strings sweetly stung at the senses. The vocal nuances carried so much magic making their new recorded concert film, Atlantis all the more worth watching. The night came to an end with their two big hits, ‘Lascivious’ and ‘Lotus’. The winsome evening wrapped up too quickly, but everyone left hopeful since Ekelöf declared in his deep, resonant voice, that they would be back soon.


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