Florence + The Machine is a Welsh band, that has successfully taken a spectrum of sounds from various genres and melded them into something wonderful. On April 12th, they stopped at the House of Blues in Chicago for part of their first tour in the United States. Expectations were high going into the show, and Florence didn’t let the crowd down.
Unfortunately, the opening band Holy Hail did. Their debut album “Independent Pleasure Club” is an interesting entry in the indie rock scene, with sounds that are reminiscent of both The Ting Tings and Sons and Daughters. Anyone who was hoping for a performance on par with their album quickly had those hopes crushed by the cacophony that Holy Hail produced. Most of the fault was probably with the sound engineer: Holy Hail’s entire set sounded like a drum set and guitar duet. All hints of charming vocals by Cat Hartwell and Kevin Cooke were killed by poor mixing. Another concert-goer was spotted texting, “Flo’s opening band is giving me a headache,” and that really sums it up best. Add the poor sound quality to the fact that they didn’t perform a single recognizable song from their album, and you’re left with an overall disappointment.
Thankfully, after a 45 minute break, Florence was quick to rescue the crowd with her opening number of “Falling”. The lighting was a little obnoxious (only on the first song), and nearly invoked a few seizures, but the sound quality was superb and stayed that way the entire time Florence + The Machine was on stage. Each song was performed as masterfully as it had been crafted, and Florence’s theatrical presence and movements lent themselves to the thematic natures of the songs quite well. She didn’t have to rely on typical gimmicks to engage the crowd because her performance was entrancing enough to draw everyone in on its own.
The band wrapped things up with two encores, but everyone still seemed to want more. As people were filing out of the venue, not a negative word could be heard about the show, and all thoughts of Holy Hail’s abomination had been erased from the audience’s mind. Florence + The Machine’s fantastic outpouring reminded us all that there is usually a good reason a band is opening instead of headlining.