Hats off to the Smith Westerns

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 As fans of all ages packed into Lincoln Hall on Christmas Eve Eve, there was something magical in the air.  Everyone seemed acutely aware that we were going to be part of a very special experience with one of our favorite Chicago bands.  While the whole thing was bittersweet, most fans focused on showing appreciation for the band and the music they created over the past 7 years.

Openers Paul Cherry and Dam Gila opened the show and got the crowd amped up for the evening.  Dressed in red, Paul Cherry and his bandmates grabbed everyone’s attention and pumped out some catchy tunes.  Showing great sense of humor, the band also covered Neil Diamond’s “Cherry Cherry.”  Dam Gila really impressed me with their set.  Despite the fact that this was only their second live performance as a band, they flawlessly pulled off a wide variety of songs.  Click the following links to check out Paul Cherry and Dam Gila’s music!

The only original members of the Smith Westerns present for their final gig were brothers Cullen and Cameron Omori.  Cameron was dressed like the young business professional in your office who is just way cooler than everyone else.  Cullen went the opposite direction and sported a shirt with Keith Urban’s face plastered on it.  The band played hits from all three of their albums and caused some pretty spectacular mosh pits, crowd surfing, and stage divers.  When the first stage diver jumped up on stage, he ran straight into Cullen and knocked some stuff over.  After finishing the song, Cullen advised, “If you’re going to stage dive that’s cool, but don’t come up here and knock all of my shit into me.  It’s like getting stabbed in the face, and my equipment goes off.”  Crazy teens.  Their first album was written when Cullen was only 17, and he admitted that since the lyrics were so terrible, he tended to make them up on the spot whenever they were played live.  “Be My Girl” was described as a “panty killer” and the youths in front of me made out for the entirety of the song.  Long live young love!  Adam Gila of Dam Gila (get it?  get it?) tore it up on guitar the whole night and expanded upon the riffs that we have come to love so much.  The band debuted a song off of Cullen Omori’s upcoming solo album which (lucky for fans) sounded very much like Smith Westerns material.  The band interacted with the crowd in classic Smith Western fashion.  Prior to “3AM Spiritual,” Cullen told the all agers he hoped they were having fun drinking their peach schnapps out of water bottles, and that the song was about love…which maybe they were just discovering.  Instead of wasting time, the band went straight into their encore songs.  The band brought their final show to an end with two songs off of their second album, Dye It Blonde.  Before going into the final two, Cullen dismissively said, “Some people say that Dye It Blonde is our best album…whatever.”  The band quickly jumped into “Weekend,” a clear crowd favorite and followed it by one of my personal favorites—“Dye It Blonde.”

It was a great night.  I left feeling sad that the band would never be together again, but I also extremely lucky to have been at Lincoln Hall to experience the last show ever played for their hometown.  Thank you for 7 years of innovative music, and I look forward to Cullen’s solo album!

Review and photo by Abby Walter

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