DUSTIN KENSRUE and ANDY HULL Review @ Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL

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DUSTIN KENSRUE and ANDY HULL Review @ Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL

April 21, 2015

Review by Dan Scheiman

Dustin Kensrue is best known for his work as the lead singer of Thrice, an extremely versatile band that is not only capable of working with nearly any genre, but in my opinion, mastered the heartfelt experimental rock style that they have worked with since 99. At a young age I had a bit of an obsession with this band. After stumbling on the album, The Illusion of Safety, I immediately fell in love with the extremely heavy and passionate music, along with the lyrical poetry and philosophical concepts.

Thrice is held in high regard by many music lovers with good reason. This show, on the other hand, was a much more intimate and personal acoustic show by just Dustin himself. Dustin’s new solo album, Carry the Fire, was released the same night as this Concert.

Upon entering the Bottom Lounge, we came across the lead singer of Manchester Orchestra, Andy Hull, playing an acoustic set. This man’s sincere passion and musical talent, along with his comedic and heartwarming interludes, were the perfect ingredients for a build up that would lead beautifully into Dustin’s performance.

Honestly, I saw a great deal of similarities between these two artists and would probably not be the first to say they would work extremely well together if the opportunity were to arise. I would like to thank Andy for a raw and very sincere performance at the beginning of the evening. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t choking up during a few tracks.

Dustin came out with a smile on his face and a guitar in his hand. The only other tools on stage were a harmonica, a microphone, and a glass of whiskey. The crowd made their love very clear to Dustin with an enormous response as soon as he took his first step on stage. He immediately gave thanks to Andy Hull and Tanner Merritt for performing with him.

In between covering most of his new album, he snuck in a few Thrice tracks such as “Come All You Weary” and “Words in The Water,” much to the delight of the fans. Whether he was pouring his heart out through his harmonica in between verses, or he was anchoring his feet beneath him and singing to the heavens, Dustin’s open expression of emotion on stage is like nothing you will find anywhere else.

Being as close as I was to him, I could literally feel the energy radiating out of him. I will be the first to admit that after just a few tracks I could feel tears falling off my chin. As I gained my composure in between tracks I glanced around the room to find that I was most certainly not the only fan that was struggling to hold it together.

After a further listen to his newest album, I can say that I think Dustin has sincerely found and solidified himself as a musician and a poet. The title track expresses a lot of what I’ve always believed this man has held on his shoulders as an artist. It seems as though he has been through hell and back, and he still finds a way to hold on and express it all to the world. You will see upon further exploration of this man’s music that he is truly a brilliant mind.

Of course, shortly after I made reference to hearing a certain grit and dark tone in his voice, similar to that of Tom Waits, he decides to end the show with a cover of “Down There By The Train,” by the legend himself. This was a wonderful and unbelievably soulful ending to a fantastic performance.

Immediately after the show, Dustin came down off the stage to mingle with the fans and take pictures. I cannot imagine what will become of this artist over the years as he digs himself even deeper into the world of music.

Photos by Nicci Allen

Dan Scheiman
Dan Scheiman With an entirely open and unbiased obsession with music, Dan decided to take the opportunity given to him to share his thoughts for On Stage Review. Having been to hundreds of concerts of a variety of styles and genres over the years, he's no stranger to live music. He has been playing bass guitar for over twelve years now and has been dabbling in vocal work, drums, and piano for almost as long. Growing up listening to metal and industrial then transitioning into jazz and classical, and now having a particular love for funk or anything that grooves; his perspective comes from a well-rounded musical background and some amateur experience as a musician. He has too many favorite bands to list, but some of his favorite live experiences include: Sigur Ros, Porcupine Tree, Papadosio, Tool, The Ocean, Animals As Leaders, Lettuce, and of course, Victor Wooten.