From what I’d heard from Chicago’s Paper Thick Walls on first album A Thousand Novels, as well as some newer songs posted online, I was anticipating a warm, somewhat low-key indie folk show at the Melody Inn Sunday night. Instead the band brought a sonic explosion of sound that blew my expectations out the door.
Paper Thick Walls 9-song set began with the impressive Joys of Youth, one of several new songs. In fact, most of the set was comprised of songs that the band has yet to record, so I honestly can’t tell you what they played. I can say that the fifth song in the set was an emotional juggernaut of a tune that kept building into a powerful wall of sound. The band is also putting together a film called We Grew Up Here, a phrase that is repeated several times in Liar’s Lawyer, another outstanding song that I’ll assume is for the movie’s soundtrack.
Lead singers Eric Michaels (guitar) and Kate Schell (keyboard) blend their voices beautifully. And the depth and power of their vocals matched with the musical dexterity of mandolin/fiddle/guitar player Jacques Rene and drummer Andrew Sabo packed a tremendous punch. Despite the absence of their bass player, the band was extremely tight.
It’s rare that I go see a show where the performance doesn’t connect with the band’s recorded output. But I can’t say I minded. I like when a band is looking to expand their boundaries and try multiple levels of musical exploration. That’s one of the reasons a band like Radiohead is so fascinating — the desire to grow. I can’t wait to see and hear what they do next.