The Riviera Theatre was packed on Thursday night as throngs of people packed in like sardines to see the U.K. indie rock favorites Glass Animals. The stage design was equally theatrical and minimalistic, with large Tetris-like lights overhead and a plethora of large cacti statues throughout. The band achieved nearly immediate success following the release of their first album, Zaba, in 2014. Since then, they have toured the world, playing the big league festivals like Coachella, Glastonbury, and Bonnaroo. Their sold-out show in Chicago delivered the same energy, enthusiasm, and pure musical quality that they brought to the biggest music festivals in the world.
London prog/indie rock band Pumarosa opened the show, delivering a performance that had the crowd swaying, dancing, and smiling (a somewhat rare occurrence for opening acts). Lead singer and guitarist Isabel looked like a young Joni Mitchell but sang like Nancy Wilson; her powerhouse vocals ensured every song the band played had emotion and passion. The group’s instrumentals, which relied heavily on gritty guitar and unexpected sounds (including a surprisingly fitting saxophone solo by their synth player), flooded the theatre and reached the highest balcony seats before dissipating and rising again with Isabel’s siren-like voice.
The theatre was particularly hot, and those who’d worn sweaters and scarves threw them aside and tried to make more room amongst friends to dance. As the lights fell and Glass Animals took their place, singer/guitarist Dave Bayley immediately began grooving and jumping in an attempt to cover every square inch of the stage with his infectious, positive vibe. The band started the night off with “Life Itself” and “Youth,” two singles from their newest album, How To Be A Human Being. Released in August of this year, HTBAHB brings as many eclectic sounds and noises into the mix as Zaba did, from rainforest water, to bongos, to synth cycles, and back again.
Bayley and his bandmates never slowed up, even when a song’s tempo called for it. Playing a perfect blend of songs from their freshman and sophomore album, it became clear that the group has a definitive Glass Animals sound that isn’t being replicated or attempted by many others out there. Relying on the audience’s energy just as much as their own, the band practically demanded movement and singing from everyone there, effortlessly including those in the top row and those feet from the stage. Glass Animals have only been a band for a few years, but their star power and creative capacity currently know no limits. Their US tour concludes in Portland, Oregon, in December, and they’ve already been confirmed for festivals in Australia and Brazil in 2017. While music is a cataclysmic industry, it’s safe to say that Glass Animals have just begun their world domination.
See our gallery of photos from Glass Animals’ stop at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, Illinois on October 6, 2016.