101WKQX’s The Nights We Stole Chirstmas
Aragon Ballroom // Chicago, IL // November 30-December 2, 2017
Run the Jewels, Sir Sly, and Rise Against? Best. Christmas. Present. Ever.
Chicago’s alternative radio station 101WKQX has put on an incredible Christmas festival for the past few years, but 2017 had some truly exceptional moments. Chicago’s own Rise Against kicked off the first of three sold-out nights and put on an incredible punk rock performance. Lead singer Tim Mcilrath jumped out into the crowd and was immediately met with hands stretched out to support him as he stood on the barricade to sing with fans. Rise Against have always been vocal about the love they have for their hometown, and their Chicago shows never disappoint. Whether they’re playing a small show or headlining a sold-out ballroom, their love for their fans and punk rock is at the forefront of their performance.
The second night was more subdued but had the most unexpectedly kickass performance of the weekend. Indie pop band Sir Sly have been making music for five years, but they’ve remained relatively unknown until recently. The three-piece group released their second album, Don’t You Worry Honey, over the summer, and the single “High” reached #3 on the U.S. Alternative charts. When they played “High” as their final song, tons of people excitedly sang along. Their performance at TNWSC was enthralling, and a lot of concert-goers who didn’t know who they were left the Aragon that night with a new favorite band.
Biffy Clyro and Run the Jewels were the best combination for the last night and had the audience jumping up and down for hours. First, Biffy Clyro gave an intense, headbanging performance that left everyone’s ears ringing. The Scottish hard rock band have just started making waves in the U.S., but they’ve been big in the U.K. for years. Their show at the Aragon made it clear that they’re about to be very well known in the States. With a no-bullshit sound of guitar, bass, and drums, lead singer Simon Neil and twin brothers James (bass) and Ben Johnston (drums) deservedly had thousands of fans screaming and slamming into the barricades.
Run the Jewels were the only hip-hop act of the weekend, but they arguably had the biggest and most excited fan base too. Killer Mike and El-P played hits from all three of their Run the Jewels studio albums and had some of the best onstage chemistry of the weekend. The two have been making music together for only six years, but their friendship and collaborative writing efforts make it seems like decades. In the middle of their set, the power to the audio was cut off completely, leaving the El-P and Killer Mike with no music and no power in their microphones. Rather than get upset or walk off, the two jumped down from the 8-foot stage and stood on the barricade to shake hands with fans and take selfies. When power was restored, they finished their set with even more energy and big smiles on their faces.
While it was disappointing not to see any women in the lineup (let’s change that for next year, 101WKQX!), The Nights We Stole Christmas was an incredible weekend for music and a welcome break from the bitter cold weather.
Night 1: Rise Against
Night 2: Sir Sly
Cold War Kids
Foster the People
Night 3: Biffy Clyro
Run the Jewels