Noname Gypsy, a female hip-hop/rap artist, started out the night with good beats and a backup singer while the audience began trickling in. As the place filled up, Milo & Otis, an alternative soul duo, took the stage. The audience seemed more familiar with their music, even singing along to the song, “Black Sheep.”
Milo & Otis ended their set with “The Joy” and Mike Golden & Friends took the stage as the last act before The O’My’s. The indie-rock band played the longest set of the three openers, ultimately ending with the song “Every Morning Love.” The crowd was clapping along enthusiastically as lead singer Mike Golden belted out the words: “Take time, make time, all the time you need is all yours.” With the same indie-rock mood of an Imagine Dragons concert, lighters (yes, lighters — not phones) went up in the air and people swayed their arms back and forth.
The three openers were vastly different from one another, which made for a fun and diverse start to the concert. The O’My’s made sure there was something for everyone in the audience. Like rap? Noname Gypsy had you covered. Alternative, R&B-type music? Don’t worry; Milo & Otis had plenty of that. And if you were looking for some good old-fashioned rock, Mike Golden & Friends were at your service.
Making my way through the crowd during the opening band’s performances, I ran into Nick Hennessey and Maceo Haymes, the bandleaders of The O’My’s, in the audience — casually sipping beers and standing amongst their own fans supporting their opening bands. Seeing them in the audience made The Metro feel much more laid-back and intimate than the 1,200-person venue it is (the O’My’s just about filled the place too). A security guard observing the concert said it “looked only a hundred or so short of capacity.” The band’s presence in the crowd also showcased how supportive they truly are of other Chicago artists.
Cheering erupted as the O’My’s finally came onstage (a little past 11 p.m.) playing loudly and passionately, jumping right into the music. The first thing Haymes said when he took a break to speak was, “We have some very special guests” and proceeded to acknowledge the three ladies who were singing backup. It was the first time they’ve added female vocals to their onstage performance.
The transitions between songs were smooth and effortless as the band constantly played. The horns were blaring and the old school, full-band sound was striking — the audience seemed to simply loved it.
As they play through their song “Somebody to Someone,” I spotted a teenage boy in the third row with glasses and a quirky outfit swing dancing (as much as you can in a packed crowd) with the girl next to him. Am I in the ‘40s? ‘70s? I could no longer even tell what decade this band’s sound was coming from, and it was fantastic that they were able to make their audience feel like that.
“In My House” (what I gathered to be their most popular song) came on and the people just started moving. There was clearly something contagious about this song by the way the audience reacted to it. It had the loudest applause in the show.
The O’My’s kept playing through their songs, and after “Cough Drop” Hennessey finally yelled “WHAT’S HAPPENING CHICAGO?!”
The next thing I knew, there were two rappers on stage with them. At that point, I was confused. Horns were blaring and a kid was swing-dancing with his girl, but I heard rapping? Arms were even bouncing up and down like it was a Kid Cudi concert. The way all of these elements and styles of music were able to come together smoothly — in a way that somehow made sense — was incredible.
At one point in the night, Haymes said, “We’re gonna keep this shit moving.” It’s clear they didn’t want to bore their audience with needless commentary — they knew the thousand people in front of them are here to hear their music. Commendable. The whole set felt selfless and entirely meant for their audience.
After The O’My’s brought Noname Gypsy out onstage and collaborated with her, Haymes brought up their first big surprise: “We’re gonna do a new song that we’ve never done before. And I’m scared! So I need you to help me out. I know you know the words to this song cause you’re from Chicago…”
And thus commenced a kick-ass cover of “Ignition” by R. Kelly. The crowd went wild singing along as Haymes alternated between the singing audience members and himself shouting, “Bounce!”
The surprises didn’t stop here, however. The O’My’s started playing their song, “The Wonder Years” and Chance The Rapper casually came onstage. The energy in The Metro didn’t simmer down for at least 20 minutes, and everyone was going crazy again.
Chance The Rapper left the stage when the song was finished, and the The O’My’s ended the concert with “Sweet Love.” They let loose, Hennessey’s fingers slid up and down the piano, and the encore cheering began.
After a few minutes offstage, the screen behind them (that had been showing colors and random visual graphics throughout the concert) presented the phrase, “Do you want to hear one more song?”
The cheering that erupted spoke the words “Uhm, duh” in my head.
They played a few more songs, eventually ending with their cover of Screamin Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” — proving that their big-band sound can pull off both featuring rappers and covering 1950s songs.
Hennessey got so passionately into the moment and his piano playing that Haymes had to reach out and help keep his keyboard from falling over. Naturally, the audience loved it.
Haymes concluded by thanking the audience for making this happen; saying they couldn’t have done it without them. I stood in the back of the crowd and watched as a couple fervently made out through the entire last minute of chords. Clearly the message of love The O’My’s want their songs to declare was well-received by the audience.
The O’My’s packed The Metro and entertained their loving audience with the unique Rock n’ Soul sound that they possess. Amanda Farmer, the female vocalist of Mike Golden & Friend’s band, even told me their audience was “the best, most interesting, most intense crowd.”