Music

Arkells is One with the Crowd in Chicago

While most artists tend to reside alone on the stage during shows, Canadian rock band Arkells mixed it up by jumping into the crowd and bringing fans on stage. The band members found stepping down from their platform was the best way to keep the audience engaged at the Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake St.) March 14.

Kansas City-based indie pop band The Greeting Committee fittingly welcomed the crowd to the show. With bright, lively moments such as “17,” a saxophone solo and moments of quiet intimacy with “Birthday Song,” The Greeting Committee showcased their range on stage.

Frontwoman Addie Sartino joined the audience to lead a dance party during the band’s cover of MGMT’s “Kids.” The crowd interactions continued as she crowd-surfed during the explosive closing track “Don’t Go” off debut album “This Is It.”

The Greeting Committee’s energy and spunk foreshadowed Arkells’ refreshing rock ‘n’ roll brand tinged with pop and Americana vibes.

Arkells opened the show with its anthem “Relentless” as lights and fog flooded the stage. This entrance gave way to the band’s dominating stage presence. Lead singer Max Kerman commanded attention as he ran to the sides of the stage, stood atop a light-up box and held the microphone out to the crowd.

During the song “Eyes on the Prize,” Kerman split the crowd forming a walkway to check on the fans. He wandered around working to convince the crowd it was a Saturday night — when it was in fact a Thursday. To sell his point, he wrote one fan a doctor’s note saying they rocked too hard to come into work.

Determined to ensure all were in the party spirit, Kerman formed a conga line with fans and paraded around the venue during the track “People’s Champ.”

Arkells could be considered the people’s champ with how it catered the show to its audience. Three younger fans wearing carefully crafted homemade Arkells leather jackets brought signs asking to karaoke with the band. Their dedication was rewarded as they were brought on stage for the worry-free track “If Only For A Moment.”

With a request hotline, Kerman held a landline as a voicemail from a fan was played. Fans were asked to call in, say which show they’d be attending and request a deep cut that wouldn’t make the setlist otherwise.

Love song “And Then Some” was the request and Kerman took the opportunity to offer a bit of hope that warm summer days are on the horizon. Until those warm days, he called for a flashlight-filled, campfire-style sing-along to the song to make their own summer feeling.

Keyboardist Anthony Carone contributed to the high energy as he nearly jumped on his instrument on numerous occasions. He didn’t limit himself to just the keyboard as he rocked out on a mandolin, guitar and the iconic keytar.

The show culminated in a cover of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” by Arkells and The Greeting Committee during the encore. The feel-good sing-along offered proper ending to a feel-good show.

Arkells is available to stream and buy on Spotify and iTunes.

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