Love Fame Tragedy Brings Alt-pop Intimacy

Alternative pop group Love Fame Tragedy brought the love, making the audience feel at home, fame with its first headline Chicago show and tragedy of dramatic lyrics at the Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake St.) Sept. 21.

Local rockers Friday Pilots Club opened the show with a reimagined acoustic set. The duo said they usually have a few more musicians on stage to make the songs come to life, but lead singer Caleb Hiltunen and guitarist Drew Polovick performed with just one other guitarist.

Between songs, Hiltunen turned to Polovick to ask which song to play next. The duo decided on songs on the spot, promoting an environment of authenticity.

Love Fame Tragedy was next to the stage. The group is the solo project of Matthew “Murph” Murphy — frontman of English indie rock band The Wombats. He descended the stairs onto the stage in a maroon suit, floral shirt and white sneakers.

Murphy opened up with the bass-driven track “Backflip,” one of three of the singer’s songs available on Spotify. Love Fame Tragedy draws on similar synth undertones, catchy guitar hooks and stable percussion as recent albums by The Wombats, such as 2018’s “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life” and 2015’s “Glitterbug.”

Performing an unreleased song, “Please Don’t Murder Me,” Murphy emphasized the dramatics of songwriting.

“Another disclaimer: I don’t actually mean it,” Murphy said from the stage. “It’s just a song.” 

Fans supported Murphy throughout the set — not just with cheers but encouraging words.

“It’s a good song because you wrote it,” one fan yelled out from the crowd.

The intimate venue — a narrow stage without a barricade, with fans filling the main floor and a wrap-around balcony — allowed small interactions to take place and be appreciated by the artist. 

A tight space like the Bottom Lounge can often be home to squished crowds and sweaty shows, but Love Fame Tragedy held a balance between intimacy and personal space. Fans were able to dance around to the high-energy track and sway to the acoustic ones in their own bubble.

Murphy closed with debut single “My Cheating Heart,” earning cheers from the crowd.

Love Fame Tragedy is available to stream on all platforms.

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