Arlo Parks at Thalia Hall: A Night That’s ‘Too Good’

At once infectious and mellow, Arlo Parks brought a well-rounded survey of her discography to Thalia Hall.

“It’s the most healing thing ever to see every night, it’s like medicine,” opener Chloe George said of Arlo Parks, who would soon grace the stage of Thalia Hall for the Mar. 16 stop of her “My Soft Machine” tour.

George, a pop artist who has opened for Parks during each tour stop, created a light-hearted atmosphere as she began the night dancing and joking with the audience.

George displayed a natural talent for performance as she maintained a relaxed energy while singing in her upper register.

Introducing her fifth song “Runaway Blue,” George said the track was about falling in love despite her “anxious attachment.”

With lo-fi drums, George’s vocals overpowered the track. She continued to showcase her wide vocal range as she covered Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass.”

White vinyl displayed on top of an oversized soundboard spun hypnotically, preparing the stage for Parks as fans pushed towards the barricade.

Opening with “Bruiseless,” the first track on “My Soft Machine” — her sophomore album —  Parks started the night on a poetic note with the spoken word track. A drawn-out “Chicago” was the singer’s sole acknowledgment as she transitioned straight into “Weightless.”

Jumping and stomping across the stage, Park’s infectious energy contrasted with the mellow guitar and plain drums in “Weightless.” Fans screamed as she made her way into the pit — singing inches away from a sea of cameras.

“I don’t wanna wait for you / But I need you so I won’t go,” Parks sang.

“Blades” and “Caroline” were transformed with Parks’ live performance. The recorded versions maintain Parks’ traditional mellow feel, whereas the live version brought a renewed energy with heavier drums and intensified vocals, giving the tracks a rock ‘n’ roll sensation.

Parks paused before the next song, promising to make the night “extra special” in honor of the night being the band’s 300th show.

Following her dynamic performance of “Blades” and “Caroline,” the dramatic shift to slower-paced “Impurities” felt disarranged. The track featured repetitive lyrics against synths making it an unremarkable part of her performance.

Reflecting on her sixth song, Parks said “I’m Sorry” — from “My Soft Machine” — is one of the songs she is most proud of. She said the track was inspired by the need to learn to let her walls down and be vulnerable around people who care about her.

“I try to protect myself from everything, but really it was just a barrier to pain,” Parks said.

A subtle, instantly-recognizable bassline signaled the start of Parks’ most streamed song “Eugene.” Singing about a complicated love triangle, Parks’ voice seemingly entranced the crowd as they sang the words along with her.

“Hey / I know I’ve been a little bit off and that’s my mistake / I kinda fell half in love and you’re to blame,” Parks sang.

The audience overpowered Parks’ performance of the bridge, screaming as if they were experiencing fresh breakup rage.

“You know I like you like that / I hate that son of a bitch,” fans shouted.

Maintaining an easygoing feel, “Dog Rose” and “Pegasus” feature subdued synths and delicate harmonies while singing of the growing pains that accompany change.

Strobe lights and thundering drums made the transition to “Hurt” abrupt and jarring. While the track featured poetry recitation and a catchy chorus, its placement in the setlist distracted from the song’s character.

Stomping on each drum beat, Parks performed “Too Good.” Drawn-out harmonies created a dreamy anthem reminiscent of driving with the windows down.

“Babe, you’re so good, you’re too good to be true / Oh-oh-oh / Why’d we make the simplest things so hard?” Parks sang.

The evening was quickly sobered by Parks’ acknowledgment of a fan who died after her last show in Chicago. In response, a fan shouted that the fan was their cousin and they were there in their honor. 

“This song is a reminder to take care of one another,” Parks said. “Life is precious.” 

The air felt heavy as gentle strumming paired with Parks’ vocals in “Black Dog.” The track’s raw lyricism on depression and suicide made the venue feel intimate.

“Sometimes it seems like you won’t survive this / And honestly it’s terrifying,” Parks sang.

Themes of mental health struggles lingered into Parks’ performance of “Purple Phrase.” With muted instrumentation, her voice assumed an eerie, ethereal sound. 

Transitioning to more optimistic lyrics, the aptly-named track “Hope” enlivened the abiding, somber atmosphere. 

Smooth drums and an addictive guitar solo characterized “Devotion” — the climax of Parks’ setlist.

“I’m wide open, hmm / Come down like a million tonnes / All yours, baby / Flood me with your nervous love / All yours baby,” Parks sang.

As the last beat of “Devotion” sounded, Parks ran offstage, leaving a screaming crowd.

Not even 30 seconds later, Parks returned laughing as she said, “Just kidding.” Fans cheered with renewed intensity as they jumped along to the catchy melody of “Softly.”

Clapping to the beat, concertgoers brought Thalia Hall to life as guitarist Dani Diodato and bassist Sam Harding played their instruments standing back-to-back. 

Parks raced off the stage blowing kisses for her final exit while her band played on. Raising their bass overhead, Harding dramatically strummed while the guitar wailed out the last notes of the melody.

Featured image by Bri Guntz / The Phoenix

Brianna Guntz

Brianna Guntz