Show Recap: Brian Fallon & The Crowes/ Ryan Bingham @ Park West, Chicago IL

I mean, I’m sure by now you’ve figured out that one of my all-time favourite artists is Brian Fallon right?  So when I found out that this tour was coming through Chicago on my birthday, September 20, I took the opportunity to pay the “Windy City” (and my lovely friend Ashley) a visit, and take in what was a perfect show to celebrate.

Paul Cauthen, with his southern drawl and snakeskin cowboy boots, kicked off the night with a modern, but still classically country set.  Vocally, he is reminiscent of greats like Elvis Presley or Hank Williams Jr., and with an honest, still slightly rough around the edges stage persona, he is definitely worth getting to the show early for.  If you’re lucky enough to get to one of the remaining shows on this tour, you can also pick up an advance copy of his upcoming album “My Gospel”, which is to be released on October 14th.

Ryan Bingham was up next, the first of the co-headliners on this tour.  Being admittedly only somewhat familiar with his music, my interest was heightened by the rave reviews I received about him and his band from a fan of his in line.  She certainly wasn’t wrong:  Ryan and his band were absolutely incredible live.  He had a set list prepared that was crafted to appeal to everyone in the crowd, from the die hard Bingham fans to the new listeners, and he actively encouraged participation among the audience members.  Brian Fallon made several appearances during the set as well to join in on songs like the Springsteen classic “Atlantic City”, as well as Ryan’s “Tell My Mother I Miss Her So”.  While this is certainly music with a definitive leaning towards country, I would hesitate to label it strictly as such because it is apparent that there are many different genres that influence him, with country being only one.  I know I’ll definitely be deep diving more of his catalog, and am definitely interested in seeing what else he’ll be releasing in the future.

It was evident that the majority of this crowd were eagerly anticipating Brian Fallon and the Crowes entrance to the stage, and he began his set with Ryan Bingham’s accompaniment on a  cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” that was more in line with The Live Anthology version.  From there, he and the Crowes fired off favourites from his “Painkillers” album; songs like “A Wonderful Life” and “Rosemary” had the crowd in a frenzy, while “Steve McQueen” and “Honey Magnolia” scaled things down momentarily.  Brian was in excellent form, imparting wisdom between songs about credit scores and the importance of feminism.  It was clear he was enjoying himself, joking to the audience about not yelling at the mention of Chicago prior to playing “Open All Night”.

As the show wound down, the Crowes were joined on stage once again by Ryan Bingham, and by Paul Cauthen for a cover of The Traveling Wilbury’s “Handle With Care”.  Having the other touring artists come out periodically to join in on songs during the evening really served to enhance the intimate and vaudeville-esque atmostphere.  The lack of barrier gates and smaller stage at Park West really helped to eliminate the separation between audience and artist as well, and the vibe was relaxed and for the most part respectful.  There was, of course, those one or two people in the audience who tend to be attention-seekers, but even those either gave up quietly or were contained by other audience members early on.

A surprise late addition to the setlist saw the show end with Brian and Jared Hart joining up on a beautiful acoustic rendition of NOFX’s “Linoleum”, a cover that I had yet to see them do live, and it was as lovely as expected.  A perfect way to end a perfect evening.

The Brian Fallon/Ryan Bingham US tour will be continuing through the rest of September and concludes on October 2.  Brian and the Crowes will be heading overseas with Chris Farren in November.  For more tour dates and ticket links, visit





Fall Playlist

Happy first day of fall, everyone!  If you’re like me, this is a hotly anticipated time of year.  I love summer, but there’s something about the cooler weather, the changing colours of the leaves, warm snuggly flannels, and curling up with cozy blankets and tea (or wine) that makes me so happy.

This is a collection of songs that to me, feel like fall.  Darker, more muted, folky.  The songs that you want to curl up with in the late evening.  They aren’t necessarily ‘happy’ songs, but they fit the season to me, and personally I think the sad songs are usually the best ones anyways 😉

Can’t Die- Chris Farren

Chris-Farren-Cant-Die-coverChris Farren (Fake Problems, Antarctigo Vespucci) is a real human being, not a ghost, and he’s releasing his debut solo LP, “Can’t Die” this Friday, September 2nd.  It’s an album I find difficult to write about or try and review; my already high expectations were blown away within the first few spins of the album.  It’s so good that I don’t think I can come up with the words to adequately explain exactly why you need to listen to it- but you do.

If you follow Chris on Twitter, you’re probably familiar with his social media personality; tongue in cheek, engaging and above all, entertaining.  “Can’t Die” has all of those elements, but it also feels like he’s letting us in on a secret, song by song.  Layered under all of those sparkling, shiny synth beats and catchy choruses lay complex lyrics that quietly demand your attention.  Songs like “Still Beating” and “Until I Can See the Light” address the emotional response that comes with loss, while “To Insecurity and Beyond” deals with the effects of anxiety and depression.  Not one to shy away from discussing mental health issues, Chris is able to tackle the topic with honesty and integrity, and still have his songs remain buoyant and hopeful.  It’s a fine line, and yet he walks it masterfully.

“Can’t Die” feels a bit like a blast from the past, reminiscent of the 80s or early 90s, but with a revived, refreshed sound that keeps it new and current.  It’s definitely not one to be missed.

You can order “Can’t Die” on vinyl through Side One Dummy here: or purchase the album through iTunes as of midnight tonight.

You can check out the first single, “Say You Want Me” below as well:


Wrapping Up August!

It feels like this month went by fast, doesn’t it??  Lots of great new releases this month though, and a lot of great new stuff to look forward to in September as well.

It felt like a lot of the old emo/pop punk bands that I used to listen to in high school/university made a comeback in August with releases from Sum 41 and Taking Back Sunday, but I also was feeling some older music too.  The Tragically Hip makes more than one appearance, as well as Bad Religion and Anti-Flag for good measure.

Check out this month’s playlist below, and once again, I hope that you find something you love, or something new to be excited about.