The classic concert woe is wanting to get to the venue early and stand close with a guaranteed line of sight, but not wanting to suffer through forced-upon-you opening acts. The prospect of a potentially 45 minute set that reaches mediocrity at best is sometimes enough for me to think twice about how badly I actually want to be up close.
Thank god for Hudson Thames, though. Blowing all of these reservations out of the water (no pun intended), Thames took the stage first, followed by the second opener, William Beckett. The rest of Thames’ band, due to some unforeseen problem, couldn’t make it to the show, leaving Thames and his keyboard. Maybe it was because this was a lot of the crowd’s first exposure to his music, but he didn’t sound like he was lacking instrumentation. His voice is powerful and his piano playing was full of soul. His interactions with the crowd were funny and genuine, as well as his interactions with Beckett and The Summer Set’s drummer, Jess Bowen, when they came on stage to accompany him on different songs.
Beckett, a Barrington, Illinois native and the former frontman of The Academy Is…, was up next, offering an in-depth analysis of “Jumpin’, Jumpin'” by Destiny’s Child and capping off a few of his songs simply with a sultry “ladies leave your man at home.” His humor and interactions light up the stage for an otherwise mellow set.
When we spoke to Brian Dales earlier in the night, one of the first things he mentioned was that he was pretty sick with “a whole bunch of things,” but nobody would be able to tell from his amazing energy, interactions with the fans and his band mates and his stage presence – his dancing made everyone else want to dance, too. Dales even offered a mini cover of “I’m On Fire,” by Bruce Springsteen. While not a lot of the younger fans seemed to get the reference, there’s something admirable about paying homage to people who inspired you to get where you are, as well as showing an appreciation for them, no matter the audience.
Furthering the greatness of the show was the interaction between the three bands. One of the best concerts I’ve ever been to was a Halloween show put on by Andrew McMahon and my fondest memory was the final song, where he brought the opening acts up to join in on the final song. That was taken to the next level when Thames, Beckett and The Summer Set each incorporated the others into their set with both drums and vocals. The camaraderie and appreciation for each other’s talents was one of the best parts of the show.
The Summer Set has been a band for almost ten years – it’s not hard to imagine that they have touring down to a science – but a great concert is a great concert. Despite the expressed disappointment in the Cubs, that’s what the entirety of the band offered at The Accord Tuesday with unique elements and fandom appreciation galore.
I’m an English major with a political science and cinema studies minor. When I am not bunking out in my room watching TV and old movies, you can find me drinking too much Diet Coke and making future travel plans.