Jack Garratt w/Kacy Hill
Where: Lincoln Hall
When: March 6th, 2016
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.
It’s ironic that soon-to-be-superstar Jack Garratt would cover a Justin Timberlake cut during his sold out Chicago date at Lincoln Hall. Not just because he has a voice that rivals JT in the best of ways, but mostly because if anyone in this day and age can lay claim to the Throne of Prince, my money would be on Garratt before anyone else. Sure, Timberlake has that voice, the moves, and the attitude – but Garratt runs the show in the artistry department. Throughout his 10 song set, Jack performed quite literally everything we heard. The kick drum to his beats are triggered by a foot pedal he stomps the life out of, the remainder of the percussive elements are played with one hand while the other hand is either playing the melodies on a synth or recording a guitar loop – even regurgitating this now is making my head spin. Watching Jack perform is quite certainly a mesmerizing experience on many levels and here’s why…
Jack Garratt’s debut album, Phase, has been ripping up the UK charts since its release. His songs are relatable, innovative, and absolutely infectious. But when you watch the man perform those songs that are setting the world on fire, you’re likely to hear a different version every night. His music isn’t built on pre-recorded loops and backing tracks – Garratt eschews modern-day convenience in favor of bringing the audience into his creative process. We can wax intellectual endlessly about his musical performance, but listening to Garratt actually sing is a whole other experience.
One song in his set that really stood out was “Surprise Yourself,” a song which he wrote 3 or so years ago that still remains important to him. The song is one of the quieter moments on Phase, but towards the end of his deeply emotional performance of it, you could’ve heard a pin drop in the packed-to-the-brim Lincoln Hall. His vocals were enrapturing, so much so that I may or may not have had a tear swelling in my eye at one point. And that’s the power of a true artist: even if you can’t relate to the lyrics (but I’m sure most people in the room could), the manner in which Garratt projects his powerful voice to convey emotion is enough to make even the most skeptical listener a superfan.
Now that Garratt calls Chicago home, hopefully we’ll be treated to more special gigs like this one from the UK-native. But even more than that, it’s crucial that he brings his opener, Kacy Hill, back as well. Harnessing a voice that could make Florence question her career goals and a stage presence which echoes that of a seasoned veteran, Hill totally wowed all of us with her nearly flawless performance. I guarantee you Hill will be a household name in due time – not only is her music captivating, but she’s currently working with Garratt on her debut album which will release through Def Jam on Kanye West’s GOOD Music. Maybe with those Chicago ties, we’ll be seeing a lot more performances locally from her soon as well.
It’s not often that an entire lineup for a show is impressive but shows like this one are tons more memorable than others. Especially when you’re witnessing two artists who are each on their own meteoric rise to fame, last night was a pivotal moment for both Hill and Garratt. In fact, Garratt stopped his show a few times to soak up the admiration from the audience, saying that it was “the best feeling in the world.” Well, Mr. Garratt…the feeling each of us felt from watching your performance is quite mutual.