Photo: Nina Milnes
On my way to see Company of Thieves tonight, I knew what I was getting myself into. I had seen the Chicago band last June after keeping their latest album, ‘Running from a Gamble,’ on repeat for about a month. I remember feeling beyond excited to see how their music would translate live, and what I left with was more than I had anticipated. Vocalist Genevieve Schatz had an incredible way of affecting the room with her voice, hitting notes with such precision that it almost seemed inconceivable. So when I found out that they were returning to The Bowery Ballroom in New York City, I obviously jumped at the opportunity to see them again.
The thing about Company of Thieves is that they’re entirely genuine. On stage, it’s impossible not to see that they absolutely love what they’re doing, and without fail the quartet (who become a quintet on tour) always send infectiously good vibes throughout the room. They opened with “Queen of Hearts,” followed by equally upbeat songs “Modern Waste” and “Look Both Ways,” which were all met with outrageously positive feedback from the audience. For most the show, Genevieve bounced about on stage with a huge grin on her face and tambourine in hand while guitarist Marc Walloch played along without missing a beat, and you know that deep down, that’s exactly what makes them happy. They’ve been touring around the country in their van for almost over a year, promoting their music from a DIY perspective that supports the story and heart behind their music, which essentially follows the mantra of “Do what you love, and forget all the rest.” There’s passion in their approach to music that is undeniable.
The show carried on with “Never Come Back,” “Nothing’s in the Flowers,” “Death of Communication,” and “In Passing.” The slow, sultry “Gorgeous/Grotesque” is always a treat; it trudges along before it explodes into a distorted, immense conclusion. Between songs, Genevieve tends to let out a small giggle as she talks to the audience, constantly reminding us that she considers herself an equal with her fans, which is something to admire. The band continuously show their appreciation for the support of their devoted fans, and you can clearly see that Company of Thieves are truly made up of some of the nicest people around. “Syrup,” a personal favorite of mine that they don’t normally play live followed, as well as the explosively colorful number “Tallulah.” They ended their set with “After Thought,” the closing track off ‘Running from a Gamble,’ and left the stage despite the imminence of an encore, as you could tell by the cries of the audience.
Returning to the stage for an encore, the group played a stripped-down rendition of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” which proved to be a fitting and extremely touching tribute that reflects the band’s outlook on life and playing music. They closed the show with fan favorites “Oscar Wilde” and “Won’t Go Quietly.” As they exited the stage, Genevieve reminded the crowd how much she loved being there tonight and that we should keep in touch. That’s probably the most striking thing about the band that makes them who they are. A Company of Thieves show isn’t just about the music; it’s about the connection between the audience and the band, and that’s what made this a brilliant performance. Company of Thieves aren’t just there to play their music; they’re there to experience every bit of the show with you, as if we were all super close friends. At the end of the night, there didn’t seem to be a single person in the room who wasn’t visibly blown away. As I slowly shuffled out with the near sold-out audience, I felt just as much of an impact the second time around.
Queen of Hearts
Look Both Ways
Never Come Back
Nothing’s in the Flowers
Death of Communication
I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty Cover)
Won’t Go Quietly
Pick up Company of Thieves’ latest record, Running from a Gamble.
For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their official website.