Dead Horses at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, IL

It was a night filled to the brim with beautiful harmonies and strings at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.

A last minute venue change due to a burst pipe as a result of the well-publicized Polar Vortex that had swept through Chicago in the preceding two days couldn’t put a dampener on proceedings for the evening as the audience packed out the Old Town School of Folk Music’s alternate building. What could have been a disaster turned out to maybe be a blessing in disguise as it brought the bands and the audience closer together in a very intimate setting that was also a great sounding room. Credit must be given to Old Town School of Folk who, in the face of serious issues with one of their locations, still stepped up and made sure that the show could go on.

Twin brothers, Adam and David Moss, AKA The Brother Brothers from Peoria were first up. They interacted with the audience throughout their set right from the get-go, joking about just how ‘folk’ they were which broke the ice and warmed everyone up on the chilly night. A guitar (and at one point a cello), a fiddle and perfect harmonies, mesmerizing the audience in the music hall. It was the perfect start to the weekend and the show.  

This was night two of Dead Horses’ extensive US tour which kicked off in St Louis. Their songs are filled to the brim with emotive lyrics and impeccable harmonies.  Watching them perform live, it’s clear that Sarah and Daniel have played hundreds, if not thousands of live shows together.  Daniel provides foundation and texture on double bass and with his harmonies over which Sarah’s vocals and guitar can take off.  The timing and anticipation between the pair are perfect and Viktor Brusubardis (who is joining the pair on Cello for some selected dates) fitted in seamlessly, adding a whole other sonic layer to the songs upon which he performed.  Its also impressive how effectively the band use dynamics to add further texture to their performance, ramping up to high volume to punctuate certain lines or sections of songs before dialing it back.  As a result, the sound is never thin or lacking and gives the illusion that there a many more than just two (or sometimes on the night, three) people on stage.

Sarah clearly draws inspiration for her songwriting from personal experience, whether that be memories of family or childhood, experiences from crisscrossing the States whilst on tour or just her general experience of living in the world today.  You get the feeling when listening to Dead Horses songs that nothing is off limits, that Sarah will write a song based on how she feels, regardless of how personal the content may be or whether there may be a political undercurrent to a song that some may not agree with.  This kind of honest and fearless attitude to songwriting, especially when coupled with great use of imagery and melody, as it is here, is a rare and powerful thing.

This may have been an intimate setting, but the music didn’t overpower the space in any way. Rather, it was one of those performances where it felt like the sound was wrapping itself around the room. It is very rare these days for an audience to totally silently take in the performance without the odd person catching up with their friend or enjoying some screen time on their phone during songs. However, for this performance, it was impossible not to take it all in in respectful silence and that is exactly what the audience did – until it was time to show their appreciation at the end of each song, of course.

Both bands have numerous tour dates scheduled throughout the first half of the year, many together on the same bill. Head over to their sites to check out when they will be in a town near you.

Sarah Vos recently took time out of rehearsals for this tour to chat with us which you can check out here

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About Kirstine Walton 386 Articles
Kirstine moved from the UK to Chicago in 2011, and has fallen in love with the city and its music scene. She enjoys combining her two biggest passions – music and photography. If there is a band with a guitar playing, chances are she’ll be there…camera in hand. Kirstine went to her first live concert at 7 years old, and hasn’t looked back since!

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