Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sounds of Summer: Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea (7/1)

Relaxed and ready, people started filing in to Beat Kitchen as mellow, country twanged, guitar rifts filled the steamy air for Nicole Atkins and The Black Sea’s performance Friday, July 1st. The audience buzzing from the start, was excitingly anticipating the performance of the retro diva, but also the performance of the opener, Chicago’s own My, My, My, and the release of their newest EP, Wishing You Whatever’s Best.
My, My, My had a high-energy set, that immediately captured the home crowd with their suited up style, catchy tunes, and addicting loops. I always love bands that duet (The Hush Sound, Stars, Fleetwood Mac) and the group also reminded me of somewhat updated No Doubt… gotta love a good 90’s reference!!!
I was ecstatic when Nicole Atkins promptly took the stage, with the glow of gratitude and the confidence of someone you know has had a journey. I had read so much about her switching labels, a stint living in her mother’s house, not to mention being dumped by her boyfriend (bummer!), that I as pumped for an almost “comeback” performance. Nicole Atkins has always been a favorite of mine, and I am always held captive by her vocals that soar with the influence of Cash and Orbison. The way she finds original but classic use of the 50s and 60s eras, something that is especially heard on her newer album Mondo Amore, always gives me that feeling of Americana- Something so perfect for the July 4th weekend!!

Nicole and her rocking guitarist, Irina Yalkowsky, were awesomely Woodstock reminiscent, with leather woven, swaying fringe halter-tops (black and tan respectively) that they slipped as added rocker glam to the band’s collective black ensembles and leather boots. Nicole had a Native American inspired Turquoise stone centerpiece as an added pop to her digs.

The show that Nicole and the Black Sea gifted had a very transporting quality, with songs like “Cry, Cry, Cry” and “Hotel Plaster” making you feel as if you were watching the group on a past era festival stage. It was also great being able to hear a live taste of Nicole’s past record Neptune City, especially when she brought down the house with an acoustic version of “War Torn” as requested by the mysterious patron who fed her ham. Apparently people from New Jersey go crazy over ham- Haha! It was so great to exist in the spell-binding aura that the band created, as well as to see that despite everything Atkins has been through in the past year, her belting, beautiful old soul instrument could be heard loud and clear for everyone to admire, and beg for another encore.

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