Live Review: White Reaper, Post Animal, and Peach Pit Put on One of the World’s Best Gigs at The Metro

White Reaper, Post Animal, and Peach Pit brought a night of camaraderie and crowd surfing to a legendary Chicago space, The Metro.


Vancouver’s Peach Pit kicked off the festivities, warming up the Wrigleyville venue as the crowd still slowly trickled into the all ages show. The four piece provided the perfect teaser for the sets that would follow; the early arrivers moshing around to songs like “Tommy’s Party” and “Techo Show”  from their debut album, titled Being So Normal. By the end of their 30 minute set, the crowd was buzzing in anticipation for their fellow Chicagoans in Post Animal.

Only a few short days prior to this show, one of Post Animal’s guitarists and vocalists Javi Reyes suffered a stroke onstage during their set supporting White Reaper in New York. While he had to remain in the ICU for a few days following the stroke, Reyes is bouncing back and on the road to full recovery, and he encouraged his bandmates to push through and continue the rest of tour without him. At The Metro on Tuesday night, the remaining four began their 45 minute set with drummer Wes Toledo addressing the crowd about Reyes’ situation, initiating a “Javi!” chant while he held up a cardboard cutout of his bandmate’s head that a friend had made for the show. Although there’s absolutely no replacing the flavor that Reyes adds to each of Post Animal’s performances, the group managed to rally together to reconstruct a very solid performance that absolutely shredded, despite the unfortunate circumstances. The hometown show highlights included the performance of the building and layered track “You Were Not There” from their The Garden Series EP, the psychedelic riffs of  “When I Get Home” from the same EP, and their latest single “Special Moment,” which features a killer guitar solo and came along with a trippy and thrilling music video. Their set on Tuesday also included a rare performance of “Lorelei,” which features guitarist Matt Williams taking the lead on vocals and will be included on their upcoming album. While the absence of Reyes stood out to the many friends and fans in attendance, his bandmates gave the show their all and the crowd reciprocated that energy right back, not only moshing, but also kicking off the steady stream of crowd surfing that would continue throughout White Reaper’s set.

Following a thirty minute changeover, the self-proclaimed “World’s Best American Band” stormed the stage with an unwavering enthusiasm that would only support their bold claim. By the time the opening chords of “Wolf Trap Motel” from White Reaper‘s sophomore album, called White Reaper Does It Again, rang out into the venue, the crowd had completely filled in. The Louisville rockers immediately played off of and amplified the infectious positive energy that Post Animal and Peach Pit had generated, with crowd surfers popping up during the early part of the setlist. As the audience thrashed around and lifted one another up to cruise over the crowd, the five piece worked the entire stage and poured every ounce of gusto that they had into the show. Bassist Sam Wilkerson often gained some serious air jumping in place on his side of the stage, while Ryan Hater would hang out at the edge of the stage to hype up the crowd whenever he wasn’t fervently playing the keyboard, and lead singer and guitarist Tony Esposito would drop to his knees to ground his guitar playing.

The hour long set contained a fair bit of White Reaper’s aforementioned sophomore album, but crowd favorites definitely included “The Stack” and “Judy French” from the group’s 2017 album The World’s Best American Band, which has propelled the Kentucky based band into the limelight of the rock scene this year. Before the band’s explosive performance of the latter (“Judy French”), Esposito proposed that the crowd start an all female circle pit during the tune. While the ladies of the pit bopped around, confetti shot out into the crowd to create a rare confetti circle pit. As the set wound down during the last bit of the 9’o clock hour, so much crowd surfing and moshing had occurred, but the band only kept it up themselves. Esposito and Wilkerson challenged each other to their nightly shot and [crowd]surf race, in which they surf over to the venue’s bar, take a shot and then race back to the stage. During the race, Colin Croom and Cadien Lake James of Chicago’s own Twin Peaks joined the remainder of the band onstage to lend a hand to the background music that amped up the anticipation induced by the race. Clay Frankel of Twin Peaks could also be spotted down in the pit, hyping up the audience. By the time the houselights came up after White Reaper’s encore of “Half Bad” and “Another Day,” the Metro had endured one of its rowdiest shows in recent days, featuring some classic Chicago camaraderie.

Check out our gallery of all three bands below to relive the unforgettable experience!

Keep up with each band on social media below, and if you can, please consider donating to Javi Reyes’ recovery fund by clicking here.

White Reaper: Facebook // Twitter //Instagram

Post Animal: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Peach Pit: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

You can also snag White Reaper’s The World’s Best American Band at the shop, or order it at online here.


This article was originally posted on ANCHR Magazine

An Interview With Post Animal

Words from Kevin Sterne
Photos from Rachel Zyzda


Chicago’s Post Animal are in the thick, sticky center of their summer tour and recently made the pilgrimage back to their hometown for two long-awaited shows at West Fest and Subterranean. Comprised of long-haired rockers Dalton Allison (bass, vocals), Jake Hirshland (guitar, keys, vocals), Matt Williams (guitar, vocals), Javi Reyes (guitar, vocals), Joe Keery (guitar, vocals) and Wesley Toledo (drums), Post Animals pulls from contemporary and classic rock influences while adding their own psychedelic spin.

I was welcomed by humble dudes Dalton, Jake and Matt for a sit down in band’s van while Woods played on the West Fest stage behind us. We discussed their current tour, the Chicago scene, and their much-anticipated new album.

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What does it mean for you guys to be playing Chicago’s West Fest

Jake: I think today specifically we were all looking forward to playing West Fest. We’ve all come to West Fest for many years, and other Chicago festivals as well. We’ve seen a lot of people that we really like play here, and around this specific time of day. We’ve been in the audience for this experience. So to be out here and playing and having people show up. Just seeing people smile has been an out-of-body experience for me.

Dalton: And just now, standing on this stage and looking out, you can see the John Hancock Center, and I work at a Best Buy at the ground level of that. To be on a stage, at West Fest, and looking out and seeing my employer has been a crazy last hour.


Who are some bands that you’ve seen play West Fest in the past?

Jake: Mild High Club!

Dalton: Lemon Twigs played like the same exact time slot that we just played. So that was crazy.

 

You all are in the midst of a national tour. How’s that going?

Dalton: The tour is insane. It’s the first time we’ve played outside of the Midwest. We’re going to more places than I ever imagined. More cities, more physical, actually locations than I ever thought I would travel in my life. That’s been the craziest thing for me.

 

Any memorable or favorite places you’ve played on the tour?

Dalton: In DC, we played the 9:30 club and Black Jack. Thalia Hall in Chicago.

Jake: It’s surreal playing these shows like in Tampa, and these weird places that I’ve never been to.

 

Any crazy tour stories?

Matt: Some pool swimming. Some family meals.

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So, let’s address the elephant in the room: word is there’s a new record.

Jake: It’s done, actually. We’ve been sitting on this thing a long time.

 

Can you talk about the recording process, and how that all went down?

Matt: Our friend Emily has a lake house in Watervliet, Michigan. Right on Paw Paw Lake. And we spent about eight days there tracking all the instruments. Writing some and recording. And Dalton spent time mixing it and producing it. And then he co-mastered with our friend Adam Thein.

 

In terms of the writing process, how does that go?

Jake: Some people come to the table with close to completion songs. And we kind of synch ourselves into a part that’s already been written, or modify it slightly. Then there’s other people who write more of a skeletal idea, and bring it to everyone to have them fill in the gaps. Say, someone writes a song, but doesn’t write a bass line. Then Dalton will work on writing the bass line. And sometimes we’ll just jam stuff out. “When I get Home” was a jam.

Matt: I was on the drums for that one. I didn’t write the drum part, but I was playing drums when they wrote the song.

Jake: I was on keys. Dalton was on bass. And even the vocals were just melody sounds, we didn’t have lyrics yet.

Dalton: There are probably like 3-4 songs on the record that we were just jamming and mumbling into the microphone. “You’re Not There” was like that. We kind of just mumble what it feels like it should be and then write the lyrics later.

 

The new music video single, “Special Moment,” is that going to be on the record?

Jake: It’s the first song on the record.

 

How’d that come to fruition? Because that is some dynamite screenwriting, kind of American Psycho-like.

Jake: Yeah, dude. Totally. That’s all credited to Alec Basse. He came to us with a number of ideas. And we we’re perusing one that we liked. Then he basically took the reigns. With the two music videos we have, we try to get people we trust, and then give them full control. Because none of us are directors, and we don’t pretend to be. We’re actually working on another music video right now. It’s almost completely hands, and that’s worked out for us really well so far.

 

 

Let’s talk about the Chicago scene and the evolution of your music. How you would describe the Chicago scene right now, and how you fit in with it?

Dalton: When we were playing house shows, most of the bands we were playing with were garage bands. But then we met all these dudes that are in Woongi and The Voluptuals, and the guys that are more on the experimental side, and formed a friendship with them. Then we have our friends in the Evening Attraction that we play house shows with. I think there’s this psych rock thing going on, but a little heavier. People focus on being a little heavier and more groovy.

 

Listening to the studio recordings and then hearing you live, I’m finding a harder-rock, more rock and roll aspect to the music compared to maybe a few years ago when you were playing shows at Schubas and Double Door. I’m wondering about that transition. 

Jake: A lot of the stuff on the new record is leaning more towards rock and roll, heavy rock and classic rock. There’s still some psychy stuff, but were not trying to pigeon hole ourselves as psych rock. I wouldn’t say that the main thing that pops out is psychodellic in terms of describing this record.

Dalton: We’re a rock band with psych influences more so than a psych rock bands.

 

Having toured and played together live, has the live sound transitioned to this record more?

 Jake: I think so. I think the record might actually influence the live sound. I think in us writing this last record, we realized some stuff that we wanted to do and now are translating that live. We’ve even taken some of our old songs and retooled them to be a little more in this style. It’s kind of an identity change for us, not a huge change but definitely a change in identity over the last year.

 

So where’s Joe right now? I feel like I just saw him in a Dominos commercial.

Dalton: He’s running wild on everyone’s TV screen. We’re not sure if he’s real anymore. I haven’t seen him in person in a while. 

Jake: I see him at the gym.

Dalton: He’s one of the most beautiful people.

 

Was he part of the recording process for this record?

Jake: Absolutely.

Dalton: He’s been on every recording. He played drums on Water Activities. He plays guitar on four of the songs on Garden Series.

Jake: But he was definitely part of the recording. One-sixth of the playing and song writing on the record. He’s definitely still a huge part of who we are.

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What’s next for you guys?

Jake: We’ve got another month of touring. And that hangs heavy. We aren’t looking too far past that.

Dalton: We’re trying to meet with people who can help us “take the next step”—whatever that may be.

 

You guys unsigned?

Dalton: We are.

 

Have there been conversations? 

Dalton: A few, but you never really know.

Jake: We haven’t had THE conversation.

Dalton: People seem so interested in real life, but then you don’t hear from them for a while. And you’re like, okay, let me lower my expectations.

Jake: But we are really happy. I feel like we’ve finished a record that we’re happy with, going on a tour that we’re happy with. So we’re pretty content with where we are. We’d love to work with people who could take it to another level, but for the moment we feel good.

Dalton: We’re not over-reaching by any means. It’s going well, we feel really good with the opportunities we’ve already been given.

Jake: And we get to decide everything. Everything we’ve ever done has our full, entire stamp of approval. And that’s a really good feeling.

 


Kevin Sterne is a writer and journalist based in Chicago. He writes about music, craft beer and culture for Shuga Records, Substream Magazine and other places (like here). His super weird and highly offensive fiction has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Praxis Magazine, Word Eater, Defenestration and many other places you’ve never heard of. Kevin is the creator of a really terrible magazine called LeFawn.