Young Man’s bashfulness has a charm to it, backed not only by singer Colin Caulfield and the band’s passion for music but audible talent and drive to entertain the audience. There were no special tricks in their June 26th show at Lincoln Hall—no covers, few spits of dialogue and very little motion on stage—and at times, when the show lagged, it wouldn’t have hurt to see some spice. But the show was carried by the music alone, and its luminosity shone through whatever lull came about.
Of course, with the sound, all Bob Dylan comparisons are inevitable. Caulfield’s youthfully mischievous tone will always have him related back to one of folk’s greatest, but his sound is not too similar to his predecessor’s. Caulfield and Young Man work quite nicely with guitar and melody, but also tend to choose the right beats with drum and synth to accompany the often-somber emotion he carries. Different mixes livened up some of the quieter tones, too. Listening to it is quite nice; watching it is truly something else.
“We’ve been all over and it always feels so good to come back home,” Caulfield explained. (This was after some hesitation in an informal introduction in which he paused to correct himself: “We’re Young Man and we’re from … here.”) He cracked a smile for the first time in the set. We imagine it did feel good, too. The humble energy bellowing from the small stage was so real, and supported further with Midwest pride donned on a band member’s T-shirt with the logo for Milwaukee’s Great Lakes Brewing Company.
The band’s underground status has been blown out in recent months because of the release of Volume I, which was well-received among critics even in the wake of last year’s Ideas of Distance. It’s no wonder the band felt such relief for them to return home to native Chicago.
Young Man treated the intimate crowd to a taste of newer material with “Unfair” early on in the set. This promises even stronger music in the band’s future, as if the powerful live performance wasn’t enough for fans to stay on their toes for.
Intros to songs in the set were often mishmashed conglomerates of indiscernible audio, but the idea was neat. These led into songs like rhythmic “Do” and imaginative “Felt.” One of the band’s best, “School,” was saved sweetly for the end of the set.
With such interesting recorded material, it was going to be a trial to see how Young Man played out live performances for an audience when outside the comfort of studio perfection. But the band’s live show was quite different from their recordings. Highly distorted guitar was simply better in real life meanwhile synth and piano melodies did with what they could in limited circumstances.
The audience could surely tell that Young Man simply enjoyed making and performing music. Caulfield often jived with the music with his own body, especially during ridiculous solos on guitar, and he left his microphone at the level just below his shoulders so that his head was always bowed to the audience. It’s wonderful how captivating a simple show can be. Yet again, Chicago was wowed by the unexplainable presence of live music.
Young Man at Lincoln Hall on June 26, 2012 Setlist:
- “Just a growin'”