I can’t lie. I love a lot of bands, but there are only a handful I would call my favorite: The Blake Babies, Juliana Hatfield Three, Veruca Salt, Throwing Muses and of course, Letters to Cleo. Up until now, I never thought I would have the opportunity to see these bands live, much less interact with them (I have friends comment that I like a lot of female fronted bands… so? Maybe they are just better).
The 90’s resurgence has been a blessing and so has crowd sourcing sites like Cash Music or PledgeMusic. These sites allow fans to support artists as well as gain access to supporting their new projects by getting special keepsakes, becoming a patron of the work or getting to interact at special meet and greets. Concerts are ruined for me-in a good way-because I now love the quiet smaller crowd at sound-checks along with getting autographs and photos with the band. I am forever grateful for these opportunities.
I first fell in love with Letters To Cleo as their video for “Here and Now” closed out episodes of Melrose Place. I scored the CD for Aurora Gory Alice in 1995 from a CD exchange store and loved every track almost immediately! I did not hear a lot from them on the radio, but there was always a Letters to Cleo track appearing on compilations and soundtracks. I was excited to hear “Anchor” on college radio while I was in graduate school and immediately bought Go! at the local record store. Go! was a fast favorite for long car trips. I would crank up the volume for songs like “Because of You” and belt out the words along with Kay! After the band split, I discovered Wholesale Meats and Fish, thinking it was their first album as it is so strong with stand-outs like “Demon Rock,” “Fastway” and “Jennifer.” I don’t think there is a song on that album that I skip.
As the summer months of 2016 were coming to a close, Kay Hanley announced Letters to Cleo were releasing a new EP called Back to Nebraska on PledgeMusic. Immediately I scoured the posters and rarities offered in the campaign. Money being what it is, coupled with my need to “adult” I opted for the opportunity to attend sound-check (buying experiences over “stuff”).
I was stoked when LTC sent out the first song from Nebraska through Pledge. Immediately I downloaded “Can’t Say” and listened to it again and again as I finished a bottle of pinot and sang along (I probably shouldn’t have recorded it but… sue me). The song is quintessential Cleo-I am a sucker for a bright, bouncy, sing-a-long with a modulation and a fun bridge!
Fast forward to the weekend of the Chicago Shows (November 4 through November 5, 2016). First, a Friday performance at the iconic Double Door in Wicker Park followed by a small 60 person show at the Virgin Hotel in the Loop on Saturday (only LTC can get me to the Loop on a Saturday). The meet and greets were great! The band is so friendly. The sound-checks were legitimate working through sound issues and figuring out levels while performing some great teasers! I forgot to bring stuff to sign, so I managed to get an CD so I could have each member sign the jacket. Stacy told a few of us that the fried chicken and doughnut on the CD art was one of the most satisfying thing he had on the road.
Well, both performances were satisfying! Sweet and delicious, only no fear of a stomach ache once the meal settles. Friday kicked off with “Demon Rock” and “Fastway” which just blew me away! Saturday featured a surprise performance of “Back to Nebraska” featuring Kay on guitar when Michael’s string broke. They performed all the new songs (except, “Can’t Say”). “Good Right Here” is hands-down my favorite new song and I was jumping and singing along the entire time, “from 7-11 to Arc du Triomphe.”
The highlight for both nights was hearing and singling along to “Because of You” which brings me to singing along to Kay’s every word (I even got her attention on Saturday which was a such a nice surprise). Actually having Kay remember my name and then Michael noticing how much the fans sing along and enjoy the songs was the best!
Thank you Letters to Cleo for coming back to us! You are truly a favorite of this fanboy!