Nov 23, 2022
By Matthew Berlyant
Photography by Matthew Berlyant
This was an additional show added for the last night of The Chills rescheduled U.S. tour (originally scheduled for 2021, but rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic), a month or so after they had already played two shows at City Winery here in New York. And as such, while the City Winery show was also quite enjoyable, this was its superior in every conceivable way.
First off, the band were (after a month of being on tour) better-rehearsed, tighter, and just visibly more comfortable at this small, but wonderful-sounding and cosy South Williamsburg bar/club, than at the more upscale, dinner theater style seated venue City Winery. And that comfort sure showed, from an absolutely smoking version of “Oncoming Day” early in their set to encoring with the rarely played “Double Summer,” a highlight from 1992’s Soft Bomb, now celebrating its 30th anniversary. And while these shows were indeed advertised as 30th anniversary shows for Soft Bomb, we really got a career-spanning set that ranged all the way from their very first single “Rolling Moon” to selections from their excellent 2021 album Scatterbrain, “You’re Immortal” being a particular highlight out of those newer songs.
Also, the mix was noticeably better here than at City Winery, with the bass being turned down to a more normal level that was appropriate for them, letting bassist and backing vocalist Oli Wilson’s sublime backing/harmony vocals shine through. And on that note, it should be noted that main Chill Martin Phillipps is backed by one of the best of many bands he’s had over the years under The Chills name, with Wilson, violinist/multi-instrumental Erica Scally, drummer Todd Knudson, and keyboardist Callum Wilson rounding out the line-up. It was also better attended than last month’s show, with a packed club full of punters eager to see the newest line-up of arguably the greatest band ever on New Zealand’s legendary Flying Nun label.