We took the trip the weekend before Thanksgiving, which might seem an odd time to visit, but the original motivation for the trip was a Mat Kearney concert scheduled for Thursday, November 17 at the Chicago House of Blues. Though I'd seen Mat twice already, once just a few months earlier, J had never seen him live. So we planned the whole weekend around this event. When it comes to Mat Kearney, we're that kind of fan:
In the photos above and below you see the first two people to get in line for the concert. Doors opened at six and the show started at seven. We left J's house in Downers Grove, Illinois around 2:30 and arrived at the House of Blues in dowtown Chicago around 3:30 P.M. We figured we'd join the line formed by all the true die-hard Kearney fans, and with two hours or so to wait, still likely get a great spot close to the front.
Well it turned out that we were the die-hards. Funny thing about being a big fan--you assume everyone else is devoted as you are. No one else was there and we snapped these pics of us staking our claim as the number 1 and number 2 Mat Kearney fans in Chicago.
It was bitterly cold. . .in the upper 20's and our die-hard fandom was not such that we were willing to freeze to death, so we ducked into the restaurant and gift shop and debated whether we should spend the $20 a piece to eat in the restaurant and get jumped to the front of the line, thus eradicating the need to stand outside. We weren't really hungry, and heck we already were at the front of the line. We decided to bounce back and forth between the gift shop and the queue to make sure that we kept our spots. We browsed the HOB merch and had a nice chat with the clerk who also happened to be the official concert photographer for the night and an itinerant musician in his own right. I ran across a film crew shooting footage of the opening band, Leagues and talked with them for a little bit. We even got to eavesdrop on Mat's sound check, which they played over the restaurant and gift shop sound system.
After an hour, we were still the only fans around. Figuring our place in line was more or less secure, we decided to walk around and maybe look for something hot to drink. We found an Einstein Brothers coffee shop a block away and relaxed there for a little while.
Nursing a hot chocolate and contemplating the likely setlist
Some shots of the downtown area near the House of Blues. All photos taken by J Carlos with his trusty Samsung Galaxy SII phone.
Around five we headed back to the House of Blues and found a handful of people now gathered at the entrance. We decided to forgo insisting on our number one and two spots and happily settled for 7th and 8th in line.
Our dedication paid off when we finally got in around six and snagged prime spots right at the front rail. For die-hard fans there's no better place to be!
Mat rocks the House
It was a great show as always. The setlist was similar to the Cincinnati show Babs and I saw in September, though we were treated to the addition of "Girl America", a classic from Mat's landmark album Nothing Left to Lose and missed "Sooner or Later" and "Chasing the Light" from his newest album (Presumably these songs entered the set list the following night at his second performance in Chicago). We had a great time, and I have to say seeing your favorite artist in a small venue is an amazing experience. Lucky for us, Mat tours constantly, so I'm sure there'll be many other opportunities for these two die-hards to see him again.
The rest of the weekend was outstanding as well. It was so relaxing to just hang out in the Carlos' cozy little home. It was nice to have Kimo with us too. She did great on the drive up to Chicago and though she seemed a little uncertain when we first arrived, she eventually got comfortable too. The boys are growing up and fighting less (The Feller's blog will have pictures of the weekend with Carlos family soon).
On Friday we drove over into Wisconsin to visit the Jelly Belly jellybean factory, and on Saturday night we took the train into the city. Even though we ended up having to virtually turn around and come right back, the boys had fun riding on the train and cruising downtown Chicago in their strollers (again, check the Feller's blog for pictures soon).
It was a great weekend, and we look forward to visiting again soon.