Listening to Greta Kline, better known as Frankie Cosmos, through headphones or even speakers, is like eavesdropping on someone in their bedroom. There’s a hushed tone that permeates throughout as Kline wittily observes even the most minute details of her life and the relationships she’s built with others in what feels like a private manner. In front of a sold-out (and very attentive) crowd at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday, the eavesdropping continued on a collectively larger scale as Kline calmly and delicately opened up her world to a bigger room through a bevvy of wispy lo-fi indie pop that rarely clocked in above two minutes. “This is literally the nicest place we could be,” she said of Lincoln Hall and Chicago in general. “This is like the parents’ house of venues.”
That moment of gratitude came early in the set, which for the first half mostly included songs from her latest album, Next Thing, which was just released this month. It was a unique approach since loading up on new songs at the very beginning can sometimes be a tricky ordeal for an artist since the best crowd reaction will usually be for the more familiar songs, which can affect the flow of a concert, but given how receptive the people were to newer tracks like the catchy introspection of “Fool” and the airy yearning of “Too Dark,” it was exactly like being at an house where the utmost respect was shown.
Although brevity and tenderness were on heavy display, there was also time for a little fun as Maryn James of opening act Yowler along with “two Chicago friends” participated in a choreographed dance with keyboardist Gabby Smith and bassist David Maine during “I’m 20.” The slightly Macarena-inspired dance drew the biggest applause of the night and made an already charming band more endearing, especially with lines like “I’m 20, washed up already/I’d sell my soul for a free pen” providing further smiles. Kline even took the time to apologize for swearing at an all ages show after using the word “frickin'”, only to sincerely apologize again immediately when she realized the next song, “Being Alive,” legitimately used an explicit word.
The 2nd half of the show turned into a mini-sing-a-long for the faithful as Kline delved into older fare like “Birthday Song” and “Korean Food.” “I heard about being young/but I’m not sure how it’s done/Thought I heard a mumble/Something about fun” she sang to an intensely focused crowd during “Young,” who much like her, were probably still learning and absorbing everything life had to offer and found a kindred spirit in her. The muted drum set of Luke Pyenson provided the appropriate backdrop to let Kline’s soft vocals cut clearly and not drown out the crowd either. I’ve always held Lincoln Hall in high esteem in regards to sound and this balance of quiet and loud dynamics made the entire performance more intimate than I had anticipated and further confirmed what I believed about the venue.
In less than an hour, Frankie Cosmos burned through 21 songs without an encore. As quietly as they came on stage, the show concluded just as gently, which is how most discreet conversations involving deep sharing in the bedroom end.
If I Had a Dog
On the Lips
Outside with the Cuties
Is It Possible / Sleep Song
Buses Splash With Rain
O Contest Winner
Next Thing (Bayonet Records) is out now and you can follow Frankie Cosmos on Twitter (@frankiecosmos).