Number Three-And-A-Half


Fri Dec 21 2018

Haley Fohr/Circuit Des Yeux | The Hideout | 19 December

This entry was unplanned, but I feel confident that this is the appropriate numerical value for this show. Funny how that worked out. Even if I’m wrong, I could not complete this series without including this. Why?

My concern is that none of you are sufficiently freaking out about Haley Fohr—her artistry, her voice. She is, as far as I know, the best singer alive, except maybe Mavis Staples. I say things like this and then if I’m lucky you’ll half-heartedly check out one of her albums and you’ll think ‘well I mean it’s interesting but…’ and that will be that. You haven’t seen her perform, been in the room while she’s singing. That’s the test.

Wednesday night was the third and final night of Fohr’s mini-residency at The Hideout, a venue that’s in real danger of being stamped out by a proposed five-billion-dollar LiveNation real estate development project known as Lincoln Yards. Hasn’t LiveNation done enough to try and ruin the lives of music lovers? Yet we all recall what happened when Pearl Jam tried to fight Big Ticket, and they were, like, the only major-label band in history to even attempt to lift a finger, which tells you how much the average rock star actually gives a shit about fans and activism and such. Call up your rock star buddies and throw some spaghetti at the wall, you bitch-ass millionaires! But I digress.

This was my first time at The Hideout (HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE). During the last several turns my telephone instructed me to take, winding through the Elston Avenue industrial corridor, I was less and less convinced that there was going to be a venue at the end of the route, but suddenly, I rounded one last corner and there it was, just like the robot lady said. Never doubt the robot lady.

They have, for a Chicago venue, a fine selection of beers. They had a hefeweizen on tap but it was awful. I latched onto Temperance Beer Company’s Smittytown, supposedly an ESB but unless these cans had been tampered with, not especially bitter. Tasty though. This concludes Cal describing beers. The Hideout also features a wall-length booth/bench that’s impossible to slouch in, and having horrible posture myself, I found this either frustrating or inspirational. It was only a factor prior to the show, obviously. The ambiance was quite Milwaukee-divey, actually, except the swelling crowd was positively real-city hipster, all subsets represented.

The place is set up a lot like Beat Kitchen, with a separate room for the performance about the same size. A little while after soundcheck had finished, those doors opened and we were treated to an hour of DJ Cheryl Bittner spinning amazing jazz. I need a playlist of everything she played; someone please help me out. I almost didn’t want it to end, but as the room filled up, the chatter began to drown out the music. We were ready.

The official title of the performance was: Circuit des Yeux Presents Reaching for Indigo: Gaia Infinitus. I saw the album performed last year at Lincoln Hall, one of the other best venues in Chicago; you can read about that here. What the hell, you can read about the album itself here, too, if you want. FRESH LINKS, WHO WANTS A LINK. On this night, however, Fohr had assembled a string quartet (Macie Stewart, Lia Kohl, Whitney Johnson, Eli Namay) to accompany her, along with keyboardist Cooper Crain (Bitchin’ Bajas/Cave) and drummer Tyler Damon (Tashi Dorji/etc.).

That’s it, that’s all the background I have for you. What followed was just the inevitable tension in my dumb brain where it’s going ‘THIS IS PROBABLY GOING TO BE THE TIME WHERE YOU LEAVE DISAPPOINTED, SHE CAN’T KEEP LIVING UP TO THE OTHER TIMES’, and then the reality, which was ‘AAAAAAAAAAH FUCK, I HAVE NEVER HEARD HER IN SUCH FINE VOICE, THIS BAND IS GOING TO MAKE THE WALLS CRUMBLE’, these sorts of things.

I can’t expect each show to be better than the last, but I can hope that with the passage of time, I forget just how good the last one was, so that the next one can seem better because it’s happening now. My point is that there is only now, and you must get out and experience a Haley Fohr performance. Yes, listen to her albums too, by all means, but understand that an mp3 of her singing is like a pizza-flavored jelly bean. Not that there’s anything wrong with pizza-flavored jelly beans; I’m just saying.

Cal Roach

Cal Roach is a word whore currently being pimped sporadically by Milwaukee Record and the Journal Sentinel, and giving it away for nothing right here at He also co-hosts the Local/Live program on 91.7 WMSE FM every Tuesday at 6 p.m. and spouts nonsense on twitter as @roachcraft.

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