Nation of Lanaguage performing at the Metro, photo by Josh Darr

As of this writing, it’s been seven days since Nation of Language returned to Chicago and played the Metro and I’m still reeling from its amazingness. Seeing them perform live is like getting to the tootsie roll center of a Tootsie Pop, I’m not sure if this analogy makes as much sense aloud as It did in my head but I’m gonna stick with it and see how it fairs.

I normally have a tendency to forget about a band when they’re returning to town after playing a festival. Definitely not on purpose, most because of forgetfulness or living life on life’s terms and not being available. Either way I can honestly say I have had a personal time clock counting the days to this show since they’re announcement right after Pitchfork. Of course to add their build up was the release of their new album, Strange Disciple, on September 15. Their music is a brilliant blend of favorite 80s music from my childhood along with indie predecessors and peers who shaped much of my current musical taste as a young adult. I know for a fact this album will land fairly high on my top ten albums of 2023. 

So back to Sunday's show, arriving excited and early for the opener Miss Grit, having never listened to her music before I found myself entranced as she stayed slightly concealed behind patterned projections. There are many hints of early St. Vincent in a lot of her music and guitar play...I’m looking forward to experiencing more of her music. But the evenings main event was everything I was hoping for and remembering from my first experience of Nation of Language live back in July. Clearly full of metaphors, the thought of that accidental drunken kiss reassured by the sober second one comes to mind with the evening’s experience. Masterfully interlacing favorite tracks from their previous two albums with a solid dose from the new album you could feel the energy and excitement of the crowd throughout the historic venue. The literal icing on the evening’s performance of the cake was the band’s stop through Chicago landed on their bassist Alex MacKay’s birthday. Which seemingly brought an additional level of enthusiasm into the band’s performance. Which is saying something giving how lead singer Ian Richard Devaney dances with the stage lights and shadows throughout the set, part of the fun was playing “where’s Ian?” as he darted around stage dissolving into the darkness and re-emerging on a different part of the stage. 

Devaney made numerous proclamations throughout their set how dear Chicago is to them as did his wife/ band mate Aidan Noell and think that mutual love was felt from the crowd for the band watching them excitedly dance along with the band. Aside from the obvious, “I’ve Thought About Chicago” sung during their encore and intro’d by Noell’s fondly referencing her cheeseburger from dinner. The other, a personal favorite “On Division Street” a hypnotically synth heavy track from the band’s debut album that easily will live on repeat in your psyche after your first listen. I can only hope they plan to tour again in 2024 and in the meantime keep this set list on repeat. 

Set List:
Spare and the Decision
Sole Obsession
Wounds of Love
Too Much, Enough
Weak In Your Light
Rush + Fever
The Grey Commute
September Again
On Division St
This Fractured Mind
The Wall + I

I’ve Thought About Chicago
A New Goodbye
Across the Fine Line (sang happy birthday with cake to Alex before finishing song)