Although Riot Fest is happening this weekend in the southwest side of Chicago, and Zac Brown Band was playing at Wrigley Field on the north side; the place to be on Friday night was even further north of Wrigley. In a family’s backyard in Rogers Park, Jeremy Messersmith had his “Supper Club Tour” Chicago stop. Messersmith‘s Supper Club Tour is unlike any other tour you may have heard of before, he describes it as eating great food, hanging out with cool people, and hearing him test-drive some new music. Which, in a nutshell, is exactly what happened. The food was great, the people were definitely cool, and the music (which is our focus here), was actually spectacular.
The attention was drawn from the conversation and the food to Messersmith with one sentence: “My name is Jeremy, thanks for bringing me dinner,” he said, before launching into “Dillinger Eyes.” Since the show took place in a backyard with limited space and power, Messersmith played solo accompanied only by his own acoustic guitar. He continued to warm the crowd with the opening track from his latest record Heart Murmurs, “It’s Only Dancing.”
He then asked the crowd of roughly 20 people if it would be alright if he played a new song, followed by a few different versions of shushed yes-es. “That’s Just The Whiskey Talkin'” proved to fit in well with the rest of his set by following his traditional witty lyrics, and certainly being relatable. After a remark of glee pertaining to “nobody throwing anything,” he played another new one “Once You Get To Know Us,” co-written by his “mentor-slash-yoda” Dan Wilson. Beyond proving yet again of his writing talents, the lyrics for the track (which potentially could be released on his next record), are beyond witty, earning him more than a couple chuckles from the crowd. Since he was playing it acoustically, and if that track especially makes it on the next record, what Messersmith decides to do with it in a full studio could really enhance what he already has — and even if he decides to keep it acoustic, the song is sure to make his devoted fans ecstatic.
“Novocain” came next, as he started to round back to the more familiar tunes. Messersmith confessed that this was the “first song I wrote that I actually liked.” Throughout the show, even though he was seated in the same place and relatively sedimentary, his stage presence was undeniable. It really worked for the Supper Club style setting, and even if it might not have worked at a more familiar Chicago venue, such as Lincoln Hall or Schubas, the setting was superb for this tour. Another thing Messersmith did throughout the evening that was really enjoyable was how much he spoke during the show, making a point to say something between every couple songs, and more often than not, between every song.
After a few more older golder tunes, some new jams, and a handful of laughs and memorable conversation, he brought up probably one of the best new songs of the night, “The Return of Jesus Christ.” Staying in true Jeremy Messersmith action, the lyrics were delightfully sassy — let’s just say he compares the Holocaust to the last three seasons of Lost — there was no doubt left in the crowd that if any of the new things he brought to the yard tonight, the next record should be a continuation on the great discography Messersmith has already built up for himself.
Another important-to-mention part of Messersmith’s show tonight was the Inappropriate Question Jar. He passed this jar around that had pens and paper attached to it, and asked members of the audience to write down (what else?) inapropriate questions. I won’t go into any of the things discussed, because honestly, you really had to be there, but he was very open about everything thrown his way (and there were definitely some inappropriate, personal questions in there), and he was able to play off every single one as if he knew they were coming.
Other songs played includes “I Want to be Your One Night Stand,” which he described beforehand as “the most honest love song I’ve ever written,” “Steve” (“it’s like a weird Adam/Eve/Steve fanfic that I’ve created. Nice and steamy Genesis”), “A Girl, A Boy, and a Graveyard,” and “Hitman” (this song is a little bit about both love and death…so it’s like a tow-fer for me!”) which he absolutely rocked out on his acoustic guitar, followed with “Ghost.”
One of the last questions in the Inappropriate Question Jar was asking how hipster we all were for coming to this backyard potluck dinner party just to see this guy play some music, and he said “Very, but I also made my own beard oil last night, so I’m like, King of the Hipsters.”
“Ghost” came, then a confession of how he just wanted to skip the pre-encore BS of everyone clapping and begging for more music, and just skipped to the last set. Which, of course, included some audience involvement. As he taught us our parts, instead of asking us to be louder, he simply yelled “DRUNKER!”
Tying the bow on top with “Someday, Someone” Messersmith confessed one more thing for the evening to our small backyard crowd, “I saw a beautiful phrase on the internet and did what any good writer does… and stole it.”
All in all, the 20 bucks was well spent and the whole experience was pretty much exactly what could have been expected: relaxing and fantastic. Absolutely a perfect way to round out the first week of school, and a great way to meet new people, try new foods, and listen to support some great Minnesota music.