friko @ the metro


Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending Friko’s album release show at Chicago’s iconic Metro, accompanied by WIIT program director, Matt. As the venue began to fill, the atmosphere simmered with excitement as fans eagerly anticipated performances from three of the city’s hottest indie bands, including openers Neptune’s Core and Smut.

All three bands delivered deeply engaging sets, treating the audience to a night of exceptional local music. Friko, in particular, pulled out all the stops for their headline performance, transforming the Metro stage into a space charged with emotional intensity.


Photo by Cole Kincart

In between sets, I had the opportunity to interact with fans who had eagerly lined up along the barricade, I couldn’t help but be transported back to my high school days in South Dakota, attending local band performances. While the headliners I grew up seeing may not have been of the same caliber as Friko, the fervor and enthusiasm of these fans resonated deeply with me. Their passion for music was palpable and infectious, and it reminded me of the sense of community that surrounded those early shows. Despite the differences in scale and setting, I admired and sensed their genuine love for music, which only served to heighten my anticipation for the upcoming Friko performance.

When Friko took the stage, the energy in the room soared to new heights. Lead singer Niko Kapetan’s vocal performance commanded attention, as he navigated the crowd through anthemic choruses. Accompanied by drummer Bailey Minzenberger, Friko also expanded their sound with additional musicians and friends, including a bassist and violinist/guitarist/cellist, depending on the song. The result was a mesmerizing performance and a triumphant hometown show that left a lasting impression on everyone in attendance.


Photo by Cole Kincart

Friko’s latest album, “Where we’ve been, Where we go from here,” served as the centerpiece of the evening. Channeling the spirit reminiscent of 2000s indie rock, the album offers a fresh take on familiar themes, infused with a distinctly Chicago sound.

As someone who has been a proud listener of Connor Oberst and the rest of the 2000s Saddle Creek discography, it’s hard not to draw comparisons in the production of Friko’s latest album, “Where we’ve been, Where we go from here,” and the vocal performance of lead singer Niko Kapetan. There’s a palpable sense of urgency in the lyrical delivery that echoes the raw emotion of albums like “Fevers and Mirrors”, while the production palette harkens back to the early Bright Eyes or Cursive records. The inclusion of eerie string performances, scattered chamber pop callbacks, and melancholic undertones create a perfect balance between polished production and DIY/lo-fi aesthetics.

Moreover, the range of songs on Friko’s debut album is worth noting, as it showcases their growing versatility and depth. While the title track remains a personal favorite for its grandeur buildup and the raw cracks in Niko’s voice, reminiscent of cathartic tracks like Lucy Dacus’ “Night Shift” or any of Black Country New Road’s “Basketball Shoes,” it solidified itself as a standout track when performed as the final song of the evening. Witnessing all their friends and family join them on stage to sing along only enhanced the emotional impact of the track. Surprisingly, the album’s pacing, including quieter tracks, serves to accentuate the details of each song rather than disrupt the flow, resulting in a cohesive and immersive listening experience from start to finish.


Photo by Cole Kincart

As the night drew to a close, Friko treated the audience to a well-desereved encore, including a cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes” with two violinists and a cello. It was a welcomed surprise, showcasing the band’s versatility and musicianship to effortlessly tackle such a renowned track.

Ending the encore with their own track “Get Numb to It!” and revisiting a short reprise of “Where We’ve Been,” Friko crafted a cohesive and memorable performance that encapsulated the essence of the entire evening. The inclusion of openers, friends, and family joining them on stage once again demonstrates the band’s ability to connect with audiences on a profound level. As they continue to make their mark on the Chicago music scene, Friko’s future looks brighter than ever.

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