ryan beatty @ thalia hall

@colekincart (pictures)

Ryan Beatty was back in Chicago this past week for his calico tour, the second time in just months the windy city has been graced by the musician’s presence.

Cole and I had the opportunity to see Ryan Beatty this past October during an intimate showing at Lincoln Hall. This time around had a much different feel. While the Lincoln Hall show felt like a vacuum with the crowd holding their breath in anticipation of every note, Thalia Hall rang with murmurs of excitement and shouts of encouragement. Fans sang along and Beatty egged them on, repeatedly referring to the crowd as “beautiful”, both in looks and sound. 

I envied those who were seeing Beatty perform for the first time. Experiencing the band and vocals of a generational talent live is a moment that stays with you forever. However, I felt honored to be a witness to the marked difference in Beatty’s stage presence at this show. Despite sticking with his signature style of performing, mostly sitting with headphones on, Beatty was much more comfortable addressing the crowd and making small talk between songs. After the first few songs, he stopped to say something along the lines of “I’m so glad to be back here in Chicago. I was nervous last time but now I’m just excited.” 

Photo by Cole Kincart

Beatty spent most of the show cycling through the catalog of his most recent project, Calico, opening with “Ribbons” and ending with “White Teeth”. Fans were treated to some of his older work as well, including a new rendition of Cupid, a favorite off of his 2018 debut Boy in Jeans. While I enjoy his older work, the melodic tunes from Calico never fail to impress me. “Multiple Endings” in particular stood out this time around– the borderline heckler from the audience that yelled “sing your a** off boy” was right about something. The fullness of sound that Beatty croons simply can’t be captured on a recording. On the flip side, a little twist to “Andromeda” in the form of a sort of robotic vocoder effect was also a highlight, a production element that was refreshing to hear amidst the rawness of the rest of the show.

Just as impressive as Beatty’s unwavering vocals were his accompanying musicians. The band consisted of Taylor Mackall on keys, Mason Stoops on guitar, Michael Libramento on bass, Sam KS on drums, Tyler Nuffer on pedal steel, and Ryan Richter on lap steel, most of whom are performing musicians based in California. Their composite resumes consist of artists from Katy Perry, Grace Potter, and Youth Lagoon to Dijon and Lizzy McAlpine. This experienced crew was able to create a sound that mesmerized both the audience and Beatty himself. Often during the set, the lyrics subsided and the instruments swelled as Beatty put his head down and moved to the music. 

Photo by Cole Kincart

The set was as good as ever, but the real treat for me (and Cole) came at the end of the night in the form of an encore. Previously, Beatty has opted for no encore (and no opener), whether in the spirit of preserving the main set or out of nerves, we may never know. But on Monday, to thunderous applause and cheers, he reappeared on stage to deliver a resounding cover of Dolly Parton’s “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” that would’ve made Dolly herself proud. Once again, this divergence from the main set was welcomed and refreshing. 


Photo by Cole Kincart

All around, the show was a testament to Beatty’s music as well as to the power of a good ole Chicago crowd. It was beautiful to witness the reciprocal merit provided by both parties and the love for music that radiated throughout the venue. I think we’ll all be counting the days until we meet again. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WP Radio
WP Radio