Who: The Vaccines
When: August 24th & 25th, 2015
Where: Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis, MN and JBTV, Lincoln Hall/Schuba’s in Chicago, IL
Teri and I were beyond excited when the Vaccines announced a US tour in support of their latest album English Graffiti. We both instantly fell in love with the album as soon as we heard it, and we knew that each of us would be seeing them at least once on this tour. What made it even more exciting for us is that we had both tried to see them unsuccessfully twice before, at SXSW and during their time with the Gentlemen of the Road tour back in 2011. Teri flew up to Minneapolis and of course we made it a point to queue all day. The Triple Rock Social Club is a 400-capacity venue and we knew we would have a very good shot at making it to the front as long as we were in line at least 8 hours before the doors were set to open.
The band did not disappoint us at any point during their 21-song set. Much to our surprise, they even played Melody Calling from one of their first E.Ps. The venue was tiny and we actually had to lean back to get decent pictures of lead singer Justin Young. His stage presence was slightly different than we expected, but to our delight he was very fun to observe! His dramatic hand gestures were especially prevalent during “Give Me A Sign” and he made it a point to engage the crowd. During several songs he would stop singing and cross his arms in front of him and wait to continue until the cheers and applause were loud and enthusiastic enough. It was very refreshing to be in the presence of a frontman whose momentum paired perfectly with the atmosphere and energy of the crowd.
One of the most memorable things about our first night with the Vaccines was meeting them after the show. There was a considerable crowd gathered around the venue after the show was over, so we expected to be waiting awhile. Much to our surprise, Justin and the drummer Pete came out relatively soon after everyone had gathered. Justin was very chatty and very eager to sign our setlists. Neither Teri nor myself expected such a charismatic lead singer to be so approachable and so friendly.
After meeting the rest of the band (minus Arni) in Minneapolis, we were so excited that we decided to forego all common sense and drive all night to make it to Chicago in the morning in time to see the Vaccines play a short set for the Chicago TV station JBTV.
We passed the tour bus just over the Minnesota/Wisconsin border and we took it as a sign we were doing the right thing. We made it to the JBTV taping with no sleep and no idea how to get around downtown Chicago. The TV taping was intimate and a little more subdued than the show the night before. (Everyone in the band was dressed in the same clothes and like us they probably didn’t get much sleep the night before)
After the JBTV taping we were more than ready for a bit of rest before the show at Lincoln Hall. We decided to keep it casual this time and just hang in the back and take in the show from further away. Little did we know we were about to be blessed by a wraparound balcony that stretched all the way around the venue. We could sit right by the edge and take in the show from above. It was the perfect view, and so much more relaxed than being crowded and jostled up at the front. Teri and I both have decided that balconies are going to be our new thing. The setlist for the show at Lincoln Hall was almost identical to the one in Minneapolis, aside from a few songs being shuffled around.
The energy of the band was completely present for the entire show, despite the fact that they all had a very busy day. We also noticed an additional member conveniently tucked behind Freddie onstage. Timothy Lanham is a new addition to their live shows, and he adds another dimension to the songs with a tambourine as well as vocals and keyboards. With the Vaccines’ achieving a bigger sound this time around, it makes perfect sense that they would add someone to their lineup.
The balcony made all the difference in the world at Lincoln Hall. We were still able to sing and dance around, and Justin still made it a point to interact with the balcony crowd. (We pointed at one another during Wreckin’ Bar and it was one of the highlights of the entire show for me.)
All in all, the Vaccines completely surpassed all the expectations Teri and I had, and both of us will tell you that it was well worth the wait and all the frustrations we experienced trying to see them over the years. In a perfect world, we would be skipping across the pond to see them in November with Palma Violets. (Although, if we’re being honest, seeing both bands in one night might just be a little too epic)