Eric Leventhal also contributed to this story.
New Zealand quartet The Beths played two sold-out shows at Chicago’s Thalia Hall this weekend. The second show was added due to overwhelming demand. We arrived at the venue shortly before doors opened, and the line was around the block.
The Beths are comprised of Elizabeth Stokes on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, her co-founder Jonathan Pearce on lead guitar, plus Benjamin Sinclair playing bass, and Tristan Deck on the drum kit. The supporting members of this indie-pop group all provide backing vocals.
By the time the opening act, Sidney Gish took the stage, the floor of the historic venue, whose origins date back to the late 1800’s, was nearly full. Gish performed solo, accompanied by her looping pedals and prerecorded drum track. She gushed between songs to tell the audience about a Liz Phair book she picked up earlier in the day. She delivered on a solid set of singer-songwriter material, including a cover of STRFKR.
The Beths played a lively, engaging ninety-minute set that drew heavily from their 2022 release Expert In A Dying Field, as well as select songs from their first two albums, 2020’s Jump Rope Gazers, and their 2018 debut Future Me Hates Me. As they launched into their first song, the title track to the 2018 album, a fifteen-foot tall inflatable fish took form stage left of the drum kit.
For the most part, the band went from song to song, pausing after the first few numbers to introduce each member to the crowd. The sound was incredibly well-mixed with crisp vocals. The light show was done by the Thalia Hall house crew, complimenting the band well.
Despite being a self-described pop-rock band, they still took the time to jam during several of the numbers. Apparently, The Beths made a few changes from Friday night to the next night so the two set lists were not exactly the same. Five of the eighteen songs performed were different than the evening prior. That included “Don’t Go Away” from Jump Rope Gazers. Stokes told the crowd that a patron had pleaded for the song on Friday, and apologized in absentia to him, saying that it wasn’t in that evening’s setlist.
The band had a great rapport with the audience, even encouraging them to name the giant prop fish. “Sidney Fish” was the fan favorite in honor of the opening act.
The crowd knew the words to every song. One highlight of the show included the end of the song, “Silence is Golden,” in which the audience sang out during the final chorus as the band cut the instrumentals and finished the song a cappella.
The spring tour continues with a swing through the Northeast, before heading to the South and Southwestern US.