A lotta bit country and a lotta bit rock and roll, Margo Price has always been hard to categorize. With her latest album, Strays, the songwriter creates a new genre that is all her own. One that is lyrically earnest – with a splash of humor – and bathed in psychedelia.
During her Chicago stop of the ‘Til The Wheels Fall Off Tour, taking place at The Vic Theatre on Feb. 21, Price and her band – including Jamie Davis, Alex Munoz, Kevin Black, Micah Hulscher, Dillon Napier and Price’s husband and collaborator Jeremy Ivey – honored the past by sharing the sounds of the future. Faces were melted and tears were shed as Price and company blurred the boarders between simple songs and full tilt boogie jams.
The show began with the far-out Strays‘ single “Been to the Mountain” and the That’s How Rumors Get Started stand-out “Letting Me Down.” Throughout the night, Price effortlessly juggled percussive elements like tambourines and cowbells between strums of her guitar. She even hopped behind the drum kit during “Change of Heart” and “That’s How Rumors Get Started,” the latter of which featured an extended keys solo by Hulscher, blanketed in a Laurel Canyon aura, accentuated by the good vibes of the Chicago crowd.
“Light Me Up,” a song written by Price and Ivey after eating magic mushrooms in South Carolina, began sweetly psychedelic before evolving into an all-out assault of the auditory senses. Price’s voice – perfect throughout the night – soared during the tune’s climax, rivaling the vocal prowess of Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick who was honored with a show-stopping cover of “White Rabbit” earlier in the night.
Supporting her 2022 release, Lady for Sale, Lola Kirke was on hand to open the show with a collection of bright alt-country gems of her own. The actress/musician and her band – including the Chicago-area’s own, Ellen Angelico – returned to the stage to join Price, who grew up in Illinois, in paying tribute to the one and only John Prine.
“We are gonna get a couple friends out here. We’ve got Lola Kirke and her whole band to come join us on this next one. This is a song by one of my favorite songwriters from Illinois – actually one of my favorite songwriters ever,” said Price introducing “Sweet Revenge.”
Later in the set, Price left the stage wearing a mushroom-adorned blue two-piece look and returned in a fringe-filled bodysuit with sparkles for days. The fashion statement generated cheers and served as the perfect wardrobe choice for the hit-filled end of the show, especially Price’s infectious single “Radio” during which she incorporated an old-school rotary phone to nostalgic perfection.
The music of Margo Price resides in a cosmic plane where past meets present and genres combine rather than collide. Whether she was embracing twang or rocking with fans at the edge of the stage, the sincerity of each song connected straight to the soul preparing the audience to face this world on fire with a renewed strength of spirit.
(Photos by Laurie Fanelli)