On Aug. 25 – the eve of the release of their debut EP “The Black Hills” – Layne took the stage at Chicago’s Subterranean for a short but satisfying set that gave fans a sneak peak at the new material. At once dreamy, vibrant and decidedly rock ‘n’ roll, Layne drew everyone in attendance into their compelling and captivating world.

The show started out hazy and delicate as front woman Layne Putnam sculpted her airy vocals into melancholy bliss, but soon enough the entire band dominated the stage with an eruption of rock. “You,” which began somewhere on the pop spectrum, subtly evolved into an all-out rock jam with drummer Alex Rosca’s heavy hitting riffs leading into a perfect crescendo. Justus Dixon’s slinky bass lines and infectious energy were felt by all in attendance while Zach Meller’s guitar licks added depth to the entire production. Putnam, no slouch on the guitar herself, impressed with an arpeggio infused solo on “The Black Hillslead single “Topical.”

In writing the music for Layne’s new EP, Putnam was inspired by her past and present environments, everything from the busy L.A. streets where she currently resides to the beautiful mountainscapes of her hometown in Rapid City, South Dakota. The contrasting notes and moods of her life blended beautifully and seamlessly into the live setting. The band exuded an aura of sound that engulfed each hook with vulnerability. Perhaps this transformative style was most effective during “Twuh,” on which Putnam infused the sound of her childhood lake using the music to tell a vivid story.

“’The Black Hills’ EP is a collection of songs written over the past year and an introduction to Layne,” said Putnam in a statement. “It is a place where we can be alone together. Welcome to the in-between.”

Layne closed things out with an “old one,” their breakout single “Good,” which has garnered over one million plays on Spotify. Putnam came to the front of the stage to wail out one final guitar solo, leaving fans with the feeling that they won’t be seeing the L.A. group in such an intimate setting the next time they come to town.

Earlier in the night, Vesperteen, out of Ohio, set the stage with a tidal wave of memorable pop melodies, crisp percussion and ambient synths. Chicago’s own The Pact closed out the show to an enthusiastic hometown crowd.

Layne is heading off to Rockwood Music Hall in New York City on Aug. 29 before concluding their tour at DC9 in Washington, D.C. at the end of the month. They don’t currently have a future Chicago date on their touring schedule, but it isn’t hard to picture them playing the tree-lined BMI Stage at Lollapalooza 2017. Check out photos from Layne’s Aug. 25 show at Subterranean above and follow them on Facebook to keep up to date with their future plans.

Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and...

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