To experience Slow Pulp’s music is to plant oneself beneath a warm summer sun, luxuriating under thick beams of light despite an impending tornado promising to wreak havoc on an ephemeral peace. Masters of metaphor, the Chicago-based, indie band’s productions echo the emotional roller coaster that is life, bolstered by hazy shoegaze riffs and an undeniable country twang.
Before Slow Pulp’s quartet could grace the stage of a sold-out Teragram Ballroom, Babehoven, Slow Pulp’s supporting band, was charged with the demanding task of setting the night’s mood (spoiler alert: they succeeded!). Despite hailing from the Big Apple, Babehoven brought the serenity of a southern countryside to The Teragram, with frontwoman Maya Bon’s crystalline vocals melting into Ryan Albert’s warm guitar tones. Ellington Peet was a joy to watch on drums, dropping into songs with melodic, relaxed rhythms, effortlessly switching between a drumstick and a maraca. Bon, who on top of contributing her airy voice, also intermittently strummed an acoustic guitar, was elegantly supported by Cole Brossus on bass. Though not necessarily appearing shy, Bon’s gentle, yet intentional mannerisms were the essence of sweetness, her presence radiating warmth as she swayed along to her lyrics tracing confusion, togetherness, beauty, and cruelty.
Ryan Albert and Maya Bon by Kayla Hayashi
The wholesomeness of the band’s performance was further augmented after it was revealed to be Bon’s birthday! Following a celebratory announcement from Albert, the band was briefly interrupted by Emily Massey and
From left: Thomas Stoehr, Emily Massey, Maya Bon by Kayla Hayashi
As Babehoven’s set concluded with a shout-out for their merch as self-proclaimed “clothing salesmen who travel around with a bin [of merch] in the back of our car,” the young crowd pressed towards the stage, newcomers intermingling with those who had hitherto established their posts. Overwhelming, the crowd oozed positive energy, with palpable excitement diluted by a politeness that left those in attendance comfortably compacted.
Slow Pulp returned for the second time right as 9 p.m. rolled around, though this time Massey [vocals and guitar] and Stoehr [guitar and piano] were accompanied by the rest of the band: Alex Leeds on bass, Teddy Matthews on drums, and special guest Javier Reyes on guitar.
Launching into the fuzzy intro to “Slugs,” Slow Pulp delved into a setlist composed predominately of cuts from 2023’s Yard: an introspective, poppy release threaded with notes of self-discovery and struggle. Onstage, Massey was quintessentially cool, captivating an excited crowd with an even, yet powerfully clear vocal performance the second her black riding boots hit the stage.
“At it Again,” a highlight off of the album, Moveys, from 2020, assailed the ballroom with a rush of distortion, Massey’s vocals dancing through pretty harmonies with wavy electric guitars, acoustic guitar briefly penetrating the haze offering a moment of succinct clarity.
Slow Pulp by Kayla Hayashi
With a catchy drum-beat and grunge guitar riffs juxtaposed by a happy-go-lucky chorus, “Doubt,” was a case study in danceable music camouflaging dismal lyrics. Fulfilling the hypothesis, concertgoers could be seen swaying and bouncing along with Massey as she sang the infectious “do-do-do-do” chorus.
“Anyone on their period right now?” Massey questioned as hands excitedly flew into the air. Never in my life have I ever encountered so much enthusiasm for menstruation, yet in this rare instance, a celebratory ovation marked the audience’s glee at relating to Slow Pulp’s, “Cramps.” A song about anxiety-inducing PMS, the angst of “Cramps,” was reflected in sustained cries from Massey, heavy distortion backed by excited drumming. For me, “Cramps,” was a highlight from Massey’s performance, with her utter rawness onstage translating into an organic, refreshing expression of womanhood.
During the melodic “Broadview,” Massey encapsulated the song’s relaxed southern gentleness, and to the delight of the crowd, accompanied her own singing with a harmonica. The soothing nature of the song was manifested in Massey’s clear yet delicate vocal projections, Matthews’ breezy drumming, complemented by twangy guitar sounds.
Following a brief departure from the stage, Slow Pulp returned to unceasing screams from the crowd for their encore, rounding out the night with crowd favorites that radiated nostalgia.
“High” was a beautiful cacophony of noise, clean drum fills breaking just in time to highlight the screech of an electric guitar. This collaborative instrumentation was preceded by Massey’s soft vocals, building tension within an audience who undoubtedly were familiar with the explosion of noise to come.
Slow Pulp by Kayla Hayashi
Concluding the night and their encore, Slow Pulp lulled the crowd into a state of contentment with “Montana,” which employed a southern feel reminiscent of “Broadview” with Massey once again wielding a harmonica, her final gift to the fans.
Slow Pulp’s performance was a comprehensive treasure, with Massey, Stoehr, Matthews, Reyes, and Leeds unanimously pulling their weight to create a decadent performance showcasing the best of Slow Pulp. Not one to miss in the indie rock scene, stream Slow Pulp’s Newest Release, Yard, here!