On May 10th, I made my way over to The Beat Kitchen here in Chicago to attend the Heavy Things, JT Woodruff, and River Oaks show.  This show was going to be unique in a way with acoustic sets being performed by singers that were part of full bands normally and I had no idea what the set lists would have in store.  Heavy Things is Will Deely, JT Woodruff is the singer for Hawthorne Heights, and River Oaks is Shane Told from Silverstein.  Knowing that these two legends and a brand new favorite of mine were going to perform such an intimate set, excited doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt going into the night!

First to the stage was Will Deely (Heavy Things) and I was a bit surprised that the crowd at the time of his set was very small, but it didn’t matter to me since I was able to be right on the stage as he played.  Starting the set with the song Sold, Will instantly grabbed the attention of anyone that didn’t know who he was.  The 23-year-old from Columbus, OH has a booming voice that I was happy to see on display due to the set being acoustic, rather than being with the full band.  Will moved through his songs at a fast pace as he mentioned he is not one for stage banter as he played.  Two other songs that he played were 2 of my favorites off of the album “Goner” that recently came out(link to album review below).  Those two songs were Badge of Honor and 33.  As he played, the crowd became a bit larger and began to fill in more as the set went on.  He played two covers as well, Cutting My Fingers Off  by Turnover and one of my personal favorite 90’s songs One Headlight by The Wallflowers.  I believe Will won over the crowd and gained some new fans this night.  He also was nice enough to sit down with me after the show and answer a few questions in my first ever interview, this will be posted later.  In the meantime, check out the song Sold and make sure to check out Heavy Things if they are near your city.  You won’t be disappointed.

Heavy Things-Goner (Album Review)

Up next was JT Woodruff of Hawthorne Heights and I can honestly say I had no clue how this set was going to go.  I originally thought he would be playing some Hawthorne Heights songs, but quickly understood that JT is an amazing solo artist.  He mentioned at the beginning of the set that he was battling a sickness and that he would probably sound terrible while singing, but throughout the set I felt that you couldn’t even notice. Unlike Heavy Things, JT talked much more to the crowd in between songs which he said he did since he really couldn’t do that during a Hawthorne Heights set because they want to play as many songs as they can.  Before playing the song Bronze and Pine, he joked about how while he was writing the song in his house that his wife walked in and said, “Are you seriously talking about dying and where you want to be buried?”  Check out the song and you’ll understand her surprise/concern.  He said that he tends to write depressing songs without really meaning to and added that he isn’t depressed all the time even though he is from the Midwest and all it does is rain and snow.  He moved through his set playing all of his solo work and I was very impressed with his song writing skills outside of Hawthorne Heights and how soft spoken he was in between songs.  I believe the song that hit me and the rest of the crowd the most was the song Friends in the Sky, which he made a heart felt statement that you meet a lot of great people in life and in music and it’s important to remember those that are lost along the way.  The song references Casey Calvert(Hawthorne Heights), John “Beatz” Holohan(Bayside), Tony Sly(Solo/No Use For a Name), The Rev(Avenged Sevenfold), and he also mentioned his mother.  I know I teared up along with others in the crowd.  That song can be found below and I highly suggest checking out all of JT’s solo work.

Last to the stage was Shane Told aka River Oaks and boy was this set incredible.  Shane is another legend within the scene and I have seen him many times with his full time band Silverstein.  He only has 3 songs released as River Oaks, so I was very curious of what songs we would see outside of those.  I would say the best part about this set was that not only did we hear his originals like Let You Down(link below), but we got to hear songs that you would not normally hear during a Silverstein set.  4 songs that stuck out to me that I had never heard live were The End, Red Light Pledge, Toronto, and a song Shane said he wrote with he was 18 years old called Eighteen.  He did play a few of the popular Silverstein songs such as My Heroine and Call It Karma, but I was happy he mainly stayed away from the huge songs they normally play while on tour.  It really made the night special and showed the true fans that were in the house that night.  Shane was cracking jokes as the crowd seemed a little aggressive that night as they kept shouting out songs that they wanted him to play even though those who were shouting could see the set list.  Like a true professional he remained unaffected and I was blown away by his powerful voice.  I’m looking forward to seeing where Shane goes as he continues this project that is River Oaks and I will no doubt be at the next Chicago show.

The show that night was a great experience and I am happy that this short run by the bands came through Chicago.  You can catch the bands if you are lucky enough to be one of the cities listed below.  Heavy Things is an amazing up and comer that deserves everything that comes to him in the future and you will be treated by the 2 legends of our music scene that are JT Woodruff and Shane Told.

-Eric Neyhart

River Oaks Tour

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