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Nick Waterhouse Rocks out at Lincoln Hall

Adam Shay

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Touring across the country, there is a collection of retro misfits and oddballs, led by a 1960s’ preppy nerd strumming a black and brown 1962 Gibson. The seven-person band scattered from across the country is unmistakably old school, classy, and oh so talented.   

Photo Cred: Adam Shay

With a California surf-rock derivative combined with 1950s’ blues, rockabilly, and R&B, Nick Waterhouse brought his posse to Lincoln Hall, Chicago, Illinois, and gave 100+ fans an American Bandstand performance. A 17 song set-list lasting an hour and a half, including an encore performance of the The Seeds’ psychedelic-garage rock song “Pushin’ Too Hard,” fans were grooving from start to finish.

Nick Waterhouse and company are rooted with American rock origins, a genre forgotten, yet filled with pure authenticity. The tour is promoting the  self-titled album Nick Waterhouse, displaying eight songs off the album. The upbeat and harmonic “Wreck The Rod” is a showstopper due to a body grooving solo from the saxophonist. Sporting a fedora and a three-piece suit, he is the embodiment of a professional from a 1950s’ jazz lounge. Throughout the show, his solos captivated the audience with power and ease.

The lead backup vocalist and tambourine player complimented Waterhouse perfectly, most specifically on the track “Say I Wanna Know.” In a jazzy manor, ridden with a deep saxophone beat, the singer perfected the chorus and her verse in each and every pitch. Wearing a beautiful green dress, her vocals on the studio album fail in comparison to the elegance and grace of her low hums to elongated notes.

As the concert near the end, the band performed their upbeat tunes after having ballads dispersed in the first hour. His most played song on Spotify, “Katchi,” featuring Leon Bridges, brought people to life with his catchy “Doo-Wop a Doo-Wop” intro and simple chorus. Following was a medley with, “(If) You Want Trouble,” leading into, “This Is A Game,” both excellent choices to finish the set. The two songs play into each other perfectly with emphasized percussion lines, and both tunes are older ones and more recognizable. 

One thing the audience longed for was a solo from Mr. Waterhouse himself. A selfless performer, he consistently introduced the band and had them showcase their own solos, yet rarely took charge. Waterhouse had glimpses of his quick digits playing rapidly, which were fantastic, but a longer solo would’ve been a fan favorite. Regardless, it shows the kind of performer Waterhouse is: a respectful performer with the band’s interest first rather than himself. 

Nick Waterhouse is making retro music prominent again, mashing the vibes of the 50s’ and 60s’ with contemporary rock beats. His music is different though, and very particular for selective fans rather than appealing to the masses. Whether his genre is accepted or rejected by a music fanatic, Nick Waterhouse is a must see show. It’s like taking the DeLorean with Marty McFly to a 1950s’ dance hall, surrounded by dancing and Coca-Cola memorabilia. The energy, the charisma, and most importantly, the music, is a one of a kind experience. 

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Adam Shay is a graduate from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, During his four years at EIU, he wrote for the Daily Eastern News for two and a half years, covering multiple sports, news events, and writing feature stories. He was also on the rugby club team for two years, a member of the Society of Collegiate Journalists, and finished third in applying for his commencement speech. Currently, he runs a public relations system for a bar in Palatine, Illinois, and in his free time, he is always learning about music, sports history, and American history.

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