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High-Fives and Laughter and Whales — Oh My! A Look Inside the Night Shift Tour With Smallpools

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Perfectly blending indie alternative rock with pop influences, Smallpools brought their unique energy and style to a sold-out show at Bottom Lounge in Chicago. The venue was packed from behind the barricade to the back of the venue with a mix of fans, drawn in by the band’s diverse lineup.

High-fives and laughter and whales — oh my! A look inside the Night Shift Tour with Smallpools at Bottom Lounge in Chicago.
High-fives and laughter and whales — oh my! A look inside the Night Shift Tour with Smallpools at Bottom Lounge in Chicago.

The night kicked off with a nostalgic radio intro, flipping between various old radio commercials and classic songs like “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” by Shania Twain, which seamlessly transitioned into their first song of the night, “Night Shift”. The lead singer, Sean Scanlon, immediately engaged with the crowd, jumping onto the barricade and walking across the top with the support of fans, setting the tone for the high-energy performance that followed.

High-fives and laughter and whales — oh my! A look inside the Night Shift Tour with Smallpools at Bottom Lounge in Chicago.
High-fives and laughter and whales — oh my! A look inside the Night Shift Tour with Smallpools at Bottom Lounge in Chicago.

Sean’s interactions with the crowd were the highlight of the night. “Hey, Chicago!” he screamed, the crowd responding with the same energy back at him. “Can I get a hey back?” The crowd enthusiastically shouted a “hi” back, and he continued, “Oh, you guys are good. We’re called Smallpools, and we’re here on the Night Shift tour. Thanks so much for hanging out tonight. Let’s keep this party going.”

High-fives and laughter and whales — oh my! A look inside the Night Shift Tour with Smallpools at Bottom Lounge in Chicago.
High-fives and laughter and whales — oh my! A look inside the Night Shift Tour with Smallpools at Bottom Lounge in Chicago.

The audience happily sang and danced along to every song, regardless of whether it was a newer track or an old classic. Sean took the opportunity to share the meaning behind some of the songs, adding a personal touch to the performance. He spoke about the meaning of the next song, “Mother,” saying, “This song is about being in a relationship.” The reaction from the crowd was mixed, with some cheering and others jokingly booing. “I know, I know, you all have problems.” Laughter filled the room as he continued, “No, it’s about being in a relationship with somebody that you don’t really like anymore. It happens; you’re going through the motions, you’re starting to come to the realization that you’ll probably miss this person’s pet or family a little bit more than them when it’s all said and done.” He took a brief pause, “But you gotta rip that bandaid off, alright! The only thing I was going to miss about my first girlfriend was her mom’s French toast in the morning. That’s no way to keep a relationship going, so I learned the recipe and wrote a song.”

Following “Mother,” Smallpools added “Everywhere,” a Fleetwood Mac cover, to the setlist. They surprised the audience by bringing out Moody Joody, which sent waves of excitement through the crowd. As Kayla and Kaitie joined them on stage, the energy in the venue skyrocketed. Sean shouted “Moody Joody everybodayyyyy,” and the atmosphere became electrifying. They then asked the crowd who wanted a Moody Joody guitar pick they found on the ground and threw it off the stage, but unfortunately missed. With a lighthearted “Ah, shit,” Sean made a witty joke about it being the windy city and that’s why the guitar pick never made it past 5 feet in front of them. The audience erupted in laughter, creating a warm and intimate connection between the band and the crowd, making the moment even more memorable and endearing.

The stage lighting was designed to complement the vibe of each song, enhancing the overall experience. Every color on the spectrum seemed to be used, carefully chosen to match the vibe of whatever song they were playing. From the vibrant greens to the soothing blues, and all the colors in between, the lighting created a visually captivating atmosphere. This attention to detail added an extra layer of immersion, making the performance visually captivating and unforgettable.

Sean walked off stage during the instrumentals of “Lovetap!” before the last verse, leaving the crowd in confusion about his whereabouts. He began to walk through the crowd, high-fiving people as he went, and had the whole audience jumping with him during the last chorus.

The band welcomed Sean back to the stage and told him that he looked good out there. “We’re loving the energy tonight, Chicago,” Sean said. “I tell this story every time we play; it’s about when we first started this band called Smallpools. Sometimes we would search our own band name on the internet to see what people were talking about, and every couple of days, we would see some posts about how it’s really messed up to keep killer whales inside of small pools.” The guitarist, Michael Kamerman, proceeded to replicate the sad trombone sound with his guitar in response. “We thought our band name was random; apparently, it’s very controversial back then. These people didn’t know that we existed at all, but their rants still kept coming up in our search feed, so we named this next song ‘Killer Whale‘” To enhance the fun, they tossed a blow-up killer whale into the crowd.

“Thank you, Chicago. I didn’t see any real injuries with that one, that’s a good thing. I need some help on this next one,” Sean announced, his voice carrying through the lively atmosphere as he scanned the audience until he picked out a lucky fan, who they referred to as “white shirt guy” (later revealed to be Wes). Sean tossed Wes a tambourine, instructing him to throw it “in style” to him for the next song after the second chorus.

The anticipation built as they did a practice toss to make sure everything went smoothly, ensuring every detail was perfect for this special moment. The crowd erupted into chants of “Wes, Wes, Wes!” as they hyped him up to get ready for the real deal. As the chants died down, Sean asked the crowd, “Chicago, you still feeling alright?” Everyone responded with loud cheers. “That’s good because you got me feeling like a million bucks this evening.”

After a successful toss, the whole venue erupted into cheers. People near Wes rushed to high-five him, congratulating him on the perfect throw.

The night ended with one of Smallpools’ most popular songs, “Dreaming”. The audience, still buzzing with energy despite a long night of dancing, singing, and jumping, enthusiastically sang and clapped along. Smallpools delivered an electrifying performance, with each chord and beat fueling the crowd’s excitement. As the band performed “Dreaming”, the crowd’s energy seemed to soar to new heights. Sean concluded the night by high-fiving fans at the barricade, with the band behind him throwing picks, setlists, and drumsticks into the crowd.

The show was defined by its unparalleled energy and interaction, setting it apart as one of the most memorable concerts of 2024. Smallpools’ performance is a must-see for any live music enthusiast, offering an unforgettable experience that will resonate long after the final chord.

Show Date: 04.19.24 // Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge // High-Fives and Laughter and Whales — Oh My! A Look Inside the Night Shift Tour With Smallpools
Photos & words by Jess Pistone

Jess Pistone
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chicago, il cat + concert enthusiast photographer / graphic designer :)
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