Cheer Up Charlie’s always maintains a lively chatter. Even on a foggy Sunday night, a friendly crowd amassed to watch Carry Illinois perform songs from their Garage Sale EP. I was greeted by the band’s frontwoman Lizzy Lehman with a warm smile and Cheer Up’s colorful lights illuminating her.
Lizzy has dedicated five years to this project, a hybrid band that floats in between being a musical anchor for the local LGBT community and a passionate dedication to another emotional theme: the unanticipated death of her bandmate and close friend John Winsor in 2016. The tragic event delivered a story worth pursuing and it was obvious that the event largely influenced the energy of the band. Even the prologuing soundcheck riddled me with anticipation.
GARAGE SALE LIVE SET
The set did not disappoint. Through expressive motion, Lizzy lead the group into their first song, carrying a powerful vocal delivery. Usually armored with an instrument, she was forced to go guitar-less due to cutting her finger weeks prior. Nevertheless, the band’s style has the quality of building a great story, beginning with a slower tempo that erupts into an exciting and dramatic uplift that reveals a surprising and special gutting charm. The harmonies and keys added an ethereal poppy charm to a couple of their songs and in others, the drummer was able to showcase his raw ability.
Finally nearing the end of their set, they played “Shameful Feeling,” which they recently unveiled a new music video for. It’s a very well put together song with Lizzy’s fiery vocals and some happy guitar work that carried a nice rhythm, but again, what added a very subtle but important touch to the song was the band’s newest addition, keyboardist Benjamin Rowe Violet. Ben added a wonderful and light relief that lifted the crowd from the band’s sometimes melancholic tone and sad lyrical themes.
Though the set was short, the band did deliver one last request from the crowd: the performance of one of the band’s older songs, “Electric Charm.” While the band had not practiced this song for their set that night, it was the cherry on top and added raw charm to end their set.