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Atlas Sound's Halo Burns A Hole In Lincoln Hall

By Veronica Murtagh in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 19, 2010 8:30PM

photo via Atlas Sound's MySpace page
Tomorrow Never Knows brought the talents of Bradford Cox (Deerhunter) under the guise of his solo project, Atlas Sound, back to Chicago for the second time in three months. Local acts Shapers and Icy Demons kicked off the evening with enthusiasm, eager to spread their respective sounds to fans old and new. Shapers offered well-orchestrated noise that shined live and the Icy Demons countered with bright, keyboard-focused melodies that could have been the soundtrack to any one of our childhood skateboard adventures. Both acts were strong in their respective suits, but it was Bradford Cox who commanded attention in a performance that was personal, professional and heartbreaking.

The stage at Lincoln Hall found an ideal booking in Atlas Sound. The dramatic lighting and pitch black backdrop created an even more introverted visage for the normally mysterious Cox. Seated on a tall stool, and adorned with countless pedals and cords, an acoustic guitar and a harmonica encircling his neck, Cox showed the immediately rapt and curious audience how he produces the sound of a full band, solo. His breath whistled back through his harmonica, forming notes and words in tandem. He didn't miss a beat, able to multiply his vocals by ten with a single well-timed tap of one of the many pedals over which his feet floated like a pianist hunched over keys. Every note brought Cox deeper inside himself, but no one was prepared for the intimacy he was to exhibit next.

The respectfulness of the audience at large was shattered as one out of the shadows of many replied to Cox's between song banter with the snide, jabbing shout, "Who's your cardiologist?". Cox was born with the genetic disorder Marfan Syndrome which in addition to giving him his characteristic tall, lanky appearance, affects the heart. The audience seemed disgusted as Cox gazed at the ground, taking a moment to compose himself. What followed was an angry retort that quickly segued into a rendition of My Halo that acted as a channel for every word Cox was far too mature to unleash in expletives. His normally soft and careful voice boomed against impassioned guitar that challenged the strength of his strings. My Halo was drawn out minutes longer than it's recorded version and with it's close Cox offered an audible sigh, a moment of silence and bright, "thank you" to a crowd that roared in support.

Reaffirmed, Cox pushed on through the remainder of a show marked by high emotions and internalization. A performance of Deerhunter's Fluorescent Grey offered an additional peak point, but in summary we'll tell you what everyone else in attendance Friday night will surely reiterate. Bradford Cox stood alone; a performance, a person and a pinnacle.