Arctic Monkeys: My emo Eras Tour
Anna Falk | Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Themed outfits, gaggles of young people, surprise songs, mention of a mirrorball. Sounds like the Eras Tour, right? Wrong.
Sunday evening, I made the trip to Chicago to see one of my favorite bands of all time: Arctic Monkeys. I’ve been known by friends, family and readers of The Observer to be a huge fan of the British rock group. Once I heard the song “Snap Out of It” during my sophomore year of high school, I was never the same.
Since then, my tastes have definitely changed, but I still love Arctic Monkeys all the same. I jumped at the chance to see them live, and I had been looking forward to this concert for almost a year.
Arctic Monkeys released their seventh studio album, “The Car,” on Oct. 21 last year. Many aspects of the album show the quartet’s continued musical and lyrical strength, but it definitely was not what most fans were expecting. However, it was the new era, and any hardcore fan knew they would eventually embrace it wholeheartedly.
Similar to Taylor Swift, this era came with its own particular aesthetic, its own era of hairstyles, outfits and vibes. “The Car” is definitely more toned-down compared to previous albums’ aesthetics, fitting the development of the band’s musical styles and interests as well as their maturation.
But they still manage to have fun on stage.
I can confirm: The concert crowd looked like the infamous 2014 Tumblr picture. There was absolutely no doubt about it. Looking around, I also found many people donning custom merch, bedazzled hats and shoes, clothes from drummer Matt Helders’ line and even those wearing an outfit found on one of the members from a previous Monkeys era. (I opted for frontman Alex Turner’s Glastonbury 2016 fit.)
Once the music began, though, all eyes turned to the stage. Their set design was minimal but tasteful, focusing the audience on the band and their music. Opening with “Sculptures of Anything Goes” from “The Car,” the United Center shook with the intensity of the bass. The screams at their entrance to the stage were deafening.
Hits and fan favorites from (almost) every album followed, including “Crying Lightning,” “505,” “Do I Wanna Know” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” The outro of “Arabella” turned into “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath. The “surprise” songs — that is, the ones that weren’t on the setlist the night before — were “Potion Approaching,” “One Point Perspective” and “I Wanna Be Yours.”
Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of “Potion Approaching;” there are much better songs on “Humbug,” like “Pretty Visitors,” “Fire And The Thud” and “The Jeweller’s Hands,” that would have been much more exciting to see. However, this album is my favorite, and I was just glad to see it on the setlist. In the words of Turner: “‘Humbug,’ babey!!”
Throughout the performance, the band kept a great energy. They made minimal breaks to talk in between songs, but anything they said was a short quip or note of excitement at seeing everyone in the crowd. Turner recently has been known to change up the rhythm of the songs — an observation I made but felt wasn’t too dramatic to prevent the audience from singing along. He pranced around the stage and rocked with the melody, mirroring the enthusiasm of the pit. As my friend Michelle and I both noted, he seemed to speak with no accent and every accent at the same time. Despite the band being from Sheffield, England, it certainly didn’t sound like it. He was quite entertaining, however, and I will always be grateful for a man who pronounces Chicago like Trina Vega from “Victorious.”
It can be difficult to hear your heroes live. Sometimes, they simply do not live up to the hype in person. Arctic Monkeys were not one of these bands. I enjoyed every minute of their performance, and I can rest easy knowing that Turner (supposedly) loves “Humbug” just as much as I do.