X Ambassadors have certainly come a long way in a year. When I first saw them, they were one of the opening acts for The Mowgli’s. I then caught them at a street festival earlier in the Summer. So the band returned to Chicago, only this time to play at Lincoln Hall, one of the city’s better venues, albeit a small one. The show wasn’t sold out, but a healthy crowd turned out for a Wednesday show.
The group kicked off with the stellar “Down With Me” off of their debut EP, Love Songs Drug Songs and quickly moved to “Free & Lonely” off of The Reason EP. X Ambassadors has built a sizable following on the strength of their two major label EP’s, as well as their near constant touring schedule. They sound like Imagine Dragons, which is fitting seeing that they share the same label, and have toured with them earlier in the year. X Ambassadors songs have the same sound of Imagine Dragons, but not as bombastic to the point where they’ve invaded radio and all other media.
But they’re close. The band closed out their set by bringing out opening act Jaime N. Commons out for their rendition of “Jungle.” The song has gained traction, being featured in a Beats By Dre commercial that aired during the World Cup, as well as appearing on other shows and products. It was an explosive ending to the show, and given a little more time, X Ambassadors are going to become huge in the music world.
X Ambassadors Opening Act
Commons was a unique opening act. No surprise, he shares a label with X Ambassadors, which explains his inclusion on the tour. The English singer-songwriter actually was raised in Chicago for a time before heading back to England. He provided a mix of soul and blues, in a stripped down set featuring only a guitar and keyboard. In a real throw back to delta blues, he channeled Son House, performing a song to only the sound of his (and the audience’s) clapping. For this blues fan, it brought a smile to my face.
The biggest surprise though was the first opening act, Arkells. From Hamilton, Ontario Arkells brought an energetic pop set for the early crowd. They certainly enjoyed themselves onstage, and songs like “11:11” and “Leather Jacket” had me instantly hooked. Not expecting much out of the opening acts, I was pleasantly surprised by both of them. In addition to the headliner, each band held their own, creating a memorable night.