Photo: Gavin Paul

Tight on a 5-Hour Energy shot and a week full of misfortunate cosmic disadvantages – a swimming accident, a baseball injury and some odd bloody nose encounter with a bed post – Sonny Smith‘s wry self-deprecations were aflame at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen on Friday (June 21). Prior to attempting a nap on stage, Smith took hold of his slacker Americana reigns right and quick, leading the Sunsets into a perfect jam for the dark side of both the first day of summer, and the dude’s shitty week, “I See the Void,” arm-chairing: [LISTEN]

"I See the Void"

The second-to-last stop of the Bay Area crew’s Antenna to the Afterworld tour, Smith bounced around just a few records of his nine LP career, never going back further than 2009 gem, Tomorrow is Alright, in which the handclap and front-porch set adopted “Too Young to Burn” as its anthem for a hot minute. Tomorrow… caught more love than Antenna, actually, with cat calls and howls slung in spades across the ramshackle country comics of “Bad Vibes & Evil Thoughts” and “Death Cream,” while Smith’s slow-dance doo-wop homage to “Strange Love” saw a slim, but affable set of Northsiders let loose and embrace one-another, mouthing its chorus along with Smith: [LISTEN]

"Strange Love"

All of Smith’s best asides though came on the heels of Antenna… jams, whether assuring fans that he has to see songs performed correctly in his eyes “like a gymnast” before the Kurt Vile foggy cruise of “Dark Corners” in which a protagonist can’t get a job because he doesn’t belong, or hopping off-stage amongst the audience to make everyone else feel like “fools” for a little bit too, to croon alien-love ballad “Green Blood” with maximum empathy, as Tahlia Harbour kept the June Carter and Johnny Cash back-and-forth narrative alive back up on stage: [LISTEN]

"Green Blood"

For a man capable of 100 7-inches emulating 100 unique fictional cover bands, for the sake of a one-off art installation, it was strange to not hear some deep cuts that round out his knack for clever wordplay a bit more. But so go the ropes of the last leg of a tour. In that case, twangy Longtime Companion gem ”My Mind Messed Up” couldn’t have been a more apt walk-off:

"My Mind Messed Up"

Photo: Gavin Paul