Justin Courtney Pierre - Chicago, IL

On Thursday, November 1st, Justin Courtney Pierre took the stage for the first time as a solo act at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, IL. Fresh off the release of his debut solo record In the Drink, Pierre was very honest and open with the crowd about his nerves and anxiety as he began a new chapter in his musical career right in front of hundreds of people. Awkward yet endearing banter in between music, Pierre breezed through the bulk of his solo record in sequence, prefacing the performance with a disclaimer that the live interpretations of the songs would not be note-by-note recreations of the record, but instead used the record as a blueprint. He also joked that words and melodies might change, and that that was not on purpose.

Beginning with track one, “Undone,” Pierre played all the way through to track seven, “Sooner.” The band was tight, energetic, and sounded as if they had played together for much longer than just this single show. From there, the audience was treated to a yet-to-be-released tune, which he explained was already in the hands of a select few in attendance, and three songs from his side project, Farewell Continental. Pierre joked that these would be songs would be excellent times to get a drink or use the restroom as the likelihood of the audience knowing them would be slim, but eyes stayed glued to the stage and feet stayed planted in their spots throughout the whole set.

After those songs, Pierre’s backing band left the stage and he talked about his time in Motion City Soundtrack. He spoke about how it didn’t feel right to play those songs with any band but that one, and so he would be playing on his own for this portion of the evening. He also joked that those songs were hard to rearrange for a solo environment, and he requested the audience’s assistance and participation. After stripped down versions of classics “It Had To Be You,” “When ‘You’re’ Around,” and “L.G. Fuad” that had the entire room singing along, Pierre invited his band back up for the last three songs of the night, also the last three songs of In the Drink.

Justin Courtney Pierre delivers a unique live show that is full of laughs and smiles throughout. His live show is entertaining, his anecdotes honest, and his band tight and well-rehearsed. Pierre interacts with the crowd and brings an intimate vibe into a room full of hundreds of people, and when the music begins, not a single eye is not on the stage.

Review by Trevor Hancock

Photos by Kaitlyn Johnston