Seeing Train & Grammer at Ravinia Festival with fresh eyes

Seeing Train & Grammer at Ravinia Festival with fresh eyes
Panoramic shot of audience from stage at the August 27 Train concert at Ravinia Festival.

The energy level at Friday and Saturday’s Ravinia Festival concerts featuring Andy Grammer opening for rock band Train was non-stop.

The party in the Pavilion atmosphere had the audiences on their feet during the better part of both performances.

Performing for a sold-out Chicago crowd, both Train and Grammer delivered the high energy, physical performances they are known for even in, the untypical for Chicago, tropical heat with humidity levels near the 80% mark–a range the California bred and born musicians don’t often experience.

The evening kicked off on a high note with singer/songwriter Andy Grammer, who mixes hip-hop with pop vibes, bouncing all over the stage spreading his infectious persona throughout the audience.

Andy Grammer. Courtesy of Ravinia Festival

Andy Grammer. Courtesy of Ravinia Festival

Leading off with his breakout single ‘Keep Your Head Up’ he continued with ‘Fine By Me’ which was fine with the audience, as well.

It’s hard to believe that only a short five years ago Grammer was performing on the streets of Los Angles for free.

From there, the 32-year-old’s star has skyrocketed yet he maintains his easygoing nice guy manner. Thanking the audience for voting for him on his 2015 “Dancing With The Stars”, stint he called on them to get up on their feet and dance with him–which everyone did.

He performed his creative 12-song set list throwing in a multitude of techie tricks using mashups of his tracks mixed with some current radio hits, like a mix of his new single ‘Fresh Eyes’ that can be seen in the video below from the Today Show.

Grammer had the crowd in his hands throughout his whole set with performances including  ‘Forever’ and his powerful finale–his hit single, ‘Good To Be Alive, Hallelujah’ (Uh huh).

There’s something about Train and lead vocalist Patrick Monahan…a certain freshness—even after many years of performing. In part, perhaps, because the band’s sound has evolved with the times over the past two decades, from alt-rock to country to outright pop and dance tunes.

Patrick Monahan on stage at Ravinia Festival. Photo:  Russell Jenkins | Ravinia

Patrick Monahan on stage at Ravinia Festival. Photo: Russell Jenkins | Ravinia

Train’s appeal spans all ages. Audience members from 5 to 95 (take or leave a few years) were on-board for the interactive performances that Train does so well.

From throwing out all kinds of goodies from Chicago Bears t-shirts–(one even signed by Monahan) and guitar picks and drum sticks to taking selfies with fans and body surfing the audience, Train was on track.

The San Francisco rock band played tracks from their hit albums including ‘Cadillac, Cadillac’ from Bulletproof Picasso and ‘Hey, Soul Sister” from Save Me, San Francisco.

Train performed favorites from their heroes, their past and their future–paying tribute to their early years performing at Shubas.

The powerful set list moved smoothly along through ‘If It’s Love’, ‘Meet Virginia’, ‘Bruises’ and “Train Does Led Zeppelin II” for more than an hour before they left the stage only to return for their electric encore performance of ‘Drops of Jupiter’.

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