Live review: Lionize @ the Beat Kitchen


I had the pleasure of seeing Lionize with Clutch and Wino at the Metro a few years back. While I was there to see Clutch, a longtime favorite of mine, I was completely blown away by Lionize’s performance. They stole the show and even Clutch’s guitarist, Tim Sult, felt the need to play with them. When I heard they were back in Chicago at a smaller venue, I had to check them out.

Currently touring with Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Lionize is getting their new material off Superczar and the Vulture out to the public. Which is a good thing, since this album is the closest representation of their live sound yet. The second album they’ve released in the span of a year, their energy that shines on the album is evident and present throughout their live set. Lionize’s set varies from night to night – a rare treat from a touring rock band with a new album. You wouldn’t know it from their performance though.

Unfortunately, this was a Wednesday night show at a smaller club. The room only had about 40 people but Lionize played with the sincerity and energy befit of a packed house. Lead singer Nate Bergman has the vibe and presence of a street preacher. While you’re not going to see cheesy antics on stage you certainly won’t be bored. Bergman has a tendency to illustrate his lyrics with his hands and it definitely makes you smile, though by no means is he trying to take center stage.

An equal opportunity rock band, everybody shines, but not out of ritual. Their set flows like a good conversation between friends. From song to song with good jams when appropriate, their fraternity and skill is apparent throughout the set. While I enjoy a good jam, I appreciate it when it’s not the central purpose of the performance. Some bands tend to stretch out jams into meandering soundscapes, occasionally losing those of us who aren’t stoned. Lionize is versed enough in rock etiquette to keep the jams interesting and long enough to capture but not too long as to bore.

As I said before, Superczar & the Vulture was their effort to strip their sound to what they can deliver live. They did a good job, too. While none of their heat is lost on record, their passion live is something to behold. As can be expected touring takes it toll, and their first two songs were a little shaky but they quickly found their groove and had the audience hooked. They bring a sort of vehemence to their performance not often seen. An excellent show and a great way to conquer hump day, Lionize delivered and again, stole the show. If you get the chance to see these guys live, do yourself a favor and cop the tickets. You won’t be sorry.