Originally published in Third Coast Review
NoMBe brought relaxing and catchy melodies to Wicker Park’s Chop Shop Wednesday, with his LA crew. Noah McBeth introduced himself a few songs through his set, and included his German heritage. But the European flair does not hide from a NoMBe audience. And it seems to be due to a combination of confident stage presence and McBeth’s smoothly produced transitions throughout.
The moment McBeth hits the stage, he pulls you into a blender of equal parts jazz, soul and hip hop. That’s the result of beautiful vocals, sound effects and Californian guitar riffs.
NoMBe is joined by guitarist and backing vocalist Heather Baker and drummer Brittany Macc. Talent and grit seeps from the hands of this combination on stage. McBeth’s choices for those roles create a Wednesday night performance that’s exhilarating all around. And he depicts the importance of the female role in society in so doing. There’s no frill during this performance, save for a really cool multicolor hairdo on Baker.
The collaboration is raw, with no particular lighting needs or dancing. And as someone who loves the dance element, this performance was all about the presentation of a new album.
In fact, NoMBe dropped They Might’ve Even Loved Me just last month on International Women’s Day. His newfound Chicago following a chance to catch up on lyric memorization and develop new, ethereal earworms. But “Miss Mirage” is one of NoMBe’s old tracks, and it’s one that stood out most to me.
It begins with the sound of a ticking clock, echoing in the background of crashing waves. It ‘s what Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” would sound like if it were music, emoting the dreaming state. Lyrics like, “Counting wolves and old sheep/Watch them sharpen those teeth,” and “I miss you; I might do something stupid if I don’t get/get close to you” epitomize the feeling of something within reach in the dreaming state, but never close enough to touch.
A NoMBe crowd isn’t awfully diverse, but it’s as not-diverse as Chicago can make it. Michael Jackson’s rhythmic influence, paired with Radiohead’s nostalgia and one collaboration with Big Data is Noah McBeth. Men and women alike swayed hips to NoMBe’s swirling hooks, as he sat down on the floor downstage, as if to share his story one-to-one over a beer.