Mercer Headlines This Week’s Must-See Acts

Mercer at Audio on Saturday, Frances Quinlan at Swedish American Hall on Sunday and DRAMA at The Independent Tuesday & Wednesday.



9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 29, at Audio. $15;

A champion of disco house’s revival in the 2010s, Mercer’s energetic and unabashedly upbeat take on disco-tinged EDM has won over the hearts of dancers all around the world, as the producer has evolved from playing festival-friendly big room house to producing deeper and groovier flavors of house. Born in the ’80s, the French producer’s musical output is heavily inspired by the disco and synth-pop he grew up listening to, and would sign with Spinnin’ Records earlier in his career to release breakthrough hits like 2014’s electro-banger “Genesis.” Mercer would soon play top festivals and clubs around the world, either solo or with Pardon My French, a music collective with other top French producers DJ Snake, Tchami, and Malaa. On his 2018 EP Neo Disco, Mercer captures the carefree-spirit of disco’s heyday while incorporating modern flourishes of distinctly French house, standing out as the producer’s brightest and most confident work to date. 

Photo by Julia Khoroshilov


Frances Quinlan

7 p.m., Sunday, March 1, at Swedish American Hall. $20;

One of the most powerful voices in rock since the turn of the new millennium, Frances Quinlan has made her inimitable voice known around the world as the leader of Hop Along, the cathartic folk rock project that the musician started in 2005 that has since become a universally-acclaimed indie rock powerhouse. Released earlier in February, Quinlan’s solo debut album Likewise is just as lyrically clever and emotionally-genuine as anything in Hop Along’s discography, but the album clearly focuses the spotlight on Quinlan’s voice by stripping-down the instrumental arrangements to their barest forms. Co-produced with Hop Along bandmate Joe Reinhart, Quinlan experimented with synths and harps amongst other instruments on Likewise that she never used in Hop Along, leaving behind distorted guitars in favor of softer harmonics that complement Quinlan’s pristine vocals instead of trying to match them. Closing the album with an abstract cover of Built to Spill’s classic “Carry the Zero,” Quinlan rearranges the song to allow her vocals to shine at the forefront, complete with subdued synths and mere hints of guitar. 

Courtesy of Artist

Alternative R&B


7:30 p.m., Tuesday & Wednesday, March 3 & 4, at The Independent. $20;

Since the release of their melancholic and genre-bending debut EP Gallows in 2016, DRAMA have developed a singular sound that blends emotionally potent R&B with various shades of lusciously produced electronic music, as their excellent new album Dance Without Me stands out as the duos most fully-realized effort to date. A collaboration between vocalist Via Rosa and producer Na’el Shehade, the Chicago musicians initially met through a mutual friend and began working together in the studio, realizing quickly that their contrasting musical backgrounds would result in a compellingly unique sound. DRAMA’s 2016 debut EP Gallows introduces listeners to the pair’s boundless sonic potential, as the record embraces Chicago’s rich musical heritage with distinct elements of house and soul. The duo would follow-up in 2018 with their sophomore EP Lies After Love, a darker turn for the pair that soberly explores life after heartbreak, heightened by a soft yet bleak atmosphere. Released earlier in February, DRAMA’s long-awaited debut album Dance Without Me shines as the duo’s most dance-oriented effort yet, as Shehade’s subdued yet hypnotic production complements Rosa’s versatile vocal prowess. 

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