Steffan Argus, Shane get groovy at the Subterranean


Cailey Gleeson|The DePaulia

Steffan Argus performing on stage at the Subterranean with his band on May 22.

The Subterranean transformed into Neverland — and then a funeral — all in one night, as Steffan Argus and Shane Niemi took the stage on May 22.

Embarking on his Funeral tour earlier this month, Niemi, a Los Angeles-based alternative musician, ended his series of processions in Chicago this past Friday. Niemi found fame following the release of “Insecure” — with the song currently receiving five million streams on Spotify and 11 million views for its music video across the singer’s various social media platforms.

The show was special to Argus as well, with friends and family in attendance — as the musician calls Des Plaines home — and the show marked one year since the release of his debut EP “Lost At Sea.” Argus took the stage with his band, The Young Happy Hey Kids, for a performance that was straight out of Neverland.

Opening with “Leaving London,” Argus demonstrated his strong vocals and undeniable charisma as he passionately played an acoustic guitar. Following this, Argus channeled his inner Alex Schaaf with a cover of Yellow Ostrich’s “They’re Joining Hands.” Removing his microphone from its vine-covered stand, Argus danced around the stage — with moves reminiscent of The 1975’s Matty Healy — and encouraged audience members to literally join hands towards the end of his impassioned performance.

Grabbing his signature ukulele, Argus then brought out Giovanni Mazza — a 13-year-old violinist — to celebrate his birthday and accompany him for his performances of “Lost” and “Ship in a Bottle.” “Make Me Cry” — Argus’s 2015 debut single — was up next.  His connection to the song — and appreciation for his supporters — was evident as he put his entire heart and soul into the performance.

But what came next truly stole the show.

“We’re going to mosh now,” Argus said. “Bet you weren’t expecting me to say that were you?”

While some fans stayed towards the sides, a mosh pit formed in the middle of the Subterranean as Argus performed “Abandon Ship.” Grabbing a plastic sword, Argus joined in the pit — and even crowd surfed following the end of his vocals as his band rocked out.

The anticipation for Niem’s performance was evident as the excited chatter overpowered Childish Gambino’s hit “This Is America” playing in the background as the crew set up the stage — which included a large poster memorializing Niemi with a selfie that read “Play Good Music at My Funeral.”

To the delight of fans, Niemi took the stage soon after Argus departed. Accompanied by his backup vocalists — clad in black funeral garb — and his band, Niemi quickly established a connection with the crowd through his strong vocals, intense charisma and funky dance moves.

Ditching his microphone for a megaphone, “Play Good Music at my Funeral” was one of the opening songs. The dark aesthetic of the show — especially the head-to-toe black wardrobe of everyone on stage — was completely contrasted by Niemi’s groovy dances and overall stage presence, yet it worked.

Clad in a varsity jacket, Niemi performed “Losers” next — his vocals and charisma never faltering throughout the entirety of the piece. It was almost as if his connection to his fans only increased as his set went on.

Niemi’s performance of “Carrie” was especially unusual — as he brought an adoring fan onstage to accompany him for the piece. The duo dance around stage together — with Niemi serenading her at several parts. “Dance” was up next. Appropriately enough, Niemi danced his heart out throughout the entire performance — which caused everyone in the audience to do the same.

Niemi saved the best for last, though. Breaking out his iconic moves from the video, fans completely lost it during his performance of “Insecure,” which closed out his set.

There are concerts, and then there are concerts like this. The undeniable charisma — and genuine talent — of these two performers made their night at the Subterranean unforgettable.Steg