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Review: Charlotte Cardin takes her audience on a cathartic roller coaster at Lincoln Hall

Chicagoans braved the first wave of winter temperatures on Monday, Oct. 30 and found their way to Lincoln Hall to see Canadian singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin. Cardin’s performance, which spanned 19 songs, took audience members on a musical roller coaster complete with piano ballads, soaring electric guitar and a refreshing down to earth sensibility. 

New West opening for Charlotte Cardin at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, Oct. 30, 2023. Photo by Avery Heeringa.

After a brief but energetic opening set by New West, Lincoln Hall’s lights dimmed and the opening chords of Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” began to boom through the large speakers. An empty stage was illuminated by the flash of a colorful light show while Twain’s hit played through. The song choice seemed somewhat out of place considering Cardin’s musical style, but got the crowd amped for the main show nonetheless. 

Sauntering onstage in a black leather vest complimented by baggy blue leather pants, Cardin opened her set with the sultry “Looping,” from her latest album “99 Nights.” Her unassuming figure was contrasted by her soaring voice that she stretched far and wide throughout the night. Her vocal technique is not all that dissimilar to the likes of Amy Winehouse, and Cardin’s most impressive moments come with the climax of her songs that allow her to show off her swanky, almost-jazzy range. 

Cardin’s friendly and casual rapport with her audience was immediately evident, with fans calling out to her and her appreciatively responding. Her audience spanned a wide array of ages, with Gen Z singing alongside Gex X. The crowd closest to the stage was a mixture of college-aged kids and young millennial women who knew every word to Cardin’s set. 

At one point she even addressed the crowd without her microphone, knocking down the walls of separation between artist and audience even further. Switching from moody enchantress to charismatic girl next door, she at one point called out to the crowd, asking for a tissue so she could blow her nose. The intimate setting of the show afforded fans the opportunity for moments like this, in which they could closely interact with their favorite artist. 

Cardin not only demonstrated her vocal talents, but her instrumental ones as well. For a number of the songs, including crowd pleaser “Puppy,” she strummed along on an electric guitar. During the mid-point of her set, she transitioned to the piano, playing and singing alone onstage for “Phoenix,” “Anyone Who Loves Me,” and “Next to you.” 

Charlotte Cardin addressing her audience at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, Oct. 30, 2023. Photo by Avery Heeringa.

Her performance of “Next to you” was preluded with an un-microphoned crowd address in which Cardin shared that the song was “definitely the most personal” off of “99 Nights,” and that it was written over the course of eight months, being “built chronologically as things were happening in life.” Moments like this demonstrated an artist more than willing to offer insight into the inner workings of her creative process in between soaring performances. 

Cardin’s performance of “99 Nights” title track featured an illuminated disco ball and a healthy amount of electric guitar shreds. The energy conveyed by Cardin and her bandmates gave off an almost-cinematic feel to the performance, and quickly brought spirits back up after the run of piano ballads. 

Immediately following “99 Nights” was fan-favorite “Jim Carrey,” which Cardin taught the chorus to the newcomers in the crowd beforehand. With the crowd enthusiastically singing along and screaming out the chorus, the song seemed to have a beating heart of its own. 

As Carding navigated through the rest of her time onstage, she stepped offstage after “Confetti” only to return a brief minute later to close out her show with “Feel Good” and “Main Girl.”

“I wanna dedicate this last song to all of my Chicago main girls and main boys,” Cardin said before leading her audience through one final euphoric dance-along. As she exited the stage for the final time, it was clear that Cardin’s Chicago fanbase left feeling electrified, impassioned, and moved by her performance.

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