Tavern and Briston Maroney performed at Dillo Day 2023. (Seeger Gray/The Daily Northwestern)
Tavern and Briston Maroney performed at Dillo Day 2023.

Seeger Gray/The Daily Northwestern

The Monthly reporters share their thoughts on Dillo Day 2023 performances

June 1, 2023

Tavern takes on a whole other universe: the Dillo main stage

Student band Tavern took the Dillo Day main stage for a 30-minute set jam-packed with crowd-pleasing covers and a few originals on May 20. 

Tavern, along with Muse etc., emerged victorious from Mayfest Productions’ Battle of the Bands — a competition among student groups at Northwestern for performance slots at the annual music festival. Previously taking stage at venues such as Good To Go Jamaican and outdoor day parties, Tavern reached new heights at Dillo. 

Starting off with a cover of The Backseat Lovers’ “Kilby Girl,” the crowd quickly recognized the tune and sang along. Original songs in the set included “Skyline” and “Wanted Me (Burning Up).”

Singer and Communication sophomore Annie Wallach’s vocals were the main event, supported by dreamy layers of trumpet by Bienen and Weinberg sophomore Ben Chaddha and a full band. 

What got the crowd the most rowdy were covers of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” and ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love on Me.” Both tunes are classic picks with perfect sing-along choruses, which is an underrated approach to music festivals. Showcasing original music is important, but so is getting the crowd excited with songs they are familiar with. 

The strategic sequencing of covers and original songs was almost as good as Tavern’s take on Billy Joel’s ever-heartwarming “Vienna.” The group fully reimagined the song, and the crowd did a double-take once it made the connection between the melody and the Piano Man’s renowned track off of his hit album, “The Stranger.” 

Tavern knew what its crowd wanted to hear, and boy did it deliver. A fun mix of old songs, new songs and originals curated the perfect midday vibe, weaving nostalgia and passion into each moment on stage. Though most of Dillo Day’s big-name musical artists, such as Offset and Briston Maroney, are an evening event that draws in hefty crowds, Tavern had its own notable turnout and engaged audience.

Dillo offers a variety of musical artists, and the variety within Tavern’s set matched the theme of the day. With beautiful weather and an energetic crowd, Tavern received a warm welcome to a bigger platform on which I hope they will be featured again.

— Lexi Goldstein

Briston Maroney brings Dillo Day down to Earth in indie-rock performance

With a sunflower motif highlighted throughout his physical appearance, Briston Maroney took to the Dillo Day main stage to deliver a performance that balanced his music’s emotional depth and the fervent energy of the crowd. 

The Tennessee native’s performance brought an indie-rock twist to the lineup. The contrast between Maroney’s guitar-heavy ballads and succeeding headliner Offset’s hip-hop style created the perfect mix to satisfy a variety of crowds and end a day full of music. 

Maroney began with songs like “June,” which perfectly encompassed the artist’s interposition of folk into his style with its stripped-down intro and hints of twang. The lyrics, “And pin the flower to my chest / And count the days that I’ve got left,” once again brought in his characteristic sunflower and also interrogated identity and personal relationships.

While some performances felt more systematic and rehearsed in their interactions with the crowd, Maroney created a tailored experience by talking about his explorations around Evanston, like a trip to Bob’s Pizza.  

Maroney again interacted with his audience in a personalized way by asking if the event was space-themed during the short transitional interlude for “Caroline” before putting on an alien headband that a fan threw onto the stage, making the space feel lighthearted and zany.

The song itself also had significance in the performance. Written as a letter of empathy and encouragement to kids like his younger self, “Caroline” offered a space for raw emotion, resonance and self-compassion in the middle of the set. 

Before playing “Freeway,” Maroney urged the audience to stick up their middle fingers along with the song lyrics in an abandonment of belonging and expectation, which he echoed in his description of the song’s meaning. Self-discovery is an important aspect of Maroney’s discography, and it was prominent in his Dillo Day performance. 

Closing with his most popular track, “Freakin’ Out On the Interstate,”, Maroney bobbed his long brown hair along with the audience in the best culmination of anticipation and bliss for the celebration that Dillo Day is.

Virginia Hunt