By Leslie Witt

When bad news comes, as it did so often this past year, we can cry, or we can, in Beatles parlance, try to take a sad song and make it better. So when Alejandro Escovedo cancelled his New Year’s Eve gig at the eleventh hour, due to illness, S.P.A.C.E. tapped into Chicago’s rich talent pool to fill the bill with the Nicolas Tremulis Orchestra and the Flat Five.

Nick Tremulis, known to WXRT listeners as a host of The Eclectic Company, Tuesday nights at ten, had been slated as a solo opener. Luckily, he pulled together his band mates and became the headliner. The Flat Five, a consortium of fine musicians from the city’s alt-country scene who rarely play together, carried on from an earlier set to open the show.

One of the five is Kelly Hogan, a breakout in her own right with her 2012 release I Like To Keep Myself In Pain. They got the party started with bright pop and dazzling harmonies in an unlikely mix of songs by the likes of Trip Shakespeare, Joe South and Lesley Gore. Later, Nick Tremulis, festive in a big red hat and matching scarf, offered a preview of 2013 with some songs from his forthcoming album as he and his band rocked the house well past midnight.

Add to some great music the warm sophistication of SPACE’s ambience, the clever magician who made the rounds between sets, champagne toasts and New Year’s party paraphernalia, and a potential New Year’s letdown became a New Year’s get down.


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