Of Perception- Chicagoland’s Doors Tribute Performance Review By: Cody Wagner

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Cody Wagner, Entertainment Writer

Reading Time: 8 minutes

 As I made my way into the doors of the beloved and admired music venue, The Forge in Joliet, IL, I was eager to see the revitalization of creativity that was destined to cross my path in the abstract form of sound. Making my way through the doors and past security, I entered the main room and saw the open environment with chairs and tables at appropriate length from each other, along with the bar, lights, speakers and the stage itself. For a moment I obtained and internalized this feeling of utter happiness and a realization that made me feel like I had finally come home. After months of missing a live performance, I was finally ready to witness the sensational and jaw-dropping performance that would intersect in my path towards music appreciation. This came in the form of none other than rock’s most treasured and praised acts known only as “The Doors.” 

  Well, not the real band themselves, but a tribute band known as “Of Perception” that deemed its worthiness to play such fascinating and powerful compositions, proving their overall greatness through an abstract sound and style that is beyond comprehension. Despite the impact COVID-19 has left on the music industry as well as the artists who create its success, tribute bands such as “Of Perception” carry on the best they can. They create an environment that serves as pure nostalgia by displaying musical creativity in the form of performance. Through this projection of creativity, the event itself allowed fans to experience live music once again while also paying close attention to the seriousness of COVID-19, which still lingers in our country as we progress into 2021.

 The Forge hasn’t changed much in terms of style and architecture. The main area where the stage is located looked the same, there was still the bar (of course) and a full kitchen as well on the side serving food to its patrons. The venue relied on COVID-19restrictions by requiring face masks to be worn when not eating or drinking at a table, social distancing between tables and only allowing a certain number of chairs at each table, while also allowing for a large, wide-open space for people to stand close to the stage while allowing for some room for safe separation. In terms of audience feedback regarding these restrictions, there weren’t any major issues that I noticed. Everyone just seemed to have a great time. 

 Security was pretty rampant as I watched multiple guards keeping their close eye on the audience making sure everyone was safe and in check. I also noticed some patrons not wearing their masks at the bar or standing up but the venue can only do so much and cannot control the actions of others. All one needs to do is be cautious of their surroundings and try to be as safe as possible. Overall the area provided a great feeling of remembrance as I had seen many shows there in the past while staying on top of the COVID-19 scene creating a stable and safe environment that was appropriately sized and served to please the public in terms of the event that unfolded that very night while considering the safety and well being of the show goers.

 Chicagoland Doors Tribute band, Of Perception, was formed in 2013 by members Evan Borkstrom and Tony Tabor. The band started out of Tabor’s partially owned music store, House of Music in Orland Park. Their name was originally Doors of Chicago, but quickly changed due to issues of copyright infringement and was changed to Of Perception.  The band itself consists of aforementioned members such as keyboardist Evan Borkstromt, drummer Tony Tabor and recently appointed members who joined the group last year vocalist Chad Wickert, and guitarist Brian Thomas, while also adding another newly consolidated member who also joined in 2020 serving as the additional backup saxophonist Rachel Antone. Each member brought versatility and creative genius relating both musical talent and projection through performance. The sound and style of the band related to that of The Doors instantly and simultaneously as they serve as a unit of musical progression that focuses on the fundamentals and appealing quality of aptitude that made The Doors to become one of the most iconic and praised acts in all of rock. Every member does their part in creating an excelling and powerful performance that any fan who knows and loves The Doors can instantly admire and gravitate towards as they express their own interest for the band by paying tribute to them through well known and highly respected tracks such as “Light my Fire,” “Back Door Man,” “People are Strange,” “Twentieth Century Fox,” “Break on Through” and so much more. The show began with the song “Hello I love You” which I thought to be very interesting and quite different as I expected them to come out with a more energized and hyperactive tune to get the crowd going and invest them into the music, but what followed next quickly disintegrated that minor criticism as the song “Soul Kitchen” was introduced which dazed me as it is one of my favorite tracks alongside “Break on Through” and isn’t widely popular compared to “Light my Fire” or “The End.” Rightfully so, the band encompassed the versatility and prodigiousness that relayed within The Doors personality. 

 To highlight members’ performances, each player sought their own creative style through extensive intensity, build-up, and improved sound brought about by not only artistic and musical talent but the technological advances to create such an enthralling and exhilarating experience. Not only witnessing the concert itself brought me joy, but I was also able to talk with a band and hang out with them for a bit as we laughed, chilled and discussed their band as a whole and its importance, and of course, the impact COVID-19 has had on this act in particular. Referring back to the players performance I asked the band about their style of musical expression and what music meant to them. Evan Borstrom had a very interesting and thought-provoking interpretation that I think should be shared. Borstrom stated, “The Doors have a lot of self-expression and improvisation and through this tribute band and I feel as though I am not somebody else but rather a unit that brings unique personalities to this. You have to be yourself, you can’t just be some other guy. I am me as much as I am my role.” 

 Antone’s influence came in the form of sadly only four songs as she served to be a backing saxophonist, but was highly praised throughout her performance due to audience appreciation and proper recognition from the other band members to make her feel welcomed and comfortable in the setting she was evoked in. Despite playing on only a limited number of songs, her integrity and on-cue attentiveness towards the correlation with each member proved her ability as she was able to bring differentiation in terms of sound, shining the spotlight on a different instrument that isn’t related to the typical guitars, drums, or even keyboards you see in other bands. Her playing instantly brought back the style of 50s Jazz and its incorporation within rock reinvigorating the soft and gentle sound that a saxophone relays creating a shift in attention and invertibility. 

 Tabor’s ambitious and rhythmic display on the drums portrays that of the sound heard by John Densmore as the rhythm served as both a guiding force to lead the band in correlation while also carrying the sometimes subtle sometimes mysterious sound that is The Doors. From seeing his sweat and crazed form of hand and foot coordination on stage, I could tell that Tabor was focused, driven and invested in the music he was playing. The song “Riders on the Storm” is by far my favorite piece of drumming excellence as there is one part in the opening when you can hear rain and thunder in the background followed by a soft, tame sound of the cymbal is being played correlating with the natural sound of rainfall further introducing the song and conveying its momentary silence in a mysterious and blissful fashion. 

Borkstrom’s performance on keyboards reflected the improvised and artful sound of the sensational Ray Manzarek. The keyboards were one of The Doors’ most devoted and admired factors that was the guiding factor in the creation of their sound. No longer were the days of guitars, bass, drums and vocals required to be considered necessary tools for musical success as the keyboard was introduced through the creation of the verbal force that formulated the doors kaleidoscopic and cosmic sound ushering in a new advance of musical interpretation and involvement. The keyboards, in my opinion, provided the greatest factor compared to Jim Morrison that really ignited The Doors creating an innovative and solitary sound that nobody had ever heard since. Borkstrom’s playing reminded not only me but I’m sure many of the audience members of the influential and incredible impact the instrument portrayed in the progression and overall evolution of the band igniting them as the quintessential rock band everyone knows and loves even today. Borkstrom showed true passion for his instrument as he was able to stay on point with every note, beat, and chord being expressed through years of practice and intrigue within the music. Borkstrom’s performance expressed not only his own musical creativity but also exemplified the instrument that changed the Doors perception and peculiarity that came throughout the bands early days of their growing success. 

 Last but not least, there’s Wickert. Whenever people think of the Doors, despite the importance of the instruments that served in the adaptation and evolution of the bands influence, there is one name that everybody refers back to, one name that has stood the test of time as he is considered to be one of rocks most dangerous, historical, egregious figures, this man is simply known as Jim Morrison. Morrisons impact in the Doors is probably the band’s main highlighted attribute as Morrison sought to create emotional response through his onstage energy and empowering vocals that created vast attention and worship to his many adoring fans. Wickert’s performance clearly embedded those traits along with his own factors of musical creativeness centering upon both Morrison and Wickerts own personality as his on-stage presence incited absorption and connection between him and the audience he was successfully pleasing.

 What I found to be amazing regarding his performance is that he did it while suffering from a minor cold that he caught before the show. Despite feeling a bit flustered, Wickert was able to put on one hell of a spectacle that didn’t even hint at the very idea of any bodily inconsistencies. Wickert’s performance not only proved that the personality and magnetism of Jim Morrison could be displayed by another human being but the fact that he was able to put so much interaction and creativity into his representation while also incorporating elements that met his standards and his comfortability, creating a demonstration of vocalized immensity that proved to create attention rather than demolish it. 

I was able to get a quick side interview with Wickert after the first half of the show as I wanted to see how the impact of the character of Jim Morrison has influenced him both personally and musically.

How do you get into the character of Jim Morrison? 

Wickert: “These songs reverberate in my soul from a young age about age 13,14,15 and they’ve never gone away. They’ve been there more than half my life. These songs are a part of me; they’re not separate from me. Jim is one of a kind, there’s no way to really impersonate him, all you could do is try your best to interpret it and celebrate his vocals. It is me, it’s of me.” 

 Of-Perception A Doors tribute completely blew me away this past Saturday igniting a crucial and hopeful start to the return of concerts. They’re sound, musical creative outlook, investment, and dedication serves to only show that they are among some of the most dedicated and impactful fans of the Doors that disintegrates the classic fan-boy perception of having material items or a wide variety of records by the band themselves as these guys actually live to play the real thing and get up on stage to perform songs from one of the biggest bands to ever come out of the 60s. Their style and sound matches that of the actual band perfectly as notes were always on point and correlation between instruments was never interrupted creating a sound that is both differentiated in terms of each members own initiative towards musical progression as well as relaying the sound and style of The Doors that has captivated audiences for generations. Seeing Of-Perception brought me much contempt and enjoyment as I felt a sense of nostalgia that slowly came back to me through every song, lyric, beat, note, and voice that I heard being projected from that stage. I was able to feel a sense of security once more depleting  my frustration with school, work, and the fucking pain in the ass pandemic allowing me to center in on what is one of the most important factors within my life that has shaped me and that I can call my passion which is music.  

 Upcoming shows are listed below. If you love The Doors I highly recommend investing your time and money into this experience. 

Saturday April 10th at Hobart Art Theater in Hobart, IN

Friday April 16th at Impact Fuel Room in Libertyville, IL

Friday May 21 at EvenFlow Music and Spirits in Geneva, IL

Further information can be found on their Facebook page, @OfPerceptionDoorsTribute, or at ofperceptiondoorstribute.com