The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | Ana Gasteyer brings Christmas spirit to KCPA with album ‘Sugar and Booze’

Actress, comedian and singer Ana Gasteyer performed at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 6.

Gasteyer’s show was a combination of a performance of her 2020 Christmas album “Sugar and Booze” and a classic comedy show.

In between almost every song performed, Gasteyer performed a short interlude of a stand-up comedy routine.

Gasteyer and her band engaged the audience by asking questions and having amusingly casual conversations on stage, and even handing out shots of Fireball to audience members wearing Christmas sweaters.

Despite these engaging moments, there were times when the comedy parts of the show seemed to drag on for a little too long. Gasteyer really only engaged with the percussionist in her band, Julian Fleisher, so the band ended up just sitting while they talked.

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At one point, Gasteyer told a long story about Christmas cards and the band started taking shots of Fireball.

Additionally, the dynamic between Fleisher and Gasteyer got slightly awkward at times, with one talking over the other trying to get a joke going. 

It felt as if the stories and jokes may have been time-fillers that fell flat with the audience.

Aside from the stand-up sets, Gasteyer brought comedy to the performance of her album. 

She added interludes to the songs that generated laughter from the audience. Gasteyer also forgot the lyrics to several songs and had to look at them. It was hard to discern whether or not this was done on purpose for the sake of comedy.

Gasteyer and her band opened with “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” and worked their way through the rest of the album. 

“Sugar and Booze” is a jazzy Christmas album filled with original Christmas songs as well as new takes on old classics. 

During the performance, Gasteyer talked about the difficulties of creating new Christmas music. This difficulty is evident by the countless covers of the same several Christmas songs that people have no choice but to listen to every December.

Despite having trouble creating original Christmas songs, Gasteyer created several new jazzy Christmas staples.

Gasteyer’s rich voice laid perfectly over the jazz band in the background, which gave the album a clean and smooth sound.

The title track “Sugar and Booze” is an exciting, jazzy rendition describing the best parts of the holiday season. The background instrumentals perfectly capture the joy of the season which makes the song a perfect original song to add to old and tired Christmas playlists.

Another unique track on the album was “In the Market for a Miracle,” which tells a toe-tapping story of being Jewish during the holidays. The moving bass line makes this track the stereotypical jazz song that is guaranteed to get toes tapping and heads nodding to the beat. 

Another original Christmas song is “Blue Black Friday.” This mellow tune describes the complexity of emotions that are felt during the holiday season.

“Sometimes the holidays can feel like a real bummer,” Gasteyer said during the performance as an introduction to the song.

While this track is not a song that you would play while driving and looking at Christmas lights with loved ones, it is definitely a song you can curl up under a blanket next to a fireplace to listen to.

Gasteyer commented on how much she loved the Midwest and how she enjoyed playing at the KCPA. 

The audience reflected her enthusiasm by giving her a standing ovation at the end of her performance.


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