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Tuesday, October 13

Gapers Block

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Preview Mon Oct 12 2015

Local Band Sunjacket Shooting For The Bonnaroo Chance Of A Lifetime @ Lincoln Hall On 10/17 (Oh, and BRONCHO is playing too)

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Bonnaroo 2016 may be eight months away, but the Tennessee festival already has its eyes on filling the lineup with exceptional bands. This month, it's teaming up with Angry Orchard to put on a Spotlight Series featuring former Bonnaroo acts and local bands in five different cities. The Chicago show will take place at Lincoln Hall this Saturday night and feature BRONCHO, Twinsmith, and hometown heroes Sunjacket, who are competing for Battle of the Bands votes against the local entries from Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, and Raleigh. The band with the most votes by November will get the opportunity to play down on the Farm next summer.

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Zach Blumenfeld / Comments (0)

Review Sun Oct 11 2015

How To Make The House Of Blues Feel Like A Basement, Featuring Catfish And The Bottlemen


Any time a band starts to get big, it's fascinating to see how their stage show translates from small venues to much larger ones. The last two non-Lollapalooza shows Catfish and the Bottlemen played in Chicago, for example, were at Schubas and Subterranean--the latter of which I attended, and which had that delightfully claustrophobic feel Subterranean always gives you because of the overhanging side balconies. Catfish came at that show like it was a raucous house party, impressing me enough that I went to see them at the far more spacious House of Blues last night. But instead of the venue changing the band, the band changed the venue. The concert felt like a basement gig--a steamy, sweaty, throbbing mass of high school basement gig--and that's an indication of the transformative power of Catfish and the Bottlemen's music.

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Zach Blumenfeld / Comments (0)

Review Thu Oct 08 2015

Glass Animals Turns The Riviera Into A Jungle


It was a wild night on the North Side last night, and not just in the streets of Wrigleyville. Just a few stops away on the Red Line, British indie trip-rockers Glass Animals were dropping the Riviera Theatre into the middle of an Eden-esque jungle. Palm trees lined the edges of the stage, huge one-tentacled jellyfish lanterns hung from the ceiling, and the requisite rain forest humidity came from the sticky crowd that got down to every sexy song.

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Zach Blumenfeld / Comments (0)

Review Wed Oct 07 2015

Big Fans and Big Sound for Mew

Sometimes at shows I wonder how many people in attendance consider the act on stage to be their favorite ever. It's just speculating for fun. But some nights it's easy to see, like Tuesday at Metro when there was zero doubt about who the #1 super fan was. Maybe the tip-off was the outstretched hallelujah arms, the barricade-hugging, the desire need to be recognized by the band, or all combined. While those actions alone shouldn't be disturbing, nobody wants to stand behind that package of grandiosity for an hour and a half. On the other hand, Mew hasn't played Chicago in six years, so that's a lot of pent-up excitement exploding at once.

Unlike many bands, Mew's singer Jonas Bjerre is perhaps its most laid-back member, allowing bassist Johan Wohlert to shine as the energetic one who banters with the crowd. But Bjerre doesn't need to bounce around to be the star. It's his voice, reaching an upper register that not even the 20-something girls next to me could hit, that gives Mew a big part of their identity. (And it was in top shape Tuesday.) However, another definer, the prog-rock elements that separate them from many alt-rock/dream-pop bands were a little muted, like on "Introducing Palace Players."

Still, the band was focused and crisp reeling off the hits mixed among new album songs. Standards "Special" and "156" were greeted with great applause, and closer "Comforting Sounds", an epic 9-minute progresser, brought the house down within its first few notes. For Mew, it was business as usual operating at a high level. For Chicago fans who haven't seen them in six years, even just casual fans, exuberance is maybe an understatement.

James Ziegenfus / Comments (1)

Feature Wed Oct 07 2015

Audiobakery's In Full Bloom


The Throne Room on Broadway is a pretty dark venue. The walls are black, the d├ęcor is black, there's a black curtain behind the stage to block the windows that look out on the street below. But into the darkness bubbles an energy from the only glowing part of the room: the stage. On this stage, the four members of Audiobakery prepare for the evening's ceremony. Lead singer and guitarist Brad Bacci takes the mic and beckons to the crowd. "You're about to hear six songs we've never played before," he shares. "This is the first half of the concept album we're recording. It's about the seasons, and tonight we're going to take you from March to August."

"Get up and dance! Bring it in!" shouts bassist Jon Nadel, beaming exuberantly.

And with that, the band leaps into "March," the first track off its upcoming album Perennial Bloom, set for release on next year's spring equinox (you can hear a sneak preview here). Drummer Brett Schomer is a wildman behind his kit, eyes closed with passion as his whole body flails. Guitarist Zak Sprenger is his antithesis, standing perfectly still as his fingers fly through a set of complex runs. Bacci and Nadel stare out at the crowd, singing in harmony and conducting their audience with their facial expressions. The song plays out like a storm--March, they say, comes in like a lion--but if this is a storm, players and listeners are uniting in a spectacular rain dance. There is the sense that everyone in the room has become a singular organism, throwing off light into the surrounding gloom. This is the point of Audiobakery's existence and of its music: bringing people together, opening minds, creating a cosmic event here on Earth.

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Zach Blumenfeld / Comments (0)

Interview Wed Oct 07 2015

Catfish and the Bottlemen Returns to Chicago on 10/10 @ House of Blues: Transmission Catches Up With Bassist Benji Blakeway


The last time Catfish and the Bottlemen was in Chicago, they were playing a Lollapalooza aftershow at Subterranean. I was there. I'm still not sure my eardrums have recovered, though I don't know which caused more hearing damage -- Catfish's powerful set of garage pop or the crowd's rabid screaming/singing of every word. It was more packed than the Red Line after a Cubs game and accordingly things got very steamy, but the atmosphere raised every hair on my body. When singer Van McCann had to deal with microphone issues (on his birthday, no less) and everyone in the room filled in his lines on "Homesick" -- that's the reason you go to concerts. That's the impact Catfish and the Bottlemen's grimy, Kooks-y, hard-driving rock has on its listeners.

This time around, they'll be moving one step closer to the stadiums they've dreamed of filling since they formed in Llandudno, Wales, in 2007, playing at the House of Blues with opener Jamie N Commons on Saturday night. Catfish has been touring America for most of the year in support of their debut album, The Balcony. Fortunately, bassist Benji Blakeway was able to find some time on the road to speak with me over the phone about the band's travels, what's changed (and what's remained the same) as their popularity has grown, and the cardboard cutout of The Balcony's... um... unique album artwork that they've been taking with them everywhere.

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Zach Blumenfeld / Comments (1)

Review Mon Oct 05 2015

The Internet at Bottom Lounge: Bumpin' Some Warm Vibes On The First Chilly Weekend Of Fall


I didn't expect The Internet's Syd tha Kyd to be such a commanding presence on stage.

When you talk to her, as I did a few weeks ago for Transmission, she emanates a laid-back attitude that's matched by her sultry trip-hop vocal delivery on the album her band is supporting on this tour, Ego Death. I thought I was in for an evening of slow jamming, casual movements to subtle grooves, and hazy sensuality at Bottom Lounge. But the energy that the band brought to the stage lent the night a stunning vibrance that warmed the bones and the soul on a frosty Sunday evening.

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Zach Blumenfeld / Comments (0)

Preview Fri Oct 02 2015

Mike Krol with The Gooch Palms and Archie Powell and the Exports 10/7 @ Empty Bottle

Getting signed to Merge Records was a dream to Mike Krol. And in the late spring the power pop artist was signed, but it was only after a youth spent pursuing a graphic designer career and recuperating from a breakup with a long-term girlfriend.

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Colin Smith / Comments (0)

Interview Fri Oct 02 2015

The Graveface Autumn Pop-Up Spectacle is Coming to Chicago

graveface autumn spectacle.jpgIf there ever was a time to celebrate a music label like Graveface Records, it is definitely October. Much of the label's sounds and aesthetics are descended from the month's ostentatious Halloween. Ryan Graveface, the label's owner and soul, will be touring around the U.S. with his bands Dreamend and The Marshmallow Ghosts as part of The Graveface Autumn Pop-Up Spectacle. In addition to live music, these series of free shows will feature scary stories, free tattoos from Chloe Pinnock, and the Graveface Records & Curiosities Pop Up Shop. The Chicago stop of the tour will take place on October 23rd at 7pm in The Niche Lab, a newly opened multi-purpose science lab, artist studio, and makerspace located at 3328 W North Ave.

I had a chance to talk with Ryan Graveface about what exactly fans can expect from the the upcoming show and expanding our previous talk at Pitchfork with what he has in store for Graveface Records and Terror Vision in the coming months. You can listen to our previous conversation from Pitchfork here and our newest one below.

Interview with Ryan Graveface

Julian Ramirez / Comments (0)

Feature Fri Oct 02 2015

The Empty Bottle's Free Mondays: For The Love Of All That Is Rock

It's 7:30pm on a Monday night, and I've arrived far too early at the Empty Bottle. Besides me, the only people here are the bartender, a young couple engaged in giggling conversation over their beers, and the evening's entertainment: Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires, Pujol, and Chicago's own Flesh Panthers, who are sound checking.

"It'll start picking up around doors, which is at 8:30 or 9," the bartender assures me as I solitarily sip on a Revolution Rosa. Of course, she turns out to be right. It's a Free Monday, after all. This is the Bottle's weekly time to shine in the vibrant Chicago live music scene.

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Zach Blumenfeld / Comments (0)

Preview Thu Oct 01 2015

Preview: Bellfuries with Jessica Lee Wilkes 10/2 @ Schubas

The Bellfuries sound like they're resurrecting music from before the day it died. They got an upright bass, a semi-hollow guitar, and a big yelping vocalist to prove it. And it seems they're only a duckwalk or a hip shake away from the '50s.

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Colin Smith / Comments (0)

Contest Wed Sep 30 2015

Want To See Mucca Pazza?

Our favorite indie punk rock marching band group here at Gapers Block, Mucca Pazza, will be playing a show at the Metro on October 10, and we've got a pair of tickets to give away! Our friends over at CHIRP will be moving their online station to radio on 107.1 FM, and as a benefit, Mucca Pazza will be putting on a show alongside other standout acts. CHIRP Radio has remained solely volunteer-driven since its advent five years ago, broadcasting music from 6am through midnight daily from its North Center studio. In focusing on a diverse array of musical offerings, CHIRP also works to introduce us to local up-and-comers, cementing its status as an important arts fixture within the community.


To enter, comment below (make sure to use your email!) with your favorite Chicago artist (besides Mucca Pazza, of course). Winners will be announced Thursday, October 1, at 2 p.m have now been chosen. Happy entering!

Mucca Pazza will play the Metro on Saturday, October 10. This all ages show is $21 in advance, and $23 at the door, with the show beginning at 6:30pm. Mucca Pazza will be joined by support acts Brother Starrace, Jennifer Hall, and Spaces of Disappearance. The Metro is located at 3730 N. Clark St., (773) 549-0203.

Sarah Brooks / Comments (5)

Review Tue Sep 29 2015

A$AP Rocky Electrifies the Aragon Ballroom, 9/27


Photos by Rena Naltsas

The hazy stage lights of the Aragon Ballroom shut on at 7 p.m. on Sunday, but fans began waiting outside the locked doors nearly 4 hours in advance. The colossal crowd pushing to get in the sold-out 3,200-capacity venue were lined upside the building, back through the alley, and spilling in front of the bars along Lawrence, forcing the manager of the neighboring Uptown Lounge to emerge shouting at event security to maintain the chaos.

This is a much different picture of pre-show excitement for A$AP Rocky in Chicago than the last show he headlined in 2012.

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Emily Ornberg / Comments (1)

Review Mon Sep 28 2015

Destroyer: Dark Lyrics and Bright Melodies in Thalia Hall's Old Opera House


Once Jennifer Castle stepped to the front of the stage, she strummed her hollow guitar and crowed in a country-inflected voice. The audience, sipping their Lagunita's or Oberons, filed into Thalia Hall's old and restored opera house, and at once quit talking. Castle set a calm tone for a Sunday night and brought the listeners back to a quieter time -- and she wouldn't have been out of place at Greenwich Village in the '60s.

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Colin Smith / Comments (0)

Interview Mon Sep 28 2015

A Chat With The Internet's Syd tha Kyd


You're reading about The Internet on the internet right now. That's pretty darn meta (and that's definitely not a joke the band has gotten before). But unlike the lowercase "i" version, the six-piece neo-soul band is something you can actually see in the flesh when they roll through Bottom Lounge on October 4th.

The Internet is on tour supporting their June album Ego Death, a brooding, introspective modernization of lustful R&B. The production reminisces upon Frank Ocean's landmark codeine-laced 2012 LP Channel Orange--no surprise there, seeing as Ocean and The Internet are both associated with LA hip-hop collective Odd Future--and incorporates the funky bass lines, minimalistic beats, and swirling psychedelic elements that have risen to mainstream prominence over the past few years.

But what separates The Internet from its contemporaries is the work of vocalist Syd tha Kyd, who flows over the top of the music like a gently seductive river of syrup. I got the chance to speak with Syd about the process of making Ego Death, her development as a singer and songwriter, and the books she's reading on tour, among other things.

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Zach Blumenfeld / Comments (0)

Feature Wed Oct 07 2015

Audiobakery's In Full Bloom

By Zach Blumenfeld

Spend a Saturday morning with Audiobakery, and the vibes of connectedness they emit in concert aren't dimmed -- they're expanded.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records


Fri Oct 16 2015
Lily & Madeleine/Shannon Hayden @ SPACE

Mon Oct 19 2015
Idlewild @ Bottom Lounge

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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