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Thursday, April 24

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Concert Wed Apr 23 2014

Sam Smith Lays it Down at the Vic

Sam Smith.jpg

Sam Smith's "Nirvana" is one of those songs. You know, the kind that you listen to five (okay, maybe ten) times in a row because the experience of hearing it floods dopamine to your brain over and over, making you feel noticeably happier, emotional, and hungry for another listen despite having it on a loop. So when Sam Smith kicked off his show last night at the Vic with "Nirvana," you can imagine the insanity the opening notes inspired. Those kinds of songs come around only a few times a year, but when they do, they are gift. And that is precisely what Sam Smith is: a gift to the music world.

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Emma Gase / Comments (0)

Concert Tue Apr 22 2014

Blondes Groove Deep Into The Night at Smartbar 04/19


NYC's Blondes make blissfully distorted chill out electronica. Signed to the tastemaker label, RVNG Intl, Sam Haar and Zach Steinman have crafting beats since the early 2010's, releasing a steady amount of DJ mixes, EPs, and remixes to ever increasing notoriety. Their single, "Wine," with it's classic house arpeggio synth and hypnotically warbled vocals evoke a manic sensation which commands the listener's attention and compels that person to move and react. They're reminiscent of acts such as Teengirl Fantasy, Mount Kimbie and Laurel Halo. With this in mind, I went to see them a few days ago at Smartbar.

Cloaked in smoke and light, Blondes opened their set with a prolonged burst of shoegaze-esque disarray before delving into a set of deep house grooves and Kraftwerk inspired techno beats. Over the course of their set, the room became a patchwork of vastly diverse styles of dance. There was the woman who pranced throughout the dancefloor, often intensely gazing directly into the eyes of people in the crowd, with this weird yet smoothly jagged interpretive dance that looked like something Marina Abramović would do at MoMA in a Jay-Z video. There was the sharply dressed man who pop and locked with style and expert skill. There were the people who stood in the back near the speakers, minimalistically moving their bodies, getting a physical sensation from the bass. One of the things that I absolutely love about Smartbar is now unpretentious it is, how everyone is welcome and made to feel accepted. This past Friday at Smartbar was no exception, as Blondes pulsing beats kept the crowd moving deep into the night.

Opening and closing the night for Blondes were Smartbar affiliates, Kiddo and Antiphase, who played fervent sets of dark and decadent techno. Below is a recent mix by Kiddo which is somewhat similar to her set from a few days ago that's totally worth checking out.

Justin Freeman / Comments (0)

Review Tue Apr 22 2014

Heritage and Heart: Regina Carter and Mavis Staples at Symphony Center, 4/18

The beautifully adorned Symphony Center found a packed house on Friday evening for a double bill of two great artists, Southern-folk violinist Regina Carter, and soul legend, Mavis Staples. The intimate venue and superb acoustics made it clear that this was an evening of music that would be unforgettable and irreplaceable.


Photo by Steve Stearns

Regina Carter emerged first, flanked by an accompaniment of accordion, guitar, an upright bass, and drums. She donned a bright outfit, and walked onstage completely barefoot. Regina Carter's set was focused on heritage through and through, in a beautiful way. After her first song, which contained a slightly fuzzy but extremely authentic recording from an old Southern tune, Carter delved into the methods she utilized to track her family ancestry. From anecdotes regarding her grandfather's time as a coal miner in Alabama, to divulging stories of growing up with several siblings, to sharing snapshots of old Southern folk tunes preserved in their original recorded setting, Carter was able to not only present us with examples of her expertly perfected musical craft, however, she was also able to further impact us with the connection to her rich heritage.

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Sarah Brooks / Comments (0)

Review Mon Apr 21 2014

Review: The National Fits Their Sound Into Untitled


Last Wednesday, I was lucky enough to be in the room for a performance by The National in the lower levels of Untitled, a ritzy cocktail bar near Merchandise Mart. The band was in town all of last week for a sold-out four-night stand at the Chicago Theatre, but still found the time to play an abbreviated electric set in a room not much larger than the hall at Schubas.

In my conversations with friends who dislike The National, they've told me that the band's records strike them as being a bit too austere, lacking some indispensable irreverence that would mark the songs as rock music instead of museum exhibits. Admittedly, The National can be somewhat one-note on their albums, and for me, the power of those albums comes from my feeling that few bands play that particular note better or with more detail and intricacy. However, when playing live, The National strikes an altogether different pose. If the band's albums sound like someone's attempt to keep their anxieties and frailties at bay, the live show revels in how hysterical the characters in the songs threaten to become. The work of Aaron and Bryce Dessner (twin brothers and the two guitarists of the band) and the unwavering solidity of Bryan and Scott Devendorf (also brothers, on drums and bass respectively), keep the songs firmly on the rails, allowing lyricist and vocalist Matt Berninger to, for lack of a better term, completely lose his cool. His delivery, especially on the faster numbers, can become uncomfortably intense, as he ditches his typical baritone for a rabid dog of a scream.

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Pat Donachie / Comments (0)

Preview Fri Apr 18 2014

Josh Ritter Premieres New Songs at City Winery 4/21 & 4/23


Many critics pegged Josh Ritter's most recent release, 2013's The Beast In Its Tracks, as a prototypical "breakup" album, but the label does little justice to the album itself. Though written and recorded in the aftermath of a divorce, the record sets itself not in the pathos of the immediate fallout, but in that tentative, woozy period afterwards, when you dust yourself off and move forward. It's a more hopeful attitude than is found on most breakup records, and Ritter's perspective on relationships is an apt analogy for the perspective he takes in much of his songwriting; a dose of optimism that doesn't brush off the darker corners of his psyche or the world, but instead treats them with the complexity they deserve. That's not to say the album lacks darkness; one need only hear the acerbic punchline that concludes "New Lover" to dispel that theory.

Ritter is coming to Chicago next week to perform two solo acoustic shows at City Winery to debut brand new material that, according to the songwriter, arrived in an unorthodox manner. "About four months ago," Ritter recalls, "I was hit by a song on the New York Thruway. The whole thing. Verses, bridge, a witty one-liner or two. Nothing like that had ever happened with such force. It was the first raindrop in a thunderstorm that I'm thankful continues unabated." Ritter rarely unveils new songs before they've been run through the wringer of the studio process, so the City Winery shows indicate an intriguing new approach. He's riding a four-album hot streak (including 2006's The Animal Years, my pick for one of the last decade's most powerful and unheralded releases), and these concerts stand to shine some light on where he's heading next.

Ritter plays the City Winery at 8pm on Monday, April 21 and Wednesday, April 23 (I'll be attending Wednesday's show and will have a review of the evening on Gapers Block next week). Currently, tickets are available for both shows. On both nights, the doors are at 6pm, and you can find more information and purchase tickets at the City Winery website.

Pat Donachie / Comments (0)

Concert Fri Apr 18 2014

Riot Fest Announces 2014 Chicago Dates


Yesterday, the internet's most lovable grump announced the dates for this year's edition of Riot Fest. Riot Fest will return to Chicago this September 12th - 14th. Before that, it'll be in Toronto on September 6th - 7th. Riot Fest will wrap up this year's season in Denver on September 19th - 21st.

From the looks of it, they plan to keep building on what they've started when they pivoted to become a major festival. They plan to expand the grounds at Toronto in order to have more carnival rides. In Denver, they plan to revamp the camping areas. 2014 also marks the ten year anniversary of Riot Fest being in Chicago. In response, they promise "special surprises and attractions."

Ticket and lineup information has not yet been released, but should be provided soon.

Justin Freeman / Comments (0)

Review Thu Apr 17 2014

Arc Iris and The Fruit Flies Dazzle at Schubas

Arc Iris is a well-crafted tornado of musical genres, taking considerable cues from all over the place. One song can have a country twange while the next is a frenzied folk song you've never could have imagined. Jocie Adams, the group's unfathomably talented leader, has been compared to Joanna Newsom, Bjork, and countless others. The comparisons do very little to full grasp what is going on with Arc Iris. Their sound moves around so much that there is no telling where they will go and that is certainly what makes Arc Iris such a please to listen to. I had previously seen the band open for Nicole Atkins and immediately knew that I had to see them again. Luckily, Arc Iris had their CD release party at Schubas.

fruit flies.jpg
The Fruit Flies, a local Chicago duo Molly McCormick and Danni Parpan, started off the night quite nicely. I believe they were a late addition to the evening, so I was pleasantly surprised by their really catchy indie folk that one can't help but move along to. Songs like "Summer in the City" required a bit of crowd participation in the form of clapping throughout and It didn't take much convincing. The Fruit Flies have a fun stage presence, throwing out jokes at every possible opportunity. They are instantly lovable as they muse about being a package deal in McCormick's engagement or doing a comedy open mic later.

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Julian Ramirez / Comments (0)

Concert Thu Apr 17 2014

The Men Create a Frenzied Spectacle at Empty Bottle 04/12


The Men appeared this past Saturday to a full house at Empty Bottle without a word. Drums cacophonously clattered, filling the air with tangible bass and impending doom. Thier guitars were loud, filling the room with curated noise and an overall sense of anticipation. It was only for a moment before seamlessly launching into their first song of the night, the incredibly anxious "Lotus." Those first few moments set a clear precedent for their rest of their performance; a frenzied spectacle.

The Men are a noise punk band from Brooklyn who have been gravitating towards no frills garage rock over the last few years. They create raucous anthems for the working class driven by loud guitars and thundering drums. They are the soundtrack to a night of drinking cheap beer and whiskey with your friends at questionable dive bars. As they played songs scattered throughout their discography, I looked around around the room and took in what I saw. Lovers held hands and danced the night away to the pounding rhythm of the drums. Friends laughed as they played pool and engaged in general revelry in tandem with the guitar riffs. Eventually, I found myself in the middle of the crowd as they played "If You Leave...," a song that has room to breathe while progressively building up to a violent and wordless chorus. It was exhilarating.

After a quick break, The Men returned and and wrapped things up with an unexpectedly gnarly cover of The Stooges "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Though it turned out to be a false alarm, The Men unexpectedly found themselves being the soundspace to this year's first summer-esque night and it was everything I wanted.

Unfortunately, I couldn't arrive in time to check out the opening act, Basic Cable. This bums me out, because I tried to catch them at Hideout's SXSW Send Party that we recently talked about, but something came up. I've heard nothing but good things about them. Our friends over at Loud Loop Press named them as one of the "14 Bands to Watch in 2014" and the folks over at Notes + Bolts interviewed them not too long ago. Listening to their album I'm Good to Drive reminds me of bands of Sub Pop past while simultaneously making me excited for their future. Check out a stream of it below.

Justin Freeman / Comments (0)

Video Wed Apr 16 2014

ShowYouSuck Goes Low-Res VHS for New Video

ShowYouSuck dives into a world of VHS in the video for his latest song, "All Wavy Everything." He's playing with Kid Sister -- who hasn't been heard from that much lately, though her latest video has her going full Jamaican -- at Reggies Friday night, along with Syd tha Kid, Angel and Mr. E. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, which opens at 8:30pm.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Preview Wed Apr 16 2014

Dosh and Bitchin Bajas Bring Warm Sounds to The Hideout


There are few musicians like Martin Dosh. He is a gifted collaborator, having worked with Andrew Bird and Bonnie "Prince" Billy. He is able to create wonderfully expansive compositions, always standing out. His unique solo work edges off to all ends of the spectrum, incorporating elements of jazz, hip hop, and surprisingly warm electronic noise. As displayed on the cover last year's Milk Money, Dosh is a one man band. He switches from a variety of instruments, using loops and innumerable knobs and switches to create lush soundscapes that at times are accented with soft bursts of vocals. Dosh's music is interesting and utterly engulfing.

Dosh will be joined by local Chicago band Bitching Bajas. They specialize in achingly long but undeniable beautiful pieces of music. Their latest album, Bitchitronics is made up of only four songs, the shortest of which clocks in at just over five minutes and the longest at a massive sixteen minutes. Every moment of their lightly drizzled droning feels like deep meditation tha is occasionally interrupted/enhanced with soaring guitar solo. It wouldn't be hard to find yourself melting into their sound.

Dosh and Bitchin Bajas will be playing at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. Chicago, IL, on Thursday April 17. Tickets are $12 and the show starts at 9pm

Julian Ramirez / Comments (0)

Event Wed Apr 16 2014

Record Store Day 2014: Where to Go in Chicago


Seven years down the line, and it feels like Record Store Day comes earlier every year. And maybe it's just because we've barely scratched the surface of the promised warm weather this year in Chicago, but we're really giddy about RSD this year. Getting out of the house? Mingling with other music-minded folks? Rewarding ourselves with new vinyl? Sign us up! So here we are, once again, mapping out stores to visit (and perhaps even mentally rating restaurants nearby to grab a malted beverage at afterwards). If you've made your own wish list of RSD releases, here's where you might want to go to find them:

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Anne Holub / Comments (3)

Stores Tue Apr 15 2014

Our Record Store Day Wish List

By Transmission Staff

Our beloved vinyl holiday, Record Store Day, is this Saturday, and while we might not all be at stores waiting in line come midnight, the yearly celebration of all things vinyl has its own perks. Every year, there's a plethora of special Record Store Day releases. From new artists and old, either re-releases, or special compilations or tracks — there's something for everyone, of course only if your local record store gets in the release that you want. And that's the rub, since while all stores might like to get each of these releases, even if they request them, they're not sure what they're going to get till the box arrives (sometime later this week). But what follows is what the Transmission staff is keeping its fingers crossed for this year.

Our Record Store Day Wish List:


The Julie Ruin 7"
You probably recognize Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill or Le Tigre or from being the coolest person ever. After an extended hiatus from music due to the singer's struggle with Lyme disease, Kathleen returned along with new band The Julie Ruin in 2013 with a new album, Run Fast. The album is less politcally charged and more personal than what we've heard from Hanna in the past, revealing a more vulnerable side to the artist. On Record Store Day The Julie Ruin will release a 7" of two previously unreleased songs, "Brightside" and "In The Picture", with a limited pressing of 2000.
-Stephanie Griffin

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Transmission / Comments (1)

Review Mon Apr 14 2014

Lotus Vibes Bloom at the Riv, 4/12


(Photos by Brianna Kelly)

After a severe thunderstorm briefly hit the northern suburbs Saturday afternoon, the sun came out in full force and brought forth the most glorious day Chicago has experienced so far this year.

To commemorate the inaugural patio sit of the season, I sipped margaritas and munched on chips and guacamole outside of a Mexican restaurant in Lakeview. That was followed by a good old barbeque because it was necessary to take full advantage of the warm weather.


And then to top it all off, I moseyed down to the Riviera Theatre with a happy belly to see one of the funkiest bands in the jam scene, Lotus. The show started at 8:30pm to allow two opening sets before the main attraction. Electronic music blared throughout the lobby, as Daedalus played his last couple of songs.

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Brianna Kelly / Comments (0)

Review Sun Apr 13 2014

A Celebration of Sharon Jones @ The Vic, 4/11

The resurgence of soul music that emulates that of its 1960s predecessors can be frequently found with several stellar standout acts. From the wailing, impassioned Charles Bradley, to the emotional and funky sounds from Lee Fields & The Expressions, to the toe-tapping, energized rhythms from Raphael Saadiq, we have many options for quality soul music that is current and notable. However, there are few groups that are able to make us literally feel like we are in another decade. The possessors of this special gift present us with music that is indistinguishable from the style which they are emulating, as they are seemingly one in the same.


Photo by Joshua Mellin

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are this kind of special soul outfit. They are able to make us feel like we have taken a ride in a time machine as we listen to them, featuring a seamless funk backing and Jones's perfect vocals, akin to honey dripping from a spoon, slow and steady and never losing its sweetness. They go to great lengths to make their music and their live performances as exact and accurate as possible, however, when seeing them perform, it suddenly appears effortless.

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Sarah Brooks / Comments (0)

Review Wed Apr 09 2014

Taking Back Sunday and The Used Took Over The Concord


Its been a little under four years since the original lineup of Taking Back Sunday got back together. In the time since they've reunited, they've toured endlessly around the world in celebration of the 10 year anniversary of what is probably their finest hour; Tell All Your Friends. They've also released two new albums, 2010's self-titled reintroduction and Happiness Is, which came out early last month. Their new work sounds like what you would probably imagine a 30-something Warped Tour-era emo band sounds like, slightly less harsh and a bit more mellow overall as they wear the classic college radio rock influences of their youth boldly on their sleeves.

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Justin Freeman / Comments (0)

Classical Tue Apr 01 2014

Pulling Strings: For Classical Music in Chicago, You Got a Guy - April 2014

By Elliot Mandel

Love fugues? Dig counterpoint? Get your fix this month as the music of J.S. Bach fills the city. Plus, don't miss a Chicago debut and all five Beethoven cello sonatas.

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
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
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
Ultra Lounge
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


Thu Apr 24 2014
LP Marketplace Record Swap Party

Fri Apr 25 2014
Biggest Mouth Contest @ Metro

Sun Apr 27 2014
Loop @ Bottom Lounge

Mon Apr 28 2014
Peter Wolf @ Space

Wed Apr 30 2014

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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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