Chicago rap artist Rhymefest, who put on quite the show for the hometown crowd at last year's Intonation Festival, is running a contest through his MySpace page that may just be your ticket into Lollapalooza (um, literally). Just give 'Fest 100 words (or less) by midnight Thursday on his MySpace page profile that tells what a revolutionary means to you and by Friday morning, you could have tickets to this weekend's music destination in Grant Park.
Outdanced, the ol' Tuesday night sure-thing at Funky Buddha Lounge is looking mighty fine this eve. Dandi Wind, (Canada, new wave glam) Flufftronix (Bloomington, IN., electro-crunk) and hot buzzing band Aleks and the Drummer (Chicago, hallucinating rock) provide deep, dope sounds. Cheap sauce, fabulous people and this guy putting your face all over the Net included. RSVP here.
Paste magazine is hosting an exclusive pre-Lollapalooza concert, Live in Chicago! at Subterranean (2011 W North Ave, 9pm) this Thursday. Surprise guests featured in Paste as well as artists from the Lollapalooza stages perform; the lineup is undisclosed before the event. The secret guest list should be nothing less than spectacular, as Paste, recently featured in the Chicago Tribune's list of "50 Best Magazines," certainly knows how to choose their pickings with care. Enter the contest for your chance to win two free passes; this pre-Lolla event is not to be missed!
Joan Wasser relies on honesty as a form of protest. On the website of her band, Joan as Policewoman, she laments about the state of things--the "media lying to you," and the “sense of distrust in the air.” To counterattack this state of affairs, she offers her latest endeavor, the album Real Life (Cheap Lullaby, US release), on which she explores pain and heartache, with enough honesty to set the world on fire.
The album, released in the UK last year, is now being introduced across the country as Joan as Policewoman embarks on their first US Real Life tour. The music on the album is hauntingly gorgeous, but one would expect nothing less from the uber-talented Wasser, whose first gig in music was as a violinist for the Boston University Symphony Orchestra. Wassers takes on violin on the album, not to mention guitar, keyboard and lead vocals. Reinforcements come from Rainy Orteca on bass and backup vocals, and from Ben Perowsky on drums/percussion and vocals. The mood is mellow earthiness, and particularly poignant and poetic are the candid lyrics, crafted by Wasser. "I’ve been on the ride before / it never stops at all," she sings in the popular track, The Ride.
Wassers has described her music as American Soul, a mixup of soul and punk--Al Green, Nina Simone, and the Smiths combined. She used to be punk, don’t forget, when she performed with the Dambuilders in the 90s, not to mention her stints with other bands, including Hot Trix and Black Beetle. Yet there are other indie musicians that come to mind when hearing Wasser’s current sound--Rufus Wainwright and Beth Orton, in particular, as both are also talented in being "real" in their music. Wasser, the consummate indie music professional, has collaborated with Wainwright, as well as with numerous others, including Elton John, Lou Reed and Sheryl Crow.
“For me, the most subversive you can be these days is to be totally honest, and to really laud beauty,” Wasser has said. To be honest about one’s emotions in an era of half-truths is bold, and Joan as Policewoman has this type of music protest crafted to perfection.
Joan as Policewoman plays at Schuba’s on Tuesday. 9pm $10
I once proclaimed Blitzen Trapper the best unsigned band in America. I would have thought by now that this situation would be resolved. But the band self released their recent full-length record to a barrage of great press from the smallest blogs right on up to a rave from Pitchfork.
They still deserve your attention as they are one of the most creative and at time unsettling bands to appear in a long time. I say unsettling because the band is able to shift genre's from song to song and even within a song. For example, check out the electro-funk, Beck-like sounds of "Love I Exclaim" or the countrified southern rock of the title track, "Wild Mountain Nation", from their most recent release. Blitzen Trapper perform Saturday the 28th at The Empty Bottle.
(Edit: A reader emailed to say Sup Pop has signed Blitzen Trapper. It'll be awhile `til we see their Sub Pop debut though.)
Partying like indie rockstars isn't a task for the faint of heart, but TX has got you covered with a Thursday night rock'n'roll itinerary that's sure to put a little jump in your cords : start out the night at The Beat Kitchen with New York state indie popsters Ra Ra Riot, and then follow the band over to the Five Star for the afterparty / TX one year anniversary. Show starts at 8:30 and should be around $8, but the chance to get wasted with the band after the show remains priceless.
This week marks a year since Gapers Block: Transmission was born, and while we can't take up all your time telling you exactly how happy we are to be here, talking about Chicago's music scene each and every day, we would like to give you three reasons (x14 Transmission staff writers) why each of us love Chicago and all of its musical offerings.
Thursday again, and you know what that means: We'll be at the Five Star celebrating one long year of providing you, the discriminating post-hip hipster, with the best in Chicago music news and events. It's our birthday, so forgive us if there's a little extra nipple exposure involved -- you know how these things go. We'll be there around 9:30, we're the group with the tiaras and noticeable lack of self-restraint. Five Star is at 1424 W. Chicago, just east of Chicago and Ashland. Come help us celebrate!
Update: Sorry, I forgot to add in last week's photos! I blame alcohol. Click on to see our usual debauchery.
Rawk Magazine is just a loft party throwing machine. And Friday they join the Machine, Machine Media that is for Machine Fest. Modemtotem is going down in the warehouse part of town with Menowah, Deep Element and Nightfox. Three very groovy DJs well worth $5. This will also be a chance to get out and hear more about what you can do to stop the city's efforts to stiffle non-mainstream parties. Don't miss the crazy and good of Machine Fest.
After a turn last year at the Siskel, this fantastic documentary, You're Gonna Miss Me about 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson's music career, drug-infused lifestyle, near-tragic family life, and mental health deterioration is a must for any music fan. (If you aren't familiar with Erickson's psychedelic rock directly from his albums, you probably remember the film's title track from the opening scenes of the indie rock movie High Fidelity). After years of reclusiveness, Roky triumphantly returned to the music scene last year at our own Intonation Music Festival, and will again grace Chicago stages this summer a Lollapalooza in August. Chicago Public Radio's "Sound Opinions" show sponsors this viewingtonight (which will be hosted by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot). In addition, the film's director Keven McAlester will be available for questions. Doors open at 7pm this evening, and the show starts at 7:30pm. The Music Box is located at 3733 N. Southport. Tickets are $10.
The Gloss: Maybe you missed it or maybe you were one of a handful that didn't, but back in April the Ukrainian Village-anchored Permanent Records -- Chicago's hot new indie record store -- stepped up their game and launched their own label. What did they choose for their flagship offering? To put out an LP wax pressing of An Ethereal Oracle, the self-released sophomore CD by the Columbia, Missouri outfit Warhammer 48K. It's now available on 18-mg virgin vinyl, featuring a limited-edition gatefold sleeve with full-color artwork. The folks at Permanent were nice enough to send Gapers Block a copy, which eventually found its way into my hands, so a review is definitely in order…
Hot on the heels of The Decemberist's well-received show at The Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, the Trib's main man Greg Kot has apparently gotten word that Wilco will be playing a show in the spaceship-looking bandshell on September 12. Unfortunately, it looks like it won't be free, with 3,000 tickets for the main area coming in "under $50" and 7,000 lawn seats going for around $10. The show was due to be announced today but it doesn't look like that's going to happen -- keep an eye on TX and we'll let you know when things go down.
UPDATE: Yep, it's official. Tickets are $45 and $10, available through TicketSatan or at the Vic box office with no service fee.
The Metro held a private party this past Saturday to celebrate the club's 25th anniversary. Billed as a "family reunion," employees past and present were in attendance in abundance. Smartbar featured DJs throughout the evening, while the Metro stage was given over to speeches, a spoof "Historical Moments from History" video and DJ sets by Life During Wartime, Brad Owen and New Order's Peter Hook. But the highlight of the evening was definitely Nicholas Tremulis' ode to the club, busting owner Joe Shanahan's, uh, desk. I managed to catch most of it on video (I didn't get my camera out fast enough, but you only miss a couple words.)
Alela Diane loves her cat. That's one strike against her. Her music's been categorized as freak folk and that should be strike number two. But somehow despite these long odds I like Alela's brand of hippy folk. I like that the first 650 copies of her record Pirate's Gospel were hand sewn with lace and on each was an original drawing of a ship. I like the rural folk of "The Rifle", it reminds me of the Little House On The Prairie books-on-tape I'm forced to listen to on long car trips with my 5 year old son. She'll be at The Hideout on Thursday the 26th. Show starts at 9pm. Ezra Furman opens. More info here.
I'm not a crazy, iPod-loving, Microsoft-bashing Zune hater. Although I do wonder who the hell bought 1.2 million of those turds. Anyway Zune is throwing a free event in Chicago called Live At The BBQ this Sunday at some mystery location. Thankfully I think they've dropped that horrible "Welcome To The Social" tagline. So if you're up for selling your soul, giving up all your key demographic information, and losing your remaining hipster cred fill out this registration form for a chance to win tickets to see Mos Def, Bilal, Little Brother, and Chicago's own Qualo between 3pm and 10pm on Sunday, July 22.
Machine Fest (thrown by Machine Media) is all about the music and one thing for sure, they know how to book a show. Tonight's lineup (J+J+J, Arks, Charlie Deets and Aleks and the Drummer) is one of the more solid top-to-bottom events we've seen in awhile. And all for only $5. (yep 5 bucks on a Friday night) So to hell with Harry Potter, get on over to the Double Door and hear the buzz of tomorrow, tonight.
(Kissing Micha Barton, Micha's subway billboard actually)
Ex-Chicagoan Rose Polenzani is now a native Bostonian (actually Somerville or as we used to say Slumerville). She returns to Chicago this week with a show at Uncommon Ground on Saturday the 21st at 11pm.
First and foremost Rose is a great singer songwriter, she's also active in the gay and lesbian music community. She's recorded for Amy Ray's (Indigo Girls) Daemon label, as well as for Rykodisc. Her last release was 2004's self-released CD August. Rose is funny, charming, silly and at times poignant live; this should be an intimate show at one of Chicago's best acoustic venues.
One week ago, I prepared a feature for Gapers Block: Transmission detailing the goings-on of WLUW 88.7 — a listener-supported community radio station located on the north side of the city of whose senior staff I am also a member. While I had previously written a full disclosure introduction concerning my dual roles and my attempts to avoid conflict of interest, recent events concerning Loyola University's desire to terminate our operating agreement have changed the meaningfulness of the original article and also my desire/ability to remain impartial. I present below segments from the original piece interspersed with commentary from myself — a writer for Gapers Block as well as a deeply saddened member of the WLUW community.
Thursday again, and what better way to slip into the warm embrace of a boozy summer weekend than to spend a night with your favorite music site at the Five Star? We'll be there around 930, along with our main man DJ Brad Owen and $3 beers, come on out and tell us about how the mean ol' hipsters at Pitchfork stole your hemp bike. Sorry for so few photos this week -- I had to be in a super awesome legal seminar the next morning and took off a little before the prime witching hour set in. Even still, friends were made, enemies were conquered, and sobriety was made to beat a hasty retreat. Success! Five Star is at 1424 W. Chicago, just east of Chicago and Ashland. Shot of last week after the break -- come on out and Daddy gon' make you a star.
In a very hard-to-imagine-why-move, the city's Committee On License And Consumer Protection is meeting to talk about laying down so pretty harsh rules for medium and small size nightlife promotors. The amendments contain some positive provisions, but others that can't be met by anyone without serious bank. They are asking all promotors to pay $1000 per year for a license, notify police of all events, have a liquor license and adhere to a slew of other rules that even the mega-clubs avoid. Why local government needs to get into the regulation of small time parties is beyond me, but if you attend these events or work in this field, you may want to contact your alderman or head down to City Hall Rm. 201-A at 11:00 a.m on Wednesday and have your voice be heard on the matter.
The Chicago Tribune has a piece in it's business section that pits record labels against the media. A number of labels (including Chicago's Bloodshot) are blaming the members of the media that receive advance copies of new releases for the leaks that result from this time honored practice. Ironic that the labels see members of the media as one of their biggest enemies, instead of placing the blame where it belongs with their antiquated new media policies. No wonder cd sales are tanking.
Depending on the industry, service nights can either be awesome (bartender, stripper) or incredibly lame (lawyer, Pitchfork staffer), so it's with some trepidation I post this invite from Ramp Chicago for tonight's Demo Swap industry night at Sonotheque. On the other hand, the organizers have managed to line up four DJs, including video-game glitcher Protman and electro hip hop guru Bounte, as well as visual effects artists Psonikadia (UK) and Spiderback, so it should be an entertaining night no matter how many terrible glitched mashups you end up with in your bag. Electronic musicians, promoters, artists, and other interested misfits should plan on showing up at Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago, around 9 with a stack of media to hand out -- CD-Rs, DVDs, business cards, whatever -- to receive the reduced cover price of $2. I'll be there pimping the new H70sremix mixtape, make sure to say hi if you can -- I'm the brown dude.
As reported last week, the Empty Bottle was hosting a weekend-long shindiggity series of afterparty shows to coincide with the Pitchfork Fest. The cornucopia spilled over, proved too much for yours truly to take in to its fullest. And while there's nothing like a "scene report" thing to rub your face in the business about the party that you missed, couldn't get into, etc., this one leaves plenty of room for reciprocal nyeh-nyeh payback…
Robert Feder in today's Sun-Times reports that Loyola is asking for WLUW to once again be under their management after essentially giving it to WBEZ in 2002 due to budgeting. If the red tape clears between Loyola and Chicago Public Radio, the station could be back in the university's hands by next summer. Right now it appears unclear how that switch will affect WLUW's programming and operations.
Emily Jane Powers is a mystery surrounded by a conundrum. She's been making lo-fi music here in Chicago and up in Michigan for a couple of years now. Her DIY homepage seems defunct, her MySpace page has no character or soul, and the only recent info I can find is a one sentence bio on a Virb profile she seems to be barely keeping up to date.
So I was surprised to find her on a new compilation of bands doing classic punk rock covers (Pants Yell, Boyracer, The Lucksmiths) being put out by the Swedish label Yellow Mica Recordings. I really like her rambling, folk-tinged cover of The Ramones classic mind-meld of surf rock with punk - "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker". Full track listing and more about the record here.
Some people know how to rock (or sway) and others Rawk! Rawk Magazine never disappoints when they throw a party and with a Pitchfork after event going down this Saturday, take the oppurtunity to check out their famous loft bashes. And while you've probably seen other Pitchfork after parties advertised there is one major reason to choose Skeet, Skeet, Skeet - the line up is stellar. Menowah, Machine Drum, Matt Roan and Flashbulb will be dropping beats and sounds. Art will be on display, beer will be free and a cash bar is also availible. This is a 21+ event so the kiddies will be at other parties, but with a non-bar locale, (Fulton St. Collective) you'll be without the bar attitudes.(and prices) RSVP here for cheap 10 buck admission.
With a weather forecast that's for once not predicting heat stroke to coincide with the weekend of the now 3rd Annual Pitchfork Music Festival, and tickets already sold out well in advance, the crowds descending upon Chicago this coming weekend are going to be energized and ready to rock. Indeed, lucky are we that the tickets were (relatively) cheap for the festival line-up that is so wide and varied and worthy of our attention. There are Chicago bands, old bands, new bands, brass bands, DJs, and, oh yes, Yoko Ono all about to spill into Union Park at what's become a summer ritual for all true indie music fans. Below, Gapers Block: Transmission staff let you in on some of our picks for how to best spend a few days in the grass.
Thursday again and what better way to warm up for the jangly drone-rock of Pitchfork than by drinking your ass off? Exactly. We'll be at the Five Star as always, sucking down $3 beers and aiming the camera at anyone who can either 1. smile or 2. do something inappropriate with a TX sticker, so come on out and try your best. Five Star is at 1424 W. Chicago, just east of Chicago and Ashland. Click on for last week's pics. Word up, sister.
If you follow the city's music scene to any length it's probable you've heard of Brighton, MA and probably read something about how their name is odd, considering they're a band from Chicago. Still, odd name aside, Brighton, MA is a band of note with a sound that is making music fans take a close listen. Formed by Matthew Kerstein, formerly of popular Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, the band has recently released a self-titled debut. Brighton, MA doesn't come off with a typical indie sound easily traced back to any musical forefather. Thier style is as much tied in Sixties pop as is in standard mood music of today's fare. Warm, simple and entrancing, Brighton, MA often offers up songs that feel like they deserve to be on Wes Anderson movie soundtracks. See what they can do live tonight at the Lakeshore Theater with Lacona and Gringo Starr.
By now you may have heard that the new Smashing Pumpkins release, Zeitgeist, will arrive in four different flavors: Best Buy, Target, and iTunes all get unique bonus tracks while other retailers get a standard pressing -- a distribution scheme known in the industry by the technical term "making you buy the same record four times," or, more commonly, "dickslapping the fans." It doesn't look like local indie powerhouse Reckless Records is giving Mssr. Corgan a pass for this behavior, however -- Reckless has declined to place any orders for Zeitgiest and will not stock new copies of the record. It's a small gesture that won't have any huge effect on album sales (the fact that Zeitgeist kinda sucks will probably take care of that), but it's always nice to see an indie fight back. "We all kinda weighed in and decided that if we were going to be inconsequential to Billy and the Pumpkins, than we should make him him inconsequential to our sales," says Dylan Posa, manager of Reckless's downtown location. That downtown location, by the way, is a symbol of how well indie shops like Reckless are doing -- it just opened, in stark contrast to major music stores, which have been closing their doors. Looks like the Pumpkins might have bet on the wrong horse in the long run.
This weekend, there'll be no shortage of clubs hosting afterparties for the Pitchfork Music Festival, but it looks like the Empty Bottle has pulled out all the stops by stepping up with the most ambitious of all. Entitled "We ♥ Chicago," the Bottle's series of afterparty events offers three straight nights of merrymaking and dancing with a top-shelf selection of bands and DJs.
Looking down the schedule for the series, you probably notice a lot of exclamation points. And hey, that sense of excitement is perfectly appropriate because the whole affair is poised to be one of the biggest party events of the year. In case you missed it, here's the whole swoll package:
Last night, while having some casual drinks at Simon's Tavern, I stumbled upon something a little bit marvelous. It's B1g T1me, a cover band beyond all cover bands. See, they're not about sounding just like your favorite band from the '80s, they're about sounding like Tom Waits covering your favorite band from the '80s — and believe me it's a shot of sweet brown wonderful. I heard rousing, gravelly, Waitsian renditions of Sir Mix-a-lot's "Baby Got Back", Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More" and Journey's "Wheel in the Sky" (and of course, the band's namesake "Big Time" by Peter Gabriel) beat on garbage cans, rocked on accordion and vibes, earnestly delivered and gleefully received by the bar-goers. It's quite something to hear the one-hit-wonders of your youth transformed into dark, tortured, angry fist-shaking melodies. In fact, there's something quite pleasing about it all — as if the true angst of your hormone-soaked and pop infused teen years is finally realized in B1g T1me's performance.
They're always looking for new song suggestions, so let them hear from you at their MySpace page, or at their next show at Quenchers on July 18th (there's no cover).
Let's Get Out Of This Terrible Sandwich Shop is a band that could only be formed in Chicago - the land of a million terrible sandwich shops. Do you guys even have any idea of the sandwiches they have on the East Coast? Every New England hamlet has their own independent sandwich shop that will prepare for you the most excellent Italian deli sub you could possibly imagine. You'd like something hot you say? How about a steak and cheese with mozzerrela? Ohh...I'm literally drooling. Don't even get me started on East Coast pizza!
Oh and btw Let's Get Out Out This Terrible Sandwich Shop has a new ep coming out shortly. I'm guessing this new song will be on it. They're goofballs who record for Roydale and also take part in various improv groups. For fans of They Might Be Giants, Ed's Redeeming Qualities and Ween. Catch the silliness on July 11 at the Empty Bottle.
Enough with the talking, honey…let's get down to the nasty. And what better opportunity for it than this weekend when Yo! Majesty sets up a temporary regal residency here in Chi?
The rowdy Floridian punk-funk-electro-crunk trio received a red carpet welcome when they made their Chicago debut at the Funky Buddha back in early March, and they ripped the spot proud and proper. At the time, the group was just on the cusp of a come-up, and the appearance was only one of a few that they'd made away from their home turf. Since then, they've received a lot more attention and are in big demand, partly thanks to the frenzied mp3 circulation of their tracks "Club Action" and "Kryptonite Pussy," and to their recent set at SXSW. This summer has them touring like mad all over the country, and they're reportedly putting down some tracks for a new release.
This Friday night, Yo! Majesty will be bringing the heat at Sonotheque. But if that conflicts with your plans, you'll have another chance to catch them on Sunday when they play at the Empty Bottle's Pitchfork afterparty. Check Sonotheque's site for details about Friday, and more here shortly on the Bottle goings-on. So stay tuned.
Artistic posterity is a tricky biz. Some things get lost or simply fall by the wayside, many fall short of canonical merits, and others – due to being in the wrong place or time (if not both) -- have to patiently wait for proper, overdue recognition. In the case of Brazilian psych-pop ensemble Os Mutantes, it was all a matter of geography. Formed in 1966, the trio was an integral part of the Tropicalismo movement -- a musical response to the cultural and political temperament of the times and a concerted effort by a cadre of restless musicians to "mod"-ify Brazilian popular music by taking it in new, inventive directions. With Os Mutantes, that direction involved an embracing of trippy, rockish influences from Europe and the U.S., and coming up with a delightfully odd and energetic mix of bossa nova, psychedelic pop, and whimsical musical experimentation. But it was not until the 1999 release of the Everything Is Possible collection on David Byrne's Luaka Bop imprint that many music fans outside of Brazil finally heard any of the group's material from the 1960s and early 1970s.
After a decades-long stretch of inactivity, Os Mutantes reunited in 2006, with vocalist Zèlia Duncan taking the place of former member Rita Lee, and began playing concerts together. Their appearance at last summer's Pitchfork Festival marked a triumphant return, and was greeted with an outpouring of enthusiasm and accolades. At present, Luaka Bop will soon be putting out an expanded reissue of Everything Is Possible, and late July sees the release of Live at the Barbican, a double-DVD set of the group's 2006 reunion show in London.
Having finally found a global audience, the band is presently making another sojourn from São Paulo to tour again. The current tour includes only four cities in North America, and they'll be playing at Metro this Wednesday night. DJ Joe Bryl will be spinning tunes throughout the evening. 3730 N. Clark. Tickets are $26 in advance, $31 day of. Doors open at 8pm, show starts at 9. 18 & over show.
It's time to look back fondly on our misbegotten youth, and it's time to warp those memories a bit. What better way to do that than with the Weird Kids Dance Party at the Darkroom?
The theme is kids' music, and boy howdy, have they got fun. Spinning tracks are DJ Arpad, Rocktober's Jake Austen, and the WLUW Hump Day Day Dance Party Mobile Unit. Chicago hip hopsters The Cool Kids will be kickin' it live, and Daniel Knox will be crooning versions of songs by our favorite sweater-wearer, Mr. Rogers. Of course, you can bet your pants there will be more than just dancing -- expect some games, prizes, and general F-U-N.
The deets: the hullaballoo is on Monday, July 9, from 9 p.m. to close. The cover is a paltry $7, and the proceeds benefit WLUW 88.7 FM. Just go, already.
The latest installment in the New Indie Mafia event series gets kicking at Sonotheque this evening, featuring a headlining DJ set from XXXChange. He's a keystone member and one-third of the Baltimore Bass Connection, the deejay trio that lays down the tracks and mix sets for Spank Rock. Ever since the blow-up of SpankRo's 2006 debut YoYoYoYoYo, XXXChange and the crew have been touring relentlessly, yet he's still found time to keep his own efforts rolling with unbroken momentum. Over the past year, he's been regularly spinning club dates and dance parties in Brooklyn, supplying remixes for Bonde do Role, Beck, Lily Allen, and a host of others, as well as producing tracks for Kid Sister and Philly up-and-comer Amanda Blank. Renowned for his speed and craftiness on the decks, his DJ sets are brilliantly eclectic and often threaded by the sputter and bump of old-school beatbox electro. Also spinning are Jordan Z, Miss Gab, and Ian Hixxx. 1444 W. Chicago. Doors open at 10pm, admission is $10.
For over a decade, Rasputina's been making an unlikely mix of guitar rock heroes, classical music snobs, and mopey-faced goth kids swoon. Take equal parts historically obsessed histrionics, fantastic corsetry, and licks that would make Jimmy Page proud, and it's easy to see why. Add the fact that the New York-based trio is entirely made up of two cello-playin' gals and a drummer, and you've got yerself a deal, mister.
Rasputina is currently touring in support of their sixth and latest full-length album, Oh Perilous World, which finds the band mixing up their usual chamber rock doings with a fair amount of allegorical theatrical numbers. Dare we say it: a musical? Don't worry -- once ringleader Melora Creager plugs in her cello, it's obvious the band hasn't lost any of its cajones.
John Sellers was forlorn until a little thing called indie rock came into his life as a teen. He's scrounged for tapes, followed bands overseas and even given up meat in the name of Morrissey (though not for very long). Now he's all grown up (and writing for the likes of GQ, Spin and the New York Times for a living). He's come to town to do some reading from his book Perfect From Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life, but Saturday night, he's going to help the Beat Kitchen rock with the likes of Chicago's own Guided By Voices tribute band the Textbook Committee. They'll pay homage to Bob Pollard along with (another local band) Farewell Captain who will forego their own originals to do a set of indie-rock cover songs by Pavement, Archers of Loaf and Superchunk all by John's request. Head on out and rock it like it's the days when MTV still played videos, and U2 was just some Irish dudes with questionable hair.
They'll play the late show at the Kitchen Saturday. Doors open at 10:30 pm, music starts at 11pm. Tickets are $7, 21+.
Mixing up a super-hypnotic mélange of hip hop, house, rap, electronica, pop and rock, Chicago's favorite and most famous DJ duo—Curt Cameruci and Josh Young, aka Autobot and J2K, otherwise known as Flosstradamus, is today hooking up with electro funk masters Chromeo for the start of what is the latter's Fancy Footwork nationwide tour. Things kick off tonight at New York's Hiro Ballroom, after which the foursome jettison across the country touring, ending their collaboration on July 26th in Los Angeles. Midway through the tour, Chicago has the privilege of seeing them perform at the Empty Bottle on July 14th.
Alright let me put my cards on the table. I am one of the sponsors of this week's little rock show at Cal's (400 S. Wells). Of course and as a result I'm biased and partial to the bill that was thrown together. Partly because I, along with two other Chicago area blogs (Can You See the Sunset and Big Rock Candy Mountain), have been slaving over hot coals to put this show together. The lineup is Latest Flame recording artist The Gunshy, Frontier Ruckus from Ann Arbor and Chicago's Satellite 66.
Music starts at 10pm with The Gunshy. Eric from BRCM described his music as "combining a little Tom Waits, a smidge of Eric Bachman/Crooked Fingers, and a mesa-top full of burnt desert filtered through urban neon sprawl, the Gunshy play a gritty Western noir through the greasy windows of your favorite Old Style bar."
Frontier Ruckus are the talk of the town (Ann Arbor that is). They've been opening up for Michigan bands like Canada, Great Lakes Myth Society and Chris Bathgate over the last year or so. On top of that they were just named Best Folk Artist by Real Detroit Weekly. The band has a musical stew type of sound with lots of instruments swapped and bowed and tooted. Lyrically the songs are dense, although not as obvious and historically relevant as say The Decemberists. I'm told from various sources that the live show is amazing.
We'll be there, 930pm. 1424 W. Chicago, just east of Chicago and Ashland. God bless America. You're all a bunch of communists. Consider this your punishment. (Click to see original, amazing NSFW version)
There are three or four types of demo songs. The first one is just you and your friends goofing around with an eight-track and that's the end of that, the second is a stripped down version of a song that will need a lot of work to someday see the light of day, the third is overproduced schlock vainly trying to catch the ear of a major label A&R type, and the fourth is the demo that strikes gold sounding like a completed, mature work. To my ears Judson Claiborne's "Vassar Girl" is most like the last. Although he may beg to differ.
Judson Claiborne is an unsigned artist from Chicago who, according to his MySpace profile, is friendly with the Chicago bands Palliard and Low Skies. "Vassar Girl" sounds like the work of a much more established singer-songwriter. Judson's confidence in his use of strings, piano and guitar, as well as soaring vocals a la Jeff Buckely, shine through in this his first recorded output. You can see how this song and others translate live on July 31 when Judson opens up for Joan As Police Woman at Schubas.
The Hideout Block Party, now in its 11th year, has announced its headliners for the September 7-8 festival. Bloc Party will return to Chicago for yet another show (no word yet on whether they'll bring their own lighting rig this time) Friday and local star Andrew Bird tops Saturday's list of performers. The Frames and Mucca Pazza also play, along with many other as-yet-unannounced acts. Tickets for the weekend will go on sale Tuesday, July 3.
She sends shivers down your spine with her mega-watt voice and incandescent harmonies, holds you in the palm of her hand with a sparkling, tongue in cheek sense of humor. She's Jenny Owen Youngs, and Chicago was graced with her magnetic presence last night at Schuba's.
"Hello Chicago," she said in her gentle, understated manner, taking the stage dressed hip and casual in a yellow t-shirt emblazoned with the words "Community Chest" (from Monopoly), a blue skirt, and yellow Converse sneakers. In response, the Chicago audience, a bit shy in warming up to her, but enthusiastic all the same, greeted her with a genuine but delayed kind of awkward cheer. "Chicago is creepy," she noted wryly, making the audience laugh.
It's hard to decide which was better last night: Owen Young's pop culture satire or her music – as she was at the top of her game in both. Highlights were her assaults on Justin Timberlake and Avril Lavigne, as well as songs from her album, Batten the Hatches (recently re-released by Nettwerk Records). The irreverent and poetic "Fuck was I" was as equally enthralling as the upbeat honky tonk in "Coyote." Then there were the musical montages – the artist blending two songs together in a parody. Bits of "Milkshake" by Kelis Roger-Jones were mixed in with Kelly Clarkson's "Since You’ve Been Gone," to hilarious effect. She ended the show with her namesake finale: an unabashed rendition of Nelly's "It’s Getting Hot in Herre," with a bit of "Wonderwall" by Oasis thrown into the chorus.
"Chicago is the best place to play, because of you, but don’t tell other cities that," she told the audience, in response to them being eagerly engaged in her antics, every step of the way. "In New York everybody would be too busy smoking." We’ll wait anxiously for super-cool chick Jenny Owen Youngs to come back to "creepy Chicago" soon—work her magic on us once again.
As always there's a plethora of talent coming to the Taste of Chicago. And what makes it even better is all the shows are free and allow you to bring your own snacks and drinks. (unlike other city fests) With an all-star lineup that features the likes of Cheap Trick, John Mayer, Black Crowes and Los Lonely Boys, some of the lesser acts get lost in the shuffle. Umphreys Mcgee is one obvious choice of a band that few have heard of that will bring fans a whole new musical experience. But the two bands opening for John Mayer on the Fourth are without a doubt two groups you should arrive early for. Rodrigo y Gabriela are an acoustic duo from Mexico that are influenced by in part by heavy metal. While cutting their chops in the Mexico City club scene the two decided to take their multi-dimensional guitar education into a group and formed their current partnership. Moving to Dublin (yes Ireland) the group found fans as street performers and in the bars while they developed a diverse, organic guitar sounds. Their sound tends to be a more upbeat, vivacious groove that is high on energy and passion, which may get lost in a massive outdoor venue, but will be perfect mood music for a delightful afternoon. The mood of the concert will definitely shift when Robert Randolph and the Family Band take the stage.