Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, October 29

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Concert Thu Oct 04 2007

Elvis on the Lake


It’s nearly impossible to listen to Elvis Perkins without thinking of his unique and melancholy personal history. His father, actor Anthony Perkins, succumbed to AIDS in 1992. Almost exactly nine years later, his mother, noted photographer Berry Berenson, died on American Airlines Flight 11 on September 11, 2001. While his debut album Ash Wednesday isn’t strictly a biographer of his life, or a reaction to 9/11, these horrific losses completely inform the work without overwhelming it.

As a neo-folk troubadour, comparisons to Nick Drake, Van Morrison and especially Bob Dylan are apt and obvious, and there is a lot of religious iconography that suggest both Astral Weeks and John Wesley Harding, but I feel the music is powerful enough to stand on its own. Ash Wednesday has a classic and homespun feel, and while little of it is fresh or original, it’s just so damn good that none of that matters. Recorded in analog, live and mostly improvised, the album is broken into two distinct sides, as though it were a record that affords its listeners time to pause before flipping from one side to the other. Side One is filled with brighter, more up-tempo melodies and opens with “While You Were Sleeping”, an absolute stunner. Perkins’ raspy baritone sings over a light acoustic guitar, which is then layered slowly with an upright bass followed by brushed drums then strings and horns and a didgeridoo and a hand saw and soft female vocals. It’s a rolling, easy-going ode to his father that openly hints at an ocean of melancholy. “Ash Wednesday” serves as the de-facto Side Two starter with unholy wailing, haunting lyrics (“No one will survive Ash Wednesday”), and the slow drum beat of a death march; it’s a jarring shift that sets the tone for the more somber approach of the second half. According to Perkins himself, that song, “represents the dividing line between the songs written before and the songs written after the dark day (9/11).” The ballad style of the latter frame continues until the finale, “Good Friday”, which features the singer finding comfort in his songs, as if they too represented holy significance. The religiosity of the record, while overtly Christian, is teasingly ambiguous, as are the images of sleep and dreams, of heaven and love and nostalgia and missed opportunities. There is an astounding amount of sadness and loss etched within the cracks of these songs, but hope ultimately prevails, the idea that if we remain together (lovers and friends, parents and children, you and me, us and them) then we’ll all make it to the other side—wherever that may be. Ash Wednesday is a highly accomplished debut with hidden surprises, pitch perfect production, and the soul of a young man who has done enough living to sing about it.

Elvis Perkins in Dearland (his four-piece band) ease into Chicago this Sunday at the Lakeshore Theater for a Schubas’ sponsored show. The Lakeshore is a perfect venue for the band, as the amazing acoustics of the space promise a pristine clarity to showcase his layered tones. Brighton, MA (Chicago locals poised for a big breakout) opens. Show starts at 9pm. Tickets are a steal at $14.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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

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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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