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. 


Friday, January 22

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Random Mon Jun 29 2009

Computer + Guitar = Computar!

Local designer Craig Berman proposes an unusual mashup of modern musical instruments:


Considering the nostalgia for '80s music and popularity of chiptune, could this be the perfect successor to the keytar?

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Artist Mon Jun 29 2009

Pictured: Steve Albini


Photographer Ian Merritt caught up with producer and musician Steve Albini after his band Shellac played an unusual Saturday night/Sunday afternoon double gig at the Bottom Lounge this weekend. Check out the rest of the resulting portraits here.

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

Concert Fri Jun 26 2009

Find Love in October

loveoctober.jpgLove in October, who recorded and produced their own new self-titled EP, could be described as rock and power-pop. There is a young innocence in their sound, not surprising since two members are brothers originally from Sweden. Love in October has that Swedish pop feel, with a definite American 90's alternative influence--a hint of Weezer in the guitar on "Permutations" and Blink 182 in the quick paced vocals on "Like Nothing Ever Happened." The album has a reflective, melodic ending on "27-08-08" with a distant voice singing in Swedish (reminding me a bit of Foo Fighters on "Doll").

Join them tomorrow at the Record Release Show for Love in October at Martyrs (3855 N. Lincoln Ave.). The Right Now and Jenny Gillespie will also play. Show starts at 10pm. Tickets are $8. 21 & up. (For your chance to win guest passes to the show, email your name and email address to by noon TODAY.)

Download a free mp3 of "Like Nothing Ever Happened" at their website.

Michelle Meywes

Artist Thu Jun 25 2009

Brad Peterson Finds Ductape Can Fix Almost Anything

BP.jpgFew stories begin with quite this much drama: "Against odds, Chicago musician wakes from coma." That was the headline in the Chicago Tribune on December 21, 2004 when Brad Peterson woke from a 39-week coma after being struck by lightening. But this story ends up less a tragedy and more fortunate beginning. Within six days of waking from the coma, Peterson had written an entire album from his hospital bed called The Red Album, named after the red-tinted vision he claims to have had when regaining consciousness.

After the crisis passed, Peterson returned to the normal struggles of life, as is evidenced in his new record, The Ductape Album (because as we all know, duct tape fixes everything, right?). "On the surface, a humorous antithesis to the King Midas touch, The Ductape Album is the collection of songs about love, struggle, spirituality, failure and beauty with words and tones -straight my heart." He will no doubt draw comparisons to The Beatles on the tracks like "More" and "Serenity Prayer," but the album is mostly singer/songwriter alternative rock.

Brad Peterson plays tonight at Double Door for the Record Release Party for The Ductape Album. Nicolas Tremulis opens. Stick around after the show for live band karaoke. Show starts at 9pm. Tickets are $10. Double Door is located at 1572 N. Milwaukee. 21 & up.

Photo by Thomas Steiner.

Michelle Meywes / Comments (2)

Concert Thu Jun 25 2009

An Evening With Jeff Tweedy


Photo by Paul Golm, Creative Commons

Wilco's Jeff Tweedy must really love the Emanuel Congregation in Edgewater (the Tweedy family's synagogue). He played two shows at the Vic to benefit the synagogue last February, and this August he'll be playing yet another benefit show, this time in the synagogue itself (though you don't have to be a member to attend). It's a perfect opportunity to enjoy a relaxing evening of music for those not interested in that little music festival going on the same weekend. Peter Grosz, who is a Second City alum and is currently a writer for "The Colbert Report", will be opening the show.

The charity event is taking place August 8th at the Emanuel Congregation, 5959 N Sheridan. If you've got a bit of extra dough, a $200 VIP ticket will get you front section seating, a meet and greet with Tweedy and Grosz, an on-site parking spot and a drink ticket. Mid-section seating is available at $75 per ticket and third-section seating for $54 per ticket, with off-site parking available for $10. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased here. Doors are at 7 pm, show at 8.

Stephanie Griffin / Comments (1)

Concert Wed Jun 24 2009

Pitchfork vs. Lolla

trophy_nbc_chicago.jpgYou've seen the great debates: South Side vs. North Side, the Trib vs the Times, now NBC's Golden Local is asking you which music festival is better: Lollapalooza or Pitchfork? Cast your vote and check back in 13 days when the voting ends to see what your fellow locals think!

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Concert Tue Jun 23 2009

Review: The Sea and Cake, Dirty Projectors @ Millennium Park 6/22/09

The rain broke, the heat rose with the sun, and there was a free show Monday night at the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. Oh, I was there. The lawn was not quite a Decemberists-level crush of blanket sitters, but the crowd was lively and comfortably dressed in the sundress and bicycle cuff style. Beer was purchased (or brown-bagged), wine was shared, and cheese was added to crackers. The excitement peaked as the sun slid behind the Michigan Avenue wall and a collective sigh rose as Dirty Projectors hit the stage.

Swinging through through hits like "Stillness is the Move" and "Cannibal Resource" and from their latest album, Bitte Orca, the harmonies between Angel Deradoorian and Amber Coffman were magical in the haze of the slow burn of the evening. From where I was sitting, in that soft light, I couldn't make out the band well, but I could clearly see two members of Broken Social Scene (in town to do some recording at Soma with Sea and Cake's John McEntire) Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew sitting, socializing and enjoying the music. You know, there is something very BSS-like in the harmonies and loops that Dirty Projectors utilize. I can see how that's up in their wheelhouse.

DP closed with a seemingly truncated version of "Knotty Pine" (Byrne-less, sadly), but the Park was keeping a tight schedule. [Note: Later Monday night, after heading off toward Detroit, the band got into a car accident. It seems like the initial reports of serious injuries were false, but they're scrapping two shows in Canada and heading to NYC to regroup.]

Starting right on time were the evening's headliners The Sea and Cake, all business and down to it. Unfortunately clocked in as the "older" band by some of the less-familiar in the crowd, Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt led the fellas through the set beautifully and really gained some new fans Monday night. The sound was something else — I repeatedly remarked that the bass was stronger than any other Sea and Cake show I'd heard — in a good way. I felt like even though I was hearing this outdoor performance of great songs like Car Alarm's title track and their older self-titled album tune and audience fave "Jacking the Ball" I was experiencing them for the first time in high fidelity. Likely this is a testament to the fine design of the speakers at the Pritzker. To you, I say, Bravo. I wasn't alone in feeling the love that night — the crowd begat several pockets of bouncy dance circles (one of which spilled over into a post-show drum circle, but that's ok).

Oh, hey, and Andrew Bird was there, too, hanging out with Jay Ryan. Yep, I think I was in the right place Monday night.

[Get in on the fun! Next Monday, the 29th, catch The Feelies and Icy Demons, also for free at the Pritzker Pavilion starting at 7:30pm.]

Anne Holub / Comments (3)

News Tue Jun 23 2009

Bennett Death Ruled Accidental Overdose

JBennett.jpgFollowing up on the sudden death of former Wilco member Jay Bennett, the Trib's Greg Kot is reporting that he died from a painkiller overdose, specifically fentanyl. Bennett was likely taking the drug for the chronic hip pain, as he announced on his MySpace page in the weeks before his death that he needed hip replacement surgery.

Michelle Meywes

Review Tue Jun 23 2009

Review: J-Live @ Morseland


In all genres of music, there are those who toil at the edges, plowing ahead while the people making the big money and selling out House of Blues locations keep churning out the same thing. Those artists grow and explore and put out music that actually seems to expand what the genre could mean outside the rote and usual.

In hip-hop, outside of a few artists and labels (Def Jux, Madlib and his work at Stones Throw come to mind) who are secure enough to make the music they feel like making, the notion of originality isn't necessarily met with popular acclaim and commercial success. Among the number of those who knows about label politics and growing in the music is veteran J-Live, who rocked Morseland Saturday night.

The one man powerhouse not only rocked the microphone, but is also an accomplished DJ, and to do both at the same time is something not a lot of people can do. The fact he does it well kept the party moving, even when the record decided to skip. He was at Subterranean earlier this year, and ended the show there with "Braggin Writes," his magnum opus of simultaneous turntablism and rapping. Saturday night, he did "Braggin Writes"...and kept going.

Morseland, being a small, intimate space, seemed roomy enough to accommodate the crowd, who seemed to know his catalog pretty well. And a knowledgeable crowd that knows the Allen Iverson sample on "Practice" ("...not a game...we talkin bout PRACTICE...") is a crowd I can happily rock out with.

A supportive crowd, undeniable skills, and a pretty thorough run-through of a catalog that's been label-ravaged and delayed at every turn made for a great night. Somehow, you have to hope that, in the end, talent wins over BS, but until then, J-Live should really be on your radar. Check The Early Works of J-Live on iTunes for a good intro to the beginning of his career.

Troy Hunter

News Tue Jun 23 2009

Lollapalooza Aftershows Finally Announced

You may have heard about a Lollapalooza festival. The schedule was announced last week after months of speculation. And now, so have the aftershows. People may complain about a summer music festival capped by a 10PM curfew, but it certainly does allow for full evenings at various venues around the city that weekend. It also helps some people going to Lollapalooza work out their scheduling conflicts.

This year's highlighted official aftershow features the Beastie Boys at the Congress, but there are some top-notch shows elsewhere. The Decemberists, Arctic Monkeys and Fleet Foxes headline Metro. Thievery Corporation, Band of Horses and STS9 headline at House of Blues. TV on the Radio's playing Double Door. Lykke Li and MSTRKRFT headline the Bottom Lounge. So it's already shaping up to be a pretty good weekend. All shows go on sale this Saturday, June 27, except the Beastie Boys. (But they've got a presale right now and the password's their occupation - rappers.)

James Ziegenfus / Comments (2)

Event Mon Jun 22 2009

Start Gearing Up for Pitchfork Now

Now that the weather has (finally) warmed up, it officially feels like summer and we're even more eager for the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival creeping up in just a few weeks. But if you're having a hard time waiting for the real thing, make your way to Fizz this Friday from 8-10pm for a listening party featuring only artists playing the fest on the jukebox. Think of it as a really early pre-party, presented by AMI Entertainment and Flavorpill who will also be giving away festival tickets, CDs, vinyl, DVDs, downloads and other swag by acts performing at the festival--including The Flaming Lips, Built to Spill, The Walkmen, The Thermals, Matador Records, 4AD and more.

Fizz Bar & Grill is located at 3220 N. Lincoln Ave.


Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Concert Mon Jun 22 2009

Monday Night Concert: The Main Drag @ Schubas


Photo by J.B. Galusha

Tonight at Schubas, a refreshing indie pop band hailing from Boston stops by on their way to play the Sled Island Festival in Calgary. The Main Drag's music bounces along with driving beats, shimmering guitars, and choruses full of group harmonization, their music blending to create a dreamy, laidback, and fuzzed out sound. The band was recently named "Best Unsigned Artist" by, and have already had their music featured in Rock Band 2 and in a Target commercial. They're traveling up to the massive Sled Island Festival, where over 170 bands are expected to perform including Andrew W.K., Liars, Holy Fuck, and Japandroids.

Their latest release, Yours As Fast As Mine, is a mélange of their influences, reminding me at times of the layered and heavy sounds of Broken Social Scene, punctuated with bursts of driving energy and the tight rhythmic composure of bands like Minus the Bear or the Foals.

The Main Drag play at Schubas tonight, Monday June 22nd, at 8:00 pm. Tickets are $6 at the door, and local act King Sparrow will be opening. If you haven't had a chance to check out King Sparrow's debut EP Derailer, do so now. It's a heavy mix of dirty guitars, driving drums, and brash vocals, an impressive debut from the Chicago outfit.

Lisa White

Benefit Mon Jun 22 2009

Girls Rock Chicago With Your Help

You: bought that guitar or (insert instrument here) fully intending to sign up for lessons...but that was years ago. Or, you've upgraded amps and cords, and now the old stuff is just sitting in your basement gathering dust. Whatever your case, if you've got equipment lying around your house that you're not using, it's time to give it to some girls who will.

girlsrock.jpgGirls Rock! Chicago is holding a "gear drive" this Saturday at four area Whole Foods locations. Gear will be used for music education at Girls Rock! Chicago's annual summer camp as well as additional programming and events throughout the year. You can drop off your donation--including guitars, basses, amps, drums, cymbals, cases, pedals, microphones, cords, etc--from 10am until 6pm at any of the following Whole Foods stores: Lincoln Park (1550 N. Kingsbury), Lakeview (3300 N. Ashland), South Loop (1101 S. Canal St) or Gold Coast (30 W. Huron). The new flagship store in Lincoln Park will also be holding live performances throughout the day.

As I like to say, you never who know who you might be enabling to rock the next generation. The next Kim Gordon or Karen O. might be growing up just around the corner from you.

Michelle Meywes

Concert Fri Jun 19 2009

Review: X at the Double Door 6/18/09


It's been nearly 30 years since California punk band X released their debut album, 1980's Los Angeles but you wouldn't know it from the youthful vigor they played with. Starting off a three-night run at The Double Door, X pleased fans by allowing them to vote on their favorite songs and creating a setlist spanning their entire career and back catalog that was sure to make many devotees in attendance very happy.


Perhaps the only clue that X has been playing music for nearly three decades was how tight they were between the four members. It was great to see John Doe and Exene Cervenka trade off on vocals, Cervenka dancing with the mic in her hand, sometimes while she was singing without missing a beat. Cervenka's voice still retains the ability to soar and be as hearty as those songs demand.


Walking the line adeptly between genres of punk and country, the songs were played slightly faster live and with more of the country overtones emphasized. Between the live chemistry between Cervenka and Doe and the smiling presence of guitarist and original founding member Billy Zoom, the band appeared nothing short of charming in the midst of the energy of their songs.


Though their set was very focused on their music playing, X did encourage the audience to keep voting, which should come to fans no surprise considering their politics. John Doe also voiced appreciation for the crowd and for the city they have played in many times over the years. It was also great to see a good turnout with a crowded room of fans, many of whom when asked insisted that they were planning on attending all three nights. Highlights of their set included: "Los Angeles" "Johny Hit and Run Pauline," "Breathless," and "Sugarlight." Throughout their 90 minute long set, including a four song encore that emphasized More Fun in the New World one couldn't help but notice how well X's songs had held up throughout the years.

Kirstie Shanley / Comments (1)

News Fri Jun 19 2009

Pitchfork Music Festival Schedule Announced


The official Pitchfork Music Festival schedule has been posted! Check it out here and start making your plans. I find myself with way more schedule conflicts for Pitchfork than Lolla (which we posted earlier this week). The National vs. The Black Lips? Mew vs. Grizzly Bear? Matt and Kim vs. Beirut? Such tough decisions!

Pitchfork Fest rolls through Union Park July 17th - 19th. Tickets may be purchased here. Hurry! Sunday tickets are already sold out, and remaining tickets for Friday and Saturday are limited.

Stephanie Griffin / Comments (1)

Artist Fri Jun 19 2009

Can Music Relieve a Hangover?

exeption flyer.jpg

Hangovers are the annoying, productivity-inhibiting result of a night spent drinking quite a bit, and yet we still put up with them because it's fun to loosen up, be social, and dance. Sure, it's easy to pop some aspirin, rehydrate and muddle through the morning, but wouldn't it be cool if music could relieve your hangover?

That's the concept behind Exception AM, a free digital compilation from subVariant that aims to present a collection of electronic music to help you feel better in the morning after a night of drinking. To celebrate the release on June 20, the release party will be held at Ai lounge in River North as the first in a series of concept parties called "Artificial Intelligence." Liz Revision will mix the mostly-ambient and downtempo tracks from the compilation together at the beginning of the night and will then hand over the decks to local DJs Silentcorp, Andrew Kevins, Dirtybird, and Droopy to finish out the night with techno and house. The party will be free all night from 10pm-3am.

Continue reading this entry »

Liz McLean Knight

Concert Fri Jun 19 2009

Review: AA Bondy & Holly Miranda @ Schubas 6/18/09


I've walked in and out of Schubas on many nights over the changing seasons and years. On each of these uniquely beautiful nights I walked out feeling like I'd experienced something special. I've seen some great shows at some great clubs, but I don't have this particular association with any others. Last night I walked in to see AA Bondy and Holly Miranda. It was again a uniquely beautiful night, and I walked out knowing I'd experienced something special.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Leli

Concert Fri Jun 19 2009

Sparks Are Gonna Fly


It must be an artist's nightmare to fade out of their career after once being successful. Yet it happens all the time. A band achieves great highs, branches out from the sound that propelled them to be stars and doesn't catch that limelight again. Years later on indefinite hiatus, hardly anyone even notices. Brutal. Catherine Wheel deserved a better fate.

After the demise of the band he fronted for a decade, Rob Dickinson made the move to a solo career and released Fresh Wine For the Horses. The first half showcases a musician appealing to the masses. Its alternative radio-friendly songs seem to exist to expel the notion of his former band as musical chameleons. (Let's remember that CW practically alienated many fans with their third album sounding more like the Smashing Pumpkins and Bush than Ride and Lush.) "My Name is Love" is anthem-like and numerous other moments shine across the front side. However, this record's nothing if not back-loaded. It's where longtime fans can hear the strides that Dickinson's made as a songwriter during his break from Catherine Wheel. There are echoes of his many influences - whether the shoegazing that broke CW, what could've plastered them all over "Headbanger's Ball", or even the ethereal mid-era Talk Talk sophistication. (And, oh wow, does "Towering & Flowering" ever sound like Elbow!) His latest release is an acoustic cover of "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want."

Rob Dickinson plays Schubas, Belmont & Southport, on Sunday evening. Local H's Scott Lucas opens. The show is 21+, starts at 8PM and admission is $14.

James Ziegenfus

Event Thu Jun 18 2009

Concert Preview: Dressed in Decay in Homewood

Attention all you suburban Gapers Block readers: The suburban musical landscape has got to be a whole other scene when it comes to getting exposure and finding a niche.

Here's a tip on a local suburban band that's definitely going places: When researching an article on a music production program offered at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, I interviewed student Kamille Contreras, who told me about her band Dressed in Decay. The six-piece "industrial goth" band just finished recording its demo at a local studio, and will be performing Friday, 7 p.m., at The Zone Comics in Homewood.

Contreras, who plays guitar and sings back-up, says the singer's operatic voice creates a very different sound compared to most bands, adding "the hardest part of describing the band is our sound. There are a lot of different influences from film score to death metal to progressive rock along with video game music. We are unique because of these aspects and the clothing themes we incorporate into our live set. We're not the average sound that Chicago has going, and we stick out like a sore thumb." They sound pretty unique, so if you're around the south suburbs, stop by and say hi to show your support.

Sheila Burt

Artist Thu Jun 18 2009

MS Won't Stop Exene Cervenka

Guest post by Jeremy Henderson

x_@_masque_publicity_2009_-_photo_%c2%a9_1979_by_fra(2).jpgThis is what she told me 10 days before she found out: "Career wise, if you were to ask me what I'm most proud of, it's that my career has lasted so long, for sure. It's like, OK, I was on American Bandstand, that was nice. But that I'm still playing music -- that's nicer."

Then the news broke, halfway through the tour: X's Exene Cervenka diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

The L.A. Times had it, Rolling Stone, Perez Hilton... it was the hypertext hit of the day.

In response, one well-intentioned entertainment blogger plugged the band's upcoming show in Knoxville ("likely... their final Tennessee appearance ever") with all the chin-up optimism of an obituary.

But the reason her diagnosis with MS was newsworthy, the reason we even know who she is at all, is because 53-year-old Exene Cervenka -- punkabilly's primordial poetess, the Lipsticked Snarl of "Losss Angelesss!" -- has always, always, always said "yes" to life.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff

Feature Thu Jun 18 2009

TTTTotally Dudes Explain It All


A midlife crisis is not quite the same as it used to be. While the Boomers were fine and dandy to find someone half their age plus seven and revisit the muscle cars of yore right around their 40th, generations X through Y seem to be looking at a much longer grace period of socially acceptable decadence. Cougars roam free, clever t-shirts are now bought for baby instead of packed up in anticipation of, bands of all sizes tour a decade after their prime, drawing out their also decade older fans.

On the other end of the spectrum, Clint Mansell was right — Pop is eating itself, and retro is approaching parody so fast that nostalgia is being wistfully revisited by people younger and younger. Whether due to an increasingly fragmented pop landscape, the completely soulless progression of mainstream music in label's quests to maximize profit, or just the fact that we're a little short on hot jamz right now, young 20-somethings who should be pushing forward in the prime of their life can't help but take a backwards look at the pop hits of yore.

A DJ duo by the name of TTTTotally Dudes has formed, intentionally or not, to address these grave issues of the day. Perhaps by satiating the nostalgia needs of those in their quarter-life crisis, the need to painfully dig up the past will be alleviated before it manifests as potential social stigma. Or even better, perhaps it will create a transitional nostalgia bridge, making a non-stop party across the generations where anyone can hop on in the name of remembering good old times or discovering new ones — a seamless blend of partying for all ages for all time!

Can you do all that with *NSYNC and Biggie tunes? We find out from the Dudes.

Continue reading this entry »

Dan Morgridge / Comments (1)

Review Wed Jun 17 2009

Review: Phoenix and Amazing Baby @ Park West 6/13/09

phoenix_02.jpgIt's not often that I'm pressed up against the stage at a concert, but that was the case Saturday night at Park West for French indie pop group Phoenix. I was first turned on to the group by the song "Long Distance Call," and was thrilled when they finally announced a US tour. We got there early (for an early show at that) to see opener Amazing Baby and found a nice little pocket up front before the venue filled up. I had forgotten how great it can be to be so close to the band.

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Concert Wed Jun 17 2009

Lollapalooza Schedule Announced


The official Lollapalooza schedule has been posted! Check out to start making your Lolla plans (click here to go directly to the schedule). The site is overloaded at the moment, but while I wait for it to load I'm crossing my fingers that Depeche Mode and the Beastie Boys won't be playing head-to-head. Lollapalooza takes place August 7th - 9th in Grant Park. Tickets can be purchased here.

Stephanie Griffin / Comments (4)

Music Business Tue Jun 16 2009

Top Sellers: Wazoo Records in Ann Arbor

wazoo.jpgIn the spirit of the great Midwestern summer, I took a road trip this week to Ann Arbor. Instead of posting on a Chicago indie record store this week, I decided to stop by a great A2 local indie called Wazoo Records. Walk up the stairs off of South State Street (not to be confused with our State Street), turn right, open the door, and you're in a great record store. Just don't confuse it with the apartment door nearby. Almost knocked on that.

This week's list comes from the friendly Forest Juziuk, manager of Wazoo. Grizzly Bear has made the list three times in a row, and this time, the Ann Arbor locals are bolded.

Continue reading this entry »

Sheila Burt

Concert Tue Jun 16 2009

Review: Patrick Wolf @ Bottom Lounge, 6/15/09


Photos by Kirstie Shanley.

On a Monday night in the bloom of summer, you'd expect a fairly young crowd out for the Nylon (magazine) Summer Music Tour, AKA "look at our new label peeps". While the back of the crowd had a decent mix of folk (and of course, Thax), the front pit was a decently-sized mob of college kids or recent grads who certainly didn't look like they were facing a morning commute.

Jaguar Love drew the short straw and played first. Unfortunately, this meant that people who didn't want to stand in the Bottom Lounge for five straight hours were still finishing up their dinners or perhaps going for pleasant evening strolls. Sorry, Jaguar Love.

Following them were the impossibly French Plasticines, whose syrupy accents made their fairly standard Donnas-esque rock a little sweeter. They played their cover of "These Boots are Made For Walkin", and demanded (eventually through an "interpreter", in case the crowd wasn't understanding their English) that everyone had to "go like thees: *clapclapclapclap*" After some trips into the audience from lead singer Katty Besnard, everyone eventually obliged.

Of special note here is that during the break, no one less than Bob Marley was used for fill music. Sure, why not?

Continue reading this entry »

Dan Morgridge / Comments (1)

Radio Tue Jun 16 2009

Mariah on B96

On the off chance we've got a few Mariah Carey fans amongst our readership, you may be interested to know that B96 has the exclusive world premiere of Carey's new single, "Obsessed." It'll play at 2pm today.

Andrew Huff

Review Mon Jun 15 2009

Review: Metric @ Metro 6/14/09


Photos by Kirstie Shanley

My mp3 phone only has two gigs, so it doesn't hold very many albums at one time. I rotate new music in and out, but the one album that hasn't gotten the boot is Metric's Fantasies. It could quite possibly be one of the best albums of 2009. Frontwoman Emily Haines said during their show at Metro last night that the idea with the album was to give us some summer good tunes, and that they have done.

They took the stage without talking, just jumping right into the music with a down-to-business tone. Energy grew throughout the show, starting off dreamlike with a blue hue (truly taking on the name Fantasies), into strobe lights, rock and dancing. Their first single from Fantasies, "Help I'm Alive," was the second song played, with Haines slowly raising the tambourine in hand with the "beating like a hammer" crescendo. As they kicked into more fast paced, grittier tunes, she also interacted with the crowd more. Haines really was the center of the show, as it was hard to take your eyes off her. Cute and thin blonde (basically hot) with great fashion sense--a dangly necklace, boots and slashed black jeans--she danced her heart out with a little knee popping trot, the kind of pointed-toe girly dance you expect to catch a 5 year old doing. While the rest of the band was just as "on," it was clear that she owned that stage and they supported her well.


The show ended with a bang, but the encore lacked the same intensity. At one point Haines was rolling around on the ground saying something about the environment, but as you know at a rock concert it's sometimes hard to understand what they are saying when they aren't singing. Still, a band like Metric makes a Sunday night at Metro feel like anything but the end of the weekend.

[See all the photos by Kirstie Shanley from the show at the Gapers Block: Transmission Flickr page.]

Michelle Meywes

Artist Mon Jun 15 2009

On June 18 Fashion :: Sex :: Music Series Brings in Godsgirls, Drops the Beat

kelsey.jpgFashion :: Sex :: Music is a multi-disciplinary event series hosted by [NSFW] -- a Suicide Girls-type site that takes things a bit further -- that aims to showcase and cross promote fashion, sex, music, and art in a single night. With attractive girls in lingerie, a photo-installation from the site, a mixed media and fashion installation by My Broken Heart Mafia, and a diverse, dance-oriented sound from an all-girl DJ lineup, FSM delivers more than just another hipster dance music night.

The night also encourages community building and intra-industry networking by concurrently billing itself as a meetup for The Chicago Fashion Industry on, a group that has amassed more than 1,000 members. Judging by the comments and introductions on the site, the group is filled with ambitious and dedicated amateurs and professionals alike who work within or on the periphery of the fashion industry in Chicago. Combined with the increasing focus on Chicago as a fashion hub (with the relatively recent Chicago Fashion Week, for instance), grass-roots efforts like FSM that reach out to build a thriving network may help bolster Chicago's image as a fashion resource as well as a thriving and innovative music community.

The event starts at 9pm on Thursday, June 18 at Sonotheque, 1444 W Chicago Ave, and features an-all girl DJ lineup that includes Liz Revision, Fathom, Avi Sic, and Hilary Rawk.

Continue reading this entry »

Liz McLean Knight

Review Mon Jun 15 2009

Album Review: Ha Ha Tonka's Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South


It's no secret that I'm a fan of Ha Ha Tonka, the foot stompin' Americana indie rock band from Springfield, Missouri. They're Bloodshot Records debut album, Buckle in the Bible Belt, was one of the most earnest, soulful, and rollicking tours through rock music that I've heard in a long time. We sat down a few months ago and chatted with lead singer Brian Roberts about their latest album, Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South, which is out tomorrow on Bloodshot Records.

Continue reading this entry »

Lisa White / Comments (1)

Artist Fri Jun 12 2009

Nylon Music Tour Brings Living Things to Town

Living Things.jpgLiving Things (not to be confused with Peter, Bjorn and John's new album of the same name) are a band with a message, political and social, told through straight ahead rock and roll. Their latest, sophomore album, Habeus Corpus, is fueled by rage from the Bush era, in fact, these guys used to burn posters of the former President on stage. But, don't think we're dealing with a heavy-metal Rage Against the Machine copy-cat here, these guys have drawn more comparisons to the likes of The Ramones and Johnny Rotten punk.

Three brothers from St. Louis comprise the band--lead Lilian Berlin, drummer Bosh and bassist Eve, with Cory Becker on guitar. You might recognize the catchy chorus form the first single from their debut album, "Bom Bom Bom," which was featured in an Apple commercial. The singles released so far from Habeus Corpus, "Let It Rain" and "Oxygen," are more melodic and poppy, but the group shines on grittier tracks like "Brass Knuckles" and "Cost of Living" which are more representative of the album as a whole.

Living Things are slated to play Lollapalooza in August, but you can see them at Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake St.) on Monday, June 15 as part of the Nylon Summer Music Tour. They will open for Patrick Wolf, along with Plasticines and Jaguar Love. The show starts at 7pm. Tickets are $ 15. 18 and up.

Michelle Meywes

Event Fri Jun 12 2009

I AM Fest Saturday at Congress Theater


Most festivals in Chicago are put on by large-scale production companies such as C3 or Jam productions. These are huge corporations that have the manpower and money to put on massive, successful, wonderful events, yet sometimes balk at the DIY ethics that are a staple in the modern music industry. This weekend the tables will start to turn though, as the Chicago Noise Machine host the massive I AM Fest at the Congress Theater.

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Lisa White / Comments (1)

Event Thu Jun 11 2009

More Than Just Ribs at Ribfest

waltermeego.jpgI love barbecue as much as the next guy, but luckily there's more than just ribs at this weekend's Ribfest.... This year the fest has a pretty kick-ass music lineup that would satisfy any indie-darling including Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Margot and the Nuclear So & So's, Dusty Rhodes & the River Band along with hometown groups Walter Meego, OFFICE and Tom Schraeder & His Ego.

Ribfest takes place this weekend at the intersections of Lincoln, Irving Park and Damen. The full lineup and set-times after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Meywes

Feature Thu Jun 11 2009

ICE Bring Xenakis and "Aural Assault" to Chicago

The Greek contemporary classical composer Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) is sometimes written off (in the manner of Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Morton Feldman, et al) as a composer who has contributed great ideas and concepts to the dialogue of music, but who composed music that "regular people" don't actually enjoy listening to. Fortunately, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) breaks through this false barrier like the Hulk through a rice-paper wall. Listening to the 75-minute performance on June 4 at the Museum of Contemporary Art felt neither like a superhuman test of endurance, nor like aural homework that was "good for us" but unpleasant. Instead, we were treated to music that was vibrant, passionate, and almost visible in its spatial movement throughout the concert hall. Far from a stuffy evening of "abstract" music, the group was more than happy to frame its work in the language of modern rock, experimental, and noise bands, describing what it does, gleefully, as "an aural assault on the Windy City."

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Chris Sienko / Comments (2)

Concert Wed Jun 10 2009

Review: St. Vincent @ Metro & Millennium Park 6/7-6/8/2009


(All photos taken by Lisa White)

Unless an artist is playing a residency, you usually don't get to enjoy an incredibly talented act multiple nights in a row. Usually a band will come through town, put on a wonderful show, and leave you wanting more. But if you're a greedy music fan like me, you may have lucked into seeing St. Vincent twice this week, as she rolled into town Sunday to perform at the Metro before heading over Monday night to play the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

Continue reading this entry »

Lisa White

Video Wed Jun 10 2009

Steve Albini's Conversation With Soft Focus Finally Up at VBS TV


(Image thanks to We Listen For You)

A while back I had the lovely opportunity to attend the VBS (Vice Magazine's television station) taping of Soft Focus, the interview series where Ian Svenonius sits down with artist and other luminaries of their respective industries and has a conversation in front of a live audience. We just got word that the conversation with Steve Albini that was taped that night is now up at VBS.

You can check out the video of the interview here, and watch as Albini has a delightfully sarcastic (and sometimes awkward) conversation with Svenonius. And make sure to check out the most recent work that Albini had a hand in, Jarvis Cocker's latest release, Further Complications. It's some of Cocker's most innovative work in a long time, already one of my favorite albums of the year, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I think a large part of this album is due to him (thankfully) working with Albini.

Lisa White

Album Tue Jun 09 2009

Hot Streaming Tortoise

tortoise_beacons.pngTortoise's latest album, Beacons of Ancestorship, isn't out until June 22, but it's streaming on the band's website right now.

You can preorder Beacons of Ancestorship as either a CD or 180g vinyl LP with mp3 download directly from Thrill Jockey, or on Amazon. (Preorders through Thrill Jockey will also receive a 17"x24" poster.)

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

Artist Tue Jun 09 2009

Not Too Insecure to Win

insecurities.jpgAs if Stubhy Pandav hadn't found enough success as the lead of Lucky Boys Confusion and Shock Stars, he's created another band by the name of The Insecurities who debuted to a sold out crowd at Elbo Room last June. What started as "an outlet for my songs that I loved but, for one reason or another, never made the cut in previous projects," Pandav says, can now boast that they will be opening for 311 and Ziggy Marley as the winners of an online Q101 contest.

With a familiar Stubhy power-sound, The Insecurities are piano-infused rock taking influences from Ryan Adams, The Counting Crows and Bright Eyes. They have an EP out now called Ban The Kiss Hello: A Social Commentary, and are currently writing songs a full-length album due out in August.

The annual Q101 Block Party will be held at Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island on Sunday, June 14. The show starts at 7pm and tickets are $37.

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Artist Mon Jun 08 2009

"The Wikipedia Files" with St. Vincent

WBEZ's Justin Kauffman interviews multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Annie Clark -- aka St. Vincent -- to clear up some of the details on her Wikipedia entry.

St. Vincent will be performing a free concert tonight in Millennium Park in the Pritzker Pavilion, with Allá opening. The show starts at 6:30pm.

Andrew Huff

Music Business Fri Jun 05 2009

Top Sellers: Hard Boiled Records

This week's list comes from Mark Ferguson, owner of Hard Boiled Records at 2010 West Roscoe Street in Roscoe Village. Looks like the new Grizzly Bear record is holding up well, as it was on last week's list as well.

Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest (Warp Records)
Chris Watson, Stepping into the Dark (Touch Music)
Group Doueh, Treeg Salaam (Sublime Frequencies)
The Field, Yesterday and Today (Anti-)
Various Artists, Eccentric Soul: Smart's Palace (Numero)

Sheila Burt

Event Fri Jun 05 2009

U.S. Air Guitar Regionals @ Metro (and a Contest!)


The U.S. Air Guitar Championship competition is every kid's dream - rock stardom without that pesky little hassle of actually learning to play an instrument. In the past few years, the U.S. Air Guitar Championships have grown from a small event in NYC to a huge national tour with a cult following, largely due to the popular documentary Air Guitar Nation and the voyeuristic joy of watching strangers display their inner geek onstage. This weekend the air guitar geekery makes its way to Chicago for the Air Guitar Regionals. Saturday night's winner moves on to the U.S. Air Guitar Nationals, competing for a spot in the Air Guitar World Championships in Finland. The United States have taken the World Championships for 3 of the last 6 years, showing that if there's one thing we do well, it's rocking out.

The U.S. Air Guitar Regionals take place this Saturday night at the Metro, 3730 N Clark St. The show starts at 9 pm and is 18 & over. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here. Think you have what it takes to compete with the best of them? There are limited spots left for entry into the competition. You'll have to create a stage name and prepare a 60-second song. It costs $20 to enter and you can register here. Musical instruments are strictly prohibited.

Really Quick Contest! Just be the first to email us at with the subject line "Big Air" and you'll win a pair of tickets for tomorrow night's competition at the Metro. Update! We have a winner! Congrats to Mary! Rock on.

Stephanie Griffin

Video Fri Jun 05 2009

Stomp The Pedal

It may not be the most natural pairing, but Yea Big & Kid Static has teamed up with French animator, comic artist and illustrator, Ronald Grandpey to create a fascinating animated video for the second single from their new album The Future's Looking Grim. The world premiere of "Stomp The Pedal" took place in Barcelona, Spain late last month, during a small illustration/comics festival. The video is basically a series of pencil drawings and the entire process was documented here.

The Future's Looking Grim is now available digitally on iTunes, Amazon and eMusic, and physical copies can be purchased directly through YB & KS's myspace page.

Jason Behrends

News Thu Jun 04 2009

This is the Remix

Lollapalooza's Last Band Standing competition is back, but this year they're mixing remixing it up with a separate DJ contest. They're pitting Chicago artists against The World, and we know this city is known for its world-class DJs, so let's hear it Chicago!

Of course, in LBS fashion, there will be a final live event at Double Door on August 5th where the Top 4 (the final two contestants from each side) will compete for the title of Last DJ Standing. Oh, and for a slot at Lollapalooza on Perry's stage. Other prizes include a Dell Laptop, artist passes, cash money and tickets for your friends.

So if you think you've got the skillz, uh, skills, submit your best remix before June 25th.

Here's Perry himself to show you how it's done:

Michelle Meywes

Review Thu Jun 04 2009

Review: Gogol Bordello @ Congress 5/31/09


Photo by Kirstie Shanley.

[See all of the snaps from the show at the Gapers Block: Transmission Flickr page.]

Gogol Bordello can't be classified merely as standard live music. They are closer to a music festival all on their own. The gypsy punks bring their own party with an entourage that encourages the energy behind their lyrics. Not surprisingly, the crowd echoes back with its own energy of moshers, pogoers, dancers, and those who just want to have a shared experience over the music.

Likewise, Eugene Hütz isn't merely a singer but one of the most expressive and personality driven leaders of a group of musicians whose work could dissolve into a chaotic mess if they weren't following his every frantic move. Luckily, the other musicians on stage are also talented musicians all on their own and back up the songs well with supplemental vocals, drums, violin, accordion and more.

Continue reading this entry »

Kirstie Shanley

Feature Thu Jun 04 2009

The Green Sounds of the Metronome Celebration

A brand spankin' new street festival takes place this weekend on Milwaukee at Armitage and Western, and lucky for us, the focus is mainly on the music. Metronome Celebration puts Logan Square in the spotlight with all your classic Chicago street fest stuff including food, beer, and booths from local merchants, artisans and non-profits; but boasts five stages featuring over 40 bands. The stages, separated by genre, include: a Rock Stage (curated by Empty Bottle), a Punk Stage (curated by MP Productions), an Electro Stage (by the Congress Theater), and a Folk Stage (booked by The Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival). There will also be a Local Stage featuring local talent from the Logan Square neighborhood and from Chase and Goethe Elementary Schools.

Metronome's other big focus is on being "green". The festival's goal, following in the footsteps of Lollapalooza, is to leave the neighborhood better off than when they came by promoting recycling, using biodegradable products and encouraging use of public transportation. Organizers also hope to inspire innovation with the Sustainable Project Award which will "fund a project to improve recycling, composting, energy efficiency, green space development or any other project that will help reduce the burden of the local community on the environment and improve the lives of the citizens of Chicago."

But, let's get back to the music. Here we take a look at some of the artists hitting Metronome's stages this weekend.

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Meywes

Concert Wed Jun 03 2009

Oh to live on/computer mountain/with the barkers and the colored balloons...

The avant-garde art/music space Lampo (219 W. Chicago Avenue, 2nd Floor) always attempts to bring new and unique experiences to the ears and minds of Chicagoans eager for something different, but Saturday's performance (9:00 p.m., $12 door) should prove to be especially engaging and unusual, especially for devotees of not just art and music, but the strange fringes of overloaded technology.

The event, loosely known as MAGIC MATRIX MIXER MOUNTAIN, is a collective ensemble of experimental musicians, software developers, visual artists, and circuit-bending mad scientists. The process sounds complicated, so I'm going to let the Lampo info sheet explain it:

During the performance and installation at Lampo, five of the artists will build the MAGIC MATRIX MIXER MOUNTAIN on-site while two are connected remotely via the Internet. All of the artists (foothills) will feedback and feedforward to expose the graceful musicality of faulty technologies. Decoding and rebugging digital media, the MAGIC MATRIX MIXER MOUNTAIN will exist for one night only but will be accompanied by an operator's instruction manual, to be written, arranged and printed live in realtime along with the performance of the audio, video and datastreams.

For a sense of what the group's about, you can visit their blog, which includes a ton of images, short films, and things that twitch and bleep and follow you around the room with a stinky eyeball. The tone and texture of the piece, as well as the love of re-purposing dead/dying media reminds me of the project 8-bit Construction Set, not to mention dorkbot Chicago (with which this group shares members Jon Cates and Jake Elliott) or even the long-running trio I <3 Presets, whose ranks MMMM shares member Jon Satrom (also of Magic Missile) with this group and who are similarly devoted to technological obsolescences in their death-throes, turning error warnings into haikus and bluescreens into percussive solos.

Chris Sienko / Comments (3)

Review Mon Jun 01 2009

Review: Fischerspooner @ Metro, 5/30

Fischerspooner now isn't exactly the same Fischerspooner as some years ago. According to Casey Spooner, the new album Entertainment was put together with co-founder Warren Fischer in a different manner than its predecessors. And without the backing of a major label anymore, it seems the group had more freedom in their approach to Entertainment's accompanying stage show, entitled Between Worlds.

Along with Casey Spooner were four dancers and two musicians twisting knobs and playing with Powerbooks to the side, though no live musicians. Now, it's no surprise that an electroclash group has a flamboyant stage performance. The audience was begging for it. Slick design drew some interesting inspiration from Kabuki. Projections behind the band often featured rehearsals. (Seeing a ragged Spooner on tape behind the perfectly-coiffed one in person was quite a sight.) Costumes ranged from plain nude body suits to an elaborate neon hat, bolero jacket and whatever this is. (I loved that, by the way.)

Continue reading this entry »

James Ziegenfus / Comments (3)

News Mon Jun 01 2009

Live Nation Drops Service Fees (at least for one day)

Service fees. Oh, the agony. How can $9.65 on a $50 ticket be considered a convenience fee? They're responsible for the highest number of complaints among concertgoers. We'd love to do anything to get around paying them. But for shows at venues that are unreachable or without box offices, they're a necessary evil.

In a move that shows some people in the music industry actually do listen to the fans, Live Nation will remove service fees on Wednesday, June 3. Shows affected are mostly at large venues like Allstate Arena, Alpine Valley, whatever that amphitheater in Tinley Park is named these days, Charter One Pavilion, United Center and House of Blues. Paying face value for concert tickets? What a concept!

James Ziegenfus / Comments (1)

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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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