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Sunday, December 17

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Transmission
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Review Sat Sep 26 2009

Reviews: Miike Snow @ Empty Bottle & Soft Pack @ Chopin, 9/25

Ever since I've been going to shows, I've been fascinated with the juxtaposition between performers on record and on a stage. Some excel in the studio and don't quite pull it off live. Others can't bottle the live magic on albums. And others with perfectly acceptable recorded output somehow find ways to build upon it and wow audiences. My Friday featured the latter from two headliners.

Lollapalooza 2009 dark horse Miike Snow played two sold out shows at the Empty Bottle. At the early one, the band walked out in their signature black track jackets and white masks (singer Andrew Wyatt looked like Phil Manzanera had he been in Jabbawockeez) and began with the ultra-poppy yet creepy "Burial." As the set progressed, it became clear that they don't have an agenda apart from a set list. Some songs sounded very close to album versions. Others were recognizable, but quickly evolved into heavy 10-minute electronic explorations with Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg (a.k.a. Bloodshy & Avant) leading the way. Even though most of the audience instinctually eyed Wyatt, it was no secret who was running the show and making the music click. They hit drum machines, twisted knobs and basically looked like two DJs thrilled to be out from behind the booth. Slow burner "Silvia" and closer "In Search Of" both got the best treatment with extensive slides into synth-heavy bangers that left the crowd no choice but to dance. Band members left the stage one by one and eventually the lights came up as rapturous applause filled the Bottle. If Friday's show is any indication of the progress Miike Snow has made as an act even since the summer, there should be no doubt that their future is bright.

Just over a mile east down Division (easily bikeable once Friday's rain stopped), the Soft Pack and Smith Westerns played late at the Chopin Theatre. Smith Westerns have accumulated a lot of tremendous press over the last few months. Music bloggers have busted nuts over their lo-fi glam-rock sound (think Times New Viking + T. Rex). But they're still kids. They're undeniably young in both presence and musicianship. They look nervous in front of an audience - even one that shows them a lot of love. And they screw up chords now and then. However, they have a plethora of potential and it's obvious to hear why everyone wants to be on their bandwagon before it closes. In contrast, the Soft Pack were consummate professionals. It took a couple songs for the San Diego foursome to get into its groove, but once they did they were cooking with gas and sounded tight as a drum. Splitting the set between old and new tunes gave the audience chances to sing along, such as on the infinitely livened "Bright Side" (sounds kinda boring on the album, but is massive live), and bask in the glory of a band finding confidence as they grow. The third song in their set (a new one which I have no name for) was simply incredible. The band's raw rock and roll roots (think Modern Lovers with a little Cheap Time) are still in place, but a surf-rock angle creeped into a lot of the new and even where it wasn't in some of the old. Much like Miike Snow, though in a completely different genre, the Soft Pack's success should know no bounds if they continue along their current trajectory.

 
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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 »

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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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