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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.
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Friday, October 7

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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 »


  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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