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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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Review Sun Nov 29 2009

Review: The Big Pink/Crystal Antlers @ Empty Bottle 11/27

At Friday night's show at the Empty Bottle, there were two bands with very different styles, but huge fan bases playing. Long Beach DIY heros Crystal Antlers and the UK's The Big Pink. Both bands have made recent music history. For Crystal Antlers their full length album Tentacles was the last new release issued by Touch and Go in April and The Big Pink won the Philip Hall Radar Award at the NME awards last February. As soon as I got to the venue the words SOLD OUT clung to the door letting everyone with tickets know that they were in the right place.

Crystal Antlers have been making a name for themselves since self releasing EP back in 2008. This was the third time I had seen them at the Empty Bottle and each time was a unique experience. This band that has no real genre to settle in to, but has a definite sound that borders on the edges of psych, experimental and soul, stretching out and blurring the lines on our expectations of what we hear when we think of these categories. While the band was having some sound issues in the beginning of the show, the set started out strong and loud with a blend of songs from their last two efforts. They started out with "Painless Sleep" and "Dust", the opening tracks from last year's Tentacles and then went into songs from EP. There was not an overload of new material, but the songs were played with a lot more pop-ness. It was interesting to hear a new perspective on these songs. One thing that is notable about seeing the them live is their ability to go all out progressive rock and groove on a pattern for a good ten minutes. The audience was getting antsy at this and started having conversations when the songs took a break from loud screams and dreamy hooks. I overheard one audience member saying "It's like they are a very odd Radiohead". The guys were able to get it back and ended with a cover of Black Randy and The MetroSquad's "I Slept In An Arcade" which was completely unexpected, completely awesome and left everyone ready for The Big Pink.

Smoke machines started blasted soon after Crystal Antlers left the stage. Just as the band was ready, seizure provoking strobe lights started flashing. Imagine the feel of being on drugs without actually having to take them. This is The Big Pink live. Being a fan of almost everything on the 4AD label, I knew I was going to enjoy them and was excited as this was their first North American tour. The band played through a veil of smoke making them silhouettes in a luscious sound. I was half expecting after listening to their debut album A Brief History Of Love for the show to have the energy of the album, slow, dreamy with Valium pills being passed around. I obviously did not listen closely. This was dream meets electro-pop. The energy in the room told me directly that this was not my mother's shoegaze band, and yes there was dancing.

The entire set list was strong. Some songs that stood out were "Velvet" and "At War with the Sun". Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell have an amazing chemistry live as they played off of each other in a sway like motion as if there was nothing else but that moment. This was a very beautiful experience to see in a show. The next song "A Brief History of Love" a slow plea to heal from heartbreak was gorgeous, but very sad. I am guessing that the more pop-y "Dominos" was played next to help dry the tears and end the night on a happy note . The band has a great stage presence and good balance of being able to communicate with the audience, while still being able to be in their music. I was impressed by The Big Pink and have definitely made the transition from just hearing about them, to becoming a fan.

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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
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Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
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Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
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UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
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