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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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Thursday, October 29

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Review Sat Nov 13 2010

Review: Aloe Blacc @ Schubas, 11/12

Aloe Blacc's latest album Good Things is basically about anything but. It harks back to the R&B and soul of the early 70s where money's tight and times are generally tough. That era was responsible for mounds of progressive and socially conscious R&B. And with many of the same economic issues in the news today, it's by no means a stretch to drop the same themes into current music. Blacc's "I Need a Dollar" ('The boss man let me go / He said, I'm sorry but I won't be needing your help no more') and "Life So Hard" ('Families on the street with nothing to eat / Baby boys and girls, no shoes on their feet') capture narratives of difficult lives. His smooth baritone adds depth far beyond his years. (He's in his early 30s.) The mostly mid-tempo R&B is reminiscent of simmering southern soul music. It's all very aware of its roots and it's all put together very well.

At Friday's sold out show at Schubas, backed by the Grand Scheme (in matching letterman jackets), Blacc veered from the down-on-his-luck singer toward more of a strict entertainer. Between chunks of Good Things as full songs or in limiting medleys, a trio of covers (to punctuate that soul comes in many forms) and an old song, he spoke at length about performing, making the audience a part of the show and the Church of Love and Happiness (in a sea of tunes about the opposite). Often he rambled on so long that he lost the crowd's attention. (Even through my earplugs the chatter was loud.) What's worse is, based on reviews from other cities, it's been the same exact banter each night. However, when Blacc's actually performing, instead of name dropping or something, he's pretty good. He never really cuts loose, but he can put on a show. When he cedes some control to the musicians and just sings, he's finally the performer he talks about being and, thanfully, the one that most people want to see. If he ever learns to trim the fat and make an hour-long set even close to an hour of music, he'll be in good shape.

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Kelly Reaves / November 25, 2010 2:03 AM

This show was incredibly disappointing. Medleys? Really? A GREEN DAY COVER?!? And the rambling! It felt insincere. An ironically souless performance. I'm not buying the love and happiness crap-- AB's best songs are the depressing ones. We never even got to hear "Life So Hard"! Come ON. This is Chicago. Sing us the blues.

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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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