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Thursday, December 14

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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 »

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