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« Google Challenge Bands, Vol. 34: The Sounds Preview: Amon Tobin @ Congress Theatre, 10/21 »

Review Wed Oct 19 2011

Review: Zola Jesus @ Lincoln Hall, 10/12

A hush settled over Lincoln Hall as the assembled mass of neo-gothic Blade Runner enthusiasts counted backwards through Zola Jesus' intro instrumental. Singer Nika Danilova strode out draped in a white photo-reflective shawl flashback recalling of Jarodowski's Holy Mountain psychedelia come horror dystopia. The audience was held rapt by the singer stare as her cheeked reddened and a smile spread across her face. "Thank you, Chicago" the elven singer whispered before the pressure dropped and her mile wide voice rode across Chicago's north side as she opened up "Hikikomori" the first song of the night.

Zola Jesus laid heavily on the white light urban futurism of the recently released Conatus. The new songs expanded and shone brighter live. Nika's backing band continues to prove itself that last summers Pitchfork Festival performance was not a fluke. Her backing band consisting of producer/keyboardist Alex DeGroot, drummer Nick Johnson, and keyboardists Nick Turco and Shane Verwey bring the sonic tide in to mach Nika's expansive voice. The band projected foam tipped waves of sound to break upon an audience. Gone was the awkward muddy Zola Jesus of last year, replacing them was a collection of reborn star children projecting charisma.

Up front Nika live birthed a fantasy environment from her throat. The enchantment held onto the front row with the strength of Arthurian heroes. They wouldn't be surprised to see a rogue AI or wizard appear on the stage. Yet through all of futures past shimmer her core strength of writing emotive songs shine through. Hairs rose on the back of necks en masse as she belted through the Twin Peaks torch song "Night." The cinematic heaven vs. hell marching drum of "Stridulum" came alive when stripped of it's fuzzy minimalist recording gloom and expanded by the full band. Zola Jesus closed with the heartache of Stridulum's "Run Me Out" and Lincoln Hall had become a collapsing opera house occupied by the ghosts of past relationships. To the sounds of love lost Nika guided everyone by the hand.

The Zola Jesus hand picked opener was Pittsburgh's Xanopticon building spires fit only for silicon-based life forms. His unrelenting barrage of odd number fractal dance music hit with the aggressive urban hallucinogenic cadence of William Gibson's Neuromancer. Against a background of detuned static Xanopticon's spires rose to form a Borgesian Aleph. The dance floor slowly filled with brave dancers trying out for a cyberpunk future. Xanopticon held the audiences attention with periods of calming wide synth washes between the barrages.

Zola Jesus Oct 12th Set List:
Sea Talk
In Your Nature
Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake
Run Me Out

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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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