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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 Tue Oct 30 2012

Review: Saint Etienne @ Lincoln Hall, 10/29

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Photos by Kirstie Shanley

If it is every music critic's dream to play music half as good as what they want to hear in their head when they critique, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs have it made. The former writers have headed up the instrumentation behind Saint Etienne for over twenty years. The London-based electronic pop group's sugary tunes combined with the sultry vocals of Sarah Cracknell have been a winning combination. Stepping onto the stage at Lincoln Hall last night, it was immediately clear who the star is. Stanley and Wiggs were obstructed by their mountains of gear. Backup singer Debsey Wykes blended into the backdrop in a dark dress. And Cracknell... well, she shined out front in a white glittery dress and feather boa.

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On their latest album, Words And Music By Saint Etienne, from which they drew a third of the set list, the trio's written what amounts to a love letter to music. "Popular" references numerous charting singles (and video projections showed images of popular groups from the late 1970s). "Tonight" is about the joy of seeing a great band live. "Haunted Jukebox" and "When I Was Seventeen" are bittersweet looks back on music's impact when you're young. Despite these songs going over well, especially "Haunted Jukebox", the band was practically apologizing for playing new tunes instead of pulling more from their history.

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But there should have been no complaints since they played older songs early and often. All night long Stanley and Wiggs switched things up just enough to not be stale, compared to album versions that everyone's heard a lot. "Burnt Out Car" and "A Good Thing" pushed the crowd into dancing more, especially with the encouragement of Cracknell seductively shimmying with her boa. Singalongs for "Sylvie" and "He's on the Phone" (the latter closing out the night after Cracknell polled the crowd for song selection in the encore) were a big hit, as were early singles "Spring" and "Like a Motorway." The only drawback was the band changing the setlist a little, moving "You're in a Bad Way" earlier than usual, and throwing off front-of-house personnel who took a while to set the cue. But it was barely a blip in otherwise a fun evening encapsulating 20+ years of Saint Etienne.

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Meinrad85 / October 31, 2012 10:08 PM

Great show - drove in from out of town and had an easy time finding Lincoln Hall (great, intimate venue by the way) Saint Etienne demonstrated why they are the class of the field - accessible to and in sync with their audience. Authentic personalities delivering transformative music.

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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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