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« Preview: Rockin' Record Bazaar and Beer Blowout @ GMan Tavern 1/26 Day Two: Tomorrow Never Knows - Circuit Des Yeux, Tim Hecker, Oneohtrix Point Never 1/16/14 @ Lincoln Hall »

Tomorrow Never Knows Fri Jan 17 2014

Day One: Tomorrow Never Knows Fest - Cayucas @ Lincoln Hall 1/15

tomorrowneverknows2014.jpgThe opening night of this year's Tomorrow Never Knows festival hinged upon opportunity. For not only were more established bands headlining at many of Chicago's most cherished venues, but also we were presented with bands beginning their careers and making their first appearances in Chicago, anticipating where their music will take them next.

On Wednesday evening, I was lucky enough to hear three bands showcase their talents for a completely packed house at Lincoln Hall, eagerly awaiting headliner Cayucas. Each band's sound was vastly different than the next, and the immense variety present kept listeners guessing as to what they would be welcomed with next.

Opener Bad Bad Hats played a short but sweet set that filled me and surely many other listeners in Lincoln Hall with pure, unadulterated joy. Minneapolis native duo Kerry Alexander and Chris Hoge combine their talents for the perfect musical chemistry, unabashed in the sweetness that their music possesses, but it is never saturated with too much. I had never heard their music before, though it felt like I was listening to a band I had followed for years as their sound was welcoming and jubilant. They opened with "9 AM," a track off of their early 2013 EP It Hurts, which is available for a free download via their Bandcamp page. The song immediately showcased their lyrical prowess; though the beats remain light, the lyrics find frequent moments of serendipitous wisdom that showcase their ballads as not only sweet, but smart. Kerry Alexander's voice is mature and soulful, and comprises a large vocal range, reminiscent of a Karen O and Bethany Cosentino vocal hybrid, with an additional zest that is all her own.

"This song is about love and food," Alexander stated to the audience while tuning her guitar. "I want a sweet tea / and a heart that won't break," she sang as the song began, as this mantra later turned into a closing sequence for the ballad. The way in which they juxtapose simple needs, such as having a craving for your favorite food, with the inner workings of our minds, in this case, wishing for an unbreakable heart, all while surrounded by a glittery rhythm and vocals, showcase the essence of Bad Bad Hats. They are able to effortlessly maintain a youthful, carefree sound while discussing subjects that we can all resonate with, and for their first Chicago show, they definitely gained some new fans.

The second group, Bonzie, soon emerged with a sound that is very different from that of the other acts surrounding them on Wednesday evening. While first we were encountered with gleeful tunes, Bonzie's sound was darker, and sometimes even ominous. The stage entrance showcased a smoke machine filling the stage, as lead singer Nina Ferraro's voice boomed throughout the audience, singing "Daniel and the Great Solstice." The guitar riffs complemented the musical concept, as the sound grew darker and darker. "I want to hold back / but I want to let go," she later wailed out, as she played songs off of her first full-length album Rift Into The Secret of Things.

Though her voice sounded stunning within the confines of Lincoln Hall during the show, her set seemed somewhat stiff and rigid. The banter with the audience felt forced, and I felt that I couldn't identify or relate to the music she was presenting because of it, as the hall seemed to lose a few members of the crowd for a little while. The lyrics featured in the beginning songs were very repetitive for the opening sequence of her music, and the set began to pick up when she started playing more upbeat numbers, which got the crowd moving once more. Though Bonzie wasn't necessarily my cup of tea, the music was very intriguing due to the depth of its emotional language, and I look forward to seeing where the sound will grow to when Ferraro grows in her stage presence and creates a more cohesive set than at this Lincoln Hall performance.

While awaiting the set of Cayucas, concertgoers swiftly filled Lincoln Hall to its ultimate capacity, as the disco ball was tested and made ready for the dance party that was about to unfold. Opening with "Cayucos," smiles were spotted across the venue, as dancing was nearly impossible. It is difficult to not be in a state of bliss when listening to these California beach rockers, as the refreshing, percussive sounds are stocked full of happiness. Their rhythms truly do build a unique foundation for their sound, as the rhythms are vibrant, lush and almost tribal at some points, but there is never a lull found.

Highlights of their set included "Deep Sea," a slowed down, beat-laden track that could make even self-proclaimed non-dancers sway immediately. The harmonies and rhythms were on point and deliberate, and they presented themselves as truly grateful to be playing a set for our city. They mentioned before one song, "this is not a Vampire Weekend cover," taking a jab at their major musical comparison. Though I could see where a critic could compare the two groups based on their lyrical structure and rhythmic effects, Cayucas emerge as more relaxed, comprised of all the elements that make the West Coast so wonderful. The sound ranges from carefree and wistful, to frenetic and eccentric. After listening to their set, the comparisons were erased from my mind completely. They played two new tunes, the energized "Hella," and "Dancing at the Blue Lagoon." Playing crowd favorite "High School Lover" next, the good vibes had arrived to Lincoln Hall and reached every person listening to their set. Though they only played 10 songs, the set was enough to give us a glimpse into Cayucas' live sound and stage presence, which is wholly wonderful.

Throughout the set, we were also presented with witty stage banter. Lead singer Zach Yudin jested about the cold with the audience, stating that they were thinking it would be sweatshirt weather and were ill-prepared, to which the audience rang out with laughter in response. Though our outdoor temperatures won't climb to that point on the thermostat for a long time, their set was able to defrost our hearts a little bit and get our bodies moving after our reluctant period of a classic Chicago winter hibernation.

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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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