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Concert Wed Mar 12 2014

Ice Balloons Popped at Empty Bottle

I doubt there is any way to fully describe the evening I had this past Monday at Empty Bottle. It was a collection of dark folk singers and punk madness. It didn't quite make sense to see Coins, Kyp Malone, and Ice Balloons on the same bill. Their individual styles are so different, running off to different sides of the musical spectrum. Nonetheless, it was great to see such diversity in one night. The grouping actually had an escalating effect, starting with calmer sounds before culminating in a frantic and obscenely loud set that straddled the line between lunacy and brilliance.

coins.jpgCoins started the night off with some hauntingly serene soundscapes. The local Chicago duo is quite a sight and sound to behold. Their brand of folk leans toward darker and slower tone, putting out a mesmerizing spell on the audience. You can definitely melt into their songs. Their lyrics are really fun and impactful, whether it's a depressing one about getting stuck by lightning or one about aliens. Angela Mullenhour's voice was strong and full while she gracefully played guitar, which at times dove into more rocking territory. Her laugh emanated through some the verses while Ellen Bunch's gentle keys carried the songs into a surprising sway, making their already likable style overflow. Coins are a great dark folk group that immediately grabbed the audience during their set.

malone.jpgKyp Malone casually walked around the Empty Bottle before coming to the stage with no pretense. He quickly tuned his resonator guitar and strummed a few chords before starting his set. Malone looked like was performing at home, which was no surprise as he recounted his first time playing at the Empty Bottle, opening for The Fall with TV on the Radio on their first tour. He began his set with "Stork and Owl", a song he wrote for TV on the Radio's third album Dear Science. The song was stripped down to its core with Malone belting out the lyrics in his unique voice. In between his impressive guitar strumming, Malone was playful with the crowd. A shout of marry me resulted in Malone stating he's not the marrying type. He joked that he used to say he wouldn't get married until every one could and how it's looking like now he will have to stop saying that or get married. He finished up his solo set with "Give Blood", an energetic song showed off Malone's prowess.

iceballoons2.jpgI'm not sure how many people were familiar with Ice Balloons or their music. I have a feeling that Kyp Malone's presence is what attracted the crowd. After Coins and Malone's sets, the uninitiated may not have expected what Ice Balloons would bring to the table. No genre can truly define them. Ice Balloons is a collaboration of manic proportions, featuring members from Wild Yaks, The FuckEmos, and TV on the Radio. At times they are just punk rockers going completely off the rails, while other times the pop in their furiously loud noise is unavoidable. You just can't expect normalcy from a group fronted by a human fly in blue mariachi suit.
ice balloons1.jpgIce Balloons' set was a nonstop assault of aural and visual insanity. They are a surrealistic painting come to life. Projections of scary dolls, fan dancers, and explosions filled the room as the human fly screeched through a distorted mic. There wasn't a single moment where the noise faltered. The band is hard to get accustomed to. I'm sure a lot people felt it was just noise for noise sake. But the fuzzed out and completely abstract nature of their songs mixed with the half human half fly shaking maracas above his head made for a great show. I'm still reeling from the experience. My hearing has just come back down to normal from the high helium pitch it was after the concert. The band is a genuine strangeness that is unforgiving and astoundingly fun. Their performance brought up a very interesting question: can you have an acid flashback without ever having taken acid? The answer is undeniably Ice Balloons (that's a yes).

 

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Classical Wed Aug 06 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - August 2014

By Transmission

Before the main classical season kicks into gear in the next month or two, take advantage of these local artists and ensembles playing throughout the city.

Read this feature »

Blogroll

  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
BackStage
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
ChicagoMusic.org
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
CHIRP
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
Daytrotter
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Do312
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
Gridface
The Hood Internet
Innerview
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Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pitchfork
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Songs:Illinois
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

  Venues:

Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
B.L.U.E.S
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Constellation
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
FitzGerald's
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Martyrs'
Mayne Stage
Metro
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Rosa's
Schubas
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Smartbar
Subterranean
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Township
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Atavistic
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Hozac
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


Events

Fri Aug 22 2014
Ken Vandermark's Audio One @ Constellation

Fri Aug 22 2014
Bridgepork @ Maria's

Fri Aug 22 2014
Jeff Daniels and Ben Daniels Band @ SPACE

Fri Aug 22 2014
Boulevard Festival

Sat Aug 23 2014
Ken Vandermark's Audio One @ Constellation

Sat Aug 23 2014
Deer Tick @ Metro

Sat Aug 23 2014
Drivin' and Cryin' @ Reggies

Sat Aug 23 2014
Bridgepork @ Maria's

Sat Aug 23 2014
The Boulevard Festival

Sun Aug 24 2014
Robyn & Röyksopp Do It Again @ Pritzker Pavilion

Sun Aug 24 2014
Monkey Business Backyard BBQ @ Sportsman's Club

Sun Aug 24 2014
The Boulevard Festival

Wed Aug 27 2014
The Dutchess and the Duke @ Empty Bottle

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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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Editor: Anne Holub, anne@gapersblock.com
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