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Wednesday, July 24

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Concert Wed Mar 19 2014

Islands and Escondido Shine Bright in SPACE

Islands (Photos by Steve Sterns)

Before I get into the amazing performances, I have to applaud the atmosphere at SPACE. It is an extraordinary place to see a show. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of fantastic intimate venues all around the Chicagoland area, but SPACE in Evanston is a must see. SPACE feels like the clubs I imagined when I was younger, big enough to get a crowd but small enough for it to feel special. The sound travels nicely through the room, capturing the bands in the best way possible. It certainly didn't hurt that the groups were Islands and Escondido, whose sets were fantastically crafted and performed.

Escondido (Photos by Steve Sterns)

There's something really wonderful about Escondido. The openings to some of their songs sound like scores from old westerns filled with sweeping trumpets and gently strummed guitars. Their music is warm to the touch, a mixture of twang and straight up rock. Plenty of influences come to mind, but rarely overcome the band. Despite their name meaning hidden in Spanish, Escondido's sound and stage presence is anything but. They just have a unique aura about them that comes through in their music and lyrics, wrapping up whatever room they're in.

Escondido (Photos by Steve Sterns)

They started their set with "Evil Girls", the first song of their album The Ghost of Escondido. The song showcased Jessica Maros' sultry and impossibly elegant voice while Tyler James' electric guitar and occasional trumpeting shined through. It's hard not to fall in love with the band as James and Maros banter with one another. They joked about sleeping surround gold and being a little scared to play the piano that was on stage. While they played songs off their album like "Rodeo Queen" and "Cold October", it was newer songs like "Leaving Brookyln" that caught on quickly. Watching them perform their dreamy cover of "When Will I Be Loved" puts you in a state of delirium and Maros said it best, "Delirium is a nice place to be."

Islands (Photos by Steve Sterns)

When The Unicorns disbanded in 2004, there was no doubt the Nicholas Thorburn would find himself another outlet to expound his music talents. Luckily his band Islands has been going strong since then and his musical output has been getting even stronger. Islands' music has matured since their first album Return to the Sea. This has as much to do with the ever changing lineup, which currently features Adam Halferty, Evan and Geordie Gordon, as it does with Thorburn's growing talent. I may not have had the opportunity to see The Unicorns live, but Islands more than made up for that at SPACE.

Islands (Photos by Steve Sterns)

Islands appropriately started the set with "Switched On" which was played with more energy than I expected. Thorburn has this swagger about him that is filled with more rock and roll that his music implies. He swam across the stage with ease in his shiny white shoes as the Gordon brothers played their respective instruments with a coolness I didn't even know existed. Halferty's drums melted in and out of songs, especially during "Creeper" and "Don't' Call Me Whitney, Bobby" where the crowd matched his intensity. The slower and more deliberate "Shotgun Vision" had everyone is a soulful sway, moving along it's staggered beat. Islands also treated the crowd to a new song "Snowflake", which sounds closer to their earlier albums than their latest.

Islands (Photos by Steve Sterns)

Towards the end of the set, Thorburn playful announced "This is the ravey part of the set where I dose you... with MDMA." The Gordon brothers switched places on stage as Thorburn strutted through "Where There's a Will, There's a Whalebone" and "I Can't Feel My Face" with such poise. Islands left the stage momentarily for the pause before the encore, brought back to an enthusiastic cheering from the crowd. Thorburn played "This is Not a Song" on the piano and was later joined by Geordie on it for the final song. It was a nice note to end of this fantastic show at SPACE.

Islands (Photos by Steve Sterns)

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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.

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Alarm Magazine
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