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Concert Fri May 09 2014

Finding a Freakout with the Nels Cline Singers @ SPACE

By Griffin Wenzler

Nels Cline is more fluent in music than you are with the English language. In fact, everyone in his ensemble, The Nels Cline Singers, speaks through their instruments with the eloquence and precision of America's greatest novelists. Tuesday night at Evanston's SPACE (1245 Chicago Ave.), the quartet rocked, jazzed, and freaked their way through two sets of the most soulful, energetic, human music I've heard in Chicago. The Singers, which consist of Trevor Dunn (bass), Scott Amendola (drums) and Cline (guitar) were joined by Brazilian percussionist and Cheshire Cat impressionist, Cyro Baptista.

Every time I walk away from a Singers show I feel younger and invigorated, inspired to do anything with as much passion as they put into their craft. Tuesday night I almost couldn't handle it. As they played, each song brought to mind different scenes and scenarios: a bubbly swamp, a smoky New Orleans pier, the western plains but with robots instead of cowboys. I was ready to take to the page and gush nonsense about the journey I had been taken on. But then I realized that I was imposing human order on the chaotic beauty of the natural world. That is what the Nels Cline Singers tap into. They play with such sincerity and joy that the songs are imbued with the ineffable quality of natural beauty. Baptista spent the night alternating between drumming on odds-n-ends and slinging odds-n-ends around his head as he mumbled gibberish into a vocal synth. Trevor Dunn's upright chops are other worldly. More than once, the people in front of me did cartoon double takes and stared at each other in a Bill and Ted "Excellent!" sort of way. Scott Amendola and Nels Cline shared "electronic freakout" duties alongside their doctorate level performances on drums and guitar.

The incredibly energetic performance was buttressed by the impeccable acoustics of SPACE. The owners have gone out of their way to ensure they run not just a world class performance venue for rock, but also a listening room for the jazz heads.

Nels Cline doesn't play in Chicago often, and it's too bad because his blend of experimental rock, noise, and jazz speak directly to this city's musical heart. He approaches songcraft with the joy of a child and through that his music offers something for fans of nearly any genre.

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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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