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Friday, August 12

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« Your Guide to Hideout Block Party & Onion A.V. Fest: Day 1 in Review Califone and S. Carey Return to Lincoln Hall »

Hideout Block Party Mon Sep 08 2014

Your Guide to Hideout Block Party & Onion A.V. Fest: Day 2 in Review

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Photos by Kirstie Shanley

Sunny, cloudless skies that melted into a serene evening. Each musical act emerging as dynamic as the one that preceded. As all good things must come to an end, the 18th annual Hideout Block Party & Onion A.V. Fest has come to a close. Day two brought about a scene of bright skies, in stark contrast to the day that preceded it, a limitless crowd, and a diverse blend of musical acts that truly showcase what a glorious hub for music Chicago has become and will continue to be.

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Empires (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)


Empires is the culmination of musical ideas stemming from Tom Conrad and Sean Van Vleet, right here in Chicago. After spending a year writing music together, they joined forces with Max Steger and Mike Robinson in order to form the band. They've released two albums, and a recent EP entitled How Good Does It Feel. A dark garage rock style permeates their sound, yet their music retains an essence of accessibility. Conrad's voice is distinct, yet at the same time reminiscent of rock greats that have come before him, surrounded by big, bold rock riffs. Speaking to the audience as if we were all old friends, Empires was able to convey their sincerest gratitude as they played a hometown show in a festival setting; this definitely wasn't new to them, as they played a set at Lollapalooza in 2012. However, adapting to this intimate festival setting, they turned the pavement-laden outdoor atmosphere into feeling like a crowded arena.

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Valerie June (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

Valerie June

Valerie June sat in her chair onstage, adjusting to the peaceful atmosphere and seemingly ready to grace her audience with her musical ingenuity. She wore a blue polka dot dress that looked like it belonged in an old country Western film, adorned with a necklace of gemstones, her long hair amassed and twisted into a giant bun on top of her head. I hadn't heard her music before, but her visage read calm and relaxed as Tim Tuten announced her presence, allowing her to begin the set ten minutes before the official start time.

Hailing from Memphis, June was able to entwine her Southern roots effortlessly within her songs, or stated more aptly, her wise anecdotes. Her first song displayed her pure musical style, stemming straight from the soul. With a voice infused with a morsel of twang, it rang out crystal clear throughout the audience.

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Valerie June (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

"This one's my child," she said, doting on her banjo, which she had affectionately named. She brought it out to sing "Somebody To Love," a song that can put ripples through your spine with its bone-chilling purity. She shared bits of her soul with the audience, including her love for her grandmother's Southern cooking, a story of songwriting when she couldn't sleep until she finished a song's final chords, and how a penchant for gospel music transformed into her love for American roots music. She played a cover of Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me," in which she encouraged the audience to perform with her in a joyous singalong. Valerie June's set was perfect and effortless, involving the audience and inviting them to enter into her world.

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Sylvan Esso (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

Sylvan Esso

Sylvan Esso's sound check could be heard clear across the park. The lush, synth-infused beats reverberated to the edges of the Block Party and back again, preparing Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn for their debut. Emerging bright-eyed in casual apparel, when the music began, they were infinitely entwined with the intricate songs they create. Fairly new to the scene for this particular group, both hailing from other outfits previously, they delved right into their self-titled debut and played their cherished tunes for a watchful (and dancing) crowd.

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Sylvan Esso (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

As Sanborn was completely in the zone, toying with the musical production aspect of their duo, Meath allowed the music to move through her as she meshed her dance moves with the beat, both completely in sync throughout the set. The massive speakers flanking the stage produced their thumping bass beats, turning the Hideout Block Party into a grooving dance hall. It was a great contrast to the day's earlier sets, getting us moving as the sun shone down upon us.

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Mac DeMarco (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco is no stranger to being thought of as rebellious. Much of his antics, including his recent nudity flash in a music video of Montreal-group TOPS, and his general blasé attitude and laid-back appearance have allowed him to craft an air of defiant cool combined with a bit of Peter Pan syndrome. He emerged for his set Friday dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, and a wide-brimmed baseball cap, while his backing band wore similar items, for example, a Hawaiian shirt and other such attire. The casual attitudes of the band turned the Hideout Block Party briefly into a house party, as Mac DeMarco performed his summery tunes while imparting hilarious banter to the audience, playing guitar with a cigarette hanging from his mouth, and taking swig after swig from a random audience member's silver flask filled with an unnamed liquor.

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Mac DeMarco (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

His antics continued as he performed a cover of "867-5309 / Jenny", after which we realized that the only words he knew were the chorus, as a band member tuned their bass during the hoopla. The most prime moment occurred at the end of his set when he crowd-surfed from the stage all the way to the back of the festival grounds, returning to the stage again completely unharmed. All silliness of the set aside, DeMarco's music sounded wonderful in the festival setting, as the 80s-influenced guitar backings proved lovely as he showcased that his salad days aren't yet gone, and may never be.

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funky METERS (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

funky METERS

The Meters' anthem, "Cissy Strut," rung out for the audience as their first song, as the members of the Funky Meters stood beaming. This New Orleans outfit has contributed infinite wisdom to the world of funk music, known best for their outstanding instrumental pieces. Standing there listening to the Funky Meters run through their historical discography allowed me to gain access to greatness, witnessing a chronicle of funk music that has influenced musical styles for years to come. Though members from the group have come and go, two individuals remain, as they have continued to create music together that withstands the test of time. As smiles formed on audience members faces and a group of individuals wildly danced to the music in the front area of the Block Party, the Meters were able to delight the crowd with their historical funk grooves and keep us feeling the funk long after.

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The Dismemberment Plan (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

The Dismemberment Plan

I had honestly not heard The Dismemberment Plan's music before arriving at the Block Party, much to the dismay of many readers and audience members, I'm sure. As I learned more about them and recognized their extremely influential career, I was intrigued to see how their sound would translate for this audience. They began making music back in 1994, their band name stemming from a quote in comedy film Groundhog Day, and their progressive punk hits capturing the interests of many, many fans. With a tumultuous history, the band broke up and reformed several times before the present, allowing their intermittent touring to create their appearances as even more valuable for their fans. This show at the Hideout Block Party proved to be one of these moments. I watched as they wound through hits from their various albums, including the wailer "The City," glittering tune "Let's Just Go To The Dogs Tonight," off of their most recent 2013 release, and a stirring performance of "OK, Jokes Over."

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The Dismemberment Plan (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

Lead Singer Travis Morrison performed this song with such fervor and passion, as their longstanding fans in the audience mouthed every word and seemed to not even take their eyes off the group for one second. The Dismemberment Plan is a group that has rooted its history in punk rock music, and taken their fans with them on their journey beginning 20 years prior. Witnessing them playing this show for their fans, some who had been hearing their music live for the first time after poring over their numerous recordings, was an extremely special addition to the festival itself.

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The War on Drugs (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs is a band to watch for 2014. Their recent release, Lost In The Dream, is breathtakingly beautiful, lulling you into a dream and returning you to Earth when the last chords have faded away. The otherworldly qualities of their music made them a perfect choice to close out the festival, as a starry-eyed crowd gathered to hear their wanderlust-inducing tunes. Adam Granduciel's raspy voice reminiscent of his predecessor Bob Dylan rang out through the crowd, their charged instrumental backings creating the perfect complement.

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The War on Drugs (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

The set opened with "Burning" off of their most recent release, a song that begins the anticipation of the set perfectly, Granduciel's voice rumbling through, a steady beat careening the tune to a fizzling close. Their music allows you to ponder the vast complexities of life without even wishing to; the beauty of their music simply creates the opportunity. Performing twelve songs total including an encore, The War on Drugs spanned their vast discography, imparting romanticism and wonder to the crowd. I stood there hoping that this feeling would be everlasting, and as I looked around me at the numerous music lovers in community together, I honestly am unsure if there could be a headliner more idyllic to close out the perfect Block Party weekend.

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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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