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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Review Sat Nov 01 2014

Dial In, Rasplyn & Brash Flair Shared Their Eclectic Sounds with Schubas

Sometimes it's better not knowing much about the musical acts you're going to see. It's an incredibly great feeling to be surprised and turned into a genuine fan of musicians that you were unfamiliar with. Such was the case this past week at Schubas, where I was met with an diverse and all around fantastic collection of local musicians. Originally I was expecting to see Gemma Ray, but her cancellation came far in advance and I was ready to experience what the Chicago music scene had to offer. Turns out I got way more than I was expecting from all three acts. The groove-able sounds of Brash Flair, the darky mystical Rasplyn, and the electronically inclined rock of Dial In delivered a great eclectic night of Chicago musicians at Schubas.

brash flair.jpgThe duo of Kristin Johnston and Joshua Wentz started off the evening as Brash Flair and they really impressed me. Their sound is really a complex assortment of beautifully arranged beats and keys cast beneath Johnston's unwavering voice. The music and vocals never fight for attention, rather melding together in a sonically satisfying array. Their songs are ambient electronic music that often finds itself spread across genres. There elements of glitch sewn into some song that end up experimenting with an almost modern hip hop beats. They created lush and dense soundscapes that rise up to these intricate highs that transcend the sum of the parts. "Good Morning" was a particularly powerful stand out in their set, showcasing Johnston's voice prominently. Johnston and Wentz continuously switched places behind their setup, taking control of every aspect of their flowing sound with an effortless grace. They ended their set by building up a song on the fly, a beautiful expression of how well the duo work together.

rasplyn.jpgTone shifted in a very interesting way with Rasplyn, the solo project of Carolyn O'Neill. Throughout her set O'Neill implemented a diverse range of live instrumentation to accompany her prerecord sections, including a bass guitar, clarinet, bells, and a rainstick. Her sound has a darkness that O'Neill fuses together a combination of artistic elements into her performance. The textured and incredibly layered songs are played in tandem with very striking visuals of distorted greenery and implied mysticism that prevail amongst her videos. Her songs are often punctuated by her voice in a near meditative chant, avoiding input from lyrical connotations, opting for a more of a beautiful droning darkness. "Circle Round" is an really interesting outlier, which repeated the passionate mantra, "We are a circle", as O'Neill strummed her bass. Her final song hit a serene high with the use of a meditation bowl echoing its hum around Schubas.

dialin.jpgDial In came out to finish off the night with an impressive set. Shane Wirkes and Daniel Modica's songs are a mesh of electronic elements and more traditional alternative rock aspects flowing into their sound. Immediately I felt a strong influence from Radiohead, which was later confirmed as they covered a couple of their songs including "Anyone Can Play Guitar". The very apparent influence however does not distract from Dial In's originality. "Dojo" has a fast beat to it that likens itself closely electro pop while "House Practices" opts for lower and more powerful tones. It's during the more downtempo songs where one can get the sense of how great the two musicians are. Wirkes voice shined throughout the songs, finding a balance between strained yell and softer croons. The also performed unreleased tracks from a forth coming release, with "The Balloonist" having a nice impact at the end of their set. As they played a collection of black and white images cycled through capturing a sensation of each song, shifting between sketched out images and stark tree branches reaching into the void. One quick glimpse of an image in the video read "Joie de vivre", a perfect french expression to cap of the night.

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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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