Gapers Block has ceased publication.

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.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


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Blog Fri Jul 13 2012

Friday Quick Links

It's easy to stay cool, when you're Tom Waits (hopefully also while watching Tom Waits perform). He sang his song "Chicago" on Letterman this past week:

Anne Holub

Hip Hop Thu Nov 18 2010

Matlock Raps (But It's Not Who You Think)

[This piece was submitted by freelance writer and creator of many mediocre YouTube videos Daniel Shar.]

Chicago-based rapper Matlock, like most of you, has a friend who seems to love nothing more than showing off YouTube videos he has incorrectly deemed worthwhile. Every now and then, as you know, that friend unwittingly manages to strike gold. If you're Matlock, this happy accident opens the door for a chance at wide-scale exposure and promotion unlike anything you've experienced in the first decade of your music career.

Though most people today hear "rap battles" and immediately think of 8 Mile, it is not unreasonable to expect future generations to associate the phrase with Grind Time Now. The league, which began humbly in Florida just two years ago, now has multiple divisions throughout the country, several copycat leagues around the world, and more than 35 million views on YouTube.

After his buddy turned him into part of that sizable audience, Matlock realized the opportunity available to get involved as a battler and expand his own following. Battling has long been viewed as a great way for rappers to earn respect, but Grind Time Now has truly transformed and heightened this reality.

By encouraging participants to write verses for their opponents, and by eliminating the presence of instrumentals, the league manages to put a fresh spin on one of the oldest traditions in hip-hop. This cultural tornado will touch down in Chicago for the sixth time since 2008 at The Windy City Takeover IV this Saturday, November 20, at Elastic Arts Foundation.

Continue reading this entry »


Concert Thu Nov 04 2010

Static in my attic

Bas van Koolwijk and Gert-Jan Prins are...SYNCRONATOR

It's a musical duo, it's a DVD, it's a device, it's an investigation into audio/video interfaces in's SYNCHRONATOR! Sound artist Gert-Jan Prins and visual/video artist Bas van Koowijk have unveiled a device of their own making, an unassuming-looking box with three audio inputs and one video output, allowing the user to turn three channels of audio directly into a video signal.

The Synchronator DVD displays the process via ten short films ranging from a minute-and-a-half to six. The audio that drives these pieces is almost uniformly low-end and buzzy, sounding as much like a badly-grounded speaker cable as anything you'd associate with music, the multiple streams of sound nonetheless combine in the synchronator box, spitting out rhythmic, slightly hallucinatory patterns and effects onto the TV. Although 90% of the DVD is black and white, the Synchronator is also wired for color, as each of the three inputs controls the Red, Green, and Blue on the screen.

Is the Synchronator for you? First of all, be aware that the DVD, while being a region 0 DVD is also shown in PAL, so you will need some sort of all-region player to play or (or a laptop, possibly). If that's no impediment, then this disc is recommend to fans of The Flicker, the films of Viking Eggeling, the Paper Rad collective of Providence, RI, and the 2003 video by LoVid, who will also be playing Lampo in about a month.

swp continuum from synchronator on Vimeo.

(This Saturday, Lampo's Fall season continues with the duo of Gert-Jan Prins and Bas van Koolwijk, performing with the Synchronator at the Graham Foundation's Madlener House, 4 W. Burton Place in Chicago. The event is sold out, but click here to get added to the waiting list)

Chris Sienko

Blog Fri Oct 16 2009

Friday Quick Links

A bit of what's been going on elsewhere online this week:

  • A.V. Club Chicago asks Jeff Tweedy to react to comments about him on the Internet.
  • Big Rock Candy Mountain goes all weak in the knees over Chicago band Cococoma and their luscious pink vinyl record.
  • The Deli Chicago has the line (and a video) from a DA reunion on Chic-a-Go Go.
  • More in video is on Fake Shore Drive with local hip-hop artists Kidz in the Hall on Mark Bazer's "The Interview Show" which also begs the question: Why isn't there any hip-hop at The Hideout? Or any, really?
  • Jim DeRogatis has the line on a fledgling band called Ideamen hitting the Beat Kitchen later this month with their newly minted album.
  • Loud Loop Press has it that Pelican will play an in-store show at Reckless later in the month, but more importantly, they'll debut a new "Pelican Burger" at Kuma's. Congrats, fellas! You've arrived.
  • And I totally missed the recent announcement of Kid Sister's long-awaited (and awaited) debut album release. Ultraviolet drops 11/17 and you can be at her show at the House of Blues to celebrate on 11/25. Tickets $16-$18.

Anne Holub / Comments (1)

DVD & Video Thu Feb 12 2009

Ashes of American Flags


Wilco's new live DVD Ashes of American Flags is due out April 18th (in celebration of Record Store Day) exclusively at independent retailers. The DVD covers five nights of concert footage from 2008 (unfortunately, not their five night stint at the Riv), including the Mobile Civic Center in Mobile, the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., Tipitina's in New Orleans, and Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa. The doc was shot in high-def and directed by Christoph Green and Brandan Canty (of Fugazi).

Check out the trailer now available here.

Stephanie Griffin

Video Fri Dec 05 2008

Video: "Buck Town (City of Wind)"

Here's a video for "Buck Town (City of Wind)" by Primeridian featuring Naledge of Kidz in the Hall, shot and directed by Pugs Atomz.

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Random Fri Nov 07 2008

Tortoise's Spooky Ruben visit

A little afternoon video delight. What does Tortoise/Sea & Cake drummer and percussionist extraordinaire John McEntire do while on a break from a recent show in Toronto? (It ain't a run for Tim Horton's, that's for sure.)


Anne Holub

DVD & Video Wed Oct 15 2008

This is Thriller

A nicely produced video of Rhymefest and Robbie Fulks' Thriller cover at the Hideout Block Party last month, put together by KoneeROK.

Andrew Huff

Review Wed Oct 01 2008

Laceration Nation: Atavistic reissues classic Lydia Lunch material

So, which one of you's Jesus?: Lydia Lunch with fellow Jerks
Bradley Fields and Gordon Stevenson, 1977.

With its recent release of the comprehensive CD anthology Shut Up and Bleed and the companion DVD Video Hysterie: 1978-2006, the Chicago-based experimental music label Atavistic aims to offer a chronicle of the early work that established Lydia Lunch as a doyenne of the underground NYC post-punk music scene of the 1980s. As a collection of recordings by Lunch's first two groups, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and Beirut Slump, the CD's release follows on the heels of a one-off TJ&J reunion gig that took place at The Knitting Factory back in June, as well as the recent publication of Byron Coley and Thurston Moore's co-authored volume No Wave.

Admittedly, Lydia Lunch has had an unwieldy legacy. Cultishly iconic and influential, her status doesn't quite fit anywhere specific. Too art-damaged, amusical and nihilistic to be "punk," too snarlingly toxic to be "goth," too existential and misanthropic to be a precursor for Riot Grrrl-iness. Just plain difficult, in every respect. Which is how she'd prefer it -- i.e.: Up yours with your labels, your niches, your attempts to make everything 'fit' into some sense of accepted, make-believe societal order. Life, for many of us, just isn't anywhere near that easy or 'neat.'

This kind of difficulty was often the point of late '70s NYC No Wave coterie, especially the music of Teenage Jesus & the Jerks. Jagged and disjointed, off-puttingly raw, it involved a confrontational (if not antagonistic) relationship with the audience or listener -- deliberate guerilla-theater "it sucks to be you if you came here looking to be entertained" type stuff.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Thu Aug 14 2008

Follow-up: Rhymefest Releases "Stolen" Video

As we told you about last week, Chicago indie hip-hop emcee Rhymefest issued a pretty bold statement when he was prepping listeners for the release of his new video. The video, which is for his new track "Stolen," stated officially circulating this past Tuesday, and here it is:

Civil war...genocide...refugees...blood diamonds. Yep, Rhymefest definitely isn't treading lightly with the narrative this time around.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

DVD & Video Sun Jun 22 2008

Review of Work Series: Musician DVD

Ken Vandermark, part of an emerging avant-garde jazz canon, is a musician. In this well-edited documentary DVD in the Work series, he has a lot on his plate doing what he loves to do. This is less about him as a microcosm of jazz than it is about the challenges of playing music that isn't hugely commercially successful and dealing with the goings-on surrounding it.

This hour-long documentary follows Vandermark through private time composing new work, to rehearsal, to preparation to being on the road, and pretty much those steps in between that signifies the hustling aspect of being a touring musician. We see him packing and loading the van for stops around the world, and only once or twice do we see him nod off, which probably adds to his mystique of being one of the hardest working musicians alive today.

As for the music, there are two performances featured, which will give newcomers ideas of just where he is these days, but the focus of the movie isn't on the music per se, and that's a refreshing change from tour documentaries, taking the viewer behind the scenes into how the artist conducts business, plays with others, and deals with the grind. Enjoyable, but I doubt it's illuminating for anyone who has a friend who's a musician doing gigs in any of Chicago's small venues and is doing what they have to do to keep the music going. And despite appearing in more than 100 albums, Ken Vandermark is just that; working to keep the music coming.

The DVD is available at the Work Series online store, and is available for rent at quite a few indie rental places in this fine city.

Troy Hunter

Artist Wed Feb 27 2008

Mahjongg & The Weeping Eye Of Providence

Trailing the release of their new album Kontpab by just a few scant weeks, the Chicago electro-punk outfit Mahjongg recently started circulating a video for their tune "Teardrops":

Posted on YouTube just over a week ago, the video appeared with the foreboding caption: "Cycle of the Symphony of Destruction." The tagline might either be an ironic salute to Metallica, or it might have something to do with the clip's artistic indebtedness to Kenneth Anger's cult film Lucifer Rising. Or perhaps neither.

To see Mahjongg operating in a somewhat less shadowy manner, you can also check out their old appearance on Chic-A-Go-Go here.

Graham Sanford

DVD & Video Wed Jan 23 2008

Wig Out with Dan Deacon

Remember this summer at the Pitchfork Music Festival? And how ridiculously hot and crowded it was and how everyone packed in like proverbial sardines to hear Dan Deacon play his kaleidoscopic electronica? And how everyone got crazy-happy until the set was shut down by fire marshals? (Let's just say there were too many sardines in the tin can.)

Well, his performance/DVD showing will be completely different from that. For one, it'll be far more frigid outside. And for two, Deacon will be at the relatively far comfier Lakeshore Theater to show Ultimate Reality, a collaborative DVD he did with Jimmy Joe Roche. Ultimate Reality will play on a giant screen, accompanied by Jeremy Hyman (Ponytail) and Kevin O’Meara (Video Hippoes) live on drums.

And before your thoughts turn to Pink Floyd and laser pigs, let me throw this at you: Ultimate Reality's content is Deacon's music set to a psychedelic montage of Arnold Schwarzenegger films. Enough said. The show is on Friday, Jan. 25 at 9 p.m., and it'll only set you back $8.

Kara Luger

Artist Mon Dec 03 2007

Fancy Knucklework

As Miles Raymer recently detailed in the Reader, Kid Sister and crew recently produced a video for Sis's track "Pro-Nails." The video's now been released via Youtube, so check it out...

Made here in town (at the Nails R Us on Western Ave) for a modest $3K, the song and video features a cameo from Kanye West, who stopped by the shoot to join in on the some finger dancing.

Graham Sanford

DVD & Video Mon Oct 29 2007

Of Poor Gods and Unclad Emperors

Okay, Chicago Punk Rock 101 time. Anyone with a sense of this city's indie music history knows Naked Raygun. Formed in 1980, they were once this city's most formidable reps on the national punk scene, banging out their own brand of "blast furnace monomania" and influencing the sound of countless bands around the country. Strictly textbook, as they say. And by now, even the half-attentive know that the band has reunited "for good"--back in action for the past year or so, playing occasional in-town shows and doing a little touring from time to time.

This month Naked Raygun will be playing Riot Fest at the Congress Theater for the second year running, headlining on November 17. But next week sees the release of What Poor Gods We Make, a DVD overview of the band's history. An exclusive screening of the documentary will be held at Reggie's this Sunday evening, with copies of the two-disc set will be available for sale before the thing properly hits the streets on November 6. The band will reportedly be on hand for some hobnobbing, as well. An afterparty featuring a bunch of other noisy young things will follow. 2105 South State Street. 7pm. The screening is all ages, the afterparty is 18 and up. (312) 949-0125.

[video]: Naked Raygun - "Rat Patrol" (from What Poor Gods We Make)
[video]: Naked Raygun - "Surf Combat"

Graham Sanford

DVD & Video Tue Oct 02 2007

You know you're famous when. . .

Tracy Letts is having a good year. His latest play, August:Osage County, was universally lauded by critics as the next great American masterpiece and will open at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway this month. Now, this Pulitzer Prize-nominated actor/playwright can add immortalized in song to his long list of credits.

You may find this video deplorable. I think it's hilarious and brilliant. Either way, it's a foul-mouthed hip-hop tribute to Mr. Letts and his total awesomeness by local comedy duo, The Southern Mothers.

Seriously, though. This video contains tons of cursing. If you have children, and don't want them to hear this language, send them away.

Nicholas Ward

DVD & Video Mon Aug 13 2007

Be a Part of a Delmark DVD

You've got four upcoming chances to be in the audience for an upcoming local label Delmark records artists' live CD/DVD tapings in Chicago.

- Friday, Aug. 17 - Byther Smith performs at 11pm at Natural Rhythm private social club located at 2000 W. 59th St. (the corner of Damen and 59th). Byther's guitar and vocals will be backed by Anthony Palmer on rhythm guitar, Greg McDaniel (Floyd's son) on bass, and James Carter (Willie Kent's nephew) on drums. Usually this is Jimmy Burns' hot backing band. Call 773-776-9285 for more info.

- Saturday, Aug. 18 - Little Arthur Duncan and the Back Scratchers with special guest vocalist Little Al Thomas play from 9pm-1am at Rosa’s Lounge, 3420 W. Armitage. The Back Scratchers are Illinois Slim (who played with Eddie Taylor) and Rick Kreher (who played with Muddy Waters) on guitar, EG McDaniel (Floyd’s son) on bass, and Twist Turner on drums.

- Monday, Aug. 20 - Dave Specter with vocalist Sharon Lewis, "Texas Fire" and Brother John Kattke (keys), Harlan Terson (bass) and Marty Binder (drums) from 9pm-1am at Rosa’s Lounge, 3420 W. Armitage.

-Tuesday, Aug. 21 - Dave Specter with Jimmy Johnson, Tad Robinson, Brother John Kattke , Harlan Terson and Marty Binder at Buddy Guy’s Legends, 9:30pm-1:30am, 754 S. Wabash.

Anne Holub

DVD & Video Tue Nov 14 2006

Premiere: "American Roots Music: Chicago"

Last weekend, The Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St) opened "Chicago Roots Music," an exhibit that explores the city’s ties to the jazz, blues and gospel styles that immigrated here from the South, as well as the "insurgent country" and folk scenes Chicago has more recently fostered. In conjunction with the exhibit, WTTW11 will premiere the documentary "American Roots Music: Chicago," a locally produced episode in the acclaimed PBS series of the same name. "American Roots Music: Chicago" is narrated by Chicago native Harold Ramis (famously Egon in "Ghostbusters"), and explores Chicago’s ties to jazz, blues, gospel, folk, polka and country through archival footage and interviews with locals like Studs Terkel, Jeff Tweedy, Jon Langford, Fred Anderson, and Muddy Waters. "American Roots Music: Chicago" premieres Thursday night at 9 pm.

JP Pfafflin

DVD & Video Mon Oct 16 2006

Ten Years Caught on Video

We told you last week all about the brand new Bloodshot Records 10th Anniversary DVD that's out in stores now. You can head on out to the Darkroom and catch it for yourself, for free, tonight. There will be "drink specials", big ole video projections from the DVD and some fine Bloodshot folks around for you to carouse with along with special dj sets and perhaps special guests. Details in Slowdown.

Anne Holub

DVD & Video Thu Oct 05 2006

A Free Bloodshot, Just for You

Nothing is better than free and we've got you covered right here. You'll get a copy of Chicago music label Bloodshot Records 10 year anniversary DVD Bloodied But Unbowed: Bloodshot Records' Life in the Trenches which we reviewed this week delivered right to your door (before it goes on sale to the public on Tuesday)! All you have to do is be the first to email us at inbox (at) with the subject line "Bloodshot Through the Heart" and you'll be lucky lucky lucky. [Update: Congrats to Maggie, our winner! Keep on reading Transmission for more chances at free stuff.]

Anne Holub

GB store

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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