As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block is on indefinite hiatus. The site will remain up in archive form while we evaluate our options, which may include a redesign or sale. ✶ Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. ✶
The front row of any show is reserved for an artist's die hard fans. It's a coveted spot that guarantees at least 10 likes and three retweets for the average social media user.
Using proper hashtags generate more feedback, and by sun-up, you'll wake up to an overwhelming amount of IG love and stacks-on-stacks of comments from close friends, frenemies and exes.
Now, getting there is only half the battle; the other requires patience.
If you're a pro, you know that timing is everything, and Jeremih put his most devoted fans to the test last night with a pop-up show at Double Door to promote Late Nights: The Album, a collection of songs that tell the classic tale of an R&B singer: a hopeless romantic who advantageously flirts with lust in search of finding love.
On Facebook, David Cohen is pretty outspoken, and he's never concerned about being "politically correct." The 27-year-old Buffalo Grove native has figured out a sure-fire formula for his clever statuses, which involve a little self-deprecation, a hint of sarcasm, and a touch of an artist's narcissism.
The result: likes on likes on likes. It's all in good fun, of course. As a part of a generation fueled by their news feed, a healthy serving of honesty in a simmering pot of crass can go a long way.
In person, Cohen puts a pin in his online persona. He isn't shy, just observant. Behind his long dark locks lie a pair of eyes barricaded by square, black-rimmed glasses. An unkempt beard traces his thin lips that wait for the perfect moment to speak. An engineer by trade, he is wired to think critically and respond accordingly.
"The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect, the way you live, the gifts that you give," Rush drummer Neil Peart once wrote. The love and respect with which deceased 8 Inch Betsy frontwoman Meghan Galbraith lived was remarkable. And even in death, she continues to give the world the gift of her music, with her queercore trio set to release its long-awaited sophomore and final album The Mean Days tomorrow in Galbraith's memory.
Below, and exclusively here at Transmission, you can have a listen to "So Dark," the newest single from the album. In context, the title takes on a poignant new meaning--Galbraith howling it over and over at song's end is nothing short of heartbreaking--but for the most part, "So Dark" is full of life, a permanent reminder of the vivacity that Galbraith brought to 8 Inch Betsy. Her voice runs ragged with the sting of betrayal, but she isn't cowed--in fact, she resolves to move forward, backed by sunny but hard-nosed guitar chords and a driving rhythm section that has no time to dwell on the past. It's a beautiful, simple, representative final statement from a woman who left an indelible mark on not just the queer community or the music community, but upon everyone whose life she touched.
Kendrick Lamar and I have history. I was 20 when we first met. He, only 25.
I was new to adulthood, and I had just topped off the last two years of my teens with a list of senseless decisions, unwarranted consequences and only a handful of regrets that I won't admit out loud.
He, on the other hand, was "new" to the rap game. By that time, he had already released Overly Dedicated and Section.80, two mixtapes that secured his spot in XXL's Top 10 Freshman Class of 2011. A closer look, he had already mapped out for me what my early 20s would look like: chaotic, systematic and full of a hell of a lot of good times.
To be moved by Kendrick Lamar's latest project, To Pimp A Butterfly, is an understatement. The highly anticipated 16-track album, which dropped last March, is not just a collection of songs that cater to hip-hop enthusiasts.
At best, it is an anthem for those who dare to climb up the long-winding staircase of struggle in hopes of finding new meaning in love, success and happiness.
Local post-metal quartet, Pelican, creates music that is darkly beautiful. Wordless in it's execution, their instrumentation creates vast compositions that examine emotions ranging from anxiety to cathartical.
Check out a stream of their single, "Deny the Absolute."
We're giving away a free pair of tickets to see them as they celebrate the recent release of their excellent new album, Forever Becoming this Wednesday night at Bottom Lounge. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Pelican" and we'll pick a winner by 5pm Monday to go to the show with a friend. Update: We have a winner! Congrats to Thomas!
In addition, Pelican have linked up with the somewhat local (right over the border in Munster, Indiana) perpetual favorites 3 Floyds to create a new limited edition beer that will be on tap throughout the night. Immutable Dusk, a Black IPA, is the latest collaboration between the metal band and the highly metal influenced craft brewery. I've yet to try it myself, but it seems like it should be similar to beers such as Stone's Arrogant Bastard, which is to say it should be a unapologetically dark beer which commands your attention. This seems appropriate since Pelican's music is often the same.
Bill Callahan has proven over the course of two-plus decades that he's no stranger to bucking expectation. So it makes sense that Callahan will once again be performing in a "unique performance environment," this time at the Alhambra Palace, 1240 W. Randolph, a large restaurant with vaulted ceilings and beautiful interiors with little to no history of hosting indie rock legends and their attendant crowds. In other words, another perfect wrench to throw into the rock-world works and a welcomed disruption to the often tired and conventional thinking of where a performer of Callahan's stature might be expected to appear on tour.
Partnering once again with Land and Sea Dept., the same group responsible for bringing Callahan to the Garfield Conservatory last spring and Kim Gordon's Body/Head to the MCA last month, Callahan returns to Chicago to play material from the newly released Dream River. Callahan's newest set of songs explore themes of sex, love, and acceptance, with his trademark wit and devastating use of understatement keenly intact. Using roughly the same cast of musicians as 2011's excellent Apocalypse, Callahan's newest once again makes use of sparse percussion, the occasional flute and violin, and Matt Kinsey's striking, tumbleweed guitar. What's most remarkable, however, is that Callahan actually sounds happy, which comes as less of a surprise when considering the 47-year-old is newly engaged to filmmaker Hanly Banks, who shot his 2012 tour documentary Apocalypse: A Bill Callahan Tour Film. As he says on Dream River's "Ride My Arrow", he sounds "alive, and enjoying the ride." Callahan's ex-con has finally made good, it would appear.
Like his last tour, Callahan will once again be performing in three-piece format for what promises to be a profoundly intimate take on his newer material. Expect a looser and even more open-plains take on tracks from his last few records, with Callahan's careful baritone leading the charge.
Chicago's resident punk marching band is becoming more comfortable sitting its collective butt down, but keeping still is out of the question. Known for wildly energetic performances at clubs and in the most unlikely of public spaces, the eclectic troupe (typically two-dozen strong) wrote a new show plainly titled Mucca Pazza Presents: Sitting In Chairs, which debuted in February and held a residency at Revolution Brewing on Milwaukee Avenue throughout April of this year.
Despite the seats, which they wriggled out of on occasion, the show was 100-percent Mucca Pazza, and now the band strikes sits again, this time in Evanston. SPACE, the renowned venue of the not-quite-suburb, hosts Sitting In Chairs tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $27 at evanstonspace.com.
Read our interview with bandleader Mark Messing and review of the Revolution residency here.
We're on the lookout for new Transmission staffers! If you've got a love of Chicago music, no matter what genre, and the time to post twice weekly to the Transmission page, we want to hear from you!
Note: Gapers Block is a volunteer organization. While we can't pay you (as much as we'd love to) Transmission staffers can get press access to live music events, local releases for review, and loads of great writing opportunities.
Here's how to apply:
- Gather your clips, or write a few! We want to read some samples of your best music writing. If you've never written about music before, please compose 2-3 "samples" of around 500 words each.
- Email your clips, and little bit about yourself and why you'd like to write for Gapers Block to: email@example.com with the subject line "I want to write for Transmission!"
Just yesterday, however, J.Arthur and Dot Kom took their growing rep to new heights, with the release of "Hey," a collaborative track with the world famous Beat Junkies originator, DJ Rhettmatic. The track shakes the speakers with a booming backdrop of horns, bass, and scratches complementing the pair's unique style and delivery, with the original beat maker at his best.
"I have to get up early tomorrow," Bill Callahan said before playing his last song of the evening. He paused, the crowd silent, and then continued: "Not quite as early as you, though."
Callahan seems to live by these kinds of quips. Standing on a modest stage surrounded by onlookers, various types of flora, and underneath a clear glass ceiling dotted with green lights, his set on Monday night was certainly a unique event, no doubt in part to the verdant confines of the Garfield Conservatory's Horticultural Hall. It was a sort of treat just to see live music there in the first place, let alone Callahan's, and you got the feeling that he felt treated to be there, too.
Callahan's blend of wry, subtle humor works wonders against the slow stoicism of his songs and commanding baritone, as if each movement or word exists as a singular gesture in itself. He seems to know he has this effect, and so he moves slowly, purposefully, with the occasional flash of a mischievous grin or joke acting as relief against his deeply evocative songwriting. Callahan has always been deliberate, to be sure, but his songs are relatively welcoming and simple, meandering at their own pace while painting rich portraits of a distinctly American landscape. Covers by late country legend George Jones ("Old Blue") and Percy Mayfield's well-worn standard "Please Send Me Someone To Love" fit snugly between Callahan's own slow, country-tinged ballads like "Drover" and "Too Many Birds," already invoking worlds of their own each time they're played..
"Sycamore," from 2007's Woke On A Whaleheart, opened the night in a fittingly pastoral tone, with the sunset still visible through the room's transparent walls. There's a distinct Western-ness to Callahan's sound, particularly in the open-ranged and dust-flecked material from Apocalypse, and it became clear as the night moved on that the intimate Hall lent even his older cuts a natural heaviness that only added to their romantic, reflective mood. Longer jogs like "Riding For the Feeling" and "One Fine Morning" seemed to breathe, each word (or the flare-gun "poof" in "Universal Applicant") punctuating a deep silence between chords or words, where even a dropped pin might've spoiled the suspense. The audience of several hundred stood transfixed, watching Callahan, guitarist Matt Kinsey and bassist Brian Beattie wind through each song's tumbleweed passages at seemingly undefined lengths, choosing to move to the next chord only once the tension had reached its height.
It would be hard to picture a more perfect venue to be immersed in Callahan's naturally pastoral songs. Monday night's set marked a relatively rare appearance for the enigmatic troubadour, and the Horticultural Hall offered a unique setting that gave his songs a kind of undiscovered depth. But just as quickly as Callahan appeared he was gone again, a mere hour and a half later, leaving the rest of us calmed by a new, country kind of silence.
The Old Town School of Folk Music and Chicago's PBS affiliate WYCC have teamed up for a brand new live concert television program focused specifically on bringing world music to U.S. audiences.
"Musicology: Live from the Old Town School of Folk Music" will debut Friday, April 19, at 9pm on WYCC Channel 20, immediately following the legendary, and similarly-themed, live music program "Austin City Limits." And much like "Austin City Limits," "Musicology" will present 45 minutes of pure live music taped in Chicago at The Old Town School's own Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall, in addition to interviews and other cultural, historical, and musical context from the artist.
If you missed the Matmos show at the Empty Bottle Friday night, you can at least get a sneak peak into the making of The Marriage of True Minds, the band's newest album, which comes out today on Thrill Jockey. The erudite electronic duo break down the psychic session that became the song "Aetheric Vehicle" for the Organist, the brand new podcast from The Believer magazine and LA radio station KCRW. The inaugural episode is available here and also features an interview with inimitable author George Saunders, five-word album reviews by Brandon Stosuy, and a behind-the-scenes look at the sound design of Nobody Walks, last year's Sundance winner from Lena Dunham and Ry Russo-Young, which is, in part, actually about sound design.
There are so many ways to describe Chicago using the "descriptor + town" formula, that it's almost a pointless cliche to even try. Chicago is a blues town, it's a jazz town, it's a comedy town, it's an anything town. We get it. But get specific enough, and things start to get a little more interesting. Did it occur to anyone, for example, that Chicago is also a thriving harmonica town?
Well, it is, and there's a concert this Sunday at The Hideout to help you understand why.
Here's a Valentine's Day story. In the mid-1990s, Martin "M.C." Schmidt and Drew Daniel met at a gay club in San Francisco, Daniel a dancer, Schmidt a patron, and both of them interested in new genres — of music, literature, sexuality, philosophy, you name it. Their meeting was, to nab the title of the pair's latest album, a marriage of true minds. They lived happily ever after. It may not be your typical fairy tale — the homemade fish-head G-string Daniel reportedly was wearing won't feature in a Disney film any time soon — but the couple has been together for twenty years, and their musical collaboration under the moniker Matmos has persisted nearly as long, resolutely challenging our perceptions of sexuality, and, inevitably, love. But the pink-and-red heart-shaped holiday won't play a role in what Matmos is bringing to the Empty Bottle this Friday, Daniel says over the phone from his and Schmidt's house in Baltimore, the house where, for four years, the two conducted the experiments that served as the raw material for their new album, The Marriage of True Minds, which comes out Tuesday.
There is so much legend and backstory around Daniel Johnston that it's almost hard to believe he's still a real guy on the road playing shows. For several decades already, he has self-released an extraordinary catalogue of strikingly stark, imaginative songs and illustrations despite the ups and downs of his continuous struggles with mental health.
Yet Daniel Johnston's uniquely genuine music has managed to have an irreplaceable influence on much of today's artists without Johnston himself ever really having a direct presence in the scene. In fact, a typical way to discover Johnston isn't even through his own recordings, but through the many covers he has inspired among some of the bigger names in indie rock.
But Johnston has continued quietly producing his art all along. Even now in his 50s, Johnston's playful creativity seems to be flowing out of him as much as ever, both through music and illustration.
We sometimes like to wax nostalgic here at Transmission, and with the air grown colder, some of the staff recently took the time to huddle closer to the keyboard and write a bit about their favorite (and not so favorite) moments from Chicago's music scene in 2011.
Local emcees J. Arthur and DotKom combine their drive, talents, and roots in the soulful and gritty sounds that make up their style, to create the hip-hop duo known as The Whoevers. They've earned the respect of listeners from the tops of several stages in the city, including one at Wicker Park Fest this past year.
With the digital release of their first album, Renovations, back in September, The Whoevers are wrapping up their biggest year yet, with their midnight release of the music video for "Spectacular Vernacular," the second track off the EP.
I received a welcome surprise at the Paper Machete on Saturday when Chicago's own Briar Rabbit took the stage for the show's musical portion. I had heard of Briar Rabbit (also known by his given name Philip-Michael Scales) before but had never quite committed to seeing a show. Luckily fate stepped in and I finally had the chance to hear the singer-songwriter perform his sweetly sung stories of heartache, heartbreak and the never-ending search for true Indie love.
I've wracked my brain for two days now trying to find the appropriate comparison for Briar Rabbit but all I can come up with is a poor comparison to Jason Mraz with more head bobbing and a twinge more soul in the edge of his voice. As Paper Machete's host Christopher Piatt said "That is pretty music right there."
If you would like a chance to hear the pretty music along with a bunch of other Indie prettiness, check out Briar Rabbit along with Josh & The Empty Pockets , Band Called Catch and Snow 'n Charm at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday, August 31, 2011. Show starts at 8pm and will only set you back 8 small ones. Briar Rabbit promises it will be a show filled with Indie goodness. When questions what Indie goodness is, B.R. shrugged and said "It's like gumbo; you're not sure what's in it but you know there will be rice." Sounds delicious.
Chicago band All Eyes West play at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., with emo/post-hardcore band Braid this Saturday. AEW is vocalist/bassist Justin Miller, guitarist Jeff Dean (The Bomb, Noise By Numbers), and Rick Fast (Dialogue) on drums. Doors open at 8 pm, is 18+, and is $16. You can get tickets and more info about this show here.
Head over to Double Door - 1572 N Milwaukee Ave - on Friday, September 9th for an acoustic set by Brendan Kelly (bassist/vocalist of The Lawrence Arms, former bands include Slapstick and The Broadways). Supporting him are Swayback from Denver, CO. and Ratasucia featuring Dan Hanaway and Chris Carr of The Honor System.
Doors open at 8:30 pm, is 21+ and is $8.
You can buy tickets and get more info of this show here.
Ratasucia is the newest project from Dan Hanaway, (The Honor System/The Broadways/Slapstick/Whale|Horse) Chris Carr, (The Honor System/Whale|Horse) and Tim Scare (Prosperity Wallet). All three members are longtime friends and plan to release their debut record on Asian Man Records this summer.
Ratasucia will be performing some of their new songs from their not yet released full-length album, entitled White Noise Pollution at Pancho's, (2200 N. California Ave.) on April 30th. They are performing alongside Lenin/McCarthy, Vacation Bible School, The Anchor and Dirty Bird. The show is all-ages and doors are at 6:00 PM.
Montréal, Canada's Elephant Stone opened with a sitar solo that felt like the ceremonial rite of passage into a postmodern psychedelic pop wonderland. As pop music goes, the band has the hooks but the sitar is what sets it aside from both typical pop and psychedelic bands today. Lead singer Rishi Dhir seems to have it all in terms of his vast talents: a fantastic voice and stellar guitar and bass playing in addition to the sitar playing that makes Elephant Stone both distinctive and wondrous.
Jonathan Richman doesn't exactly put on a rock show. After all, in this 2001 Salon interview article, Jonathan Richman reveals he doesn't want to make music that would hurt a baby's ears. His is a charming serenade, more a moonlight sonata with dancing than a headbanger's ball. And yet, he's distinguished not in the way of a grandfather but in the vein of a sexy gentleman that would give Leonard Cohen a run for his money in that department. (Modern Lover, indeed!)
The essential part of The Modern Lovers, Jonathan Richman's distinctive vocals and music have been haunting the wealth of bands that have popped up since the first self titled Modern Lovers release back in 1976. One can find a similar quirkiness at times in the lyrics and delivery of Stephen Malkmus. Furthermore, Jens Lekman's sincerity seems entirely reminiscent of Richman's own style.
For the second day in a row, Brian King and David Prowse of Japandroids played Schubas Tavern to a New Years Day crowd that mainly consisted of post new years eve celebrants looking for some post-angst rock. Joining Japandroids for the New Years day night hijinks was the Chicago anthemic synth-rock band Light Pollution. They took the stage promptly at 10:00 p.m. and began playing to an already full room.
Light Pollutions' James Cicero and Matt Evert, the long-haired, bearded friends, were joined by guitarist Nick Sherman and newcomer, bassist Justin Park. Perhaps a nod to the sentiment of the night, the band began the set with "Sleepwalker," new material that will potentially go on their still unnamed forthcoming album. Interspersed through the set were fan favorites and critic approved "Oh Ivory" and "Good Feelings." In between songs, Cicero warmed up the crowd for the "super cool dudes" from Japandroids and removed a grey sweater to reveal a white Hawaii shirt that looked like it had seen extensive touring. After playing through "Bad Vibes" off of Apparitions, Cicero took tambourine in hand and finished the set with new song "Wild World," a mournful, yet redeeming tune.
After finishing their set, Light Pollution quickly packed away their instruments and made their way to Schubas' green room. Cicero, Evert and Sherman sat on a long couch with their backs to a concrete wall furnished with the concert posters of acts passed. Bassist Justin Park paced back and forth, chowing down and pita bread and hummus that Schubas had provided.
Let local boys Light Pollution and Canadian rock stars Japandroids be the first concert you see this new year, Saturday at Schubas Tavern.
Originally from the university town of DeKalb, Illinois, Light Pollution will be making their way into Chicago with their soothing, synth-heavy music. Playing just after the birth of the new year's traditionally debauchery-laden events, Light Pollution may just fit the night's bill after a long night of celebrating. The group is fronted by James Cicero along with long-time friend Matt Evert on drums. Though initially started by the two friends while still students at Northern Illinois University, Light Pollution added Nick Sherman and Jed Robertson soon after. The psychedelic infused band just recently signed with label Carpark Records, and is officially the label's first Midwestern artist.
Headliners Japandroids will not only be playing New Years day, but will be also be playing the night before with My Gold Mask. Known for their whirlwind touring, and having just finished their Post-Nothing tour in October 2010, Japandroids are ending and starting the new year strong and doing what they do best.
The concert will be held at Schubas Tavern at 3159 N. Southport, Chicago, IL 60657. Tickets for the New Years Eve concert are $30 each and the event is 21+. New Years day concert tickets are $15 each and the show will be 18+. Both concerts begin at 10:00 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets visit Schubas' site or call (773) 525-2508.
JBTV has 40 free passes to give away for a special taping of The Brokedowns playing in studio this Saturday, October 2nd at 3:30pm. If you want to go, contact Toby @ firstname.lastname@example.org and he'll set you up with tickets. JBTV is located at 318 W Grand Ave. in Chicago.
Go to Ronny's - 2101 N. California Ave - this Saturday, September 25th for a very special record release show for The Brokedowns new record Species Bender and Bust! new 10" Suck Kuts.
The Brokedowns are Johnny, Kris, Moose, and Grozzy from Elgin who have been playing and touring together since 1998. They recently signed with Red Scare (Sundowner, The Menzingers, and The Falcon) and put out their fourth full length last week. You can stream Species Bender free here on Punknews.org.
It has been nearly one year to the dot that Finnish-French duo The Dø graced the stage in Chicago and this visit saw them returning with more vigor than ever. In addition, their ease with playing to a live audience continues to grow along with their dynamic stage presence.
Be sure to head over to Ronny's - 2101 N. California Ave - this Thursday for a night of some of the best punk rock that Chicago has to offer. Long-running Chicago band, The Arrivals, headline and feature guitarists/vocalists Lil Dave Merriman, (Textbook Committee) and Isaac Thotz, (Treasure Fleet) as well as Paddy Costello, (Dillinger Four) on bass and Ronnie Dicola on drums.
The Arrivals are on the verge of putting out a new record, their fourth full-length overall, entitled Volatile Molotov early this October on Recess Records that they recently recorded at Atlas Studios with recording engineer Matt Allison (Alkaline Trio/Less Than Jake/Smoking Popes). You can listen to a track off The Arrival's new record called "Frontline" here.
Gainesville, Florida's Against Me! has been touring with Silversun Pickups promoting their new album, White Crosses. It is their second album since signing with Sire Records in 2005. If you missed this show, don't worry, they recently announced they'll be back to play Chicago at Lollapalooza on Saturday, August 7th.
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Gapers Block: Transmission is looking for a few new able-minded music writers to join our amazing staff. Send us three (3) writing samples (links to online pieces are fine) of your best music writing along with some information on your background and music interests. We're always interested in writers with eclectic tastes but we love our indie music fans as well.
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Chicago-based Americana band Dastardly have released a live performance video for their song, "Villain." The video can be viewed below. Dastardly play Lincoln Hall (2424 N Lincoln) this Saturday, June 19 with Aktar Aktar and Automata. The show is at 10pm, $8 in advance and $10 at the door.
A hundred and eighty miles west of Chicago, the Mississippi River wraps around Arsenal Island and cuts through Iowa and Illinois. Towering over this river, Centennial Bridge connects these states. A few steps in from shore is the Great River Trail. One can move along it slowly and savor it for miles. A few more steps in is the small city of Rock Island. There are streets and people. At night — voices and lights. There are bars, restaurants, businesses. There is Huckleberry's Pizza, SEO Copywriters. Up above them both, there are engineers and magicians at work. In one room a magnificent sound is created. In another it is nudged gently onto BASF 468 1/4" analog tape. This is done 15 inches and one second at a time. Seven times a week, for several hours a session, for over four years this has been done here. The tape collection has been growing. And now, one can move along it slowly and savor it for miles. Welcome to Daytrotter.
Hailing from Scotland, Frightened Rabbit has been crafting their sound since 2003 and touring persistently to cultivate their sizeable fan-base. On Saturday, May 8th they took to the stage of Chicago's renowned Cabaret Metro, performing a variety of songs from all three of their albums to a sold-out crowd. Openers Our Brother the Native and Maps & Atlases got the young, polite crowd modestly warmed up. After 30 minutes of downtime, Frightened Rabbit steadily began their 75-minute set with "Skip the Youth", a track from their latest album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks. Drummer Grant Hutchison anchored the lengthy set, providing unique and powerful tempos that added a peppy flavor to nearly every song. His enthusiasm also set the tone for the evening, as he passionately sung along while pounding away, despite having no microphone to contribute back-up vocals to.
Frightened Rabbit's sound is definitely rooted in '90s alternative, and enjoys enough hooks to make a compelling argument that this band is knocking on the door of mainstream success. At points, their music is reminiscent of everyone from Semisonic to Counting Crows. Indie rockers might liken them to acts like The National, but as Frightened Rabbit continues to evolve the emphasis really is on the pop tendencies. Their Metro performance added increased instrumentation and at times a ridiculous amount of guitars, providing a glimpse of what a future show in a larger venue might be like. The dark lighting added a pleasurable ambiance to the already pristine-sounding atmosphere, making it that much easier for the attentive crowd to indulge in the many great songs. The night ended with "Keep Yourself Warm," which was a perfect way to close the set. For those lucky enough to be in attendance, this may have been a last chance at an intimate glimpse of a group destine for bigger things.
We're so excited once again to be dusting off our fancy dancing shoes for our Gapers Block 7th Anniversary Party and bringing together a slew of great Chicago talent for your listening pleasure. The Metro is our gracious host on Friday, May 21st as we invite the soulful R&B stylings of JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, the British pop-influenced rock of Blah Blah Blah (celebrating their record release at this show!), beautiful harmonies dripping with '60s pop by Hollows, and the rollicking punk guitars of Lasers + Fast + Shit to make you shake it till it falls off.
Check out JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound's cover of Wilco's "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart":
Our awesome poster for this year's party (pictured above) was handsomely created by Chicago artists Mig Reyes and JoeVW. Posters will be $10 and available for purchase at the show in Metro's store.
To reward you for planning ahead the Metro is offereing a pre-sale special 2-for-1 deal will get you admission for two people for just $7 total (single tickets will be $10 at the door). Order advanced tickets here [Note: if you choose will call you must have your ticket buddy with you at the door]. The show is 18+ and doors open at 8pm with music starting at 9pm. The Metro is located at 3730 N. Clark St., 773-549-0203. RSVP via Facebook if you like. We can't wait to see you there!
[Update!] If you're a ticket holder to the Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings show at The Vic Friday night, you can get in to our party for free! Just bring your ticket stub from the show, or your Vic wristband and head on up Clark. It's double-down soul night!
Chicago natives Mr. Russia were nice enough to send us some vinyl recently, a 7" tribute to Bowie with a nice little cover of "Boys Keep Swinging" on it-- a version which is quite loyal to the original but slightly less Bowie-sparkly and a bit rougher around the edges.
In case you're not familiar with these guys, all you need to know is that they are proponents of simple, no-nonsense garage punk and I don't think they ever use guitars (except those of the bass variety.) Fans of stripped down rock and roll will surely dig their jams. I, personally, gravitate toward their demonic renditions of Nick Cave songs. Mr. Russia sure has a knack for injecting a little 21st century angst into 20th century staples.
To get your own free copy of the "Boys Keep Swinging" 7" stop by the Reckless Records at 1532 N. Milwaukee on April 17. Check them out live that night at Beat Kitchen and, while you're at it, download their free new EP from their website.
Observation: Over and over again, Sam Cooke would attribute his success to the art of observation. He wrote of what he saw and heard. He listened to it and spoke to it. Effortlessly and instinctively, he turned it into music. He sang the songs that brought relief to the civil rights movement. He sang the songs that formed a bridge. He sang the songs that healed. His furious will and feral tenor brought people to their knees, and lifted them to their feet. Then, at the height of his success, he was shot and killed. It was 1964. He was only 32.
Where there are people, there is music. It makes us feel the things we need to when we don't already. It enhances them when we do. It carries us backward and pushes us forward. It can be found in every known culture and has been performed in public since the time of antiquity. It should come as no surprise to find it being performed just a few steps beneath the ground. After all, there are fantastic acoustics and 24-hour audiences to be found in the tunnels below.
The tunnel musicians of Chicago can be heard amid the roar of trains. Depending who you ask, there are only four performance-permitted stops: Jackson and Lake on the Red Line, and Jackson and Washington on the Blue. Some will tell you about these four. Some will tell you there are only three. I'll tell you what time already has: where there are people, there is music.
I recently spent three nights walking through the tunnels for a closer listen. These are the sounds, and the people I heard.
Percolator is an energetic post-punk four-piece from Chicago with a heavy dose of power pop. They've got a new double album coming out soon, an EP that you can buy for $3, and a show tomorrow at Ronny's.
Upon listening to the sample CDs they sent us along with a nice hand-written note, I immediately picked up on some Mike Watt/Minutemen sounds, the singing called to mind Violent Femmes, and the guitar, Weezer (though they switch around instruments, so the sounds vary a bit.) They also claim to be playing around with influences ranging from Busta Rhymes to Sonic Youth, but I'm not quite hearing it. The sound is a little too clean and consistent for that, but there's nothing wrong with that. The guitar is playful and experimental-- mimicking the lyrics, doing a good job at not being boring. The drums are clean yet hyperactive, the drummer is obviously not afraid of fills, and it works. The recordings are a little iffy-- maybe because they were self-recorded, but I have a feeling this is a pretty fun band to see live. Check them out tomorrow night (Friday, Nov. 13) at Ronny's: 2101 N. California. Bird Ate My Donut, Faggy Pussy, and The Armor Class play that show, too. The show starts at 9pm, ages 21 and up.
Don't be left out of this Friday's 7th Annual Rock for Kids Music Mixer at SmartBar. Dozens of Chicago musicians, artists, local labels, and music lovers (like ourselves) were tapped to once again create unique mix CDs that will go to the highest bidder (see a growing list of mixers online). Rock for Kids is a wonderful local non-profit which provides music programs like ethnic percussion, choir, guitar, rock band, piano and production classes to help underprivileged and homeless children strengthen music, academic and social skills and build self-esteem.
What to expect? Well, we've got a slew of mixes from our wizened Transmission staff including ones with titles like: "The Mullet Mix", "The French and the Swedes in America", "Lady Names", "We Sing of Only Blood or Love: On the Road" (which is packaged in a copy of Kerouac's On the Road), "PUT ME IN YOUR BELLY!!!", "All My New Favorite Old Stuff", and much more! See Rock for Kids' Flickr set of a few of the donated mixes.
Update: Here's a slick preview photo of Bob Nanna's grab-bag-o-fun for the mixer. Includes a rare Braid / Poghoh split 7" test-pressing, some Faesthetic magazines, Threadless buttons and more. Also, we hear the following will also be up for bid:
Damon Ranger blackbox Mix CD includes rare tracks including an unreleased song from Foo Fighters.
Aware Records includes a 23 CD Aware Music collection, including signed CDs from John Mayer, Jack's Mannequin, Brandi Carlile and more.
Hot Doug's mix includes $25 worth of gift certificates to Hot Doug's and a certificate to be the Celebrity Sausage for a day.
The Empty Bottle's mix CD come inside of the original light board for the venue - a collector's item for any Empty Bottle Fan!
Johnny Marr's mix CD doesn't have swag, but it's by freakin' Johnny Marr from the Smiths and Modest Mouse.
It just gets better, so you better come out and bid!
Here at Transmission, we're looking to add to our ranks with some of the best music writers Chicago has to offer. If you're into telling the world about your favorite new band/album/DJ/music event, then keep on reading.
The Transmission staff has put together its second muxtape mix, 12 songs you can listen to right now. We went with the theme of "Chicago," naturally -- songs by Chicago bands or that have the city in the title. Enjoy!
Do you seldom need to be convinced to go to hear a new band at your neighborhood nightspot? Do you find yourself wandering down every aisle of the record store hoping for a chance at finding a misfiled import? Do you love getting the first crack at a soon-to-be released single from an underground band? Then we want to hear from you!
Gapers Block's music blog, Transmission, is looking for new contributors to help beef up our coverage of all the music that Chicago has to offer. We're particularly interested in contributors to focus on the local hip hop, folk, jazz, blues, classical and electronica scenes to round out our rock coverage.
If you are able to write about Chicago's music scene a couple times a week, plus the occasional feature-length piece, we'd love to have you join us. (Please note: this is not currently a paid position; we're all volunteers here on Gapers Block.) Send three sample posts, along with your full name and your favorite types of music, to transmission(at)gapersblock.com with the subject line "Ready to Rock." Don't delay!
Bouncy, synthy, power-pop hook-slingers Office pop their head up out of their cubicles to play a show at the Empty Bottle this Sunday. The up-and-coming local darlings, who've generated no small amount of buzz for themselves with their appearances at SXSW, are reportedly taking an extended breather for a few month until the release of their sophomore album that’s slated to drop in September. Their local gigs have been few and far between lately, so Sunday’s the night to go and catch them. Supporting them on the bill is the Detroit combo Freer, who are accompanying to promote their self-release debut CD, Secret Chorus. Favourite Sons also open. Show starts at 9:30, tickets are $8.
Think you're the one to marry your love of Chicago music with some catchy eye candy? We want you to design our very first Transmission stickers and 1" buttons! We want to get Transmission on your favorite tshirt, hoodie and Marshall stack.
It's up to you to choose how Transmission and Chicago music can fit in a 1" circle button or a B&W or B&W and Red sticker in 4.25"x2.75" or 4.25"x1.38" sizes.
Sticker templates available here.
(4.25"x2.75" or 4.25"x1.38" only)
Email your design(s), along with your name and mailing address, to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, April 27. The designs will be judged by members of the Gapers Block staff, and the winning entry will debut at our 4th Anniversary Party May 25 at the Hideout! The winner receives, in addition to credit and our esteemed thanks, 10 buttons or stickers featuring his/her design and a $20 gift certificate to Reckless Records (or the record store of your choice).
Now, the legal disclaimer: No purchase necessary. Must be 18 or older to participate, but you don't have to live in Chicago. Members of the Gapers Block staff are prohibited from play, since that would seem unfair. Multiple entries are allowed, however all submitted designs become property of Gapers Block. All contestants acknowledge, as a condition of entry, that Gapers Block has a right to publicize or broadcast the winner's name, character, likeness, voice or all matters incidental herein. All prizes are non-transferable and void where prohibited by law. No cash substitution of prizes allowed. Participants release and agree to hold harmless Gapers Block and its staff from any and all liability for any injuries, loss or damage of any kind to person (including death) and property, arising in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from acceptance, possession, use or misuse of computers, design software, email software, the resulting buttons or stickers, participation in this contest, or participation in any contest-related activity. Odds of winning depend upon the number of eligable entries received. Winner does not have to attend the party, although we hope you do. If you can't make it, we'll mail the stuff to you -- that's why we need your address.