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.
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« The Year in Rock ...Pix The Bunny and the Bottle »

Feature Thu Dec 28 2006

Transmission's Year-End Look Back

It's pretty common to see some misty-eyed reminiscences come year's end, but here at Transmission, we'd like to share with you some of our favorite musical memories that Chicago has brought us over the past year. These are, in short, memories that rock.


Detail of Ghostface Killah at the Logan Square Auditorium, July 20, 2006.(photo by Nathaniel Grotte)

Remember when you could still hear?

The Jam supposedly played the loudest concert in Chicago history nearly 25 years ago, but within a week of each other in May were two obscenely loud shows that may have given the Jam a run for their unofficial title. On May 19, the infamously loud Mogwai played a deafening show at Metro that was capped off with a rousing version of "My Father, My King" that had many people sans earplugs fruitlessly holding their hands over their ears. (Some were even shaking as they hunched over.) With light/fog better than many arena-rock productions, Mogwai ended the set with pealing guitars and cacophonous sound effects that almost overshadowed how great of a live band they are. A week later, Kevin Drumm opened for Boris and SunnO))) with a 20-minute set of electronic experimentation that literally shook Logan Square Auditorium at its peak. Highlighted by "Ibitsu," the thrash-metal half of Boris' set also threatened the structural integrity of the building as Wata, Takeshi, and Atsuo presented themselves as just another metal band with a sub-5' female guitar shredder. SunnO))) not only had the most impressive stack of amplifiers I've ever seen, but also could be heard from nearly a block away. Just to clarify, that is very loud.
-James Ziegenfus

Help for Gary

When local musician and sound man Gary Schepers was diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes and a rare infection that nearly cost him his leg, his weeks spent in the hospital had topped more than six figures. Typical of the spirit and support of Chicago’s music scene, Gary’s friends and colleagues came together to present a series of early winter benefit shows to help defray the costs of his medical bills. Robbie Fulks, Jay Farrar, Califone, Edith Frost, Jeff Tweedy, and many, many others all donated a show to help their friend. The benefit shows may be over, and Gary is back on his feet, but many of the city’s musicians are still playing with little or no insurance. Earlier this year, the Future of Music Coalition campaigned for HINT, the organization’s online tool designed to help working musicians navigate through health insurance options.
-JP Pfafflin


Hamilton Leithhouser of the Walkmen at the Pitchfork Music Festival, July 29, 2006. (photo by Nathaniel Grotte)

New Band, Old Band, Chicago Band, Your Band

The best parts of my musical year in Chicago came out of both a young and an established local group. The Gapers Block 3rd Anniversary party at the Hideout afforded many a chance to learn about this website you're all reading, as well as an amazingly fine Chicago group, Canasta. Though Transmission wasn't reborn yet, we had the opportunity to start our serious pimping of this band-on-the-verge. Fed by some seriously beautiful Chicago-inspired lyrics and a sweet horn section, not to mention the keyboard/organ ear sugar of Megan O'Connor, this band is one step away from blowing up. (Seriously, if you're a label rep, listen to this band, now.) There are moments when you realize that if the group can just take it a few more steps, they're going to just explode and soon it'll be like trying to get Wilco tickets on Craig's List.

On the other hand, you could also enjoy a seriously Chicago band that's been cranking out the tunes for years now. Tortoise filled this exact void for me as I arrived early to line up for a spot at their late show at the Empty Bottle at the end of September. Now immortalized on my wall by the sweet poster design by Dan MacAdam of Crosshair, the show was as close to electronic enlightenment as I've ever gotten. Honestly, there were moments where I thought the crowd was either going to explode or pass out (or first one, then the other). These pictures don't do it justice, but it's an idea of the frenzy that can only be brought out in a small venue like the Bottle and the electronic improvised sound lust that Tortoise provided that night (not once, but twice). Bundy K. Brown's appearance during the encore was an amazing special treat that made you forget any notions of exhaustion. The evening only left you wanting more sweaty electric musical love. Always more, never less. -Anne Holub

Day-tripping in Grant Park

Destination festivals, which is, I suppose, what Lollapalooza has become, are generally a grab bag. Excellent performances marred by poor sound, or crummy circumstance; lots of chafe with the wheat, so to speak. The festival that seemed to sort of mark Lolla's permanence this past summer was no exception. All in all, I thought it lacked the intimacy and excitement of the first years fest, though there were good performances (Andrew Bird, Lyrics Born, Mates of State) and a few surprises (Matisyahu). For me, however, the crowning moment of this years Lollapalooza, and perhaps my favorite festival moment of the summer, was Broken Social Scene's performance at the end of day three. After much praise from my music literati friends, it was the first time in recent memory that a band has outstripped my expectations. The set turned in by this Canadian collective can best be described as well organized chaos, and the energy was terrific. Perhaps in an attempt to make up for their too-short time slot, the band roared through their twilight set with an artful intensity that sold me, lock, stock and barrel. For those who missed it, or for those who were lucky enough to catch it, Lollapalooza offered three of the songs from the set in an excellent iTunes download that is worth checking out.
-Dan Snedigar


Britt Daniel of Spoon, Pitchfork Music Festival, July 30, 2006. (photo by Nathaniel Grotte)

Damien Rice: Show up or Blow up?

December's two-night Damien Rice gig at The Vic was nervous-making. Rice had come through Chicago earlier this year as an opener for Fiona Apple at Northerly Island, but this was, to my knowledge, his first headlining gig since his solo tour of 2004, on which his Chicago date at the Riviera had been a little tense (I wrote about at the time at my blog). So I was worried going in with my tickets to the second night of his stay: had the first night gone well? Would the audience be respectful, or would it be full of those tools who treat a concert venue like it's a nightclub with a really expensive cover? Was the intense little Irishman going to blow up?

The show ended up being perfectly wonderful, the best stand-alone concert I saw all year. There are two factors that changed between 2004 and 2006. The Vic is a slightly smaller space than the Aragon, and more importantly, Jam went with reserved seating for the December shows, which is really more appropriate for an artist like Rice. Secondly, Rice has developed a sense of humor about himself. The 2004 tour was in support of his first studio album, and he was still quite self-serious—the first time he addressed the audience at the Riviera was to request that those who were talking kindly fuck off, and that was five songs into his set. In December at The Vic, Rice went for full-on banter, telling stories and jokes between almost every song. The fifth song of this set, in fact, was a boppy little number about being "a stormy little singer," which he prefaced with a story about the artistic temperament and, basically, what a lot of shite it is. He'd spent a lot of energy at the time of his first album getting worked up about the way audiences reacted or the way the media portrayed him. His philosophy now? "Fuck it." It seems to be working.
-Kris Vire

Remember when this guy had tendinitis?

At first glance, Jon Brion listed at Intonation wouldn't appear to raise any eyebrows. This was a guy known primarily for film scores and production credits instead of his own music. To fans, though, this was a monumental occasion because Brion had recently cancelled his weekly residency due to tendinitis. He also rarely played away from the west coast.

Beginning a few minutes late (on what was otherwise a punctual weekend), Brion announced that there was no set list and the requests spewed forth. After playing a couple songs on guitar, he moved to the drums where the Jon Brion show really began. This is where he builds songs by playing an instrument live, looping a sample of it, and doing the same for every other instrument needed to create the song until he can play yet another track over it while singing, too. Watching this mad scientist work his magic is truly remarkable. (In this YouTube clip, you can see him finishing a piano track before moving on to create another guitar track.) When in need of live accompaniment, he brought out Benmont Tench (Tom Petty's pianist) and Glenn Kotche (Wilco's drummer). In addition to his own material, songs covered included some by Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Kinks, the Zombies, and Billie Holiday. If not the best performance at Intonation, it was certainly one of the few that people were still discussing weeks (months?) later. Just think of what they would've said if he'd had two healthy hands.
-James Ziegenfus


Craig Finn and Galen Polivka of the Hold Steady share a drink, The Metro, October 27, 2006. (photo by Nathaniel Grotte)

The Rise (and Soar) of Flosstradamus

For me, the wildest things to see happen on the Chicago music scene this past year was the quickness of the city-to-nationwide success of Flosstradamus. Their monthly "Get Outta The Hood" parties at the Town Hall Pub surpassed the point of maximum capacity, they generated much buzz from playing at the Pitchfork fest and then at this year's CMJ conference, and they made the rounds and attracted much attention via big-ups from and affiliation with the whole FADER mag network of mash-up DJs. All of which proved that Chicago can hang with the cream of the Philly and NYC crop of top-notch mash-up DJs. Likewise with the attention given to Kid Sister lately. Natch, her association with Flosstradamus didn't exactly hurt (Floss's J2K is her younger bro' and DJ), and opening up for SpankRock helped spread the word out and about. The crowds got bigger at each of her local shows, and she turned up in a hella cute appearance for the Reader's Fall fashion spread. And what's most amazing about all of this is that neither artist released any debut hardcopy product in 2006&madsh;it happened via live performances, mp3s, online presence, podcasts, and word of mouth.
-Graham Sanford

Angela's Wandering Eyes

Angela Desveaux may be only 28, but her mature voice suggests a woman older, and wiser than her years. Wandering Eyes (Thrill Jockey, 2006), Desveaux’s debut album is a successful blend of indie pop and country. Although she was born in a Montreal suburb, Desveaux grew up in Cape Breton, Novia Scotia, where a strong tradition in Irish and Scottish folk music helped shape the young musician’s craft. Her parents were big country music fans, listening to Hank Williams, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, among others. You can hear that pure country influence in her songs, and that’s one of the reasons why the album is so good. “Heartbeat” has all the nostalgia of a good country tune, and the twang in “Familiar Times” is pleasantly familiar. In Wandering Eyes, Desveaux shows her wisdom and affinity with one of country’s quintessential topics—love. “He knows you’re not loving him by your wandering eyes,” she sings, with conviction. Desveaux’s sweet and soulful voice, combined with her passionate lyrics makes you want to hear more from this Canadian country/pop artist.
-Marla Seidell

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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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About Transmission

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...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Sarah Brooks,
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