Sunday, July 31, 2005

Another fascinating interview with Sufjan Stevens, this time on sex/relationships webzine nerve.com. He talks about the new album, Detroit, Christianity, and avoids talking about politics.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Due to popular demand, my blog is now syndicated! Scroll to the bottom for the XML link.
I added Royksopp's The Understanding to the Recommended Listening page, finally breaking my streak of recommend pure rock albums in favor of something electronic and danceable. If you liked Erlend Oye's DJ Kicks or Basement Jaxx's Kish Kash, then this album is for you. It's pure dance-pop bliss, more so than their first album, Melody A.M, with much more going on in the way of vocals. Royksopp is hitting up the Metro Monday, September 19.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Many of you who were at Lollapalooza may have noticed a bizarre man on stage for many of the bands in a blue suit dancing very oddly- like he was playing the piano or something. Apparently that man is Beatle Bob from St. Louis. Here's a picture and interview with him as well. He's no Thax Douglas, though, who also made an appearance at Lollapalooza with "Brian Jonestown Massacre #4."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Buddy Gallery on 1550 N. Milwaukee is closing its doors for good this week, and they're throwing one last big party tomorrow night (Friday). You can't get in without an invite, but you can download one here. They have a fantastic back patio I recommend checking out before it's gone! DJ Lucifer Sam (aka Brad K. from RFC) will be on the turntables for your musical enjoyment.
Brad from RFC got hooked up with some professional photos from backstage at Lollapalooza, and they are up now on the photoblog.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

And now for the Lollapalooza missed connections . . .

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Technical difficulties have been resolved, and I've made a substantial update to the concerts page.

Tomorrow I start a new job, so we'll see how blog-friendly my new work environment is . . .
Hooray for Payola!
I'm currently having some technical difficulties with the website- for some reason, our new DSL service does not like my web server, so until I get this worked out, I won't be able to update anything on the site from my home computer. It's so debilitating! Hopefully SBC will have it fixed for me in the next couple days.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Lollapalooza


Anthony Gonzalez of M83
Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99.

Two ridiculously hot weekends in a row of wall-to-wall music have utterly exhausted me, and I'm glad to find myself show-free for at least the next month to let myself recover. Still, the past two weekends of music have been a blast.

The stark contrast between Intonation and Lollapalooza was evident fairly immediately- walking into Grant Park, the setting for a festival was almost unbeatable, with the Chicago skyline westward and the lake to the east, Buckingham Fountain to the north, and plenty of gardens and tree-lined paths within the grounds. If Intonation was the little Indie Festival That Could, Lollapalooza showed what money and corporate sponsorship could provide, and to be honest I appreciated getting to be a part of both. Intonation's self-involved hipster crowd was replaced with a more varied group of fans to go with the generally more mainstream lineup (not that I'm complaining- I can only take so much pretension at once). Though I wouldn't have paid more than the $35 I spent on Lollapalooza tickets, credit must be given where credit is due, and Lolla was impeccably run. Lines to get in were short, the grounds were beautifully decorated, every band starting on time, and the sound was consistently great on the festivals four (corporate-sponsored) stages. [I'd like to emphasize that fact that I have no problem with corporate sponsorship if it means they are using their money for good (putting on cool music festivals) rather than evil (donating to right-wing political candidates)]. They were also very well-prepared to deal with the 100+ degree heat of Sunday, bringing in cooling buses and misting tents throughout the grounds. Hopefully this means that Grant Park will be used for many more large musical events in the near future.

I got the chance to see more music on Saturday due to the far more bearable temperatures, starting with M83 at 12:30. What I love about M83 is seeing them recreate their albums (made entirely with keyboards) on the live stage with a full band. I also love how French they are- Anthony Gonzalez never said anything other than "Merci Beaucoup" and "Thank you, this was a nice festival" at the very end. They were also one of the more unique and least-known bands to appear.

My third attempt at enjoying ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead made me realize my problem with them is that I only like "Source Tags and Codes," and they never seem to play anything from it. They also act like a bunch of frat boys in a band, using extensive use of the word "fuck" in between songs and throwing their drum kits into the crowd at the end of the set. Breaking shit is cool! Actually, it was entertaining, but I think their creative juices may have been spent in 2002.

Billy Idol is nearing 50 and needs to put down the microphone for good. Not that he doesn't still look great- I don't think he's really aged much physically, if at all- but other than "White Wedding," "Dancing with Myself," and "Rebel Yell," he played a bunch of crap from an apparently upcoming album and made reference to the time in "'82 when he had his finger up Madonna's ass." I missed Blonde Redhead for this? Meanwhile, in the distance we watched two giant blow-up rubber duckies emerge on Primus' stage.

The Pixies continued the Longest Reunion Tour Ever by playing the hits, including "Here Comes Your Man," "Bone Machine," "Debaser," "The Lady in the Radiator Song," and an encore of "Where Is My Mind." Kim Deal is so cute, she looks like a soccer mom who drove to Lollapalooza in her keyless-entry minivan, when you know she's probably done a shit-ton of drugs.

Finally, Weezer closed out the night with the biggest crowd and the trademark giant W on stage. I only wanted to hear songs from the Blue album and Pinkerton, because everything since has been pretty lame. Somehow, Rivers Cuomo heard my cries and essentially split the set into two parts- Part 1: songs the old fans like, and Part 2: songs the new fans like. So in the first 20 minutes or so, we were treated to "Why Bother," Say It Ain't So," "No One Else," "El Scorcho," "Undone (The Sweater Song)," and more. Then I was able to tune out until they ended with "Buddy Holly" and "Surf Wax America" for the encore, making this set a very pleasant surprise.

Day Two was somewhat condensed due to my desire not to die in the heat, and the pictures sort of reflect my inability to hold a camera steady, but I trudged on. I heard Dinosaur Jr. from the shade of the porta-pottys, recognizing only a cover of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven." We left for air-conditioning as we passed Tegan and Sara, who we later learned cut their set short when Sara ran off the stage to vomit. The Arcade Fire wowed the crowd as expected with their energetic live show, which they managed to pull off while all wearing close to full suits and occasionally a motorcycle helmet or two. They left me with just enough energy to chill on the grass during Spoon as the sun finally went over the horizon and eventually set during Death Cab for Cutie, making it the fifth time I'd seen both bands.

Wish I'd seen had it not been so unforsakenly hot: The Black Keys, more of the Dandy Warhols (though I did walk by just as Anton Newcombe joined Courtney Taylor on stage for a song, a delight for anyone who'd seen the movie "Dig!"), Los Amigos Invisibles.

Lots of pictures up on the photoblog, though not as many or as high-quality as I'd hoped to get since it was too hot for me to really forge to the front for anyone other than M83. Still, they give an idea of the scene this weekend. Check 'em out!

Another exhausting weekend as I'm still recovering from Lollapalooza and 100 degree heat. But I made it all the way from M83 Saturday afternoon to Death Cab closing last night, and my body probably hates me for it.

I'll have pictures and and overview up by tonight. Until then, check out this interview with Sufjan Stevens about his latest album, Illinois. He says at the end that the next two albums will be Oregon and Rhode Island, and that they'll be more figurative and less historical than Illinois was. Which is too bad, since I love the historical aspect of Illinois. But that may just be because I live here.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Here's an interesting article from the UK Guardian about the concept of "surrogate bands."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

For those of you going to Lollapalooza, there will be a Virgin Megastore tent with artist signings:

Saturday July 23
The Redwalls @ 1pm
M83's @ 2pm
Dead 60's @ 2:45pm
Trail of Dead @ 3:15 pm
VHS or Beta@ 4:15pm
Brian Jonestown Massacre @ 5pm
CAKE @ 6pm
Blonde Redhead @ 7pm
Black Keys @ 8pm
Billy Idol @ TBA

Sunday July 24th
OK Go @ 1:30pm
Saul Williams @ 2:30pm
Kasabian @ 3pm
Louis XIV @ 4pm
Tegan & Sara @ 5pm

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Here's an interesting idea . . .

CHICAGO FAMILY HEALTH CENTER AND THE KOKO TAYLOR CELEBRITY AID FOUNDATION TO PROVIDE HEALTH SCREENINGS TO UNISURED MUSICIANS

Agencies to hold Health Fair to promote health screening opportunities to musicians

Chicago Family Health Center (CFHC) and the Koko Taylor Celebrity Aid Foundation will hold a health fair at the Hide Out located at 1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago on Thursday, July 21, 2005 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The purpose of the health fair is to provide free health screenings and health education materials to uninsured musicians living in the Chicago Metropolitan area. No appointment is necessary to participate.

The health fair will provide free screening and information in the following areas: Vision, Cholesterol, Asthma, Blood Pressure, Glucose testing, HIV testing and Counseling, Prostate Awareness, Health Education and Kids Care/Family Care information and applications.

“The goal for this health fair is to provide the area’s musicians, who are primarily uninsured, with health screenings and a link to a community health care facility in their neighborhood that they may not otherwise be aware of,” said Joyce Threatt from the Koko Taylor Celebrity Aid Foundation. “Most musicians working today are either uninsured or underinsured and don’t seek regular medical attention due to their financial situation; our goal that by holding these health fairs, we can provide the musicians with the information they need to find a primary health care professional to promote wellness.”

The partnership between the two organizations was formed to acheive both organizations’ missions to help everyone gain access to primary health care regardless of their ability to pay.

Chicago Family Health Center is a community-based, non-profit health center that provides comprehensive, accessible primary healthcare to the residents of South Chicago, Roseland and surrounding communities. In 2004, CFHC served over 17,000 patients regardless of their pay.

The Koko Taylor Celebrity Aid Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide social services to the arts and entertainment industry. The organization’s goal is to provide Case Management services and counseling to those in the music and entertainment industry.

For more information on the Health Fair, call the Clinic at 773-785-6800 extension 565.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

If my obsessive rantings about Andrew Bird have piqued your interest but you want a preview before shelling out the $$$ for his latest album, it's now streamed in its entirety here.

Monday, July 18, 2005

And Intonation hits the Craigslist missed connections . . .

The Intonation Music Festival


Thunderbirds Are Now!
Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99.
It's 5:00 PM and I'm still horrendously sore from a weekend spent on my feet in 90+ degree weather, but I'm a trooper. The festival went off mostly without a hitch, minus long lines for the food, taking too long to open the gates on Saturday morning, and a few sound problems that plagued bands like Prefuse 73 (too much bass obscuring the rest of their sound) and Xiu Xiu and the Hold Steady (certain instruments clearly not amped at times during their sets). Other than that every band started on time, water was plentiful and the mood was generally jovial. I was actually fairly surprised at how well-run it was, given what must have been a very low budget. Kudos to festival promoter and organizer Mike Reed.

Hideout co-owner Tim Tutton introduced each band, and Thax Douglas provided 21 poems for the festivities, each with titles like "Thunderbirds Are Now! #2" and "Andrew Bird #4." By generally eschewing many of the other activities like the DJ tent, record fair and merch tables, I managed to hear and/or see almost every single band this weekend. I'll avoid making comments on every band for the sake of brevity, but here are some highlights and other notables:

DAY ONE
-Carl Newman, the redheaded frontman of AC Newman, started off his set with a guitar string completely out of tune. The band trudged through the "On the Table" and alerted him to the fact once it ended. Luckily, he managed to laugh it off, tune his guitar, and restart the show with an in-tune version of "On the Table." Andrew Bird later joined the band to whistle along with "Drink to Me Babe Then."
-Four Tet's Kieren Hebden performed alone with two laptops and a mixing board, a set up that may have fared better in the DJ tent. Though he sounded great, there wasn't much to watch for 45 minutes.
-The Go! Team was a treat, with singer/rapper Ninja keeping the crowd involved in their brand of 1970's action television show theme song music (Ladies say "Go," men say "Team!" "Go!" "Team!" "Go!" "Team!"). She eventually brought up a dozen or so neighborhood kids who had clearly just come from the park's public pool to dance along, which was adorable and hilarious.

DAY TWO
-Frenchkiss Records got the most love from the festival this weekend, with their three signature bands all featured on Sunday's lineup- Thunderbirds Are Now!, The Hold Steady, and Les Savy Fav. They were also three of the best sets of the weekend. TAN! showcased an incredible amount of energy on stage and a variety of circus tricks with their tambourines, and Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington joined them on stage for a raucous finale. Meanwhile, the Hold Steady are one of my favorite bands of the moment, and singer Craig Finn showed a ton of personality to go along with his very unique voice and style of singing. And of course, what more can be said about Les Savy Fav. Tim Harrington is certifiably insane, and LSF puts on a serious show. He fashioned himself a hat out of tin foil, got the entire crowd to sit down together, threw a blow-up raft into the crowd, and poured a variety of substances over himself. They also played one of my favorite LSF songs, "Adoptduction," a story of a man kidnapped by "a dude with a moustache and a chick with an eyepatch." Classic.
-The Decemberists closed the event with a set list that spanned all three of their studio albums. Singer Colin Meloy also managed to get the crowd to sit down for him, and at one point during "The Infanta" the wind was blowing so hard at the band it seemed like they were fighting to get through the song, an effect that strangely added perfectly to their pirate-rock sound.

Check out the photoblog for a visual review of the festival and more specific commentary on the bands I was able to see. For $22 this weekend's festivities were a steal, and I hope it becomes an annual event.

Next weekend: Lollapalooza!
Stay tuned: Intonation redux and photos will be up later tonight, once I'm done sorting through the dozens of pictures I took over the two days.

In the meantime, tide yourselves over with some more hot celebrity gossip: Oh Jude Law, you naughty boy!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Big Plastic Constellations news!

Looks like their next album will be put out by Frenchkiss Records, home to none other than Les Savy Fav, Thunderbirds Are Now!, and the Hold Steady. Their sound should fit right in with that roster, that's for sure. The album will be called "Crusades" and will be released in January 2006. The band is in the process of recording it in Minneapolis.

They're also going on tour this fall, with stops at the CMJ festival in New York. But I'm going to guess that they won't be hitting any more Ukranian Village basements anymore . . .
Very sad Chicago local music news:

Yesterday around lunch time Doug Meis, the drummer for Exo and the Dials; John Glick, the guitarist for the Returnables; and Michael Dahlquist, the drummer for Silkworm all died in a car accident in Skokie. They were coming back to work from lunch and were hit by someone speeding.

Edit: Here's the Tribune story- apparently they were hit by a 23-year old woman going 70 mph in an attempt to kill herself.
This sounds fun:

Tuesday, August 2 - Schubas, Plexifilm & Caroline Distribution present:
A Free DVD screening of...Death Cab For Cutie- Drive Well, Sleep Carefully
7:00 p.m.
Brought to you by: The Onion & Reckless Records

followed by...

Rock 'n' Roll Karaoke
featuring The Karaoke Dokies
10:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Check out the unofficial Intonation Map, courtesy of Chicagomuzik. Har har.
What do you know, so is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Looks like I have some Hollywood movies to check out.
Hmmmm. Apparently Wedding Crashers is supposed to be pretty good.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I missed Zach Braff? Bummer! Oh well, I have yet to see Jennifer Aniston or Vince Vaughn filming "The Break-Up" here in Chicago, unlike everyone else.

Meanwhile, The National and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah will be at Schubas, Friday Sept. 23. Woohoo!
Yes, yes. Hollywood has infiltrated the Mad City. Zach Braff was in Madison about two or three weeks ago filming scenes from "The Last Kiss." It's written by the guy who did "Million Dollar Baby," so shouldn't be too bad. The movie also stars Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson and Jacinda Barrett. You can see pictures of the Madison shoot at www.zach-braff.com.

While everyone's at it, why don't you give peace a chance...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Not to make this into a celebrity gossip blog, but according to US Weekly (the best publication on the face of the earth), Rachel Blison (OC) and Zach Braff are filming a movie in Madison! Crazy!! I forgot what the movie is called, but upon further reading of the aforementioned magazine, I'll provide an update.
The Decemberists are appearing on Conan O'Brien tonight. Huzzah!

In other Decemberists news, in addition to headlining Sunday's lineup at Intonation this weekend, they just announced a full tour for the fall called the "FLIGHT OF THE MISTLE THRUSHES Tour 2005." Relevant dates:

September 18 - Chicago, IL @ Metro w/ Cass McCombs
19 - Chicago, IL @ Metro w/ Cass McCombs
20 - Madison, WI @ Orpheum Theater w/ Cass McCombs
21 - Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue w/ Cass McCombs
I'm picking up another shift at WLUW today from 4-6pm. Listen up or podcast it later tonight!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Lady Sovereign at Sonotheque


Lady Sovereign at Sonotheque
Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99.
She's just turned 18 and has an entourage and a major label record deal. I was bussing tables at Noodles and Company when I turned 18. No fair.
Here's an interesting contest that I learned about from Thomas Bartlett, Salon.com music critic: in anticipation of Xiu Xiu's forthcoming new album, La Foret, Jamie Stewart and Insound.com are sponsoring a contest. Stuff as many grapes in your mouth as possible and take a picture of it to send to Jamie. The best pictures win a "Xiu Xiu Grapes of Wrath Mystery Pack." And they're totally serious.
In my Tom Cruise news haste, I forgot to mention that I saw Lady Sovereign at Sonotheque this weekend. I know she's only 18, but good lord the girl looks about 13 years old. Radio Free Chicago summed up the show nicely- I left before the second set.

EDIT: Brad at RFC took some great pictures of Lady Sovereign, which I'll be posting to the photoblog tonight.
I realize this blog is becoming more of a TomKat watch than a music blog, but this interview with Katie Holmes coming up in the next issue of W is absolutely ridiculous.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I bought Sufjan's Illinois yesterday at Reckless. I asked them if they might possibly have any copies and they looked at me like, "of course we do, why wouldn't we?" Guess the rush I'd expected for what may become limited edition covers featuring an illegally reproduced Superman hadn't happened as quickly as I thought.

That being said, this album is fantastic. Better than Greetings from Michigan, even. It's also the Illinois history lesson I've been needing since I moved to this state.

I hope Wisconsin is next. Start from the midwest and move out, I say.

*EDIT: Apparently many of the copies in Minneapolis record stores were bought out to sell on ebay. Get your copy now!
My Caribou/Junior Boys review is up now on Tinymixtapes.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Lollapalooza map is up now on the website.
The newest celebrity trend? PAINTED on abs!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Check out these upcoming Reckless in-store performances, both obviously related to the Intonation Festival:

Four Tet
3157 N. Broadway
07/15/2005
5:30 pm

Xiu Xiu
3157 N. Broadway
07/18/2005
2:00 pm
From the people who brought you Free Katie, we now have Feed Lindsay!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My show today went well, though I think I was a bit rusty from my summer hiatus- you can be the judge. The show is up now on the Archives page for your podcasting pleasure. Even though the Sufjan Stevens album is supposedly on hold until they clear up a legal dispute with DC Comics regarding the Superman picture on the cover, it's been getting plenty of play at WLUW. Check out "John Wayne Gacy, Jr.," an incredibly beautiful song about an extremely disturbing person.
With the release of Sufjan Steven's Illinois this week (well, assuming this cover art stuff gets solved- my copy's in the mail), here's an interview with Sufjan on Gapers Block.

Monday, July 04, 2005

ITunes' Version 4.9 is now available, and it includes podcasting software. Now all you have to do is search for the podcast of your choice and you can preview it, subscribe to it, and download individual episodes! Even better, the Perfect Face for Radio is already in their podcast directory. So head over to www.itunes.com to get the latest version.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

So Pitchfork's homepage this weekend is a huge ad for Intonation. For the love of God, I think we all know this event is happening, who's playing, and how much tickets cost, because they've made it their top news story in some way every week for the past four or so months. Wouldn't it make more sense to use their advertising efforts on other sites and venues where people may not be familiar with Pitchfork and Intonation rather than on their own website, where every reader has known for months that they are throwing a festival? Is it really necessary to bring it up in every news item- "This random band is going on tour, which will be cool, but not as cool as the Intonation festival that we're throwing, which has nothing else to do with this news item." And you better get those two day passes now, because they're available for a limited time only (limited time being up until the event starts apparently).

*END RANT*

Friday, July 01, 2005

Saw Annie last night at Sonotheque. After a ridiculously late start, Annie got up behind the DJ pod wearing a silver sequined skirt and high-top converse sneakers, and gosh was she adorable. We got a good position on the side of the pod so we didn't have to look through glass to see her sing. She kicked off her short set with "Fool for Love," then proceed to run through the majority of Anniemal, wrapping up with a slightly different version of my favorite Annie song, "Heartbeat." She seemed a little nervous and kept talking about how much she liked Chicago, and the hipsters alternated between standing around and awkwardly dancing. The two new songs she played, one called "Kiss Me" and one with a chorus of "Will you marry me?" were really good and very dance-clubby. Her DJ was also hilarious and at one point, started using his feet to spin. Good times, as always.

Up next: Lady Sovereign at Sonotheque, next Friday (lots of Sonotheque fun this month!). It's hard to judge how popular that show will be, so I'll probably show up early and hope there's isn't a ridiculously long line.