Friday, June 30, 2006

The tinymixtape kids have been hyping up the album Drowning in a Sea of Love by British electronic artist Nathan Fake, so I took the bait and bought it (import only, unfortunately). It's pretty good electronica in the vein of M83 and Mum. Opening track "Stops" is especially fantastic; it has this cool breathing noise that goes on and off throughout the entire track. Worth checking out!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I realized today that I haven't been to the Empty Bottle in a year. I used to go there practically every week when I first moved there, but lately all the great shows have been at Schubas or the Metro (or a music festival). But the Bottle and I will be reunited again when Beirut comes in August. Will it remember me?

Meanwhile, I'm very angry at Will Oldham, aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy, for scheduling a free summer "tour" of record shops and stopping in Madison and Milwaukee, but not Chicago. He has a new album coming out that had better be supported by a proper Chicago stop, or I'll be very upset.
Happy birthday to me . . . to be celebrated by seeing Seu Jorge in Milennium Park tonight. Let's hope for some Bowie covers!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Check out the awesome poster I bought at Intonation:

I love it!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

This just in . . . Sleater-Kinney are breaking up! Or at least going on one of those "indefinite hiati" (if "hiati" is even a word). Oh well, it would be nearly impossible for them to top last year's "The Woods."
Intonation Coverage- Day One

Check out this video that Brad from RFC took from Chromeo's set, then head over to RFC for our coverage of the first day of Intonation.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Best Intonation Photo Yet

Wu-Tang Bitches!!
Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99.
Obviously during Wu-Tang. Click on the pic and read the comment someone left- now that's funny. More crowd pics like this on the photoblog (taken by another RFC staffer, not me).
I should also add some of the things from this weekend I could have done without:

1. The emcees that "introduced" the bands. Apparently they were from some Vice TV pseudo-reality show, but they were obnoxious idiots that didn't seem to understand why everyone in the audience groaned when they got on stage, booed them and made constant calls for them to shut up. Seeing grown men in diapers, ripped up batman suits, tighty-whities and speedos humping each other on stage for 10 minutes is not necessary when you're waiting to see Jose Gonzalez- doesn't really set the tone for some moving folk music.
2. Sparks, the new alcoholic energy drink that sponsored the festival, is officially the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted. It looks equally gross. I'd rather drink cough syrup.
3. The "9/11 was an inside job" guy that terrorized everyone in the crowd on Saturday and was later seen yelling his conspiracy theory at the cars on Ashland at the end of the night. I didn't see him on Sunday, so I'm guessing he ended up in detox somewhere along the way.

Intonation Photos

The Constantines
Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99.
Pictures from this past weekend's Intonation festival are up now on the photoblog, and thanks to the glory of the photo pass, are up close and personal! I'll be working with the RFC crew to put together some in-depth coverage of the festival and will link to it when it's up.

Some quick highlights:
-Robert Pollard, now totally gray-haired but still drinking his liquor straight from the bottle, throwing in my all-time favorite Guided by Voices song, “Game of Pricks.”
-The total rocking-ness of the Constantines, whose 30-minute allotment was far, far too short.
-The Streets totally ruled my world. Mike Skinner’s performance was so tight and his between-song (and in-song) banter so effortless, it almost seemed scripted. He even threw in a few verses of the Arctic Monkeys’ “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor” and the Pussycat Dolls “Dontcha” into opener “Prangin’ Out.” Hilarity ensued.

Pleasant surprise of the festival: the Boredoms. A Japanese avant-garde band championed by the experimental kids over at tinymixtapes, I wasn’t sure I’d be into this band, but I was totally wrong. Featuring three drummers in a circle and a crazy long-haired keyboardist/vocalist, all clad in neon-colored t-shirts, the drumming was incredible and almost exhausting to watch, especially after the 30-minute marathon song that was the centerpiece of their hour-long set. I don’t know know if I could listen to their music on a daily basis, but it sure was a treat to watch.

More to come!

Friday, June 23, 2006

While at Intonation this weekend, be on the lookout for fliers from a new local news website called They plan on covering the festival, and the flier will have pictures I took from last year's weekend on it. Rock on!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

If you like the Mountain Goats (or saddish indie-folk in general), please check out the mp3 for this song Pitchfork posted today, "Woke Up New." It's the sweetest, saddest break-up song I've heard since Feist's "Let It Die."
I have acquired a photo pass for Intonation due to some comprehensive coverage I'll be doing with Radio Free Chicago. So even if my new camera doesn't come by Saturday, expect at least some closer shots that I would get otherwise, if not better quality!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Radiohead @ the Auditorium Theatre

Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99.
Pictures of last night's Radiohead show are now up on the photoblog!

The show was, of course, wonderful. I'd seen Radiohead 3 times earlier, all in massive outdoor settings, so to see them in a relatively "intimate" venue like the Auditorium Theatre (from the orchestra, no less!) was a real treat. While nothing can possibly compare to the legendary Grant Park show in 2001, what made this one special was the fact that it was the first time I'd ever heard Radiohead debut brand new material live. Something like nine songs in their two-hour set were previews of potential tracks from their upcoming album, and their sound varied from some sort of rap number to a beautiful ballad featuring Thom on the piano (the one floating around the internet on You Tube at the moment). The rest of the set list was also much different from the last three times seeing them, eschewing typical concert favorites like "Paranoid Android" and "Idiotheque" for mellower fare like "Climbing Up the Walls" and "Airbag." After pleasing the crowd with a first encore including "My Iron Lung" and "The Bends," Radiohead took a second encore and went out with a bit of a whimper- a new song and "The Tourist," a far too chill way to end a show.

Meanwhile, take a look at the pictures to get a sense of the the lighting and set for the show. Both were great- instead of one large video screen in the background, Radiohead opted for 10 smaller, haphazard screens, each with a different shot of a band member from above. The screens also doubled as a mode of lighting, with colored light bulbs shining from behind when the lights went down. Very cool!
More video fun!

In case you haven't made you're way through all of Pitchfork's 100 awesome music videos, please watch this Kidz Bop cover of "Since U Been Gone", and look for the little Asian kid in the audience :)
Looks like someone's already posted some video from the Radiohead show last night. This was actually my favorite new song they played last night- very, very pretty.
You know what's weird? Having Radiohead play "Kid A," one of their more experimental songs that has no guitar and no discernable melody, and having everyone in the audience CLAP ALONG.

Pictures and more from last night's Radiohead show tonight!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

WLUW is having a big Ebay auction for fundraising at the middle/end of July, and the station is looking for donations to auction off. So if you have anything of potential value (doesn't have to be music-related, but would be even cooler if it was!) that you wouldn't mind parting with or know people who might, send those ideas to nicoleburnham(at) Concert posters, cool art, musical instruments, books, clothing, anything signed by someone famous/cool, etc. etc. etc.

Monday, June 19, 2006

An exciting week of music lies ahead, with Radiohead at the Auditorium Theatre tomorrow night and Intonation (and all related Intonation pre- and after- parties) going on this weekend. Expect pictures and reviews from these over the next couple weeks!

In other news, I'm FINALLY getting a new digital camera. While still no expensive SLR that would be ideal for low-light concert photos, my new Canon A700 should be a large improvement over the concert photos I've taken in the past thanks to more zoom and better low-light capabilities. Sadly, it most likely won't arrive in time for Intonation, but be on the lookout for better photos in the future!

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Heavenly States are in town this weekend! Go support Ted and Co. by seeing them either tonight at the Hideout or tomorrow night at Beat Kitchen.
$10 Touch and Go block party tickets . . . procured!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Vitalic - Birds

I learned today I can blog videos directly, and I'm going to take advantage of this. So here's an enjoyable short film set to the sounds of Vitalic's Poney 1. If you're looking for some really good melodic techno, Vitalic is your man.
Looks like iPods are being made in substandard conditions, a la Nike and Gap. Hopefully this bad press will get them to change things, because I don't think I can give up the iPod!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I sort of like this one, but I can't figure out how to make it red. Or maybe I'll just give the website a long overdue makeover to match. If there are any budding web gurus out there who'd want to offer some help in that area, I wouldn't object :)

Meanwhile, let's celebrate the creation of an archives section by looking at the first posts ever to the PFFR blog back in April 2003.
If you haven't noticed, I've been playing with the blogger template in an attempt to update the look of the blog (which I claimed I'd start doing like, a month ago!). It will probably change a few times over the next couple of days until I find one I like best, so feel free to tell me what you think or offer suggestions. Thanks!
Last week I saw the Streets in Seattle, which was super fun. I can even say I got to touch Mike Skinner's ass when he did some crowd surfing.

They had a very entertaining/hilarious opener--Lady Sovereign, who appears in an interview in Nerve. She's a tiny white British chick (who can spit!) with a side ponytail complaining about fake tans . I really hope she makes it in the US.
So excited for the new Junior Boys.

Meanwhile, I’m in need of new music. The kids over at Tinymixtapes have been all a flutter about a new album from a band called Brightblack Morning Light, who are supposed to fall into the weird folk camp of Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, etc. Probably worth checking out. Other albums I plan on purchasing in the next couple days: The Evangelicals, Hot Chip (I think I've been going through DFA withdrawal). When’s Thom Yorke’s solo album coming out again? What else do I need to be listening to? Being away from the station for the summer limits my new music access!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In my review of the Sunset Rubdown show, I mentioned that they played a new song that was as good or quite possibly better than anything on their recent, totally awesome album. Today Pitchfork posted an mp3 of the song and had the same thoughts on it. Download away!
This Touch and Go 25th Anniversary block party September 8-10 is just exploding in awesomeness, as they just added a bunch of new bands, including some random reunions like Girls Against Boys. Check out the current line up here. According to the site, tickets go on sale at 10AM this Friday, June 16. Three day passes will go for $35, though the first 10 passes sold will be $10, the next 250 will be $25. I fully intend to be one of the first 10!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Band of Horses

Band of Horses
Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99.
Considering the fact that this was an all-ages show starting at 7 PM on a Tuesday night, the crowd there to see Band of Horses for their first of two sold-out shows was a surprisingly older, more mainstream crowd. I guess the idea of getting home at 10 PM to get good night’s sleep before getting up early the next morning for work appealed to more than just me. I must be getting old.

With such an early start time, opener Mt. Egypt, a one-man band from California that plays melancholy folk in the vein of Will Oldham (with the beard to match), kicked off to a mostly empty room that gradually filled throughout the set. Backed by the bassist and drummer for Band of Horses, Mt. Egypt’s music was generally engaging and at times very beautiful. Band of Horses’ frontman Ben Bridwell eventually made his way on to the stage for their last song, a more rollicking number, to sing back-up vocals. He later professed his love for Mt. Egypt’s music by saying, “Mt. Egypt is amazing. His music makes me want to cry. So you should all check it out. If you like crying.”

Meanwhile, Band of Horses is a brand-new band playing their first tour ever. While it’s true that Bridwell has been in the scene a long time (previously with Carissa’s Weird), it’s still a new sound with a new group of players. As a result, the band definitely played like it was their first time on a stage, and it was clear they had many kinks to work out in terms of their live stage show. The band spent countless minutes in between songs tuning and changing instruments, from lap steel to guitar to bass to a different guitar. Unfortunately, all that tuning didn’t always pay off, like when Bridwell felt forced to put his bass down altogether during “Our Swords.” Their playing at times seemed rough, and the band blew all the obvious encore material during the set, leaving the audience with a slow solo ballad so brand new that Bridwell needed to bring out a sheet of lyrics to help him through the finale.

That being said, I still really enjoyed the show, even though everything I’ve described so far might normally have me heading for the door. This was primarily due to one reason: the fantastic stage presence of Ben Bridwell. His personality and energy were so engaging it was impossible not to like him and everything he did, especially when he threw his fists up in the air after each song, seemingly victorious that they’d made it through. He could spend too much time tuning the guitar, but the effortless jokes he told while we waited made it bearable. When he gave up on the bass during “Our Swords,” I laughed with him rather than sigh with frustration. Instead of seeing a band that had trouble getting it together, I saw a band just getting started. And regardless of the roughness of the show, everything still sounded good. Bridwell’s voice rang out clear and crisp across the small venue, stronger than the album might imply; opening song “Monsters” especially showcased his voice as he sat behind his lap steel, spastically tapping his foot while the band waited to join in. About halfway through the set, the band asked each other, “Should we do the cover? How about we do the cover? Let’s do the cover!” and then broke into a slowed down version of Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True,” which was hilarious and awesome at the same time. The majority of Everything All the Time made its way onto the set list, including “The Great Salt Lake,” “Wicked Gil,” and set-closer “The Funeral,” with Bridwell’s enthusiasm shining through them all the way. And even though the new songs seemed unfinished or ill placed, they still provided a glimpse into future material that most likely won’t disappoint.

Great, memorable shows need three things: good source material, good execution of that source material live, and a good stage presence by the band. Band of Horses put on a good show because they got two out of three; with so much time ahead to refine their ability to bring those great songs to the stage, there’s potential for a great show yet.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Band of Horses review and pictures will probably be posted this weekend 'cause I'm sorta busy. Great show though, Ben Bridwell is the man!
This Thax/camera flash issue seems to continue to spiral out of control. Let me reiterate my position:

Most of the time at shows, flash is worthless. HOWEVER, sometimes at small venues like Schubas and the Empty Bottle, you can be close enough for it to actually be useful. I can't afford some killer SLR digital camera, but I really like taking pictures at shows, so I'll do what it takes to get a relatively good one with what I've got. I try to keep the flash pictures to a minimum so it's not excessive, but a couple here or there is not that disruptive.

To make a comparison, I don't like smoking in venues (hate it, actually), but if it's allowed by the venue, then I'm not going to get up on stage and complain about it, or wander the crowd telling people how much it bothers me. I put up with it, even though I may find it as "annoying" as Thax find camera flashes.

Speaking of which, Schubas has now joined the Metro in eliminating smoking from the music room. Huzzah! And if they want to also join the Metro in outlawing flash, then they can do so and I'll stop using it there, no big deal.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Radio Birdman returns!
Band of Horses tonight at Schubas!

Speaking of Schubas, I caught the 1900s and Devin Davis there on Saturday, and this time Thax brought his camera flash proselytizing to the stage alongside his poetry- before both bands! Thankfully, my roommate made sure to take a nice flash picture of him up there. Again, if Schubas didn't want flash photography, they'd put up signs that said "no flash photography." I'm sorry, but wasn't he on hiatus or something?

Monday, June 05, 2006

I'm sorry, but what exactly is the point of this news item? Other than the hilarity of seeing the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah drummer call his band "The Clap"?
From the New York Times Magazine via Gapers Block: this is a hilarious article by a Chicago writer, Wendy McClure, about hanging out at a bar when some drone-y Eno comes on the jukebox. (You might need to register, but it's free).

Friday, June 02, 2006

Aw, that Pete Dougherty, can't control himself for even one second.
Today I was playing around with the extra features on my iPod and found out it has a game called "Music Quiz." It plays a song from your iPod and lists five titles (also from your iPod), and you're supposed to guess which song it is while the clock ticks down and titles slowly disappear. Could be a fun way to pass some time, but for some reason, every song it played was from Ted Leo's Tyranny of Distance. Weird.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

This may be worth checking out:

CHOKE Inc Music Garage Sale! Sat June 3rd!

HUGE MUSIC GARAGE SALE - 10,000+ items!

Cheapskates! Bargain Hunters! Music Lovers! Punk squatters! Indie rock

Choke Inc - one of America's last indie record distributors - has moved
locations and is HAPILLY walking away from tens of thousands of piles of
MUSIC. Gritty, experimental, off the wall, punky indie of all types - CDs -
7" - LPs - Posters - Magazines and more.

Punk. Hardcore. Indie. Rock. Ska. Garage. Emo. Whatever crap you're into -
we have it.

Bring your own flimsy Jewel / Dominicks plastic bags.
Fill one up (I suggest double bagging first as those things are pieces of
crap) and pay only $5 for the whole bag.

We will accept cash. And ONLY cash. We will open our old location's 4500 square foot garage for ONE LAST DAY! This is your golden opportunity to buy hundreds of CDs, etc......for pennies. Don't bring pennies - I hate pennies (did you know the copper in a penny is now worth more than 1 cent if melted down?)

THIS IS YOUR VERY last DAY to re-purchase all the CDs you didn't get back
when you broke up with your high school girlfriend back in 1998.

SATURDAY, JUNE 3rd 10 am - 4 pm

There is no number you can call. There is no "early admission". First come
first served. Plenty of parking in our hell-hole of a lot!! Look for a
painted clown sign and pull towards the back of that lot!

The address of our lovely old hell-hole:
3107 N Rockwell Ave, Chicago IL 60618
This is close to the intersection of Belmont and Western.