Monday, July 30, 2007


OK, the subtitles on the DVD for this Office episode actually spelled it "Menamamah". But it still rules.

Travis Morrison

My boy Travis Morrison is streaming his new album in its entirety on his website. I hope people are nicer to him this time around.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Future of WLUW

Another look at the WLUW/Loyola debacle, courtesy of the Chicago Reader . . .

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Besnard Lakes w/ Handsome Furs @ Schubas, 7/24/07

My review of the Besnard Lakes and Handsome Furs show at Schubas on Tuesday is up now on Radio Free Chicago.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

World's Largest Music Lesson

This is very cool- join the Old Town School of Folk Music in the World's Largest Music Lesson on August 7, 2007 at Welles Park to try to set a Guiness Record- it's free to anyone who registers and you have to bring a guitar.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Six months to go . . .

Huzzah! What will the Empty Bottle be like without cigarette butts on the floor and the smell of smoke ingrained into the walls? Answer: even better.

Strawberry Jam

I really don't want to be that person who gets pissed when one of their favorite bands gets "known", but sometimes it's hard; this John Norris MTV piece with Animal Collective just really bothers me! And with each year John Norris ages, he tries to look another five years younger.

Speaking of the AC, they have a new album coming out called Strawberry Jam and an upcoming show at the Vic Theatre (!) on Monday, September 10. Will this be their breakthrough "pop" album? Let's hope not :) .

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mirah @ Logan Square Auditorium, Tuesday, July 17

Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99

I first saw Mirah a few years ago at a hippie co-op in Madison. It was just her and her sister with guitars in the middle of a room (no stage even), and while it definitely had its charm seeing her in such a setting, I definitely thought the experience would be even better with say, some drums ("Cold Cold Water"'s impact is so much less without the drums). Luckily, on this occasion at Logan Square Auditorium, Mirah brought along a drummer and keyboardist, both of which very much enhanced her amazing songwriting skills and sweet voice.

Mirah began her set with my favorite song, the heartbreaking "We're Both So Sorry" from 2004's C'Mon Miracle. She started out alone before the drums and keys slowly made their way in just in time for the song's powerful ending, and it was gorgeous. The beginning of her set was made up mostly of songs from C'Mon Miracle, and in between songs she won the crowd over with her adorable anecdotes about angry bus drivers and her own clumsiness. Seriously, Mirah was so cute, you could hear the "awwwww"-ing over the crowd every time she spoke. Unfortunately, these asides also gave the audience the opportunity to start talking amongst themselves, often creating a low buzz that didn't die out until a few seconds into the next song. Luckily, before this could become a serious annoyance, Mirah ever-so-sweetly called the audience out on it by saying "are you guys going to do that thing where you talk over my guitar intros and then stop when I start to sing?" And it never happened again.

As some Mirah fans may be aware, her forthcoming album, done in partnership with Spectratone International, is a series of 12 songs about insects set to a suite of animated films. Because she didn't feel she could play the songs live without her collaborators, she still gave the crowd a fun taste of what to expect from the album by playing a sort of game: she would sing a verse of a song, and we would guess what insect she was singing about. We heard verses about the dung beetle, glowworms and more, and much fun was had by all.

The last third of Mirah's set fell more heavily on material from Advisory Committee, including "The Garden," "Make It Hot," and "Mt. St. Helens," with the big, obvious finale being the aforementioned "Cold Cold Water". After a brief exit from the stage, her bandmates returned without her, and after a hilarious rendition of some hip-hop song that I'm sure is popular now but I've never heard, Mirah returned. After reminding us that she recently put out a remix album (Joyride: Remixes), she told us she was going to do "someone else's remix of one of her own songs," and then proceeded to sing "The Light" while her drummer beatboxed in the background. It was hilarious and awesome, and certainly nothing I'd ever seen done at a concert before. Finally, she wrapped things up with her self-proclaimed "sing-along song", Advisory Committee's "Apples in the Trees" and its chorus of "You don't have to wait until you die," which for some odd reason, only the right half of the audience seemed to be singing along with. Either way, it was a great song to end on.

I can't say enough good things about Mirah; her music is subtle, beautiful and thought-provoking, and in person she is utterly sweet, funny and unpretentious. She doesn't tour often, but let's hope she and Spectratone International do get on the road (with the videos perhaps?) so we can learn more about the intricacies of insect life.

Friday, July 20, 2007


After being so disappointed by the circumstances surrounding Dan Deacon's performance at Pitchfork, I was excited to see he was coming to Chicago again to play at the AV-Aerie (formerly known as the Open End Gallery) . . . until I realized it was the same night as the Hideout Block Party (September 8), which I've already bought tickets to. Luckily for me, they've added Deacon to the lineup! Not sure if that means he's doing both or if he's been officially moved to the block party, but either way, here's his chance to redeem himself. As long as he plays ON THE STAGE this time around (or I get close enough to enjoy it for myself).

Download This

So that Download Festival I mentioned a few weeks ago moved from Alpine Valley to Chicago's Northerly Island Amphitheater/Charter One Pavillion (Alpine too big I'm assuming?), and they've solidifed the lineup for September 2. One of these things is not like the other:


Man, Snoop Dogg must be feeling pretty good about taking second billing to the Shins.
Saw this coming: Menomena's next Chicago stop is at the Metro. I guess I couldn't see them at the Empty Bottle forever!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Decemberists @ Millenium Park- Amazing.

The free Decemberists show last night at Millenium Park was pretty stunning. I didn't even mind the light rain, which actually fit in pretty well with the mood of the music. The Decemberists' music translated wonderfully with the orchestra, the sound was amazing, they played songs from every album- and best of all, we heard it all for free in a beautiful park against the backdrop of the city skyline while chilling on a blanket drinking wine- seriously, it doesn't get any better than that. Chicago rules, basically. I was pretty blown away by the crowd; we were lucky enough to get a good spot on the lawn, but people were spilling out all over the grass and sidewalk well outside the pavillion. Somehow Kirstiecat got up close and has some pics up on Flickr. What a great night.

Mirah on Tuesday was fabulous as well- review and a few pics still to come.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Now that Pitchfork talk is over, it's time for Harry Potter talk, starting with this awesome article about "Wizard Rock."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Future of WLUW

An update on the WLUW situation from Chicagoist . . .
Pitchfork has an interesting interview with Of Montreal after their show on Saturday (scroll down to bottom) that puts a lot of what we saw in some interesting context. My question: is it weird for his wife to step in and play bass on songs that are about her?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dan Deacon hanging in the audience

I should have stopped him and told him how annoyed I was he didn't play on stage, but he looks so nice . . .

2007 Pitchfork Music Festival

Of Montreal
Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99
Pics up now, check 'em out!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pitchfork Wrap-Up

I realize I've been a bit down on this year's Pitchfork festival since they announced the line-up, my main argument being that the majority of the bands tour through Chicago all the time; festivals are best when they bring out some surprises. But since it's been awhile since I've made it to a show, I was actually pretty excited for the festival to satiate my need of live music; plus, the weather was great.

Unfortunately, Saturday turned out to be a big disappointment, primarily due to the significant problems of the 3rd stage, or "Balance" stage, where several of the acts I wanted to see were playing. The sound was terrible; there were only four small speakers on stage (probably due to fear of sound bleed), and if you were any farther back than the sound tent, you couldn't hear anything. The set-up was horrible; the stage was stuffed between the street and the Record Fair tent, so the audience was squished into a long rectangle- not only could you not hear, you could not see. I stopped over to try to catch Fujiya and Miyagi and left partway through after realizing it was pointless being there. Next year, bring back the DJ tent or find a bigger park.

Second of all, the act I was most excited to see all weekend was Dan Deacon; once I saw the Balance stage, I went there early to try to get closer to the stage. I was pretty satisfied with my location and my sight line when Dan Deacon started . . . and we realized he was set up on the ground in front of the stage, not on the stage. He then proceeded to put on a killer show . . . for the 30 people standing around him. We heard music and watched photographers on stage taking pictures down into the crowd. People tried to climb trees and bodysurf up to see the action. I left just as he started a really awesome dance contest (or so we were told). The problem is he tried to recreate his usual live show, which typically takes place in small performance spaces, for a large festival audience, and it was a huge mistake.

As far as the rest of the Saturday line-up, Grizzly Bear was gorgeous as usual; Iron and Wine was pleasant enough, was joined by members of Califone, and played a lot of new stuff (also, he's grown his hair out to shoulder length, which was pretty amusing); Cat Power played a lot of covers from her forthcoming covers album; and Yoko Ono was totally insane, as expected.

Luckily, Sunday played out much better, possibly because all of the acts I wanted to see were conveniently on the main stages. Sound problems still plagued one of the stages, causing both the Ponys and the Junior Boys to blow out the speakers several times, but the performance level from all the bands I saw was high. Deerhunter pleasantly surprised me (although their singer's gaunt appearance frightened me) by managing to rock out over all the ambient fuzz; Jamie Lidell was another hit of the day, showcasing his powerful voice over some crazy electronic beats. I was worried about seeing PFFR favorites Menomena and the Junior Boys in a non-Empty Bottle setting; both fared well, with the Junior Boys especially proving themselves well-suited for an outdoor environment as their crisp beats soared over the audience. I was concerned about the lack of Neko Case in the New Pornographers line-up, but Carl Newman's niece Kathryn Calder proved herself a worthy substitute, and the band showcased a lot of new material from their upcoming album as well. The highlight of the day was, without a doubt, Of Montreal; the costumes, the interpretive dancing, Kevin Barnes' various S&M wear, all while seamlessly and confidently playing mostly tracks off Hissing Fauna . . . (even squeezing in the spectacular 11-minute "The Past Is a Grotesque Animal" into their 50-minute set)- they were fun, crazy, hilarious, and most of all, played us some great music that energized the crowd.

I did take a few pics that I'll be posting on the photoblog tomorrow night, so look for them then! Still to come this week- Mirah @ Logan Square, Decemberists @ Millenium Park.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Well, this sort of blows.


So I learned this morning that the blue line between Western and Clark/Lake is going to be closed all weekend, starting tonight. My question: how on earth are all the hipsters in Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square going to get to Pitchfork? And even worse, get home from it? Poor planning by the CTA methinks. They'll have a "shuttle bus" running between the aformentioned stops.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'm a winner!

Even though I've had P4k tickets since day 1, the competitive spirit in me saw this contest by Time Out Chicago that was giving away two weekend passes to those who could answer the following question: Which 2007 Pitchfork artist received both a score of 0 and 10 by the website? (Answer: Sonic Youth.) Everyone who guessed it right was entered into a drawing for the passes, and I won! (Which sort of makes up for NOT getting free Spoon tickets . . .) So congrats to my friends Theresa and Nick, brand new owners of three-day passes to the festival.

Pitchfork Picks: Sunday, July 15

Here's my game plan for day three of the Pitchfork festival:

Sunday, July 15:

1:00- Deerhunter vs. Fred Lonberg-Holm's Lightbox OrchestraFred who? I haven't been able to get into Deerhunter as of yet, though they've been getting a ton of praise lately. I've heard they're supposed to put on a pretty good live show, so if I don't decide to stay home until 2, I'll check Deerhunter out.

1:30- The Ponys vs. Fred Lonberg-Holm's Lightbox Orchestra
See above, inserting "Ponys" for "Deerhunter."

2:00- Menomena vs. Brightblack Morning Light
I'm actually bummed by this matchup; I'd be intrigued to see what stoner freak-folkers Brightblack Morning Light bring to the stage, and I'm afraid after three glorious Empty Bottle shows over the past few years, seeing Menomena in this environment will be a letdown. Still, the Menomena pull is far too strong, and hopefully this is early enough that the crowd won't be too crazy yet.

3:00- Junior Boys vs. Nomo
Junior Boys. Duh.

4:00- The Sea and Cake vs. Craig Taborn's Junk Magic
Time to hit up the hot dog stand.

5:00- Jamie Lidell vs. The Cool Kids
Jamie Lidell is one of the handful of acts at the festival that I a) haven't seen and b) want to see. After lounging around during Sea and Cake's set, I'll be ready to dance to Jamie's brand of funky dance music.

6:00- Stephen Malkmus vs. Cadence Weapon
Are the Jicks involved, or is it just Malkmus solo? If Janet Weiss is drumming, count me in for some Malkmus, otherwise I'm not sure a solo gig would excite me enough. Meanwhile, it seems like most of the up-and-coming hip-hop ended up on the Balance Stage's Sunday lineup, but again, the lack of British accents means it's probably not my thing.

7:00- Of Montreal vs. the Field
I actually wouldn't mind checking out the Field, one of the few purely electronic acts of the weekend, but my love for glam and Of Montreal trumps all.

8:00- The New Pornographers vs. The Klaxons
Time-tested power pop vs. the latest blogger buzz band? I'm excited to hear new material from the Porno's forthcoming album, and hopefully Carl Newman's guitar will be tuned correctly this year. Is Neko going to be there, or just Carl's fill-in niece? Keep your fingers crossed.

9:00- De La Soul
TBD, depending on my level of exhaustion and the knowledge that I'll have to get up at 6:45am the next morning.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pitchfork Picks: Saturday, July 14

Since there are choices to be made at Pitchfork this year, I'm going through hour-by-hour which stage you'll find me at (if I'm at a stage at all). Sunday's picks come tomorrow.

Saturday, July 14:

1:00- The Twilight Sad vs. Ken Vandermark's Powerhouse Sound
-Honestly, I probably won't even be here this early. Are you more into jazz or more into morose Scottish rock?

1:30- Califone vs. Ken Vandermark's Powerhouse Sound
-If I make it early enough, I'll definitely catch Califone; I saw them play an outdoor festival in Madison, and their music and the way they play it (sitting down) somehow worked outside (the fact that they are playing so early to smaller crowds will probably work in their favor). Of course, 30 minutes may also mean a whopping four songs considering they can jam, so we'll see how they deal.

2:00- Voxtrot vs. William Parker Quartet
-I have no idea who the William Parker Quartet is, and I still haven't really taken the time to check out Austin indie buzz band Voxtrot. I might use this time to check out the record fair and food options, or park in the shade near Voxtrot and see if they live up to the hype.

3:00- Grizzly Bear vs. Beach House
-No question here, my love for Grizzly Bear runs deep and Beach House sort of bores me. It will be interesting to see how GB's layered, fuzzy pop sounds when it's not contained by four walls.

4:00- Battles vs. Fujiya and Miyagi
-This is one of my tougher decisions; I'm much more into Fujiya and Miyagi in general, but I did just see them in May; meanwhile, I've been trying to get more into the Battles record, which could be helped by a live performance. And the song "Atlas" has to be pretty cool live. The jury is still out on this one.

5:00- Iron and Wine vs. Professor Murder
-Soft, lilting folk or dance-punk? I've liked the few Professor Murder tracks I've heard, but I'll probably end up at Iron and Wine to get a preview of his new material. I'll probably be getting a bit tired at this point too, so chilling out on the ground listening to Iron and Wine will probably hit the spot.

6:00- Mastodon vs. Oxford Collapse
-I'm not into metal, and I'm really excited to hear "Please Visit Your National Parks" live. Oxford Collapse it is.

7:00- Dan Deacon vs. Clipse
-No contest, I've been looking forward to Dan Deacon's spazzy electronic for months, and anyone who reads this blog knows I'm not really into hip-hop that doesn't involve British accents.

8:00- Cat Power vs. Girl Talk
-This will come down to how in the mood I am to dance. If I'm sweaty and exhausted, expect to see me at Cat Power; if Dan Deacon didn't wear me out, I might stick around the tent for Girl Talk.

9:00- Yoko Ono
-Thankfully no matchup here; I'm really intrigued to see what Yoko gives and who these "special guests" will be (obviously Cat Power, and probably a few others from Yoko's recent remix album Yes, I'm a Witch).

Monday, July 09, 2007

More ways to win . . .

Another way to win Spoon tickets: just buy the new album (that name again: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga) at any Reckless tomorrow and give them your info. Winners are announced on Thursday!

Recently added shows

Some great new shows added to the calendar:

Harry and the Potters @ Harold Washington Library, Wednesday July 17 (If the movie and the book aren't enough HP for you this month . . . but it's the same night as the Mirah show, how will I ever choose?!?! Voldemort can't stop the rock! If you're interested, you can go with the Chicago Harry Potter group)

Dan Deacon @ the AV-aerie (2000 W. Fulton, used to be Open End Gallery), Saturday September 8 (in case the Pitchfork tent isn't an intimate enough location to see him)

Simian Mobile Disco @ the Empty Bottle, Tuesday September 18
Bonde de Role @ the Empty Bottle, Friday September 21
- Hot dance week at the Empty Bottle!!!

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Indie-rock-in-commercials-watch: Just heard Architecture in Helsinki's (a Bruce Willis favorite, apparently!) "Souvenirs" in a Sprint commercial. It was pretty cute, actually, one of those adorable, heartwarming ads.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Free Spoon Show?

Um, what's this? Spoon is playing a free show next Friday at Schubas at 11PM, sponsored by Bud Light? And you can only win tickets from Schubas or WXRT (or from Bud Light reps in "bars around town", whichever those may be)? Apparently Spoon is all about doing the free pre-album release shows sponsored by alcohol(last was Jack Daniels at the Metro). Annoyingly, this is during P4k weekend, but I'll try to win tickets anyway. Or go on a massive bar crawl this weekend.

Let's pretend we're in Antarctica

Tiny Mix Tapes Story of the Week

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Shows Shows Shows

So I've been in a concert rut since just before I went on my trip, meaning this blog has been pretty dry of concert reviews as of late. It's making me sort of antsy, actually. But fear not, fair readers, because after Pitchfork next weekend, the music calendar heats back up again with shows from Mirah, the Decemberists in Grant Park, the Besnard Lakes/Handsome Furs (marking my first show at Schubas in over a year!)and the Wicker Park Fest w/ Man Man and the Thermals. Reviews and photos to come. Huzzah!

Speaking of Pitchfork, I'm sort of annoyed that actual bands are playing in the tent this year instead of just DJs; it means that I'll have to make choices between acts that I didn't have to in previous years, something I always appreciated about Pitchfork over festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza. I'll think about it over the next few days and post my choices later next week.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Not that I really care about the Smashing Pumpkins anymore, but isn't it strange that they've announced their fall tour and it doesn't include a single Chicago date? They passed us up for Normal, Illinois! No love.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Hideout Block Party

Looks like the Hideout Block Party is starting to come together:

Chicago's Hideout Announces ANDREW BIRD, BLOC PARTY and THE FRAMES,to perform at 11th Annual Hideout Block September 7 and 8.

More bands to be announced.

Friday September 7: London's reining indie kings and Vice recording artists, BLOC PARTY have been festival favorites around the globe since their debut Silent Alarm took the music world by storm in the spring of 2005. Touring in support of their 2007 release, A Weekend in the City, their last Chicago appearance sold out the Congress Theater. Expect an intense and incredibly danceable performance.

Saturday September 8: ANDREW BIRD will headline his new album,Armchair Apocrypha (Fat Possum) has been receiving rave reviews from around the world. This summer he's had a concert webcast on NPR, appeared on Conan O'Brien and David Letterman Show, and recorded a live video on "Imitosis", live from La Maroquinerie in Paris. His last Chicago appearance sold out the Rivera Theater. The band will play his full 90+ minute set. This will be his only Chicago appearance of the summer and fall.

THE FRAMES one of Ireland's most beloved bands, are having an amazing year. This July while touring the US, their leader Glen Hansard will appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Last Call with Carson Daly. Then it is straight off to Australia and New Zealand in August where The Frames have beenpersonally invited by Bob Dylan to open for him on his first tour there in four years. The band's most recent album, The Cost, (2007) has received widespread praise, and if that's not enough, the film Once, which stars The Frames frontman Glen Hansard and was directed byone-time Frames bass-player John Carney, won the World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic prize at this year's Sundance. The Chicago Tribune gave "Once" four stars, calling it "more emotionally satisfying thanany of the Broadway-to-Hollywood adaptations made in the last 20 years."

$35 two-day passes will be for sale on line at

Pumped about seeing Andrew Bird somewhere that's NOT the Riviera. Also, though I'm not into the Frames, I heard the movie Glen was in is amazing; can't wait to get it on my Netflix.