Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

More indie rock love

My indie romance updates via People.com gets a doozy with this announcement that Zooey Deschanel and Ben Gibbard are engaged. People.com failed to tell me that they were ever dating though.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chicago in DC

Chicago music comes to the Inauguration!

On Monday, January 19th, the Black Cat in Washington DC is hosting a special pre-inaguration bash presented by The Hideout and Interchange, featuring short sets by Andrew Bird, Tortoise, Waco Brothers, Eleventh Dream Day, David "Honeyboy" Edwards with Michael Frank, Ken Vandermark, Jon Langford, Sally Timms, Freakwater, Icy Demons, and Judson Claiborne (basically, the standard Hideout favorites). Tickets are $50, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Future of Music Coalition and the Chicago Public Schools marching bands program. Chicago residents can purchase tickets at the Hideout. So if you're one of the lucky ones to have a DC friend with a couch to crash on for free, this would be a great way to experience Chicago in DC.

Speaking of Andrew Bird, on January 3 you can stream Noble Beast in its entirety at NPR Music. The album comes out January 20.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Best of 2008

Nicole's favorite albums of 2008:

15. Bonnie "Prince" Billy- Lie Down in the Light
14. Why?- Alopecia
13. Neon Neon- Stainless Style
12. Department of Eagles- In Ear Park
11. Dodos- Visiter
10. Fleet Foxes- Fleet Foxes
9. She & Him- Volume One
8. The Acorn- Glory Hope Mountain
7. TV on the Radio- Dear Science
6. Santogold- Santogold
5. The Helio Sequence- Keep Your Eyes Ahead
4. Wolf Parade- At Mount Zoomer
3. M83- Saturdays=Youth
2. Cut Copy- In Ghost Colours
1. Beach House- Devotion

Not sure if my inability to get to 25 was due to a "just ok" year of music or my lack of exposure to a lot of new albums.

Best albums from 2007 I didn't discover until 2008:
Yeasayer- All Hour Cymbals
Bat for Lashes- Fur and Gold
Le Loup- The Throne of The Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly
Low- Drums and Guns
Burial- Untrue

Favorite songs of 2008:
Santogold- "L.E.S. Artistes"
Why?- "Fatalist Palmistry"
Neon Neon- "Raquel"
Helio Sequence- "Keep Your Eyes Ahead"
Hot Chip- "Ready for the Floor"
M83- "Kim and Jessie"
Beach House- "Heart of Chambers"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More year-end fun

TinyMixTapes has its annual year-end extravaganza up today. I was less involved in its production then in previous years, though my list was still thrown into the mix. I'll post my favorites tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Andrew Bird @ Hideout, 12/15/08

Last night's Andrew Bird show was a fun, intimate time with everyone's favorite violin-looping, whistling Chicagoan. As Tim Tuten eloquently explained before launching into a diatribe about how everyone at the Hideout would soon be bailing out all the Republican Douchebags in Wrigleyville who made bad investments and brought our economy down, whatever that meant (though his delivery was good, I think the guy has been taking some stand-up comedy lessons in his spare time), the Hideout purposefully didn't oversell the show so we could enjoy our personal space while experiencing excellent sight lines of the men on stage.

Dosh played a short 30-minute set of his ambient electronica+drumming with Mike Lewis on saxophone and bass to warm up the crowd before the main event. Andrew Bird and his touring band (currently Martin Dosh- drums, Jeremy Ylvisaker- guitar, Mike Lewis- clarinet/bass) took the small stage, which was barely able to fit the spinning horn speaker he's been touting around lately. Turns out these two small shows were added in order to get footage for the album's first music video, with secondary opportunities to preview the entire new record and let the band practice the songs live. This aspect of the show proved to be necessary, as there were several times where Andrew needed to stop and restart songs, or a pedal didn't work properly; however, in a setting like this one, the mistakes only made the show feel that much more quaint and intimate, like we were a part of something special and behind-the-scenes that the crowds at the Riviera or Millenium Park would never get to see.

"Fitz and the Dizzyspells," the track warranting the video, was clearly the most poppy, radio-friendly of the record, featuring plenty of hand claps as well as the members of Mucca Pazza roaming the crowd while the audience flailed around; by the second time we ran through the song (yes, we heard it twice in a row for video purposes), I had a feeling it was a song I could easily get sick of, catchy though it was. Much more interesting were "Souverian", a darker song than we're used to from Andrew Bird that had more layers than I thought possible from Bird's looping, and a drum machine-driven song apparently developed when Bird heard a Dosh song he liked and decided to add violin and vocals. This Dosh-inspired song made for an interesting departure that I thought would make for a great collaborative album between the two in the future (Bird noted that "Simple X" was also a Dosh song he added to, interestingly enough).

Towards the end the band gave the audience some familiarity with "Imitosis," "Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left" and "Tables and Chairs." It was interesting hearing these older favorites next to the newly unveiled tracks; Andrew Bird could probably play these in his sleep, and it was interesting seeing the confidence and energy during these songs compared to those that clearly needed more practice. Again, it only added to the intrigue of seeing the beginnings of what these songs will be when they are ready to take them on the road.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Onion's Favs

It's year-end list time! I'll post mine at the end of the week. Here's the Onion's top 30; I think we're looking at another TV on the Radio number 1 sweep (though not on my list).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bird Show

Man, those Andrew Bird shows took longer to sell out than I thought it would - last time he played the Hideout it sold out in about 20 minutes. I guess that one was better publicized beforehand. I'll be there on Monday, can't wait! If you missed out, he'll be back at the Civic Opera House in April.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Andrew Bird show

If you're quick, head over to ticketweb for tickets to see Andrew Bird and Dosh at the Hideout this Sunday and Monday. The show was just revealed in Andrew Bird's fan newsletter this morning, and tickets went on sale at 10am. Go!

Rod

Radio Free Chicago posts a musical tribute to our great governor Blago, a.k.a. "The Hair."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Common

Common on how Obama as president will change hip-hop, as delivered to CNN.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

If you haven't seen it yet, "Prop 8- The Musical" is pretty stellar, and star-studded.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Readers' polls

Tinymixtape's hilarious sendup of a "Readers' Poll", their answer to Pitchfork's "Readers' Poll", where you can select from of surprisingly short list of albums they pick out for you with one lone space for a write-in vote.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Venus

Got nothing to do tomorrow? Check out the latest Venus issue release party:


Monday, December 01, 2008

Dan Deacon

Dan Deacon continues to innovate with his live show, this time by pulling together a 15-member live band (not unsurprisingly comprised of members of his B-More collective, like Ponytail and Videohippos) to preview cuts from his forthcoming album, Bromst. I'll be very intrigued to see how his weirdo-spazzy electronica will translate to actual instruments. Sadly there's only one Brooklyn date down with the full band, but perhaps he'll take it on tour after his album drops in March.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Les Savy Fav returns!

Finally, Les Savy Fav is coming back to Chicago in a form that is not the Pitchfork Music Festival with a stop at the Ephiphany on January 31. What a great venue to see LSF- Tim Harrington will have wide open spaces to run around and truly be a part of the audience. Get your tickets now!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ikea

It's not often that my regular music websites and my regular interior design websites have the same story:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/chicago/news/win-a-date-with-ikea-and-pavement-070464

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/news/147713-win-a-date-with-ikea-with-a-member-of-pavement

Accolade

Here's an interesting story in the NYTimes about an all-girl Saudi rock band making music even though Saudi code means can't play in public.

Monday, November 24, 2008

TNK 2009

Schubas has some teaser info on the annual Tomorrow Never Knows Festival:

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14 - SUNDAY, JANUARY 18
9 PM // 18+

Schubas' indie-winter-music festival returns. Initial lineup includes...
Bishop Allen // Cursive // Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson // Thunderheist
The Donkeys // Tulsa // Colourmusic // Bear Hands // The Disappears
Pretty Good Dance Moves // The Wonderful World of Bald Eagle // Alla // Vacations

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rock Dives

Gapers Block presents a run down of their favorite Chicago dive-y rock bars.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chuck on Axl

Chuck Klosterman reviews Chinese Democracy for the A.V. Club. Pop culture overload.

Joanna + HSBC

Indie-music-in-commercials-watch: Joanna Newsom's "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie" is in an HSBC commercial. However, nothing about the commercial seems to fit with the melancholiness of the song (one of my favorite Joanna tunes), nor have anything to do with banking. In fact, until Prefix described the plot in this blog post (with video), I didn't even understand what was going on in the commercial, even though I've seen it about 6 times now. Tip of the Hat to Prefix; Wag of the Finger to HSBC's advertising department.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Year-end

Whoa! It's now mid-November and time to start thinking about year-end best of lists. Yikes! In addition to my own list, be sure to check out the annual year-end extravaganza, which will be out on December 17.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

P4k Book Fun

What kind of person buys a Pitchfork book?

Not hatin', just wondering . . .

But you can get your fill with the book release party at Sonotheque next Tuesday, or go see the editors read from it at the Lincoln Park Borders tonight (and get it signed by the editors?)

Looks like they are truly going on one mad PR blitz! Kind of makes me want to go just to see what sort of crowd a book signing will attract . . .

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Radley

And the PFFR continues to follow the Radley medical story . . .

From the Empty Bottle:
Radley would like to take a moment to thank everyone who donated to his relief fund. There is still work to be done, so come to the Empty Bottle on Sunday, November 16 for the Radley Benefit Dance Party featuring: DJs ALEX VALENTINE, HOLOGRAM TRAV, HUGSEN KISSUS & MILES RAYMER. Tickets are only $3 and all proceeds will be going to the Radley Relief Fund. Did we mention drink specials? How about $3 Bells all night! Come on down, drink, dance and help our dear old friend Radley.

I think at some point Radley needs to give a speech to all his ardent supporters.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dizzee Politics

Politics and music (and race) continue to intersect with Dizzee Rascal's apparently "controversial" appearance on a BBC news show discussing race and British politics in the wake of Obama's victory.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yes I can take a break . . .

Well, now that we can all catch our breath, I'm going to take a much-needed break from constantly scouring the internet (and at some point in there, working) to go hang out in Portland, OR for the weekend, land where indie rockers go to retire. That means no show on Monday, but look for a return to music discussion on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Radley Redux

The Empty Bottle gives the update on wee Radley, with some photos to prove it:






Ouchy.

And the lowdown:

Thanks to everyone for donating to the Radley Relief Fund. We wanted to update you with his recovery. Radley drove over to Family Pet Animal Hospital on Wednesday, October 22. He was put under for three hours, during which time he had six teeth extracted and a massive cleaning. Radley had to spend the night at Family Pet. This was his first night away from the Bottle since he was a kitten. Radley was most upset about missing an incredible show from Asobi Seksu. To show his gratitude for all the help, he has decided to have a raffle for some tickets.

Each dollar you donate will buy you one raffle ticket. The deadline to enter the raffle is Tuesday, November 4 at noon. Here is what you can win:
1 lucky winner will win a pair of tickets to see Girl Talk on November 8 @ The Congress Theater.
2 lucky winners will win a pair of tickets to a show of their choice at the Empty Bottle (subject to availability).
Head over to PayPal and make a donation to emptybottle@emptybottle.com to enter!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Plumb

Well, I said I wouldn't have much to say this week, but somehow music and politics keep intersecting. Joe the Plumber's gonna make a country album. Way to stretch out your 15 minutes, Joe Sam!

Bjork on the credit crunch

Check it out: Bjork on Iceland's massive economic crisis (i.e., the US economic crisis times 10).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Benefit

Waco Brothers, Sally Timms & Robbie Fulks
Participate in A Big Brain Benefit for Diane Izzo
Sunday, November 9th


Diane Izzo, heard on the Pine Valley Cosmonaut's Executioner's Last Songs releases, was diagnosed with a brain tumour several months ago. She has no health insurance and very little money and is currently trying to cope with preparing for her operation and filling in a million forms for financial aid etc. Not everything is covered by New Mexico's Medicaid Program and she's also been trying to make music to get through this difficult time. Help us support Diane by coming along to the Benefit Show on November 9th, monies raised will be used to help her continue making music and paying medical bills.

The Waco Brothers, formed by Jon Langford of the Mekons, grew out of Langford's wish to play more country-influenced music as the Mekons concentrated more on a punk sound. Many of the members also participate in Langford's Pine Valley Cosmonauts project.Their latest album, Waco Express: Live & Kickin' at Schuba's Tavern is a concert recording which Ken Tucker, the pop music critic for NPR's Fresh Air and Editor-at-Large at Entertainment Weekly, described as "country as it should be written and played, with a long memory for roadhouse honky-tonks rather than TV-ready music videos."

Sally Timms is best known for her long involvement with the Mekons whom she joined in 1985. Prior to joining the Mekons she was in a band called the She Hees. She has released several other solo CDs, Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat in 1988, To the Land of Milk and Honey in 1995, and a country album, Cowboy Sally's Twilight Laments for Lost Buckaroos, for Bloodshot Records in 1998. Her latest solo recording "In the World of Him" was released in 2004.

Robbie Fulks is an American alternative country artist known for his disdain of mainstream modern country and the country music industry, as exemplified by his scorching rebuke of Nashville titled "Fuck This Town." His live performances feature improvised rearrangments of his original songs, off-the-cuff musical humor, and covers of songs by Michael Jackson and Cher, among others. As a songwriter Fulks is difficult to pigeonhole. Many of his compositions are silly, funny or spoof songs, while others are serious country songs.

A Big Brain Benefit for Diane Izzo
Sunday November 9, 2008 at 7:00PM
School of the Art Institute Ballroom
112 S. Michigan Ave – Chicago, IL
Featuring:
Califone, Waco Brothers w/ Sally Timms, Robbie Fulks, Vernon Tonges, and Beau O'Reilly and the Crooked Mouth String Band
Tickets: $20
Benefit Information: (773) 508-0666

Grrr

Ok, I lied, I still haven't worked out the issues with recording my show. My voice breaks sound fine (which had me thinking all was well) but the music still isn't up to par, which is sort of the whole point (listening to me- less important). I will continue to investigate with my sub-par technology knowledge.

Not sure how much I'll have to say about music in this next week running up to the election. Hopefully starting November 5 I'll return to obsessively checking music websites instead of political ones, and have more insight on the scene. Or maybe this will become the Perfect Face for Radio- from Vancouver!

Friday, October 24, 2008

So 2004

Wired Magazine says I need to kill my blog.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Radley Relief

Apparently the Empty Bottle's housecat is ill. My guess it was due to the years of living in a unventilated smoke-filled environment- but maybe that's just me. Anyhoo, the EB is calling out for donations to help him cure what ails him.



RADLEY RELIEF FUND!
Yes, sadly, old man Radley - EB housecat, ladies man - has been struggling with his health lately, and is in need of a variety of medical procedures. We've set up a paypal 'healthcare fund' for him, should any of you be interested in contributing towards his renewed vigor. Head over to PayPal and make a donation to emptybottle@emptybottle.com.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Of Montreal

Interesting Salon.com piece on Of Montreal and Kevin Barnes.

Return of the Show

Finally, after several months of technical difficulties, I was able to successfully record and upload my radio show from last Monday night! Hear, hear. Hopefully this means new episodes will be appearing once again every other week.

I'll be in San Fran these next couple of days and thus, not blogging. Feel free to listen to the fresh sounds of the PFFR in the meantime.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Week at the Epiphany

After months of curiosity as to what this new "Epiphany" venue is, I finally got to experience it not one, not two, but three times in the past week for what proved to be three very different nights. The venue itself is great; the space is beautiful and makes for a very interesting backdrop to whatever music is playing (being a church and all), and the sound is very good even in light of the high ceilings- vocals in particular sounded wonderful throughout the various shows. I'd wondered going in what the pew situation would be, since it is still an active church. It appears that for bigger and more high-energy shows, all the pews are cleared off to the side to make room, while smaller and quieter shows keep them in place so we can pray to the altar of rock. If shows that used to be booked at Logan Square Auditorium start moving to the Epiphany instead, I would not complain.

Dan Deacon's Baltimore Round Robin- "Eyes Night" 10/10/08
Dan Deacon's Baltimore Round Robin- "Feet Night" 10/10/08
I've been talking up this Round Robin event for awhile now, because the concept is just so fascinating- 12 bands set up in a circle around the audience, each playing only 1 song at a time as they go through 3 rounds total. The reality of the two nights didn't quite live up to expectations; though it was still a fun and interesting experience to be a part of, there were some aspects that left a little to be desired.

"Eyes Night" featured chiller, folkier music while "Feet Night" focused on the crazy, spazzier side of the Baltimore music scene. It became apparent, however, that there isn't as much folk as there is spaz to fill up a 12-band round robin, so for every actual band that played on "Eyes" night, there was a performance art piece or a video set to music to fill the space. While interesting to a point (and still representative of what's going on in the B-More art scene, I'm sure), it definitely disrupted the flow of the show, and after the third or fourth neon-colored video, the novelty wore off a bit. I was also expecting the bands to go directly around in a circle; instead, the pattern around the circle was haphazard (though they followed the same pattern for each round, which the kids were pretty good at picking up on). It was kind of cool to wait for the next spotlight to light up over a band and watch the entire crowd move towards the next musician in sync; hwoever, while this mass movement was a calm, quiet stroll on "Eyes Night", it was a frenzied mow-down on "Feet Night" that left us scared we were standing in front of the next band. Did I mention that average age of the crowd decreased about 10 years from Eyes to Feet?

The only bands I was familiar with going into the weekend were Beach House, Dan Deacon and Videohippos, and I was hoping to discover something new considering the showcase approach. Unfortunately, even though I was impressed by some of the sounds I heard from the other lesser-known bands, I will never know how to look them up because we had no means of figuring out which band was which. Very few of the bands ever introduced themselves, and there were no signs or maps to explain who was set up where.

As a result, Beach House was the highlight of the weekend for me and left me hoping they'd make their next tour stop at the Ephiphany. Victoria LeGrand's voice sounded incredible in the church, and the setting was just so perfect for their somber organ sounds. If only I could have heard more than 4 songs . . . but alas, that is the point of the Round Robin.

Mirah 10/15/08
Last night I headed back to Ashland and Adams to catch Mirah in what turned out to be a solo show for her, after seeing her with a small backing band at Logan Square Auditorium 2 years ago. Though her sweetness and humor always carry her through a show and make her a treat to watch, I think the band helps her flesh out her songs a bit more in a live setting, giving them more power. Apparently earlier in the week she badly cut her pinky finger, requiring her to develop a playlist of pinky-free songs. I'm guessing the majority of C'Mon Miracle, then, requires some pinky, because after opening with my favorite Mirah song, "We're Both So Sorry," she didn't play much else from it. We were treated to a few new songs from her forthcoming album (due in March), a couple a capella sing-a-longs from her children's album about bugs, and some lesser-known Advisory Committee tracks (i.e., not "Cold Cold Water", which must use some serious pinky). I did really enjoy her rendition of "The Garden" to close out the set, where she just had the audience stomp and clap a rhythm for her to sing over- it was a good use of audience participation for a great song (and I'm generally anti-audience participation). Overall, the set seemed quite short considering the size of Mirah's catalog, which I will again attribute to the Great Pinky Disaster of 2008 (at one point in a song she stopped and said "ow! I guess that song has pinky in it!").

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Singing Cab Driver

Last night I took a cab home from Wicker Park to North Center only to be cosmically picked up by the SINGING CAB DRIVER. Imagine someone who looks like Rainn Wilson picking you up in a cab and letting you choose from 100 hilarious They Might Be Giants-esque original a capella songs. I had time for 2: one about gentrification on his street and one about cowboys, which I got after choosing from a spoken menu of options, including "Sex", "Love," "Social Influence" (see: gentrification), and "Other", which led to a second menu (see: cowboys). Apparently he's been doing this for 17 years to over 55,000 cab riders; originally the concept was to plug his band, Chameleon World, but now his band plugs him (singing the songs of the Singing Cab Driver). Gotta love a man with a concept.

Monday, October 13, 2008

M.I.A. and People

I've been linking to People.com a lot lately, which I realize is strange for an indie music website. But I think it's so hilarious when the ultimate bastion of pop culture starts reporting on the indie rock. Not only that, now they're using Pitchfork Media as a source- in this case, to report that M.I.A. is pregnant. Two worlds converging!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Veggie Bus

Gaper's Block has more on the Dan Deacon-fest coming up this weekend, along with news that if you bring in veggie oil to help the crew power the veggie bus they are traveling in, you might get in free. Details here.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Distractions

I have to say it's been a real struggle for me over the last month or so not to talk about politics or finance on this blog. I suppose politics can more easily be tied to music; finance, not so much. So if you're wondering why posting has been a little slower lately, it's because I'm having difficulty tearing myself away from following the election/downward spiral of the economy/that one.

Perhaps Dan Deacon can distract me this weekend with his 2 night, Baltimore-riffic Round Robin at the Epiphany . . .

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Paste

Paste Magazine started a local Chicago music website and blog. As if we don't have enough of those already, right? Just kidding!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Work for Pitchfork!

Pitchfork has up a listing for a sales position in Chicago. I find it hilarious reading such formal job requirements and benefits on a music website, especially when it includes such perks as a "lucrative bonus". I'd be interested to know what a lucrative bonus in the indie music publishing world entails. Also what "accounts payable optimization" requires, and what sort of skills are necessary to provide it (though it may just be a fancy way of saying they need someone to put bills in a binder instead of in boxes).

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hot Chip @ Metro, 9/28/08

In these dire financial times, what better way to get your mind off our flailing economy and cringe-inducing politics by moving to Brazil dancing your troubles away to the sweet sounds of Hot Chip (also see: Cut Copy). After battling a cold that kept me away from a couple days of work and My Bloody Valentine at the Aragon (probably the best choice for my ears in any case), I felt well enough for an early Sunday evening show from the electro-rock Brits, who did not fail to deliver the grooves.

This year Hot Chip put out their third album, Made in the Dark, though by the set list you'd hardly know they had any other albums to speak of. Other than Coming on Strong's "Shiny Escalade", The Warning's "Over and Over" and "Boy From School," an "old" song not on any album, and an unexpected but welcome cover of "Nothing Compares to U", the entire setlist was spawned from their latest good-but-not-great album. Still, the new album is chock full of highly enjoyable dance tracks, and the vocal duo of adorable boy-nugget Alexis Taylor and the big teddy bear of a man Joe Goddard kept the energy high.

To add to the atmosphere, Hot Chip must have brought their own lighting guy because this proved to be one of the best coordinated light shows I've seen. The fun was further enhanced when a group of white balloons of various sizes were released over the audience (from where, I don't know; I must have blinked at just the wrong moment). Nothing like hot beats, flashing lights and shiny balloons to distract from what ails me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day of Music

If you aren't going to the sold out My Bloody Valentine show this Saturday, you can head over to the Symphony Center for a free show by the Sea and Cake as part of Macy's Day of Music, where the CSO opens its doors to 8 hours of free music and events, starting at 2pm. The complete schedule can be found here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Indie Split

I can always count on People.com to give me the latest indie rock/celebrity love news, like Natalie Portman and Devendra Banhart breaking up. Now he can go back to being a dirty hippie again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hideout Block Party

Sadly, I was unable to make it to the Hideout Block Party this year, missing the double dose of Neko and the best fall weather ever. I will console myself in Kirstiecat's pictures here.

Dogfighting?



Well, I had no idea dogfighting was an issue requiring a benefit concert. Apparently I stand corrected. Head to the Metro tomorrow and be . . . a part of the solution, I guess.

Per the release:
In 2006, The HSUS launched End Dogfighting in Chicago, a city-wide program to
combat street dogfighting. The End Dogfighting in Chicago campaign tackles
dogfighting on several fronts: Anti-Dogfighting Advocates, Pit Bull Training
Team, Community Outreach and Law Enforcement Partnership.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection
organization. For more than a half-century, the HSUS has been fighting for the
protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Colbert

By now I'm sure many of you heard about the Stephen Colbert Christmas Special, featuring lots of musical legends and what appears to be hilarity ensuing. All proceeds for the sale of the Special's DVD go to Feeding America, which will ostensibly be using the proceeds to feed starving former Lehman employees.

Upon mentioning the Christmas Special at a get together last night, one partygoer said, "who's Stephen Colbert?"

Really. Seriously. I kid you not.

I guess it's just another reminder that I'm part of the liberal elite that is out of touch with real Americans. Or something.

If only she knew what she was missing out on though:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Auto Week

My color week friends are at it again with another round of themed pictures this week, this time based on camera settings: Monday- Landscape, Tuesday- Macro, Wednesday- Portrait, Thursday- Action and Friday- Nighttime. Since these apply less to concert photos I'll sit this round out, but I wanted to throw up the link to see what others in the crew are posting this week.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Califone

After a rainy, rainy weekend, the downpour stopped just in time for me to head over to the Renegade Craft Fair and see Califone. Califone seems to be the go-to band for Chicago's outdoor festivals; I think I've seen them outside every summer since I've moved here, and almost always in late summer/early fall. I think there's something about their music that feels right when you're standing outside as it starts to get chilly and you can tell fall (and then winter!) is on the way. Unless they are playing Rolling Stone covers, which they did about 4 years ago at the Hideout Block Party (back when it was just one stage outside of the Hideout building, pre- parking lot days!). I've never seen a crowd get so angry at a show, but Califone seemed to be having the time of their lives. I guess playing gritty, morose experimental folk can get old even for the best of them.

Also, Thax introduced the band with "Califone #15". Man those guys have been around a long time. Yet they age so well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Renegade

Hey, the Renegade Craft Fair snuck up on me this weekend. Hopefully the weather holds up! And this year, live music:

Saturday:
6pm Hey Willpower
7pm Mahjongg
8:30pm Northern State

Sunday:
6pm The Living Blue
7pm Pit Er Pat
8:30pm Califone

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Andrew Bird @ Pritzker Pavilion, 9/3/08

This show marks the 6th (or 7th? I'm losing count) time I've seen Andrew Bird, with each show becoming successively grander than the last. I first caught him solo at the Empty Bottle after Weather Systems was released several years ago, marking my first introduction to the Bird. My love for him was sealed when he opened for the Magnetic Fields at the Old Town School of Folk Music in 2004, a better venue to showcase his style and personality since everyone is seated and all eyes are on the stage. I saw him solo for the last time at a show in Madison, WI during summer 05 before he started bringing drummer Martin Dosh around. Now Andrew travels with a full band and some crazy spinning horn speakers, which certainly fills out his sound and makes for a bigger stage show, but loses a little of Andrew's personality along the way.

Fans who'd never seen him alone before got a special treat, as Andrew came out on stage solo to perform one of his live staples, "Why'd You Do That" (not sure if that's the official title, but it's my title). No song better encapsulates Bird's wit and quirkiness, and his trademark looping is at the front and center. This is the sort of performance that makes you never want to listen to Bird on album again, because it just can't live up to him in person.

Soon after the band joined him, running through tracks from across his catalog, including "Imitosis", "Fiery Crash", "Weather Systems", and my personal favorite of the night, "Fake Palindromes", a song that really does sound better with a full band behind it. Another great thing about an Andrew Bird show is hearing him reinvent the same songs, over and over again; he never plays a song the same way twice. This was made especially clear with a completely rearranged version of "Lull", which was virtually unrecognizable to me until the chorus kicked in. We were also treated to a couple of new songs from his forthcoming album, the recording of which is currently being chronicled on the New York Times Measure for Measure blog, which, frankly, sounded fantastic.

Seeing Andrew Bird play will never get old (especially when it's at a Chicago gem like the Pritzker Pavillion), even as he has grown from the Empty Bottle to the Riviera Theatre. Still, I'm hoping that he continues to mix some solo performances in with his full-band shows, because that's truly where the magic of a Bird performance lies.

See pics from the night courtesy of Radio Free Chicago here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Radio Show

I realize I haven't posted a new radio show in awhile- this hasn't been because I haven't been doing them, I swear! Unfortunately, I've been coming across numerous technical difficulties in trying to record them the past couple weeks (needing to change the settings on my online recorder to work with Vista, problems with the CD-recorder at the station, yadda yadda yadda). However, I believe I've finally figured out the issue and should be back online for next Monday, September 15th's show.

And my thoughts on last week's Andrew Bird show coming soon!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The National

Whoa, Barack Obama just sent me a video with the National's "Fake Empire" as the soundtrack.

https://donate.barackobama.com/page/contribute/bochangevid1?source=20080904_BO_D1

Where politics and indie rock meet!

Joanna Newsom w/ the CSO, Fri August 22

I've been meaning to write a few words on the Joanna Newsom show with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra two weeks ago, but between color week and the holiday weekend it slipped through the cracks. Since it was such an amazing show, though, I wanted to be sure to show it some attention.

I walked in to the Symphony Center last Friday to learn I was actually attending the indie rock prom. May I just say, indie kids trying to dress up is just awkward. Still, it's adorable that they tried, recognizing this was not a typical venue. Meanwhile, I've never been to the CSO before, and it's much different than whatI was expecting (i.e., a large theater)- it's relatively small and there is no real lighting, so it's house lights at all times.

A smaller, strings-only portion of the CSO came out to tune before the lovely Joanna (cue: "we love you Joanna" choruses here, which carried on throughout the night) and her 3 bandmates made their way on stage. Unexpectedly, we learned that multi-instrumentalist Ryan Francesconi not only arranged the original orchestration for the CSO, but conducted them, while violinist Lila Sklar and drummer Neal Morgan took their places on either side of Joanna for the occasional violin solo or bass drum action. That Joanna has some incredibly well-rounded friends.

As expected, Joanna took the orchestra straight through Ys, and as expected, it was absolutely lovely. Even with the backing of an orchestra, Joanna and her harp are still the heart and soul of the music; "Sawdust and Diamonds" is the only solo piece on the album, and even though the orchestra just sat and watched her, it was still my favorite song of the night. (Sitting and listening to the lyrics more carefully, I also realized it's a song about her harp.) Watching her hands on the harp is unreal. Her voice also seems like it's matured since the days of The Milk-Eyed Mender; the squeaks still appear here and there (though not at the beginning of "Only Skin"), but more and more the weirdness seems to fall away and it's just plain beautiful.

After wrapping up with the haunting "Cosmia", the band and orchestra left the stage for a 20 minute intermission before Joanna returned with her band to treat us to some old and new songs. It was interesting seeing how she adapted songs from the Milk-Eyed Mender, which were recorded solo, to a full band; some interpretations worked well and added new life to the songs (a country-fied version of "Inflammatory Wit" with Joanna at the piano, a bold rendition of "Peach, Plum, Pear"), while others felt like the additional instrumentation was a bit forced ("Bridges and Balloons"). Songs like "Colleen" and a reworked "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie," which were recorded with the band for the Ys Street Band EP, obviously worked well with the band.

Still, I can't help but feel that Joanna is at her best when she's on her own, because there's nothing to distract from her unbelievable harp playing. Eventually during the encore the band left Joanna alone to treat us to her ode to her dog, "Sadie", before wrapping up with a brand new tune that was, dare I say, absolutely stunning.

I've now seen Joanna solo (at the old Bottom Lounge, if you can believe it), playing through Ys with a band (Logan Square Auditorium), and now with a small orchestra. What could she possibly treat me to next?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cinematic Titanic

Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans such as myself, take note: the original cast has a new project called Cinematic Titanic (still making fun of bad movies) and will be hitting up the Lakeshore Theater in December for a series of live performances skewering TBD movies. This is the best news since finding out about Manos: Rock Opera of Fate.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Blue Friday

It's the last day of color week, wrapping things up with Blue. Thanks for letting me participate!


More Radiohead at the Auditorium Theatre, with a crazed fan in the foreground.




Royksopp at the Metro.



Ok, there's not that much blue in this picture outside of his shirt and the brim of his hat, so this is sort of a stretch, but I figured I should have a picture of my arch-nemesis, Thax Douglas, up. Here he's reading his poetry, probably called "Thunderbirds Are Now #2", at Pitchfork.



The adorable Annie in front of a blue backdrop at Intonation 2006. (She also opened for Royksopp at the Metro show above). I think she's supposed to be coming out with a new album soon . . .

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Green

Now it's time for Green Thursday. (Holy crap, is it Thursday already?)



Radiohead @ the Auditorium Theatre, one of the few times I was able to beat the crowd and get tickets to a show that sold out in minutes. That luck would later fail me with Bjork and Flight of the Conchords. Damn you, ticketmaster!




Cat Power rockin' the army green shirt at the Vic Theatre.



Sexy-voiced Jeremy Greenspan of the Junior Boys at one of their many Empty Bottle shows I attended.



And what set of green photos would be complete without an ode to Dan Deacon's trippy green skull? (Actually a shot of the video screen from the Ultimate Reality Tour).


The trippy green skull in the darkness.


Some fan's apparent nod to the trippy green skull.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yellow

Color Week continues today with the color Yellow.



Dan Deacon rockin' the tie-dye at the 2007 Hideout Block Party. No Deacon show is complete without the Gauntlet.



Prefuse 73 brought some live yellow drumming with him to the Empty Bottle back in May 2005.



The utterly ridiculous Brazilian trio Bonde de Role at the Empty Bottle last September. I'm glad I got to catch this show, because singer Marina Ribatski left the band not long after.

And continue to check out the other Color Week blogs here and here, both sites containing links to the other participants.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Color Week

Some design-minded, artsy blogger friends of mine are participating in a "color week", where each day is a different color theme and each blog posts photos relating to that color. I was asked to join in, and since this is a music blog, I figured I'd just pull pics from my concert photo inventory to post for each color theme day throughout the week. You can check out links to the other blogs participating here and here.

I missed out on Red Monday yesterday, so today's Orange Tuesday will have some red in it as well (partly because I couldn't find that much orange . . . but just wait until we get to Blue Friday).


Good ol' Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords rockin' his orange sweatshirt at the Sasquatch Music Festival in May 2008.



Dan Deacon's Ultimate Reality at the Lakeshore Theater 1/25/08. I'm realizing that Dan Deacon will provide me with a vast majority of these pictures. He is nothing if not neon.



Stars at the Metro, February 2006. This was one of the better light shows I've seen at the Metro.



Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal on a ladder during their Metro show in March 2007.



Totally forgot about going to this show, Sufjan Stevens and his Illinois cheerleaders at the Metro in 2005. This project is bringing back memories.


Color Week themes:
Monday - Red/Pink
Tuesday - Orange
Wednesday - Yellow
Thursday - Green
Friday - Blue

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hideout Block Party

The Hideout has finalized its lineup for this year's Hideout Block Party. Looks like it's all about Neko. Here's the full press release:

Hideout Block Party Expands Line-up
Just Added: Rhymefest, Giant Sand, Hercules and Love Affair DJ Set.

We are happy to announce the line-up for the highly anticipated 12th Annual Hideout Block Party. This year will be our most eclectic and international festival yet.

One-time Hideout bartender, Neko Case will headline both nights of our festival with two very different bands. On Saturday, September 20, Ms. Case will lead her own band, performing her critically acclaimed material spanning her career. She will also break out some new un-released material from her upcoming album, scheduled for spring 2009. This will be the only performance that Neko and her band will play in Chicago this year. On Sunday night, Ms. Case will make an increasingly rare live performance with her increasingly popular “other” band, The New Pornographers. This will be the only time this year that she has performed with them in Chicago as well. This is the first and only time that Neko Case has performed with both of her bands, back-to-back in the United States.

We will also highlight band members, and collaborators of Neko Case through out the festival. Kelly Hogan, Neko’s singing partner, and Tom Ray will open Saturday with their kid friendly band, Wee Hairy Beasties, followed by Neko collaborators and tour mates, Giant Sand, from Tucson AZ who will celebrate this summer’s release of their new album.

On Sunday, Jon Rauhouse, Neko’s banjo and pedal steel player, will perform with his Jon Rauhouse Sestet. This will be followed by Tom Ray, Neko’s bass player and his band Devil in a Woodpile, who will perform with recent Grammy winner Honey Boy Edwards, the oldest living original delta bluesman.

Saturday morning will begin precisely at 12 Noon with Plastic Crimewave’s Vision Celestial Guitarkestra, creating a circle of over 100 musicians, and assorted characters, creating a dramatic harmonious drone.

Other Saturday performers will represent four continents of the world. From Europe we will have The KatJon Band, featuring Kat Ex from Amsterdam, and Welsh ex-pat Jon Langford. Next up Hungary’s amazing Little Cow, U.K., rappers dan le sac VS. Scroobius Pip, legendary Plastic People of the Universe from Czech Republic, the incendiary (literally) Monotonix from Israel who will perform amongst the audience, followed by Vieux Farka Toure’ from Mali. Just for some psychedelic fun, we will throw in Canada’s Black Mountain. Meanwhile Drag City’s Neil Hamburger will host his Drunken Spelling Bee inside the bar.

Sunday will celebrate weird, raucous psychedelic pop with Oklahoma’s The Uglysuit, Georgia’s Dark Meat, and NYC’s Tim Fite. Of course there will be a parade by Chicago’s Mucca Pazza.

From this hilarious psychedelic circus we will then pay homage to the 25th Anniversary of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. Robbie Fulks will present for the first time his complete tribute to the King of Pop. Then Michael’s second biggest fan, Rhymefest, will perform material from his “Man in the Mirror” tribute CD. Be sure to dress like a scary night creature, for the culmination of this milestone in dance-pop the Hideout staff will lead the entire audience in the “Zombie Dance”

Now come the 21st century Kings of Pop, New Pornographers.

Enough? We will culminate this year’s Block Party with two on New York’s finest outfits. Ratatat will perform their full show, lights, smoke, projections, the works. This will be followed by a DJ set from uber-hot Hercules and Love Affair. What better way to celebrate the last day of summer, and welcome the first day of fall than by joyously dancing in the streets!

About the Hideout Block Party

From its humble beginnings in 1996, the Hideout’s Block party has grown into an, influential international music festival. In 2007 Chicago Magazine called the Hideout Block Party, “Perennially the Best Music Festival in Chicago.” Over the last 11 years the Hideout’s Block Parties have raised over $200,000 for various local charities. Organizations participating this year will include: Chalk for Peace, Rock for Kids, Future of Music, and Voter Registration. Charities to benefit are Tuesdays Child, Thomas Drummond Elementary School, www.Oscarmeyergardenproject.weebly.com. And Literacy Works

For more info check: www.hideoutblockparty.com or www.hideoutchicago.com

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ladies

I can't say enough how excited I am for tonight's Joanna Newsom show with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I've been immersing myself in Joanna this week in preparation, and I splurged on the pricier floor seats in anticipation. I'm expecting great things.

Meanwhile, Mirah has added a show at the Epiphany on Wednesday, October 15. I'd like to see a Joanna Newsom/Mirah tour- get my two favorite female artists together in one place. This "Epiphany" has been scheduling some great shows lately- let's hope the venue itself lives up, since I have yet to experience it. I'd say this fall's concert schedule is shaping up to be the best in recent memory.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Smooth X

Well this just sounds crazy . . .



Saturday 9/6/2008
7:00 PM
21+
$40.00

Live from the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago's lovely Monroe Harbor!
Stay Smooth X: Overboard!
A night of '70s AM Gold, '80s FM Rock & Contemporary Smooth Gems!

with DJs Bald Eagle & STV SLV

and special guest hosts from the cast of Yacht Rock, screening the entire Yacht Rock series, plus a live performance from smooth cover band Haulin' Boats.

$40 - For all this Smooth and a hosted bar from 7 - 10 PM.

But let's hear what Schubas has to say about the event:

"After two years and eight and a half Stay Smooth events, Bald Eagle and STV SLV are trading in land for water for their smoothest party yet. Located aboard the Columbia Yacht Club’s Abegweit vessel in downtown Chicago, Stay Smooth X will feature DJ sets, a live cover band performing Boz Scaggs, Hall & Oates, Christopher Cross and plenty more plus special guest hosts from the infamous web-based show Yacht Rock as well as a screening of the entire series that introduced smooth music to a whole new generation. While the boat won’t set sail, patrons will enjoy a spectacular view of downtown Chicago as well as a 180 degree view of Lake Smoothigan via two open, outside decks high atop the water. From 7-10PM well drinks and beer will be provided, and patrons can also enjoy two specially crafted Tommy Bahama Rum drinks via the Stay Smooth Jet Spray Machine.

Smooth attitude suggested and proper attire requested: captain’s hats, jean shorts, short shorts, sailor shirts, knee high socks, friendship bracelets, sunglasses, beards and staches, feathered hair, chest hair and flip flops."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wings of Change

Having a radio show, I get promo CDs in the mail at the station fairly regularly. Most of them are junk and end up in the Free CD pile. Every now and then I get a gem. This week, appearing in my inbox: Wings of Change: Native Flute Solos by Robert WindPony, inspired by Barack Obama and dedicated to a new knid of leadership for America.



I'm not sure the use of the Obama logo above is totally legal. Robert Windpony also points out in the liner notes that he can teach you to learn to play the flute in just one day, from one of his 1500 flutes in stock. www.grandcanyonflutes.com.

And the tracklist:

1. Wings of Change
2. Foresight
3. Hope
4. Unity
5. The Wind Speaks
6. Green Prosperity
7. Dignity
8. Yes We Will
9. Solar Waves
10. Seeing All Sides
11. Answers
12. Windpony Serenade

Awesome.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Groceries

Minneapolis-by-way-of-Madison screenprinters Aesthetic Apparatus have, in addition to their plethora of indie rock posters, a new book called "Misplaced Groceries", which is a photography book of, obviously, misplaced grocery items they find in the store. The rules: no touching misplaced groceries, touching anything around the misplaced groceries, or faking a misplaced grocery item. Unexpectedly, the pictures and their corresponding titles are pretty hilarious. I can see how this hobby could become an obsession.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Street Fest Madness

How did this street festival escape me? The inaugural Raven Festival, happening this weekend at Chase Park in Ravenswood, has a pretty impressive lineup.

South stage
1 p.m.: Deanna Devore
3 p.m.: MOS Funnel
4:45 p.m.: The Janes
5 p.m.: Tulsa
7 p.m.: Chin Up Chin Up
9 p.m.: Tapes 'n Tapes

North stage
Noon: Typhanie Monique Trio
2 p.m.: Thomas Pace
4 p.m.: piNK dEVil
6 p.m.: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
8 p.m.: White Rabbits

Sunday music lineup:

South stage
Noon: Chris Bryan
1:15 p.m.: Paper Airplane Pilots
3 p.m.: Jukebox the Ghost
5 p.m.: Bound Stems
7 p.m.: The M's

North stage
1 p.m.: Ash Avenue
2 p.m.: Gooey
4 p.m.: Detholz!
6 p.m.: Dirty on Purpose

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Uptown Theatre Sale

An interesting article in the Reader detailing how Jam Productions recently purchased the Uptown Theatre, and why this is good for the Chicago concert landscape.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Upcoming Shows

Got some good shows coming up in the next few months as big festivals no longer take up all the Chicago stops on bands' tours.

Matthew Dear- Friday, August 15 @ Smart Bar
Joanna Newsom w/ Chicago Symphony Orchestra- Friday, August 22 @ CSO
Andrew Bird- Wednesday, September 3 @ Millenium Park (this summer's answer to last summer's incredible Decemberist's show- get your spots early!)
Cut Copy- Wednesday, September 17 @ Metro
Calexico w/ Mariachi Luz de Luna- Thursday, September 25 @ Millenium Park (part of Music Without Borders series)
My Bloody Valentine- Saturday, September 27 @ the Aragon
Hot Chip- Sunday, September 28 @ Metro
Sunset Rubdown- Friday, October 4 @ Empty Bottle
Dan Deacon presents "Eyes Night"- Friday, October 11 @ Epiphany
Dan Deacon presents "Ears Night"- Saturday, October 12 @ Epiphany
The Notwist- Friday, October 17 @ Logan Square Auditorium

And that takes me through early fall . . . the busiest concert lineup I've had in awhile, and there's much more to be booked or other shows still under consideration.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Baltimore Round Robin

Um . . . this sounds amazing. Well done, Dan Deacon, well done. Get October 10 and 11 at the Epiphany on the calendar ASAP!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Manic Pixie Dream Girl

The Onion AV Club has finally put a name to the film archetype I despise the most: the cute, quirky, spontaneous yet ultimately completely shallow girl that swoops in on some poor schlub of a man to save his life from whatever self-absorbed personal crisis he is currently experiencing. (Yes you, Natalie Portman in Garden State). The AV Club takes a look at 16 movies over the years that feature this so-called "MPDG". My favorite quote: "Oh, Natalie, your unconventional ways are so inspiring, and your beauty is surprisingly non-threatening! In Garden State, she's a loveably eccentric little angel in the body of a smokin'-hot goddess, spreading good cheer and tuneful indie rock to depressed boys everywhere." Brilliant.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

She & Him w/ Becky Stark @ Park West, 8/5/08

This was one of the most fun shows I've been to in a long time. I've found She & Him's debut album, the work of M. Ward and indie actress Zooey Deschanel, to be pleasant enough, though by no means outstanding. Live, however, Zooey's voice proved to be much stronger than on record, and the songs just made me incredibly toe-tappingly happy. "Adorable" is probably the best term I can use to describe She & Him's performance, and I mean that in a good way, not in an annoying, cloying way.

Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond opened for She & Him in addition to later providing backing vocals for the band. I'm not especially familiar with Lavender Diamond's catalog and found her music sweet though ultimately unmemorable; still, I thought Becky was hilarious and enjoyed listening to her on stage, especially as Zooey, M. Ward and most of the She & Him band joined her at various times during her set. Speaking with other show-goers afterwards, some people thought she was ditzy and annoying, but I thought the ditz-act was intentional and sarcastic, and I decided I liked her. Let's hang sometime, Becky.

I've had a big girl-crush on Zooey Deschanel ever since seeing her in All the Real Girls, and it was clear when she came on stage that every other girl in the audience felt the same way- I think more girls were swooning than boys. Zooey is clearly still working on her stage banter (i.e. not enough of it- though occasional sarcastic comments slipped through that made me *heart* her even more), but it's clear from her presence that as an actress she is comfortable on stage. Some of her songs are a bit too slow for me, but she conveniently left most of those off the set list in favor of fun, 60s girl group-vibed songs like "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here", "This Is Not a Test" and "Sweet Darlin'", a song I haven't been able to get out of my head ever since. In addition to covers already on her album ("You Really Got a Hold on Me"), she also gave us a Joni Mitchell song and a cover of "I Put a Spell on You", an unexpected belter that proved she had more up her vocal sleeves than we thought.

M. Ward spent most of the show quietly playing his guitar in the background, offering a few backing vocals here and there, but mostly letting Zooey take center stage. During the encore we were treated to some Matt and Zooey alone time with the aforementioned "Spell", and the two seemed to have some good chemistry together. Are they dating? If not, they should be. Finally, just when you didn't think the band had any songs left to sing, the group left us with a rousing rendition of M. Ward's "Magic Trick." And good times were had by all.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Lollapalooza Recap

After 3 exhausting days and the day off yesterday to recuperate, it's time to take a brief look at my 2008 Lollapalooza experience. As usual, Lolla proved to be a relatively well-run, if not overwhelmingly large, festival with only a few minor hiccups. The weather proved to be far superior than expected, making for a much more tolerable outdoor experience than, say, Lolla 2005. The north half of the festival was much more enjoyable than the overwhelming south half, with smaller stages and smaller crowds overall; I'd make a point to spend more time there in future Lollas if the line-ups warrant it. The food options were tasty, local and relatively cheap. The smaller Citi stage made it possible to see bands amongst a much smaller audience; it felt more like being at a street festival than at the behomoth that is Lollapalooza.

Having seen Radiohead 5 times now, I'd put their Friday night performance near the bottom when compared to previous experiences- I knew In Rainbows would be emphasized over other albums, but the focus on new material was a bit excessive; when a band has 7 albums and tons of B-side/EP material, they owe it to give fans a bit more of a career overview, which they have in the past. Still, any Radiohead show will always be at least good, and the fireworks/helicopter/cloud moving overhead during the encore (I'm now convinced Radiohead can also control the weather) were nice touches, even if not always intentional. Meanwhile, I'm only a passing Wilco fan, but watching them with friends on a beautiful, cool night with the skyline in the background can't be beat. And Kanye West was just complete, Obama-free sensory overload.

Other highlights and lowlights:
- We apparently arrived at Lollapalooza at the exact same time as 75% of the crowd on Friday (2:00pm), because the line to the front gate was astronomically long. Friends that showed up just 2 hours later reported flying right through the gates. It would have taken us well over an hour to get through, so we paid some high school kid $20 to let us stand in front of him (which, I will admit, made us feel pretty cool, and probably made him feel pretty cool, so everyone won). It still took us 30 minutes to get through the gates, meaning I only made it for the last 4 songs of Yeasayer. Oh well, it sounded good anyway.
- During Wilco, a guy in front of us who happened to have a lot of space in front of him decided to use that space as his own personal toilet. After everyone around him realized this and made the space around him even larger, a poor girl walked right into his path before anyone could stop her. After realizing she had just been pissed on, she started screaming at him for pissing on her, saying it could be seen as sexual harrassment; but just before a serious fight could emerge, he produced a joint for her and suddenly, all was well! She brought out a flask, they laughed about how he has pissed on her, she went up for the high five (completely forgetting where that hand had been 2 minutes earlier), and then went on her merry way, while 15+ people around them watched this entire exchange in shock and awe. This was the most ridiculous 5 minutes I have ever experienced at a festival. I have concerns that this was positive reinforcement and that gross guy may start using that tactic to pick up women in the future.
- Walking into the festival Sunday evening, a golf cart beeped behind us and passed to reveal it was carrying Perry Farrell. He looks exactly the same in person.
- Gnarls Barkley covering Radiohead was pretty cool.

And now a break from festivals until the Hideout Block Party. Back to watching shows in actual venues, starting with She & Him tonight.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lollapalooza: Sunday

Sigh. I'm really not in the mood for Sunday. There are a hodgepodge of good bands across the park throughout the day, but neither end of the park has the obviously superior lineup (and the entire day's lineup is definitely inferior to Friday and Saturday). My options:

North side (Bud Light): Iron & Wine 4:15pm, The National 7:15pm, Nine Inch Nails 8:15pm.
South side (Myspace): Chromeo 3:15pm, Gnarls Barkley 6:15pm, Girl Talk 6:30pm, Kanye West 8:30pm.

Honestly, I might just be so tired and sunburned that I'll show up at 7:15 to see the National, or at 8:30pm to see if Obama introduces Kanye. If Obama introduces Wilco on Saturday, my decision will be made.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lollapalooza: Saturday

Saturday at Lollapalooza will be spent across the park at the "Bud Light" and "Playstation 3" stages. (It sort of pains me to write those words). Not missing much over in the Myspace area other than Jamie Lidell and Battles this day (MGMT? Brand New? No thanks. Though I wouldn't mind hearing Toadies do "Possum Kingdom" for nostalgia's sake). Anyhoo, I'm not feeling any real need to show up until . . .

SATURDAY
3:30pm- Devotchka. I haven't able to get into A Mad and Faithful Telling as much as How It Ends, but it's indisputable that Devotchka put on a great live show. Apparently on their last tour there were acrobats; not sure that will work on a festival stage, but here's hoping.

4:30pm- Explosions in the Sky. This will either be really amazing or really boring.

5:30pm- Okkervil River. One of the best sets of Sasquatch, Okkervil River should be previewing some tunes from their forthcoming album, The Stand Ins, reportedly a sequel to the Stage Names. Hopefully they'll still play "Unless It's Kicks", though.

6:30pm- Broken Social Scene. I'm a bit disappointed by this Pitchfork news item that says BSS will be touring behind Kevin Drew's and Brendan Canning's solo albums, with only 7 members. Does that mean no Emily Haines or Amy Millan?

7:30pm- Dinner to the sounds of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.

8:30pm- Wilco. The big question- will Obama be hanging out with Jeff Tweedy on stage?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lollapalooza: Friday

After a couple years off, I'll be attending Lollapalooza again this weekend. Like I did 2 weekends ago for Pitchfork, I'll be running through my planned schedule, day by day this week.

FRIDAY
Friday will be spent entirely by the AT&T/MySpace stages, which means missing the Black Lips, the Raconteurs, The Black Keys, The Go! Team and Cat Power. I'm ok with this. (Do you think there are Raconteurs fans so rabid they will miss most of Radiohead when they walk the mile over after the show?)

If I can get there early enough (unlikely), I'll check out The Holy F*** and the Rogue Wave at 12:15.

2:15pm- Yeasayer. I've seen Yeasayer twice in the past year, once at another festival (Sasquatch), but I just can't get enough.

3:15pm- The Kills. I'll probably use this time to hang out, relax, get food, etc., but I'm interested to see if the Kills have as much sexual chemistry as they seem to do on record. Too bad one of them is now dating Kate Moss- maybe she'll be hanging around.

4:15pm- Gogol Bordello. I've never actually seen or heard them, but I'm assuming this will be fun.

5:15pm- Catch the beginning of Mates of State. It's been a few years since I've seen the Mates live, and I haven't checked out their last couple albums, but gosh darn are they adorable. This show will make me a bit nostalgic for the time I saw them in a little cafe in London. But I'll only see 20 minutes or so, since I'll want to head over for . . .

5:45pm- Grizzly Bear. Hopefully the outdoor setting will treat them and their gorgeous sound right.

6:15pm- Dinner time, to the sounds of Bloc Party. Also- start getting a spot for Radiohead time.

7:15pm- Listen to Stephen Malkmus while waiting for Radiohead. Get a glimpse of Janet Weiss on drums. Too bad CSS is playing at the same time, but going to the Citi stage to see them would mean losing a reasonable space near the Myspace stage for Radiohead. Bad luck, CSS.

8pm- Radiohead, duh. Though still no show will beat Grant Park, 2002.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tim Harrington

RFC photographer Kirstiecat got this great shot of Tim Harrington offering haircuts. So bummed I didn't see this!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Indie Rock/Celebrity Love

So Natalie Portman and Devendra Banhart are and item, and she's in his latest music video. This is the type of news I get from People.com.

But then at the bottom of the blurb is a link to pictures of other celebrities and their indie rock loves. Jigga-what? The apocalypse is now.

Some particularly odd ones:
Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams (who looks frightening in that picture)
Andy Samberg and Joanna Newsom (How on earth did this happen? And what happened to Bill Callahan??)
Fred Armisen and occasional Decemberist Petra Haden
Jeff Goldblum and Imogen Heap (???)
Winona Ryder and Blake Sennett from Rilo Kiley and the Elected (sans mustache, apparently)

Feist

Feist on Sesame Street


Feist does the ultra-adorable and teaches Sesame Street-ers to count to four. But wait- where did she get that four in the video, when Stephen Colbert has been hoarding them all?

P4K Black Kids review

What on earth is this supposed to mean? I guess that the Pitchfork love affair with the Black Kids is over.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pitchfork Wrap-Up

Whew. After a long weekend of standing on my feet, I am exhausted. Can't wait to do it all again in 2 weeks for Lollapalooza. Yikes.

Overall, this year's festival was a huge improvement over last year's, which had a myriad of sound and stage issues. This year the sound was infinitely better, and the new and improved Balance Stage was actually the best stage of the festival- much more spacious and surrounded by trees that kept the audience shaded from the sun. There was a little bit of sound bleed between the stages, though it was only noticeable when a band played ultra quietly (Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes) or someone sound checked too loudly (Hold Steady, I'm looking at you). That's to be expected at almost any festival though.

Some brief highlights:
!!!- !!!'s newest material was killer live, and tracks like "Must Be the Moon" and "Heart of Hearts" sent us into a crazed dancing frenzy. The band added a bad-ass female singer since I last saw them 4 years ago, and she only added to the fun. Nic Offer dancing in his short shorts is always a sight to behold.

Animal Collective- The AC translated surprisingly well from the intimate confines of the Empty Bottle to the giant psychedelic light show of the outdoor festival stage. Other than "Peacebone" and "Fireworks", the Collective treated us to the usual bevy of new, unknown tracks, some of which were pretty incredible. Oh- and they played Panda Bear's "Comfy in Nautica". Prety awesome. But why was there only 3 members on stage- where was Deakin?

Les Savy Fav- The usual performance from everyone's favorite chubby, bearded, balding, shirtless, spandexed frontman. Yes, Tim Harrington, it makes complete sense for you to play in a Sherlock Holmes costume.

Cut Copy- This was on its way to becoming the only black mark on the weekend (other than the muddy fields of Saturday, which meant I couldn't ever sit down). After the show was seemingly 15 minutes late and roadies came out to chuck water bottles and energy drinks at us in attempts to appease the packed and antsy crowd, out comes Brandon Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound) and someone from King Khan to let us know that Cut Copy was "stuck at the airport" and they'd be playing some jams in the meantime. (Aside- why is it Brandon Cox is always there when my musical expectations are foiled?) Considering the park's curfew was 10pm and it was already after 9, we figured they wouldn't have enough time to play and left the stage to watch a bit of Spoon. Luckily, an astute friend stuck around and texted us when it was announced Cut Copy would be on in 5 minutes, so we raced back to the Balance Stage just in time for the band to take the stage. We were then treated to a brief but fantastic 20-minute dance party, made much more enjoyable due to the personal space we got from the significantly thinner crowd. A great way to end the weekend. I went into this show not totally sure how I felt about the 80's dance party sounds of In Ghost Colours, but came away a believer. Anyone who felt their time with Cut Copy was cut short can take heart in the fact that they will be returning to Chicago with the Presets at the Metro on September 17.

I left the camera home this weekend, but check out pics from my photographer friends at Radio Free Chicago.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pitchfork Picks: Sunday

My interest in the Sunday lineup is more concentrated towards the second half of the day. (I will make sure NOT to be in the park for Times New Viking at 1, a band I cannot for the life of me understand, both literally and figuratively). I'll probably treat myself to sleeping in and enjoying a nice brunch before making sure I'm at Union Park in time for . . .

4pm- Les Savy Fav. It's another repeat band from Intonation by Pitchfork 2005, but chances to see Les Savy Fav are rare, so I'll take what I can get. Beyond singer Tim Harrington's legendary antics, their latest album, Let's Stay Friends, is fantastic, and I hope they play "Pots and Pans."

5pm- The Dodos. I've been very much enjoying this album as of late, and I've heard they put on a good live show.

6pm- M. Ward. If only Zooey Deschanel would make a guest appearance! (Though I'll be seeing She & Him in August at Park West, so no biggie).

7:30pm- Bon Iver. This'll be my first time visiting the balance stage. I'm hoping that the crowd that was there at 6 to see Ghostface and Raekwon will empty out (different fanbase, right?), giving me a good spot to see Bon Iver since they usually play sitting down. It will be interesting to see how they fare in the outdoors; while their sound usually lends itself to intimate spaces, it does have a bit of a nature-y vibe (recorded in a Wisconsin cabin, after all) that could translate.

8:25pm- Cut Copy. One of the acts I'm most excited for. !!! provides the dancing on Saturday, and Cut Copy provides the dancing on Sunday. It should be (mostly) dark by this point, which will help it feel more like a dance club and less like a parking lot.

9pm- Spoon. I'll miss the beginning of Spoon for Cut Copy, but that's ok as I've seen Spoon 5 times now, and only once or twice have they really impressed me live. Should be interesting to hear Ga Ga Ga . . . tracks, but Girls Can Tell and Kill the Moonlight will always be my go-to Spoon albums.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pitchfork Picks: Saturday

Let's take a look at my planned schedule for Pitchfork this Saturday. Let me just say now I'm much more excited for Sunday's lineup, specifically the lineup starting at 4pm.

1:30pm- Jay Reatard. I've heard a lot of talk about this Jay Reatard. I have never taken any steps to find out what he sounds like, though his name definitely provides some guidance. I figure here's a good chance to find out what this guy is all about and either embrace or soundly reject him, which is what I feel my options are.

2pm- Caribou. I saw them recently at the Empty Bottle, so this will be an opportune time to park a blanket in between the two stages and listen from the ground. Chances are high that I'll stay on said blanket during:
3pm- Fleet Foxes
4pm- Dizzee Rascal
5pm- Vampire Weekend
This is the 4th year I'll be attending this festival, and now that I've seen most of the bands in the lineup in other contexts, including previous Pitchfork Festivals, I think this is the year I spend more time relaxing to the music with friends instead of running frantically around between stages trying to get the best view. This weekend's weather forecast (hot and humid) is definitely adding to this decision. As far as this middle-Saturday block, I just saw Fleet Foxes at Sasquatch, have seen Dizzee Rascal and am not as into his new stuff, and I'm very "blah" on Vampire Weekend in general, so it's a good time to park it and/or wander around for a bit.

6pm- !!!. Here is where I get off my blanket to watch !!! and dance it up. I saw !!! outdoors at Coachella in 2004 and had an absolute blast, even in 100 degree weather. Singer Nic Offer is hilarious. Their recent album Myth Takes is far superior to their previous work, so my expectations for fun are even higher.

7pm- Get some dinner and get in position for Jarvis, while listening to the Hold Steady from afar. Even though the HS has a new album coming out that might be interesting to hear, I did just see them several months ago, as well as in a past Pitchfork festival (when it was Intonation?). I'd rather get myself ready for Jarvis Cocker's first midwest appearance in 12 years, or whatever the statistic is.

8pm- Jarvis. This is the kind of special performance you want to have at a festival, i.e. not the typical touring bands that were just at the Metro 3 months ago. So excited.

9pm- Animal Collective. AC are notorious for playing almost entirely new material at each show, so the quality of their performance will depend on the quality of their new stuff. It will be interesting to see how they are continuing to evolve as they become more pop-oriented. (This is not a complaint).

Sunday picks to come tomorrow morning; expect more Balance stage acts then, assuming they've fixed the sound problems of last year.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bird Blogging

I missed this one when it came out a few weeks ago, but Andrew Bird has a newer post on the New York Times' "Measure for Measure" blog where he chronicles the creation of his next record. Apparently now he is concerned he likes his new record "too much."

Monday, July 14, 2008

P4K Week Begins

Interesting; according to Jim DeRogatis, Lollapalooza poached a bunch of the bands Pitchfork wanted this year, and that's why we're seeing a lot of repeats. Maybe Lollapalooza poached all the female artists while they were at it?

I'll post my Pitchfork Picks later this week.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Schubas giveaway

Quick, Schubas fans, get in on this contest today to win free tickets to Lollapalooza:

Friday 7/11/2008 9:59 PM All Ages
Win A Pair of Lollapalooza 3-Day Passes!

Ok folks, this is the big one.

Just send an email to contest@schubas.com with "Lolla Giveaway Round 1" in the subject line, and the answer to the following question in the body:

Name 10 Lollapalooza 2008 artists that have also played Schubas Tavern.

We'll pick a name at 4:00 PM Friday, July 11th.
Please include your full name and a phone number where we can reach you with the great news.

You'll find a helpful resource for this question in the Backstage section of Schubas.com

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wolf Parade @ the House of Blues, 7/8/08

I'm not sure what more I can say about Wolf Parade and it's members that I haven't said already before. I have thoroughly enjoyed, if not loved, every album that has come from Wolf Parade and its members' side projects. So even though they've graduated to the House of Blues (which really isn't that much bigger than the Metro, though it comes with more douchebags in the audience), I was still excited to see them on Tuesday and hear the new album live. The show pretty much lived up to my expectations as being another solid showcase of their music, though it does seem like Spencer and Dan are saving their most passionate displays of performance for their side projects at this point (or maybe that passion is just easier to discern in smaller venues). Regardless, Spencer was his usual intense self, hovered over the keyboards; Dante DeCaro seemed a little more subdued than usual (I guess it's not as easy to run drunkenly out the side door to pee in the street mid-performance as it is at Schubas); and Dan Boeckner seemed somewhat physically transformed from his usual mullet-y, tight t-shirt, heroin-addict skinny punk rock self to a more 6th-year senior college student look- he got a hair cut, grew a lazy goatee, and hid his waifiness in a plaid button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Maybe marriage does that to a person.

Wolf Parade played the bulk of the new stuff up front and saved most of Apologies to the Queen Mary for the end, "when they'd run out of new music," according to Spencer. Some kids on the main floor tried crowdsurfing (see: more douchebags in the audience), which was annoying and misplaced. I also thoroughly enjoyed watching the couple in front of us as the guy spent the majority of the show trying to "explain" the band to the girl ("Spencer's voice is the best. No, I promise you'll get used to it.") Nothing's funnier than seeing a person really into music bringing a significant other not as into music to a show and listening to their conversation. On a side note, it's amusing to me that Spencer's voice has been so embraced by the masses, because it's so weird. During show-closer "Kissing the Beehive", some guy next to me did his best to imitate Spencer's yelps during the "Fire in the hole, oh oh!" part. I got the feeling he had a band where he was trying to sing like that too.

Also, as someone who has recently taken up playing keyboards, watching Spencer play made me realize how good he is, and how I've got quite a ways to go before I'm at his level. It's inspiration to work harder!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Barry

This Obama shirt designed by the National is hilarious, especially considering the actual lyrics to "Mr. November."

We'll have to see if the National wax political when they stop by Lollapalooza on August 3rd.

Monday, July 07, 2008

White

This interview in Salon.com with Stuff White People Like blogger Christian Lander (found here in case you're one of the few people who hasn't yet been forwarded the site by one of your friends) is pretty hilarious, assuming you find the site funny in the first place. When asked what the whitest band is right now, he said Vampire Weekend. Ha! Soooooo true.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Radiohead interview

Hey! Thom Yorke and Ed O'Brien get interviewed by the Onion's AV Club. See them discuss "erotic landscapes."

Yes!!

I have been waiting to see this for 2 years!

Ever since Joanna Newsom's Ys came out in 2006, I've been waiting for her to come to Chicago and play with an orchestra. I did get to see her at the Logan Square Auditorium play Ys in its entirety adapted for her Ys Street Band, but it would still be great to hear it live in all its orchestral glory. Well, now we can see her play with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Symphony Center on August 22; as well as a show with just the band (and presumably Milk-Eyed Mender songs and . . . new stuff?).

The show isn't yet posted on the CSO website, but hopefully tickets will be available soon.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wolf Parade

The new Wolf Parade album is solid (phew!). I would have been so disappointed if it was not good. So far there are no obvious standouts like "I'll Believe in Anything" and the overall feel of it is a bit "sunnier" than the last album, but I will say I'm pleased. I also now have a ticket to see them at the House of Blues on July 8; obviously nothing will ever live up to their amazing 2006 Schubas show, but I'll still be glad to hear the new stuff live. Their side projects (Handsome Furs @ Empty Bottle August 17th!) are still under-the-radar enough to spend time with the WP boys in more intimate settings.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Reader Best Of

WLUW gets a shout out in the Reader's Best of Chicago 2008 even though Monica Kendrick goes with WHPK as her favorite. Still, it's nice to see a WLUW blurb that doesn't mention CHIRP or Loyola in it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mash

At a wedding this weekend,I made a request for some LCD Soundsystem. The DJ mashed up LCD Soundsystem's "Someone Great" with Justin Timberlake's "My Love." It sort of worked. Still, it proved to be far better than the typically wedding DJ fare.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Phair

The Liz Phair Exile in Guyville show tomorrow night may have sold out, but you can apparently buy tickets here for half off. Some broker bit off more then they could chew apparently . . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CHIRP/WLUW in the Sun Times

Media columnist Robert Feeder has a blurb today on people leaving WLUW when it transitions to Loyola on the 1st. It sort of implies there's going to be some grand change as of 7/1, which there won't be other than those DJs leaving. As it stands now, the existing station manager will be staying through the end of the year, so not a whole lot is going to be changing unless you were a regular listener of an exiting DJ.

Lolla

The Lollapalooza schedule is now up for our perusing. The lineup always seems so much smaller once it's put into schedule form. Here's the 2007 Lolla map to try and figure out just how far all the bands you want to see are away from each other. Hopefully all the bands you want to see aren't on the Bud Light and AT&T stages, or you've got quite a hike ahead of you!

I think this year I'll take it easy and just pick one end of the park each day to hang out at. A quick look at the lineups makes me think Friday, Softball fields (Rogue Wave, Yeasayer, the Kills, Gogol Bordello, Grizzly Bear, Mates of State, Stephen Malkmus, CSS, Radiohead); Saturday, Butler Field (Devotchka, Broken Social Scene, Explosions in the Sky, Okkervil River, Wilco); and Sunday's actually pretty weak so it's a toss up (Butler field- National and Iron and Wine, Softball- Chromeo, Girl Talk, Gnarls Barkley).

Who's excited to see Toadies do "Possum Kingdom"?

Meanwhile, a few of the Lolla bands are playing that weekend at various Chicago venues in case you can't see them at the fest (though I always wonder who has the energy after a day on your feet in the sun):

8/1
Brand New @ House of Blues
Mates of State w/ MGMT @ Double Door

8/2
Battles w/ Foals @ Double Door
Broken Social Scene @ Metro
Bloc Party @ House of Blues

and lots more I'm too lazy to spell out . . .