Friday, May 30, 2008

Sasquatch Day 1

I have to say, Sasquatch turned out to be one of the better festivals I've attended. The Gorge scenery was amazing (especially when compared to the arid, scorching desert of Coachella), the weather almost perfect (just a little rain during REM), the crowds well controlled and not overwhelmingly large, the bathroom and water lines reasonably short, and it was relatively easy to get in and out of the park by car. The stages were close enough to each other to get around easily and having only 3 stages (Sasquatch, Wookie, Yeti, har har) meant there wasn't too much overlap between bands I wanted to see (unlike Lollapalooza's overwhelmingly large lineup and stages all over Grant Park) . My only complaint was expensive food and drink ($12 for a beer?) and very few choices, but that's not entirely unexpected at this point. I would definitely go to this festival again, if not just for the amazing drive from Seattle to George.

Here's a rundown of my Saturday experience:

2:10 Beirut. My friend and I pulled into the park to the sounds of Beirut; not a bad way to start. We made it into the amphitheater just as they were wrapping up; funny how a band that can dominate the Empty Bottle stage with people can look so small from a thousand feet up.

3:15 Ozomatli. We didn't want to give up the cushy grass spot we'd secured during Beirut, so we were forced to sit through this set. Bleargh. Latin music and rap- not the best combo.

4:20 The National. Or not. Seattle native Rainn Wilson (!!!), aka Dwight K. Schrute, came on stage to let us know that the National would not be playing because they "were too depressed and arty." Actually, their bus had broken down in Canada, so they would be playing at 7:45pm on the "Yeti" stage, the smallest stage of the 3. A blessing in disguise, as I would later get to enjoy watching the National with hundreds of people instead of thousands. So in their place, Rainn announced that we would get to hear from Fleet Foxes, who had played earlier on the stage at noon (this announcement came only after Rainn performed an extended reading of the wikipedia entry on foxes from his blackberry). I had heard much buzz about Fleet Foxes from P4k and the like and was surprised to find they were more sit-down folk-y (lots of long hair) than the rock I was expecting. It was a nice performance overall and I'll probably make a point to check out their recent album before seeing them again at Pitchfork this July.

5:25 The New Porngraphers. Joined by Neko Case and Dan Bejar (who had just finished up a Destroyer performance on the "Wookie" stage minutes earlier), Carl Newman struggled through his trademark sound difficulties (remember when he played an entire song in the wrong tune at Intonation a few years ago?) but charmed his way through them regardless. "Myriad Harbour" was the highlight of the set, one of the few Dan Bejar songs I actually like featuring some of the best call and response work since "Don't You Want Me Baby." (Kidding). (Sort of).

6:30 Grand Archives. We finally took off from the grass to hit up the smaller stages, which had the benefit of audiences that were there to actually see the bands instead of lounge all day in the amphitheater lawn. We needed dinner, and the food area was conveniently next to the Yeti stage, so we ate our $7 pizzas to the sounds of Band of Horses alum Grand Archives. They sounded like, well, a poppier Band of Horses.

7:15 Okkervil River. One of the bands I was most looking forward to, I had to pass on seeing M.I.A. (my only serious conflict) so I could finally see Will Sheff spit all over the front row with his ultra-passionate vocals on the Wookie stage. A pleasant surprise was the addition of Charles Bissell of the Wrens as a touring guitarist. Will did not disappoint, and he and Okkervil River brought a ridiculous amount of energy to the stage. "Unless It's Kicks" was everything I hoped it would be and more. My friend deemed this band her favorite new find of the festival.

8:00 The National. The National made it to the Gorge just in time, and the audience got to experience a much closer view of singer Matt Berninger's ultra intense, verge-of-tears singing style and the awesome violin stylings of Padma Newsome. This is slit-your-wrists music, but someone forgot to tell the dude standing in front of us, who was dancing to the "beat" like he was at an all-night rave.

8:45 Modest Mouse. We caught the tail-end of Modest Mouse as we returned to the main stage. I've given up on Modest Mouse as a live band, so I wasn't too bummed to have missed the majority of their set, save for "Float On" and "Paper Thin Walls". Someday I'll get a time machine and try to see them in 2001.

10:00 REM. At this point it was starting to rain, so we decided to check out the beginning of REM's performance before heading back to the Econolodge. (Lots of people go to Sasquatch for the camping experience, but I can't think of anything I want to do less after a long day of festival watching than camp, so we slept 70s-motel style). I thought there would be a lot of excitement from REM fans with this performance, but I was surprised by how incredibly lackluster the crowd on the pavillion seemed to be about the show- there was virtually no cheering. With a fresh round of sound problems, I heard "What's the Frequency, Kenneth", a new song, and some old song we remembered being better than it was before we decided we were bored and wet. We weren't the only ones, as a steady stream of people made its way out of the amphitheater to their cars/tents.

We took off Sunday to do some wine tasting in the area and recover before returning to the Gorge for the 3rd and final day of the festival, and most importantly, the day featuring Flight of the Conchords. Check back in on Monday for a recap of day 3's lineup.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sasquatch 2008

Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99
My pictures from Sasquatch are up now on Flickr. Check out the gorgeous views of the gorge behind the stage! More on the festival and the bands in the coming days.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Indie-rock-in commercials-watch: looks like Marriott has added to its hip commercial soundtrack (Andrew Bird) with ... The Junior Boys' "In the Morning"! Almost makes me want to stay in a Marriott.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I've been MIA over the last few days as I've been out of town for work, and unfortunately I haven't been able to post a review of the solid Helio Sequence show I caught last Thursday as a result. (It was good. Hopefully more words will be written about it soon). However, tomorrow I leave for Seattle for the weekend to experience the Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge for the first time: quality music abounds with Flight of the Conchords (!!!), New Pornographers, Okkervil River, Yeasayer, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, etc. etc. etc. There is even a comedy tent with acts like Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter (foolishly booked alongside Flight of the Conchords). So next week expect a Sasquatch extravaganza on the site with lots of pictures and commentary.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Ben Gibbard interviews Mark Kozelek for the Onion. Kind of like that time David Byrne interviewed Thom Yorke for Wired Magazine.

I should start a magazine that's all musicians interviewing each other.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Drinking and Writing

This Saturday the Drinking and Writing Brewery (heard on WLUW with their Drinking and Writing Brewery Radio Show) has its second annual "Beerfly Alleyfight- Drink! Eat Watch!", a beer+food+art pairing competition at the Rock Bottom Brewery. It's $20 from 1-5pm.

The jist? Ten home brewers will be given basic ingredients to brew a beer. They will pair it with a food they make (or they have someone make), and then they will be paired with a Chicago artist (could be a writer, a painter, musician, a dancer...) who will interpret the pairing in an ass-kickin', alleyfight way like you've never seen.

Also look out for the 4th annual Drinking and Writing Festival on June 14th at the Hopleaf.

New show up!

Hey, what do you know? I finally got up a new episode of the show for your podcasting pleasure. Hit up the site or iTunes to listen.

I'll be out of town the next two weeks and DJ Mica will be filling in, but I'll be back on a (generally) every other week schedule starting in June. Bear with me!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Promoter's Ordinance

As most everyone in the Chicago music community is aware, the City of Chicago City Council is looking to approve an ordinance to regulate event promoters, requiring them to have expensive licenses and insurance in order to conduct business in Chicago. More details from
  • The “Event Promoters” ordinance requires any event promoter to have a license from the city of Chicago and liability insurance of $300,000
  • The definition of “event promoter” is so loosely defined it could apply to a band that books its own shows or a theater company that’s in town for a one-week run.
  • “Event Promoter” must be licensed and will pay $500 - $2000 depending on expected audience size.
  • To get the license, applicant must be over 21, get fingerprinted, submit to a background check, and jump over several other hurdles.
  • This ordinance seems targeted towards smaller venues, since those with 500+ permanent seats are exempt.
    Police must be notified at least 7 days in advance of event.

The site is collecting signatures for a petition that they will present to the Council- make your comment, find out your alderman's contact info and get additional details at

UPDATE: Looks like the vote has been tabled for now. Who knows when it will return?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Venus party

This Friday the Empty Bottle, American Apparel and Venus Zine are throwing a free-with-RSVP party at Sonotheque with DJs from local bands The Jai-Alai Savant and Office. Details below.

I sort of hate American Apparel (though that discussion can be had off-blog), but Venus deserves the foot traffic, so check it out.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

MBV Reunion Tour

While I appreciate that My Bloody Valentine has chosen Chicago as one of a handful of US cities to have their 1st tour in a zillion years, who thought the Aragon Ballroom was a remotely good venue choice for this band? Noisy shoegaze in what is effectively a giant gym- no one will actually be able to hear a thing.

Mirah in Chicago

So, apparently there's a festival going on this week called the Chicago Children's Humanities Festival, and Mirah will be there with Spectratone International playing through their adorable ode to insects set to video. This Thursday's shows are already sold out, but there is a Friday evening and Saturday morning performance at the Vittum Theater on 1012 W. Noble. I love that the awesomeness of Mirah is being exposed to the youth of Chicago. I sort of want to get tickets- the program says its for ages "6+"; I suppose I fall into that, right?

Also, this means that Mirah will be hanging out in Chicago for three nights- I wonder if I can stalk her down and make her hang out with me. She is so cool.


So of course when I take a month off of the show I get out of my routine, and forget to do things like . . . record the show. So you can just trust me that it was a good one. I'll be sure to remember for next week.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Return to the Airwaves

Finally, after a month-long hiatus due to travels and illness, I'll be back on the air tonight, playing some of the new stuff I've been enjoying in my absence. Hopefully I won't be too rusty. Today begins my alternating with DJ Mica for the summer; the trade-offs will generally be every other week unless I need to rearrange for travel, which I'm already doing for this month (shocker!). So expect me tonight and next Monday, then hear Mica on the 19th and the 26th.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Random Thoughts

Man, Andrew Bird must be making a killing on these Marriott comercials his music is in- I've seen at least four different ones at this point, all with different songs.

Meanwhile, I noticed a band called MM/DD/YYYY is playing at the Empty Bottle on June 30. What an awesome band name, though I wonder how they "pronounce" it.

Also, I think I'm going to start a band called "Gas Tax Holiday."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ticketmaster's continued descent into hell

This Tinymixtapes story is very disconcerting. Apparently Ticketmaster bought Tickets Now, effectively a ticket scalping website (sorry, "inventory of secondary market tickets"), last year and now directs you to the site when you try to buy a ticket and it's no longer available. What incentive does Ticketmaster have to sell tickets at normal prices if it can earn 5 times as much selling them at astronomical scalper prices?

Oh look, Flight of the Conchords tickets are available at Tickets Now for $200+ each.