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.


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


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


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


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

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

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.


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.