Eleanor Friedberger: Stripped Down and Lyrically Unmatched

Eleanor Friedberger
The Hideout – Chicago, IL

Eleanor Friedberger accomplished the rare feat of making Chicago’s best and coziest venue, The Hideout (sorry, Subterranean), even more intimate. Although Eleanor drew several from her incredible July 12 release, “My Last Summer,” she also brought a few equally gorgeous and gripping unreleased numbers. Relying only on minimal microphone and guitar effects, Eleanor’s grasp of lyrical and melody structure were pronounced on stripped down versions of her studio album that Pitchfork already pinned as a “cohesive, uncluttered document.”

Eleanor, one-half of the now decade-old-plus indie-staple, The Fiery Furnaces, was being modest when she thanked the sold-out (knowledgeable 150-people crowd that wasn’t solely comprised of her mother’s friends. With the exception of stage banter that revealed some funny and exciting information, the $5 dollar show had no frills – in a good way – no encore, and no opening bands. This said, I can afford to go through each track played:

Eleanor opened with the standout “I Won’t Fall Apart On You Tonight,” somehow recreating the album’s cool vocal echoes and the call-and-response with herself. The stream-of-consciousness, conversational, and at times colloquial lyrics, mixed with her proper and eloquent voice and great vocabulary really brings out lyrics such as, “…And I can’t explain/ Why there’s nothing wrong, With long goodbyes/ If we could only keep, Our mouths and our eyes dry”

I disagree with Eleanor in claiming “Heaven” diverged most from the album live, at least conceptually, as the wistful “Scenes From Bensonhurst” took me a minute to recognize. Few songwriters are able to collage consecutive lines as successfully as Eleanor did with “Oh, I get lost with the smell, of those horses/ Who do people tell you you look like?”

By song three, and having fully explored “My Last Summer” over the last three weeks, I realized I could put together a pretty solid essay on songwriting with attention to Eleanor’s approach. This one may have been my favorite, which Eleanor describes as “about a guy and all the girls he has fallen for,” though, not a player, just an older gentleman. I would need to rehear the song to see how coherent this story is – generally Furnaces’ songs with the exception of ones like “My Dog Was Lost” tend to jump from scene to scene like in a dream. Friedberger has the ability to make the words “hotel” and “Mustang” seem grand, while seamlessly switching gears to an analogy about Dungaree jeans that got the audience laughing.

Eleanor’s entertaining and intriguing bicycle song “Owl’s Head Park” worked far better without a backing band than the stronger “My Mistakes” single; however, not too fear, Eleanor seems giddy to come back with a proper band right around Halloween time. Eleanor decided to spring into a cover of “Trouble Comes Running,” my favorite from my least favorite (and most recent) Spoon album because, naturally, Spoon’s Brit Daniel licks Eleanor’s face in the “My Mistakes” music video.

I am assuming the next one was another new one, it featured lyrics of a stilted litany with a chorus of “Don’t Interrupt Me Girl.”  Just when a line seems like it could fail, Eleanor saves it; in this song she starts with the awesome “I was taking my pulse” followed by the played “I was writing a diary,” and then saves it, “I was looking at foods for their dates of expiry.”

Eleanor seemed very apologetic not to have a backing band, and she joked during moments when the instrumentation required more than one person, especially during her favorite moment on the album in the next song, “Heaven.”

Another new one with the catchy chorus, “Frequent affection/ occasional rejection/ often offered in the wrong direction,” was a fun song, and made for a good combo with the strong “Early Earthquake.” “Tropical Iceland” served as a reward for Fiery Furnaces fans, but I personally would have rather had another solo song, or better yet, one of my all-time favorites, her version of “Cut The Cake.” “Inn of the Seventh Ray” and her plan to “watch Footloose with the biggest bottle of vodka in the world” came next.

The finale had perhaps the best lyrics of all, and it begs the question when this next release or EP is going to drop; unfortunately, there will probably be considerate delay. All the more reason to catch her on this smallish tour, and when she rolls around Chicago again in a few months. Here references to being high hold together to the shuffled verses with lines of the “suburbs of your pleasure,” “synchronized showers,” toothpastes and ointments, and warnings not to stare into the sun.

While Eleanor seemed bummed and apologetic not to have a backing band, I found it to be a privilege; with only the coolest dark green and black guitar, an Illinois t-shirt she found at her mom’s earlier in the day, she was able to boast her strengths: vocal melodies and strong lyrical structure. Definitely one of my favorite shows of 2011.

For more video from the night check out THIS YouTube Channel!

Nathaniel Rateliff & Tallest Man On Earth Sells Out Lincoln Hall

Nathaniel Rateliff & Tallest Man On Earth
Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL

Nathaniel Rateliff & Tallest Man On Earth Lincoln Hall

(Photos by Max Erhlich)

I recently told my friend how much I liked the catchy and pretty awesome songs from DOM, one of the newest buzz bands, despite the fact that (based on lyrics, originality/sincerity, and a Pitchfork Interview) I’m not “rooting” for them. Nathaniel Rateliff, while not exactly making the most groundbreaking music, is someone that one (and especially the sold-out crowd at Lincoln Hall) roots for, on the other hand. The coolest thing about Rateliff’s set was that it featured reflective, acoustic, lyric-based stories that sonically isn’t too far removed from newer bands like Band Of Horses and Blitzen Trapper, but provided something more to grip; AND, it did all this in sweet three-minute packages. Not drawing out a slow-paced tune is key, I feel. The 5-piece was able to repeatedly thank the crowd for being so polite and appreciative, many of whom I’d imagine will catch them at Lincoln Hall’s brother-venue Schubas on July 21st, as well as fitting in ten strong songs.

Nathaniel Rateliff & Tallest Man On Earth Lincoln Hall

Nathaniel’s vocals, which are often backed up, drops to the deep tones of Bill Callahan or Mark Lannegan. I wrote down lyrics from all ten songs in hoping to find the track names that way, but unfortunately the press on the band is still fairly limited in that sense. The songs I have stars by, which I am able to find, tend to highlight the newer material from the late April release of this year, In Memory Of Loss. One of the most available tracks floating around the blog-world was an In Memory track that came towards the end of the set, “Early Spring Till.”

“Whimper and Wail,” another track available on their MySpace might have been the show-highlight; perusing their MySpace and available songs on the Internet give a pretty good indication of what to expect from the albums, and being a Tallest Man On Earth fan is a pretty strong endorsement for Nathaniel Rateliff. Another strong endorsement is that Kristian Matsson (thee Tallest Man On Earth himself) seems to be a pretty big fan. Amazingly, this was my first time at Lincoln Hall – amazingly because I go to shows a lot, and have been very close to coming here a lot. Like Park West, the disco ball really adds an awesome touch to any band, which spins during the end of sets. The song I had starred as liking the most had the lyrics “I guess you caught me in my…” Be sure to check that out among his two albums, and certainly get a ticket for the upcoming show; definitely the best outlet to here the band’s beautiful arrangements.
I was fortunate to get into this show (esp. for free) after it had been sold-out for a while, and although TMOE was the initial draw, it was Nathaniel’s publicist that got me in. I’ll only breeze by the important the Tallest Man On Earth notes – this will not be easy because the whole thing was awesome and I’ll spent the majority of the waking hours thinking about the show (the waking hours have been all but three hours), so I sort of won’t. He gave us some extra songs because it’s the last one before he takes a two month slumber before Pitchfork, and the cover songs were the most fun. If you haven’t heard TMOE before hustle over to YouTube and queue up the lyrics to “The Gardener,” one of the most played songs of 2009 for me.
I’ll let ya drool over the set list.

1) The Wild Hunt
2) 1000 Years
3) I Won’t Be Found
4) The Gardener (“a song about flowers”)
5) Kids On The Run
6) The Drying Of The Lawns
7) Pistol Dreams
8) Where Do My Bluebird Fly?
9) By Your Side (Sade)
10) I’m Going Back
11) Troubles Will Be Gone
12) Love Is All
13) Graceland (Paul Simon)
14) Burden Of Tomorrow
15) King Of Spain
16) I’ll Keep It With Mine (Dylan) w/ friend Amanda
17) The Man In Me (Dylan) w/ Lots of friends!!!
18) Like The Wheel

Click on thumbnails to enlarge images:

Gogol Bordello: Good New Album, Really Good Live Band

Gogol Bordello w/ DeVotchka
Congress Theatre – Chicago, IL
April 23, 2010

If you regularly read about either Dr. Dog or Gogol Bordello, you are probably real real sick of these two bands being compared to each other.  More likely they never have been; although, they do share the “playing music with guitars” commonality.  I am comparing them because these are to two most recent shows I’ve seen this April.  For Dr. Dog, I paid close attention the set list and the manner in which the new songs were performed.  Some songs rock a lot harder than others with Gogol Bordello, and you can tell that the crowd expects the incredible “Start Wearing Purple,” but in the end, the order of their songs and their overall song selections aren’t that important.  I can’t always distinguish specific lyrics, nor do I know all of their songs.  I have heard all of their albums, including the new Rick Rubin-produced fifth studio effort, and found them all to be enjoyable.  Their songs are built for the stage, and the quality of their show relies much more on energy and entertainment than sophisticated/instrumentally-tight song execution.
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Dr. Dog Dominate the Metro

Dr. Dog
The Metro – Chicago, IL

Dr. Dog Metro

The Dr. Dog quintet took the stage – after some delay – and then proceeded to unleash 22 songs spread across 90+ minutes of gapless throwback gems.  The band seemed to genuinely enjoy Sean Bones, as did I.  I had heard a five song promo that previewed the LP Rings prior to the show and had thoroughly enjoyed the fun and bouncy “Easy Street.”  Indie in spirit, though nothing like the other Brooklyn bands, Sean Bones moved from a quote “sad fuckin’ song,” to “Easy Street,” to a “smoky kind of song,” all within the realm of upbeat Babyshambles-esque (especially the song “I Wish”) catchiness.  In addition to taking advantage of a sold-out Dr. Dog tour in support of their new “Shame, Shame” disc, Sean Bones had a new single to boast , “Rumba Beat,” which came near the end of the set, and earned one of three stars in my show notebook.  Sean Bones’ other star came on the closer, “Sugar In My Spoon.”

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The Quick Review: “All of the Fire” from The Acrylics

The Acrylics
All of the Fire EP
Out Now on Terrible Records
The Acrylics All of the Fire EP

Here are the highlights to The Acrylics EP, “All of the Fire.”  This quick run-down suits the straightforward goodness of this young group as well as their accessibility (both audibly and tangibly – the EP has been floating on the Internet for months).  In chronological order, let’s go:

Acrylics Play Chicago With The Smith Westerns

Acrylics w/ The Smith Westerns, Mickey
Schubas Tavern – Chicago, IL


The hometown, teenage (Grand)-Children of the Nuggets, Smith Westerns closed out a solid trio of bands on a potentially sold-out Saturday night at Schuba’s. In addition to being awesome and packing the first five or so rows with fans (rather, classmates) who know all their songs, the Smith Westerns allowed me to have an informal chat with three-fourths of the Acrylics fresh from finishing a tight seven-song set, which doubled my appreciation for the band.

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Pixies: Rock Night One @ Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom…(w/ Set List)

Aragon Ballroom – Chicago, IL
November 19, 2009

Pixies Aragon Ballroom

It was one of those rare moments when both the boys and girls were having fun – the sold-out crowd rose to their feet and joined hands – as a chorus of voices chanted, “Bam Thwok…Bam Thwok,” (the title of their 2004 single). Or maybe I was the only one. “Bam Thwok” or no “Bam Thwok,” the set was about as outstanding as you’d expect, especially considering Doolittle was played in its entirety. Probably best “Bam Thwok” didn’t replace any of their other set selections. “Bam Thwok”….the last time I’ll say it. Bam. I would’ve liked to have heard “U-Mass,” “Ed Is Dead,” definitely “Cactus” and “Is She Weird?” and perhaps a cover mixed in. All the songs are hits in my book; it would’ve been a five-hour show to get to them all.

Rarely have I ever been to a show and saw the band as anything more than people I really respect; the Pixies were celebrities. The four came out all dressed in black, acknowledged the huge applause, paused in front of the mic without saying anything and launched into “Dancing The Manta Ray.” A visual backdrop accompanied the performance from five minutes before the Pixies took stage throughout varying from the lyrics of “Gauge Away,” the awesome doll-teeth/baby-spinning on “Crackity Jones,” to the huge face displays of the band themselves.

Pixies Aragon Ballroom Trompe Le Monde and Bossonova, the less-Kim-Deal-involved albums were represented only with the awesome “Planet Of Sound,” and “Dig For Fire.” “Planet of Sound” earned stars on the paper plate that I wrote my notes on, along with “Wave of Mutilation,” “Gauge Away,” and the natural crowd-pleaser “Where Is My Mind?” Kim joked about all the b-sides that they had to go back and learn, and aside from Doolittle, the four b-sides outnumbered the amount of songs they played from any specific album.
I figured the crowd would be comprised of mostly kids like me, 21 year-olds, second-generation Pixies fans that learned about the Pixies from their older brother. Surprisingly, there seemed to be over half that were older, and many of whom had seen the Pixies in the early ’90s. The hilarious crowd-member Chris R “CJR” (pictured below the set list) advised audience members attending one of the next two shows at the Aragon, “This show was a lot better than when they first reunited, and I also recommend and appreciate women to dance.” I do feel very fortunate to have gotten to see the first of the three-night stand.

Pixies Aragon Ballroom

One thing that was awesome about the Devendra Banhart show was that his backing back of various bands all got a shot at playing their own solo/side-projects. I would’ve loved an Amps, Breeders, Frank Black, Grand Duchy, etc song. Pixies are in my top 10 favorite bands, and Doolittle is definitely a top 5 album of mine. The show certainly rocked. The still-relevant and ever-influential/amazing Pixies ended with a touching bow.

Pixies Aragon Ballroom
Here’s the Sweet Set:
1) Dancing the Manta Ray
2) Weird at my School
3) Bailey’s Walk
4) Manta Ray
5) Debaser
6) Tame
7) Wave of Mutilation
8 I Bleed
9) Here Comes Your Man
10) Dead
11) Monkey Gone to Heaven
12) Mr. Grieves
13) Crackity Jones
14) La La Love You
15) No. 13 Baby
16) There Goes My Gun
17) Hey
18) Silver
19) Gouge Away
First encore
20) Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)
21) Into the White
Second encore
22) Dig for Fire
23) Planet of Sound
24) Where is My Mind?
25) Gigantic


Girls, Girls, Girls

The Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL

Even now that I am of legal age to get into 21+ shows, I am strongly against them.  The true fanbase for the joyful and catchy Dominant Legs, for the TEENAGE Chicago Rockers the Smith Westerns, and for the Pitchfork-adored and critically-acclaimed Girls were nowhere to be found at this show.  400 people packed the Empty Bottle for two nights of sold out shows only sway during the three minutes of the Girls’ hit “Lust For Life.”  Sonically, the show rocked, all three bands were instrumentally tight and impressive.  The show itself was sort of lame, and the stiff aging indie fans felt it was more important to just be there, as opposed to interact with the live music.

The most refreshing part of the show was seeing Smith Westerns’ drummer, Hal James, outside the venue discussing the politics of rock, being 3 years younger than how old you have to be to enter the show, crowds, T-Rex, and – of course – most sincerely, how cool it is to be playing with Girls and a lot of the cool bands that play Chicago.  I so rarely have negative show reactions, and I want to stress that the guys from Girls are awesome, they were super helpful to me before the show, they’re an all-around good band, and are way better than what you’d expect from the biggest buzz band with the most outrageous music video.

The early set was highlighted by “Ghost Mouth” – true to album form with the quivering voice of frontman Christopher Owens – and the slow-paced reflective “Summertime.”  Correct me if I’m wrong, “Big Bad Mean Motherfucker,” with the killer opening “I gotta high school crush on a California girl, oh yeah,” was absent from the set.  Otherwise, all of the songs of their strong debut album, “Album” were hit upon in some order.  “Life In San Francisco,” the b-side to the “Lust For Life” EP was definitely one I was counting on.

Owens’ and the band wasn’t in the chattiest of moods, but before launching into the album-standout “Laura,” he introduced it by saying, “This is a song about a girl named Laura, it’s called Laura.”  His genuine gratitude to the Smith Westerns’ was a cool moment, as he explained how much lamer he was when he was in high school.  Although Owens’ two-song solo encore wasn’t as fun without the full-band (part of which was shared with pretty sweet openers, Dominant Legs), it did make their songs feel more “real,” important, and sent a message that their band might be relevant for the long-run as opposed to blog-buzz-bands like Voxtrot and the Black Kids.  “Darling” was another star-earner in my scribbled notes, and while it was lame that “Lust For Life” was the only song that could wake up the crowd, it did rock – one of the year’s best songs.

For a band without a massive catalog, without boring us with extended guitar solos, incorporating a lot of covers, or having songs that fall into the five-minute category, they certainly play a full and thorough set, and let a pretty satisfied (though annoyingly boring) crowd out after 1:00 AM.

Devendra Banhart in Chicago

Devendra Banhart
Vic Theatre – Chicago, IL
November 16, 2009

Devendra Banhart Vic Theatre

I wasn’t planning on reviewing this one – so I’ll only touch upon the key moments – and there were certainly many. I wrote my notes in my cell phone…2010 Baby! List form, go:

1) Devendra rocked some ridiculously colored shoes and a t-shirt that said “We did it CHICAGO STLYE.”

2) Valencia Roxy Music and Rats underwent some changes for the worse…all other songs were enhanced live (especially the Spanish ones).

3) In freak-folk land, the backing band was a SuperGroup: Rodrigo Amarante – Guitarist (Los Hermanos, Little Joy) Noah Georgeson (Little Joy, Devendra Producer) Greg Rogove – drummer (Priestbird) Luckey Remington – bassist (The Pleased).

More photos of Devendra Banhart after the jump…

Devendra Banhart Vic Theatre4) The Devendra solo songs were better though.

5) Devendra is debating between calling his band Dufus 3D and The Groggs (I think he prefers The Groggs).

6) Brindo was 100 times better live.

7) We got the best song from Little Joy first-hand.

8. He played “Lover”!!

9) The second half of “Angelika” was awesome.

10) Very Young, Very Good, Very Appreciative crowd, a lot of interaction with a talkative Devendra – surprisingly intimate show.

11) I’d like to get a hold of The Pleased song that Luckey performed, it rocked, and I need to check out their (Joanna Newsom-collab!) albums.

12) Was pleased that an audience member threw his hat on stage, his dream is to get hit with a tomato.

13) Two of the best surprises pulled from his first tour when he was travel ling with Entrance – the awesome Charles C. Leary (the first song I’ve ever heard of his) and the killer Johnny Thunders song “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory.”

14) One girl climbed on stage during their pre-encore last song, her friend joined, then two more…eventually 20+, pretty sweet.

15) His shirtless encore medley of “Chinese Children” and “I Feel Just Like A Child” was just as awesome as you’d expect.

16) Devendra couldn’t have been more grateful…a very solid, intimate, direct, and memorable show. Incredible set list:

Set List / Chicago

Long Haired Child
16th And Valencia Roxy Music
Can’t Help But Smiling
Little Yellow Spider
(solo acoustic)
Sight To Behold (solo acoustic)
How’s About Telling A Story (solo acoustic)
No One’s Better Sake (Little Joy)
“It’s Gonna Take Some Time To Be Alone With You” (The Pleased)
I Remember
Charles C. Leary (solo acoustic)
You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory (Johnny Thunders) (solo acoustic)
“New Song Hot off the Fudging Press” (Priestbird)
Carmensita (I’m Pretty Sure)
Chinese Children
Feel Like A Child

Devendra Banhart Vic Theatre

Written by: Joseph O’Fallon

Photos by: Stephanie Anderson

Japandriods at Schubas in Chicago

Schubas – Chicago, IL

Japandriods Schubas

I walked in. The Coathangers were rocking, Balloons on the stage, Troll rested on speaker, Four Gals, Candice’s Birthday, New singer/instrument set-up for every song, Every song = pretty damn good.The show only got better. Coathangers are an Atlanta quartet definitely worth checking out, “Pussywillow” is as awesome as its name, and “Shake Shake” probably tops the five on their MySpace.At 11:36 sharp, Vancouver’s Japandroids played what they called their first “own” show in Chicago (non-Pitchfork, as a headliner), and they were certainly excited about that. They joined the impressive duos that I’ve seen live along with the White Stripes, Fiery Furnaces, Black Keys, and Death From Above 1979.

Japandriods Schubas

They went with the strong “Heart Sweats” as their opener before launching straight into my potential favorite “Sovereignty,” which tweaked its lyrics from “cuz I’m in love with you tonight,” to “cuz I’m in Chicago tonight.” This was fitting because the show was in Chicago. The new song that followed was up to par with a lot of their tunes, it was described as a new song to dance to with easy lyrics that you can learn in 30 seconds, “so there’s no excuse for not singing along.”

“Rockers East Vancouver” sounded better live for sure and was one of their best, and although I prefer Brian’s singer more, David dominates this one.. While Post-Nothing seems to be getting a lot of attention – Pitchfork Best New Music – they do have 10 songs pre- Post-Nothing that are pretty good and will be release as an album in January. Any band that can get away with rhyming “together” and “forever” with “together” as basis for the three-line song is impressive.


The show moved at a pretty quick pace, and while both seemed so happy to be on tour, especially in Chicago, talking was kept pretty minimally, offering a few jokes in between every few songs. They got into some songs they didn’t have time for last time like “Darkness On The Edge of Gastown.” “To Hell With Good Intentions,” the McLusky cover, which served as the last song prior to when they would’ve done their encore, was my favorite concert moment in a long while – both the cover and the song itself is unstoppable.

“No encore. We don’t do that leave and come back bullshit, so here’s the last song. You guys rock,” which I believe came before “I Quit Girls.” Insanely sweet show from an insanely sweet band.

Mirah w/ Norfolk & Western – Schubas

Mirah w/ Norfolk & Western
Schubas Tavern – Chicago, IL
October 3, 2009

Mirah w/ Norfolk & Western Schubas Tavern

With the exception of the four songs featured on MySpace , and being familiar with the impressive big-name indie-rock bands that the fellow Portland trio has backed in the past (M. Ward, Bright Eyes, The Decemberists, Jolie Holland, as well as Mirah), I hadn’t heard much of Norfolk and Western.  There didn’t seem to be too much to report; no particular song or part of their performance really blew me away or filled my notebook (though “Turkish Wine” was probably best), but everything was instrumentally tight and their set was definitely enjoyable and worthwhile.   Percussionist Rachel Blumberg played for both Mirah and N&W, for both sets, which – if my math is correct – meant four sets.   Norfolk and Western seemed to be well-liked by the audience, especially based on post-show chatter, and to me they seemed most impressive backing Mirah on “Generosity,” “The World Is Falling,” and “Mt. St. Helen.”

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Built To Spill – Vic Theatre, Saturday, September 26, 2009

Built to Spill
The Vic Theatre – Chicago, IL
9/26/2009built to spill

Built To Spill’s Chicago Saturday gig at the Vic Theatre went about as expected – fifteen songs, some new material, extended guitar solos, knowledgeable fans, and a killer set, all coming together for one really really sweet show.

The dull beginning of the intro that segued into the new (There Is No Enemy) track “Oh Yeah,” did not set the standard for the great set/performance to come; however, the delayed start, their readiness to  jam, and the long gaps from song-to-song did set the pace. It is fair to say that Doug Martsch and the Boise quintet weren’t too concerned with firing through songs one right after the other.

Things certainly became more upbeat with the 1-2-3-4 punch of “In The Morning,” “The Plan,” “Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss,” and “Hindsight,” four songs that showcase Doug’s voice at its strongest, and allow the audience to move around a little beyond a head-bob. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET HEARD “Hindsight,” I fully recommend you do that right away – it has very cool lyrics, and one that definitely belongs in the BTS Catchy folder.

Songs that earned stars next to their listing in my set list were “Fly Around,” “Hindsight” (which sounded pretty slick and a future fixture), “Time Trap,” “Sidewalk,” and the closer “Conventional Wisdom” (which closed for far too long). “Car,” “You Were Right” and “Reasons” were also incredible, but didn’t jump out as much last night as did the aforementioned.
“Wherever You Go” was prefaced with a heartfelt dedication to the brothers and sisters (fighting for the environment). Bear with me, I don’t want to butcher the story, I’ll have facts totally clear tomorrow. “Reasons” and “One Thing” came a bit of a surprise, taking the place of the more predictable (“Distopian Dream Girl,” “Big Dipper,” “Twin Falls,” or “Goin’ Against Your Mind” even). Sadly, only two new tunes…one of which is already been part of the BTS song rotation.
The band went three for three during the encore – “Car,” “You Were Right” and the newest crowd-pleaser, “Conventional Wisdom,” all rocked. The audience seemed like one that had certainly seen the band a couple of times before: many could sing along at any point, and the feeling was cozy, intimate, relaxed, and genuine.
Good job BTS, can’t wait for the forthcoming 7th LP, There Is No Enemy, October 6. Here is the set, courtesy of the forum, and accurate with me:
1. Intro
2. Oh Yeah
3. In The Morning
4. The Plan
5. Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss
6. Hindsight
7. Wherever You Go
8. Reasons
9. Three Years Ago Today
10. Sidewalk
11. Timetrap
12. One Thing
13. Stab
15. Car
16. You Were Right
17. Conventional Wisdom

Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains w/ Flash Lightnin’ @ Subterranean

Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains
Subterranean – Chicago, IL

Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains Subterranean

I’m writing a poem about called “Flipping Exactly To The Right Page” about how if you were to experience a day without any missteps or miscommunications it would be horrible. On MySpace I checked out both scheduled openers for the Sebastien Grainger show Tuesday Night at one of Chicago’s best venues, Subterranean, and figured it wouldn’t be worth getting there too much before the former Death From Above 1979 frontman took stage.

Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains SubterraneanFortunately, the Sebastien & the Mountains set was delayed a solid 85-minutes, I didn’t flip to the exact right page, there was a third opener added, and I was able to catch some cool moments from local band Tiger Spirit. Their slow-paced and straight-faced dark melodies in no way prepared the far too empty crowd for Flash Lightnin’.

The Flash Lightnin’ songs on MySpace in no way prepares a privileged witness to their live show, as well. Borrowing from the classic ’70s guitar-driven rock – including a cover of ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” because it was “really the only thing to do,” – Darren Glover and the playful, but seriously impressive, band were able to convert the more modern/indie-rockers. As an appreciator of the Guided By Voices style, lyrically-fueled, less-than two-minute-songs, I still recommend seeing their set, which got increasingly more intricate instrumentally as the their set drew to a close. Getting drunk before their set might be my second, and only other, recommendation.

Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains SubterraneanSebastien’s set I was prepared for to be awesome. At 11:50, and after a Thax Douglas poem, Grainger opened with the killer “Love Can Be So Mean.” Being a scalper of indie shows seems like a tough market; some bands are able to sell out months in advance with nothing more than blog-buzz and a four-song EP, while the Daniel Johnston show last year was less than half-full. Last night, even in the cozy Subterranean and despite a more-than-fair eight-dollar cover, the venue was still sparsely occupied.

Most notably in the set was, I believe and could be wrong, “Meet New Friends,” which underwent a more spaced-out, clang-y change, and for the better. Grainger led the tight band through the first ten out of twelve songs in orderly fashion before stretching the last two or three for another twenty-plus minutes. Sebastien is a genius for cool bridges in the same way that Akon is with catchy hooks when he’s featured in dirty-south rap songs (3-6 Mafia’s “That’s Right, UGK’s “Hard As Hell”). Midway through the set Sebastien laid down my favorite track, “By Cover Of Night (Fire Fight),” which is highlighted by the bridge:

I was knocked down, she was knocked up
We went downtown, we got fucked up
Stayed up all night, took the train home
Woke up at 3, talked on the phone, yeahhhh

No need for a set list because he played pretty much all their songs, no new ones, and no covers except for twenty seconds of Television’s “Marquee Moon” during a solo from his knees. Between the EP and the album two versions of “Are There Ways To Come Home” exist, and last night’s live version may have been the best of all three. Other cool moments: he invited me on stage during “I Hate My Friends” as I eating a Warhead, when asked why he doesn’t cover the YYY’s “Maps” he said because “I don’t think I can cry and sing at the same time,” and he was in an overall happy and talkative mood that carried over in the positive, high-energy performance

Lykke Li – Metro, Chicago, Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lykke Li
The Metro – Chicago, IL

Lykke Li The Metro - Chicago, IL 2/7/2009There are simply too many good Lykke Li songs for her to mess up a set; her show at the Metro on the unusually beautiful February night was no exception.

Reasons why this show rocked:

1) A Milli Cover

2) Tribe Called Quest cover

3) Kazoo

4) Fine Women

5) Sold-Out Dancing Crowd

6) Megaphone

7) Sat on audience member’s shoulder

(8) Ordered drink from audience member


Set List:

dance dance dance
everybody but me
i’m good, i’m gone
hanging high
little bit
complaint department
window blues
let it fall
a milli
breaking it up
time flies
can i kick it

Photos of Lykke Li:

Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job @ The Vic Theater, January 24, 2009

I told my friends after the show that I probably wouldn’t wait by the White Stripes’ tour van in hopes to get in a few words with Jack or Meg. Not a lie, all three times I haven’t. However, the healthy rum buzz blended mostly with the long lasting high from the brilliant Tim and Eric show made it impossible not to wait in single-degree weather. Once twenty people had gathered we eventually left, but still, right?

Tim and Eric

By the time I entered, the sold out crowd was completely consumed in the circus of constant hilarity, and while the overall bizarreness quickly wore off, the amazement lasted throughout. I can let the YouTube collages do most of the talking, but here are some highlights.

Tim and Eric posterJohn C. Reilly’s entrance, unbeknownst to a crowd of screaming affection, was the ultimate. Ten-plus minutes in the Steve Brule character that climaxed when he awkwardly danced and played with a hot audience member’s titties says it all. On several instances Brule/Reilly used the D-word to refer to the audience: Dingbat, Dingus, and Ding-Turkey probably made the mix. Douggpound DJ’d the event and had a funny musical dialogue when Reilly explained how to fake like you know the lyrics to a song to impress the girl next to you. BIG NEWS: New York, LA, and Ft. Lauderdale will NOT get John C. Reilly, sorry.

Tim and Eric dr steve“I Sit Down When I Pee” was one of the classics from a handful of songs. The Beaver Boys’ have grown on me in some of the newer episodes, and with the aid of shrimp and white wine their bit went well. Spaghett got in a few spooks and provided a funny backdrop for Eric’s environmental advice.

The 4th season, beginning Feb 8th, god bless them, promises to be amazing. The clips shown introduced some of the best commercials; get ready for one involving slashing prices.

One thought came to mind. I didn’t see the Simpson movie in theaters with an audience, which was better than any shows from the last eight seasons or so, but I do remember that a slight complaint/interesting-note my brother made was the oddity in watching a Simpsons episode with a crowd. This, on the other hand, was stunning. The audience enhanced watching the show for sure, didn’t miss a beat, and brought a lot of joy to me knowing that such a strong following exists.

Tim and Eric 2I have still never seen a stand-up comedy show, and feel that it would be fairly weird. This was absolutely nuts and belongs in its on category. In terms of pure entertainment, this tops Superbad, and was definitely one of the best events I’ve ever been to. Afterwards David Liebe Hart (works with a puppet) went through the audience selling CDs and chatted with fans. He told me that before this he was affiliated with a religious public access television program; perhaps the best evidence I can give you to start/continue to watch the best show on television.

Awesome Show, Great Job (February 8th, don’t forget!)

Photos of Tim and Eric Awesome Show:


Deerhoof @ The Metro – Chicago, October 17, 2008. New Album “Offend Maggie”

The Metro – Chicago, IL


By 10:00 Friday, the nearly sold-out, extremely satisfied Deerhoof crowd had already dispersed from outside the Metro and was on their way. Rocking along side the far better (at least live), Experimental Dental School and Flying, Deerhoof shared songs from their quality new disc, Offend Maggie, in a set filled with all the Deerhoof “hits.”

The songs formed a collective whole, while highlights like “The Perfect Me” stood out, the incredibly tight instrumentation – aided by new guitarist Ed Rodriguez – shared by no one brilliant rock voice of Satomi Matsuzaki were the main attraction. For most of America, there’s still time to catch the band on this massive tour; definitely worth your while/money. Breakdown of the Offend Maggie essentials:


Their most recent effort demonstrates the band’s staying power that has yet to deviate from quality. “Tears and Music Of Love” launches Maggie with an insanely catchy clangy guitar riff in a song that hits full force at the two-minute mark packed with drum fills, call-and response melodies of various tones and a beautiful chorus of inaudible lyrics (as often the case). The songs ends in an enchanting breakdown. “Chandelier Searchlight” follows the multi-track structure, with the almost-folky chorus and harmoization of la la las and guitar. “Don’t Get Born” is my favorite, however, weighing in at just under 50 seconds. The song works as a poem and sounds like a Japanese Nico.

Two key tracks from their best, The Runners Four:

Two of the more pop songs, though far removed from any radio airplay are: 1) “Vivid Love Cheek Song.” These bizarre lyrics are proff that Matsuzaki can pull off anything; for example, the song opens with “Baby baby hi five/Baby baby say hi” moves into Kites are flying by/Winter turns summer/Sense will be hi-fi, and somewhat justifies the “Vivd Love Cheek Song,” songtitle, I’ll paint your cheek colorfully/Will you like it to be blue, red or green? The pace of the song is what makes this song amazing, moving back and forth from reflective verses to distorion-filled anthemic chorus. 2) “Spy On You.” A creepy title proportionally creepy with Matsuzaki’s voice. The instrumentation takes on an espionage feel, while the lyrics involve an investigation in a manner that warns the song’s subject in a short of whisper.

PS I lost my pictures! The band passed out various breads (as they’ve been known to do). “Eskimo” served as the encore song. Also, there is a song about Basketball on their newest disc, if you’re still not convinced that it rocks.


Be sure to check the 12-year veterans out in their remainder of their tour:

October 2008
18 – Pontiac, MI @ Crofoot Ballroom – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
21 – New York, NY @ Spiegeltent
22 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
23 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
24 – Northampton, MA @ Pearl Street – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
25 – Philadelphia, PA @ Starlight Ballroom – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
26 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
28 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
29 – Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
30 – Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
31 – Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
November 2008
1 – Orlando, FL @ The Social – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
2 – Tampa, FL @ Crowbar – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
5 – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
6 – Houston, TX @ Numbers – w/ Experimental Dental School, Flying
7 – Dallas, TX @ Granada – w/ Experimental Dental School, Hawnay Troof
8 – Austin, TX @ Fun Fun Fun Fest –
10 – El Paso, TX @ Club 101 – w/ Experimental Dental School, KIT
12 – Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress – w/ Experimental Dental School, KIT
13 – Tempe, AZ @ The Clubhouse – w/ Experimental Dental School, KIT
14 – Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex – w/ Experimental Dental School, KIT
15 – San Francisco, CA @ Mezzanine – w/ Experimental Dental School, KIT
December 2008
2 – London, UK @ ULU (University of London Union)
3 – Berlin, Germany @ Lido
5 – Antwerp, Belgium @ Trix
6 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands @ Melkweg
8 – Le Havre, France @ Cabaret Electrique
9 – Rennes, France @ Antipode
10 – Lyon, France @ Ground Zero
11 – Paris, France @ Sonic Festival at Trabendo
12 – Barcelona, Spain @ Primavera Sound Winter Edition
13 – Madrid, Spain @ Primavera Sound Winter Edition

Mirah w/ No Kids @ The Epiphany Church – October 15, 2008

Mirah with No Kids
The Epiphany Church – Chicago, IL

Mirah with No Kids The Epiphany Church - Chicago, IL 10/15/2008

In brief, the show rocked; Mirah, acoustic, great acoustics, solo, a church, audience sat in the pews or the floor, a good set from the No Kids, a lot of band-to-audience interaction, and not a lot of waiting.

I wasn’t pumped to see the No Kids; their albums don’t excite me like they do for some, and their set opening for the Dirty Projectors half a year ago also seemed wasted on me. This time, however, the band made definite strides. Perhaps it was the church, but lead singer Nick Krgovich did acknowledge their softened renditions. Nick’s fear was that they merged a mellow ending with a peaceful New Age tape that the band recently listened to during a frightening plane turbulence experience.

Mirah with No Kids The Epiphany Church - Chicago, IL 10/15/2008The night was full of excuses; atop the list was Kellam’s newborn, which seems to defy their “No Kids” moniker, if you ask me. Krgovich developed a good relationship with the attentive audience that sat before the band. Excuse number two emerged as his keyboard wasn’t the one he usually uses – this one forcing him to go an octave higher. Therefore, highlight “The Beaches Are Closed” took two tries, (and was well worth it).

Question: Was the song “Beanbag,” new? If so, it’s among the No Kids’ best, if not, why don’t I remember this one? The song keeps a running list of really cool compound words, including Bean-bag, Crack-pipe, Pot-hole, mad-girl, etc.

The wait for Mirah could certainly have been longer, and thankfully, for our sore asses she came out quickly in the cheerful Mirah mood you’d expect. Mirah played an hour-long, 15-song set that depended on at most a pedal and acoustic guitar – four selections were audience-aided a capellas. This tour opens the door for pretty much any song in her massive catalogue, as it supports her Old Days Feeling rarities release. The set was actually heavily constricted to songs that didn’t involve the use of her left pinky, which Mirah cut the tip off from.

At 9:15. Mirah went into the opener, “We’re Both So Sorry.” “Advisory Committee” came next, another familiar tune, before the good news; a new song, from the just finished new record (out in March), that sounded pretty good (far better than Share This Place), which seems to be called “Gone Are The Days.” This one fit the acoustic, lyric-based numbers, which flowed nicely with the rest of the set.

The next new one (also good, “We Don’t Owe Nothing” (?) was sandwiched in between the faithful “Look Up!” “While We Have The Sun,” and “The Sun.” “The World Is Falling Apart” was fittingly selected after Mirah urged everyone to vote, hinting OBAMA, half-jokingly adding that she hopes this new song will be no longer true nor needed by the time the record hits shelves. Mirah’s lyrics proved to return to bigger, more familiar topics (not so much bugs), and holding strong onto her “Apple Tree” motif.

“Person, Person” was one of the lucky fan requests that didn’t involve Mirah’s pinky. Of the remaining 6, four songs were a capella. The extremely fun “Pollen” made a choir out of the audience who divided themselves between two melodies. Mirah stayed on the no-instrument route with a sing-a-long in the chorus of “I Am The Light Of This World.”

Hits may have been absent from the set for the most part, but strong selections were made throughout, as “Speak My Children” and “Mt. St. Helens” came before the very wise “Garden” closer. I did not expect Mirah to show for the encore, but the fans demanded one from their huge applause. Tempted to use her not-so-bothered pinky, she considered going into one like “Gone Sugaring,” but thought better of the future of the tour and chose the playful “Words Cannot Describe” to wrap up the beautiful set, and excellent show. I definitely recommend shows at the Epiphany, or any Church for that matter if you are on the fence on a particular band.

Photos of Mirah and No Kids:

The Veils – Lakeshore Theater, October 2, 2008

I was already on a high from the Beck and MGMT show when I stopped in the Lakeshore Theatre for forty well-spent minutes. Typically a place for stand-up comedians, seeing a rock band, London’s 5-piece, The Veils, was an intimate privilege and great experience.

Audience members had chairs and the theatre was about half-filled but many chose to stand. I learned a lot about the audience members and the seating arrangement allowed fans to get to know Finn, The Veil’s frontman. Song requests didn’t have to be shouted, a normal speaking voice was loud enough to get heard. The Veils were good sports about playing the requests, especially on their attempt at “Wild Son,” which the band had forgotten how to play.

The Veils have been awfully quiet about new albums, and it has been 2 ½ years since Nux Vomica. However, there were a nice chunk of great new tunes, the album is finished (!), and should come out early 2009. Their first song of nine was one of the new ones, “Scarecrow,” a slower change of pace folk song that stood out from the rest of the rock songs.

“Calliope!” came second, which brought out the more familiar Veils sounds. Finn called the venue fancy, for the Queen or Lynryd Skynyrd. His song introductions were very jumbled and funny; the explanations definitely enhanced his songs. Finn was all over the place when introducing their hit, “Advice For Young Mothers To Be;” a number about a friend of his who had a baby at 19 in a sort of rebellion.

“The Letter” was the best new song and one definitely to look forward to on their forthcoming album. A great intro was given towards their closer, “Not Yet.” Finn said, “I wrote this next song in my mother’s laundry, a sexy beginning that only gets sexier. It’s about all the time we wasted waiting.” Someone in the crowd shouted, ” I couldn’t be any happier at this moment, thank you,” which tripped up Finn, left him speechless, and made him have recover from laughing before starting.

It was a shame to miss this show, which many probably did as it conflicted with Beck, MGMT, and Weezer all in the same night. Good news though for those who missed it, and those who were there as well: the band said many times that they would be back next year.

Beck w/ MGMT @ Aragon Ballroom, October 2, 2008!

Aragon Theatre – Chicago, IL

Beck/MGMT Aragon Theatre - Chicago, IL 10/2/2008

Beck is 38. He is currently touring his eight official studio album, the first of which came out 14 years ago, and this, according to some, is his last tour (though I doubt it). MGMT has basically one album and have been touring non-stop with several of indie-rock’s best. Despite the age difference and generational music-gap, the two were able to sell-out the Aragon weeks in advance backed by their tight innovative instrumentation.

Wrigley Field traffic from witnesses to the Cubs inevitable demise, and the long sold-out line caused many fans to miss MGMT’s “Pieces Of What?” I was able to catch “Time To Pretend,” infectious and always good, “The Handshake,” “Kids,” their coolest track which was amazing live, and “Electric Feel.” The crowd during “Electric Feel” was a little deflated once they were informed it was their last number, capping the short, technical-difficulty integrated, set.

There seemed to be a good portion of the crowd that was bigger fans of MGMT than to Beck, and their set, though short, was excellent. For many this was a refresher from having seen MGMT in one their frequent Shitcago shows.

I had to get to Lakeshore Theatre by 10:00 to catch the Veils, but fortunately this was an early show, and even a 40-minute+ Beck wait allowed me to still catch 12 songs.

Beck opening with “Loser” seemed like a brilliant move, especially if he will no longer be touring. The WXRT introduction claimed their would be a healthy dosage of Modern Guilt tunes, which was completely absent from the first half of their set.

Highlights came as expected on the amazing version “Girl,” “The Devil’s Haircut,” and “Hell Yes.” The non-instrument rap version of his songs were interesting, but didn’t measure up at all to the rest.

I was hoping to catch some Modern Guilt in the time that I was there, but that appeared in the second half, along with a lot of great numbers. Here is the set list copied from Consequence of Sound’s Review

Set List:
Mixed Bizness
Nicotine and Gravy
Que Onda Guero
Hell Yes
Black Tambourine
Devil’s Haircut
Soul of a Man
Think I’m In Love
The Golden Age
Lost Cause
Where It’s At
Gamma Ray
Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat (Dylan cover)
Profanity Prayers

Beck photos:

Evangelicals Tour Everywhere: Check Them Out!

Beat Kitchen – Chicago, IL


The gender neutrality in Josh Jones’s vocals, frontman of the indie-rock four piece The Evangelicals, is perhaps their most endearing quality – maybe more so than being from Norman, Oklahoma. Despite scoring two 8.0+ ratings on Pitchfork for both of their albums to date (and rightfully so), the band hasn’t caught fame like the lesser, though often compared, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

The Evangelicals show last night at the Beat Kitchen marks their fourth appearance in Chicago, I believe, in 20 months time. Unlike CYHSY! and the more gimmicky, over-the-top indie acts, Evangelicals will have staying-power it seems. Gems flood both their ’06 debut So Gone and their latest, The Evening Descends. From tropical to theatrical elements, the keyboard-heavy, ’80-based songs are freshened up with an indie mind-set which replaces and modernizes cheesy elements from their pop influences.


Both openers were Chicago-area band; The Chicago-based Syllable Section, who share some of the same inspiration of the Evangelicals, is a band worthy of your time on their MySpace, (be sure to check out “If It’s In You”).

Evangelicals Beat Kitchen

For those looking for a few numbers to get in to the ‘gelicals try these on for size:

Skeleton Man” and “Paperback Suicide” from The Evening Descends
“Diving,” “Goin Down,” and my current favorite “What An Actress” from So Gone.

Head over to their MySpace and check out YouTube to see the gnarly video for their also rad song “Midnight Vignette.”


For those who missed the show, the hard-working Evangelicals will hit just about every US coordinate between now and their homecoming show at the end of October:

Sep 21 2008 8:00P          The Bluebird Bloomington, Indiana
Sep 22 2008 8:00P          The Mad Hatter Covington, Kentucky
Sep 23 2008 8:00P          Skully’s Music Diner Columbus, Ohio
Sep 24 2008 8:00P          Beachland Tavern Cleveland, Ohio
Sep 25 2008 8:00P          Bug Jar Rochester, New York
Sep 26 2008 8:00P          Big Orbit’s Sound Lab Buffalo, New York
Sep 27 2008 8:00P          Sneaky Dee’s Toronto, Ontario
Sep 28 2008 8:00P          Casbah Lounge Hamilton, Ontario
Sep 29 2008 8:00P          Zaphod Beeblebrox Ottawa, Ontario
Oct 1 2008 8:00P            Middle East Upstairs Cambridge, Massachusetts
Oct 2 2008 8:00P            Cake Shop New York, New York
Oct 4 2008 8:00P            Rock n Roll Hotel Washington DC, Washington DC
Oct 6 2008 8:00P            Clementine Harrisonburg, Virginia
Oct 8 2008 8:00P            Village Tavern Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina
Oct 9 2008 8:00P            Drunken Unicorn Atlanta, Georgia
Oct 10 2008 8:00P          JJ’s Bohemia Chattanooga, Tennessee
Oct 11 2008 8:00P          End Nashville, Tennessee
Oct 13 2008 8:00P          Maintenence Shop Ames, Iowa
Oct 14 2008 8:00P          Hi Dive Denver, Colorado
Oct 15 2008 8:00P          Kilby Court Salt Lake City, Utah
Oct 16 2008 8:00P          Neorlux Boise, Idaho
Oct 17 2008 8:00P          Vera Project Seattle, Washington
Oct 18 2008 8:00P          Department of Safety Anacortes, Washington
Oct 19 2008 8:00P          Whaam Bellingham, Washington
Oct 20 2008 8:00P          The New Frontier Tacoma, Washington
Oct 21 2008 8:00P          Backspace Portland, Oregon
Oct 23 2008 8:00P          Hemlock Tavern San Francisco, California
Oct 24 2008 8:00P          SLO Art Center San Luis Obispo, California
Oct 25 2008 8:00P          Little Radio Los Angeles, California
Oct 27 2008 8:00P          Solar Culture Tucson, Arizona
Oct 28 2008 8:00P          CSF SUB Santa Fe, New Mexico
Oct 29 2008 8:00P          Bash Rip Rock’s 2 Lubbock, Texas
Oct 30 2008 8:00P          HELLOPOLIS Norman, Oklahoma

Cut Copy and The Presets @ The Metro

Cut Copy
The Metro – Chicago, IL

Cut Copy The Metro - Chicago, ILAustralia’s two most fun and prominent bands, the synth-heavy dance acts The Presets and Cut Copy, sold-out The Metro Wednesday night; a venue that wasn’t always a gay bar as I remember.

Presets were not as fun as Cut Copy, their tracks were less accessible and the hardworking duo had less stage presence than the playful quintet; by the same token however, the Presets were often more impressive when mixing the more unusual, harder and edgier rock elements into their dance numbers, backed by the insanely good drumming.

Although The Presets preceded Cut Copy, they were atypical openers. Their set well exceeded the standard 40-minute slot and a surprisingly high portion of the crowd knew all the lyrics; those unfamiliar easily faked it by dancing to the infectious dance cuts. “Down Down Down” came early in a set that included Preset-essentials “Are You The One?” the breakout from Beams, the Apocalypso single “My People,” and the show highlight “This Boy’s In Love.”

Lights played a big role into the show, too. The rainbow arrays of neon and Cut Copy’s backdrop during the encore of an Asian women removing paint off of her face was somehow an enhancement – not a distraction. The wait between the Presets and Cut Copy seemed incredibly long, which finally took off at 11:40.

The only songs that may have differed from CC’s two shows with the Black Kids back in May at the Abbey Pub were perhaps “Strangers In The Wind” and “Future.” The band members rarely talked, but repeatedly thanked the great Chicago fans for their support and led the crowd, with full-participation, to moments of jumping. All of the hits made the set, “Nobody Lost, Nobody Found” and its reprise (the reprises are by far my favorite songs) began the show, moving to “Time Stands Still,” my favorites “Unforgettable Season” and “Saturdays,” and crowd-pleasers “Lights And Music and “Far Away.”

The encore not only wrapped up a great set, it capped an outstanding show, and reconciled the Pitchfork Festival fiasco that only allowed 3 or 4 songs. The encore selection was “Hearts On Fire,” the last of a generously long performance. Few shows that I’ve witnessed has left a more satisfied a crowd like the one that exited the Metro early Thursday morning.

Photos of Cut Copy and the Presets:


Walkmen @ The Metro, September 12, 2008

Metro – Chicago, IL


The Walkmen took stage around 11:15 and started with the slow and reflective “New Country,” a song that uses one guitar for the sole instrumentation. The Walkmen drew mostly from the quality new album, You &Me. Before “Thinking Of A Dream I Had,” the Walkmen showcased four of their new ones – the best being by far “Canadian Girl,” which they kept beautifully accurate to the studio version.

Golem, the unusual opening band selection, boasted bouncy amusing Yiddish songs to warm the crowd up for the mostly straightforward indie-rock staple The Walkmen. Comparing Gogol Bordello to Golem is a pretty big stretch, however the sextet’s Eastern influence and accordion-led jams certainly make both acts unique within the indie-rock context. The crowd took to these fellow New Yorkers.

The Walkmen took stage around 11:15 and started with the slow and reflective “New Country,” a song that uses one guitar for the sole instrumentation. The Walkmen drew mostly from the quality new album, You &Me. Before “Thinking Of A Dream I Had,” the Walkmen showcased four of their new ones – the best being by far “Canadian Girl,” which they kept beautifully accurate to the studio version.

Hamilton Leithauser seemed genuine in his frequent mentions of how happy he was to be in Chicago playing at the Metro. The band too seemed pleased with the way the set went and proud of their new material, and stage banter was kept to a minimum. I’ve never seen Hamilton not go all out on every lyric, something that definitely held up last night. The Walkmen started to get to more familiar turf with “Wake Up,” “All Hands On The Cook,” sandwiching the very cool live You & Me track “Long Time Ahead Of Us.”

“The Rat” has seemed to overtake “We’ve Been Had” for the Walkmen’s core number (“We’ve Been Had” did not make this set). Of the 10 new ones, “Red Moon” rivaled “Canadian Girl” for the best live; “What’s In It For Me?” “The Rat” and “Louisiana” were the strong tracks that all came before the encore.

There was nothing out of the ordinary at this show, no interesting covers, but certainly no let downs whatsoever. Fans expressed their appreciation for their work, new and old, and for the encore were treated to “The Blue Route,” (which also rocked) and “Little House of Savages.”

All in all, the new songs fit in nicely with the set, and the performance went as expected: really well.

Long Blondes w/ Drug Rug, Bang Bang – Saturday, May 24

Long Blondes w/Drug Rug, Bang Bang
Logan Square Auditorium – Chicago, IL

long blondes logan square

“The Logan Square Auditorium lends itself to great shows and that certainly proved true Saturday night.”

The Chicago three-piece, Bang Bang, got things rolling Saturday, May 24, at the semi-crowded Logan Square Auditorium. Bang Bang’s vocal duties were shared between the soulful, riot grrl Gretta Fine, who aimed for a Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Sleater-Kinney sound, and Jack Flash’s more straight-man, rock and roll approach, not unlike the Hives. If you prefer the band’s self-proclaimed genre, however, then it sounded like “Chicago’s Premier Sex Rock Band.” Among about eight tunes, the back-to-back new ones sounded the best, especially the one about “the hot boys.” Nothing was too outstanding; although their eccentric drumming is worth checking out, which you can do by heading over to their MySpace if you’re interested.

drug rug logan squareDrug Rug, sandwiched between Bang Bang and the Long Blondes, had the most substance (or meat). On stage, the Drug Rug duo becomes a 4-piece who also sports the two-singer approach. Their set was a collective whole; songs were extended with jams that were not overbearing, and their final product was most impressive; it certainly sparked several new fans. If a highlight existed though, it would probably be their gem, “Day I Die.” Although I was looking out for the Beach Boys influence from my interview beforehand, it was readily available in their sound, especially one of their new tracks that will appear on an album later this year. The band’s centerpiece is Sarah Cronin’s unique, uninhibited voice, which was boasted on the opener “Nobody Can Tell You That Your Wrong.” This is a young band definitely worth checking out now; and for fans who appreciated their set, check out Chicago’s Sing Sing, who are also an excellent country-tinged indie act with an extremely similar approach.

long blondes logan square

When I found out the Long Blondes were coming to Chicago a few months back, I was pretty excited, but after their worse than sub-par new album, which in no way compares to the brilliant singles of 2005, the excitement dwindled. The Long Blondes fired through 16 tracks, some flops, others perfect, namely, “Giddy Stratospheres,” “Separated By Motorways,” and “Once And Never Again.” On the flops, watching the beautiful Kate Jackson and listening to her truly blessed voice was a pleasant distraction.

The Logan Square Auditorium lends itself to great shows and that certainly proved true Saturday night.

long blondes logan square

Drug Rug Interview

Drug Rug is poised for a successful career; their influences (Beach Boys, and contemporary favorites, Dr. Dog) fueled an impressive 9-song album, and on stage their personalities meld to make a fun live act. When asked, “What would be the Drug Rug ideal show?” the duo, Tommy Allen and Sarah Cronin, displayed their fun-side and provided a shared response. The ideal show would include playing on an island alongside the Beach Boys and Aretha Franklin to fans that took ferryboats and rafts with Chinese lanterns to get to, just as the Sun goes down.

The Chicago date was their penultimate show of the tour that supported the Long Blondes. “This has been one of the better tours so far,” says Tommy Allen, though it’s only the young band’s third tour ever, “The Long Blondes said they had a list of bands to choose from and picked us.” The successful tour’s end will allow for the nice transition to the studio at the end of July to work on their sophomore effort due in late summer or fall. On this tour, the band has been performing six new songs that will appear on their currently untitled release.

The question of which contemporary band they like froze the two up a bit, “That question always takes us back because we listen to so much older stuff…” Tommy and Sarah said as they scrambled for new bands that excite them. Out of the scramble came Tulsa, a fellow Massachusetts act, The Black Angels, and Dr. Dog whose “polished,” advance-copy of their fifth album, FATE, has been playing through Drug Rug’s speakers as of late.

Drug Rug occasionally tries their hand at a cover, but generally stick to their own. This year they probably won’t be rocking any festivals, though they would like to, and anticipate doing so behind their next album. As we moved to a more general discussion, the band professed their love for Sultan’s falafels in Wicker Park, and their amazing time at the Hideout this winter.

Reflecting on the interview, I feel fortunate to have met up with them, and having talked to them prior to them playing definitely enhanced their quality set. I do not, however, feel fortunate in the quasi-celebrity sense, which I sometime feel when interacting with indie-rock artists; and that, strangely, was the best part. Being able to talk with a band of Drug Rug’s caliber with such ease exemplified rock ‘n’ roll’s essence.

The Avett Brothers at the House of Blues Chicago

The Avett Brothers
House of Blues – Chicago, IL

The Avett Brothers House of Blues - Chicago, IL 5/14/2008

The Avett Brothers do so many things that only few bands can; simply making good music is certainly among them, as illustrated by the set list below. In addition, their accessible (though non-generic) music bonds fans oriented more towards indie-rock through country-enthusiasts who appreciate a good banjo solo.

The sing-a-long that formed between the constantly shifting musical arrangements of the Avett Brothers and the one of the best crowds I’ve ever seen (minus the bitch behind me) made for a truly memorable night in music, May 14, at the House Of Blues in Chicago.

The Avett Brothers House of Blues - Chicago, IL 5/14/2008

The Avett Brothers House of Blues - Chicago, IL 5/14/2008

Look for the forthcoming The Second Gleam due July 22, and try to catch the Avett Brothers somewhere along their extensive touring. Follow this link for a recording of the new song “Murder in the City.”

The Avett Brothers House of Blues - Chicago, IL 5/14/2008

The opener, Jessica Lea Mayfield, performed with the band on the finale, “Will I Return.”

1) Die Die Die
2) Shame
3) Signs
4) When I Drink
5) Paranoia In B-Flat
6) At The Beach
7) Left On Laura, Left On Lisa
8) Murder in the City (*From the forthcoming Second Gleam*)
9) ?? “You can’t be like me/but be happy that you can’t…feeling of feeling”
10) Salina
11) Love Like The Movies
12) Ballad to Love and Hate (Seth solo)
13) Pretty Girl From Chile
14) Answering Machine Bit, rock-out
15) Swept Away
16) Laundry Room
17) Go To Sleep
17.5) (Go To Sleep reprise)
18) My Heart Is Like A Kick Drum
19) Will I Return

Interview with Lykke Li

Lykee6 5 12I feel lucky to have interviewed artists that I love (Stephen Malkmus, Reggie from Black Kids, Honeydrips…); however, this lucky feeling usually only kicks in once the interview is over. In the Schubas’ lounge area above the bar (sometimes used as the DJ area), where a ping-pong tournament between the backing bands to both Lykke Li and El Perro Del Mar was held, I waited for Lykke Li to finish up another interview.

Watching the beautiful, soft-spoken Lykke Li sit down on the couch next to me, nursing her cold with some hot tea, and then begin to answer my initial questions so comfortably and quietly, I realized I had enough material for an article alone. This, and my natural fear of burdening artists who I admire, kept my interview with Lykke Li at a mere 8 minutes. Lykke’s disarming nature inspired me to keep it simple, allowing her brief-yet-telling responses to remain untainted, and hindering my desire to force some perfect question in hopes of uncovering something that probably doesn’t truly exist.

The just-turned 22 year-old put out her first album this year, and her debut EP hit shelves in the United States last Tuesday. Nearly all of the songs from both Youth Novels and the Little Bit EP are layered masterpieces, which all share the same humble beginnings. “I write the songs on either piano and guitar,” and from there, Lykke continues, “I just go with the flow.” Going with the “flow” makes it seem too easy though; she is downplaying her instrumentally intricate visions that come to life when producer Bjorn Yttling (Peter, Bjorn, and John) puts his spin on these indie-pop gems. Lykke is quick to point out how blessed she feels to have Bjorn, and that when an idea arises, her “wildest dreams” are put into action (aka trumpet sections and cool effects, see “I’m Good, I’m Gone.”)

Lykke Li has worked closely with Bjorn, recording and touring, and has played shows with Swedish staples, the Shout Out Louds, and currently El Perro Del Mar. Her ideal show though is somewhat simple, “A small, intimate, but packed crowd, all screaming and into the show. I also really like to interact with the fans.” By my estimation, this was realized later that night with her sold-out Schubas performance.

At the moment she is simply enjoying the tour, letting her records and amazing live act speak for themselves, and while she casually throws in that there will be more records to come, she has nothing stocked up. She plans her career to some degree, introducing bit-by-bit her material to America (which is not a response to downloading), but isn’t on some heavily planned career path. “I put everything I have into the songs I have written,” she says, which holds especially true when you see her stage performance. When I asked what bands influence her, she was completely non-discriminatory, “I like everything, African Big-Beat, Punk, jazz…” In the past she has covered A Tribe Called Quest, but each night of this tour Lykke Li and Sarah Assbring – the El Perro Del Mar centerpiece-get together for their perfect rendition of Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter.”

Looking back on the interview now, I can probably come up with 20 questions that would provide pretty interesting insight into Lykke’s tastes, but I feel no need to further grasp her beautiful essence. Whatever fear of burdening I had yesterday has vanished, and in fact been trumped by an overwhelming sense of luckiness to have gotten to know such a beautiful person and truly incredible artist.

A Night of Swedish Music at Schubas

El Perro Del Mar/Lykke Li/Anna Termheim
Schubas – Chicago, IL

Lykke LiLykke Li Schubas - Chicago, IL 5/12/2008



Acoustic songstress Anna Termheim deemed the May 12 performance at Schubas an exclusively Swedish night of music, which is pretty much guaranteed to be a good thing within the realms of indie-pop. Her opening slot preceded Stockholm’s Lykke Li and Gothenburg’s El Perro Del Mar, providing 8 mostly straightforward ballads using guitar, piano, and the iPod.

Anna Termheim



Anna Termheim Schubas - Chicago, IL

Anna Termheim Schubas - Chicago, ILAnna’s performance was not the type that would trigger huge reactions; however, there was certainly nothing to argue with. Her David Bowie cover, “China Girl,” worked seamlessly into her set sonically, though lyrically her songs are much more down to earth than Mr. Bowie. Her Swedish accent was just the subtle twist that made her set memorable and effective, which was illustrated when she told the audience, “I hear in Chicago we should get double-pizza, is that right,” which spawned great laughter when the crowd realized she meant ‘deep-dish pizza.’ While the intimate Schubas’ set-up lends itself to attentive, responsive fans, this night’s attendants were especially intelligent and informed; ready with song requests at Anna’s command. Anna’s set got better as she progressed because her songs began to sink in and her later song selections were plain better. Before her last song she thanked the crowd, “Thank you for listening and being so quiet [to which she clarified], polite.”

Lykke Li Schubas - Chicago, IL 5/12/2008Lykke Li and her band turned it up for the live act to a surprising degree. In my interview with Lykke Li hours before the show, she was dressed pretty ordinarily and quietly told me that things were simply “good” besides for back pains and a cold. Our chat gave absolutely no insight into what her live performance would be like. To the sound of crashing, pounding drums, the elegantly dressed Lykke Li began her unforgettable set with a more rock-tinged rendition of “Dance Dance Dance.” Between very impressive dancing (she’s a trained dancer) and flawless singing, Lykke also brought drumming aid, keyboard-playing, and a string of instruments she wore around her neck to her first ever Chicago performance.

El Perro Del Mar

“Let It Fall” followed, and “My Love,” the first of four songs performed with Sarah of El Perro Del Mar, came next. Forceful drumming lead the hard-at-work four-piece behind Lykke, whose set remained as strong as it started throughout the set with every song sounding single-worthy, finishing with: “Hanging High,” the bonus-track “Tonight,” the show highlight “Little Bit,” and the amazing breakdown during the finale, “I’m Good, I’m Gone.”

That wouldn’t be the last of Lykke Li for the night, however. Sarah began the El Perro portion of the night with the solo numbers “Party,” which boasted notable whistling, and Dog;” both songs for her debut. She then switched gears with the jazzy, full-band performance of “How Did We Forget?” from the April release, From the Valley to the Stars. El Perro kept the mood pretty upbeat, with “Do Not Despair” and the subdued “Inner Island” being the exceptions, choosing “I Can’t Talk About It,” “Glory To The World,” “Somebody’s Baby,” “You Can’t Steal A Gift,” “God Knows,” and the incredible Wendy Rene cover, “After Laughter,” (which I’ve been listening to that song all day). Even the middle-ground songs, “Shake It Off” and “Someday (I Will Understand),” a show highlight found on a 2005 EP, were a little peppier. Unfortunately “Sad” “Coming Down the Hill,” and “Candy” were not performed, however in retrospect, these songs may have been too much of a let down after Lykke Li’s build-up, and I certainly had no problems with the selections made (especially considering I haven’t been too intrigued by much from the new Valley yet).

El Perro Del Mar

Lykke Li

Lykke Li Schubas - Chicago, IL 5/12/2008

Although Lykke Li claims that the slew of great Swedish acts are mostly coincidental, all three acts gave fans something intangibly more in addition to this most memorable night in music. Check back soon for video footage from the performance.

Cut Copy and Black Kids at the Abbey Pub!

Black Kids/Cut Copy
The Abbey Pub – Chicago, IL

“Okay Chicago, here’s your chance to say ‘fuck you’ to the people going to the late show,” Cut Copy’s Tim Hoey told the packed crowd as the sunlight was finally setting on May 7. The “chance” came on the breakdown of their current single “Lights and Music,” and the “fuck you” to the late show meant dancing and jumping around. By 8:30, Cut Copy had already laid out their 12 synth-filled dance numbers and the Black Kids had already torn through their 8-song set, allowing for the more than satisfied crowd to file out of the Abbey.

Hearing what the Black Kids had to offer outside the four-track Wizard of Ahhhs EP, which (until July 7) is their only release to date, was the biggest treat of the night. Black Kids offered the highlight, “I’m Making Eyes At You,” as well as “I Wanna Be A Limousine,” “Partie Traumatic,” and “Listen To Your Body Tonight” from the forthcoming disc. The entirety of Wizards balanced the heavy dosage of new songs, with the slightly modified “Hurricane Jane,” sounding best live. Ali Youngblood played catchy melodious keyboard lines and led the band through their doo-wop loaded show. She unified the fun band from center stage with her awesome dance moves and facial expressions, which served as pleasant distractions. The songs met my high debut album expectations and the young 5-piece demonstrated with their strong live act a band poised for greatness.

Black Kids The Abbey Pub - Chicago, IL 5/7/2008

Black Kids The Abbey Pub - Chicago, IL 5/7/2008

Cut Copy drew from their praised 2008 review In Colours a fair amount, but balanced their quality set with tracks from their debut “Time Stands Still,” and “Saturdays.” “Saturdays” was the highlight for sure, which, like most of their songs, featured a build-up, breakdown, and a sort of mini-song/reprise afterwards; similar to the quality supporting-tracks on their albums.

Cut Copy The Abbey Pub - Chicago, IL 5/7/2008Reggie Youngblood best summed up the show, saying, “This is the best thing that ever happened to me [on stage]…before 7:00.” Both thrilling bands were hard to stop photographing, a challenge not to dance to, and impossible not to love.

Cut Copy The Abbey Pub - Chicago, IL 5/7/2008

Cut Copy The Abbey Pub - Chicago, IL 5/7/2008

Cut Copy The Abbey Pub - Chicago, IL 5/7/2008

Neva Dinova In-Store, Reckless Records (Broadway) May 1st

Neva Dinova
Reckless Records – Chicago, IL

Neva Dinova Reckless Records - Chicago, IL

Neva Dinova played a great set at Reckless Records at 4:00 before his opening slot for Ladyhawk and the Little Ones at Schubas. Before the set opener “Squirrels,” the key track from their new disc You May Already Be Dreaming, Jake Bellows genuinely thanked the crowd for the surprisingly big crowd (especially on such short notice). Other Dreaming songs included “Love From Below” and “Trytophan.” The best was “Spring Cleaning” from the split EP with Bright Eyes. His voice was pure and required hardly any effort. Fans were able to approach him and ask questions before, after, and during his intimate set. The set ended with a neat one, which he called more of a rock song with catchy lyrics about a lost love; a great song that is sure to turn up someday soon.

Neva Dinova Reckless Records - Chicago, IL

Teenagers in Chicago

The Teenagers/Team Robespierre/Bearries
The Abbey Pub – Chicago, IL

The Teenagers/Team Robespierre/Bearries The Abbey Pub - Chicago, IL

I never have any idea how many people will show up to a concert in Chicago. Popularity in indie music is hard to gauge and a bands’ hype often disillusions actual turnouts. Sometimes it’s the night of the week or the venue. So, when crowd size peaked around 120 fans Tuesday Night (April 29) at the Abbey Pub for The Teenagers, I guess I wasn’t surprised; though, I wouldn’t have been if the club sold-out either.

An awesome set from the Abbey Pub DJs welcomed (currently 30) fans at 9:00. The synth-ridden, club-mixed blend of songs from Cut Copy and the Presets (both appearing this month at the Abbey), TV On The Radio, and some cool obscurities later shifted to the more familiar, “Stay Fly,” “Stronger Remix”, and MSTRKRFT’s “Bounce,” and were all intertwined beautifully. Definitely one of the night’s highlights.

Three young experimenters from the Southside of Chicago formed Bearries; I’m thinking Bearries are used in place of Cubs (they’re probably Southside White Sox fans). Their 20-minute set started strong but grew irritating with repetitious sampling of “Do It,” the lone song on their MySpace; true clubbers and housecats: you be the judge.

Brooklyn’s Team Robespierre, like all New York bands, made it clear they were from New York. The 5-piece shared vocals and lead roles more democratically than almost any band I’ve seen, rivaling the Drive-By Truckers perhaps. Each song was introduced beforehand, typically with a one-word explanation of the songs’ topic, and branded with the singers’ upward cadence ending each line of lyricism. The keyboardist definitely aided their cause, making their punk more accessible, especially because he played from the crowd. Their sound wasn’t anything too new; for bands like Team Robespierre, the post-punk genre seems to be what’s natural, easily constructed, and therefore, limited creatively. Keeping par with similar bands, the forceful drumming took the forefront and was the strong suit of their music. Although innovation was low, highlights did arise, “This Feels Perfect” and their finale “Bad Habit,” both available on their MySpace.

The Teenagers/Team Robespierre/Bearries The Abbey Pub - Chicago, ILI had somewhat prepared (in my head) a presentation of the various joke bands. Basically, joke bands are either brilliant or completely suck; the Teenagers are one of the bands that do not suck, and are in fact very good. All ten of their songs drew from their March 2008 debut Reality Check that Amazon described perfectly as, “Similar to most filthy mouthed teens, Reality Check is full of foul innuendos and lyrics that would make Serge Gainsbourg blush.” The French 20somethings are a three-piece that, when live, borrow two women to play guitar and drums. They are musically tight but nothing too instrumentally extravagant overpowers the main appeal: frontman Quentin Delafon’s French accent that accurately, sarcastically, and mockingly mimics the voice of both teenage boys and girls.

The Teenagers/Team Robespierre/Bearries The Abbey Pub - Chicago, ILThe stage packed twelve at one point when dancing girls were asked to join in on “Homecoming,” which features a guy-and-girl dialogue. Delafon found a Nicole in the audience and dedicated “Fuck Nicole” to her. His dancing was amusing and fit the non-abrasive manner of his humorous lyrics. Opener “Feeling Better” was strong, their single “Love No” was the best, “French Kiss” required the lights to be dimmed and all red, “Make it Happen” was surprisingly good live, “Homecoming” was the most fun, and “Streets of Paris” showcased what Delafon called “French Rap,” before their one-off encore of “Sunset Beach.”

The Teenagers/Team Robespierre/Bearries The Abbey Pub - Chicago, ILAll in all, a good show to have been to.

The Bearries

Bearries The Abbey Pub - Chicago, IL

Bearries The Abbey Pub - Chicago, IL

The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers
The Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL

The New Pornographers The Riviera Theatre - Chicago, IL

The sold-out Riviera Theatre hosted indie favorites the New Pornographers and opener Okkervil River on Sunday. I arrived just in time to miss the entire Okkervil set, including the live rendition of “Plus Ones” that may have woven another brilliant song reference into the tightly knit lyrics. The absence of Destroyer frontman and quasi New Pornos member, Dan Bejar, as well as Neko Case, who recently injured her foot, took some of the excitement away. Regardless, the crowd was extremely pleased with the show, and I was content with a 70-minute set led by AC Newman.

2500 fans filled the Riviera’s grandeur, a truly beautiful venue that lacks sensible viewing for fans stuck behind rows and rows of people. Sponsor WXRT introduced the New Pornographers, “Chicago’s running out of places to contain this band, selling out the Abbey, the Metro, and now the Riv.” The band emerged and immediately launched into “Heaven and Earth,” “Use It,” and “Stacked Crooked,” before embracing the audience. Three comical takes were needed to get “Old Showstoppers” down. AC Newman seemed to be in high spirits, as he and the band often are, swaying and smiling throughout the show. The crowd, which was a bit older than most shows I’ve seen, was having a lot of fun as well.The New Pornographers The Riviera Theatre - Chicago, IL

Sonically, the loss of Neko Case was unnoticeable, however, having only one of three powerhouses on the stage wasn’t as cool. The set didn’t seem to be altered to compensate for no Neko, songs like “Challengers” and Unguided” were simply performed by the cuter, breathier (though not as good vocally) Kathryn Calder. The 6-piece line-up peaked during the crowd pleaser “Mass Romantic,” “The Bleeding Heart Show,” and the Challengers-highlight, “Myriad Harbour.” On “Myriad,” AC thanked Okkervil for the fun together thus far on this “awesome tour,” and welcomed frontman Will Sheff to fill-in for Bejar’s substantial part, making for the best song of the night. Rivaling “Myriad Harbour” for the most fun was the encore cover of the Electric Light Orchestra’s 1979 hit, “Don’t Bring Me Down.”

The New Pornographers The Riviera Theatre - Chicago, IL
Also, two questions:

Did anyone else see Todd Barry backstage or was that a look-a-like?
And, two: What was the reason for touring at this time? (I’m certainly not complaining)

Here’s the Set
1) All of the Things That Go To Make Heaven and Earth
2) Use It
3) Stacked Crooked
4) Old Showstoppers
5) My Rights Versus Yours
6) The Laws Have Changed
7) Twin Cinema
8) Challengers
9) Electric Version
10) Testament To Youth In Verse
11) Unguided
12) Mass Romantic
13) Adventures In Solitude
14) Myriad Harbour
15) Sing me Spanish techno
16) The Bleeding Heart Show
17) Don’t Bring Me Down (Electric Light Orchestra cover)
18) Slow Descent Into Alcoholism

The New Pornographers The Riviera Theatre - Chicago, IL

Fly By Night Turns 1

Fly By Night Featuring DJ Willy Joy
Debonair Social Club – Chicago, IL

Fly By Night Featuring DJ Willy Joy Debonair Social Club - Chicago, IL

“Hey Chicago! It wouldn’t be Fly By Night if we didn’t play this,” Willy Joy told the dancing crowd at the Debonair Social Club Thursday, April 17, before launching into another brilliant, improbable mash-up. Willy Joy is an elite Chicago DJ who can be seen scratching together pop singles, the hottest rap tracks, and famous a cappella choruses from rock classics into infectious club beats nearly every weekend. The DJ caliber of the 1-Year Anniversary of Fly By Night was strong throughout, although it took some time for a crowd to form, straying from repetitive and pretentious build-ups. MIA is the mashing component of choice for nearly all DJs post-2005; during the string of sets, sampling from “Boyz,” “XR2,” and “20 Dollar” made for powerful mixes. The exhausted “I’m A Flirt” was replaced with “Hook It Up,” from R-Kelly, another artist often subject of reworking. Highlights before Dude ‘N’ Nem took stage used hooks from Iggy Pop’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” a bizarre “Hit the Road, Jack” sampling, the “Ain’t No Mountain High” club version, and the almost undistinguishable use of the Pixies’ “Hey.”

The night also featured the feet-happy, comical Chicago rap duo Dude ‘N’ Nem, who took stage around 1:00, followed by MIA touring DJ Low Budget.

Fly By Night Featuring DJ Willy Joy Debonair Social Club - Chicago, ILLook for Dude ‘N’ Nem at Subterranean Sunday Night, April 20,

Low Budget in Chicago at the Aragon Theatre May 9, And Willy Joy and the Fly By Night fleet all over town -MySpace Fly By Night Featuring DJ Willy Joy Debonair Social Club - Chicago, IL

Fly By Night Featuring DJ Willy Joy Debonair Social Club - Chicago, IL

Kimya Dawson @ The Mansion

Kimya Dawson
The Mansion – Chicago, IL

Kimya Dawson The Mansion Chicago, IL“Okay, I have two more songs from the children album,” Kimya Dawson told the sitting audience that packed The Mansion, April 14, which introduced her fourteenth song of the 25-song set that was actually cut short by curfew. “Little Monster Babies,” was one of six songs Kimya previewed from the forthcoming, AlphaButt, the children compilation due in August. During the bridge, Kimya asked, “Now Boys and Girls, can you name some more animals…[silence]…seriously?” This three-second flash amidst a show full of memorable moments seemed to sum up Kimya’s career; catching fans off guard and masking powerful, real-life songs among awkward, playful lyrics (“This isn’t a come on so c’mon let’s face it/The cum on your face is really just mayonnaise”).

Kimya Dawson The Mansion Chicago, ILKimya played to a young audience, many birthed from the Kimya-heavy Juno soundtrack, who filled the Mansion-which was a great venue and truly a big house-and found their seat on the ground to watch opener, and Kimya husband, Angelo Spencer. Angelo played seated, and began by shhing the audience jokingly. He established himself as a Frenchman, told the audience, “This is what I do,” and then launched into his 35-minute, echo-y and distorted take on the standard finger-plucking anti-folk songs. Angelo’s shouting through a quavering French voice was awesome, especially on his finale, “Costeau,” (one of several MySpace tunes that were performed). The best song of his quality set used a catchy rock riff and showcased his one-man band skills, simultaneously strumming, singing, and managing a two-pedal drumming set-up.

Kimya Dawson The Mansion Chicago, ILL’Orchideé D’Hawai, the 4-piece French outfit, added a California surf element to masterful instrumentation with song derivations from France, Poland, and Japan. Kimya, Angelo, and L’Orchidee all had a humorous component to their act, but L’Orchidd took care of the fun for the night, and were the only act that the crowd stood up for, danced around to, and clapped along to. Their set blew me away, something I rarely feel with an instrumental-based band, and a phrase I don’t often use, with songs ranging from James Bond espionage tune “Let’s Be Happy,” the triumphant “Angelare,” to the brilliant waltz-y “Smierc Ministra,” a song translated to Death to the Minister.” After their killer performance, a large (and wise) bunch hit the merch table to purchase their new LP, Nobody Beats Me.

Kimya Dawson The Mansion Chicago, ILThe crowd resumed to sitting, and when Kimya entered, fans bowed down to her. Although praising Kimya was lighthearted, something about seeing Kimya Dawson was much more like seeing a celebrity than a typical good band. Kimya was in high spirits, but asked audiences to think good thoughts for her mother, who is going under a serious operation; Kimya played “My Mom” early in the set and throughout the show played several songs with references and lessons from her mother. The Kids album made for a fun medley, but the best part of the set came at the end. Kimya was told that she had two more songs, which Kimya found “physically impossible,” and signaled to audience 5 more songs. She combined two, played “Loose Lips” with L’Orchideé D’Hawai, and closed with her Remember That I Love You highlight, “My Rollercoaster,” that breaks down into Metallica, Willie Nelson, Third-Eye Blind, and Edwin McCain mix. Among other highlights in the warm and incredible night of music were “The Beer,” Being Cool,” “Velvet Rabbit,” (a cover of her brothers’) “Randy Savage,” along with some new ones that should make for a promising next album.

Photos of Kimya Dawson:

Spoon Covers Paul Simon, Walkmen and White Rabbits Plays a Bunch of New Ones

The Vic Theater – Chicago, IL

Under one roof (The Vic Theatre), three headlining-worthy bands played in Chicago on Friday, April 4: Spoon, The Walkmen, and the White Rabbits.

Spoon picture

At 7:45, the six members of the White Rabbits picked up their instruments and abruptly began playing. 15 minutes prior to performing, bassist Adam Russell snuck me in the side door, getting me into the show (!), but without a photo press pass (which was initially my ticket into the sold-out show). So, I’ll describe what they looked like on stage: six very well dressed (blazers, ties, cardigans, collars) men (few bands outdo the Walkmen), two of them drumming, a bassist, a keyboardist, and two guitars (one acoustic). Vocal duties were shared between two singers that sounded eerily similar. The best songs from their debut LP, Fort Nightly, were the best live for the most part, “The Plot,” “While We Go Dancing,” and “Kid On My Shoulders.” Gregory Roberts told the audience, “This is a new one we wrote right before we left,” which was driven by the the African thumping drumbeat and sounded just as good as any of the others. The six-piece’s sound was gapless, but remained amazingly uncluttered and never abrasive. A gimmicky overtone came with the business-like costumes, which paralleled the insincerity in suspect songs like “While We Go Dancing;” however, the serious, passionate live performance put a positive spin on the Rabbits’ image.

Roberts remarked, “This is the shortest the mic stand is going to go for tonight,” and when Hamiliton Leithauser, Walkmen frontman, set up on the edge of the stage, he did look gigantic in comparison. This was not the Walkmen show for you if you were looking for the hits: “Louisiana,” “The Rat,” “Look Out The Window, (the majority of Bow and Arrows) and the natural, “We’ve Been Had,” all were not played. “On the Water” was one of three new songs that opened the set, followed by the familiar, “Little House of Savages,” which the already exhausted Hamilton introduced.

“This is from our new record that we’ve been working on for three years,” delighted all Walkmen fans, “it’s called ‘If Only It Were True’.” Hamilton played guitar on this quieter, single-paced tune that opened, “If only it were true, I’d say I do.” The Hundred Miles Off songs were outstanding, which included “All Hands on the Cook” and “Another One Goes By,” the Mazarin cover, on which Hamilton’s voice sounded most like (the often compared) Bob Dylan. Perhaps the set highlight was their finale, “I Lost You,” another new album track that the Walkmen recently told Spinner, ” is our favorite song we’ve ever written.”

In between sets, everyone danced and sang along to “Kiss Off,” which was followed by cheers. Also on the loudspeaker came three awesome, very rough recordings of a childish-sounding band with almost inaudible lyrics (I did catch, “Welcome to Chicago, baby,”), which I would pay a good sum to find out about. This made for one of the better waiting experiences at shows I’ve had.

Then Spoon kicked off a 22-song, 90-minute set beginning with “Eddie’s Ragga.” “I Summon You,” came next, which is virtually impossible to mess up, and “Don’t You Evah,” the current single, raised the excitement and changed the direction of the rest of the show. The distorted, echo-y effect littered throughout the production of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was used in almost all the songs. Many were unfamiliar with “Chips and Dip” a song only found on the Love Ways EP. Britt Daniel started, “Chicago’s always been very ni-” and then refined his compliment, “Since 2001, It’s always been good us, before that it was rought! Who was at Lounge Ax?” and then launched into “Nefarious,” a song from their 1996 debut, Telephono. “Nefarious” was awesome, especially for me because it’s one of my favorites, and I had just thought to myself that it’s a shame they’d never play this one. So, after three Spoon shows, I can now mark off “Nefarious,” I’m just waiting on “Anything You Want,” “I Could Be Underground,” and “Advance Cassette.” “Nefarious” brought the show to a higher dimension with “The Delicate Place,” “Yr Cherry Bomb,” “Camera,” “Stay Don’t Go,” and “The Underdog,” to follow.

Britt Daniel then lead the band into a new direction, while still great, starting with the Paul Simon cover, (which the band has been working on) “Peace Like A River.” The first song of the encore was a solo version of “Me and the Bean,” and although the band rocks, I think I prefer Britt solo. “The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine,” and “Small Stakes,” were the songs responsible for completing an amazing night in indie rock.