Hefeweizen Tapping Event at Emmett’s

Emmett's Brewery

Emmett's Brewery

Join Emmett’s in Downer’s Grove on June 21st from 6:30-8:30 pm and be the first to try this year’s batch of their Hefeweizen. You will also get to enjoy some Grilled Beer Bratwurst and Caribbean Shrimp Skewers with Pineapple Chutney. Tickets are only $15 per person! This includes 2 of Emmett’s Hefeweizens and food. Space is limited so stop in now to purchase tickets. This is a 21+ event.

5200 Main Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Singing it up at Brando’s Speakeasy

Brandos Speakeasy Chicago

Don’t worry, no password needed at this Speakeasy. Brando’s is known for their AWESOME Karaoke 7 days a week! This is a great lounge with a homey feel. Very intimate and quaint.

Décor: Not too much to look at here. It has a dive-bar-ish feel.

Crowd: Friendly, fun-filled, karaoke-ing loving patrons!

Service: The bartenders were marvelous! They were so friendly and easy to joke around with. And they are not afraid to rock the mic right! They even let me go up on stage with them so I could do a combo of back up dancing and vocals.

Liquid Courage: You won’t find anything on Tap here BUT you will find some pretty sweet specials. Brando’s is known for their specialty martini’s that are only $5 dollars – offered daily.

Weekly Specials:

$5.00 Apple Martinis / $4.00 well drinks / $2.00 Modelo / $12.00 flights of Martinis

$5.00 French martinis / $4.00 Chilled vodka Shots / $5.00 Hacker Schorr / $12.00 flights of Martinis

$1.00 Jolly Rancher shots / $5.00 Vodka martinis / $15.00 Buckets Miller Lite

$3.00 Well $8.00 Chocolate Martinis / $5.00 Bomb Shots / Small Pizzas $5.00 Large $10.00

Fridays After work party! Karaoke
$5.00 Martinis / $1.00 Lemon Drop shots

Saturdays 70’s 80’s and dance with Karaoke all night
$1.00 Lemon Drops / $8.00 Flights of wine / $5.00 Martinis (Apple, Pomegranate, Lemon Drop)

Eats: Get your pizza’s here! Not in the mood for pizza? No worries you are in the loop. Plenty of options are just a short stroll away!

Sounds: There is Karaoke on Demand 7 days a week but is officially scheduled Wednesday – Saturday starting at 7pm.

Parking: Its downtown. So either find a parking garage nearby or take a train or catch a bus.

Overall: One of my new favorites downtown. I will make it a point to stop in when ever I have a chance! Brando’s will definitely take care of any Karaoke fix you need!

Find Brando’s on Facebook 

Thinking of going to The Gathering of the Juggalos?

The Gathering 2011 To Hog Rock 1

Here are a few things to expect during your Gathering experience. Let’s start off when you enter the grounds. Car searches! Your car will get searched for glass bottles, drugs, weapons. Roadblocks! When being stopped by the police you will be asked if you have anything on you. If you give it up freely you will be let go with a $150 fine. If you don’t give it up the dogs will be brought out and you will be detained for the whole weekend until you see a judge on Monday. There were also searches on the way out to make sure you didn’t buy anything to take home with you. My advice, don’t take any souvenirs home with ya. Not that I am condoning drug use, but if you buy it at the fest – do it there! Don’t try to take it home with ya.

The Gathering 2011 Hog Rock Pig

People constantly saying Whoop Whoop……and expecting you to say it back.

The Gathering 2011 Graffiti Shed

Bulletholes & Gunshots. During the night you can hear random shots being fired. I would guess it’s cause there aint much to do in bufu.

The Gathering 2011 Bullet Hole Stop Sign

The Gathering 2011 Bullet Hole Turn Sign

If you are a girl be prepared for every guy to ask you to show your tits. Apparently country boys do not have cable.

Juggalos. I thought Lollapalooza was supposed to bring all the weirdo’s out, but Lolla got nothing on The Gathering. I love it!

The Gathering 2011 Juggalos 4

Naked girls. Mind you most of them are not great to look at. But they are everywhere. Walking around. Chillin’ by the showers. Riding the carnival rides. Watching acts at the main stage. If you are one of these girls you will be hit on. You will be asked to take photos with people. And you will hear pickup lines like “I like to eat pussy”. Maybe this is the reason why these guys ask every girl to show their tatas.

This is a BYOB fest so people sell beer out of their coolers constantly. You can find some pretty decent deals walking around. Just keep in mind people make runs from where they are sitting back to their cars to refill their coolers so they aren’t always cold. Drink up!

Graffiti everywhere!

 The Gathering 2011 Graffiti

You can get just about anything for a buck. We found lots of shots for a $1. There was a jello shot stand,then there are the not so classy shots out of a bottle of Jameson, Jäger, or whatever else people have. Fuck there was even a girl selling squirts of her breast-milk for a $1. Disgusting!

I also saw a girl with a sign that read “You buy coke from me and you can snort it off my tits”

There are so many drugs out in the open. Saw lots of bongs, pipes, coke, you name it it’s here! While chillin’ at the picnic tables I heard a guy ask to bum a cigarette. When told no he’s like “I’ll trade you some yay”. Needless to say a deal was made and tho I think the guy who gave up his cigarette “won” in that deal it was a little crazy to see. People openly offer you drugs constantly. Like they were bags of peanuts at a baseball game.

The Gathering 2011 Whipit

Lastly I would like to wrap this up with a few stories I heard to really get across how different this fest is.

In the Freak Show Tent: I heard last year Ron Jeremy was fisting people. Classy.

One year a Girl had sex with a microphone for free shit, also in the Freak Show Tent. Then came back the next year to top her previous performance by squirting all over people after her basterbation session. Trashy.

Ok this one happened this year! I heard this from a fellow Press peep. While over by their camping area along the fence line they noticed people sneaking in by crawling under the fence. Fellow Juggalos were getting pissed telling the Press to take photos of them to turn these guys in. Ummmm we’re Press guys….not Police! So anyway. The girl I was talking to said there were guys hanging out down by the fence for like 2 hours. When they came back to camp she asked them what they had been up to. They said “setting boobie traps” come to find out they drooped duce all along the fence. Boobie trap? More like poopie trap!

The Gathering 2011 Juggalos

I just have to say I love that she is wearing chucks with this outfit!

The Gathering 2011 Juggalos 3

Yeah there are 2 people passed out here.

The Gathering 2011 Juggalos 5

What is The Gathering of the Juggalos?

The Gathering 2011 Hog Rock

To many it’s ICP’s annual music festival…..I like to call it mini Amsterdam. Tho I’m sure Amsterdam is much nicer than Hog Rock. This festival holds no bar. It’s durty, grungy, a bit trashy and full of drugs. You can find just about any substance to enhance your Gathering experience on “Dealer’s Bridge”.

The Gathering 2011 Dealers Bridge at Night

The Gathering 2011 Dealers Bridge by Day

The fest itself is pretty small. The grounds map looks GIANT with all the camp sites but you can walk it in a matter of minutes. There is the main stage, second stage and of course wrestling stage and the freak show stage. All within minutes of each other.

The Gathering 2011 Freak Show Tent

Now being a festival person, I have never been to a festival quite like this. Full of dibochary around every corner. I mean I get drug usage at a concert. Weed is smoked just about anywhere these days. Even at Lolla you will see people light up a joint while waiting for the next band or smoking a joint while chillin’ in the grass listening to some hippie music. But I have never seen anyone just bust out lines like it ain’t no big thang. And you never hear anyone asking me to show them my tits or flash a joint and a bag of a powdery substance asking if I need anything. Sure debauchery!

What to do:

You can keep busy with 9am wake and bake parties to afternoon sideshows before the main stage opens at 6pm lasting til midnight. If you are still roaring to go you can hit up some wrestling matches and a comedy show. If you are still up after all that there is always the ‘I’ve never been so high after party”.

The Gathering 2011 Breakfast

Love Train: Too wasted to walk? Catch a ride on a Love Train!

The Gathering 2011 Travel Tracker

The Gathering 2011 Love Train

Ladies Oil Wrestling: Ladies of Slick Chix getting greased up for your viewing pleasure. These ladies were hitting it hard aiming for chokes slams all while covered in KY.

Hepatitis Lake: Ok not really called Hepatitis Lake but the Juggalos like to call it that.

The Gathering 2011 Hepatitis Lake

The Gathering 2011 Hepatitis Lake 2

ABK’s Wake & Bake BYO Breakfast Bash: Need to refuel from a long night of partying? Need that final hit to put you down for a few hours or wake you up to start the process all over again? This is the party for you!

The Gathering 2011 ABK

Drive By’s Never Been This High Smoke Party: Another BYOB party. Bring your own blunt and party with Blaze and Drive By all night long.

The Gathering 2011 ICP

Violent J’s Juggalo Jam
Michael Jackson vs Prince
This is a dance party y’all! Featuring the best Michael Jackson impersonator vs the greatest Prince impersonator.

The Gathering 2011 ICP 2

Ms. Juggalette Contest
The hottest superstar Juggalettes from around the grounds and have them compete in categories like personality, talent, sex appeal, and other stuff.

The Gathering 2011 Juggalette 1

The Gathering 2011 Juggalette

Lingerie Contest – Faygo Wet T-shirt Contest – pretty self-explanatory.

Psychopathic Karaoke
Think you know the lyrics to your favorite Psychopathic Records songs? Well spit it out then!

Carnival Rides
Alright there’s really only 4 rides but they’re free so why not!

The Gathering 2011 Carnival Rides

Alright I’m a grown as women but I love a party with a moonwalk!

Helicopter Rides
Wanna see the grounds from a different view? Looking to get high at The Gathering without herbal substances? Get high up in a helicopter!

The Gathering 2011 Helicopter

In Photos: Tech N9NE @ The Gathering of the Juggalos

Tech N9NE
The Gathering of the Juggalos
Hog Rock – Cave In Rock, IL

The Gathering 2011 Tech N9NE 1

The Gathering 2011 Tech N9NE 2

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The Gathering 2011 Tech N9NE


In Photos: Blaze @ The Gathering of the Juggalos

The Gathering of the Juggalos
Hog Rock – Cave In Rock, IL

The Gathering 2011 Blaze 3

The Gathering 2011 Blaze 2

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The Gathering 2011 Blaze

George Clinton @ The Gathering of the Juggalos

George Clinton
The Gathering of the Juggalos
Hog Rock – Cave In Rock, IL

The Gathering 2011 George Clinton 2

George Clinton was awesome! I think he was the only act where the crowd did not bomb while on stage. He was not dressed in his known attire, he didn’t have any colorful dreads or super outlandish outfits which was slightly disappointing but the show itself was funk-tastic. The highlight for me was when he played “We Want The Funk”.

The Gathering 2011 George Clinton 4

The Gathering 2011 George Clinton 1

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The Gathering 2011 George Clinton

Vanilla Ice @ The Gathering of the Juggalos

Vanilla Ice
The Gathering of the Juggalos
Hog Rock – Cave In Rock, IL

The Gathering 2011 Vanilla Ice 5

So before Ice came on security was on “Girl watch” trying to find girls in bikini’s to join Ice on stage. There were these 3 girls walking around butt naked and the guy backstage was all about them! Saying YES! I need all of you up here! People from backstage were peaking out to see the naked girls in all their glory. One guy even saying “dad you have to see this!” Did he just say dad? Yeah he did! Once it was getting closer to show time the girls where told they had to cover themselves up. LMAO Sorry backstage dudes! But I have to give props to Ice for having them do so. He’s got 2 little girls at home! It’s a respect thing and looking out for their best interest. You go ninja!

The Gathering 2011 Vanilla Ice 2

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The Gathering 2011 Vanilla Ice

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The Abbey Premiere on Spike TV’s show “Bar Rescue”

On behalf of the Abbey family we cordially invite you Sunday July 31, 2011 to the Premiere of the Abbey on Spike TV’s show Bar Rescue, LIVE. 8pm New menu sampling, 9pm SHARP Live broadcast of the abbey on TV! -Followed by live music.

The Abbey has undergone a makeover, courtesy of Spike TV’s new reality show “Bar Rescue” and is pleased to present The Green Room @ The Abbey. What was formerly known as the pub side here at The Abbey has been updated to give the room a more rock ‘n’ roll look while maintaining the friendly and relaxed atmosphere we’re known for. The Green Room @ The Abbey is now the perfect place to grab dinner, drinks and relax before a show. With guitars mounted along the wall, a drum set chandelier and lounge areas inside and out, The Green Room is a comfortable, casual place to hang out with your friends. Come on by to see our changes, sample the new menu and try some of our delicious new signature cocktails.

Since 1973, The Abbey has been Chicago’s home for live music, good food and great times. The Abbey has live music most nights, featuring local, regional and national acts from indie rock to traditional Irish music. The Abbey serves dinner nightly and brunch on Saturday and Sunday featuring Irish and American food. Make a dinner reservation before any show and get preferred VIP seating! Watch all major sporting events on our 15-foot projector and on 14 flat screens. We feature live international sports telecasts (rugby, soccer, Gaelic) as well as all major American sporting events.

Sun. 7-31-11:
IN THE GREEN ROOM: Premiere of the Abbey on Spike TV’s show Bar Rescue
8pm New menu sampling
9pm SHARP Live broadcast of the abbey on TV!
Followed by live music.
At 3420 W. Grace St. Chicago, IL. 60618

Five For Fighting Rocks Ravinia

Five for Fighting

John Ondrasik is best known for his piano- rock tunes “Superman (It’s Not Easy)”, “100 Years”, and “The Riddle”. John adopted the name “Five for Fighting,” when he played hockey, which is an expression when a player receives a five-minute penalty for fighting. Who would have guess all these sentimental songs could come from a fighter!

When Five for Fighting hit the stage they went right into “Slice” and “The Riddle”. It wasn’t until John switched over to playing the guitar for “65 Mustang” when he told us how his dad bought a brand new mustang and brought him home from the hospital in it. Years later that car became John’s and changed the color to a metallic purple “because I was a prince”. Later he restored it back to its original condition and returned it back to his dad. John borrowed it to bring his son home from the hospital. It was then that he decided she needed her own song!

He told us about people asking him where his songs come from and he said you just have to look and listen to things that are happening around you. Calling home late one night when his daughter Olivia answered the phone and told him “Dad I love you, I don’t know why, I just do”.

The evening was filled of great songs and stories. John was in good spirits. He was happy the weather worked out from the crazy rain that rolled through in the morning and he was glad to be back in Chicago where he used to play at Schubas many moons ago. John had lots of family that flew in for the show. There were many dedications made throughout the show; birthday wishes for anyone celebrating along with “If God Made You” to all the kids running around the park and of course sending out love to all the men and women in the military. John is pretty hilarious making lots of small talk and telling all sorts of jokes. I really enjoyed Five for Fighting and can’t wait to see them again.

playlist the very best of fiveforfighting

Five for Fighting released Playlist: The Very Best of Five for Fighting on January 25th. To have your chance at seeing Five for Fighting this summer here is where they will be:

Stamford, CT – Alive At Five 07.28.11
Rock Springs, WY – Sweetwater Country Fair 08.03.11
Kansas City, MO – Crown Center 08.12.11
Oakland, CA – Art & Soul Festival 08.20.11

Partial Set List:

The Riddle


65 Mustang

Easy Tonight

Note To The Unknown Soldier


Bella’s Birthday Cake

Freedom Never Cries

If God Made You

NYC Weather Report


I Just Love You

100 Years

What Kind of World Do You Want

Vanessa Carlton Steams Through Ravinia

Vanessa Carlton

I’m sure Chicagoans were unsure about the nights show when those morning storms came rolling in. But luckily it cleared up and ended up being a beautiful but steamy evening. Vanessa is out promoting her new album that comes out next week, Rabbits on The Run. Vanessa opened up the night with “Who’s to say” and “Harmonium”. Vanessa introduced the band and told us how she had been suffering from writers block for a few years until her guitarist Ari helped her breakthrough it. They were working at Vanessa’s home when nothing was coming to them so they decided to go to a pub that was nearby and came up with the song “I Don’t Wanna Be a Bride”. Vanessa’s voice sounded lovely throughout the park, but watching her was a bit disappointing to me. The whole set was pretty mild but it was at “A Thousand Miles” when I was ready for Vanessa to rage a lil bit. Maybe swiftly stand up kicking her piano bench across the stage. Could I get a little dance or groove while she played? Sadly I got nothing. The nights version was much slower compared to her radio release. Other than the few stories she told in between songs she was very “professional” looking while she played. Usually looking forward, not really looking out into the crowd.

Some of the stories she told got me a little lost in translation. Trying to give herself props and comparing a song she wrote when she was 16 , “A Thousand Miles”, to today’s “Get Good” which is dedicated to a friend who was going through a divorce, I didn’t really understand what she was trying to share with us. Or mentioning how she got inspiration for “The Marching Line” by taking her dog for walks at the Hudson River, saying her favorite time to go is when it’s raining and how she likes to wear her boots while it’s raining. I just wasn’t sure where she was going with some of these back stories.

Vanessa recorded Rabbits on the Run at the Real World Studios. She chose the title for the symbolism often depicted by rabbits of ‘time slipping, mind floating’ – which explains the writers block. The album was inspired by Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Vanessa mentioned during the show that “her heart is in the 70’s” so being able to record this album directly to tape was a great accomplishment for her. Rabbits on the Run will hit stores on July 26th.

Set List:
Who’s to Say


Don’t Wanna Be a Bride

Tall Tales

Fair-weather Friend

Dear California

Fools Like Me

A Thousand Miles

Get Good

Hear The Bells

White Houses


The Marching Line

Heartland Cafe Calendar of Events for March & April 2011

Here are the Heartland’s Cafe Calendar of Events for March & April 20011. Don’t miss The Steel Wheels tonight playing their old-time sing-alongs and foot-stompin’ fiddle tunes.

Thursday, March 10 – 8 pm
The Steel Wheels
$7.00, Americana

The Steel Wheels are truly an Americana band, rooted in musical styles that explore the territories between blues and bluegrass, old-time sing-alongs and foot-stompin’ fiddle tunes. They are subtle innovators who respect the past but whistle their own tunes, layering in rich textures and decidedly modern energy to forge a new sound. [Read more…]

Abbey Pub Music Listings

Here is the Abbey Pub’s Spring music schedule! Lots of new shows go on sale tomorrow, Friday March 11, 2011. Don’t forget ALL shows are 21+ at the Abbey Pub. Check out the pubs weekly events. And as always preferred seating is available at all music events when a dinner reservation is made!


Every Tues… PaulStar Jam/Open Mic. Hosted by Paul Allodi – 8:30pm. Free

Every Sun…Longest Running Traditional Irish Session with Devin Shepherd – 4pm. Free. $3 Guinness. and-Shut Up & Laugh….comedy that will make you laugh your sass off. 730pm.

1st Fri. of every month: Tony, Aaron, and Rebecca from the TOSSERS.- 9pm, no cover.

Ninja Tune, Last Rites, Gramaphone Records and WLUW/Abstract Science Present Ninja Tune’s XX Anniversary Concert Series……“Early Bird” 3 Day Pass from 3/7 to 4/21 at 6pm: ONLY $30! Check after the jump for show dates and ticket sales….. [Read more…]

Bar Review: Fox and Hound, Schaumburg IL

Fox and Hound
1416 North Roselle Road
Schaumburg, IL 60195


Came in for a friend’s graduation gathering and at the last minute we had a group of 15 people coming. We expected people to show up around 8pm and it was already 6pm. I called over to see if by chance I could get some reserved seating. I didn’t catch the manager’s name but she was very nice and was able to get some tables together for us. Good thing too! Cause it was a full house that night. It seemed like everyone in the Schaumburg area was at Fox and Hounds that night.

Décor: It’s a sports bar so lots of HD TV’s and pool tables. Booths and tables a plenty and even some compfy couches in the back. Three separate rooms to choose from all filled with various TV screens.

The Crowd: The night of our graduation celebration there was a huge High School reunion in one of the back rooms. It was kinda weird; they were all wearing name tags that had their old High School Yearbook photo on it. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. I’m just sayin’ when I’m older I don’t wanna be reminded of how hot I was in High School and now I’m some gray haired old lady with bags under my eyes that could carry a weeks worth of luggage.

[Read more…]

Empty Bottle Events

The Empty BottleLongman & Eagle is hosting the Goose Island Brewmaster’s Dinner on Monday, May 17. The L&E super chef Jared Wentworth and Goose Island Brewmaster Greg Hall are teaming up to present a 5 course meal paired with Goose Island beers. The menu, seating info, etc., can be found here

Here are the shows for this week:

05.14.10 The Lonesome Organist | Sonoi | David Daniell

05.15.10 Greg Laswell | Jimmy Gnecco | Brian Wright

05.16.10 Rock & Roll Cinema featuring Moog

05.16.10 Deep Dark Woods | I Ching Quartet | Matt Crews

05.17.10 When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth | KK Rampage | Psychic Steel | Alex Barnett

05.23.10 Rock & Roll Cinema featuring Mayor of the Sunset Strip

[Read more…]

Metro*Smart Bar*Double Door

Metro Smartbar The Double DoorON SALE THIS SATURDAY 5/15 @ NOON IN METRO:

Thursday, June 10: BOMBAMAN * DJ C vs. WHOA-B * RUCKUS
Friday, July 2: MARC ROMBOY (1st Chicago Appearance) * KATE SIMKO
Friday, July 23: ZOMBIE DISCO SQUAD (1st Chicago Appearance) * NATE MANIC

more shows after the jump!

[Read more…]

Tilted Kilt & The Highlands Music Lounge Events

Tilted Kilt and The Highlands Music Lounge
2300 Bushwood Drive
Elgin, IL 60124

Tilted Kilt and The Highlands Music Lounge are the hottest new sports pub and music venue in the northwest suburbs!! Tilted Kilt has bands playing every Saturday night. The Highlands Music Lounge has Country Night every Wednesday night! Is Country not your thing? That’s ok! Come in for Ladies Night on Thursday’s or dance it up on Friday’s. Check out the local scene with live bands on Saturdays follwed by a DJ dance party.

Show’s to check out:
3/27 – Hi Infidelity
4/3 – Alive
4/10 – Infinity
4/17 – Cover Gurl
4/24 – Libido Funk

Chicago City Limits

Chicago City Limits
1712 West Wise Road
Schaumburg, IL 60193

I used to frequent here quite often when I first moved out to the NW Burbs. Such a great bar to see some great live music. Have found some super fun cover bands here & saw Vanilla Ice!!! Yep you read correctly, Mr Ice Ice Baby himself, it was super sweet.

[Read more…]

Theory Sports Bar

9 W Hubbard
Chicago, IL 60654

Photo: theorychicago.com

I came to Theory because of a Groupon I had purchased a couple of weeks ago. For those of you who don’t know what a Groupon is here is how it works: Each day you get an email featuring something cool to do at an unbeatable price and you only get it if enough people join that day. So go sign up for your daily Groupon! We stopped in on a Saturday for an early dinner before heading out to The Ashland for a birthday party and I must say I really like this place! The vibe is sports bar meets classy lounge. This is not your average sports bar.

[Read more…]

THE COLOR MORALE out of Rockford, IL has officially joined the Rise Records family.

Pleas welcome them to the team! Their debut album, "We All Have Demons", will hit stores on September 1st.
The album was produced by Joey Sturgis (TDWP, For The Fallen Dreams, Attack Attack!).
Look for them on tour soon!!  
 [Read more...]

Karaoking it up at Eaton’s

Eaton’s Redwood Inn
118 W Chicago St
Elgin, IL 60123

I love a good dive bar but Eaton’s has probably been the weirdest dive bar I have ever been to. After getting carded, the bartender made it very clear that they only accept cash, how old school! But I didn’t care, cash is all I had. I have been to some seedy bars but Eaton’s was straight up scary! I was afraid to touch anything in fear I may leave with a disease.

Décor: The set up was super simple, mainly made up of a colossal bar that took up most of the place. There were some booths and couple of tables along the walls, but that was about it. The walls are made up of wood paneling and exposed brick, while the ceiling was made up of some antique moldings. There are only 2 restrooms, 1 men’s and 1 women’s, that don’t have paper towels. They have that revolving towel in the machine that just rotates the same sheet over and over, nastiness. There is a pool table stuffed in one of the corners of the bar along with a couple of slot machine-like arcade games, very fitting for the casino town.

The Crowd: Like any dive bar it doesn’t exactly attract many posh patrons which is why I like them! If I wanted to hang out with preppy brosef’s I would go to a club.

Service: A-ok, not too welcoming when you first enter but after they card you & order a couple of drinks they seem to warm up a little.

[Read more…]

A Steel Train Rolls Through Chicago

Steel Train
Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL
11/15/2008Steel Train Bottom Lounge - Chicago, IL 11/15/2008

Music genres have always given me a complex. Are you supposed to label genres based on each song, album, or artist? I give each artist one genre to make things easy. While tagging, I’ve always avoided using the word ‘pop’ in any way, shape, or form. At the mere site of the word, my skin would crawl. At least that was the case until recently.

Steel Train Bottom Lounge - Chicago, IL 11/15/2008Now that I’ve learned to embrace pop, I can call bands like Steel Train exactly what they are, pop. Listening to their sophomore album, Trampoline, the songs fixate on love, a fundamental of pop. While I became a fan listening to these guys on CD, their live show is where the real money is at. When I saw these guys at Lollapalooza ’08, I was blown away by the set they played. The album may be pop but the live show is most definitely rock. The most noticeable part of the set was the lack of shoes on stage.

Lead singer, Jack Antonoff, is one of the best frontmen that I’ve seen in a while. Even though the crowd was small, he made sure to keep them engaged and played as though it was a sold-out show at Metro. I didn’t realize the practicality of playing without shoes until their show November 15th at Bottom Lounge. If Jack were to wear shoes while playing that close to the crowd, people would most definitely die. Broken faces and decapitations would abound. Jack jumps higher than most of the people on my high school basketball team all the while playing his guitar and sometimes singing. Jack plays as though he is all hyped up on Mountain Dew and to say he goes nuts on stage is an understatement.

Ok…so that might be a bit of an exaggeration but I was pleasantly surprised to see these guys rocking out instead simply gazing into the crowd and singing a few songs. They genuinely have a good time (at least it looks that way.) During “Firecracker,” Jack kept knocking over Evan’s xylophone, poking him to break his concentration…even the drummer, Jon Shiffman, took some time to give Evan shit.

Towards the end of the set, a fan shouted “sobriety is the new addiction” to which Jack responded “I’ve been saying that for years. Everyone asks me to smoke pot after the shows but I’d be crazy…I’m crazy now.” That segued into talk about cubs vs. white sox and Jack admitted to liking Frank Thomas when he was younger. “What did they call him again?” – the Big Hurt a fan shouts – “yeah, I guess you guys could call me the big asshole, it embodies my personality perfectly.” And with that, the guys launched into a new song “Soldier in the Army” that supposedly has only been played about 10 times. That usually means it’s been played at every stop of the tour.

Now if anyone read this far, you’ll notice that the photos are from an outdoor concert, not fitting to Chicago in the middle of November. The photos are from their set at Lollapalooza this summer since I managed to leave my compact flash card at home for this show…I hate when that happens.

Photos of Steel Train:

Girl Talk Makes Sweet Sweet Love to a Sold Out Congress Theater

Girl Talk
Congress Theater – Chicago, IL

Girl Talk Congress Theater - Chicago, IL 11/08/2008To cap off my week of really ridiculously good concerts (Kings of Leon, We Are Scientists, The Whigs, and Ghostland Observatory) was the naked DJ himself, Gregg Gillis. Not familiar with that name? Maybe Girl Talk will ring a bell.

Gillis ran onto the sold-out stage of Congress Theater, the biggest show he’s ever played. Starting out in a yellow sweatshirt and some navy sweatpants, he was quickly down to just a pair of boxers shielding our eyes from his cash-and-prizes. It would have been incredibly awkward if Gillis was on stage alone. Thankfully, a small number of fans were allowed on stage with him; not his usual type of show.

Tons more photos and some senseless words after the jump…

Girl Talk Congress Theater - Chicago, IL 11/08/2008For those who are unfamiliar, Gregg Gillis usually gets ‘buck wild’ on stage, in all aspects of the phrase. According to an interview in Filter magazine issue 31, there’s been on-stage sex three times. Whether he’s had sex on stage or he’s watched others, it’s unclear. Either way, I think you get the idea of what a Girl Talk show is like.

Many fans were disappointed to find themselves hindered by a chest-high barrier and a group of security guards acting as though they were protecting Obama himself. The die-hard fans didn’t let anything stand in their way and I saw several people try more than once before finally making it on stage without being grabbed by security. There was even a green man, I mean c’mon guys, isn’t dancing around dressed head to toe in a skin tight lime green spandex suit a free ticket on stage?!

Gillis took several different moments throughout the set to thank the crowd for coming and explain how much the show meant to him. “I’ve been playing shows for eight years and this is by far the biggest fucking show I’ve ever played, thanks for coming out guys” he said at the end of the night as giant balloons were passed around the crowd.

To finish off the night, hundreds of balloons cascaded down from the ceiling popping on contact just before Gillis crowd surfed from the stage all the way back to the sound booth. While the show wou’dve been a bit more kick-ass if everyone was able to frolick around the stage but because the security at Congress are some serious fun-haters, I ended up with some stellar photos and I met some fantastic people in the process.

I don’t think there is any better end to a weekend. Thanks Girl Talk, come back soon!

Photos of Girl Talk:

Jennifer Hudson: Family Memorial Service

A public memorial service took place this weekend for Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother, and nephew. Hundreds of Chicago residents attended the memorial, which took place at the city’s Pleasant Gift Missionary Baptist Church. “They are all in Heaven having a ‘hallelujah good time,” Reverend Quentin Washington said of the deceased, “Their lives…were not in vain. Their legacies live on.” A private memorial was scheduled to take place yesterday in Chicago. Jennifer Hudson did not attend the public service.

Matis-YAHOO! – (Couldn’t Resist)

The Vic

Matisyahu The Vic 10/19/2008

Known mostly for being a Hasidic Jew, Matisyahu (born Matthew Paul Miller) has received lots of praise from the reggae world in the short time he’s been around. The New York rapper has three albums out and a few remix EPs. The last studio album released was 2006’s Youth but we can expect a new album entitled Light out early next year.

Not to be confused with dancehall, Matisyahu sticks with styles closer to Roots Reggae with rock riffs and beat-boxing in between. On the studio albums the rock and hip hop influence can really be heard but live, reggae takes the spotlight. “Live at Stubbs” is one of my favorite reggae albums and believe me, good reggae is hard to come by these days.

Matisyahu The Vic 10/19/2008Matisyahu was in Chicago over the weekend and performed at The Vic on Sunday.

There were no surprises for me at this show. The crowd was filled with hippies and hip hoppers but you don’t have to be either to appreciate the music. According to the set list, there were 28 songs to be played (set list below) but we only went through about half. I was ok with that since most of the tracks are extended to fit in his many, many hums and hollers.

Best parts about Sunday:

– Everything about this show went smooth and on time. I find that The Vic is always good about that. I appreciated it.

– “Youth” – The first time I saw Matisyahu the Youth album wasn’t out yet so I’ve been waiting to hear it live for a while. Yes, it was worth it.

– “King Without a Crown” – Clearly this is the song everyone knows but it still so great. Live performances of this song are always better than what’s featured on the album. (with the exception of “Live at Stubbs” -that by far is the best version)

– The band – Matisyahu‘s band is always amazing. It’s probably the only reason I started listening to him in the first place. Those guys get the job done and they do it well.

Matisyahu has clearly come a long way since the first time I saw him. For some reason this time seemed more official and his performance was more confident. He also gave us a few sweet dance moves.

Matisyahu The Vic 10/19/2008

Matisyahu The Vic 10/19/2008

Bayside Headlines the Involuntary Movement Tour @ Metro

The Metro – Chicago, IL

Bayside The Metro - Chicago, IL 10/09/2008Anthony Raneri (vox/guitar)

The last time I saw Bayside, they opened up for The Starting Line on their supposed “last tour.” Do any bands ever reach the point of a last tour anymore? I mean Zeppelin came back and the Dead even reunited for a gig this year…whole different conversation though.

Moving on, this was the first time I got to see Bayside headlining their own show and I’ve got to say, they made great use of their extra time! Thrown in to the set were several tracks from Sirens and Condolences including “Masterpiece” and “Guardrail.” A few more from their self-titled Bayside with “Montuak,” “Hello Shitty,” along with a surprise acoustic “Don’t Call Me Peanut,” that was a nice intermission from all the punk-rocking. The Walking Wounded and new album Shudder took up most of the set for obvious reasons.

Bayside The Metro - Chicago, IL 10/09/2008Jack O’shea (guitar)

My favorite part of the set started with “Roshambo” and went all the way through “Masterpiece.” I’d have to say my favorite song of the night was “They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns” …or was it “Landing Feet First?” I don’t know. I’m not the biggest fan of the new album since I didn’t discover Bayside until The Walking Wounded, many fans’ least favorite album. Anyways, a die-hard fan stood behind me all night calling out nearly every song on the setlist before they started playing it. He seemed like he had a better time than I did. So, my point is, this tour is for old and new fans alike. If you can catch one of the tour dates, make sure you check em’ out. The opening bands are worth seeing, Valencia and especially The Matches.

Bayside The Metro - Chicago, IL 10/09/2008

Bayside The Metro - Chicago, IL 10/09/2008

Bayside The Metro - Chicago, IL 10/09/2008

One Night of Danger with The Virgins!

The Virgins
Abbey Pub – Chicago, IL

Donald Cumming The Virgins
Donald Cumming (vox)

After hearing The Virgins for the first time over a year and a half ago, I finally got to see them live and in person at the Abbey Pub. Last Monday, the Virgins opened for Black Kids, a band that I’m frankly not a fan of. I’m sure the hipsters won’t be pleased, but I chose to talk with lead singer, Donald Cumming in the catacombs of Abbey Pub while the Black Kids were playing their set…hate me.

Like the name suggests, The Virgins started the night off slow with “Private Affair” and “Radio Christiane” before heading to second base with “Hey Hey Girl” and “Teen Lovers.” After building up some confidence, the guys went for the home run with “One Week of Danger,” “Fernando Pando,” “She’s Expensive” and a personal favorite, “Rich Girls.” The act must have been consensual because no one seemed to decline the pursuit. After the show, some fans left feeling a little tricked because it was obvious these guys have done this before.

PS – The YouTube video of “One Week of Danger ” has a free download of the song in the more info section.

The Virgins @ Abbey Pub, ChicagoThe Virgins @ Abbey Pub, Chicago, il

Valencia Opens for Bayside at the Metro

Metro – Chicago, IL

Shane Henderson (vox)

Since moving to Chicago in late August, I have seen around 12 shows and not one of them has been a punk show. That was a true statement until last Thursday when the Involuntary Movement Tour stopped by the Metro with Bayside, The Matches, Valencia, and The Status .

New pop punk hopefuls, The Status, started the night with a quick 30-minute set. The single, “Perfect Day,” was the song that stuck in my head; it will be interesting to see where these gents end up over the next few years.

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New Kids Are Back On The Block

New Kids On The Block
Allstate Arena – Chicago, IL

Video From Boston

After 15 years NKOTB are Back! The sold-out crowd was insane! The energy was phenomenal. Walking into the Allstate was a sight to see; I have never seen so many women in one place in my life and I was also eerily surprised at the handful of guys I saw. After fighting a sea of people trying to find a bathroom, I finally came up to one of the shortest lines I could find, which happened to be a men’s room. The ladies had been officially taken over! Why the venue didn’t think about this in the first place was beyond me, but at first the women took over the right side that had the stalls and the men kept to the other side. Eventually the venue made that restroom a women’s restroom; maybe they will learn from this for when New Kids come back later this month.

The crowd went into hysterics once the lights went out, but the buildup was overwhelming. There was a video playing on the big screens working up the audience. Then they appeared! NKOTB opened with a medley of “Single”, “My Favorite Girl”, and “The Right Stuff”. The show was fantastic! They were so hot, in sync, and they just sounded outstanding. The guys are all grown up now and look so good. I remember seeing them when they toured with Tiffany back in the 80’s, wearing their torn jeans and Batman tees to wearing button down shirts and ties. The group performed all the greatest hits, including “Cover Girl”, “Hangin’ Tough”, and Joey got the girls going crazy when he dropped to his knees with “Please Don’t Go Girl” and a solo performance of “Stay The Same” while Jordan sang “Give It To You”.

Follow the jump for the set list and tour dates.

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Getting Low with Diamond

Howie Diamond, far left lookin’ dapper as all get out.

After their show last Sunday at the House of Blues, I had a chance to sit down with Low Vs Diamond’s Howie Diamond and chat about the current tour as well as what’s to come for the band. I got to the venue a little late because I was covering the Hot Chip show the same night.

So, the whole time we were talking Howie’s friends were hurrying him along so they could celebrate the show. I found out later on he’s originally from Chicago, which explained the entourage. He just kept telling them, “Guys, give me five minutes, just five minutes.” Surprisingly, it appeased most of them for about 25 minutes while we finished the interview.

Read about their plans for their next tour after the jump:

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Phantom Planet at Metro

Phantom Planet
Metro – Chicago, IL

Phantom Planet Metro - Chicago, IL 9/25/2008

How many of you have heard of Phantom Planet before? You know, the group that helped foster Jason Schwartzman’s Coconut Records.

Now, how many of you know them outside the song “California,” the O.C. theme song? I’m willing to bet it’s not very many of you and that’s unfortunate.

“California” is a good song; in fact, it’s one of those songs your kids are going to be listening to 20 years from now. But, Phantom Planet is so much more. I was fortunate enough to see them on their current tour opening up for The Rocket Summer. Let’s just say Phantom Planet deserved to headline that show.

I got to the venue a little bit late thanks to the wonderful CTA. Anyways, I walked in on the middle of “Always On My Mind” just before lead singer Alex Greenwald launched himself into the crowd. Just another night at a PP show…

Alex is like a 10-year old all “hyped up on Mountain Dew,” he runs around the stage, jumps into the crowd, and when he has the chance, he scales the speaker stacks like he did at this year’s Lollapalooza festival. Mark Roson brought out the entire band for the cover of Radiohead’s “Just.” And afterwards, allowed the band to play their hit single “California” that appears as a bonus track on Ronson’s album Version.

Phantom Planet Metro - Chicago, IL 9/25/2008

I haven’t had a chance to meet these guys in person but I do know someone who has. He told me that Alex doesn’t slow down when he gets off stage and he couldn’t wait to “get back on the tour bus” if you’re picking up what I’m putting down. For those who aren’t, he’s a fan of women. If you watch during the show, he seems to pick someone out of the crowd and sing to them. Lucky girls.

Throughout the show, the band kept teasing the crowd knowing that most of them only knew one song. Finally, Alex announced to the crowd, “I guess we’ll play it” just before diving into “California.” Before leaving the stage, they played one last song off their sophomore album, The Guest, “All Over Again.”

Whether the fans knew about Phantom Planet before the show, or this was their first time hearing the band, they showed a lot of appreciation which was nice see.

They have a few shows left on their way out to the West Coast so if you have a chance, go see these guys and make sure The Rocket Summer knows you were there to see Phantom Planet, not them.

Hot Chip…Where’s the Salsa?

Hot Chip
Metro – Chicago, IL

Hot Chip

Around 8:30 Sunday night, the synth-heavy electro-pop Hot Chip kicked off a two-night stint at the Metro. The visual duo, Growing, opened for them. Visual really isn’t my thing, I suppose if I were on acid it would be ‘wow’ but 100% sober, I just can’t get into it. Call me lame but I had the same reaction when I saw Yeasayer open for Man Man (coming to Bottom Lounge 10/18) earlier this year. -Actually, listening to them now it’s more intriguing…maybe I’ll give them another shot.

Sorry to deviate, there’s more about the actual show after the jump…

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A little Tobacco but WHY?

Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL

Why? Tobacco & Yeti?

Tobacco kicked off the night with some calm and collected electro beats. They were just a little too slow and not quite fast enough to groove to. Songs would usually start off with a promising beat but for some reason that would die out leaving me wanting more. The two DJ’s were fairly stationary the entire set but their video mash-ups, everything from Ron Jeremy style 80’s porn clips to some of Arnold Schwarzenegger bustin’ caps in people’s asses, were a great addition and ultimately saved the show for me. The last song brought out a Yeti that walked/crawled around the stage coupled with a video starring the same creature. The whole Yeti thing feels like it had a deeper meaning but I wasn’t interested enough to search for it.

Afterwards, indie-hoppers (that’s indie hip-hop and yes, I just made that up) WHY? took the stage captivating the crowd with their brilliantly abstract lyrics that focus more on imagery than any kind of story. The beautifully crafted lyrics, while absurd to many, did a great job painting zany pictures in my mind. For example, “The Hollows” has an especially colorful lyric, “In Berlin I saw two men fuck;in the dark corner of a basketball court;Just a slight jangle of pocket change pulsing” that puts me right there with him. I know that’s not particularly attractive to some of you but honestly, listen to that track and tell me it doesn’t get stuck in your head.

More after the jump…

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A Journey Through Space With My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine
Aragon Entertainment Center – Chicago, IL

My Bloody Valentine Live at Aragon

The Irish shoegaze band, My Bloody Valentine, took a sold-out crowd on a sonic voyage through the cosmos Saturday night at the Aragon Entertainment Center. In the minds of MBV, the universe is deafening, so much so that free ear plugs were given away when entering the venue. I’ve never seen that done before, kudos.

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