Author Archives: Allison Staulcup

Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno, The TVD Interview

Kasabian has already had quite a year. They released a new album in May that quickly earned them their fifth #1 album in the UK. They’re closing out the year with dates throughout Europe, but first there are some long overdue stops to make in the US.

Before the tour, Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno talks with TVD about their wild live shows and the vinyl experience.

It’s been three years since you’ve played in the US. What are you looking forward to most?

It’s kind of a lovely little run, because we’re only playing seven or eight dates. It’s not like a killer eight week event which is pretty nice. Over the summer we’ve been playing our new songs at the live shows and we’re definitely peaking. So it’ll be nice to play some smaller shows and refine it even more and see if we can turn any Americans on.

How are the audiences in the US different from the UK?

I suppose there are a hell of a lot more of them in England than there are in America. We’re pretty blessed, because it doesn’t really matter—the shows seem to sort of go wild everywhere. The people who do come to see us get sort of bedlam. So they’re pretty similar everywhere really. The mosh pits are quite intense. People seem to get transported to a seventh dimension. So yeah, it’s pretty similar.

What are your live shows like? Are you mostly playing from your new album, For Crying Out Loud, or do you mix it up with some of the hits?

Yeah, we have a nice balance. We have quite a few records, so we play a few off each. It’s great—to keep it interesting we mess with the old stuff enough that it feels fresh and fits with everything. I think for me, with the setlist, I try to create it like a dance gig where you build the set around the flows and the peaks. So, sometimes a song will be there because it’s an emotional thing rather than we have to play songs from this and this and this. It’s more to do with—you start at level and then at the end it’s just pure euphoria. When you get that sort of amazing, trance-like feeling, that tribal thing—that’s kind of what we do with the set.

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TVD Live: Laura Marling at the Metro, 5/7

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | The Metro was packed Sunday night with Chicagoans looking for an alternative to the Cubs game. They fought police barricades and drunken fans in the streets in order to spend the evening with England’s Laura Marling and Los Angeles’ Valley Queen. And it was well worth the fight.

Valley Queen opened the show with music to feed the soul. Lead singer, Natalie Carol’s voice was large and powerful and kept the audience silent and still. When the rock and roll began, the crowd nodded their heads in approval to the beat. Valley Queen’s debut EP, “Destroyer,” is currently available for download.

The set started with quiet percussion that led into Laura Marling’s first single, “Soothing.” Flowers and vines crawled up the mic stands as the band was illuminated in purples and blues. Haunting and sensual, Marling, made her way through the majority of her current album, Semper Femina, released earlier this year. When she stopped to welcome the audience she said, “We come to Chicago a lot. We keep coming back and back! It’s always jolly good fun.”

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TVD Live: Sleigh Bells and Tunde Olaniran at the Metro, 3/21

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Climbing the stairs to Chicago’s Metro last Tuesday, you could feel the party had already started. Tunde Olaniran brought the perfect energy to kick off a Sleigh Bells’ show. He owned the room as he made it impossible for anyone to sit still during his high energy set.

All were made to feel welcome with signs on the stage promoting a safe space, “No Ableism. No Shaming. No Fatphobia. No Femmephobia. No Transphobia. No Racism. No Sexism.” Olaniran taught the audience new moves with two unstoppable dancers supporting him on either side. The dancers mashed ballerina techniques with hip hop and assisted Olaniran with clapping hands, becoming a vital part of the performance. Hear Tunde Olaniran’s beautiful voice and positive message on his most recent album, Transgressor, currently available on vinyl.

The audience eagerly awaited Sleigh Bells to take the stage and let them know, with great affection, when they finally arrived. The set started with strobe lights and bass that shook the venue like a storm was on the way. Vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Edward Miller were in constant motion once they took the stage; hands up, spinning, jumping, thrashing, hair blowing from a fan. The audience kept the pace as the bass filled every inch of the venue, the vibration forcing everyone to dance and keep their arms extended towards the stage. Krauss couldn’t keep herself away from the crowd either as she leaned over the front of the stage to hold hands, encourage singalongs, and occasionally crowd surfed her way back to the spotlight.

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Nikolai Fraiture: The Strokes bassist takes a turn as Summer Moon’s frontman

The Strokes bassist Nikolai Fraiture is embracing the role of frontman with his new project Summer Moon. A supergroup of sorts consisting of Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, Camila Grey of Uh Huh Her, and Noah Harmon of Airborne Toxic Event, Summer Moon’s debut release With You Tonight is in stores now.

We chatted with Nikolai in advance of the record’s arrival in the racks.

Was Summer Moon always band you were thinking about starting? How did it come about?

Summer Moon was actually more of an album title that I had a couple of years ago. Then over time the project changed and involved other people, so I thought it sounded better as a band name rather than putting it out as another solo album.

It started in my music space. I have a recording space in my home in New York. I had some songs that I was working on and then I asked some friends in New York to play and jam and kind of try to breathe life into the songs. We recorded over a lot of what I had already done and I did some recording in Austin, Texas, as well. And then finally, I hunkered down and finished the album. Then I met some musicians in Los Angeles and that’s our current lineup—Stephen Perkins, Camila Grey, and Noah Harmon.

Was it a different experience from making a Strokes album? Did you draw from different influences?

Yeah, I feel like with Summer Moon I can take a lot more risks than I would otherwise. I was listening to this genre that I stumbled upon called Italo Disco, kind of weird Italian disco from the ’70s and ’80s. The tones and the experimental nature of the synthesizers and the overall music is what influenced part of the album.

Is that a deliberate sound you were aiming for with Summer Moon?

It was kind of a blend of things. Tonally, I really liked that influence, but overall the songs are a lot longer experimental things—the structure isn’t super tight. So, blending that idea of the tones into more structured songs, like influences that I’ve had from New York all my life, mainly makes the composition of the album, rather than just that influence. It wasn’t like I heard that and then wanted to do it. It’s more like one aspect of the album.

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TVD Live: Future Islands, Digable Planets, Noname at the House of Vans Chicago Opening, 2/3

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | As soon as the doors opened to the House of Vans, the crowd began exploring. This was the grand opening everyone was waiting to sink their teeth into and it did not disappoint. House of Vans is the only existing indoor skatepark in Chicago and some people were so excited they had their skateboard on hand.

The space is filed with beautiful sloping ramps, the walls lined with awe-inducing concert photography, and special touches to recognize its hometown. Behind one ramp, a fenced in ivy covered wall is reminiscent of Wrigley Field, as is the repurposed Goose Island brewpub bar. To top off the night, local favorites were waiting to treat the crowd with food and drink. On site were Parson’s Chicken and Fish, Big Star Tacos, and Goose Island, who even had a special brew, the Vans Golden Lager.

There was a lot to keep the crowd occupied before the music got started. Vans was handing out t-shirts, totes, and limited edition grand opening posters. Several folks couldn’t wait and they put their shirt on right away. A DJ played favorites as a line formed outside of the photo booth. Eventually the mass of people parted and a circle formed as several dancers took turns showing their best breakdancing moves.

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TVD Live: Margaret Glaspy and Bad Bad Hats at Schubas Tavern, 1/29

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Coming off a tour supporting The Lumineers and Andrew Bird, Margaret Glaspy started her run of solo shows with a sold out concert at Chicago’s Schubas.

Minneapolis’ Bad Bad Hats kicked the evening into gear and quickly engaged the audience. Between their infectious beats and lead singer, Kerry Alexander’s witty commentary between songs, people couldn’t help but be struck. Given her confessional lyrics and fresh voice, it feels like you’re being told a secret from your best friend, plus their songs are immediately relatable—even when they center around gas station snack foods. Bad Bad Hats’ newest album, Psychic Reader is currently available on vinyl.

Margaret Glaspy closes her eyes as she sings, focusing on each note, each tremble is on purpose, every waver calculated. Her songs are a beautiful, smooth blues at one moment and then her voice rises to a growl giving each phrase a bite. For “Memory Street” she becomes a perfect skipping record as she repeats “Times I…” over and over until finally finishing, “Times I took forever to forget.” It started to feel like the record scratch would continue forever (and the audience kind of wanted it to.)

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TVD Live: Esmé Patterson and Pool Holograph at Scubas Tavern, 1/27

PHOTOS: KATE SCOTT DALY | Esmé Patterson made Schubas in Chicago the first stop of her winter tour.

Chicago’s own Pool Holograph kicked off the night with a ton of energy. The crowd was engaged, often talking back to the band in-between songs—their lead vocalist singing every word with a punch as he hopped around the stage. As the band closed their set, they thanked the audience for being “patient and beautiful.” Pool Holograph’s latest album Town Quarry is available for download and on limited edition cassette.

Esmé Patterson took the stage having donned an electric blue wig. It became the perfect prop throughout her set, accenting her songs with a hair flip or shaking the bob to cover her face. Between the wig and her gestures to the audience, she was serious and intentional as she revealed each intimate song. The intros of her compositions sometimes have a bluesy twang, then a racing guitar enters, and her sweet voice, filled with squeaks and vibrato, captures the space. Patterson’s lyrics embody her—mind and soul.

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White Lies: Finding Gold on Record–and in Record Stores

Ready to embark on their first US tour in years, White Lies has a lot to be excited about. Lead singer, Harry McVeigh talks with TVD about playing new songs, playing in new hometowns, and filling his suitcase full of vinyl along the way.

Hi, Harry! How are you?

I’m very well. Just recovering from some serious rain in San Francisco.

Are you there for a show?

No, I live here. I moved out here about seven months ago with my wife. She works here. We thought it would be a nice change of scene, so we moved here.

Are you enjoying it, besides the rain?

Well, we’re use to the rain, we’re British. But I love it. It’s a great city. I’ve really enjoyed it here.

What are looking forward to most in your upcoming US tour?

Well, it’s been a few years since we’ve played in the US and I think it’s going to be great. I say this when we play anywhere in the world, but we have so many wonderful fans who really love our band. We really enjoy meeting them and playing to them. There are people who really love the songs, especially love the lyrics and I enjoy being in that moment hearing them sing them back to me.

I know that sounds like a bit of a cliched answer, but it is wonderful. Especially when you’re playing in a city you don’t get to play in that often. It’s really great. There are a few shows on this tour in towns we’ve never played before. I think even if they’re not crazy busy, when people show up it’s a great experience. Also moving to San Francisco, I’ve made a few friends here and you tell people that you’re in a band—but to actually have the opportunity to show them what I do and to play in my new hometown, I’m really excited about that.

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TVD Live: Conor Oberst at Thalia Hall, 11/26

Conor Oberst spent time in Chicago this past weekend for two evenings of intimate performances at Thalia Hall. Joining him Saturday night was singer-songwriter, Anna McClellan.

In Oberst’s words, Anna McClellan is a “secret weapon from Omaha, Nebraska.” The audience was quick to feel her power and be captivated by her haunting voice and playful melodies. She played out heavy repeating chords on the piano while her engaging lyrics and lovely refrain hovered above and took over the room. The room’s energy level rose to a new high when Oberst walked on stage to join McClellan on her song “Fire Flames.” McClellan’s inviting presence kept the crowd quiet and in their seats which is a rare feat for an opening act. Anna McClellan’s current album Fire Flames (which features Oberst on the title track) is available to download.

The crowd was ready for Conor Oberst before he even entered the stage. Within the first notes of his opening song people were already cheering and singing along. Arms went up during favorite lyrics and friends turned to each other to mouth the words during quiet parts. It was a warm welcome. The stage was sparse with only a single bassist to accompany him. Oberst alternated between an old upright piano and his guitar. An assistant sat at a fishbowl shaking out harmonicas in-between songs to pass off to Oberst.

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TVD Live: Angel Olsen and Rodrigo Amarante
at Thalia Hall, 9/27

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Angel Olsen was welcomed to Chicago with two sold out nights at Thalia Hall this week. Joining her was bilingual crooner Rodrigo Amarante.

Brazilian singer-songwriter (perhaps best known for the theme song for Netflix’s Narcos), Rodrigo Amarante set the scene for the night holding down the stage with just his guitar and sweet vocals. Between songs he told the audience, “I had the best day. They treated me like a king here even though I’m just a pawn. I’m so happy.” You could feel his happiness as he whistled along with his tunes. As Amarante sang, he and his guitar filled the room with the impression of a full orchestra playing.

Amarante’s first solo album, Cavalo is currently available on vinyl. His sophomore release is anticipated some time this year.

A full house waited in anticipation gathering closer and closer to the stage as Angel Olsen’s set time was approaching. Soon her band entered the stage in uniformed suits topped off with bolo ties. A few moments later Olsen appeared on stage and everyone went silent as she put on her guitar. “Oh you’re quiet now…that’s cool,” she told the crowd who quickly began cheering, “Yeah right!” she exclaimed before playing the notes of her first song “Never Be Mine.”

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