Author Archives: Brigid Gallagher

TVD Live Shots: David Byrne at the Auditorium Theatre, 6/1

David Byrne is a master of many things. Musician, producer, actor, writer, director, artist, biker—he can do it all. And he certainly did it all last Friday night at the Auditorium Theatre.

I caught the first of his three-night, sold-out, “American Utopia” run in Chicago and man am I so glad I did. Backed by a tremendously talented group of mobile, barefoot, grey-suited musicians who sang, danced, carried, and played their instruments from start to finish—Byrne has created the most brilliant marching band.

Each song was thoughtfully choreographed and creatively lit, thus making the visual experience a truly stunning one. (And, yeah, they sounded phenomenal as well.)

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TVD Live Shots: U2 at
the United Center, 5/22

After recently concluding their extensive Joshua Tree tour, U2 took what appears to be no time at all to rest before diving into their next excursion.

Those who have seen U2 through the years know this is no small feat, as their productions are close to unparalleled by anyone in the industry, aside from perhaps Roger Waters. This particular arena experience did not disappoint—and that’s no surprise as U2 certainly knows how to put on a show. And while the set list wasn’t necessarily my dream U2 set, relying heavily on their most recent releases, it still consisted of some serious heavyweights.

And yes, Bono was at his Bono-est, although who can hate a guy who preaches love thyself and thy neighbor? (All hail Irish Jesus!) Seriously however, it was apparent from start to finish that the band was thinking about the fan experience. Each song held a unique visual accompaniment, and the stage design was incredibly thoughtful, visually provoking, and enabled the band’s mobility to bounce around the arena, creating more intimate moments for each section.

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TVD Live Shots:
Nils Frahm at Thalia
Hall, 3/24

Berlin composer, pianist, and producer Nils Frahm wowed sold-out crowds at Thalia Hall last Saturday and Sunday night.

A true virtuoso, Frahm’s setup alone was most impressive and included multiple vintage instruments (pianos, organ, synthesizer, etc.) and speakers. More so, his performance was transfixing, almost meditative. As we watched him build his songs before our eyes, no one dared miss a note. The room was so still, we might as well have been holding our breath.

Frahm’s North American tour continues through April before heading to Europe for the summer.

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TVD Live Shots: Bob Weir and Phil Lesh at the Chicago Theatre, 3/11

Founding members of the Grateful Dead, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, concluded their Duo Tour in Chicago over the weekend.

Playing two sold-out nights to a rowdy crowd at the Chicago Theatre, Bobby and Phil cruised through a staggering 3.5 hours of tunes each night. The two have not played together since 2015, so it was a nice treat for Deadheads. The first set was devoted to stripped-down, acoustic versions of songs, while the second set featured an excellent full band (Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams, Jeff Chimenti, and Wally Ingram) backing them.

Their brief, three-city tour is leaving fans begging for new dates. Perhaps they’ll be rewarded with a tour extension, but if not, Deadheads can get their Grateful Dead fix this summer, as Dead & Company (Bob Weir, John Mayer, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti) embark on a 26-show tour.

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TVD Live Shots: P!nk at the United Center, 3/9

P!ink’s “Beautiful Trauma World Tour” hit Chicago last week for two stellar, sold-out performances at the United Center.

When P!nk began the show dangling, flipping, and twirling from a chandelier all while belting “Get the Party Started,” I wondered how she could possibly top her opener. But, of course, she did. P!nk has never been one to shy away from challenges, especially in regard to her live shows.

She continues to set the standards high for her performances, which is why her concerts continue to top those of any other pop star. A couple decades into her career, P!nk continues to reach new heights. She is well worth the price of admission, as no one can put on a show quite like P!nk.

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TVD Live Shots:
Marilyn Manson at the Riviera Theatre, 2/8

Marilyn Manson is back on the road again in support of his latest album, Heaven Upside Down, after a freak onstage accident in New York City last fall resulted in injury and caused him to postpone several tour dates.

Still sporting a walking boot on his right leg from the injury, Marilyn nonetheless gave the sold-out crowd at The Riv his all. The setlist pulled heavily from his most recent release, but still featured classics “The Dope Show,” “The Beautiful People,” and his cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.”

His tour continues throughout the U.S. until June, when he takes it to Europe.

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TVD Live Shots:
Mavis Staples at the
Vic Theatre, 2/6

Chicagoans might not agree on everything, but there is one thing that I’ve come to find that we all agree upon: our shared love for musician, civil rights activist, and hometown gal, Mavis Staples

If you’ve not seen Mavis in concert, I urge you to make an effort to attend one of her shows. And if she’s not coming to a town near you, you owe it to yourself to check out the 2015 documentary, Mavis! The reason is simple—this woman is a pure ray of sunshine in an often disheartening world. She IS joy (I’m pretty sure she’s an official synonym for “joy” in the dictionary at this point).

Mavis’ spirit is contagious. Hearing her sing just one song is all that it will take. You’ll be hooked for life, which is a good thing because she’s got a lifetime of music. I recommend starting with The Staples Singers and working all the way up to her latest critically acclaimed album, 2017’s If All I Was Was Black.

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TVD Live Shots:
Buddy Guy and Mojo Daddy at Buddy Guy’s Legends, 1/28

So, in case you live under a rock, let me clue you in to an undisputed fact: Buddy Guy is THE MAN.

He’s a 7-time Grammy winner, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, one of the greatest guitarists ever to play the instrument, and aside from Eric Clapton, he’s influenced Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to name a few. There is no one quite like this Chicago blues legend. And every year the lone saving grace of January in Chicago is his month-long residency at his venue, Buddy Guy’s Legends.

I caught his final 2018 residency show and boy was that a treat. Buddy played for three straight hours, pausing only to share anecdotes with the audience and to bring his son, Greg, and daughter, Carlise, to the stage to perform with him. At 81, Buddy showed no signs of stopping as he charged through the crowd playing his guitar. Like a fine wine, Buddy only gets better with age. You can see for yourself.

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TVD Live Shots: BØRNS and Charlotte Cardin at the Riviera Theatre, 1/27

BØRNS brought his tour in support of his sophomore album Blue Madonna to Chicago this past weekend for a sold-out show at the Riviera Theatre. Support from openers Charlotte Cardin and Mikky Ekko helped to make it a solid electro-pop, rock-filled evening from start to finish.

BØRNS has a flair for production, fashion, and theatrics. It was apparent from the moment he took the stage. But most impressive to me was his beautiful voice, which even managed to soar above the symphony of squeals coming from the audience at certain points.

BØRNS’ tour carries on throughout North America—with a brief stint in Australia—before heading to Europe in the Spring.

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TVD Live Shots: TNK Fest with Diane Coffee and Ron Gallo at Lincoln Hall, 1/19

January in Chicago can be rather dreary.

The end-of-the-year holiday insanity has passed, and we have not much but cold weather on the horizon for the time being. However, years ago the good geniuses at Schubas Tavern and Lincoln Hall decided to organize a winter music festival, Tomorrow Never Knows. TNK Fest now spans across five venues (Schubas, Lincoln Hall, Metro, Hideout, and SmartBar), lasts for five days, and features a shitload of talented musicians and comedians.

My work travel schedule prevented me from attending the bulk of TNK Fest this year, but I was able to catch Diane Coffee and Ron Gallo’s excellent show at Lincoln Hall on January 19th. Both bands are worth the cost of a ticket. Diane Coffee is a true performer, bringing stage theatrics to enhance his brand of psych rock. And be on the lookout for Philadelphia’s Ron Gallo, who’s got some great garage rock tunes and a fun stage presence.

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TVD Live Shots: Angel Olsen at the Riviera Theatre, 12/9

Angel Olsen and her excellent band cruised through Chicago last Saturday to play to a sold-out Riviera Theatre.

Her performances, which have always been wonderful, continue to beautiful, fun, and memorable. It was a nice little holiday homecoming for the former Chicagoan, who’s released one solid album after another since her 2012 debut. Her tour continues to DC and her current home of Asheville before heading to Australia and Europe for several dates.

She’s more than worth the price of admission, so grab a ticket!

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TVD Live Shots: Queens of the Stone Age and Run the Jewels at the Aragon Ballroom, 12/2

The final evening of WKQX’s “The Night We Stole Christmas” concert series at the Aragon was definitely one to remember thanks to the stellar lineup.

Hip Hop duo Run the Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P) heated things up before alternative metal band Queens of the Stone Age headlined. It was fun to see a lineup that paired hip hop with hard rock and fans of both acts were gifted an early holiday present.

As usual, both live shows were excellent—but that’s the golden standard that’s come to be expected when you go to see QOTSA or RTJ.

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TVD Live Shots: Into
The Great Wide Open: A Celebration of Tom Petty, Louisville, 11/22

The night before Thanksgiving, a very lucky sold-out Louisville crowd was given one more reason to be thankful. Organized by Patrick Hallahan (My Morning Jacket) and Craig Pfunder (VHS or Beta), “Into the Great Wide Open: A Celebration of Tom Petty” boasted an impressive lineup of local favorites collaborating to pay tribute to the legendary rocker.

Held at Headliners Music Hall, the evening was sweaty, joyous, and at times simply magical. Thoughtfully curated songs from Tom Petty’s impressive career paired perfectly with the different voices and personalities of one talented Louisville musician after another.

Notables gracing the stage included Jim James, Tom Blankenship, Patrick Hallahan, Craig Pfunder, Scott Carney, Mark Charles Heidinger, Willie Maclean, Todd Hildreth, Tony Esposito, Nick Wilkerson, Dante Schwebel, Adam Turla, Katie Toupin, Dawn Landes, Johnny Berry, Joe Manning, Cheyenne Mize, David Bird, and Tyler Lance Walker Gill. Heck of a lineup, for sure.

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TVD Live Shots: St. Vincent at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, 11/21

Part of me wants to tell you everything about this show—the show that I arrived in Louisville a day early (for family Thanksgiving) to see. But a bigger part of me just implores you to go see her if you haven’t already. I mean, it’s St. Vincent. She is meant to be seen live. There is a reason I’d travel to other states to see her.

I will tell you a few things about the “Fear the Future” tour. In St. Vincent’s latest incarnation, she continues to explore and expand her roles—musician, actor, performance artist, director, designer, celebrity—and the relationships between them, through them. The evening begins with a viewing of her surreal short film The Birthday Party, followed by Part One, select cuts from her first four albums.

Part Two is her latest triumph, MASSEDUCTION, in full. (And can I say that it’s really cool to experience an album from start to finish, just as it’s meant to be heard.) The whole time it’s just St. Vincent on the stage—no band, though the music sounds live. Just her and her angular, petite, customized guitar that’s as thoughtfully designed as everything else in her world.

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TVD Live Shots:
LCD Soundsystem at the Aragon Ballroom, 11/6

LCD Soundsystem wrapped up three sold-out nights at the Aragon Ballroom Monday evening.

Touring in support of their most recent (and excellent) work American Dream, the band appears more polished than ever and continues to be one of the most exciting live acts on the planet. Simply said, they put on the best disco dance party I’ve ever attended—and likely will ever attend. Until, of course, their next show.

Spoiling the crowd with an array of new and old hits, the heat index in the Aragon quickly spiked off the charts. The sweat unabashedly drip down every body in the Ballroom. It didn’t matter. We danced ourselves clean.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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