Author Archives: Brigid Gallagher

TVD Live Shots:
Beach Bunny at the Metro, 2/22

Local pop punk quartet Beach Bunny dropped their first full-length album, Honeymoon, on Valentine’s Day. A week later, they played an album release show at the Metro, a solid kickoff for their North American tour (which is completely sold out, I might add). They’ve been quite the sensation around these parts for some time now, so the national recognition is no surprise.

Beach Bunny is about to blow up, folks. Give them a listen and about 30 seconds in you’ll see why: the sound is catchy but with edge; it’s pop with depth. And it’s speaking directly to a budding new generation of music fans—as well as old farts like myself. I was witness to it on Saturday night and watching the crowd took me back to my Jagged Little Pill days.

Catch them on the road in the U.S. through May before they hop the pond to Europe in June.

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TVD Live Shots:
Andrew Bird at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, 12/10

The tradition began a decade ago when Andrew Bird first announced a special holiday concer—coined “Gezelligheid”—at the beautiful Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago. Since, it’s turned into a multiple night (almost) annual event. It’s a December highlight, no doubt.

This year, I attended night two of his five night sold-out stint and was mesmerized as always by Bird’s music and the grand setting of it all. The lovely Madison Cunningham opened the show and joined Bird halfway through his set.

Every duet was a showstopper, but that’s come to be the Gezelligheid concert series standard. If you know Andrew Bird, you know that his shows are unique, intimate, masterful—and not to be missed.

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TVD Live Shots: Angel Olsen at the Riviera Theatre, 11/14

Angel Olsen is making the rounds in support of her exquisite 2019 album All Mirrors, and Thursday was Chicago’s turn to experience it live.

The Riv was packed head to toe for the occasion. As always, her voice and arrangements proved show-stopping, her band soaring behind her.

Olsen’s tour continues through the end of the year before heading to Europe to kick off 2020. Treat yourself.

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TVD Live Shots: Danny Brown and Ashnikko at the Metro, 11/7

Detroit rapper Danny Brown brought his signature style to the Metro last Thursday in support of his latest (and perhaps greatest) release, uknowhatimsayin¿.

He looks more polished than the partially toothless performer I photographed back in 2012, but his charisma live hasn’t changed one bit. Brown pulled fan favorites from all of his albums and rapped them with gusto, making for a memorable evening.

Openers Ashnikko and Zelooperz also impressed.

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TVD Live Shots: Tool at the United Center, 11/3

In August, thirteen long years after a new Tool album, the highly anticipated Fear Inoculum arrived in stores to critical acclaim. Adding to the joy of Tool fans worldwide was a tour announcement. Having digested both the new album and their live performance, it’s clear to me that the masterful wizards behind the music—Maynard James Keenan, Danny Carey, Adam Jones, and Justin Chancellor—are still as intoxicating as ever.

I wouldn’t consider Tool a readily accessible band, mainly because they’re always trying to push musical and theoretical boundaries. They don’t have “singles,” rather, concept albums that are better understood when listened to in full. The rhythms, scales, and lyrics are complex and playful.

Each member of the band is a true master of their instrument—and these are just a few of the reasons why their legions are so loyal. And that’s who really stole my attention on Sunday evening: the Tool Army. I sat and watched a stadium full of them at the United Center, moved to the core—singing, crying, feeling, fists in the air. It was powerful.

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TVD Live Shots: 23 Hour Party People at the Metro and Smartbar, 11/2

The Metro and Smartbar had one serious rager over the weekend. The party, which went on for a casual 23 hours, featured several DJs—from local favorites (DJ Heather, Michael Serafini, Garrett David, Olin and more) to international producers such as Anthony Rother, Omnidisc, and Miami’s Danny Daze.

I swung in to catch the phenomenal James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem, DFA Records) on the decks, but also caught bonus sets from Phillip Stone and Sassmouth. I could’ve easily put the camera down and gotten swept up into the music, but sadly duties called and I had to tear myself away for other work.

From what I saw eight hours in, it was clear that the party was both going strong and just getting started. Murphy’s disco-heavy, funky, extended 4-hour set saw a packed dance floor from start to finish, even mid-afternoon. Party on, party people.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/15

2:55PM: Where are The Village People? They’re running late so I rush over to the Rise Stage to catch Less Than Jake. The ladies of The Beaches are sounding great at the Riot Stage.

3:09PM: Less Than Jake are as charismatic in between songs as they are during them. They’re jokesters, too: “I didn’t get to see any of Slayer last night and I heard that there was a circle pit, so fuck you guys.”

3:15PM: Speaking of circle pits, apparently the largest one of the weekend has formed at the Radicals Stage for—of all acts—The Village People!

3:27PM: Shoegaze rockers Ride are lulling me into a dreamscape. I’d like to lay in the shade and daydream through their whole set—but there’s no way in hell I’m missing Dayton’s finest (Guided By Voices).

4:10PM: Robert Pollard is such a legend. In between high kicks and karate moves, he slams shots from the bottle like the old school rocker that he is. Guided By Voices continues to be such a killer band live—keep touring!

4:22PM: Local favorites Against Me! have drawn a huge crowd and for good reason—they’re playing Reinventing Axl Rose and Transgender Dysphoria Blues in full and back-to-back!

5:25PM: I wasn’t sure what to expect from The B-52’s but wow are they great. Rumored to be their last Chicago show, they’ve busted out all of the hits from their 40+ year career.

6:04PM: It’s raining a little bit but no one’s complaining. We’ve escaped the rain all weekend and for the second year in a row the weather gods have granted us three beautiful days at Douglas Park. Bob Mould isn’t phased by the rain and wails through his set.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/14

3:39PM: There’s a LOT of Slayer shirts at Riot Fest today. We’re ready for their final Chicago show.

4:17PM: Supergroup The Damned Things is rocking the Rebel Stage in the blinding sun. It’s a feast of talent featuring Fall Out Boy’s Joe Trohman (guitar) and Andy Hurley (drums), Anthrax’s Scott Ian (guitar), Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley (vocals), and Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano (bass).

4:46PM: Gwar and Riot Fest are synonymous at this point, so it’s always a treat to see them up close and personal in the press area. Guitarist Bålsåc the Jaws ‘O Death looks fierce—and I’m not just talking about the beastly balls dangling beneath his exposed ass. But then he takes a swig of his Bon & Viv spiked seltzer and I can’t help but laugh.

5:19PM: I have a quick chat with JP of Surfer Blood to remind him that he once crashed at my apartment the night before the band’s 2010 Pitchfork Fest set. That was fun—and so was their set earlier in the day.

5:34PM: My wife and I are playing one of our favorite games: “What Drug Is That Person On?” We’ve determined that the dude standing before us is on a combination of several, and while we can’t confirm his particular cocktail we can, in fact, confirm that it took him 3 minutes and 36 seconds to light his cigarette. The struggle is real.

6:04PM: The Struts are serving us some glam rock perfection. Lead singer Luke Spiller sounds like Freddie and moves like Mick.

6:26PM: There are lots of gems at the silent auction tent for the Coalition for the Homeless. Signed guitars and drum kits, posters and art from Riot Fest alums past and present. I hope a lot of money was raised.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/13

3:30PM: It’s going to take us 90 minutes to get to Riot Fest thanks to traffic, so my wife and I are busy compiling a list of bands we hope to see play Riot Fest in the future. The highlights from our lengthy discussion include: Spinal Tap (my #1 wish), R.E.M. reunion, Smashing Pumpkins playing Siamese Dream in full, The Fugees, Talking Heads reunion, the band from School of Rock, Led Zeppelin reunion, Ben Folds Five, The Muppets, Tool, Missy Elliott. Pretty solid list, don’t you think?

4:45PM: Made it! The grounds seem more crowded than last year—especially for a Friday. It’s snug.

5:08PM: Neck Deep get some laughter and claps for their cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn.”

5:17PM: The Riot Mall is packed with the usual suspects—Fat Wreck Chords, the fake pot candy booth (Chronic Candy), and my favorite To Write Love on Her Arms—and some new faces including a tent simply labeled “I Love Vagina.”

5:42PM: The Violent Femmes are bringing me right back to high school. It’s a crowd sing-a-long—and it’s necessary. The sound is so low they might as well be whispering. Turn that shit up, Riot Fest!

6:55PM: Dashboard Confessional is playing The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most in full at sunset and I’ve witnessed at least 20 people crying.

6:59PM: Over at the Radicals Stage, Pennywise is covering a classic: Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”

7:14PM: Descendents are roaring through their set and packing it with classics (“Everything Sux,” “Hope”). Solid.

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TVD Live Shots: Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals and Trombone Shorty at Huntington Bank Pavilion, 8/17

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue have hit the road this summer on a co-headlining tour. They swung through Chicago’s summer concert hotspot—Huntington Bank Pavilion—on what turned out to be a beautiful Saturday night.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue hit the stage hard and didn’t let up. The band brought some much appreciated New Orleans flair and played with such intensity that every song might as well have been their last. Trombone Shorty was more than happy to share the spotlight with his bandmates, as each took their moment to solo and shine.

Ben Harper assembled the original Innocent Criminals (Juan Nelson, Leon Mobley, and Oliver Charles) for this tour and what a treat it was to see them all together twenty years later. Their set felt more introspective and intimate than Shorty’s spirited performance, but that’s the beauty of Harper’s work. It was particularly satisfying to hear some of his older tunes (“Fight for Your Mind,” “Welcome to the Cruel World”) as well as a great cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”

The tour hits the east coast next and wraps up at the end of August in Lenox, MA.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 8/4

4:00PM: I’ve been stuck in the north entrance Lollapalooza line with 4,000 new companions. We’re inching along so I’m guessing I won’t have the chance to photograph Francis and the Lights. Bummer.

4:28PM: A little excitement here in the security line. A girl next to me simply couldn’t wait any longer to use the restroom. Pleading cries didn’t help her, but the crowd did. Those close formed a human circle to protect her from cops seeing her while she natured it. Teamwork.

4:39PM: I’m inside the gates! Finally! It’s the busiest day of the weekend (and best daily lineup). I weave my way through the crowds to Perry’s Stage.

5:22PM: Why the hell am I at Perry’s Stage? Would you believe me if I said Shaq? The NBA Hall of Famer has taken up a DJ career and goes by the stage name of Diesel. His skills are…shall we say less developed than his basketball game, but no one seems to care. The crowd rages and the scorch of the pyrotechnics leaves me sweaty.

5:25PM: Just got word that 300 to 400 kids broke down the gates at Michigan Ave. and Harrison St. about 20 minutes ago. Oh boy.

5:26PM: The Revivalists played their entire set with an “End Gun Violence” backdrop. We fell asleep to the news from El Paso and woke up to the news from Dayton. It’s not far from anyone’s thoughts today.

5:55PM: A mysterious skywriter appears above Grant Park during Sharon Van Etten’s set. “Smile” it spells out.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 8/3

3:56PM: I’m making a list of Lollapalooza wardrobe trends while waiting for Smino. So far I have: body and facial glitter, fish nets, swimsuits, fanny packs, neon, thongs. I look down at my breathable linen pants and sensible shoes and…I’m definitely not on trend.

4:15PM: Smino brought props…in the form of a pink Pontiac named “Pepto.” Awesome. His silky smooth vocals soar, even when he’s rapping.

4:26PM: I stop at the Toyota Music Den and decide that Liily needs a bigger stage. The LA-based alternative band is using every square inch of space to thrash around.

5:10PM: I find myself over at the BMI Stage, mainly because I haven’t been to it yet. It’s a hidden gem of a stage—nicely shaded by trees. Witt Lowry is performing a cappella because of sound issues. The crowd helps him out.

6:32PM: So. Many. Instagram. Stories. Endless and everywhere. We need to stop watching everything through our phones.

6:41PM: Airplane banner ads have been flying above Grant Park all weekend, but I just eyed the best one: “We’re Rolling Too” courtesy of Well played—and a brief distraction from AJR’s pretty brutal set on the Tito’s Stage.

7:11PM: “This is a fucking sexy ass town! You know that, right?” Jack Black of Tenacious D asks to claps and laughter. They’re working their way through their discography with select highlights from each album. They begin with their most recent, “Post-Apocalypto,” and work their way back to the most beloved, their eponymous 2001 debut.

7:18PM: Jack Black is feeling like dancing. So is Kyle Gass. He requests a sax and a kids’ Fisher Price sax is retrieved. He “plays” it, the band joins in, and—you guessed it—a dance party ensues.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 8/2

3:08PM: “This is what five feminists looks like,” IDLES lead singer Joe Talbot growls before the Bristol rock band dives into “Mother.” They are just the jolt of rock Lollapalooza needs (and once had on the regular). Three songs in and guitarist Mark Bowen and bassist Adam Devonshire have already leaped into the crowd. This is a set I won’t forget.

3:28PM: Wandering past the Toyota Music Den, I hear a cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together.” It’s The New Respects. I pause to listen and enjoy.

4:26PM: Japanese Breakfast finishes up an already stellar set with a great cover of Wilco’s “Jesus, etc.” Nice touch.

4:31PM: Fence hoppers! At least 20 just leaped over the fences by the Bud Light Stage and once again security cannot catch them. They’re in!

5:12PM: Maggie Rogers is playing directly into the sun but that doesn’t stop her from bouncing around the stage with seemingly endless energy. She is dancing up a storm!

5:54PM: Conan Gray just did a gymnastics routine for an interview in the Press Tent and we were all so impressed we clapped. He stuck the landing.

7:13PM: And now for the main event: Janelle Monae! “Life is only made of memories—tiny small moments,” she reflects. “My only hope to you, Chicago, is that I create a memory for you because what I’m seeing right now is a memory I’ll never forget.” She gazes out at the field of people with the skyline as the backdrop.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 8/1

2:54PM: I just witnessed three drug deals so far walking down Michigan Avenue. I can hear the EDM from Perry’s Stage, which as it turns out is an appropriate soundtrack for the transactions. Lollapalooza 2019 has arrived. Here we go!

4:34PM: We’re off to an exciting start! The first fence jumper of the weekend races out of Artist Village. Security is chasing him but the jumper is too speedy and successfully disappears into crowd.

4:45PM: Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant spotting! He’s here today as a concertgoer, not a performer, but still manages to look as intriguing as ever holding the skeleton of an umbrella.

5:26PM: H.E.R. begins her set a little late but quickly proves she can do it all. Three songs in and she’s already played the guitar, bass, and drums. And did I mention she has a beautiful voice?

6:54PM: Saba is charming, often flashing his adorable smile throughout his time slot at the American Eagle Stage. The Chicago native is making his hometown proud.

7:09PM: I wander south and catch the end of Hozier and notice that the sound has improved since last year. No surprise—at this point Lolla runs like a well oiled machine. It’s impressive, given its size (Lolla averages 100,000 attendees per day). Not enough can be said for the fest organizers who continue to perfect elements of Lolla each year.

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TVD Live Shots:
Beck, Cage the Elephant, Spoon, and Wild Belle at Huntington Bank Pavilion, 7/31

On the eve of Lollapalooza, Huntington Bank Pavilion hosted what might as well have been the opening night of the festival as it featured Beck, Cage the Elephant, Spoon, and Wild Belle (all Lolla alums, I might add). Normally I would’ve been fast asleep preparing for the long weekend ahead, but The Night Running tour was not one I wanted to miss. I had a feeling it would be special—and it turns out I was right.

First up was Wild Belle. Siblings Natalie and Eliot Bergman and Erik Hall took the stage looking impeccable in white, as if they’d just stepped off a Caribbean yacht. Their breezy, island vibes sounded like it as well and accentuated the perfect Chicago night. “I think we’re related to most of you,” the Chicago natives joked while thanking the crowd at the end of their set.

Britt Daniels doesn’t age, I’ve decided. The Spoon frontman looks great and sounds great, as does the rest of the band. It’s an invigorating show, and one that showcases Spoon’s impressive discography. My only complaint is that they couldn’t play longer.

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