Author Archives: Brigid Gallagher

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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TVD Live Shots: Anderson .Paak, The Free Naturals, Kadhja Bonet at House of Vans, 7/25

There aren’t many cities that are fortunate enough to have a House of Vans, so I’m sure glad that Chicago is one of them.

Every summer, we are spoiled with a selection of free house parties curated by musicians and artists and hosted by Vans. And man are they the hosts with the most: admission is free, beverages are free (even beer!), and mementos from the evening (such as shirts, hats, posters or shoes) are also free. In other words, we are spoiled.

Last week was no exception, as Anderson .Paak took his turn curating the space and sound of the House of Vans for one awesome night. It featured an art installation by Dewey Saunders, as well as live performances by Kadhja Bonet, The Free Nationals and the man himself. It was an exceptional night of fun and dancing in a unique, intimate setting.

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TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival, 7/21

3:30PM I’m listening to Pitchfork Radio en route to the fest and am enjoying Khruangbin’s interview. Bassist Laura Lee is talking about attending her first Phish concert this year (she was blown away) while the sounds of JPEGMAFIA on the Red Stage float over. “Looks like he’s going off over there,” guitarist Mark Speer remarks.

4:03PM: Well Khruangbin was not wrong. I’ve arrived in time to catch the last half of JPEGMAFIA’s set and it might be the performance of the weekend. He’s thrashing around, diving into the crowd, laughing, and putting on an all-around intensely mesmerizing show. He finishes: “I’ve got something very disappointing coming soon and I’m about to go get high. Peace.” As I’m walking away, I hear one fan ask another, “Can we go get high with him?!”

5:24PM: The Chirp Record Fair is as solid as ever, and features local record stores as well as labels. I’ve just spent some time deep diving into the stacks and am heading home with some gems. The Renegade Craft Tent and Flagstock Poster Fair are equally overflowing with talented artists and I wander through, appreciating their work (and the shade).

6:10PM: My record player has spun a ton of Khruangbin in the last couple years, so I guess it’s no surprise that I’m digging everything about their set. Props to Pitchfork for scheduling them at sunset at the Red Stage. The sun rays are peaking through from the side of the stage, perfectly accentuating the band’s funky, psychedelic sound.

6:23PM: Clairo, fresh off her Green Stage set, is in the crowd for Khruangbin. Fans immediately recognize her and she obliges by taking photos with them.

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TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival, 7/19

2:26PM: I’m en route to the 15th Annual Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park and currently listening to Pitchfork Radio’s live stream. Chicago native Tasha has just finished up an intimate, beautiful set and I imagine she’s heading somewhere air-conditioned to cool off. We’re in the middle of a severe heat wave and it’s taking its toll on everyone. The current “feels like” temperature is 109 degrees F.

2:32PM: Grapetooth is playing DJ now and the song selection is Chicago-centric. It’s appropriate, given that every year Pitchfork devotes a decent chunk of the lineup to local talent.

2:52PM: I’ve made it inside the park and the heat is no joke. I’m sweating, but not as badly as Standing on the Corner, who happen to be playing directly in the sun on the Green Stage. There looks to be a full orchestra on the stage—dozens of musicians—and the melodies flood the field.

3:03PM: Rico Nasty puffs on a joint and observes the scene from the Blue Stage. She’s drawn a crowd and there’s a large consortium of them who seem unfazed by the heat as they’re moshing.

3:22PM: Valee hasn’t broken a sweat and is spitting verse, cool as a cucumber. HOW?!

3:58PM: I’m so pleased to see Pitchfork giving the Young Chicago Authors’ Louder Than A Bomb Poets a platform. They’re performing spoken word in between sets on the Blue Stage, and it’s mighty impressive and inspiring.

4:08PM: Grapetooth is here to dance, and so are their fans. The drums are loud, the synth is singing, and the boogie-ing has commenced.

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Festival Fast Talk: Haematic at Forecastle Festival, 7/14

LOUISVILLE, KY | Last minute circumstances allowed me the opportunity to check out Sunday’s line-up at Louisville, Kentucky’s Forecastle Festival. While there I had a chance to sit down with up-and-coming electronic artist (and local), Hayden Easterling—better known as Haematic. At just 18, he has a mature sound and a wide range of musical taste. This should serve him well in the fall when he heads to NYC to begin his studies at New York University. His latest single, “Sometimes,” dropped in June and has a really nice, summery vibe to it. Hayden’s 2018 debut EP, “2000,” caught the attention of Forecastle, who booked him for not just one, but two DJ sets at Party Cove.

Brigid: Let’s hear your origin story! When did you discover that music was something you were interested in exploring?

Haematic: Freshmen year I started making music on my iPad with GarageBand. I put samples together and in ten minutes you can put a song together that sounds good and seems like a lot of work was put into it. People liked it but I knew that I didn’t make any of it. So sophomore year I decided I was either going all or nothing and started taking lessons online to learn how to produce. From there, I taught myself the rest through YouTube.

B: I heard that you’re headed to NYU in the Fall. What will you be studying?

H: Yeah, I’m headed to NYU’s Steinhardt School of Music Technology and basically it’s a program for all things music production. The classes are small—about 30 people per class. They start with music theory and then move further into subjects like how to create audio for visual, such as music for video games, movies, and all sorts of different genres.

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TVD Live Shots:
Outlaw Music Festival
at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, 6/28

Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival hit the Chicagoland area at the end of last month and featured a heck of a lineup: Willie Nelson & Family, Phil Lesh & Friends, The Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dawes, and Lissie.

Due to classic Chicago traffic, I arrived late but was able to catch the end of Alison Krauss’ lovely set. The Avett Brothers were up next and wowed the crowd (as usual) with their undeniable harmonies, musicianship and energy. At one point Scott Avett ran the perimeter of the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre pavilion, all while singing and hi-fiving fans, which I found to be an impressive feat of athleticism, especially in the heat and humidity.

I spent most of Phil Lesh & Friends’ set sitting in the grass and watching the sunset—a perfect location to take in some Grateful Dead classics. “Wharf Rat,” “Terrapin Station,” and “Black Muddy River” were just a few of the standouts.

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TVD Live Shots: Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 6/23

TELLURIDE, CO | 1:10PM: After a delicious lunch at Taco Del Gnar, I wander over to Elks Park and catch a bit of the Troubadour performance by Cecilia Castleman, Billy Huston, and Tim Ostdiek. I love that even if you don’t have a ticket to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, you can still see free shows every day.

2:39PM: Over on the main stage, The Jerry Douglas Band is having fun. They just brought Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive out to cover Sly and the Family Stone’s “It’s a Family Affair.”

3:47PM: Seventeen minutes into their set and I already can’t get enough of the First Ladies of Bluegrass. Comprised of Alison Brown on the banjo, Becky Buller on the fiddle, Sierra Hull on the mandolin, Missy Raines on the standup bass, and Molly Tuttle on guitar, it’s almost as if the term “supergroup” doesn’t do them justice. Each are taking turns introducing each other and playing a song of their selection. It’s Missy’s turn and Alison explains, “As we like to say: bluegrass rules but Missy reigns!”

4:18PM: My appreciation for these master musicians is shared as a guttural “I LOVE YOU” booms from the crowds bringing everyone a laugh.

4:40PM: It just keeps getting better! The First Ladies had a surprise up their sleeves. Actually, they had three: Bonnie Paine, Jewel, and Brandi Carlile! Together, they sing the Eurythmics’ “Sisters are Doin’ It for Themselves.” It’s easily one of the best moments of the entire weekend.

5:38PM: Cheers to the Punch Brothers for their excellent cover of Tame Impala’s “Let It Happen.”

7:25PM: “If you’re not having fun here you’re kind of an asshole.” EXACTLY, Kacey Musgraves! I catch Sam Bush and Jewel laughing—just a couple of the many musicians in the audience to catch her set.

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TVD Live Shots: Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 6/22

TELLURIDE, CO | 1:10PM: It’s snowing at Telluride Bluegrass Festival. In June. For real.

2:05PM: First stop of the day? None other than the Children’s Talent Show of course! It’s hilarious and heartwarming and my cousins’ kids sang an Irish blessing and nailed it!

2:45PM: The last time I saw the Steep Canyon Rangers was with Steve Martin back at TBF40. While that was a heck of a show, I’m more impressed with them now. Their musicianship is off the charts.

3:47PM: “What—are you guys outta marshmallows already?” It must be Yonder Mountain String Band! The marshmallows rain in from the crowd seconds later. “That’s better,” Dave Johnston laughs.

3:58PM: Today marks the 20th consecutive year that Yonder has played TBF. However, the mood is somewhat somber as we awoke to rumors that former Yonder mandolinist and co-founder, Jeff Austin, was hospitalized. Mid-set, bassist Ben Kaufmann tearfully addressed the situation: “Twenty years ago me, Dave and Adam and Jeff Austin stood on this stage and we shared our music with you for the first time. We woke up today and the internet was on fire with rumors and speculation about our brother Jeff Austin. And what we can say is that he is still with us. What is appropriate right now: if you’re a prayer, send prayers his way. If you’re a lover, send love his way. If you’re a healer, send energy his way. This is what we’re going to send his way.” They then busted out “Half Moon Rising,” a song they haven’t played since Austin amicably left the band in 2014. (Update: Jeff Austin passed on June 24th. We send our love and condolences to his family, friends, and Yonder.)

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TVD Live Shots: Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 6/21

TELLURIDE, CO | 2:25PM: It’s not a visit to Telluride without exploring a bit, so today is devoted to just that. Good thing I’m able to stream the Koto Community Radio live feed from TBF. That station is the best for real! Molly Tuttle is on the Telluride Bluegrass Festival stage right now and sounds even more impressive than she looks on paper: she was was the first woman to win the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitar Player of the Year award in 2017 (and then won it again in 2018!). I grab a late lunch at a local staple: the Grilled Cheese a la cart. The brie and apricot is as delicious as I remember.

3:15PM: The Telluride farmers’ market is a solid one. Bountiful flower bouquets, local artisans, $20 tubs of goat cheese, and simply gorgeous looking produce are just a few of the sights.

4:05PM: I’m en route to Mountain Village courtesy of Telluride’s free gondola and the view is breathtaking—literally. At 10,535 feet elevation, I’m short of breath.

5:45PM: Walking in to TBF I hear the end of the Tim O’Brien Band. I also discover that the dumpling stand is delicious.

7:00PM: The Lake Street Dive crowd is rowdy. People are hooting and hollering and a few are stumbling in to one another. “It’s witching hour!” I hear a man exclaim to his friend.

7:52PM: Lake Street Dive’s set focuses on their hits but also included several fun covers ranging from Shania Twain to The Staples Singers. They end strongly with Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl.”

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TVD Live Shots: Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 6/20

TELLURIDE, CO | The Telluride Bluegrass Festival is a festival like no other and has been since its origin 46 years ago. Every June, people gather in one of the most stunning environments in all of the country to celebrate bluegrass and community. It’s a truly special experience and a festival that I’m already itching to return to.

9:56AM: The bagpipes are playing over the loudspeaker to signal that the running of the tarps will begin shorty. It’s a tradition unique to TBF—dedicated “Festivarians” line up outside the entrance the night before each day of the fest in order to ensure good line placement. In the morning the bagpipes play, the gates open, and people run as fast as they can to claim their little temporary plot of land. It’s a sight to see and always a fun way to begin the day. Staff and volunteers take a break from their work to watch the tarp run from the stage. There’s lots of laughter and cheers.

10:20AM: The merch tent line is already impressively long. Festivarians are a patient bunch.

11AM: The incredibly talented Chris Thile (Punch Brothers, Nickle Creek), who I happened to catch walking to TBF this morning, kicks off the four days of music. We’re officially underway!

1:12PM: I’ve wandered over to Elks Park to listen to the first round of Troubadour competitors. The competition, which is open to songwriters not currently signed to a major recording or publishing deal, offers a platform for finalists as well as cash and prizes. The winner also gets the opportunity to perform on the festival main stage. I arrive just as Emily Scott Robinson is mid-song and I’m really impressed. (Turns out I’m not the only one—she ended up winning the competition!) It’s a serene and beautiful setting right in charming downtown Telluride.

2:01PM: I linger in Elks Park to check out the live vinyl pressing demo courtesy of Mobile Vinyl Recorders. Tim O’Brien sang a lovely song for the crowd, it was recorded live on vinyl and then played back for the crowd. Pretty cool stuff.

3:36PM: Back at the main stage, things are heating up. Fan favorites Leftover Salmon are covering Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue.”

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