Author Archives: Brigid Gallagher

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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TVD Live Shots: Ani DiFranco at Cain Park, 6/13

“How are you feeling?” a fan screamed at Ani DiFranco halfway through her set at Cleveland Heights’ Cain Park. “Well,” she began, “after two years of sitting on my ass writing a book I’m happy to be outside playing.” That’s saying something, considering that outside on that particular occasion involved downpours, hoodies, and even hail. “Sunny Cleveland!” she joked.

Backed by longtime friends Todd Sickafoose (a recent Tony Award winner!) on stand-up bass and keyboards and Terence Higgins on drums, this was the folk singer and activist’s first show in Cleveland since 2015. Fans were spoiled with a setlist heavy on favorites from Ani’s impressive, prolific career, which spans over two decades.

Ani’s tour heads west next with stops in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. I should also note that her recently released memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, is definitely worth a read.

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TVD Live Shots:
Jenny Lewis at the Riviera Theatre, 6/8

In March, Jenny Lewis’ tour bus broke down en route to Chicago forcing her show at The Riv to be rescheduled to June.

While it was a temporary bummer, it also gave me the opportunity to deep dive into her latest album, On the Line, which I’m happy to report is yet another solid effort. One of my favorites of the year, in fact. The indie rock darling with country flare put on a dazzling show—and I’m not just talking about her dress.

The setlist boasted decades of her beautifully crafted songs, each a delight to hear live. She’s currently touring the east coast with Death Cab for Cutie through June.

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TVD Live Shots: Face the Music Benefit Concert with Garbage, The Jam Akler Band, and Richard Patrick at the Riviera Theatre, 5/20

Monday at The Riv was a special evening as the Face the Music Foundation held its first benefit concert with support from kmedia and Charity Bomb.

The event, which featured performances from Garbage, the Jam Alker Band, Slow Mass, and Richard Patrick of Filter, donated 100% of the proceeds to help Recovery Unplugged, a rehabilitation and treatment center whose mission is to provide hope and healing for individuals affected by addiction using the power of music.

It was a powerful night of performances culminating in a fantastic set of hits by Garbage; a night to remember in Chicago—and one for a good cause.

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TVD Live Shots: Betty Who at The Vic, 5/16

Last week, indie pop darling Betty Who played two sold-out shows at Chicago’s The Vic Theatre. The Sydney, Australia native has accumulated quite a following since breaking on to the scene in 2013. Since then, her dance-heavy tunes and stellar live performances have garnered her quite a cult following.

Betty Who is especially popular among the LGBTQ community, many of whom were out in full force last Wednesday. There was nothing but good vibes at The Vic thanks to Betty Who, her amazing band, her hunky dancers, and the crowd’s enthusiasm.

It felt like a summertime concert–and oh man am I looking forward to more of those. But for now I’ll settle for a few consecutive days of decent weather here in Chicago and hold on to this show as a reminder that there’s more to come. Betty Who is stopping through many cities on this leg of her U.S. tour, so be on the lookout for her!

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TVD Live Shots: Santigold at The Vic Theatre, 5/8

It’s been a decade (well, technically 11 years) since Santigold’s phenomenal self-titled debut album and to celebrate, she’s hit the road. The “10 Years Golder Tour” cruised through Chicago on Wednesday, one of only a few cities currently listed on her performance schedule. The excitement was palpable inside The Vic for the sold-out show.

Since her debut, much has changed for the Philadelphia-born musician. She’s moved from the east coast to Los Angeles, got married and became a mother. Despite all of the personal changes, Santi White is still Santi GOLD.

The first half of the show was devoted to Santigold, while the second half showcased her newer material. All throughout, Santigold and her incredible backup dancers delivered. (Seriously, the Energizer Bunny would be exhausted from their routines.)

The 10 Years Golder Tour hits the west coast next. Be sure to grab yourself a ticket.

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TVD Live Shots:
Buddy Guy and Corey Dennison at Buddy
Guy’s Legends, 1/24

If there is one thing to look forward to when it comes to Chicago in January, it’s Buddy Guy’s annual residency at his south loop blues club, Buddy Guy’s Legends. At 82, he shows no signs of slowing down and at 37, I watch him and wonder where he gets his energy. Thursday’s show was another excellent one with Buddy displaying his onstage charm and charisma, along with his signature guitar skills.

“If everyone was like me you wouldn’t have to worry about anyone hurting anyone,” he said early in his set. “That’s why we love you, Buddy,” a voice exclaimed from the crowd.

Powerhouse performer Corey Dennison and his band opened the show with an enthusiastic set. You can catch the final leg of Buddy’s residency this weekend – don’t miss it!

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