Author Archives: Brigid Gallagher

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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TVD Live Shots: TNK Fest: Snail Mail, Lala Lala, and Varsity at the Metro, 1/17

Back in 2005, Chicago music staples Schubas Tavern and Lincoln Hall founded a winter music and comedy festival to encourage Chicagoans to leave their homes in January. Partnering with other respected and acclaimed local venues (The Metro, The Hideout and more), the Schubas/Lincoln Hall crew created Tomorrow Never Knows, or TNK Fest.

In 2019, I’m happy to report that TNK is still kicking ass and giving me a reason brave the January cold. The fest is typically on-the-nose in terms of highlighting young talent, and the Snail Mail / Lala Lala / Varsity night at the Metro was further proof.

Local indie acts Varsity and Lala Lala had solid sets, but it was Baltimore native Lindsey Jordan (better known as Snail Mail) who stole the show. Her 2018 debut album “Hush” was released to critical acclaim and they hype is warranted. The future is bright for these young musicians and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.

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TVD Live Shots: Noname at Thalia Hall, 12/29

Chicago’s very own Noname closed out 2018 with three sold-out shows at Thalia Hall.

Her excellent sophomore album, Room 25, has consistently been lauded as one of the best albums of 2018 by critics, and to see it performed with a stage full of musicians was a spectacular way to end 2018. Noname assembled what appeared to be her own backing orchestra and to hear her music flushed out with so many layers of sound was a treat.

Her tour continues into 2019, so be sure to grab a ticket if she comes to a town near you.

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TVD Live: Thom Yorke and Oliver Coates at the Chicago Theatre, 12/4

Pulling from his Suspiria film score, his two solo albums (The Eraser and Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes), as well as his Atoms for Peace side project, Thom Yorke delivered a simply spellbinding performance at The Chicago Theatre on Tuesday evening.

Joining Yorke on the road is longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and audiovisual composer Tarik Barri, and oh what a three-piece they make. It’s a one-of-a-kind sensory experience that only a brilliant talent like Yorke could curate.

London cellist and producer Oliver Coates opened the show with a cerebral, avant-garde set.

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TVD Live Shots: Phosphorescent and
Liz Cooper and The Stampede at The Vic Theatre, 11/30

It’s been five years since Matthew Houck—better known as Phosphorescent—released his critically acclaimed Muchacho, but we were finally blessed with a new (and excellent) album, C’est La Vie, this year.

The time in between albums has served him well—he’s a family man now and an east coaster, having moved from Nashville to Brooklyn. And through all the life events, I can name at least one thing that hasn’t changed, and that’s his ability to write gorgeous music. It was a thrill to have him and his incredible band back in Chicago last Friday to kick off the weekend with a fantastic show at The Vic.

Phosphorescent’s tour continues through select U.S. cities until the end of the year and shouldn’t be missed. Nashville’s Liz Cooper and The Stampede opened the show, and quickly won over the crowd with their psychedelic rock and passionate set.

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TVD Live Shots: Khruangbin at The
Vic Theatre, 11/28

Khruangbin is my new favorite band whose name I still don’t know how to pronounce.

I know how to spell it, and I know that it’s a Thai word that translates to “airplane,” but the proper pronunciation continues to elude me. Name drama aside, this is a band that I can get behind, mainly because, well, they’re awesome! The Houston trio brought their groovy, psychedelic, instrumental world music to a sold-out crowd at The Vic Wednesday night.

Witnessing their unique sound coming to life in a live setting made it apparent to me that Khruangbin is more than just a band: they’re a mood. A sexy, funky, soulful mood. Everyone—from those near the stage to those up in the balcony—was vibing. Catch them as they finish up their U.S. tour in support of their latest release, Con Todo El Mundo, before heading to Europe to kick off 2019.

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TVD Live Shots: Tenacious D at the Riviera Theatre, 11/13

The dynamic, daring, dazzling, dapper duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass—better known as Tenacious D—brought their Post Apocalypto Tour to Chicago for two sold-out evenings at The Riv. It was as glorious as you might imagine: JB and KG, backed by an excellent group of musicians rocked their butts off. In all of my decades of shows at The Riv, I’ve never seen the place more crowded than it was for the D, nor a more enthusiastic fan base.

The first half of their set showcased their most recent work, Post-Apocolypto, which is both an album and a YouTube series. The band performed behind a screen with the series projected on it. Later, the screen dropped and they played a killer “greatest hits” set.

Tenacious D’s tour heads to Canada in December and I strongly encourage my neighbors up north to grab tickets. They make you laugh and they make you rock—is there anything better?

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TVD Live Shots:
Jim James at the
Vic Theatre, 11/9

On a freezing fall night in Chicago, Jim James filled the sold-out Vic Theatre with more than just bodies.

I believe I truly felt hearts and souls expanding as the My Morning Jacket frontman led us on a spiritual journey in the form of his music. Stripped down to just his voice and a guitar—with occasional drum accompaniment by Dave Givan—James’ lyrics took on a poignancy that resonated to the core.

Given the current state of our divided country, we could all stand to revisit his discography, including this year’s Uniform Distortion and Uniform Clarity. His fall tour carries on to a few more stops before concluding in Louisville on November 23rd.

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TVD Live Shots: Elton John at the United Center, 10/27

Listen, just go see him.

I can barely stand of the thought of you hemming and hawing at home, weighing the pros and cons of an expensive night out on the town. I get it. But might I just spare you the pain of contemplation and encourage you to treat yourself. Just go. See. Elton. Fucking. John. The Living Legend. Literally.

It’s hard to put into words the experience of seeing a musician who has been the soundtrack of lives for decades. It’s even harder to put into words when he’s still at the top of his game, busting out extensive, intricate piano solos night after night and sounding just as his did at 35. Bitches, I wept.

Fortunately Sir Elton’s farewell tour is extensive, concluding in 2020, so do yourself a favor and buy yourself a ticket. I won’t tell you again.

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