Author Archives: Brigid Gallagher

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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TVD Live Shots: Arcade Fire and The Breeders at the United Center, 10/30

Arcade Fire brought their Infinite Content Tour to the United Center Monday night, treating the crowd to an in-the-round setup. It was quite literally a boxing ring equipped with a rotating stage positioned in the middle of the arena. The effect? A more intimate, club-like feeling in what is otherwise a venue better suited for sporting events than concerts. I dug it, along with their stellar lighting (bonus points for not one but two disco balls) and thoughtful production.

Arcade Fire is just one of those bands that really comes to life live. Their songs have such anthemic qualities and there’s just so much to watch; so much talent to witness. It’s like a game of musical chairs—who’s going to play what instrument next? And because of that, my expectations are high at their shows.

So I’m happy to report that they exceeded my expectations yet again. This is a band that gives their hearts and souls to their fans, night after night. And from the look of it, they have fun doing it too. The setlist favored their latest album Everything Now, but pulled from their entire discography. It was a pre-Halloween dance party, as many attendees rocked some incredible costumes.

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TVD Live Shots:
Tori Amos and Scars
on 45 at the Chicago Theatre, 10/27

Tori Amos brought her Native Invader tour to the Windy City for a beautiful night of songs last Friday. At times, I forgot it was just one woman on the stage, as her impeccable voice, her piano mastery, and her commanding presence filled The Chicago Theatre. She is, and always has been, a thrilling performer.

The setlist spanned her impressive discography and she even managed to throw in a couple of lovely covers during her “Fake Muse” segment—Sade’s “Smooth Operator” and Jim Croce’s “Operator.” Each night Tori’s setlist evolves, so there was an air of anticipation in the theatre. But the audience was visibly and audibly thrilled, particularly after “Yes, Anastasia,” “Take to the Sky,” and “Precious Things.”

British pop trio Scars on 45 opened the show. Tori’s U.S. tour continues through early December, and a ticket to one of them is worth every penny.

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TVD Live Shots: Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile with Jen Cloher at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 10/26

When I first heard that Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile were coming out with a collaboration album, I had two thoughts: (1) musically speaking, that makes a ton of sense, and (2) this is gonna be a good album. (Spoiler alert: it is.)

Now, after watching them play together for the first of three Chicago shows in honor of the Empty Bottle’s 25th birthday, I wonder if it’s possible that they were separated at birth. Tall, slender, and flanneled, their long, dark hair covered their faces as their guitars and voices conversed with one another. Just two musical soulmates born across the world from each other, destined to meet to eventually spoil us all with their creative riches.

It was a memorable evening to say the least. It’s always a treat to see Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile, but to see them play together was a full-on dessert tray. They seem perfectly paired, bouncing sounds back and forth. Their chemistry is natural, innate. It’s a fated partnership for sure—one that I hope will continue to give us a Lotta Sea Lice.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/17

3:18 PM | The last day of Riot Fest ’17 is underway and the crowd is very happy to see local fellas, The Orwells, take the stage. Frontman Mario Cuomo shimmies and screams, occasionally flashing a mischievous grin at the crowd.

4:00 PM | The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Let’s Face It by playing it in full. It’s a scene of pure jubilation. Everyone is smiling—the crowd, the band, security, my fellow photographers. I even take a moment to see if I can figure out how to ska after all these years. (Verdict: rusty for sure but just like riding a bike.)

4:22 PM | We’re standing in the photo pit waiting for Cap’n Jazz (another Chicago band—yay!) to begin and the head of security is telling his guys that one of them needs to take a break. “Already did, boss,” one responds, holding up a half-eaten monster of a ham sandwich. “No, I want you to sit. I want one of you to take a break,” bossman reiterates. “We’ll be dead tomorrow it doesn’t matter,” another jokes. “No seriously I wanna work this one,” Mr. Ham Sandwich says mid-bite. “This guy is crazy. He goes nuts.”

4:38 PM | Mr. Ham Sandwich is 100% correct. “We’re Queens of the Stone Age thanks for coming!” lead singer Tim Kinsella jokes, minutes before leaping into the crowd to get tussled around while still singing. Their set is one of the most memorable—and best—of the weekend.

5:09 PM | Gwar just entered the press area and I’ve never seen so many industry professionals lose their composure all at once and to this extent. I mean, reporters are begging them for selfies. BEGGING. Literally everyone is ignoring their assignments to get photos with these sci-fi, man/beast, heavy metal warriors.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/16

1:57 PM | The lines to get into Riot Fest are huge today. Well, one line, I should say: the women’s line. Security has divided us by gender despite the fact that male security guards are patting down both lines. I’m obviously not the only one trying to figure out why this makes any logistical sense. Behind me a woman jokes to her friends, “The patriarchy ruins it again!”

2:18 PM | I’m drawn to the sound at the Roots Stage. Turns out it’s Black Pistol Fire. I like their sound—it’s solid, bluesy hard rock. And I like their stage presence—high energy.

2:48 PM | Well Peaches has arrived…in a vagina hat and shaggy pink body suit. Provocative as ever, she’s taken over the festival. She’s all anyone can talk about.

3:15 PM | WTF is up with this small ass crowd for Shabazz Palaces? I blame Peaches, whose crowd continues to grow as she dances and leaps into the audience singing lyrics such as “Whose jizz is this?”

3:21 PM | Ok, here comes the crowd for Shabazz. They’re filling in and grooving now.

4:00 PM | Supergroup alert! Dead Cross has taken the stage. Mike Patton is wailing into the mic and the crowd is losing their shit.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/15

2:18 PM | Aaaaaand we’re off! The final festival of the good weather season here in Chicago. Shockingly, it’s a scorcher today and I notice a lot of people in black taking cover in the shade.

2:38 PM | I catch the second half of Liars’ set and Angus Andrews is rocking a white tutu. Combined with his white tank, it appears as if he’s thrashing across the stage in a wedding dress. An excellent start to Riot Fest.

3:05 PM | Saul Williams is a spoken word master and he’s doing his thing right now. “Your punk rock ain’t that punk rock…if it doesn’t make fascists explode,” he tells the crowd. They cheer in agreement.

3:27 PM | I am now taking a moment in the shade with everyone else. The spot happens to be in a sound melting pot zone—you can hear three stages at once. X + Saul Williams + Four Years Strong = the first supergroup of the weekend.

4:12 PM | The Buzzcocks are bringin’ the punk all the way from the UK. Nostalgia is in the air.

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TVD Live Shots: Green Day and Catfish and the Bottlemen at Wrigley Field, 8/24

Green Day put on what was easily the most exhilarating performance that Wrigley Field has seen all summer—and that’s saying something, given the ballpark’s abundant and star-studded 2017 concert lineup. Also, it’s worth noting that what was arguably the most fun and celebratory show at Wrigley all summer was the cheapest one. (Thanks Green Day for making your shows affordable.)

Where to begin? There was a drunk bunny tossing toys into the crowd, pyrotechnics, Billie’s leaps, Mike’s facial expressions, Tré’s tutu, jokes, a t-shirt canon, so many fireworks, sing-a-longs, Chicago-centric covers (“Shout,” etc.) and rally cries. (In general: theatrics galore!) Multiple fans were pulled from the crowd to sing and stage dive. One, “Ritchie from Glenview,” was given the guitar he was brought to the stage to play. I mean, the band gave so much to the crowd that we might as well have been contestants on a game show.

Seriously though, Green Day is incredibly generous to their fans. And I’m not talking about their giveaways. They’re kind, considerate, and loyal to their fanbase. They played every single song as if it was their last time playing it. Ever. How they still have this much energy 30+ years later is beyond me. The band was juiced, the crowd was juiced, and it made for one hell of a fun ride. Even Billie Joe referred to it as “one of best nights” of his life. In awe staring out at Wrigley Field, he confessed, “Never in my fucking life did I ever think we’d be playing Wrigley Field.”

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TVD Live Shots: James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt at Wrigley Field, 7/17

I’m starting to forget that baseball is actually played at Wrigley Field because it’s becoming one of my favorite concert destinations. One week ago James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt took to the stage at Chicago’s historic ballpark for a night of easy listening nostalgia.

Bonnie Raitt opened the evening with a fun set and some surprise covers—notably, the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House” and INXS’ “Need You Tonight.” But the emotional highlight came during her stunning version of “Angel from Montgomery,” a song that’s not just special to me but, she noted, her as well. In between songs she took in the sights, “I hope wherever my folks are they’re digging this view right now.” She also expressed her gratitude to James Taylor, a lifelong friend, before he joined her on stage for “Thing Called Love.” “It’s an astonishing thing to be here tonight and on this tour,” she remarked.

James Taylor kicked off his headlining set with crowd pleaser “Carolina in My Mind.” His demeanor suggests that he’s the nicest, most considerate, wonderful man on the planet. Seriously, if you couldn’t tell by listening to his songs, you can tell by watching his interactions with his band and the crowd.

He’s funny too. During “Sunny Skies” home videos and photos of James with his dog (who he later described as having a “potato body”) ran across the monitors. He explained, “If you run out of sexy you gotta go cute,” to a roar of laughter from the crowd. The set carried on with one hit after another from his deep catalog of music, culminating in another duet with Bonnie (“You Can Close Your Eyes”) to conclude the evening. It was a memorable summer night at Wrigley—one that I won’t forget.

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TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival, 7/16

3:13 PM: It’s Sunday, so everyone seems a little sluggish but local fellas Ne-Hi are bringing lots of energy to the Green Stage, effectively waking up the crowd. House legend and Chicagoan Derrick Carter is doing the same over at the Blue Stage. It’s a very Chicago day at Pitchfork, as many members of today’s lineup call the Windy City home. I’m excited because the talent has been boiling over here for quite some time and these acts deserve more exposure.

3:45 PM: There is so much talent flowing out of Top Dawg Entertainment and Isaiah Rashad is no exception. He’s got skills and something to say—a powerful combination.

4:06 PM: Speaking of Chicagoans, Joey Purp (backed by—you guessed it—more Chicagoans, Peter CottonTale and DJ Knox Fortune) has the crowd bouncing for his entire set. Aside from confetti, beach balls, and super soakers, he surprises the crowd with Vic Mensa and Towkio. (Yeah, they’re Chicago boys too.) Chicago is in the mutha f**kin’ house!

4:48 PM: I haven’t seen Hamilton Leithauser since he was with The Walkmen and I am digging his new sound. The sun is out and people are chillin’, enjoying the last day of the fest (and weekend).

5:02 PM: Word is circulating that the Avalanches have to cancel their appearance later today because of a family emergency. Tough news. They’re in our thoughts.

5:25 PM: Tech issues are holding up Ride’s set. We’re at a 10 minute delay right now and the crowd is getting restless. “Figure it out!” someone yells and one of the technicians is not pleased. “Shit happens!” he yells back.

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TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival, 7/15

2:55 PM: En route to Cherry Glazerr I catch some of Weyes Blood’s pretty set.

2:59 PM: I’m noticing lots of little fans in the crowd today. It’s family day at the fest, adding a whole new element of cute to Pitchfork.

3:17 PM: The Blue Stage is packed for Cherry Glazerr, and rightfully so. They are rocking hard and sounding even better than when they first caught my attention opening for Wavves and Best Coast in February ’16.

4:25 PM: Mitski began her set soft and controlled, allowing it to build into emotional catharsis. Puberty 2, her fourth album released last year is still getting a lot of play in my home, so it was a thrill to finally see her live.

5:05 PM: George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic are doing what they came to do: bring the funk. The Mothership has taken over the Green Stage—I feel like there are 20 people up there right now—and George is conducting the large crowd.

5:37 PM: George and Parliament play over their set time and The Feelies and their crowd are not feeling it. “It’s called courtesy,” Bill Million says before they dive into their set. I get their frustration, but they quickly kick off their set of music that’s lasted the test of time.

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TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival, 7/14

1:24 PM: I’ve arrived! Pitchfork Music Festival officially kicked off 24 minutes ago and I’m shocked at the amount of people here already. Clearly some half days at work were taken to catch the earlier sets.

1:56 PM: One of those early bands worth the half day at work? Priests. They’ve drawn a nice, big crowd and are rocking the hell out of the Green Stage. Their 2017 debut, Nothing Feels Natural is still one of my top albums of the year.

2:09 PM: I’m easing my way into the festival by wandering around the areas I rarely have time to wander through. There’s cool merch this year (Pitchfork hats for the first time ever), the Bai stand is giving away free drinks and custom shirts, Wendy’s is giving away free salads, and the Blackhawks organization is having people collectively paint a mural of Chicago. The Saint Heron on-site art installation, on the other hand, is still being built. Rumor has it that Solange’s camp has been difficult to deal with for the fest organizers.

3:03 PM: A solid chunk of Pitchfork attendees are taking advantage of their early arrivals by sifting through the thousands of records at the Chirp Record Fair to get first dibs on the selections. Aside from local stores, local music labels are also featured.

3:42 PM: The Renegade Craft Fair also has a nice selection of arts and crafts. There’s a variety of options – from jewelry to cigar box guitars to perfumes to even sex toys.

4:15 PM: Vince Staples has an all-orange backdrop and I’m wondering if that’s in reference to Everytown for Gun Safety, an initiative working to reduce gun violence across the country. Pitchfork has been encouraging people to wear orange in support of Everytown all weekend, so I can’t help but think that Vince is making a statement with his backdrop choice. He’s working the stage solo and there’s a lack of theatrics, leaving the audience left to digest his powerful lyrics.

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TVD Live Shots: Charles Bradley and The Cool Kids at the House of Vans, 7/13

I don’t know how we’ve managed to go all of these months without Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires on the road, dazzling all of us. All I can say is that it’s so, so, SO wonderful to have him back. In October 2016, it was announced that Charles Bradley had stomach cancer and would be seeking treatment for it. Now, less than a year later, the Screaming Eagle of Soul has soared through the treatments and is better than ever.

The House of Vans Chicago was a sweaty, packed house last night but no one was complaining. (And can I just give a quick shout out to the House of Vans for being so badass?! They host free shows with free Goose Island beer in their super cool space run by really awesome employees—and that’s just a fraction of what they do. Thank you!)

Lovable locals The Cool Kids kicked off the night in style (Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 we’re unable to make it so The Cool Kids saved the day at the last minute). Their set was a treat—the icing on the Charles Bradley cake. The Extraordinaires took the stage next, warming up the crowd for a couple of songs before Charles appeared in all of his glory. He was his incredible, hip-shaking self, singing with all of his heart and soul. The crowd gave the love right back to him, making for a beautiful evening.

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TVD Live Shots: Dead
& Company at Wrigley Field, 7/1

Dead & Company (a.k.a. Bob Weir, John Mayer, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti) concluded their 2017 tour with two electric, sold-out nights at Wrigley Field. There were Deadheads galore (Wrigleyville has never been so colorful, nor smelled so…herbal), fireworks, some epic guitar solos (and let’s not forget the drum solos), and attendance records set.

Their two shows set the all-time record for most paid tickets for a concert in a ballpark. Over 80,000 were on hand—a whopping 43,600 on Saturday alone—to noodle dance to The Grateful Dead tunes in one of the most historic ballparks in the country.

For anyone reading this, if you ever hear me mocking John Mayer in the future, you have full permission to smack me—this man is a true talent. I mean, his guitar solo during “Sugaree” Friday night left me in tears. Literally.

It’s clear that this collaboration with members of The Grateful Dead works for all parties as John continues to grow as a guitarist and Bob, Mickey, and Bill get to do what they love—to play music and tour. Oteil fills the stage with pure positivity and joy, and every time Jeff is spotlighted, I am amazed and don’t want him to cease playing. This is a solid band and they’ve left me hoping that they’ll announce another tour in the near future.

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TVD Live Shots:
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Chris Stapleton at Wrigley Field, 6/29

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played hit after hit, wowing a sold-out crowd at Wrigley Field this past Thursday (6/29). It was a heck of a way to celebrate 40 years of making rock ‘n’ roll music together—and we had the honor of witnessing it. This was the concert of the year so far, in my humble opinion.

The rain hit Chicago in epic proportions—Wrigley must have made a killing selling their Cubs ponchos for $10 a pop—but opener Chris Stapleton kept plugging away, jamming out in the rain. He kept the crowd’s energies high despite the soggy circumstances.

But no rain was going to hold the crowd down—nor the band’s. When Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers hit the stage it was still raining, but no one cared. The crowd went wild—ecstatic as the first notes of “Rockin’ Around (With You),” one of the band’s oldest songs, rang through the air.

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