Category Archives: TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots:
Billy Joel at Wrigley Field, 8/27

Billy Joel is a fan of Chicago. “We love playing here,” he said a couple of songs into his set at Wrigley Field last Thursday. And indeed he does, having played Wrigley three times in the last six years. And it’s no wonder: Chicago loves Billy. The feelings are mutual.

As a child of the ’80s, I grew up listening to a lot of Billy Joel. He is certainly a big part of the musical fabric of my youth. But it wasn’t until Thursday night that I remembered just how much. Nearly every song conjured up some sort of long-lost memory—not just for me, but seemingly for the thousands of audience members in Wrigley’s historic stands. The fact that Billy hasn’t released a new album in over 20 years almost reinforced the nostalgia of the evening.

The mood of the evening was jovial with Billy leading the way. He provided good stage banter, with jokes and stories in between a songs. More than once he gave the audience setlist choices, having them cheer for which of two songs they’d rather hear him play. But most impressive to me was his voice. He can really still sing his ass off.

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Moon Taxi,
The TVD Interview

Progressive indie jam rockers Moon Taxi are picking up steam in a variety of scenes and their relentless touring and energetic live performances have made them a fan favorite. Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, the 5-piece creates a blended upbeat sound and wih a new album coming out in the fall, they are constantly pushing the envelope with their memorable vocal melodies and powerful instrumentation.

On their current summer tour which has stopped at most major music festivals, they swung through Chicago for Lollapalooza. We spent time with guitarist Spencer Thomson and keyboardist Wes Bailey to discuss life on the festival circuit, how the venue and vibe might change their set, and their methodical process to recording for a vinyl record.

Welcome, great to have you guys. How’s your Summer been going thus far?

Spencer Thomson: Wonderful. We’ve been playing a lot of festivals, getting around playing new songs off our upcoming album. Having a good time.

You guys have any favorite shows so far?

ST: We just played British Columbia for the first time for a festival called Pemberton.

Beautiful venue…

ST: Yeah wonderful. Our first time up there, that was a real standout for sure.

So, how would you say the space you’re playing might affect the way you perform? You guys play a lot of these huge, open festivals in front of enormous groups of people—how does that compare to playing a small, intimate indoor venue?

ST: Sheer volume. You know, we try to make things as loud as possible. The song selection might be a little different, you know? Especially whether it’s day or night, it might be a bit of a different set. It’s something that we like to do, consider all those things and be able to kinda modify ourselves and the set to fit the environment.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza, Day 3 at Grant Park, 8/2

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | After two solid days of music and festivities, the 3-day pass holders tiredly woke themselves up Sunday morning from their deep slumber, while others excitedly looked forward to their first day of the fest. The final day of Lollapalooza started off somewhat ominously, as both fans and performers were evacuated around 2:30 due to the oncoming storm. Luckily the delay only lasted 45 minutes, and instead of cancelling or shortening any sets they appropriately just shifted the entire schedule back.

The first band up after the delay was Moon Taxi (who might have been completely cancelled if not for the schedule shift) and they did a perfect job of getting people right back into the festival spirit. With the sun shining again, they got everybody smiling and moving around with their upbeat melodies and rocking rhythms. Almost every song played had a vocal hook that could get stuck in your head for days, and the instrumentation was raw and powerful.

They also allowed for moments of improvisation (an unfortunately rare occurrence at Lollapalooza) as they jammed various songs up to massive climaxes. Many of these jams were highlighted by the shredding lead guitar work of Spencer Thomson, but also by lead singer Trevor Terndrup, who ripped a couple of fiery solos himself. They even brought up Walk the Moon’s lead singer Nick Petricca for a fun cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” This is a band that has found their niche in the festival circuit, so be sure not to miss them when they come through your area.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza, Day 2 at Grant Park, 8/1

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Gearing up for Saturday Lollapalooza, I knew I needed to prepare both for the sun and the masses. The weather was forecasted to be nearly 90 degrees, and from past experience I knew that Saturday always drew the biggest, densest crowds (it’s a Chicago Summer Saturday, time to party). This might be part of the reason why Lollapalooza weighed the lineup more heavily towards Friday and Sunday, knowing that they would sell out Saturday no matter what, but nevertheless there was still plenty of great acts playing on a beautiful day to an ecstatic crowd.

I first headed over to the Samsung Galaxy Main Stage for Death From Above 1979. Comprised of just Jesse F. Keeler on bass and Sebastien Grainger on drums, the group created heavy unrelenting rhythms which you couldn’t believe were produced by just 2 performers. Their sound lands somewhere between punk, metal, and post hardcore, and the show had a consistent driving energy which allowed the crowd to bang their heads and jump around in the pit. While their catalog might lack diversity, they put on an energetic show which was well received by the audience.

Walk the Moon was up next, and they delivered a spirited and fun daytime set which landed well with the younger crowd. Frontman Nicholas Petricca entertained the audience with his constant dancing and soaring vocals, and fans had their arms swaying up in the air for pretty much the entire show. Nicholas also took various moments to give motivational advice on not being afraid to be yourself, and you could sense the tweens in the audience collectively swooning. Their hit song, “Shut Up and Dance,” closed out the show and drew a huge reaction from the crowd as it broke into an all out dance party.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza, Day 1 at Grant Park, 7/31

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | It had been 4 years since my last Lollapalooza, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. In some ways Lolla has become Chicago’s favorite weekend for the general masses to get together and celebrate sunshine and alcohol rather than live music (what other festival sells out 3-day tickets before the line-up is released?), but the festival always manages to put together a collection of great acts who put on some fantastic shows. There’s also something profoundly unique about seeing world-class artists perform in a huge open field surrounded by skyscrapers.

I headed over to Grant Park around 2 PM already with a ring of sweat around my neck from the blistering heat. My first act of the day was St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and they kicked things off with gusto. Their energized blend of southern soul and gospel had everyone moving their feet, and their frenzied frontman Paul Janeway drew cheers from the crowd each time he belted out screaming high notes with surprising ease. At one point he got so into it he started rolling around all over the stage, suit and all.

From there I headed across the north field to Father John Misty for one of my most anticipated sets of the day. Like many, I thoroughly enjoyed his last album, I Love You, Honeybear, and was excited to see the songs in the live arena. New songs such as “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me” and “I Love You, Honeybear” garnered an immediate crowd reaction, while older songs such as, “I’m Writing a Novel” got everyone dancing around.

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TVD Live Shots: My Morning Jacket at the Chicago Theatre, 6/9, 6/10, 6/11

My Morning Jacket scorched their way through three sold-out shows at the historic Chicago Theatre, proving to all who witnessed that they are still one of the greatest live bands ever to grace the stage.

No matter how many times I see this band live, they do not cease to amaze and impress me. Each night was unique and special—not one song was repeated throughout the course of their most recent Chicago residency. But a couple of things were consistent every night: they jammed their asses off for 2.5 hours and their light show was spectacular (like, DAZZLING).

These guys are true masters of their craft and damn it’s truly something special to see. Between Jim James’ gorgeous, swirling voice (which sounds stronger than ever, I might add), Carl Broemel’s backing vocals and guitar solos (and don’t forget about his sexy sax solos!), Patrick Hallahan’s commanding presence (best hair ever) and extraordinary drum skills, (Two Tone) Tommy Blankenship’s thumping bass and debonaire suits, and Bo Koster’s piano wizardry (clearly the keyboardist with mystique), the men of My Morning Jacket filled the historic venue with their songs and—more importantly, spirit.

If you haven’t yet, go see this phenomenal band.

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TVD Live Shots: Tame Impala at the Riviera Theatre, 5/15

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Last Friday, Tame Impala played to a sold out crowd at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago. It’s been particularly muggy in the Windy City which made the show a rather, um, sweaty and musty one.

Tame Impala is known for their psychedelic rock sound that is often compared to many albums recorded in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the live show definitely rides this wave. Projections of reverberating rainbows and fractals, and constant smoke in the air made the experience such that it felt like we were stuck in a kind of 1960s time warp soundtracked by Tame Impala’s woozy, psychedelic sound which is the vision of Kevin Parker.

The band wasted no time playing one of their newest songs, “Let It Happen.” I overheard someone standing next to me say, “Eh, that song’s pretty cool,” but I couldn’t help but notice that maybe the band just wanted to get that one out of the way before diving into the grittier, more droned-out songs like “Mind Mischief” and “Why Won’t They Talk To Me” from the beloved 2012 album, Lonerism. Or maybe, I just wanted that one out of the way…

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TVD Live Shots: Crosby, Stills & Nash at the Chicago Theatre, 5/6

Folk rock supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash returned to Chicago for the first time in six years to play two sold out shows at the Chicago Theatre. With over 4 decades of music under their belt, the trio did a nice job of blending the old with the new, playing many fan favorites as well as some newer solo material.

Together they sounded as good as ever and the crowd agreed, giving them standing ovations after almost every song. While the group has a history of interpersonal conflict, those issues seem to be firmly in the past. There was a sense of genuine joy radiating from all members and their on-stage chemistry was evident even from the nosebleeds.

Take a fun trip down memory lane when CSN comes to a city near you this year.

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TVD Live: Sufjan Stevens at the Chicago Theatre, 4/24

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Touring to promote his new album, Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Stevens played his first of two shows at famed Chicago Theatre last Friday and created a beautifully intimate experience for the mesmerized, sold out crowd. Stevens focused mostly on his new material, playing all 11 songs on the album, while also sprinkling in fan favorites throughout the night. As opposed to his previous tours, this show leaned more towards a poetry reading than a rock production, but like always it highlighted Stevens songwriting prowess and intense passion.

Little Scream opened up the show, and while they were a bit timid, they fit with the mood in the room and worked well to warm up the audience. Lead singer, Laurel Sprengelmeyer, made a point of telling the audience how much she’s been enjoying touring with Sufjan Stevens and how she cries every night during his performance.

After a short break, the lights came down and the crowd cheered with excitement as Stevens entered the room. From the moment he stepped onstage, Stevens was completely in the moment and never stepped outside his focused demeanor. In fact, it almost seemed as though he was unaware that there was a crowd in front of him at all, and instead concentrated inward toward the memories of his past. Stevens’ new album is an honest and emotional piece, centered around the passing of his mother in 2012. As he sings each song, you can see the anguish in his eyes and feel the passion behind his words. You simply can’t help but be drawn into his captivating energy.

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TVD Live Shots: The
CHIRP Record Fair at Plumber’s Hall, 4/11

PHOTOS: MICHAEL SOLOMON | If you’re a vinyl collector in the Midwest, chances are you were at the CHIRP Record Fair on Saturday afternoon.

Collectors and vendors came from all over—from New Haven, WI and Shelbyville, IN to Seattle and Pittsburgh—plus lots of vendors from here in Chicago. Pictures of the fair are captured here.

If you missed it, fear not. The CHIRP Record Fair will come back for the Pitchfork Music Festival in July, so—see you in Union Park.

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