Category Archives: TVD Chicago

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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TVD Live Shots: Phish at the Allstate Arena, 10/26

If there is a fan base more passionately dedicated to the live experience than the jam band fan base, I’ve yet to encounter it. Their level of commitment far surpasses fans of other musical genres. Phish phans are no exception—and arguably the golden standard of jam fandom.

I arrived to Rosemont’s Allstate Arena for the first of three sold-out nights of Phish in time to wander through Shakedown Street, a staple of the jam community. Vendors of all kinds were doing their best to try to make a buck so that they can continue to follow the band on their tour. A quick walk offered me an array of things to purchase: beer, shirts, jewelry, bowls, art, drugs, and lots and lots of grilled cheese options.

Inside the arena, I made way to the photo pit where an enthusiastic fan informed me that the band wouldn’t be on for another 30 minutes. He was right and I was glad because it gave me the opportunity to observe the rituals of the most diehard of phans. Floor tickets were general admission, so those closest to the photo pit were just beginning to sit up and fold their blankets. Some pulled meals out of plastic bags, while others pulled out changes of clothes.

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TVD Live Shots: Courtney Barnett at the Riviera Theatre, 10/18

Last Thursday Courtney Barnett cruised through Chicago in support of her latest release, this year’s excellent Tell Me How You Really Feel.

Performing for a sold-out crowd at the Riviera Theatre, she and her band impressed as usual. They can PLAY. And it’s always something to watch Courtney shred the guitar. At one point opener Waxahatchee joined the band to perform a lovely cover of Elyse Weinberg’s “Houses.”

Courtney Barnett’s US leg of her tour continues through October before heading to Europe in November.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/16

1:24PM: I’ve arrived for the third and final day of Riot Fest ’18! I hear the Beach Goons covering “La Bamba” as I walk into Douglas Park.

1:42PM: The crowd is youthful and here early to see Finn Wolfhard’s (of the TV show Stranger Things) band, Calpurnia. The whole band is solid—way more polished than I expected them to be given their age—but guitarist Ayla Tesler-Mabe is stealing the show. This chick can shred—and she’s young!

2:18PM: Kevin Devine is leaping around the Radicals Stage doing his thing. The crowd, hot from the sun (it’s as if it’s July!), perks up.

2:35PM: Currently listening to some nice, mid-afternoon, uplifting rockabilly from JD McPherson.

3:31PM: “We came from space via Oakland, California and we came to fuck shit up and have a good time!” Swmrs lead singer Cole Becker shouts. This young band is impressing. Their set is super high energy and they’re using their platform to preach positivity, self-acceptance, and kindness.

3:58PM: “Nail me Johnny!” a fan screams at Johnny Marr in between songs. And that about sums up the vibe right now. A member of The Smiths is on stage, so naturally people are freaking the fuck out.

4:15PM: My fan vomit counter is up to three. That’s actually pretty low. Good work, Riot Festers!

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/15

1:33PM: It’s another beautiful (and shockingly hot!) day here in Chicago. I wander over to Riot Fest’s Deep Eddy tent—also dubbed the “Punk Rock and Paintbrushes” tent because it’s decorated with art from various musicians on the weekend bill. There is definitely some cool stuff up for grabs, including pieces by Blink 182 and Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba, Twin Peaks’ Clay Frankel, and more.

1:40PM: The “Riot Mall” area features various local vendors…and apparently karaoke at the Chicago History Museum tent! Some kid is singing his heart out and a crowd is growing.

2:15PM: It’s Gwar time in the press tent and as usual every member of the media has temporarily lost all professionalism in order to take selfies with the scumdogs of the universe.

2:38PM: Philadelphia’s Mannequin Pussy ease the crowd into their set before turning up the volume.

3:08PM: Technical issues are plaguing Health’s set, which is unfortunate because they are captivating. It’s easy to see why this is one of Trent Reznor’s favorite bands.

3:40PM: The Numanoids are out in throngs today and their wait is over because Gary Numan has hit the stage. It’s a killer performance and a weekend highlight.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/14

1:32PM: Riot Fest 2018 is officially underway! My first stop in Douglas Park is the Hellzapoppin’ Tent for their famous circus sideshow revue. A “half man” is walking on shards of glass and I’m in a panic that he’s about to bleed everywhere. He doesn’t, of course.

2:21PM: “Who wants to go on the Ferris wheel with me later?,” Liz Phair asks in between songs. The entire crowd raises their hands. She is on tour now in support of the 25th anniversary of her acclaimed debut album, Exile in Guyville. If the tour is anything like this set (and I’d guess it is), it’s not to be missed.

2:24PM: And let’s not forget Liz Phair is a Chicagoan! “I want to petition the new mayor to rename the Damen exit the ‘Exit to Guyville.'” I second that.

2:38PM: I am too late to catch The Fever 333, but I do manage to catch a bit of Lagwagon’s set. The California punk rockers have a hearty crowd singing along to every tune.

2:43PM: Despite missing The Fever 333, I happen to catch a cool moment—guitarist Stephen Harrison is taking a moment to talk to fans side stage. They are asking him about chord changes and begging him to bring the band to Pennsylvania.

3:27PM: Oh man I’ve been waiting for this set. It’s Pussy Riot time! The activist collective (““We are not a band, we’re a political movement.”) is in the news again—this time because one of their members, Pyotr Verzilov, is currently being hospitalized for suspected poisoning. “Today is the first time he talked,” leader Nadya Tolokonnikova updated the crowd in between songs. The considered cancelling their appearance at Riot Fest but “thought it would be more important to go on with it and tell people what happened,” she explained. The collective wasted no time getting to the point, as the masked members emerged carrying a large banner that read “We will punish those who poisoned Peter Verzilov.”

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TVD Live Shots:
Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field, 8/18

Pearl Jam fever hit Chicago last week and Wrigleyville is just now returning to normalcy. The buzz when the boys (Eddie, Jeff, Mike, Stone, Matt, and Boom) are back in town is contagious. There’s a Northside euphoria, and now we’re all on the comedown.

Of course this time around Pearl Jam gave us plenty to reminisce about. On Saturday there was the band’s cover debut of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” with the MLB Commisoner’s Trophy on stage, Eddie waxing rhapsodic about the Cubs, beautiful tributes to the late greats Chris Cornell and Tom Petty, a rousing rendition of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” a weird Dennis Rodman appearance, and a 3-hour set that went well past Wrigley’s noise curfew.

On Monday there was the hour+ thunderstorm delay; the live debut of “Evil Little Goat,” some killer covers (The White Stripes, The Beatles, The Who), an appearance by former Chicago Blackhawk Chris Chelios capped with a beautiful tribute to the late hockey Hall of Famer Stan Mikita, and my personal favorite memory: Eddie smashing his guitar to pieces to end their 2018 Wrigley residency.

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