Category Archives: TVD Chicago

TVD Live: FKA twigs at the Riviera Theatre, 11/15

WORDS AND IMAGES: JULIA SIMONE PAUL | The line for FKA twigs’ MAGDALENE tour at the Riviera Theatre wrapped around the building before doors even opened on Friday night. Her devout fans wanted to ensure they didn’t miss a moment of the magical experience that is a FKA twigs show. Don’t make the newbie mistake of thinking she puts on your typical singer-dancer concert. Yes, she does both sing and dance during the show—but they’re really just a few of the tools she has at her disposal to guide the audience emotionally.

This emotional shepherding began before the show even started. Ambient, pulsing music was playing as fans filled the theatre. It slowly swelled in volume as showtime came nearer, building up the anticipation. A large black curtain hid the stage from view, and as the music seemed to be reaching its apex and the house lights went dark, I expected the fabric to sweep away to dramatically reveal twigs.

Instead, she simply stepped through the middle of the curtain onto the few feet of visible stage. Clothed in a black and white outfit that looked inspired by Elizabethan era fashion (and a pair of tiny sunglasses), she had only a few white lights shining at her from either side of the stage. Twigs began a tap dance, accented with a simple music track that embellished the complex rhythms she was playing with her feet.

While this was much less elaborate entrance than I had predicted, it soon became clear that it was intentional. Just as with the music preceding the show, she was gradually building the excitement in the room. When finished with her tap dance, the white side lights began pulsing, and the music became richer. Finally, she began to sing. Her ethereal slow-jam, “Hide,” was the perfect bridge to the more upbeat numbers that followed.

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TVD Live Shots: Angel Olsen at the Riviera Theatre, 11/14

Angel Olsen is making the rounds in support of her exquisite 2019 album All Mirrors, and Thursday was Chicago’s turn to experience it live.

The Riv was packed head to toe for the occasion. As always, her voice and arrangements proved show-stopping, her band soaring behind her.

Olsen’s tour continues through the end of the year before heading to Europe to kick off 2020. Treat yourself.

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TVD Live Shots: Danny Brown and Ashnikko at the Metro, 11/7

Detroit rapper Danny Brown brought his signature style to the Metro last Thursday in support of his latest (and perhaps greatest) release, uknowhatimsayin¿.

He looks more polished than the partially toothless performer I photographed back in 2012, but his charisma live hasn’t changed one bit. Brown pulled fan favorites from all of his albums and rapped them with gusto, making for a memorable evening.

Openers Ashnikko and Zelooperz also impressed.

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TVD Live Shots: Tool at the United Center, 11/3

In August, thirteen long years after a new Tool album, the highly anticipated Fear Inoculum arrived in stores to critical acclaim. Adding to the joy of Tool fans worldwide was a tour announcement. Having digested both the new album and their live performance, it’s clear to me that the masterful wizards behind the music—Maynard James Keenan, Danny Carey, Adam Jones, and Justin Chancellor—are still as intoxicating as ever.

I wouldn’t consider Tool a readily accessible band, mainly because they’re always trying to push musical and theoretical boundaries. They don’t have “singles,” rather, concept albums that are better understood when listened to in full. The rhythms, scales, and lyrics are complex and playful.

Each member of the band is a true master of their instrument—and these are just a few of the reasons why their legions are so loyal. And that’s who really stole my attention on Sunday evening: the Tool Army. I sat and watched a stadium full of them at the United Center, moved to the core—singing, crying, feeling, fists in the air. It was powerful.

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TVD Live Shots: 23 Hour Party People at the Metro and Smartbar, 11/2

The Metro and Smartbar had one serious rager over the weekend. The party, which went on for a casual 23 hours, featured several DJs—from local favorites (DJ Heather, Michael Serafini, Garrett David, Olin and more) to international producers such as Anthony Rother, Omnidisc, and Miami’s Danny Daze.

I swung in to catch the phenomenal James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem, DFA Records) on the decks, but also caught bonus sets from Phillip Stone and Sassmouth. I could’ve easily put the camera down and gotten swept up into the music, but sadly duties called and I had to tear myself away for other work.

From what I saw eight hours in, it was clear that the party was both going strong and just getting started. Murphy’s disco-heavy, funky, extended 4-hour set saw a packed dance floor from start to finish, even mid-afternoon. Party on, party people.

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TVD Live Shots: Jinjer at Bottom Lounge, 10/22

Ukrainian progressive metal band Jinjer has been stirring up interest for the past year or so. With a stellar leading front woman in Tatiana Shmailyuk and tight instrumentalists, it’s no wonder that a number of their shows on this tour have been sold out—including Chicago’s show at Bottom Lounge.

The crowd was super pumped and hyped, calling for Jinjer to “come on out” with a silly, juxtaposed song as the backdrop to the coming metal onslaught headed everyone’s way. The band entered one by one, starting with newest member, drummer Vladislav Ulasevich who joined in 2016. Original member and guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov and bassist Eugene Abdukhanov soon followed. Tatiana walked out and “Teacher, Teacher” from their 2019 EP “Micro” immediately ensued.

Every member’s performance was on point and Tatiana didn’t hold anything back—the images will clearly show a truly electric performance. The sound and energy were relentless, giving the audience everything they hoped for—and more. It was also refreshing to see a respectful and tamer crowd given the high energy, and not seeing any crowd surfing or anyone out of control. Everyone was just genuinely enjoying the craftsmanship of the music during three songs off the band’s very recent release Macro—their fourth studio album—that arrived in stores three days after this show on October 25th.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/15

2:55PM: Where are The Village People? They’re running late so I rush over to the Rise Stage to catch Less Than Jake. The ladies of The Beaches are sounding great at the Riot Stage.

3:09PM: Less Than Jake are as charismatic in between songs as they are during them. They’re jokesters, too: “I didn’t get to see any of Slayer last night and I heard that there was a circle pit, so fuck you guys.”

3:15PM: Speaking of circle pits, apparently the largest one of the weekend has formed at the Radicals Stage for—of all acts—The Village People!

3:27PM: Shoegaze rockers Ride are lulling me into a dreamscape. I’d like to lay in the shade and daydream through their whole set—but there’s no way in hell I’m missing Dayton’s finest (Guided By Voices).

4:10PM: Robert Pollard is such a legend. In between high kicks and karate moves, he slams shots from the bottle like the old school rocker that he is. Guided By Voices continues to be such a killer band live—keep touring!

4:22PM: Local favorites Against Me! have drawn a huge crowd and for good reason—they’re playing Reinventing Axl Rose and Transgender Dysphoria Blues in full and back-to-back!

5:25PM: I wasn’t sure what to expect from The B-52’s but wow are they great. Rumored to be their last Chicago show, they’ve busted out all of the hits from their 40+ year career.

6:04PM: It’s raining a little bit but no one’s complaining. We’ve escaped the rain all weekend and for the second year in a row the weather gods have granted us three beautiful days at Douglas Park. Bob Mould isn’t phased by the rain and wails through his set.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/14

3:39PM: There’s a LOT of Slayer shirts at Riot Fest today. We’re ready for their final Chicago show.

4:17PM: Supergroup The Damned Things is rocking the Rebel Stage in the blinding sun. It’s a feast of talent featuring Fall Out Boy’s Joe Trohman (guitar) and Andy Hurley (drums), Anthrax’s Scott Ian (guitar), Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley (vocals), and Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano (bass).

4:46PM: Gwar and Riot Fest are synonymous at this point, so it’s always a treat to see them up close and personal in the press area. Guitarist Bålsåc the Jaws ‘O Death looks fierce—and I’m not just talking about the beastly balls dangling beneath his exposed ass. But then he takes a swig of his Bon & Viv spiked seltzer and I can’t help but laugh.

5:19PM: I have a quick chat with JP of Surfer Blood to remind him that he once crashed at my apartment the night before the band’s 2010 Pitchfork Fest set. That was fun—and so was their set earlier in the day.

5:34PM: My wife and I are playing one of our favorite games: “What Drug Is That Person On?” We’ve determined that the dude standing before us is on a combination of several, and while we can’t confirm his particular cocktail we can, in fact, confirm that it took him 3 minutes and 36 seconds to light his cigarette. The struggle is real.

6:04PM: The Struts are serving us some glam rock perfection. Lead singer Luke Spiller sounds like Freddie and moves like Mick.

6:26PM: There are lots of gems at the silent auction tent for the Coalition for the Homeless. Signed guitars and drum kits, posters and art from Riot Fest alums past and present. I hope a lot of money was raised.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/13

3:30PM: It’s going to take us 90 minutes to get to Riot Fest thanks to traffic, so my wife and I are busy compiling a list of bands we hope to see play Riot Fest in the future. The highlights from our lengthy discussion include: Spinal Tap (my #1 wish), R.E.M. reunion, Smashing Pumpkins playing Siamese Dream in full, The Fugees, Talking Heads reunion, the band from School of Rock, Led Zeppelin reunion, Ben Folds Five, The Muppets, Tool, Missy Elliott. Pretty solid list, don’t you think?

4:45PM: Made it! The grounds seem more crowded than last year—especially for a Friday. It’s snug.

5:08PM: Neck Deep get some laughter and claps for their cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn.”

5:17PM: The Riot Mall is packed with the usual suspects—Fat Wreck Chords, the fake pot candy booth (Chronic Candy), and my favorite To Write Love on Her Arms—and some new faces including a tent simply labeled “I Love Vagina.”

5:42PM: The Violent Femmes are bringing me right back to high school. It’s a crowd sing-a-long—and it’s necessary. The sound is so low they might as well be whispering. Turn that shit up, Riot Fest!

6:55PM: Dashboard Confessional is playing The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most in full at sunset and I’ve witnessed at least 20 people crying.

6:59PM: Over at the Radicals Stage, Pennywise is covering a classic: Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”

7:14PM: Descendents are roaring through their set and packing it with classics (“Everything Sux,” “Hope”). Solid.

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TVD Live Shots:
KoRn, Alice In Chains, Underoath at Tinley Park, 8/21

KoRn continues to be a strong metal staple and if this night in Tinley Park was any indication, opening with “Here To Stay” with a fantastic performance, made this known. With all but one member from the original lineup (drummer Ray Luzier taking over for David Silveria in 2007), it is super special seeing these pioneers of nu-metal still killing it to this day. Guitarist Brian “Head” Welch rejoined the band in 2013 and they have since released two records upon his return with a third on the way. The Nothing is set for release on September 13, 2019.

The well-rounded bill began with fairly newcomers to the scene, Fever 333, known for their energetic and stimulating live performances. They have recently gained recognition having been nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Performance for their song “Made In America” and winning a Kerrang! Award for Best Song for “Burn It,” both within the last year.

Next on the bill was a band that is not new to the scene but instead has evolved through the metalcore, emo, screamo, and post-hardcore scenes since the late ’90s. Underoath, since disbanding have reunited in 2015 after a two-year hiatus. The album cover of their latest release last year, Erase Me, adorned the backdrop of their set. A looming statue of a broken down, crumbling angel with giant, beautiful wings set the tone for the band’s performance.

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TVD Live Shots: Converge, Cloud Nothings, Djunah at House of Vans, 8/24

The masses came out for the final show of the Vans House Parties at House of Vans this summer, curated by heavy hitters Converge. With the line to get in wrapping around the block, it was easy to recognize that this summer concert series was going to end with a bang.

Djunah was the first to hit the stage, a two-piece rock band hailing from Chicago. The crowd was watching intently, bopping their heads along with the melodies. It was pretty chill during this set, the crowd presumably saving up all their energy for the headliner. This didn’t stop Djunah from delivering an action packed set that felt like the stage was filled with multiple musicians. Their debut album is due to be released in November.

Cloud Nothings, the genre bending rock band from Ohio, came up next. Switching between slower indie rock songs, to amped up punk songs, the crowd bounced along rhythmically. Even the concertgoers sitting on the skate ramps were bopping along to the music. They were successful in getting the crowd ready for Converge.

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TVD Live Shots: Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals and Trombone Shorty at Huntington Bank Pavilion, 8/17

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue have hit the road this summer on a co-headlining tour. They swung through Chicago’s summer concert hotspot—Huntington Bank Pavilion—on what turned out to be a beautiful Saturday night.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue hit the stage hard and didn’t let up. The band brought some much appreciated New Orleans flair and played with such intensity that every song might as well have been their last. Trombone Shorty was more than happy to share the spotlight with his bandmates, as each took their moment to solo and shine.

Ben Harper assembled the original Innocent Criminals (Juan Nelson, Leon Mobley, and Oliver Charles) for this tour and what a treat it was to see them all together twenty years later. Their set felt more introspective and intimate than Shorty’s spirited performance, but that’s the beauty of Harper’s work. It was particularly satisfying to hear some of his older tunes (“Fight for Your Mind,” “Welcome to the Cruel World”) as well as a great cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”

The tour hits the east coast next and wraps up at the end of August in Lenox, MA.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 8/4

4:00PM: I’ve been stuck in the north entrance Lollapalooza line with 4,000 new companions. We’re inching along so I’m guessing I won’t have the chance to photograph Francis and the Lights. Bummer.

4:28PM: A little excitement here in the security line. A girl next to me simply couldn’t wait any longer to use the restroom. Pleading cries didn’t help her, but the crowd did. Those close formed a human circle to protect her from cops seeing her while she natured it. Teamwork.

4:39PM: I’m inside the gates! Finally! It’s the busiest day of the weekend (and best daily lineup). I weave my way through the crowds to Perry’s Stage.

5:22PM: Why the hell am I at Perry’s Stage? Would you believe me if I said Shaq? The NBA Hall of Famer has taken up a DJ career and goes by the stage name of Diesel. His skills are…shall we say less developed than his basketball game, but no one seems to care. The crowd rages and the scorch of the pyrotechnics leaves me sweaty.

5:25PM: Just got word that 300 to 400 kids broke down the gates at Michigan Ave. and Harrison St. about 20 minutes ago. Oh boy.

5:26PM: The Revivalists played their entire set with an “End Gun Violence” backdrop. We fell asleep to the news from El Paso and woke up to the news from Dayton. It’s not far from anyone’s thoughts today.

5:55PM: A mysterious skywriter appears above Grant Park during Sharon Van Etten’s set. “Smile” it spells out.

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TVD Live Shots:
Kacey Musgraves
at the Metro, 8/3

WORDS AND IMAGES: JEREMY LAWSON | Kacey Musgraves is in the middle of an insanely successful and busy year, having been on the road with her “Oh What a World” tour practically non-stop since January 9th (and picking up an impressive pile of Grammys along the way).

Chicago has been especially good to her: Kacey performed for a sold out crowd at the Chicago Theater last March and was back in town on August 3rd, this time playing to a packed house at the Metro on the eve of her Lollapalooza set.

The show opened just as her album Golden Hour does, with the lovely, mellow and so, so singable “Slow Burn,” inviting her fans to warm up their vocal chords and perform along with her. The crowd did not disappoint on that front, as they matched Kacey word-for-word on every song throughout the set; a testament to how Kacey’s music has resonated with today’s listeners and a harbinger of amazing performances yet to come.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 8/3

3:56PM: I’m making a list of Lollapalooza wardrobe trends while waiting for Smino. So far I have: body and facial glitter, fish nets, swimsuits, fanny packs, neon, thongs. I look down at my breathable linen pants and sensible shoes and…I’m definitely not on trend.

4:15PM: Smino brought props…in the form of a pink Pontiac named “Pepto.” Awesome. His silky smooth vocals soar, even when he’s rapping.

4:26PM: I stop at the Toyota Music Den and decide that Liily needs a bigger stage. The LA-based alternative band is using every square inch of space to thrash around.

5:10PM: I find myself over at the BMI Stage, mainly because I haven’t been to it yet. It’s a hidden gem of a stage—nicely shaded by trees. Witt Lowry is performing a cappella because of sound issues. The crowd helps him out.

6:32PM: So. Many. Instagram. Stories. Endless and everywhere. We need to stop watching everything through our phones.

6:41PM: Airplane banner ads have been flying above Grant Park all weekend, but I just eyed the best one: “We’re Rolling Too” courtesy of dough.com. Well played—and a brief distraction from AJR’s pretty brutal set on the Tito’s Stage.

7:11PM: “This is a fucking sexy ass town! You know that, right?” Jack Black of Tenacious D asks to claps and laughter. They’re working their way through their discography with select highlights from each album. They begin with their most recent, “Post-Apocalypto,” and work their way back to the most beloved, their eponymous 2001 debut.

7:18PM: Jack Black is feeling like dancing. So is Kyle Gass. He requests a sax and a kids’ Fisher Price sax is retrieved. He “plays” it, the band joins in, and—you guessed it—a dance party ensues.

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