Category Archives: TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots: Black Star and Madame Gandhi at Taste of Chicago, 7/13

Twenty years ago, Yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli put out one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time, Mos Def And Talib Kweli are Black Star. On Friday, they brought it—along with some of their solo tracks—to the Taste of Chicago.

It made for a truly exceptional evening, especially considering the two rarely perform together under the Black Star moniker. Despite the heat, the crowd danced until they sweat and sang along with the two legendary emcees.

Up-and-comer Madame Gandhi’s opening set was worth the early arrival. She’s a bright and shining young voice in the feminist movement—and a great drummer to boot.

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TVD Live Shots: Neil Young at the Auditorium Theatre, 6/30

Living legend Neil Young graced Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre stage this past Saturday, wowing the sold-out crowd before wowing yet another sold-out crowd on Sunday night.

Young, who is in the midst of a brief solo tour, impressively bounced from guitar to harmonica to banjo to organ to piano during the evening.

The show paid homage to his extensive musical catalog, making for a truly special evening.

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TVD Live Shots:
Dave Matthews Band
at Huntington Bank Pavilion, 6/29

An excessive heat warning in Chicago didn’t stop a sold-out crowd from piling into Huntington Bank Pavilion for the Dave Matthews Band last Friday. The 2.5 hour sweat fest was a nostalgic one, though not as much as Saturday night’s set proved to be.

Touring in support of their latest studio album Come Together, released less than a month ago, DMB appeared energized by their newer songs. Each member of the band was able to showcase their talents, but what struck me most was the way in which they seem to play for each other. It’s as tight-knit a band as is the fan base who particularly loved the band’s covers—Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”—Friday night.

Dave Matthews, who basically looks the same as he did in 1997, also sounds the same as he did in 1997, which of course made me super jealous that I don’t look or sound at all as I did in ’97. But good for him! DMB’s U.S. tour continues through the summer and into fall so grab yourself a ticket!

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TVD Live Shots: Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 6/17

It was a sizzling Father’s Day here in Chicago, and not just because of the weather. Rock god Robert Plant and his band—the (truly) Sensational Space Shifters—played one of my favorite sets of 2018 at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

The set list was heavy on the Led Zeppelin tunes (no complaints here) but also highlighted Plant’s musically expansive (and underrated) solo career. If you’re wondering if he’s still got his iconic pipes? Hell yes he does! Time has been kind to Plant’s vocal chords and his stage presence is still commanding.

Also impressive was his band, The Sensational Space Shifters, who live up to their name and then some. Plant’s tour heads to the west coast next before hitting select cities abroad. Do yourself a solid and grab a ticket.

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TVD Live Shots:
Francis and the Lights
at the Metro, 6/14

Francis and the Lights spent his 37th birthday entertaining a sold-out, sweat pit of happy humans at the Metro last Thursday. And a birthday celebration it was, indeed!

Three songs in, Francis had already scaled the speakers and acrobatically leapt back down to the stage. Moments later he was crowd surfing and singing, all before racing up the stairs to serenade the second floor of the venue.

And if that wasn’t enough, he brought out everyone’s favorite Chicagoan, Chance the Rapper, for “May I Have This Dance” and they showed off their synchronized moves from the single’s music video. The show was an impressive feat of energy and endurance. But that’s what I’ve come to expect from Francis. On stage he gives it everything he’s got, which is why his shows continue to deservingly generate buzz.

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TVD Live Shots: David Byrne at the Auditorium Theatre, 6/1

David Byrne is a master of many things. Musician, producer, actor, writer, director, artist, biker—he can do it all. And he certainly did it all last Friday night at the Auditorium Theatre.

I caught the first of his three-night, sold-out, “American Utopia” run in Chicago and man am I so glad I did. Backed by a tremendously talented group of mobile, barefoot, grey-suited musicians who sang, danced, carried, and played their instruments from start to finish—Byrne has created the most brilliant marching band.

Each song was thoughtfully choreographed and creatively lit, thus making the visual experience a truly stunning one. (And, yeah, they sounded phenomenal as well.)

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TVD Live Shots: U2 at
the United Center, 5/22

After recently concluding their extensive Joshua Tree tour, U2 took what appears to be no time at all to rest before diving into their next excursion.

Those who have seen U2 through the years know this is no small feat, as their productions are close to unparalleled by anyone in the industry, aside from perhaps Roger Waters. This particular arena experience did not disappoint—and that’s no surprise as U2 certainly knows how to put on a show. And while the set list wasn’t necessarily my dream U2 set, relying heavily on their most recent releases, it still consisted of some serious heavyweights.

And yes, Bono was at his Bono-est, although who can hate a guy who preaches love thyself and thy neighbor? (All hail Irish Jesus!) Seriously however, it was apparent from start to finish that the band was thinking about the fan experience. Each song held a unique visual accompaniment, and the stage design was incredibly thoughtful, visually provoking, and enabled the band’s mobility to bounce around the arena, creating more intimate moments for each section.

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TVD Live Shots:
Minus The Bear and
The Coathangers at the House of Blues, 5/4

Chicagoans packed a nearly sold out House of Blues last Friday (5/4) to witness Minus the Bear perform their album Planet of Ice in its entirety, along with support from opening act The Coathangers. Spanning a nearly 15 year musical career, Minus the Bear has developed a sound entirely their own that falls outside of a single genre classification—merging indie, math, prog, and experimental rock.

The first leg of their tour was accompanied by label mates and punk rock queens, Atlanta’s The Coathangers. When is comes to opening up a show and pumping up a crowd, these ladies truly provided. Apparently singer and guitarist Julia Kugel had been battling a cold for a couple of days but still managed to show up and kick ass, proving that nothing can get in the way of these ladies performing a truly spectacular set.

Minus the Bear is currently celebrating 10 years since the release of Planet of Ice (Suicide Squeeze Records, 2007) by performing the LP in its entirety. The crowd was a diverse mix of true blue MTB fans who sang each word of every song throughout the entire show. MTB finished their set with an encore of “Pachuca Sunrise” off of their Menos el Oso album (2005) as well as crowd favorite “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” (Highly Refined Pirates, 2002).

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TVD Live Shots:
Nils Frahm at Thalia
Hall, 3/24

Berlin composer, pianist, and producer Nils Frahm wowed sold-out crowds at Thalia Hall last Saturday and Sunday night.

A true virtuoso, Frahm’s setup alone was most impressive and included multiple vintage instruments (pianos, organ, synthesizer, etc.) and speakers. More so, his performance was transfixing, almost meditative. As we watched him build his songs before our eyes, no one dared miss a note. The room was so still, we might as well have been holding our breath.

Frahm’s North American tour continues through April before heading to Europe for the summer.

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TVD Live Shots: Bob Weir and Phil Lesh at the Chicago Theatre, 3/11

Founding members of the Grateful Dead, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, concluded their Duo Tour in Chicago over the weekend.

Playing two sold-out nights to a rowdy crowd at the Chicago Theatre, Bobby and Phil cruised through a staggering 3.5 hours of tunes each night. The two have not played together since 2015, so it was a nice treat for Deadheads. The first set was devoted to stripped-down, acoustic versions of songs, while the second set featured an excellent full band (Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams, Jeff Chimenti, and Wally Ingram) backing them.

Their brief, three-city tour is leaving fans begging for new dates. Perhaps they’ll be rewarded with a tour extension, but if not, Deadheads can get their Grateful Dead fix this summer, as Dead & Company (Bob Weir, John Mayer, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti) embark on a 26-show tour.

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TVD Live Shots: Screaming Females, Radiator Hospital,
and No Men at Lincoln Hall, 3/10

Chicagoans packed Lincoln Hall Saturday night to watch a truly stellar sold out show featuring Screaming Females, accompanied by opening acts Radiator Hospital and Chicago’s very own No Men.

Giving a snarky punk performance, No Men kicked off the show with an electric stage presence that commanded the attention of everyone in the room. They definitely set the tone and energy for the night ahead. The crowd danced and rocked their way through indie pop-punkers Radiator Hospital’s set which got everyone amped up for the night’s headliners. As the band was setting up the stage to perform. the energy of the venue was a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and sheer elation. Some of the concert goers had never seen Screaming Females perform, while others were seasoned professionals having seen them live countless times.

Once Screaming Females hit the stage and opened with their single “Glass House” off of their new album All at Once (released February 23, 2018 on Don Giovanni Records), the crowd’s vibrancy was almost as powerful as Marissa’s powerhouse vocal vibrato. As always, a Screaming Females performance hits the mark perfectly. It’s the gestalt of the performance that captures the spirit of the band as well as capturing the attention of fans, both new and old.

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TVD Live Shots: P!nk at the United Center, 3/9

P!ink’s “Beautiful Trauma World Tour” hit Chicago last week for two stellar, sold-out performances at the United Center.

When P!nk began the show dangling, flipping, and twirling from a chandelier all while belting “Get the Party Started,” I wondered how she could possibly top her opener. But, of course, she did. P!nk has never been one to shy away from challenges, especially in regard to her live shows.

She continues to set the standards high for her performances, which is why her concerts continue to top those of any other pop star. A couple decades into her career, P!nk continues to reach new heights. She is well worth the price of admission, as no one can put on a show quite like P!nk.

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TVD Live Shots:
Marilyn Manson at the Riviera Theatre, 2/8

Marilyn Manson is back on the road again in support of his latest album, Heaven Upside Down, after a freak onstage accident in New York City last fall resulted in injury and caused him to postpone several tour dates.

Still sporting a walking boot on his right leg from the injury, Marilyn nonetheless gave the sold-out crowd at The Riv his all. The setlist pulled heavily from his most recent release, but still featured classics “The Dope Show,” “The Beautiful People,” and his cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.”

His tour continues throughout the U.S. until June, when he takes it to Europe.

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TVD Live Shots:
Mavis Staples at the
Vic Theatre, 2/6

Chicagoans might not agree on everything, but there is one thing that I’ve come to find that we all agree upon: our shared love for musician, civil rights activist, and hometown gal, Mavis Staples

If you’ve not seen Mavis in concert, I urge you to make an effort to attend one of her shows. And if she’s not coming to a town near you, you owe it to yourself to check out the 2015 documentary, Mavis! The reason is simple—this woman is a pure ray of sunshine in an often disheartening world. She IS joy (I’m pretty sure she’s an official synonym for “joy” in the dictionary at this point).

Mavis’ spirit is contagious. Hearing her sing just one song is all that it will take. You’ll be hooked for life, which is a good thing because she’s got a lifetime of music. I recommend starting with The Staples Singers and working all the way up to her latest critically acclaimed album, 2017’s If All I Was Was Black.

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TVD Live Shots:
Buddy Guy and Mojo Daddy at Buddy Guy’s Legends, 1/28

So, in case you live under a rock, let me clue you in to an undisputed fact: Buddy Guy is THE MAN.

He’s a 7-time Grammy winner, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, one of the greatest guitarists ever to play the instrument, and aside from Eric Clapton, he’s influenced Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to name a few. There is no one quite like this Chicago blues legend. And every year the lone saving grace of January in Chicago is his month-long residency at his venue, Buddy Guy’s Legends.

I caught his final 2018 residency show and boy was that a treat. Buddy played for three straight hours, pausing only to share anecdotes with the audience and to bring his son, Greg, and daughter, Carlise, to the stage to perform with him. At 81, Buddy showed no signs of stopping as he charged through the crowd playing his guitar. Like a fine wine, Buddy only gets better with age. You can see for yourself.

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