Category Archives: TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots: Taking Back Sunday at House of Vans, 7/13

Behold the night of celebrating 20 years with Taking Back Sunday in Chicago at House of Vans, where it felt like one big high school reunion as vocalist Adam Lazzara announced that drummer Mark O’Connell wasn’t there this night because “he [was] having a baby!!” (To which in turn led to Lazzara giving us all a brief pop quiz on how babies are made.)

Current drummer of Against Me!, Atom Willard (previously of The Offspring, The Special Goodness, Danko Jones, and founding member of Angels and Airwaves), stepped in O’Connell’s stead for a night of relishing memories of past triumphs and shared anguish of relinquished feelings. Nothing brings a room full of people together like screaming nostalgic lyrics attached to more-than-familiar melodies.

As Lazzara had previously stated, they are “traveling the world to celebrate the amazing brotherhood, music, and life we have created together over the past 20 years… for what is sure to be an experience to remember.” To make an already special tour an even more special night, this particular show at House of Vans was part of their Vans House Parties Series where the headlining artist gets to curate the whole show and instead of buying tickets, attendees get in for free via a RSVP, first come, first served basis. Taking Back Sunday curated the show with openers Rozwell Kid and Pronoun, featuring an art installation by Brian Ewing.

The night spent with Taking Back Sunday’s Lazzara, Willard, John Nolan (guitarist), Shaun Cooper (bassist), and Nathan Coogan (touring guitarist) was complete with moshing, crowd surfing, Lazzara’s seamless mic throws, (albeit a bit constrained and constricted to the intimate space) and a collective donning of all the emo feels.

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TVD Live Shots:
Outlaw Music Festival
at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, 6/28

Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival hit the Chicagoland area at the end of last month and featured a heck of a lineup: Willie Nelson & Family, Phil Lesh & Friends, The Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dawes, and Lissie.

Due to classic Chicago traffic, I arrived late but was able to catch the end of Alison Krauss’ lovely set. The Avett Brothers were up next and wowed the crowd (as usual) with their undeniable harmonies, musicianship and energy. At one point Scott Avett ran the perimeter of the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre pavilion, all while singing and hi-fiving fans, which I found to be an impressive feat of athleticism, especially in the heat and humidity.

I spent most of Phil Lesh & Friends’ set sitting in the grass and watching the sunset—a perfect location to take in some Grateful Dead classics. “Wharf Rat,” “Terrapin Station,” and “Black Muddy River” were just a few of the standouts.

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TVD Live Shots: Vampire Weekend at Northerly Island, 6/16

WORDS AND IMAGES: KATE SCOTT | Vampire Weekend returned to Chicago just in time for Father’s Day. While this wouldn’t seem like an important day for a concert, the band’s most recent album title, Father of the Bride, made Father’s Day a fitting evening for their Chicago concert. The new album is refreshingly catchy and breezy, and lead singer Ezra Koenig was in top form to sing the band’s freshest tunes.

While most bands play a respectable 15-20 songs per show, Vampire Weekend played 31, a nearly 3 hour show. As fans huddled together outside on an unusually cold Sunday night, Koenig and company played new singles like “This Life” and “Sunflower” before treating everyone to some of the classics. The band played a 6-minute rendition of their most popular single, “A-Punk,” as well as “Oxford Comma” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.”

For their encore, Vampire Weekend asked fans to pick some of their final tunes. They played both “Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)” and “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)” before ending the night with “Walcott,” another track from their debut album. The band’s setlist has been different every night, ensuring that no two concerts (or concert-going experiences) are quite the same.

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TVD Live Shots: Dead
& Company at Wrigley Field, 6/15

WORDS AND IMAGES: TAYLOR NETTNIN | Dead & Company packed Chicago’s Wrigley Field on Saturday, June 15th, closing out their two night run on their 2019 Summer Tour. The day started off with threats of thunderstorms, but dead heads were able to rejoice as the skies cleared up just in time for the crowd to dance and cheer all night long.

Grateful Dead members Mickey Hart (drums), Bill Kreutzmann (drums), and Bob Weir (guitar) were joined by Oteil Burbridge (bass), Jeff Chimenti (keys), and John Mayer (guitar) to perform a slew of jams that the stadium recited word for word. The members of Dead & Company delivered a thrilling performance that did not feel overpowered by any single member; everyone seemed so comfortable playing with each other, at times it felt like the crowd was witnessing magic being created.

The first set started with a dazzling rendition of “Terrapin Station,” followed by “Sugar Magnolia,” “Mr. Charlie,” “High Time,” “Friend of the Devil,” and “Bertha.” They then played a stunning cover of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” before closing out their set with “Turn On Your Lovelight.”

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TVD Live Shots:
Jenny Lewis at the Riviera Theatre, 6/8

In March, Jenny Lewis’ tour bus broke down en route to Chicago forcing her show at The Riv to be rescheduled to June.

While it was a temporary bummer, it also gave me the opportunity to deep dive into her latest album, On the Line, which I’m happy to report is yet another solid effort. One of my favorites of the year, in fact. The indie rock darling with country flare put on a dazzling show—and I’m not just talking about her dress.

The setlist boasted decades of her beautifully crafted songs, each a delight to hear live. She’s currently touring the east coast with Death Cab for Cutie through June.

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TVD Live Shots: Face the Music Benefit Concert with Garbage, The Jam Akler Band, and Richard Patrick at the Riviera Theatre, 5/20

Monday at The Riv was a special evening as the Face the Music Foundation held its first benefit concert with support from kmedia and Charity Bomb.

The event, which featured performances from Garbage, the Jam Alker Band, Slow Mass, and Richard Patrick of Filter, donated 100% of the proceeds to help Recovery Unplugged, a rehabilitation and treatment center whose mission is to provide hope and healing for individuals affected by addiction using the power of music.

It was a powerful night of performances culminating in a fantastic set of hits by Garbage; a night to remember in Chicago—and one for a good cause.

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TVD Live Shots: Betty Who at The Vic, 5/16

Last week, indie pop darling Betty Who played two sold-out shows at Chicago’s The Vic Theatre. The Sydney, Australia native has accumulated quite a following since breaking on to the scene in 2013. Since then, her dance-heavy tunes and stellar live performances have garnered her quite a cult following.

Betty Who is especially popular among the LGBTQ community, many of whom were out in full force last Wednesday. There was nothing but good vibes at The Vic thanks to Betty Who, her amazing band, her hunky dancers, and the crowd’s enthusiasm.

It felt like a summertime concert–and oh man am I looking forward to more of those. But for now I’ll settle for a few consecutive days of decent weather here in Chicago and hold on to this show as a reminder that there’s more to come. Betty Who is stopping through many cities on this leg of her U.S. tour, so be on the lookout for her!

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TVD Live Shots: Santigold at The Vic Theatre, 5/8

It’s been a decade (well, technically 11 years) since Santigold’s phenomenal self-titled debut album and to celebrate, she’s hit the road. The “10 Years Golder Tour” cruised through Chicago on Wednesday, one of only a few cities currently listed on her performance schedule. The excitement was palpable inside The Vic for the sold-out show.

Since her debut, much has changed for the Philadelphia-born musician. She’s moved from the east coast to Los Angeles, got married and became a mother. Despite all of the personal changes, Santi White is still Santi GOLD.

The first half of the show was devoted to Santigold, while the second half showcased her newer material. All throughout, Santigold and her incredible backup dancers delivered. (Seriously, the Energizer Bunny would be exhausted from their routines.)

The 10 Years Golder Tour hits the west coast next. Be sure to grab yourself a ticket.

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TVD Live Shots: Better Oblivion Community Center at Lincoln Hall, 3/23

WORDS AND IMAGES: KATE SCOTT | As I stood in a completely packed Lincoln Hall, the guy next to me made a great point: “If you’re over 30, you grew up with Conor Oberst as your lyrical king. And, if you know anything about indie music, then Phoebe Bridgers is your current queen.” Those words really rang true as I watched Better Oblivion Community Center turn the crowd into a big bowl of emotional jelly.

The indie folk supergroup, composed of Oberst and Bridgers, is a bit more aggressive than Bright Eyes and a bit more whimsical than Bridgers’ solo work. The creative chemistry between the two artists makes for completely unique and beautiful music. Case in point, their single “Dylan Thomas” is a harmonious blend of both artists’ voices. Their self-titled debut album puts both Oberst’s and Bridgers’ strengths at the heart of each track, while allowing for a little vulnerability and humility as well.

Their first sold out night at Lincoln Hall was an intimate and powerful performance. With each artist on opposite ends of the modest stage, surrounded by old-fashioned lights and a backdrop of their fictional community center, it felt like we were watching a performance in a garage on a warm summer night.

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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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