Category Archives: TVD Chicago

Vikesh Kapoor,
The TVD Interview

The Ballad of Willy Robbins is Vikesh Kapoor’s loose concept album about a working class man whose life crumbles and he loses his health, wife, and home. After playing for Howard Zinn’s family at the late historian’s memorial service in Boston, Kapoor was inspired to write the album over the course of two years in Portland. What resulted was a beautiful collection of stories of determination, grit, and the nuances of the human condition.

Kapoor is often compared to the great Americana folk singers like Pete Seegar and Woody Guthrie, but Kapoor tells me that his music isn’t intentionally political. Rather it’s the tradition of telling stories of the working class that Kapoor has revived. He stands out among many artists who live and produce music within a highly digitized world where songs are churned out constantly and consistently and put together by a producer on a computer.

Last Sunday’s (2/16) Schuba’s crowd warmly welcomed Kapoor’s raw pickings of the guitar, the bluesy sound of the harmonica, and Kapoor’s clear, full vocals. It’s true, most of the audience did not know Kapoor before Sunday but once he started singing, the entire room fell silent—and not in the way that implied that the show was boring, rather the audience had every intent to listen and connect with the stories they were told. Here was an actively listening audience—something that can be a rarity for those talented but still unknown musicians embarking on a major tour for the first time.

Just before the show, we sat in the basement of the legendary Chicago venue and reveled in the fact that so many great musicians had sat where we’d been sitting, drinking beer, and warming up to play. We talked about what it’s like to tour alone, Willy Robbins, and of course, vinyl.

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TVD Premiere: The Kickback, “When I Die”

“My grandma played me my first record on this giant cabinet console that must have really been the bee’s knees when she and my grandfather bought it.”

“She had a copy of ‘The Monster Mash’ that I would play until I got too spooked by side-b of the ‘scary sounds.’ Years later, it was the only turntable where I could try out some breakbeat records I bought thinking I could be the next Beastie Boys. She’s wasn’t all that enthused.”

“‘When I Die’ is a song about being so terrified of death that your only alternative is to micromanage the hell out of it. Unable to learn or grow from the experience, you assume that you’ll have the benefit of coming back from the afterlife and rubbing it in the faces of all those who slighted you during your time on earth.

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TVD Recommends: Mutts residency at Township for Chicago HOPES

You’ve probably seen Mutts around Chicago at local festivals like Do Division and Milwaukee Ave Arts Festival. Maybe you even heard their song “God, Country, Grave” on Cinemax’s Banshee or have seen their records in Reckless or Saki. No matter how you know them, if you live in Chicago, you’ve likely heard of Mutts.

Mutts will continue their residency at Township in Logan Square this upcoming Monday and every Monday for the rest of February. Half of the proceeds from this residency go to Chicago HOPES, a non-profit that organizes after school programs for kids living in homeless shelters throughout Chicago.

Mutts are supported by other Midwest bands during their residency including Kane Place Record Club from Milwaukee and Chicago rockers Common Shiner who are on the bill this week. Next week, Empires and Maid Myriad. The final show on 2/24 will be supported by Vic and Gab and Wedding Dress. 

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TVD Live: Riot Fest Chicago at Humboldt Park, 9/13–9/15

PHOTOS: DAN JARVIS | Chicago’s Riot Fest has come and gone, and I am in still recovering from the three days of musical nirvana I experienced in Humboldt Park. The weekend, full of rain and expensive beer, luckily also included an uncanny amount of powerful musical acts that ranged from punk rock to rap and many genres in between. 

Friday was “Riot Fest Lite” for me. Arriving later in the afternoon, the first day was in full swing as we passed through the gates. The wristband, beer ticket, and beverage lines were all a mile long, and after a quick hour-long wait I was ready to enjoy some music.

That evening, I floated between stages, catching GWAR, Sublime with Rome, and even a minute or two of Fall Out Boy’s performance with an occasional stop to see the fire spinners and hula-hoopers.

Riot Fest-20

Never knowing what they’ll do next, GWAR once again hit the Riot Fest stage with their abrasive live show. Say what you will about their music, but do they ever know how to put on a show. Last year they aborted Snooki’s baby on stage, and this year they tore the head off Super Zombie Jesus, all done with a great sense of pride and in the name of their home planet of Scumdogia.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Riot Fest at Humboldt Park, 9/13–9/15

Chicago’s go-to punk, rock, and alternative music festival, Riot Fest, is fast approaching. The festival will forcibly occupy Humboldt Park from September 13 to 15.

Since 2005, Riot Fest has balanced out Chicago’s festival season with music and reunions not brought to you by Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, or North Coast. And, if music at a music festival isn’t your thing, it’s also a carnival with rides, freak shows, and even a ferris wheel.

FRIDAY | Riot fest jumps right in on Day 1, and boy does it start with a bang. The day’s lineup ranges from the poetic hip hop of Saul Williams to punk rockers like Screeching Weasel and Bad Religion.

Rounding out the bill on Friday is a healthy dose of metal, including a 25th anniversary Danzig performance, Hatebreed, and the ever-entertaining (and messy) GWAR. Here are some of the other acts we’ll be catching on Friday.

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TVD Recommends: Paper Thick Walls at Double Door, 9/6

The music of Paper Thick Walls has been placed upon the same pedestal as many of the great indie folk artists of the last two decades. On top of that, their debut album A Thousand Novels has received literally hundreds of positive reviews since its 2011 release. This Friday, these Chicago locals bring their brand of orchestral indie rock back home to the Double Door.

Their songs may present themselves as understated folk ballads upon first listen, but they quickly grow into raucous walls of sound. The five piece band is composed of violin, piano, guitar, upright bass, and drums.

Add to that equation the infectious songwriting and vocal style of lead band members Eric Michaels and Kate Schell, and you’ll see that there’s a damn good reason Paper Thick Walls has received so much praise.

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TVD Recommends: Mutts and Myles Coyne & The Rusty Nickel Band at Tonic Room, 8/16

Mutts’ music embraces the inner turmoil, the things that are striven for, the ways that we fall short, the ways we’re let down, as well as the few things that spark us back onto the right track, even if those are the rare moments, the briefest of comebacks.” Sean Moeller, Daytrotter

If you’re a Chicagoan and you haven’t heard of Mutts by now you might as well be saying you haven’t heard of Barack Obama. OK, that might be an exaggeration, but they have cemented themselves as a must-see band in the local music scene over their 4 years of releasing music together.

With a knack for honest, personal, and truly intimate songwriting, frontman Mike Maimone’s songs will tear at your heart-strings but mend them in due time. Their live show ranges from raucous keyboards and pounding drums to delicate piano ballads. Think Tom Waits, if he still had the energy to jump up on his piano mid-song.

Over the course of releasing three full length LPs and a whole bunch of EPs, the band has grown into a unified and versatile act that truly defies all genres.

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Elephant Stone:
The TVD Interview

We talked with psych-pop favorites and innovators of “Hindie Rock” Elephant Stone, in the hot summer sun of Austin Psych Fest—well, actually in the cool comfy rocking chairs of the Artist tent—to discuss the band’s latest self titled record, their US tour with The Black Angels, and well, vinyl.

Vocalist, bassist, and sitar genius Rishi Dhir and guitarist Gab Lambert spill it all in the TVD Interview.

Recently, I asked the band SUUNS this same question since you guys are both from Montreal. Is there a psych scene coming out of Montreal?

Rishi Dhir: Montreal is funny, it’s been so conditioned by Arcade Fire and the Arbutus Records scene. I can’t say there’s a big psych scene in Montreal. No Joy is kind of shoegaze-y, Besnard Lakes are shoegaze-y, I think Suuns are probably the most “psych” band in Montreal.

Yea, they’re kind of a totally different monster…

RD: Yea, the stuff they’re doing… no one else is doing that. It’s not pop. We do pop, we’re a pop band.

You guys do pop so well. You do a great job of integrating some psychedelic aspects, but at the heart of it Elephant Stone is a pop band. 

RD: It’s funny, I posted a video on our YouTube account and someone commented that us, The Black Angels, and Tame Impala are their hope for music right now. One guy writes “Yhese guys are nothing like Tame Impala or The Black Angels, this is shitty pop music.” I posted back, “Yes, it is pop music, so what?” Some people are so closed-minded. Tame Impala is pop music too. I posted the video so when I replied to it was my name, and this guy is hiding behind a pseudonym, so he knows it’s me responding to him. It’s funny how trolls like that work.

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TVD Premiere:
Briar Rabbit, “So Long”

“…This must have been when I first moved to Chicago. I went home for some holiday and went digging through my parents records then I found Still Bill by Bill Withers. I was like “Use Me,” “Lean on Me”—great! I had just gone through it with a woman who wasn’t in the right place to really be with me (blah blah blah, I just got out of a break up so I wrote songs that ended up on The Company You Keep.)”

“I remember it was snowing, everyone in the house was asleep and all I could really see was the LED off the record player and “Let Me in Your Life” came on. I don’t know how it escaped me, but holy hell that song hit me like a ton of bricks.

I must have put the needle back 10 times that night—in all fairness it’s a short song. It was for sure a moment and the vinyl was a little warped so it was like my own version of the tune. That song still gives me chills.

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Radar Eyes 7” Flexi, “Dreaming of Giants”

Spring is here, April showers are beginning to replace the gloomy Chicago winter, and “t-shirt weather” is just around the corner. This time of year is particularly special for music lovers and vinyl junkies like myself. Plenty of great record shows come around each Spring but the real vinyl event of the season is Record Store Day.

This annual record appreciation day will take place on Saturday April 20th and bring with it over 400 new releases and reissues from artists new and old.

The release list is generally heavy on vinyl releases, but this year includes the largest selection of CD releases in RSD history. Even a couple of cassettes made the cut. As in previous years, these releases are generally limited to very low quantities (sometimes as low 300-500), meaning it’s very likely you’ll miss out on some of these if you don’t get your shopping done early.

You can find the master release list at the official Record Store Day website in both a flashy web version and a convenient printable PDF (that serves as a great grocery list). This list is by no means complete, tons of smaller indie labels use Record Store Day to put out a new and exclusive records that don’t always make the official list. Start making your picks today and be prepared for Saturday’s record store shopping rush.

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