Category Archives: TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Lollapalooza, Day 2 at Grant Park, 8/3

12:52 PM | Heavy traffic. Yesterday the commute was considerably faster. It makes sensethe first day of a festival usually draws the smallest crowd. Or, at the very least, a late crowd. Today? Not so much. The crowds are flooding into Grant Park for the Pitchfork Music Festival.

1:32 PM | Security is heavy this year, mostly thanks to that piece of s**t who massacred 58 innocent humans and injured hundreds of others on October 1st last year in Las Vegas. Huge thanks to all of the officers and agents (yes, the FBI was present on the grounds all weekend), EMTs, and grounds crew who did their very best to keep downtown Chicago safe all weekend long.

2:37 PM | Taylor Bennett has gathered a huge crowd at Perry’s Stage. The young Chicagoan is making waves and not just because he’s Chance the Rapper’s baby bro. Taylor just released his latest EP, “Be Yourself”—his best venture to date. The crowd loves his positive spirit. He came out as bisexual before his 21st birthday and reminds the crowd of it. “Be Yourself” is more than just his EP name—it’s his anthem. Special guests Supa Bwe, Bianca Shaw, and Twista helped spread the word.

3:12 PM | Walking past the Toyota Music Den I pause to watch LA’s Buddy perform. The crowd is there to dance, and dance they do.

3:19 PM | “I’ve longed for that day when I’d be playing for confused, slightly disgruntled Post Malone fans, and that day has finally come.” said Parquet Court’s A. Savage. It’s a belly laugh moment. I get it, dudes. But there’s still a decent-sized crowd here for you and we’re loving every second.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza, Day 1 at Grant Park and The National aftershow at the Metro, 8/2

Since 2005, downtown Chicago—more specifically 115 acres in smack dab downtown Chicago (a.k.a. Grant Park)—has been home to the city’s largest music festival, Lollapalooza. It is a festival locals love to hate and hate to love. It doesn’t matter. People travel from far and wide to this Midwest mecca every year without question. Tickets typically sell out within hours. And don’t let the locals’ eye-roll attitude about Lolla fool you, we all go as well. And when we don’t, we’re sad about it. There’s a power that Lolla week in Chicago has over all of us. It’s in many ways our summer climax.

So here I am on the backside of the festival weekend comparing my peak to last years’, and I’m happy to report that this was one of the best Lollas to date. The crowds were (for the most part) manageable; the bands were on time; all went as scheduled; crime went down; hospitalizations went down; it didn’t rain; I repeat—it didn’t rain!—and somehow I managed to leave each day still walking without a limp and looking forward to the next day. So, yeah, the world is probably ending soon.

Now a four-day festival, Lollapalooza ’18 kicked off on Thursday, August 2nd. Highlights from day one included Slaves, who managed to resurrect the spirit of Lollapalooza ‘91 with their black-leather wearing, microphone-eating, head-banging, guitar shredding set. And of course Scotland’s Franz Ferdinand didn’t disappoint, and whose leader, Alex Kapranos, also got my vote for the weekend’s best high kicks.

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TVD Live Shots: Radiohead at US Bank Arena, 7/25

Radiohead hasn’t toured in six years, so when their brief North American tour was announced, I knew that I’d do what was necessary to catch one of their shows.

“What was necessary” turned out to be a road trip from Chicago to Cincinnati for the night. And boy was it worth every mile. The setlist pulled from their expansive 26+ years of songs, but favored tracks from 2000’s Kid A and 2003’s Hail to the Thief.

It was a beautiful evening, capped off with a crowd sing-a-long to “Karma Police” to end the show. “For a minute there / I lost myself…”

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TVD Live Shots: Sylvan Esso and Collections of Colonies of Bees at the Vic Theatre, 7/24

We caught the North Carolina duo Sylvan Esso at the Vic Theatre on Tuesday (7/24) with openers Collections of Colonies of Bees.

It was the second night of their sold-out run in Chicago and the most fun I’ve had on a Tuesday in a while. Their catchy, fun electro-pop has everyone grooving and singing along—Nick Sanborn continues to deliver the beats, Amelia Meath continues to be my dancing idol, and the pair’s stage lighting continues to stun.

Their summer tour wraps up next week north of the border.

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TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival, 7/20–7/22

DAY ONE: Friday, July 20 | The Pitchfork Music Festival kicked off around 1:00PM on Friday afternoon at Union Park in Chicago. The forecast held a looming threat of rain all weekend, which most festival goers seemed to come prepared for.

The rain started to pour as The Curls, the first act of the festival, took to the Green Stage. We continued to trek back and forth throughout the afternoon with the rain always seeming to conveniently start right as each act would begin their set.

Lucy Dacus began her set a little early stating, “If it starts raining again we’re leaving because we’re not about to get electrocuted,” kicking off with her catchy track “Addictions.” I was looking forward to catching her set, and even more excited when I noticed on bass was Philly’s own Dominic Angelella filling in.

Continuing the fest with a diverse collection on female artists, Julie Byrne was the first act to open up the Blue Stage. Beginning her set seated and solo, she won over the crowd easily with her soothing Laura Marling vibes. Soon after she was joined on stage with a violinist, synth player, and harpist.

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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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