Category Archives: TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots: Priests at the Beat Kitchen, 2/9

D.C.’s Priests played Beat Kitchen last week as part of their North American tour in support of their debut album, Nothing Feels Natural.

I stumbled across the album not long after its release date (January 27th) and have been listening to pretty much nonstop since. The process of completing the album and getting it out was a long and laborious one for the band, but I’d say it was worth the blood, sweat, and tears. And given the current political climate, it feels as if there was no better time for Nothing Feels Natural to drop.

They are just as energetic and commanding live as I suspected. My only critique is that I wish the show had lasted longer.

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TVD Live: Future Islands, Digable Planets, Noname at the House of Vans Chicago Opening, 2/3

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | As soon as the doors opened to the House of Vans, the crowd began exploring. This was the grand opening everyone was waiting to sink their teeth into and it did not disappoint. House of Vans is the only existing indoor skatepark in Chicago and some people were so excited they had their skateboard on hand.

The space is filed with beautiful sloping ramps, the walls lined with awe-inducing concert photography, and special touches to recognize its hometown. Behind one ramp, a fenced in ivy covered wall is reminiscent of Wrigley Field, as is the repurposed Goose Island brewpub bar. To top off the night, local favorites were waiting to treat the crowd with food and drink. On site were Parson’s Chicken and Fish, Big Star Tacos, and Goose Island, who even had a special brew, the Vans Golden Lager.

There was a lot to keep the crowd occupied before the music got started. Vans was handing out t-shirts, totes, and limited edition grand opening posters. Several folks couldn’t wait and they put their shirt on right away. A DJ played favorites as a line formed outside of the photo booth. Eventually the mass of people parted and a circle formed as several dancers took turns showing their best breakdancing moves.

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TVD Live: Margaret Glaspy and Bad Bad Hats at Schubas Tavern, 1/29

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Coming off a tour supporting The Lumineers and Andrew Bird, Margaret Glaspy started her run of solo shows with a sold out concert at Chicago’s Schubas.

Minneapolis’ Bad Bad Hats kicked the evening into gear and quickly engaged the audience. Between their infectious beats and lead singer, Kerry Alexander’s witty commentary between songs, people couldn’t help but be struck. Given her confessional lyrics and fresh voice, it feels like you’re being told a secret from your best friend, plus their songs are immediately relatable—even when they center around gas station snack foods. Bad Bad Hats’ newest album, Psychic Reader is currently available on vinyl.

Margaret Glaspy closes her eyes as she sings, focusing on each note, each tremble is on purpose, every waver calculated. Her songs are a beautiful, smooth blues at one moment and then her voice rises to a growl giving each phrase a bite. For “Memory Street” she becomes a perfect skipping record as she repeats “Times I…” over and over until finally finishing, “Times I took forever to forget.” It started to feel like the record scratch would continue forever (and the audience kind of wanted it to.)

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TVD Live: Esmé Patterson and Pool Holograph at Scubas Tavern, 1/27

PHOTOS: KATE SCOTT DALY | Esmé Patterson made Schubas in Chicago the first stop of her winter tour.

Chicago’s own Pool Holograph kicked off the night with a ton of energy. The crowd was engaged, often talking back to the band in-between songs—their lead vocalist singing every word with a punch as he hopped around the stage. As the band closed their set, they thanked the audience for being “patient and beautiful.” Pool Holograph’s latest album Town Quarry is available for download and on limited edition cassette.

Esmé Patterson took the stage having donned an electric blue wig. It became the perfect prop throughout her set, accenting her songs with a hair flip or shaking the bob to cover her face. Between the wig and her gestures to the audience, she was serious and intentional as she revealed each intimate song. The intros of her compositions sometimes have a bluesy twang, then a racing guitar enters, and her sweet voice, filled with squeaks and vibrato, captures the space. Patterson’s lyrics embody her—mind and soul.

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White Lies: Finding Gold on Record–and in Record Stores

Ready to embark on their first US tour in years, White Lies has a lot to be excited about. Lead singer, Harry McVeigh talks with TVD about playing new songs, playing in new hometowns, and filling his suitcase full of vinyl along the way.

Hi, Harry! How are you?

I’m very well. Just recovering from some serious rain in San Francisco.

Are you there for a show?

No, I live here. I moved out here about seven months ago with my wife. She works here. We thought it would be a nice change of scene, so we moved here.

Are you enjoying it, besides the rain?

Well, we’re use to the rain, we’re British. But I love it. It’s a great city. I’ve really enjoyed it here.

What are looking forward to most in your upcoming US tour?

Well, it’s been a few years since we’ve played in the US and I think it’s going to be great. I say this when we play anywhere in the world, but we have so many wonderful fans who really love our band. We really enjoy meeting them and playing to them. There are people who really love the songs, especially love the lyrics and I enjoy being in that moment hearing them sing them back to me.

I know that sounds like a bit of a cliched answer, but it is wonderful. Especially when you’re playing in a city you don’t get to play in that often. It’s really great. There are a few shows on this tour in towns we’ve never played before. I think even if they’re not crazy busy, when people show up it’s a great experience. Also moving to San Francisco, I’ve made a few friends here and you tell people that you’re in a band—but to actually have the opportunity to show them what I do and to play in my new hometown, I’m really excited about that.

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TVD Live Shots: Patti Smith and Her Band at the Riviera Theatre, 12/30

Patti Smith celebrated her 70th birthday by bestowing a packed house at the Riviera Theatre the gift of her music and spoken word.

Along with her band, she began the evening by playing her iconic 1975 album Horses in full. In between songs she joked (“I’m the new president of the United States…just for fucking tonight!”), told stories (“I was nearly born in a taxi cab on Lake Shore Drive. The Great Snowstorm of 1946”), and inspired (“Don’t give up! Rise! Strengthen! Learn! Unite!”).

The Godmother of Punk (although she’s reluctant to embrace the title) put on a performance that can only be described as transcendent. Every single person in the sold-out Riv knew they were witnessing something special. It was church, a rally, a celebration and a show rolled all into one. “The dream is not fucking over! There is room in the world for love and peace,” she declared during her encore (a cover of The Who’s “My Generation”).

The calls to action peppered her performance and left me feeling—in a word—empowered. Her message was a welcome reminder that there is hope, love and beauty in this world. I wish every concert was a Patti Smith concert.

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TVD Live Shots: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats at the Chicago Theatre, 12/7

I’ve really come to look forward to the annual WXRT Big Holiday Concert. It’s always a great lineup, a great concert, a great venue, and a great excuse to run into Terri Hemmert and tell her you love her.

This year’s was no different, as Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats headlined with special guest—local legend and natural treasure Mavis Staples. As usual, Mavis, a recent Kennedy Honors recipient, exuded such joy that the grinch would’ve been clapping and singing along with her. It was a stripped down set with the spectacular Rick Holmstrom on guitar as her lone accompanist.

The Night Sweats were the next to hit the stage and they dove into their bluesy soul right away keeping the energy high. The audience was treated to a Mavis encore when she joined Nathaniel and company on stage to sing a beautiful version of “The Weight.” Another notable cover was Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel No. 2.” Rateliff’s solo acoustic version was a lovely tribute to yet another icon we’ve lost in 2016. The crowd stood and danced for the majority of the evening, shimmying and singing along to Ratecliff’s originals. It was a perfect ending to a year filled with incredible shows.

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TVD Live: Conor Oberst at Thalia Hall, 11/26

Conor Oberst spent time in Chicago this past weekend for two evenings of intimate performances at Thalia Hall. Joining him Saturday night was singer-songwriter, Anna McClellan.

In Oberst’s words, Anna McClellan is a “secret weapon from Omaha, Nebraska.” The audience was quick to feel her power and be captivated by her haunting voice and playful melodies. She played out heavy repeating chords on the piano while her engaging lyrics and lovely refrain hovered above and took over the room. The room’s energy level rose to a new high when Oberst walked on stage to join McClellan on her song “Fire Flames.” McClellan’s inviting presence kept the crowd quiet and in their seats which is a rare feat for an opening act. Anna McClellan’s current album Fire Flames (which features Oberst on the title track) is available to download.

The crowd was ready for Conor Oberst before he even entered the stage. Within the first notes of his opening song people were already cheering and singing along. Arms went up during favorite lyrics and friends turned to each other to mouth the words during quiet parts. It was a warm welcome. The stage was sparse with only a single bassist to accompany him. Oberst alternated between an old upright piano and his guitar. An assistant sat at a fishbowl shaking out harmonicas in-between songs to pass off to Oberst.

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TVD Live Shots: The Lemon Twigs, Sunflower Bean, and Joe Bordenaro at Lincoln Hall, 10/21

I have to confess that I went to this show to see one band only—The Lemon Twigs. Simply put, I dig them.

I dig their sound, their look, their youth, their theatricality, their confidence. I dig that they’re brothers and both multi-instrumentalists. And now, I can say with certainty that I also dig them live. This is not a band to sleep on. From the second I was introduced to them earlier this year, I’ve been intrigued—excited even. And after their performance at Lincoln Hall last Friday, I’m now officially mesmerized. If you like David Bowie, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and Queen then you’re sure-as-shit gonna like this band.

Of course, the bonus of attending a show for one band is that you get to see other bands as well, and in this case, other bands who deserve some attention. Illinois native Joe Bordenaro and the Late Bloomers opened the evening with a high energy, garage rock set that perfectly set the tone for the night. Headliners Sunflower Bean brought their indie rock (heavy on the rock) to the stage. I immediately heard some nostalgia in their sound, like I was at a loft party in Chelsea in the ’70s. Most impressive was their ability to evoke such nostalgia given that the trio isn’t even of legal drinking age.

I highly encourage you to check out these young, talented bands as there are still plenty of tour dates ahead.

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TVD Live Shots: Sigur Rós at the Chicago Theatre, 9/30

The ethereal Sigur Rós brought their extraordinary and unique music to the historic Chicago Theatre last Friday, marking it as one of the most memorable Fridays of the year.

Their music is other-worldly, blanketed in mystique, and I can confirm that their performances are just as artful as their songs. The lighting is dramatic, moody, and beautiful—the stage clouded in fog as Jónsi’s perfect falsetto soared, his right arm furiously moving his signature cello bow across his guitar strings, the drum beats synced to the lights mimicking lightning.

It’s was a stunning sight to behold, let alone hear. Throughout their two sets (both about an hour each) they played a healthy mix of their catalogue but relied heavily on songs from my personal favorite Sigur Rós album, ( ). Their show, like their albums, seemed to build and build climaxing into the most epic moments. There’s not another band like Sigur Rós.

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TVD Live: Angel Olsen and Rodrigo Amarante
at Thalia Hall, 9/27

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Angel Olsen was welcomed to Chicago with two sold out nights at Thalia Hall this week. Joining her was bilingual crooner Rodrigo Amarante.

Brazilian singer-songwriter (perhaps best known for the theme song for Netflix’s Narcos), Rodrigo Amarante set the scene for the night holding down the stage with just his guitar and sweet vocals. Between songs he told the audience, “I had the best day. They treated me like a king here even though I’m just a pawn. I’m so happy.” You could feel his happiness as he whistled along with his tunes. As Amarante sang, he and his guitar filled the room with the impression of a full orchestra playing.

Amarante’s first solo album, Cavalo is currently available on vinyl. His sophomore release is anticipated some time this year.

A full house waited in anticipation gathering closer and closer to the stage as Angel Olsen’s set time was approaching. Soon her band entered the stage in uniformed suits topped off with bolo ties. A few moments later Olsen appeared on stage and everyone went silent as she put on her guitar. “Oh you’re quiet now…that’s cool,” she told the crowd who quickly began cheering, “Yeah right!” she exclaimed before playing the notes of her first song “Never Be Mine.”

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/18

2:42pm: As I’m running to catch the Juliette Lewis and the Licks, I hear Dee Snider covering Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole” in the distance. I arrive Riot Fest’s Rock Stage and turn my attention to Juliette Lewis, who is absolutely commanding the stage. She twirls, jumps, dives, screeches.

3:00pm: The party has officially started. Andrew W.K. has arrived, muscles bulging out of his signature white t-shirt and white jeans. He stuffs his microphone into his pants and slams down on his keyboard, jazz notes ringing out. His fans are screaming so hard the noise is almost deafening. Party on.

3:08pm: Juliette Lewis can sing. I wander back over to the Rock Stage to catch her covering—and nailing—Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Before her final song she pauses, “I feel like music is a spiritual thing and I want to thank you for being here.” She ends her set with Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary”—her version sounding like Tina turner on steroids.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/17

2:31pm Walking in my wife accidentally says “Yay girl!” to a guy and he asks for her number. She’s off to a great start here at Riot Fest.

2:50pm: Young talent alert! Denzel Curry impresses the hell out of everyone by freestyling two songs a capella due to technical issues. He continues to impress once the issues have been fixed, and takes any opportunity to jump off the stage to connect with the crowd.

3:35pm: The Hold Steady is playing Boys and Girls in America in full at the Rock Stage and everyone is losing their minds. Even us photographers are singing along and smiling while trying to capture the moment.

4:09pm: I catch end of Motion City Soundtrack’s set, one of their last ever as they’ve announced their breakup, and it’s a pretty amazing scene. The crowd surfing is some of the best I’ve seen so far and once the set ends, the band tosses their picks, drumsticks, set lists, and more out to their fans, many of whom are in tears.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/16

12:52pm: Diarrhea Planet is the perfect Riot Fest welcome. They’re rock, they’re punk, and they’re fun as hell.

1:11pm: I spot my first mohawk of the weekend. It’s tall, purple, and glorious.

1:14pm: There’s a small but diehard crowd for Fu Manchu to start, but by the end of their set the crowd has grown, perhaps as mesmerized by the impressive head-banging as I am.

1:30pm: A little rain, but nothing compared to past years.

1:41pm: A dude selling cheap-ass ponchos for $5 is making bank right now. Mine is less for the rain and more for GWAR’s upcoming set.

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TVD Live Shots: Wilco and Twin Peaks at Millennium Park, 8/21

Mother Nature ordered up the most perfect Sunday night that we’ve seen all summer. Perhaps she knew what was going down at Millennium Park.

“We’re home,” Jeff Tweedy confirmed to the crowd as Wilco took the stage to play their first show in their hometown since 2014. Also home? Openers and up-and-comers Twin Peaks (a band, I might add, who is not to be missed live).

This celebration of Chicago bands lasted 3.5 hours. “Play all night,” a fan next to me thought aloud—a sentiment that I, and many others, shared with him. It was a perfect night and a perfect setting to sink into the music and appreciate all that Chicago has to offer. Wilco, we love you baby.

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