Category Archives: TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots:
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Chris Stapleton at Wrigley Field, 6/29

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played hit after hit, wowing a sold-out crowd at Wrigley Field this past Thursday (6/29). It was a heck of a way to celebrate 40 years of making rock ‘n’ roll music together—and we had the honor of witnessing it. This was the concert of the year so far, in my humble opinion.

The rain hit Chicago in epic proportions—Wrigley must have made a killing selling their Cubs ponchos for $10 a pop—but opener Chris Stapleton kept plugging away, jamming out in the rain. He kept the crowd’s energies high despite the soggy circumstances.

But no rain was going to hold the crowd down—nor the band’s. When Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers hit the stage it was still raining, but no one cared. The crowd went wild—ecstatic as the first notes of “Rockin’ Around (With You),” one of the band’s oldest songs, rang through the air.

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TVD Live: Electric Forest Festival, 6/24

9:31 AM  | After about 4 hours of sleep on the forest floor I shockingly feel rested. The beats boomed until 4am and kicked off again at 8am at a neighboring tent.

10:26 AM | We’re just chillin’ at our campsite, enjoying the morning sun and listening to Electric Forest radio. It’s rather informative. For example, if you help the staff clean up the grounds after each set, you gain Eco Points and, consequently, win rewards. Cool.

11:12 AM| On my two-mile walk to acquire ice for the campsite, I run into some dude who is furious that the food stand won’t make him a breakfast burrito. “It’s not on the menu,” someone yells to him and he screams back “But they have all the ingredients!” Furious.

12:15 PM | We’re now back in the festival grounds and I’m sipping on a mixture of freshly squeezed juices dumped into a hollowed-out pineapple. I’m remarking on how refreshing it is when Kosha Dillz, the New Jersey rapper, pops over to say hello. We talk about his collaborations with RZA and Matisyahu and snap a few photos. He hands me his single with Matisyahu on a sweet white 7″ and we say our goodbyes. Talented, super nice dude.

2:18 PM | We just watched two strangers get married in the chapel. Oh yeah—did I mention that there’s a chapel?!

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TVD Live: Electric Forest Festival, 6/23

What should have been a 4 hour drive from Chicago to Rothbury, Michigan turned into a 6 hour one thanks to construction in Indiana. After setting up our tent (shout out to our site—Camp Cher) we finally stepped foot into Electric Forest and made way to the Ranch Area just in time for Brazilian Girls to join String Cheese Incident on stage to perform their classic, “Pussy.” The moment was perfect and our travel woes began to fade away into the night. String Cheese then dove into a cover of Radiohead’s “National Anthem,” and I stood back to take a moment to scan the scene. And what a scene it was—neon totems bouncing in the air, stars in the sky, people dancing, singing, hugging. We had arrived.

While String Cheese took a break before their third set of the night, we made way to the Hangar to catch Kamasi Washington. But before we reached the Hangar we walked through Sherwood Forest—and the art installations throughout the area were so mind-bogglingly gorgeous, intricate, thoughtful, and dazzling that it’s hard to describe. So much color, movement, costumes, sculptures, shrines—it was almost impossible to process what we were seeing at first glance. A magical fairyland? An interactive art exhibit? A Renaissance Faire on acid? Yes. All of the above.

We arrived at the Hangar and were stunned again, this time because the Hangar is its own little interactive village. There’s a barber shop where actual haircuts are happening, a salon where women are getting their hair done, a candy store, a tattoo parlor, Mom’s kitchen serving up apple pie a la mode, a poetry brothel (more on that to come), a rec room filled with pool tables, ping-pong tables, and even a bowling alley. And in the middle of the main room there’s Kamasi Washington and his incredible band, underneath chandeliers of light, jazzing. I have literally never seen anything like this at a festival. I’m blown away.

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TVD Live Shots:
AIR at the Auditorium Theatre, 6/20

French duo AIR—Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel—have been treating ears to their atmospheric anthems since 1995. Their debut album, Moon Safari, lived in my car stereo for the better part of my college years. So needless to say, I was thrilled to finally see them live and in color for the first time ever—and on their first US tour in 7 years.

As expected, they did not disappoint. After almost every song the crowd gave AIR a standing ovation to the point where the ovations lingered long enough for the house lights to come up. Their set was a nice mix of the band’s discography with extra attention played to Moon Safari and 2004’s Talkie Walkie.

Their tour continues in July as they make their way around Europe for the remainder of the summer. I highly recommend. Merci, AIR.

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TVD Live Shots:
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds at the Auditorium Theatre, 6/16

Enthralling. Haunting. Lovely. Tortured. Just a few words I’d use to describe Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Their shows are often referred to as religious experiences. And so the revival once again returned to the Windy City leaving the audience at the Auditorium Theatre this past Friday “stunned” and “transformed” in their own words. “Cathartic,” one friend murmured to another.

Their extensive tour—dates can be found here—continues in Portland tomorrow night. The current setlist draws heavily from Nick Cave’s latest release, Skeleton Tree, which largely deals with the tragic death of his son, Arthur, from an accidental fall.

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TVD Live Shots: Paul Simon at Huntington Bank Pavilion, 6/14

When severe thunderstorms hit Chicago late afternoon, a few hundred people had mild panic attacks on social media wondering if Paul Simon would still be able perform at Huntington Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island—one of Chicago’s outdoor venues.

Concerns began to spread on Facebook when HBP announced that they were delaying doors for the show. “What does that mean?!” people exclaimed in the comments. “Say it’s not cancelled!” However, the rain gods were kind to us—knowing that we could all use a good dose of Paul Simon right now—and the storm passed, the only damage being a 90 minute delay to Mr. Simon’s set time. Bonus: one hell of a sunset. And yes, he played well past the 11pm noise curfew.

From start to finish the crowd was on its feet. The 24-song set spanned his career but pulled from the Graceland and the Simon & Garfunkel catalog the most. No complaints here! In fact, it was one of the best shows I’ve seen all year. Mr. Simon and his small army of crazy talented musicians put on an inspired performance. Honestly, I don’t think his voice has aged. He sounds incredible.

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TVD Live: Laura Marling at the Metro, 5/7

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | The Metro was packed Sunday night with Chicagoans looking for an alternative to the Cubs game. They fought police barricades and drunken fans in the streets in order to spend the evening with England’s Laura Marling and Los Angeles’ Valley Queen. And it was well worth the fight.

Valley Queen opened the show with music to feed the soul. Lead singer, Natalie Carol’s voice was large and powerful and kept the audience silent and still. When the rock and roll began, the crowd nodded their heads in approval to the beat. Valley Queen’s debut EP, “Destroyer,” is currently available for download.

The set started with quiet percussion that led into Laura Marling’s first single, “Soothing.” Flowers and vines crawled up the mic stands as the band was illuminated in purples and blues. Haunting and sensual, Marling, made her way through the majority of her current album, Semper Femina, released earlier this year. When she stopped to welcome the audience she said, “We come to Chicago a lot. We keep coming back and back! It’s always jolly good fun.”

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TVD Live Shots: The xx and Sampha at Aragon Ballroom, 5/1

It’s been five long years since The xx’s last album and four long years since the UK-based trio performed in Chicago. Needless to say, fans have been anxiously awaiting their return.

In January they ended the wait with the release of their latest album, I See You, to critical acclaim. And on May 1st, Chicagoans were finally rewarded with a sold-out show at the Aragon Ballroom.

They even brought London singer/songwriter Sampha with them to open. He released his gorgeous debut album, Process, in February.

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TVD Live Shots:
Flaming Lips at the Riviera Theatre, 4/17

“This shit is crazy!” a Riviera Theatre security guard yelled to me, wide-eyed, as I was leaving the photo pit. I laughed and nodded.

“This is my third time seeing them and…this shit is CRAZY!” he emphasized. Yes, it is. Large balloons bounced around the sold-out venue while cannons blasted so much confetti that I’m still finding pieces of it in my camera bag. There was glitter, rainbows, inflatables (“Fuck Yeah Chicago”), streamers, and Wayne Coyne riding a unicorn through the crowd. And this was only three songs in. God, I love it when The Flaming Lips are in town.

Aside from the antics, the setlist was a pretty epic one. They covered David Bowie (“Space Oddity”) and played a chunk of songs from their suberb 1999 release, Soft Bulletin. The Lips are touring extensively right now in support of their latest album, Oczy Mlody, so seriously, don’t be a moron. Go see them. They’re unlike any other live band.

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TVD Shots Live: The Psychedelic Furs and Robyn Hitchcock at Thalia Hall, 4/8

It was a sold-out ’80s dance party at Thalia Hall this past Saturday as The Psychedelic Furs returned to Chicago with support from Robyn Hitchcock.

The crowd was transported back in time, first through Robyn Hitchcock’s surrealist folk and witty banter, followed by the nostalgic post-punk and showmanship of the Furs.

Both acts are on the road through July, Robyn Hitchcock in support of his new self-titled Yep Roc Records release which arrives in stores April 21—on vinyl.

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TVD Live Shots: Rufus Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche at City Winery, 4/6

Rufus Wainwright, accompanied by his sister, Lucy Wainwright Roche, played the first of two sold-out performances at City Winery Chicago this past Thursday.

Lucy had a lovely opening set. In between beautiful folk songs, she was personable and funny, answering audience members’ questions and telling anecdotes. When asked about her biggest musical influences, she credited her family—a most definitely talented musical family. “It’s hard to get around that,” she joked. “They kind of pummel it into you.”

Rufus’ voice is arresting. He unassumingly took the stage and with the first note out of his mouth, the crowd hushed and was instantly transfixed. His voice would stop anyone in their tracks. It’s stunning. The crowd was putty in his skillful hands as he took turns playing the piano and guitar, singing his way through his impressive and diverse discography. In the dimmed light I could see a room full of white teeth, all smiling.

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TVD Live: Sleigh Bells and Tunde Olaniran at the Metro, 3/21

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Climbing the stairs to Chicago’s Metro last Tuesday, you could feel the party had already started. Tunde Olaniran brought the perfect energy to kick off a Sleigh Bells’ show. He owned the room as he made it impossible for anyone to sit still during his high energy set.

All were made to feel welcome with signs on the stage promoting a safe space, “No Ableism. No Shaming. No Fatphobia. No Femmephobia. No Transphobia. No Racism. No Sexism.” Olaniran taught the audience new moves with two unstoppable dancers supporting him on either side. The dancers mashed ballerina techniques with hip hop and assisted Olaniran with clapping hands, becoming a vital part of the performance. Hear Tunde Olaniran’s beautiful voice and positive message on his most recent album, Transgressor, currently available on vinyl.

The audience eagerly awaited Sleigh Bells to take the stage and let them know, with great affection, when they finally arrived. The set started with strobe lights and bass that shook the venue like a storm was on the way. Vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Edward Miller were in constant motion once they took the stage; hands up, spinning, jumping, thrashing, hair blowing from a fan. The audience kept the pace as the bass filled every inch of the venue, the vibration forcing everyone to dance and keep their arms extended towards the stage. Krauss couldn’t keep herself away from the crowd either as she leaned over the front of the stage to hold hands, encourage singalongs, and occasionally crowd surfed her way back to the spotlight.

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Nikolai Fraiture: The Strokes bassist takes a turn as Summer Moon’s frontman

The Strokes bassist Nikolai Fraiture is embracing the role of frontman with his new project Summer Moon. A supergroup of sorts consisting of Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, Camila Grey of Uh Huh Her, and Noah Harmon of Airborne Toxic Event, Summer Moon’s debut release With You Tonight is in stores now.

We chatted with Nikolai in advance of the record’s arrival in the racks.

Was Summer Moon always band you were thinking about starting? How did it come about?

Summer Moon was actually more of an album title that I had a couple of years ago. Then over time the project changed and involved other people, so I thought it sounded better as a band name rather than putting it out as another solo album.

It started in my music space. I have a recording space in my home in New York. I had some songs that I was working on and then I asked some friends in New York to play and jam and kind of try to breathe life into the songs. We recorded over a lot of what I had already done and I did some recording in Austin, Texas, as well. And then finally, I hunkered down and finished the album. Then I met some musicians in Los Angeles and that’s our current lineup—Stephen Perkins, Camila Grey, and Noah Harmon.

Was it a different experience from making a Strokes album? Did you draw from different influences?

Yeah, I feel like with Summer Moon I can take a lot more risks than I would otherwise. I was listening to this genre that I stumbled upon called Italo Disco, kind of weird Italian disco from the ’70s and ’80s. The tones and the experimental nature of the synthesizers and the overall music is what influenced part of the album.

Is that a deliberate sound you were aiming for with Summer Moon?

It was kind of a blend of things. Tonally, I really liked that influence, but overall the songs are a lot longer experimental things—the structure isn’t super tight. So, blending that idea of the tones into more structured songs, like influences that I’ve had from New York all my life, mainly makes the composition of the album, rather than just that influence. It wasn’t like I heard that and then wanted to do it. It’s more like one aspect of the album.

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TVD Live Shots: Run the Jewels and The Gaslamp Killer at the Aragon Ballroom, 2/17

Run the Jewels is the greatest rap duo in the game and you should go see them live immediately. Period. Killer Mike and El-P are the real deal.

If for some reason you cannot see them live, I highly recommend downloading their latest release, Run the Jewels 3 free over at their website. And while you’re at it, check out Run the Jewels and Run the Jewels 2 as well.

If you already know Run the Jewels, first of all—congratulations. Second, check out this set list from the other night at the Aragon Ballroom.

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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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