Author Archives: Brigid Gallagher

TVD Live Shots: Iron
& Wine and Squirrel Flower at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11/16

Aside from getting called a “sir” by some stuffy elder docent, tonight is proving itself to be a special treat. It’s not often that I’m headed to a concert at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Gartner Auditorium itself has an impressive organ and intricate woodworking panels throughout. Alice Coltrane is flowing out of the speakers and setting the mood.

“Being in this beautiful venue reminds me of singing in the choir growing up,” Ella Williams (better known as Squirrel Flower) confessed. I get it. It’s a stunning but stiff setting, but also one that helps to showcase Squirrel Flower’s talent. She layers and loops harmonies, singing stripped-down songs of intimacy and heartache. It’s a vocal and songwriting showcase, part one.

I haven’t seen Iron & Wine live in about 20 years, but I can tell you that his music frequented my dorm rooms throughout college and beyond. So I knew that hearing his songs live after so many years would be noteworthy. But what I didn’t recall was how funny and personable Sam Beam (a.k.a. Iron & Wine) is onstage. “Here we are,” he said at one point to hearty laughter, “just a bunch of ninjas watching some dipshit on stage.”

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TVD Live Shots: Nada Surf and Pom Pom Squad at the Grog Shop, 11/15

I spent Monday night at the Grog Shop with a bunch of other cool cats who made the smart decision to see Nada Surf and Pom Pom Squad.

It’s a perfect tour pairing, as Pom Pom Squad’s sound pays homage to her riot grrrl predecessors and Nada Surf, well, practically IS the ’90s. But as I learned on Monday, they’re still pumping out great music, such as 2020’s Never Not Together. And, oh yeah—they can SHRED.

You know who else shreds? Pom Pom Squad. They’ve been on my radar, as their debut Death of a Cheerleader is one of 2021’s best albums. Frontwoman Mia Berrin acknowledged that it was the band’s first tour and you could feel it; that electric excitement in the air. The joy of realizing that you get to do what you love for a living.

“I’m so glad you didn’t lose your ticket from two years ago,” Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws laughed. Me too. More Monday night thrashers, please.

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TVD Live Shots:
My Morning Jacket
at the Auditorium Theatre, 11/5

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be here again,” Jim James said while briefly addressing the sold-out crowd at the Auditorium Theatre Friday night. “We’re so grateful to be here and share this with you all.” Jim, on behalf of literally every My Morning Jacket fan on the planet, allow me to say, “SAME!” It’s felt like an eternity since My Morning Jacket last toured, so to have a three-night run in Chicago with a unique setlist every night was like Christmas come early.

I haven’t felt such collective joy in a very long time. It was the kind of joy that literally fills every inch of space; an energy so ecstatic that it’s hard to believe the venue can contain it. The ultimate concert energy. I spent the entire show reveling in it. Aside from hearing older favorites (“I Think I’m Going to Hell,” “Mahgeetah”), it was exciting to hear some newer songs played for the first time. It’s thrilling to see how tracks from MMJ’s 2021 self-titled album, as well as 2020’s surprise The Waterfall II, translate to the stage.

My Morning Jacket’s tour concludes with another three-night run in Denver, culminating in what’s sure to be an epic NYE show. A few tickets are still available for their destination festival in Mexico—appropriately coined “One Big Holiday”—in March. And if you can’t head south of the border, look for them to be rather involved in the festival circuit in ’22.

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TVD Live Shots: Wilco and Faye Webster at the Orpheum Theatre, 10/26

Since Covid changed our lives, returning to live music has been an emotional experience for those of us in the industry. And the emotion was palpable at the Orpheum Theatre on night three of Wilco’s run in Los Angeles. About halfway through the show, a teary Jeff Tweedy took a moment to thank the band’s crew for a successful fall tour.

“We’ve done this tour without anyone in our whole organization getting sick, and that can only be done with some luck, I’m sure, but also the full commitment of the best group of people in the world that travel with us,” he said. “Everybody that works with us, the crew, they’re the best fucking people in the world. So they deserve all of the applause.” Then he joked that it was odd to look at a masked audience but “it’s not as weird as some rock shows in history I’m sure.” Truth.

The evening progressed joyfully, as even Tweedy showed off dance moves rarely seen. But it was guitarist Nels Cline’s night to shine. A native of Los Angeles, he put on a guitar Master Class, blowing minds with each new solo. Those familiar with Wilco’s live shows know that such performances are simply the standard.

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TVD Live Shots:
St. Vincent at the
Agora, 10/18

“Thank you for not being at Harry Styles tonight,” St. Vincent joked shortly after taking the stage at The Agora. No offense to Mr. Styles, who on any other night I would’ve loved to see, but there was literally nowhere else I’d rather be. St. Vincent has proven herself to be one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest treasures and any chance I get to see her perform, I take it.

A couple friends less familiar with St. Vincent joined me at The Agora and their responses post-show didn’t surprise me in the least. One said it was easily one of the best concerts she’s ever been to, and the other referred to the experience as “pivotal.”

This particular tour installment—in support of her latest album, Daddy’s Home—is ’70s-inspired and features a cityscape backdrop, sexy, silky attire, groovy choreography, and a touring band tighter than a hipster’s skinny jeans. Each song felt special, as a clear amount of consideration and craft went into them. I especially enjoyed the modifications made on earlier songs to fit the vibe of the current tour. “Your Lips are Red” was particularly face-melting.

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TVD Live Shots: Lucy Dacus and Bartees Strange at Beachland Ballroom, 10/14

When Lucy Dacus first announced her 2021 fall tour in support of her latest critically acclaimed release, Home Video, I was sad to see that Cleveland didn’t make the cut. But thanks to the misfortune of our Canadian friends (the Toronto and Montreal shows were postponed), a last minute show at the Beachland Ballroom was added and my wish granted. An added bonus? Bartees Strange opening.

Right off the bat, Bartees Strange took the crowd by surprise. They were captivated. Jumping from genre to genre seamlessly, he impressed. I could literally feel his fanbase growing.

Then it was Lucy’s turn and a similar hush fell over the Ballroom as she began with an acoustic version of “Trust.” Her lead guitarist Jacob Blizard recently tested positive for COVID (but is fortunately fine!) so “we’re changing things up,” she divulged. Bartees Strange’s bandmates took turns joining her band on stage, filling in nicely.

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TVD Live Shots: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats at Jacob’s Pavilion, 10/13

We’ve got ourselves a little bit of a second summer happening here in Cleveland and given how our winters go, I’d say we deserve it.

October has been a bonus month of outdoor shows and boy was the crowd out and ready to party with Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats at Jacob’s Pavilion. Even boats cruising along the Cuyahoga paused to listen to their soulful serenades echoing across the Flats.

The setlist was littered with fan favorites, pulling from all of their critically acclaimed albums. Opener, the lovely Margo Price (who sadly didn’t allow photography), joined the band for “Say It Louder.” After that, there was not a butt in a seat, as the sold-out crowd danced the night away.

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TVD Live Shots:
Glass Animals and Blackstarkids at Jacob’s Pavilion, 10/1

British pop rockers Glass Animals brought their good vibes to a very happy sold-out crowd at Jacob’s Pavilion last Friday. Even a massive barge floating past the venue along the Cuyahoga River seemed to be enjoying the show: a series of honks caused singer Dave Bayley to pause and acknowledge the “big fucking boat!”

The vision of their 2020 album, Dreamland, was fully realized on stage thanks to the technicolor lighting and stage design, complete with vintage computer graphics, a basketball hoop, a swimming pool diving board, and of course a pineapple (a trademark of the band since their 2016 song, “Pork Soda”). Up-and-comers Blackstarkids kicked off the night with their nostalgia-filled pop tunes. The Kansas City band’s debut album, Puppies Forever, is due out this fall.

Jacob’s Pavilion typically ends their season in September, but their extension into October has been a success—and a treat for Clevelanders who get more of an opportunity to enjoy an outdoor show before the inevitably long winter arrives. Glass Animals’ crowd took full advantage of the beautiful fall night, boogying until the bitter end.

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TVD Live Shots: Dave Matthews Band at Blossom Music Center, 9/29

“I like Blossom!” Dave Matthews blurted out after concluding an inspired version of “The Stone” with his stellar backing band.

He’s not a talker on stage, so hearing Dave say anything other than his signature “Thank you very much,” sent the crowd into a tizzy. On a perfect fall night—the last at Blossom Music Center until next season—DMB delivered exactly what their fans have been yearning for since the original show date was postponed back in 2020: a full-on jam.

Pulling from their 30-year catalog, DMB plowed through many fan favorites (“Pig,” “The Song That Jane Likes”) and some signature covers (Prince’s “Sexy MF” being my personal favorite). Nostalgia was thick in the air, as I overheard several fans reminiscing about seeing Dave at Blossom in high school (me included). Their tour continues through November, ending with a two-night run at Madison Square Garden.

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TVD Live Shots:
Big Freedia at the
Grog Shop, 9/23

The Grog Shop kicked off their 29th anniversary weekend with a little New Orleans flair. The queen of bounce, the queen diva herself, Big Freedia, brought the dance party to Coventry Road last Thursday night.

“It’s time to see some azz every-fucking-where,” Freedia declared before bringing a handful of booty-shaking audience members onstage to show off their twerking skills. “You’re here to let that shit go and wiggle!”

On stage or not, there was not a still body in the house. Even the bartenders couldn’t resist Freedia’s beats. From her older hits (“N.O. Bounce”) to her latest (“Goin’ Looney”), Big Freedia kept everybody moving. Her BDE (Big Diva Energy) Tour continues through October and if you’re looking to sweat up a dance floor, then I suggest you grab yourself a ticket.

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TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival, 9/12

4:55 PM: Another perfect Pitchfork sunset. “I feel so held by you guys. Thank you so much,” Caroline Polachek says in between songs, her big smile radiating.

5:33 PM: Thundercat is so damn avant garde he just burped into the mic. His fingers move so rapidly and precisely across his bass, it’s as if they’re computerized.

5:49 PM: My surprise of the festival? Yves Tumor. Backed by a full-piece band, they are genre-less in that so many genres are applicable to their music that it’s impossible to pick just one. I’m intrigued—and digging the Slipknot shirt and knee-high boots.

6:56 PM: The largest rat I’ve ever seen—literally a footlong—just scurried across the lawn while several of us stared, paralyzed in horror.

7:23 PM: Compared to other festivals, Pitchforkers are a kind, fashionable and—because of the high hipster population—fairly boring crowd. That’s not a diss. I appreciate the lack of litter and medic calls.

7:40 PM: Flying Lotus’ set is a visual and euphonic journey. He head-bangs and spins behind a large screen that transforms from one image to the next. His buddy, Thundercat, fist-pumps side stage.

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TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival, 9/11

2:54 PM: There are many reasons to love Pitchfork Music Festival, but one area they excel at compared to other fests is performer diversity. You will not see only male musicians or only white bands headlining Pitchfork. In fact, this year’s headliners are all females—and powerhouses, I might add. It brings me immense joy to see such a female-heavy lineup, and today’s one in particular has me giddy. St. Vincent, Jamila Woods, Kim Gordon, Angel Olsen, Waxahatchee and more are all performing today. It’s the coolest Lilith Fair I’ve ever attended.

3:12 PM: “I’ve been wanting to play this festival for a decade!” Divino Niño exclaims. “Dream mother fucking come true!”

3:42 PM: It’s Amaarae’s first time on stage in two years, but she’s in prime form. People are grooving to her particular brand of Afro-soul and currently singing along to her cover of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.”

3:45 PM: Bartees Strange quit his job a year ago yesterday to pursue music, he tells the audience during his interview in the DoorDash members area. I would say he made a good choice.

4:43 PM: Well, I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting to hear St. Cloud live since its release last year and the moment has finally arrived. Waxahatchee looks radiant, like a poster child for CottageCore, as she strums her acoustic.

5:28 PM: Faye Webster is worthy of the hype. The sun is dancing through the trees by the Blue Stage, adding to the overall dreaminess of the music and the moment.

5:43 PM: “So how’s Prada?” (Questions you overhear at Pitchfork.)

5:58 PM: Ty Segall is doing what he does best: wailing on the guitar. It’s awesome! In between capturing a few crowd surfers, I hear a “We’re not worthy” from the crowd.

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TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival, 9/10

1:15 PM: Aaaaand Pitchfork Music Festival ’21 is officially underway! If there’s a festival worthy of early arrival, it’s Pitchfork. There is always at least one musical act that surprises you, and in this case, it’s the first set of the weekend. NYC Hip hop duo Armand Hammer (Elucid and Billy Woods, who requested no photos of his face) whip through tracks from their latest excellent release (produced by The Alchemist), this year’s Haram.

1:27 PM: There’s a new addition to the Pitchfork campus here at Union Park and it’s the DoorDash member area. Along with band interviews all weekend long, they’re serving seats, shade and—most importantly—free bites from some of Chicago’s best restaurants. Today, it’s Avec and Dove’s Luncheonette.

2:00 PM: Dogleg have my early vote for one of the best sets of the weekend. They’re pumped to be here and proving it with some impressive theatrics: cartwheels, somersaults, and headbanging of course. The crowd is coming alive.

2:15 PM: I could spend some serious money and the Flagstock Poster Fair, but then I’d have to carry the posters around with me for the rest of the day. It’s the only thing saving my bank account.

2:20 PM: The Chirp Record Fair is small but mighty this year and Pitchforkers are wasting no time to peruse the stacks.

2:47 PM: The crowd is filling in for Chicago’s own Dehd. The trio had one of my favorite albums of 2020, Flower of Devotion and it’s sounding just as great live.

3:06 PM: Where is DJ Nate?! So far he’s 21 minutes late for a 45-minute set.

3:43 PM: Singer Frances Quinlan’s voice shines during Hop Along’s set at the Red Stage. The sun soaked crowd is happily dancing along.

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TVD Live Shots: Dead & Company at Blossom Music Center, 9/7

Dead & Company kicked off the midwest portion of their summer tour on a perfect night at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio with a rousing rendition of Sam Cooke’s “Good Times.” It was then that I knew we were in for a special night. But when it comes to the Grateful Dead, it’s usually always a special night.

Original Dead members Mickey Hart (drums), Bill Kreutzmann (drums), and Bob Weir (guitar), as well as Oteil Burbridge (bass), Jeff Chimenti (keys), and John Mayer (guitar) are in their sixth year of touring together as Dead & Company and their chemistry continues to be undeniable. The first set featured “Next Time You See Me,” a song they haven’t played live since 2008, but it was the second set that really took the show to the next level.

Mayer continues to shine on “Althea,” and Otiel taking lead vocals on “Fire of the Mountain” was a treat. “Eyes of the World” bled into one of the more creative “Drums/Space” sections I’ve heard in years. Dead & Co concluded with “Not Fade Away,” which seemed to magically duet with the lightning off in the distance. The crowd begging for more, the fellas returned to the stage for an encore of “Brokedown Palace.”

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 8/1

9:56 AM My phone dings with an announcement from Lollapalooza that Da Baby will no longer be headlining or performing at all because the fest “was founded on diversity, inclusivity, respect and love.” Given his recent homophobic rant, I’m all for this move.

1:12 PM Another perfect day here in Chicago. We’ve really lucked out! The weather has been ideal all weekend.

2:07 PM I am at least a football field away from Perry’s but the bass is vibrating throughout my body. A sound healing.

2:59 PM Princess Nokia has brought nothing but great vibes. She’s crowd-surfed, offered motivation (“Be who you wanna be!”) and danced her ass off. “I got my start in the New York City gay club night scene and it’s amazing that I’m on the main stage here at Lollapalooza.” She deserves the opportunity.

3:29 PM Toosii just made two fans’ day. Seeing that they were screaming and crying at the sight of him, he decides to bring them on stage for the remainder of his set. They are ecstatic, but instead of being in the moment, hold their phones in front of their faces and hit record.

4:03 PM There have been at least a handful of TikTok stars performing here this weekend. Maybe I’m just old now but the music is, for the most part, pretty fucking bad.

4:06 PM Speaking of TikTok stars, JXDN brings out special guest (and girlfriend) Nessa Barrett for a “la di die” duet.

4:39 PM Brittany Howard is crushing Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life” but I’m honestly not surprised because she’s a real talent. The voice, the guitar, the moves—she’s got it all. And the musicians supporting her are pretty incredible themselves. I recognize Alabama Shakes’ bassist Zac Cockrell as one of them.

4:57 PM A group of guys are fighting because one of them dragged the group to Steve Aoki. They’re apparently still bitter about missing Miley.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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