Author Archives: Brigid Gallagher

TVD Live Shots:
Riot Fest, 9/17

3:15PM: Pesky rain pushed the Riot Fest gates today. A bunch of the bands on the front end of the lineup lost their set times. A true bummer, but a festival reality.

4:08PM: Brit rock and shoegaze pioneers, Ride seem to have coaxed the sun out of hiding. Their songs are the perfect musical accompaniment to the much appreciated warm rays.

4:55PM: AFI’s Davey Havok pauses their high energy emo punk set to give some love to this evening’s headliners, The Cure. “Every band playing here…was influenced by The Cure.”

6:12PM: The Dresden Dolls are performers through and through. They look to be having the time of their lives up there—the fans sure are! The reunited duo also busted out some great covers, including Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right” with surprise guest, former Hole and Smashing Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf der Maur.

6:59PM: It’s been a bit of an anticlimactic day because of the rain delay and photography restrictions for certain bands, such as The Mars Volta. I feel like the day has just begun but we’re winding down to a close. While I would’ve loved to photograph The Mars Volta, I’m grateful to have been witness to their commanding, hypnotic set.

8:31PM: There’s no shortage of tears during The Cure’s Riot Fest finale set. It’s an emotional and fitting ending to a weekend packed with memorable moments.

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TVD Live Shots:
Riot Fest, 9/16

2:03PM: Punk Rock and Paintbrushes has a pretty sweet little gallery tent to the left of Riot Fest’s Roots Stage. It’s filled with musician originals, including work from Dave Navarro, Chad Smith, Matt Skiba and more.

2:34PM: Jehnny Beth is a force. Her solo work is less punk rock and more industrial than her work with Savages. No one seems to care about the rain; all eyes are on her as she caps off her set with an excellent cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.”

3:19PM: At least 30 couples are getting married at Riot Fest this weekend and I just got to witness one of them. Congrats to the happy newlyweds, who if I’m not mistaken, were both named Brynn!

3:36PM: You can always expect to see the following at Riot Fest: mohawks, witty t-shirts, black on black on black, Doc Martens, kilts, tattoos for days, lots of eyeliner. And today: juggalos and juggalettes.

4:02PM: “We’re Sweden’s third worst band,” lead singer of the Viagra Boys, Sebastian Murphy, jokes. Their dance punk set is a party and the crowd surfers are out.

5:00PM: With Head Automatica, Daryl Palumbo explores his indie rock side. It’s a different vibe than the hardcore style of Glassjaw, but compelling nonetheless.

5:16PM: Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls have attracted a massive crowd over at the Rise Stage. With confessional lyrics and an energetic stage presence, I can see why.

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TVD Live Shots:
Riot Fest, 9/15

12:45PM: Riot Fest is back in Chicago for its 18th year and the lineup is stacked, as has come to be expected from the three-day (primarily) punk and metal festival. This fest in particular has a knack for convincing bands to reunite, convincing bands to play albums in full, and convincing bands who seldomly tour to dust off their instruments for a romp.

1:02PM: Nashville and Third Man Records’ Olivia Jean gets things going on a perfectly sunny Friday in Douglass Park. The look is rockabilly goth and the sound is garage rock.

1:41PM: When I was younger, my love of Elliott Smith led me to discover a slew of Portland, Oregon bands, one of whom was Quasi. So it’s awesome to see Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss recording music and touring together again.

2:18PM: George Clinton is 82 years young and still funkin’ touring! Parliament Funkadelic are tearing the roof off the sucker, wasting no time playing the hits.

2:44PM: I’m a sucker for political lyrics, especially if you happen to be a British band, so Yard Act is an early highlight. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.

3:39PM: Kim Gordon saunters around the stage while her young, talented band rips. She’s in no rush; she’s in command.

4:37PM: While I listen to The Interrupters cover Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” I wander around the grounds, checking out the Logan Square Arcade tent and Riot Mall. The arcade has some pretty sweet games, including several Foo Fighters pinball machines, and the mall has a lot of vendors selling hemp edibles to teenagers. I catch some skateboarders on the halfpipe before making my way to the Rise Stage for my most anticipated set of the day.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 8/6

2:14PM: We’ve got clouds and some more rain today but Bakar and band are doing their best to lift the soggy spirits of Lollapaloozans. The British singer pulls a crowd early in the day, despite the weather.

3:00PM: Duo Neil Frances—not to be confused with Chicago musician Neal Francis—kick off a shimmery set full of indie electropop at the Bud Light stage.

3:58PM: The only disappointing note about Big Boss Vette’s set was its length. Clocking in at about half of the 45 minute slot, my guess is that she just needs a few more songs to fill out her show. I loved seeing her perform “Pretty Girls Walk” live.

5:13PM: Lil Yachty has one of the best albums of 2023, in my opinion, Let’s Start Here. In a surprising departure from his trap rap, the album is a funky, psychedelic journey. It sounds even better in person, but I wonder why he didn’t take this opportunity to have a full band backing him?

5:22PM: Shout out to the badass dude who just crowd surfed in his wheelchair.

5:33PM: After four days of observation, I’ve made a list of Lolla ’23 fashion trends: bubble braids, cowboy hats with fringe, long skirts, jerseys, of course, Barbie-themed apparel, heart-shaped sunglasses, facial art/bedazzlement, bucket hats, animal ears, plant sprouts on hats.

6:04PM: The Joey Bada$$ crowd continues to expand, sporadically chanting “JOEY!” and for good reason—he’s commanding the stage with finesse and ease, all while preaching love and positivity. And it doesn’t hurt that Chance the Rapper joins him for a couple songs.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 8/5

1:03PM: The early Saturday story? Rain. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen anything but sunshine at Lolla, so we’re due. Fortunately the rain isn’t accompanied by thunder or lightning, so no evacuations are necessary. Waterproof gear temporarily covers Saturday’s fits. “Do my shoes go with this poncho?” I overhear someone asking.

2:09PM: The Linda Lindas rule. A couple Lindas are rocking braces. This tracks, as the oldest member is a mere 18 years old. Still, the quartet seem seasoned for their age. They are punk, after all.

3:05PM: Charlotte, NC’s Mavi is on the rise, especially since his 2022 critically acclaimed album, Laughing So Hard, It Hurts. He is all smiles at the Bacardi stage and so are his fans.

4:22PM: Model, actress, photographer, musician?! Suki Waterhouse can do it all. She commands the stage, all of her abilities combining to give a polished performance.

5:05PM: Sylvan Esso has a new fan base and it’s K Poppers. The minute the first beat drops, the crowd, who’ve already been waiting for headliners Tomorrow x Together in the rain for hours, release a big, satisfied cheer and commence dancing.

5:42PM: I’m back on the south end in time to see The Revivalists cover Radiohead’s “High and Dry.” “This is that Tom Green song,” I hear a teen say to another. Wrong Thom, kiddo.

7:05PM: One of my most anticipated sets of the weekend, J.I.D., turned into one of the best sets of the weekend. The Atlanta rapper is hugely talented and dropped one of the best albums of 2022 (The Forever Story). His set reinforced his lyrical skills and was capped off with a double rainbow. Maybe that was a gift from Mac Miller, who J.I.D. represented on his shirt.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 8/4

3:17PM: There are times during a festival weekend when an artist impresses me so much that I don’t want to leave the set to head to the next one. Such is the case with Sudan Archives, who’s proving to be a performer with a capital “P.” A love of Irish music prompted her to pick up the violin, which lead to the development of her own style incorporating R&B, hip hop, and electronic sounds. Check out her critically acclaimed 2022 album, Natural Brown Prom Queen, if you haven’t already.

3:44PM: “You’ll definitely see me. I’m wearing a black jersey,” a guy on his phone claims, as he stands in a sea of humans at Buckingham Fountain. It makes me giggle, as there are literally thousands of men in jerseys wandering around.

4:21PM: Beebadobee fans have shown up in full force, many with handwritten signs and strong vocal chords for screaming. Filipino-English singer/songwriter Bea Kristi’s bedroom indie songs hit home with her listeners, as their chorus of voices sing along to every word.

5:15PM: I haven’t checked out the BMI Stage yet, and Nashville’s Charlotte Sands seems like a perfect opportunity to do so. She serves up some serious emo headbangers.

6:20PM: It’s time for a Foals dance party and I’m soaking it all up because they’ve acknowledged, as they wrap up their tour, that they won’t be back in the States for “quite some time.” I use this knowledge as an excuse to watch their whole spectacular set.

7:21PM: This is my first time witnessing the extravaganza of 30 Second to Mars in person and I’m taking it all in. Jared Leto has just leapt from the top of the Bud Light stage down to the crowd, where band flags wave and fans look on in amazement. It dawns on me that I’m at the church of the Leto brothers (Shannon is on drums) and, from what I can gather, they have quite a few members.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 8/3

1:34PM: Let the festivities commence! The crowds are descending upon Grant Park in downtown Chicago for one of the largest and longest-running music festivals in the world. It’s a hot one today in both temperature and schedule: later tonight, Karol G and Billie Eilish will close out night one of Lollapalooza 2023. Both will be making history this evening: Karol, as the first Latina Lolla headliner ever; and Billie, as the majority of her show will be solar powered.

2:19PM: Sydney, Australia’s Angus Stone, better known as Dope Lemon, kicks off my Lollapalooza with some bluesy, psychedelic rock. The band is looking good—maybe a little hot?—in their maroon suits.

3:05PM: Joy Oladokun is making the crowd laugh in between serenading them with her voice. “I get stoned in my attic and write songs,” she admits. This is a winning system. Later, when a fan belts “I love you!” she reciprocates. “I love you too. That’s why I left my dog to be here.”

3:24PM: Junior Mesa is writing great music and he’s only 19. Vulnerable lyrics with a glam rock-y sound. I’m glad I caught a glimpse of the budding indie talent at the Toyota Music Den.

5:29PM: NYC duo Sofi Tukker has brought stage props, as in a literal playground. They’re climbing jungle gyms, spinning on a merry-go-round, and dropping beats that make you want to move your body.

6:51PM: The Bacardi stage is a favorite of mine, nestled in the trees in the northwest part of the park. It’s a perfect stage for Montreal dream poppers, Men I Trust. Couples sway to the breezy tunes.

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TVD Live Shots: Danny Brown and JPEGMafia at the Agora, 7/29

This year, beloved underground hip hop genre-benders, JPEGMafia and Danny Brown, teamed up for a joint album and a co-headlining tour.

To our delight, they included a stop in good ol’ Cleveland at the Agora Ballroom. The show was cleverly divided into segments, with the two sharing the stage to perform songs from their Scaring the Hoes collaboration before mini solo sets featuring some of their individual hits.

As anticipated, it was a high energy show, and one that made me wish I had even 2% of JPEGMafia’s stamina. The youthful crowd was elated and sang along, moshed, and crowd-surfed themselves into a sweaty, happy frenzy. The tour concludes at the end of the month, but here’s hoping there’s more to come from these two.

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TVD Live Shots:
Jenny Lewis at the
House of Blues, 7/13

Not long after her stint opening for Harry Styles, everyone’s favorite psychedelic country songstress, Jenny Lewis, is back on the road with a new album and a headliner slot.

The album—and tour—entitled Joy’All is doing just that: giving folks immense joy in both sound and sight. And on the day of her Cleveland stop at the House of Blues, she received some joyful news herself—her single, “Psychos,” hit #1 on the Adult Alternative Airplay chart. A nice honor for a musician who’s delivered several songs throughout the years deservant of a #1 slot.

As for the concert itself, it was everything I’ve come to expect from a Jenny Lewis show: a showcase of her beautiful voice and lyrical transparency; a top tier backing band; lots of sparkles; some cherry chapstick; a phone call from a dog; balloons with said dog’s face on them (cheers, Bobby Rhubarb); and some hearty belly laughs. Hop on the Joy train, y’all!

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TVD Live Shots: Re:Set Concert Series, 6/25

COLUMBUS, OH | Shout out to the Re:SET crew for handling severe weather threats in the Columbus area intelligently and with little attendee experience lost. Instead of barreling ahead as planned, Re:SET bumped up the start of the day by several hours and shortened set times. The result? Fans got to see all acts on the lineup before the weather hit the area.

Foushee, who has collaborated with Steve Lacy and James Blake on some seriously great songs, had the crowd in the palm of her hands from start to finish. She’s got the “it” factor. And how the hell is she not dripping sweat in those leather pants?!

Up next was Toro y Moi, a band that I’ve been rocking with since their 2010 debut, Causers of This. As expected, lead Chaz Bear and band brought the vibes with their sexy, funky mix of chillwave grooves – and a little “Party in the USA” riff for fun.

James Blake’s sound is so distinct: the voice; the keys; the fusion of R & B and electronic; and the commitment to analog equipment and live mixing. He’s a rare gem.

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TVD Live Shots: Re:Set Concert Series, 6/24

COLUMBUS, OH | Yesterday’s Re:SET crowd was a beautiful, queer collective of youth who packed themselves as close to the stage as possible to be as close to the boygenius aura as possible. Today’s crowd? Hot gays, middle-aged couples, and noticeably chiller vibes. Less lines and more dancing. It’s LCD Soundsystem day, after all.

L’Rain—who won the merch game with her “I can’t stand L’Rain” shirt—took instant command of the crowd with her howling (yes, howling). What followed was a jazzy, avant-garde set by Taja Cheek and her excellent band.

Powerhouse performers Idles absolutely dominated the next hour. I find it fun to scan the crowd when Idles is onstage because you can immediately tell who’s witnessing their mastery for the first time. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that they’re one of the greatest live bands you could possibly see right now.

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TVD Live Shots: Re:Set Concert Series, 6/23

COLUMBUS, OH | June saw the birth of a new music festival concept: the Re:SET Concert Series featured daily band lineups that rotated between three cities in surrounding areas before moving on to the next group of cities.

Headliners for each day (LCD Soundsystem, boygenius, Steve Lacy) were able to curate their lineups, making it a more pleasurable experience for artists and fans alike, none of whom had to deal with scheduling hassles that are often common with festivals.

First up in Columbus was boygenius’ day, featuring Bartees Strange, Dijon, and Clairo. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Bartees Strange multiple times since he made the switch from day job to musical career in 2020. Each time, he takes leaps and bounds as a performer and this was no exception. Next up was Dijon, who sang his damn heart out. His soulful, vulnerable set built to an emotional crescendo.

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TVD Live Shots:
50th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 6/18

TELLURIDE, CO | I began my final day at TBF 50 listening to some finalists for the 30th Annual Troubadour Competition at Elks Park. The contest, as well as the Annual 36th Band Competition, has a knack for discovering talent. Past winners include The Chicks (1990), Greensky Bluegrass (2006), and Gregory Alan Isakov (2007) to name a few. Caitlin Cannon, Jackson Emmer, and Rob Drabkin all showed why they were chosen as finalists this year.

After enjoying their songs and stories, I wandered around town and listened on my headphones to Yasmin Williams playing over at the main stage via the KOTO livestream. A self-taught musical wiz (who developed an interest thanks to Guitar Hero 2), Williams’ guitar style is unique, innovative, and wholly hers. The crowd buzzes about her for the rest of the day.

Known by Festivarians as the Queen of TBF, Emmylou Harris put on a lovely late afternoon set with accompaniment by Watchhouse (formerly Mandolin Orange). During the acoustic set, with highlights including “If I Needed You” and a beautiful Nanci Griffith cover of “Gulf Coast Highway,” I felt the crowd quiet and settle into the harmonies and picturesque backdrop.

Things got a little rowdier once the Telluride House Band hit the stage. Sam Bush, Béla Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Bryan Sutton, and Stuart Duncan gave everyone their bluegrass fix (with an Alison Krauss sighting as well) before indie crooner, Gregory Alan Isakov.

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TVD Live Shots:
50th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 6/17

TELLURIDE, CO | Well, after two days of rough weather at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, we have ourselves a magnificent Saturday. The surrounding San Juan Mountains have a fresh coat of snow on their peaks, enhancing the already breathtaking views, and the sun is out and shining. Festivarians are feeling it—many of whom while wearing gold in honor of 50 years of Telluride Bluegrass.

Sierra Ferrell. Yeah, she kinda stole the whole damn festival. Her set was all I heard about for the rest of the weekend and rightfully so. It was memorable, captivating, and fun. There’s no denying her talent and presence. She’s a bonafide star. All eyes were on her, even when Peter Rowan and Jerry Douglas joined her for a couple songs.

“We specifically asked you to throw marshmallows at Nickel Creek this year,” Yonder Mountain String Band bassist Ben Kaufmann joked as the popular campfire delicacies launched with a steady pace from the crowd to the stage. The marshmallow toss is a bit of a tradition for Yonder, and the smiles that ensue from it are contagious. The fan favorites gave the crowd a solid jam sesh, pausing to rip shots with Sam Bush, Tim O’Brien, and Jerry Douglas, who joined them for a few songs.

Twenty years have passed since Mary Chapin Carpenter graced the TBF stage, so it was a much anticipated return for the singer/songwriter who reached new heights of success after her 1990 set at TBF. She busted out all the hits including “Passionate Kisses” and “I Feel Lucky,” and her performance turned into a full blown dancing sing-a-long.

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TVD Live Shots:
50th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 6/16

TELLURIDE, CO | Friday morning, I arrived at the park in time to witness my favorite Telluride Bluegrass Festival tradition: the tarp run. The bagpipes blare, signaling that the gates are about to open, upon which hundreds of Festivarians race to claim their small plot of music-viewing land for the day. Blankets are thrown down, tarps are nailed into the soil, and the celebrations begin.

The Northern Californian duo of Paige Anderson and Emilie Rose, otherwise known as Two Runner, kicked off Friday’s lineup with their modern mix of country folk. It was a rare moment of sunny skies on a Friday that saw a record two festival evacuations due to vicious hail and lightning. I was hiding from the rain and listening to a livestream of TBF (thanks, KOTO!) when I was so overcome by the music of Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba that I just had to see them live.

I got to the stage in time to see a few songs before their set was cancelled early because of—you guessed it—weather. The Mailian band, Ngoni Ba (Aminata Sacko, Mamadou Kouyate, Mahamadou Tounkara, Moctar Kouyate) lead by ngoni master Bassekou Kouyate, visibly wowed the crowd. It was one of the best performances of the weekend by a landslide, so thanks to Béla Fleck for getting them in the lineup.

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