Author Archives: Taylor Nettnin

TVD Live Shots: Pinegrove, Gulfer,
and Poise at Thalia
Hall, 7/26

Pinegrove finished off their two-night stand in Chicago at Thalia Hall on Tuesday, July 26 for the 11:11 Tour. Poise and Gulfer provided support for the sold out show.

Pinegrove’s 20+ setlist saw them rip through many highlights of their lengthy catalog, including their newest album 11:11, and favorites from Skylight, Merigold, and many others. Even though Thalia Hall is a larger venue, the band’s boisterous presence and thoughtful, melodic lyrics brought the crowd together in what felt like an intimate setting.

The audience felt just as important as the live show itself. Without the emotional crowd interaction, the show wouldn’t have felt as special as it did. Fans were screaming, jumping, and thrashing their bodies over the barricade, which wouldn’t be a reaction anticipated from Pinegrove’s sound. Their music touches people to the point that they need to physically express their love for the music.

The 11:11 Tour continues across North America through the end of August.

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TVD Live Shots: UMI with Dianna Lopez at Lincoln Hall, 6/30

UMI wrapped up her Forest in the City Tour with a sold out show at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, Illinois on Thursday, June 30th. Dianna Lopez provided support and warmed up the crowd before UMI made her final appearance for this run.

With incense burning, breath flowing, and bodies moving, UMI and Dianna Lopez brought their ethereal and uplifting live shows together for a moving night. Dianna Lopez set the tone for an emotional night, stopping for a moment to shed a few tears as she was overcome with emotions after the crowd openly received one of her favorite songs she had written.

With a smile on her face, UMI embraced the stage and led the crowd into a group breathing session, making sure everyone was in tune with their breathing and bodies before jumping into the music. Playing songs from her newly released album and tracks released prior, the crowd received her music with pleasure, often shouting adoration at the singer during any quiet moment they found.

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TVD Live Shots: Syd
with Destin Conrad at Thalia Hall, 6/8

Coming towards the end of her tour in support of her sophomore album Broken Hearts Club, singer-songwriter Syd sold out Thalia Hall in Chicago, IL on Wednesday, June 8th, 2022. Destin Conrad opened the show, playing tracks off of his debut project COLORWAY.

Telling the tale of her worst heartbreak through music, Syd started at the beginning of her journey and proclaimed that she had to “take these L’s and turn them into W’s.” Even though it was about a broken heart, Syd’s journey through her memories via her music felt like anything but a heartbreak, with the constant screams of adoration from the fans and the reciprocation every time Syd told the crowd that she loved them.

Syd’s upbeat vibes radiated throughout the entire venue for the duration of her set, with the crowd sweetly singing along to every word she sang. In between the tales of her broken heart, Syd mixed in a few tracks from her debut album Fin, as well as a few tracks from her band The Internet. These tracks served as a great addition to the beautiful and vulnerable tracks chosen from Broken Hearts Club. Heartbreak is not fun, but Syd knows how to turn it around into something beautiful.

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TVD Live Shots: Phoebe Bridgers at Huntington Bank Pavilion, 6/4

Multiple Grammy-nominated artist Phoebe Bridgers brought her Reunion Tour to a sold out Chicago crowd on Saturday, June 4th, 2022. Fans lined up as early as 9AM to get a chance to see the “Kyoto” singer up close, listening to music that has been described as being sadly beautiful while being vulnerable with thousands of fans alike.

Shortly after 9PM, the lights dimmed and Disturbed’s “Down With The Sickness” boomed over the speakers while the backing band entered the stage. Bridgers’ band donned the skeleton costumes she has become known for wearing, while she wore a whimsical white suit that matched her angelic vocals presented during the night. The fans in the crowd proved their loyalty to the artist, belting her lyrics so loudly and powerful, it proved that the venue was at maximum capacity.

Every track off of her Sophomore album Punisher was played, with a few tracks from her debut album, as well as a few singles sprinkled in between. Taking short breaks between some of the tracks, Bridgers addressed the crowd with varying topics, such as corporate America taking over Pride, the government’s opposition to reproductive rights and affordable healthcare, and Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

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TVD Live Shots: Pabllo Vittar with Alice Longyu Gao at the Metro, 4/25

Fresh from making history as the first drag queen to perform at Coachella, Pabllo Vittar brought her I Am Pabllo World Tour to a packed crowd at the Metro in Chicago, IL. With Alice Longyu Gao opening the show, this is the most dancing you’ll experience on a weekday afternoon all season!

Multidisciplinary artist Alice Longyu Gao set the night off on a great note with her hyperpop and upbeat dance tracks. Decked out in a colorful and trendy exemble, Alice happily hopped around the stage while the crowd reciprocated her vibes. In between songs, Alice gave the crowd plenty of words of advice for being their most authentic selves and shared words of support for the LGBTQ community. The “Legend” singer properly warmed the crowd up for the great show that was about to follow.

If you were curious about what perfection looks like, buy yourself a ticket to see Pabllo Vittar live! Sharing the stage with a few backup dancers, Vittar flawlessly executed every single dance move and hit every high note without breaking a sweat. Pushing through her hits and collaborations, such as “Flash Pose” and “Follow Me,” the Brazilian drag artist kept the crowd moving for over an hour.

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TVD Live Shots:
Oliver Tree at
Radius Chicago, 3/4

Oliver Tree brought his Cowboy Tears tour to a sold out Radius in Chicago, Illinois on Friday, March 4th. 347Aidan and Sueco were slated to open, but unfortunately Sueco suffered an asthma attack and had to cancel.

Two weeks after Oliver Tree’s sophomore album was unleashed on the world, 3,800 Chicagoans recited all the words to his new tracks as he played them live. Complete with several costume changes, a quirky set design, and hilarious banter between songs, the “Life Goes On” singer kept the crowd on their toes for the entire set.

Tapping in to the country theme of his latest album Cowboy Tears, the stage was decked out with various props to emanate a western feel, including large boulders in front of the drum set, an outhouse that would later be used for a costume change, comically large, yet still functional guitars, and a life size cow that Tree rode while belting out the lyrics to the first track released from his latest record, Cowboys Don’t Cry.

Alternative rock, indie electronic, country infusion—the night had a little bit of everything to please any and all genre-bending music fans. While Tree declared that this would be his last tour before he retired, his devoted fans are hopeful to see more from this one of a kind performer in the future. Tree’s talents are too great to hide from the world.

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TVD Live Shots: Tommy Cash at Lincoln Hall, 2/23

Multifaceted Estonian artist Tommy Cash brought his world tour to a sold out crowd at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, IL on Wednesday, February 23rd. Even though it was a work night, the crazy amount of energy emanating from the hundreds of people in the crowd made it feel like a Saturday night.

In lieu of an opening act, they played Eurobeat music to warm up the crowd. Once the house was packed, Tommy Cash brought over an hour of non stop dancing, even getting the entire crowd to fully squat down and jump back up on beat. Spitting through classic hits, like “Winaloto” and “Little Molly,” and hit collaborations, like Quebonafide’s “Benz-Dealer” and Salvatore Ganacci’s “Heartbass,” Tommy Cash didn’t skip a beat once, captivating the crowds energy and attention his entire time on stage.

A heartwarming moment happened when Tommy Cash spotted a fan holding a Ukrainian flag, which he got ahold of while smiling and proudly waving it around on stage.

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TVD Live Shots:
Majid Jordan at
Metro Chicago, 11/27

Canadian R&B duo Majid Jordan, which is the powerhouse combo of singer Majid Al Maskati and producer Jordan Ullman, stopped by the Metro in Chicago on November 27th in support of their most recent album, Wildest Dreams, which was released this past October.

The packed concert hall was mesmerized by the duo’s dreamy, bass-heavy tracks, dancing and loudly singing along with every word. Running through their new tracks and mixing in a few old favorites, they captured the audience and held on to them for their entire set.

Al Maskati’s range on the album translates perfectly live, with Ullman’s skills as a producer providing the perfect soundtrack for the crowd to dance along to, further proving that this duo is not one to miss.

You can catch the last few dates of the Wildest Dreams Tour in New York and Canada.

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TVD Live: Riot Fest, 9/19

It’s the final day of Riot Fest. Today is set to be a huge dance party, ending Riot Fest with a bang! 3OH!3, Devo, and The Flaming Lips all had their crowds moving, pumping up their energy and having them remember what we’ve all been missing since the stages went dark.

I walk around and check out the tents and spaces set up throughout the park. Goose Island has an area where people can take pictures of their bad tattoos and post it on the wall for each day. I purposely waited until today to check this out so I could see all of them. I can’t help but laugh while looking at everything. Art is subjective, but some of these tattoos are pretty questionable.

Fever 333 put on an amazing show. Not only were they highly energetic, but they also spoke out about different social issues and how we need to protect our communities, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and women in music often feeling unsafe in most spaces. It was refreshing to hear a different topic other than Covid, and I’m so glad they’re raising awareness for these important topics.

Slipknot and Machine Gun Kelly close out this year’s festival. If you stand in the perfect spot, you can see both performances at the same time. Both have packed crowds, both are putting on incredible performances.

I’m so glad we’re able to experience live music once again, even if only for a weekend.

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TVD Live: Riot Fest, 9/18

I’ve been excited about today at Riot Fest for weeks. Big Freedia is playing an early set and I know it’s going to set the bar high for the day. I thought correctly! Bringing that sweet New Orleans bounce to Chicago, Big Freedia has the crowd twerking for the entire set, even bringing a handful of fans from the crowd on stage so they could show off their moves.

I spend my afternoon catching several sets, including indie rockers Best Coast, eclectic rockers Gogol Bordello, and punk rockers Bayside.

I’m waiting to listen to prominent Chicago rapper Vic Mensa play his earlier mixtape “Innanetape” while I overhear a fan in the front row apologizing to everyone in advance because they are going to be screaming very loudly since he’s their favorite artist.

Another local Chicago act and recent lineup addition Rise Against run on stage and the crowd immediately lights up. These guys really know how to put on a show. They took a moment in the middle of their set to acknowledge the band they replaced, Faith No More, and how important mental health is. Faith No More had to cancel their appearance due to singer Mike Patton needing to take a break for his mental health.

The night is almost over, but not before Run The Jewels make their return to the headlining spot. El-P mentions thinking that their set might have been a little rusty because they haven’t performed in over a year, but as the set progresses he remarks that the set feels like winning a gold medal. This is easily one of the top performances of the fest so far.

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TVD Live: Riot Fest, 9/17

It’s officially day one of Riot Fest 2021. One pandemic, two vaccine doses, and numerous lineup changes has led us to this day. The park is packed, the sun is shining, and the drinks are flowing.

Living Colour takes the stage and jokes around that their stylist is going to hate them for not following what was laid out for them to wear, but they’re excited and talking about finally having live music in real time. I think it’s safe to say that everyone here feels the same.

The sun is blazing for most of the day. I see a guy dressed up as Where’s Waldo sitting in the shade. I take off to one of the only stages that has a decent amount of shade and catch the young guys in Beach Goons getting the crowd riled up enough to start a mosh pit.

Motion City Soundtrack has drawn a huge crowd. I’m reminded of how many hits they have as they power through them. Lead singer Justin Courtney Pierre takes a moment to thank the crowd for going out and getting the vaccine or the nose swab because they wouldn’t have been able to finally perform on a stage once again otherwise.

The sun goes down suspiciously early before Coheed and Cambria. I checked the weather the night before so I wasn’t expecting rain, but surprise! It’s pouring, but they’re still rocking. I don’t see anyone trying to run for cover. I think we’re all ready to be at a live festival once again so the rain isn’t bothering anyone.

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TVD Live: Riot Fest, 9/16

It’s been 732 days since Riot Fest last took place at Douglass Park in Chicago, Illinois, and man, it is still weird to see a large gathering of people.

Riot Fest added a special preview party on the Thursday before the festival, with limited acts performing on two of the five stages set up throughout the park. They offered free carnival rides, exclusive merch, a dunk tank, and many other special treats for limited ticket holders.

Each set had many memorable moments, one being Joyce Manor closing their set with a cover of “Helena” by My Chemical Romance, who were slated to headline in 2020, pushed it to 2021, but are now one of the sole acts already announced for the festival in 2022.

The legendary Patti Smith drew quite the crowd and you could see just how grateful she was by the smile plastered on her face and how she interacted with the audience, even having security grab a concert-goer’s vinyl copy of her 1975 release, Horses, and signing it on stage. I’m watching a man skank while Patti plays and it’s brought the biggest smile out under my mask. I am so excited to see people out and dancing once again.

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Save Our Stages:
IDER, SuperKnova,
Boy Bjorn, and Zzo at Schubas Tavern in Chicago, 1/16/20

During this period of historic uncertainty, the fight for the survival of our independent record stores is directly mirrored by the dark stages of our local independent theatres, clubs, and performance spaces which have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been cited as well that 90% of these concert venues may never, ever return.

Enter the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) whose #SaveOurStages campaign has provided a spotlight on this perilous predicament with a unique mission to “preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States.” Without help from Congress the predictions are indeed quite dire and TVD encourages you support the S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act, by telling your legislators to save independent music venues via the form that can be filled out and forwarded right here.

This week as we did last week, we’re turning our own spotlight onto previous live concert coverage as a reminder of the need to preserve the vitality of live music venues across the country—and indeed across the globe—and while we’re at it to celebrate the work of the fine photographers and writers at TVD who are all itching to get back into the pit. 

The annual Tomorrow Never Knows Fest took place from January 15th through the 19th this year at venues throughout the Chicagoland area. Created to prove that music fans will brave the cold winter to see their favorite local and nationwide indie acts, the fans did just that, traveling through bitter temps and endless snowfall.

Thursday saw London duo IDER perform in Chicago for the first time. Performing alongside them were Champaign based Zzo, Madison solo project Boy Bjorn, and the electric Chicago based SuperKnova. As the temperature got colder outside, the house quickly warmed up with all the concert goers filling the small room.

Zzo, the indie pop creation of Zoe Willott, eased the crowd into the night by performing an intimate, stripped down set that included vocals and guitar. Their sweet vocals mixed with the melodic tones helped warm up the crowd.

Boy Bjorn took the stage next, interlacing their alternative indie sounds with jokes about the Illinois and Wisconsin rival football teams. These Madison rockers exuded positive energy throughout their set, and it really resonated with the crowd that responded by bopping along to their catchy tunes.

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TVD Live Shots: Trixie Mattel at Park West, 2/19

Midwest native turned global sensation Trixie Mattel brought her Grown Up Tour to Park West in Chicago on Wednesday, February 19th. Performing a bit of stand up and some tracks from her most recent album Barbara to a sold out crowd, Trixie brought the heat and kept everyone laughing at her jokes and bopping to her songs.

The night started off with an announcer saying that Trixie was too ill to perform and they had a video for us to watch to check in on her. The video featured her Unhhh show mate Katya as a doctor, and hijinks ensued. Once the video ended, Trixie and her band stormed the stage to “We Got The Look,” on of the more up beat, pop inspired tracks from her latest album.

Going back and forth between music and stand up, with a handful of video interludes in between, the crowd was kept entertained from start to finish. Trixie Mattel has really set herself apart from other RuPaul’s Drag Race winners by proving she is a force to be reckoned with in every way. The 10 costume changes and 3 wig changes during a nearly 2 hour set is impressive in its own right!

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TVD Live Shots: Resavoir, Valebol, and Luke Titus at Lincoln Hall, 1/18

Saturday night’s Tomorrow Never Knows Fest show at Lincoln Hall saw some of Chicago’s finest musicians come together to put on a multi-genre show that felt like it could melt away the snow that was piled up outside.

Drummer and producer Luke Titus started the night off with mesmerizing drum beats mixed with catchy guitar riffs and sultry vocals. Titus shared with the crowd that he liked to name his songs after colors because he associated his emotions with colors, and when he’s writing songs he feels emotional and the color helps the music paint a picture. He really connected with the crowd, so when his time was up the audience was left wanting more.

Valebol, the pop collaboration between V.V. Lightbody and Daniel Villarreal, were up next. Mixing lyrics in different languages with vocal distortion and synthesizers got the crowd up on their feet. The highlight of their set was when they brought out their cover of Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head,” which left the crowd singing along loudly as they reminisced about this early 2000s pop hit.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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