Category Archives: TVD Chicago

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:
Beach Bunny at the Metro, 2/22

Local pop punk quartet Beach Bunny dropped their first full-length album, Honeymoon, on Valentine’s Day. A week later, they played an album release show at the Metro, a solid kickoff for their North American tour (which is completely sold out, I might add). They’ve been quite the sensation around these parts for some time now, so the national recognition is no surprise.

Beach Bunny is about to blow up, folks. Give them a listen and about 30 seconds in you’ll see why: the sound is catchy but with edge; it’s pop with depth. And it’s speaking directly to a budding new generation of music fans—as well as old farts like myself. I was witness to it on Saturday night and watching the crowd took me back to my Jagged Little Pill days.

Catch them on the road in the U.S. through May before they hop the pond to Europe in June.

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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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TVD Live Shots: Paul Cherry, V. V. Lightbody, The Ophelias, and Claude at Lincoln Hall, 1/17

Friday night of Tomorrow Never Knows Fest was a true test to see if Chicago’s biggest music fans would brave a winter storm to see their favorite artists. As the snow came down and the plows were nowhere to be seen, patrons from throughout the city came together to see Paul Cherry headline Lincoln Hall.

Solo act Claude was the first to brave the stage, connecting with the crowd with her sweet voice and soft guitar melodies. Even though she admitted to getting over a cold and not feeling her best, the Chicago musician kept it going and finished her set to cheers from the crowd.

Ohio based The Ophelias were up next, and before they even started audience members couldn’t help but comment about liking the band members personal styles. Bopping along to their classical infused, alternative indie rock setlist, they created the relaxed vibe for the rest of the night.

V.V. Lightbody was joined on stage by a full band that included a bassist, drummer, keyboardist, guitarist, saxophonist, and flutist. Perfectly entwining the wind instruments with her vocals and melodies, her set felt like a daydream. Adding a bit of comedy in between songs, Lightbody applauded the crowd for braving the snow storm and deemed them “not babies.”

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TVD Live Shots: IDER, SuperKnova, Boy Bjorn, and Zzo at Schubas Tavern, 1/16

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.

Read More »

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TVD Live Shots:
Andrew Bird at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, 12/10

The tradition began a decade ago when Andrew Bird first announced a special holiday concer—coined “Gezelligheid”—at the beautiful Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago. Since, it’s turned into a multiple night (almost) annual event. It’s a December highlight, no doubt.

This year, I attended night two of his five night sold-out stint and was mesmerized as always by Bird’s music and the grand setting of it all. The lovely Madison Cunningham opened the show and joined Bird halfway through his set.

Every duet was a showstopper, but that’s come to be the Gezelligheid concert series standard. If you know Andrew Bird, you know that his shows are unique, intimate, masterful—and not to be missed.

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TVD Live Shots: Cher
with Nile Rodgers
and Chic at the United Center, 11/27

Living legend Cher wowed the crowd at the United Center in Chicago on Wednesday, November 27th. Nile Rodgers and Chic opened the show, performing the classics “I Want Your Love,” “Good Times,” and “Le Freak,” while also throwing in some Nile Rodgers collaborations like Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” They thoroughly got the crowd warmed up for Cher.

Multi-million record selling artist Cher has lit up the entertainment industry since the 1960s, and she’s still performing at the same caliber, if not higher, as the peak of her career. Cher started off her set by floating above her immaculate stage on a flying gold platform, belting out the uplifting lyrics to the first single from her twenty-fifth studio album, Woman’s World. Surrounded by immensely talented dancers for all of her upbeat tracks, Cher’s vocals and moves kept up the whole set, making it impossible to believe that this powerhouse entertainer turned 73 this year.

Throughout the night Cher took little breaks to interact with the crowd, telling stories of different moments in her career. After a video interlude of her time with Sonny Bono and a performance of “The Beat Goes On,” Cher told the crowd that she had been going back and forth on whether she wanted to include the next song in her set or not, saying that maybe she’ll “just wait until [her] next farewell tour,” however following up with the sentiment, “Bitch, you’re 500, just do it!” This transitioned into a heartfelt rendition of “I Got You Babe,” complete with a large video projection of Sonny singing the duet along with her.

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TVD Live: FKA twigs at the Riviera Theatre, 11/15

WORDS AND IMAGES: JULIA SIMONE PAUL | The line for FKA twigs’ MAGDALENE tour at the Riviera Theatre wrapped around the building before doors even opened on Friday night. Her devout fans wanted to ensure they didn’t miss a moment of the magical experience that is a FKA twigs show. Don’t make the newbie mistake of thinking she puts on your typical singer-dancer concert. Yes, she does both sing and dance during the show—but they’re really just a few of the tools she has at her disposal to guide the audience emotionally.

This emotional shepherding began before the show even started. Ambient, pulsing music was playing as fans filled the theatre. It slowly swelled in volume as showtime came nearer, building up the anticipation. A large black curtain hid the stage from view, and as the music seemed to be reaching its apex and the house lights went dark, I expected the fabric to sweep away to dramatically reveal twigs.

Instead, she simply stepped through the middle of the curtain onto the few feet of visible stage. Clothed in a black and white outfit that looked inspired by Elizabethan era fashion (and a pair of tiny sunglasses), she had only a few white lights shining at her from either side of the stage. Twigs began a tap dance, accented with a simple music track that embellished the complex rhythms she was playing with her feet.

While this was much less elaborate entrance than I had predicted, it soon became clear that it was intentional. Just as with the music preceding the show, she was gradually building the excitement in the room. When finished with her tap dance, the white side lights began pulsing, and the music became richer. Finally, she began to sing. Her ethereal slow-jam, “Hide,” was the perfect bridge to the more upbeat numbers that followed.

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TVD Live Shots: Angel Olsen at the Riviera Theatre, 11/14

Angel Olsen is making the rounds in support of her exquisite 2019 album All Mirrors, and Thursday was Chicago’s turn to experience it live.

The Riv was packed head to toe for the occasion. As always, her voice and arrangements proved show-stopping, her band soaring behind her.

Olsen’s tour continues through the end of the year before heading to Europe to kick off 2020. Treat yourself.

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TVD Live Shots: Danny Brown and Ashnikko at the Metro, 11/7

Detroit rapper Danny Brown brought his signature style to the Metro last Thursday in support of his latest (and perhaps greatest) release, uknowhatimsayin¿.

He looks more polished than the partially toothless performer I photographed back in 2012, but his charisma live hasn’t changed one bit. Brown pulled fan favorites from all of his albums and rapped them with gusto, making for a memorable evening.

Openers Ashnikko and Zelooperz also impressed.

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TVD Live Shots: Tool at the United Center, 11/3

In August, thirteen long years after a new Tool album, the highly anticipated Fear Inoculum arrived in stores to critical acclaim. Adding to the joy of Tool fans worldwide was a tour announcement. Having digested both the new album and their live performance, it’s clear to me that the masterful wizards behind the music—Maynard James Keenan, Danny Carey, Adam Jones, and Justin Chancellor—are still as intoxicating as ever.

I wouldn’t consider Tool a readily accessible band, mainly because they’re always trying to push musical and theoretical boundaries. They don’t have “singles,” rather, concept albums that are better understood when listened to in full. The rhythms, scales, and lyrics are complex and playful.

Each member of the band is a true master of their instrument—and these are just a few of the reasons why their legions are so loyal. And that’s who really stole my attention on Sunday evening: the Tool Army. I sat and watched a stadium full of them at the United Center, moved to the core—singing, crying, feeling, fists in the air. It was powerful.

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TVD Live Shots: 23 Hour Party People at the Metro and Smartbar, 11/2

The Metro and Smartbar had one serious rager over the weekend. The party, which went on for a casual 23 hours, featured several DJs—from local favorites (DJ Heather, Michael Serafini, Garrett David, Olin and more) to international producers such as Anthony Rother, Omnidisc, and Miami’s Danny Daze.

I swung in to catch the phenomenal James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem, DFA Records) on the decks, but also caught bonus sets from Phillip Stone and Sassmouth. I could’ve easily put the camera down and gotten swept up into the music, but sadly duties called and I had to tear myself away for other work.

From what I saw eight hours in, it was clear that the party was both going strong and just getting started. Murphy’s disco-heavy, funky, extended 4-hour set saw a packed dance floor from start to finish, even mid-afternoon. Party on, party people.

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TVD Live Shots: Jinjer at Bottom Lounge, 10/22

Ukrainian progressive metal band Jinjer has been stirring up interest for the past year or so. With a stellar leading front woman in Tatiana Shmailyuk and tight instrumentalists, it’s no wonder that a number of their shows on this tour have been sold out—including Chicago’s show at Bottom Lounge.

The crowd was super pumped and hyped, calling for Jinjer to “come on out” with a silly, juxtaposed song as the backdrop to the coming metal onslaught headed everyone’s way. The band entered one by one, starting with newest member, drummer Vladislav Ulasevich who joined in 2016. Original member and guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov and bassist Eugene Abdukhanov soon followed. Tatiana walked out and “Teacher, Teacher” from their 2019 EP “Micro” immediately ensued.

Every member’s performance was on point and Tatiana didn’t hold anything back—the images will clearly show a truly electric performance. The sound and energy were relentless, giving the audience everything they hoped for—and more. It was also refreshing to see a respectful and tamer crowd given the high energy, and not seeing any crowd surfing or anyone out of control. Everyone was just genuinely enjoying the craftsmanship of the music during three songs off the band’s very recent release Macro—their fourth studio album—that arrived in stores three days after this show on October 25th.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/15

2:55PM: Where are The Village People? They’re running late so I rush over to the Rise Stage to catch Less Than Jake. The ladies of The Beaches are sounding great at the Riot Stage.

3:09PM: Less Than Jake are as charismatic in between songs as they are during them. They’re jokesters, too: “I didn’t get to see any of Slayer last night and I heard that there was a circle pit, so fuck you guys.”

3:15PM: Speaking of circle pits, apparently the largest one of the weekend has formed at the Radicals Stage for—of all acts—The Village People!

3:27PM: Shoegaze rockers Ride are lulling me into a dreamscape. I’d like to lay in the shade and daydream through their whole set—but there’s no way in hell I’m missing Dayton’s finest (Guided By Voices).

4:10PM: Robert Pollard is such a legend. In between high kicks and karate moves, he slams shots from the bottle like the old school rocker that he is. Guided By Voices continues to be such a killer band live—keep touring!

4:22PM: Local favorites Against Me! have drawn a huge crowd and for good reason—they’re playing Reinventing Axl Rose and Transgender Dysphoria Blues in full and back-to-back!

5:25PM: I wasn’t sure what to expect from The B-52’s but wow are they great. Rumored to be their last Chicago show, they’ve busted out all of the hits from their 40+ year career.

6:04PM: It’s raining a little bit but no one’s complaining. We’ve escaped the rain all weekend and for the second year in a row the weather gods have granted us three beautiful days at Douglas Park. Bob Mould isn’t phased by the rain and wails through his set.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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