Category Archives: TVD Chicago

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: 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: 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: 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: 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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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: 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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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 7/31

1:59 PM The Monophonics immediately catch my ear as I enter the grounds. Very soulful— I mean, you can never go wrong with Motown.

3:10 PM So far Lolla fashion has remained pretty consistent over the last few years: NBA jerseys, jorts that cover nothing, bikini tops, spandex, and Hawaiian shirts. This year’s additions to the list include pigtails, George Michael-esque cross earrings, glitter (so much), and these free Solana sunglasses that continue to get passed out to the masses.

3:22 PM Everyone is in great spirits at Perry’s for CID. Even security is particularly jovial—dancing, taking photos for fans, and squirting the crowd with water guns to keep them cool.

3:34 PM Salt Lake City’s Backseat Lovers are rocking the T-Mobile Stage.

3:54 PM Two songs into his set and Cautious Clay has shown he’s multitalented. Aside from lead vocals, he plays the flute and saxophone.

4:11 PM Passing by the Toyota Music Den, I catch a couple Sophie Cates songs during an intimate set.

4:20 PM Mt. Joy has just blasted through a few excellent covers: The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??” and Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood.”

4:43 PM Trippie Redd has not finished a full song but the crowd is pumped regardless. He tries to light a blunt but “it’s too windy. We in the Windy City!”

4:56 PM The MLB trade deadline rocked northside Chicagoans pretty hard, as the Cubs traded away fan favorites Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Báez. Consequently, the Cubs jerseys are everywhere today and some have taken liberties with them (“Fuck the Ricketts”).

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 7/30

3:32 PM: A herd of teens (probably around 30 of them) leap the Lollapalooza perimeter barricades just south of Balboa. It wouldn’t be Lolla without some fence jumpers. “Go kids! I believe in you!” screams one passerby.

4:18 PM: Blueser Jacob Banks is midway through a soulful set at the LakeShore Stage.

4:41 PM: The married duo of Elephant Heart remind me of a kinder, gentler version of Die Antwoord. Or maybe they’re like a world music Sylvan Esso? Regardless, the crowd is grooving.

5:15 PM: It’s his city; it’s his stage: Polo G is dominating. So much so that a commemorative Lolla aluminum water bottle pelts me in the shoulder while I’m in the photo pit. This is not the first time I’ve seen the special aluminum bottles launched into the air from the crowd. (By Saturday, Lolla’s valiant efforts to eliminate plastic by getting people to reuse their water bottles are finished. Too many have served as weapons, I overhear one bar volunteer say to another. “People were flinging them. It was dangerous.”)

5:26 PM: I’m really enjoying Elohim’s set. It’s a big self-love dance party. “I think we all need to be a little nicer to ourselves,” she declares to loud cheers.

5:40 PM: Number of young women I’ve seen cry-yelling at their boyfriend because they took off without them count: 4.

6:17 PM: I mix up my stages and end up at Arizona Zervas instead of White Reaper. Whoops. It’s cool, though, as it’s always fun to check out a new artist and the crowd is definitely vibin’.

6:39 PM: Boy Pablo is charming AF. Chilean–Norwegian singer songwriter Nicolas Muñoz is the only member of his band who was granted a work Visa into the US, so he’s flying solo. Overcoming his nerves, he dances around the stage singing his heart out. I’m rooting for him and so is everyone else.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 7/29

12:29 PM: It’s been 532 days since I last photographed live music. Never did I expect my show back to be a festival, let alone the largest festival since Covid-19 changed our world, but as I walk into the grounds all I feel is immense gratitude to have the opportunity to get back to doing what I love to do. It’s emotional.

12:32 PM: As promoted and promised, Lollapalooza is requesting proof of Covid-19 vaccination in order to enter Grant Park. If you are not vaccinated, you must show proof of a negative Covid test within the last three days to be allowed into the grounds. Despite the precautions taken, rumors of fake vaccination cards swirl and there’s an undercurrent of fear felt by those of us who care.

1:14 PM: From first looks, it’s apparent that butt cheeks continue to be a top fashion choice for Lollapaloozans. It’s a sea of high-waisted jorts that stop coverage just atop the butt. Some things have remained the same post-Covid, and festival fashion is clearly one of them.

2:02 PM: Pop artist MAX brings the early fest energy to the LakeShore Stage. He’s in the crowd by the third song and covering Outkast (“Ms. Jackson”) by the fifth song.

2:13 PM: The Lolla decor is minimal this year and many of the banners are repeats from 2019. Also no printed schedules. I get it—why spend money on an event that might not happen?

2:32 PM: Now MAX’s wife is on stage and he’s serenading her. Audible “awwws” from the crowd.

3:02 PM: Orville Peck is mesmerizing. Is it his deep baritone voice? His cowboy hat and fringed face mask? All of the above? One thing is for sure: he’s bringing much needed new (and queer!) life to country music and it’s fun to watch.

3:18 PM: Heading north, I pass the Toyota Music Den and Absofacto playing all new tunes. “This is really fun for me so thank you,” he says.

3:24 PM: “It’s hot! What the fuck!” Olivia O’Brien exclaims to the crowd on the north end before diving into another heartbreak anthem, “Sad Songs in the Summer.”

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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:
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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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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