Category Archives: TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots: Baby Gravy at the Aragon Ballroom, 11/22

On Tuesday, November 22nd, Baby Gravy headlined the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Baby Gravy consists of frequent collaborators Yung Gravy and bbno$ (baby no money). The duo have released an EP and an album together, titled “Baby Gravy EP” and Baby Gravy 2, as well as multiple singles on each other’s solo projects, so it was only fitting that they share the stage for a tour.

Rather than performing a full set each, Yung Gravy and bbno$ structured their co-headlining set so that they would perform a handful of songs together and then an individual set of a few songs each, repeating this set up before ending the show together. The animated videos they played before each mini set helped guide the tone, showing the duo in comedic situations that the crowd went wild for.

It’s no secret that the rappers are popular, dominating Tik Tok and making award show appearances, so it was no surprise that they would draw a rowdy crowd. Lining up for hours before the doors opened and then smashing into the venue like sardines, bbno$ had to stop mid song to point out an attendee that needed medical attention. It was endearing to see how much both of the rappers cared about their fans, making it a point throughout the night to pass out multiple cases of water to the crowd so they could stay hydrated and enjoy the show.

Another endearing moment is when Yung Gravy called for the crowd to throw as many bras as they possibly could on stage, explaining that they donate all of the bras they collect to different charities in every city. Once he shared this information, a sea of bras littered the stage.

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TVD Live Shots: Måneskin at the Aragon Ballroom, 11/17

Måneskin have had a whirlwind of a career over the last few years. They came in second place on the Italian version of X Factor in 2017, won the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Italy in 2021, have played countless sold out concerts, made award show appearances, drawn huge crowds at festivals, and now a Grammy nomination in the Best New Artist category. All of this while still in their early 20s. So it was no surprise that when they headlined the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago on November 17th for their Loud Kids Tour, the crowd drew anyone and everyone from the city and surrounding states.

It’s not often that a band is able to pack a venue without any opening bands to fill the waiting time, but Måneskin did exactly that. Homemade signs and various flags were seen flying around the crowd, while everyone dressed in their best rock ’n’ roll outfits chanted for the band to take the stage for over an hour and a half before the lights finally went down.

Even though they’re young, Måneskin have mastered the classic rock moves and have engineered them in a way that sounds unlike anyone else. Their live show proves their musical abilities and serves as a love letter to their fans, showing them the upmost appreciation for following them on their journey. They constantly come down to the barricade and interact directly with the audience, and they even hand out wristbands to anyone in the first few rows who are really enjoying themselves, which allows them to dance on stage with the band before their encore.

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TVD Live Shots:
Eshu Tune at the
Chop Shop, 11/11

On Friday, November 11th, 2022, Eshu Tune, the musical moniker of the multi-talented Hannibal Buress, released a new single titled “Knee Brace,” and subsequently threw a release party in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois.

With comedy laced in his music, and a few quick jokes in between tracks, fans of the comedian Hannibal Buress will be just as entertained seeing him perform musically as Eshu Tune. His latest single “Knee Brace” proves this tenfold. With the same effortlessness he uses to nonchalantly drop some of the funniest jokes throughout his standup career, Eshu Tune has the same effortless jokes, dropped in with a smooth flow.

The release day for “Knee Brace” proves this even more,with Buress going on Chris Cuomo’s live show and playing his new single repeatedly instead of answering questions. Buress talked about this during the release party, laughing through the entire story. And his laughter was infectious as he had the entire crowd busting up while talking about his day. Just as he captivates the audience as Hannibal, he captivated the those assembled with smooth vocals paired with his hilarious lyrics.

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TVD Live Shots:
Young the Giant at Aragon Ballroom,

You know them for their nostalgic hit “Cough Syrup,” but Young the Giant is here to dedicate their voice to a higher cause than just catchy tunes.

Releasing their first album in four years American Bollywood, lead singer Sameer Gadhia writes on the band’s Instagram, “This record is about identity, belonging, family, sacrifice, love, and mysticism… About the country and world we saw in the mirror of our deep isolation, and our fight to reclaim who we are; who we deserve to be.”

From Gadhia’s Indian heritage to Persian, Italian, Canadian, and British band members, the group is no stranger to immigration struggles, racism, and the isolation that is felt around the world today—a point that hits just the right note throughout their album without ever feeling preachy.

While the raw vulnerability of this release will be enjoyed through streaming platforms in your day to day life, seeing the emotion of the band live was short of a religious experience. Looking back on pictures from the opening act, you can see the goosebumps on Gadhia’s arms as he sang to the crowd “American dreams were hard to conjure, without a bed to sleep in.”

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TVD Live Shots:
Joji at the Aragon Ballroom, 10/7

Joji brought his Smithereens tour to Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom for a two night, sold out run on October 6th and 7th. Even though it was raining, fans lined up all day to see the 88 Rising star take the stage in front of 5,000 like minded attendees.

Originally starting his career as a YouTuber known as Filthy Frank and The Pink Guy, Joji transitioned into a more serious music career in the mid-2010s, trading his comedic genre for R&B and trip hop. You can still see his YouTube and meme influence in his current performance, where he throws in a few jokes between songs and does over the top dancing during some of his tracks.

Joji is constantly connected with his fans throughout the night, speaking about how thankful he was that the fans waited in the rain to see him. He also made it a point to throw merchandise in the crowd throughout the night, even building a canon-like machine meant to hurl the shirts at the crowd.

He also brought out a performer local to the Chicagoland area to highlight the importance of supporting your local artists. The man he brought out dresses up as the character “Wolverine,” and also bartends. Joji let him plug his social media before moving on to the next song.

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TVD Live Shots: Matt Maeson at the House of Blues, 10/6

From humble beginnings performing at a Chik-fil-A open mic night (yes, really) to now selling out back to back nights at the House of Blues in Chicago, Matt Maeson has exceeded even his own expectations in conquering the musical industry.

Initially finding fame after the release of his debut single “Cringe” in 2016, Maeson went on to perform around the world, garnering fans for his laid back approach to music and lyrical ingenuity.

Best known for his hit “Hallucinogenics,” (which has a casual 130 million+ listens on Spotify) Maeson once tweeted “Yes, I am aware that ‘Hallucinogenics’ is not an actual word but rather than basque in my own stupidity I praise myself for being so innovative that I created a word,” and in my opinion that sums up the tone of many of his previous songs—innovative.

His latest project released earlier this year, Blood Runs Red, continues to showcase Maeson’s unique gift for songwriting. Based on success and grappling the heightened ego it brings, if you’re new to Maeson’s music, this head banger-inducing beat is a fantastic place to start.

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TVD Live: Riot Fest, 9/18

It’s the final day of Riot Fest Chicago 2022. Today’s lineup has to be the most stacked. I’m having a hard time deciding which bands I’ll catch and which I’ll have to skip. If I could have a time machine so I could go back and enjoy every set, I’d gladly share it with all of my friends in the same boat today.

Opening the Riot stage is Zola Jesus, whose mesmerizing dance moves paired with her flowing dress hypnotize the crowd while she effortlessly serenades everyone. It’s not an easy feat being the first act to play the main stage at a festival, but Zola Jesus really showed out.

Alice Glass runs on to the stage to a crowd full of screaming and dancing fans. The hyper pop pioneer stuns while she dances and expertly wraps her microphone cable around her body to the beat of the music.

Coolio, Pvris, Midtown, and Ice Cube are some notable acts of the evening. The sun is beating heavily on everyone, the dust clouds are swirling from the amount of people walking back and forth between the stages, and morale is high.

One of the biggest crowds of the weekend comes from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Frontwoman Karen O mentions that they don’t play very many shows, which explains why seemingly everyone at the fest is at this set. Playing a few new songs and a ton of fan favorites, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs command the crowd for the entire hour they are on the stage. No elaborate stage set ups, no choreographed sequences, just the band and their music.

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TVD Live: Riot Fest, 9/17

Saturday’s crowd gets a slight reprieve from the hot weather, as it is cloudy today! My plans for Riot Fest today involve plenty of angsty acts, so a break from the sun will be much appreciated.

Jxdn takes to the stage in front of a mass audience. Gaining popularity on the social media platform TikTok, the rocker quickly gained tons of fans for his blossoming music career. He rocks through some of his more well known tracks while sprucing in an unreleased song, a Limp Bizkit cover, and a XXXTENTACION cover. The crowd loves every last second.

Many of these fans stayed for Yungblud, turning up the energy even higher and truly getting rowdy. Yungblud really knows how to get everybody moving, shaking his hips and jumping all over the stage while he beckons for all of the festival goers to do the same.

The only set that rivals all of the crowd activity is The Story So Far. I dodge crowd surfers left and right and watch as the crowd energetically pumps their bodies over the barricade in sync with the music.

Other notable sets include Movements, Bad Religion, and Gogol Bordello. All of these sets help set up the main event, Yellowcard reuniting to play their record Ocean Avenue in full. Frontman Ryan Key mentions all the messages he’s read from dedicated fans that traveled from multiple countries to watch this reunion. I see signs in the crowd that state the number of years people have anxiously waited for this moment.

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TVD Live: Riot Fest, 9/16

It is hot in Chicago. When I think about a festival in September, I think sweater weather and dress as such. As I walk from my car I realize this was not wise. It feels like we’re in the middle of the summer, and the crowds I see around the stages reflect this too. It’s shaping up to be a hot and sweaty Riot Fest this year.

I’m eager to see Foxy Shazam. I’ve heard they are very energetic, and this is the perfect way to start a festival weekend. Frontman Eric Nally and pianist Sky White steal the show with their stage presence, really commanding the crowd and connecting with anyone they make eye contact with.

I bounce over to catch Wargasm, an electronic rock duo from London. They recently toured the United States with the popular nu metal band Limp Bizkit, and you can see that the London duo took influence from the heavy hitters with their live performance which was entertaining from start to finish.

It’s nice to see Riot Fest veterans The Descendents and Taking Back Sunday on this year’s roster. Their sets are back to back and their stages are side to side, which makes it much easier for the shared crowd to catch both acts.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Lumineers at Wrigley Field, 9/3

Going out with a bang, The Lumineers concluded their Brightside World Tour at Wrigley Field on Saturday night. Spanning 56 shows, 35 states, and over 20,000 miles, this was their biggest tour since forming in 2005.

Met by a sold out crowd of fans of all ages (literally—from children that barely reached my knee to the elderly soaking in the night from their wheelchairs, there was no lack of diversity) they kicked off the night with hits “Ho Hey” and “Cleopatra,” not missing a beat from the moment they hit the stage. One of the original bands to put folk on the mainstream map, the band’s undeniable chemistry made them a joy to watch. Jumping from instrument to instrument, founding member Jeremiah Fraites was seen on the drums, mandolin, backing vocals, and tambourine to name a few, with other touring band members following suit to showcase their musical range.

Making the stage their home, there was never a dull moment throughout the almost 2 hour set, and despite telling myself I would leave early to beat the crowd, it was impossible to vacate the stadium while there was such a spectacle going on. Modest in theatrics by stadium standards, the band focused on their sheer talent rather than flooding the crowd with flashy lights and backdrops, ringing true to their folksy, small town attitudes despite the odd 40,000 people watching on.

Regardless of the inevitable ups and downs of tour I’m sure the entire band and crew experienced, all was forgotten as they ended the night with crowd favorite “Stubborn Love.” You could tell they were happy to be here, and the audience was hanging on every word of thanks expressed from lead singer Wesley Schultz.

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TVD Live: Sacred Rose Festival at SeatGeek Stadium, 8/28

It’s the final day of the first ever Sacred Rose Festival. There’s a stacked lineup and I’m eager to see how the day will play out.

I enter the gates and shortly after it’s announced that the grounds must evacuate as the winds are too high. The music has been put on pause until further notice. After a couple of hours, we get the all clear to come back in and proceed with the schedule as it was originally posted. However, The Canopy stage suffered some damage due to the winds, so they keep this closed while they work on it.

Unfortunately a few sets were skipped and several others were shortened. I caught The Infamous Stringdusters featuring Molly Tuttle, who were so excited to get back on stage and jam out with the eager crowd. I raced over to catch a bit of Hiatus Kaiyote, a soul band from Australia. I’m so excited that they were able to play because so many fans in the front row were emotional during their set, overcome with happiness as they belted out the lyrics to their favorite songs.

The Canopy is given the all clear to reopen, and rockers Dawes take the stage. Their set was unfortunately cut short as lightning has been spotted in the area. We are once again asked to evacuate and await further instructions. While their set was short, Dawes made the few songs they had count. They must have mustered up even more passion during the first weather delay and left all their emotions out on the stage. This set would be hard to top.

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TVD Live: Sacred Rose Festival at SeatGeek Stadium, 8/27

As I enter the gates for day 2 of Sacred Rose Fest, I immediately notice that the crowd showed up early and brought along all their friends. It is packed! I even see plenty of children running around wearing tie dye Goose shirts in anticipation for one of tonight’s headliners. These kids are way cooler than I ever was at their age.

I head over to The Canopy to catch the first part of The Disco Biscuits nearly 2 hour set. From the moment they stepped foot on stage, it was a non-stop dance and jam session. The bass was booming and the crowd was vibing.

I walk around and enjoy the installations, finally laying down on one of the various hammocks they have set up. While it feels nice to lay down, I’m in a position where the sun is directly in my eyes, so I head to the laser dome and see how the DJ set is going. The lasers are really fun! It’s a very chill vibe.

I catch the very funky Cory Wong, who I’m happily surprised has a brass band on stage with him. Cory’s smile was very infectious, I couldn’t help but dance around while he was on stage!

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TVD Live: Sacred Rose Festival at SeatGeek Stadium, 8/26

It’s the first day of the inaugural Sacred Rose Festival, taking place on the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois. The weather is looking beautiful to be outside for hours; it’s partly cloudy and there’s a breeze in the air. I pack a sweater just in case, and I’m glad I did because it gets a bit chilly once the sun goes down.

Walking into the park mid afternoon, it’s not crowded yet and there aren’t any lines to get in. I can hear that City and Colour is about to start, so I head over to The Canopy, which is a nicely shaded stage smack in the middle of the fest. Dallas Green’s soothing voice helps ease me into festival mode.

I walk around for a bit to check out all of the food and shop vendors. You have your typical Island Noodles, pizza, and hot dogs for food options, and Goose Island and Liquid Death are proudly advertised at every drink station. The shops appear to all be local with a ton of handmade options. Plenty to choose from to complete your festival attire!

There’s quite a few installations to relax in between sets. I make note of their locations so I can enjoy them during some of my downtime this weekend. At night some even transform into fire pits, pretty neat! There’s also a huge dome that has DJs playing all weekend while they have a laser show, it’s really dim in there so this could be an awesome place to go when you need a break from the sun.

Yves Tumor and Lettuce are up next; their crowds are ready to dance. I stick around and enjoy both sets. They are vastly different, yet somehow boast the same mellow vibe. I find it funny that a group of people brought heads of lettuce to throw around during Lettuce’s set. I don’t think I want to know how they got those past security, but I commend them for following through!

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TVD Live Shots: iDKHOW, Joywave,
and Savannah Conley
at the Metro, 8/25

The Welcome to Hellvetica Tour kicked off Thursday night in Chicago, IL at the Metro to a room full of colorful fans. Lined up hours before doors were slated to open, the fans for co-headliners Joywave and iDKHOW spent the time between grabbing onto the barricade to listening to the first note ring, discussing possible set lists, and how crazy they were going to go when their favorite songs were played.

Crooner Savannah Conley provided her sweet, melodic tunes to warm up the crowd and get the mood set right. She was the perfect mix of mellow and energetic to awaken the audience after a day of work and school, yet prepared for the dancing that was about to occur.

Half of a Corvette with an Illinois license plate reading “JOYWAVE” is put on the stage, along with all the respective instruments that are about to be played. The lights go down and five men wearing mechanic jumpsuits walk on stage, but these men aren’t actually mechanics; the music starts and it’s revealed that the mechanics are actually Joywave! The crowd goes wild as “Coming Apart” opens the set.

The indie rockers rolled through their 15 song set with a live debut of “Pray for the Reboot” from their recently released fourth album Cleanse, the Euphoria popularized “Dangerous,” and lead singer Daniel Armbruster‘s quarantine side project Best Frenz track “Ugly Ending.” The crowd is reeling while Joywave plays their encore.

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TVD Live: Lollapalooza at Grant Park, 7/31

2:59PM: The Bonus Tracks stage has been hosting an array of local talent all weekend long—the Fly Honeys, Bob’s Dance Shop, etc. Today it’s drag queens galore and I get a little taste of the fun before heading to the north end of Grant Park.

3:20PM: Joe Keery—who you might know from the hit series Stranger Things among other acting roles—also has a band, Djo. A very funky, psychedelic band that’s drawn a nice sized crowd. “I lived in Chicago for many years,” Keery noted, referencing his time studying theatre at DePaul University. “To be playing here and playing this festival means a lot. Thank you.”

4:26PM: The Marías are out here representing the Latino community and the Latino community is out here supporting The Marias. It’s pretty, sexy music sung in both English and Spanish.

4:42PM: “I’m from Chicago, Illinois—the birthplace of gospel music,” Peter Cottontale declares. It’s Sunday and the producer/composer is taking us to church.

5:05PM: Peter Cottontale is full of surprises. As if his full band and choir weren’t enough, he’s got a special guest for seemingly every song. Joey Purps, Jamilia Woods, Vic Mensa, Nico Segal, and Chance the Rapper are just a few of the friends joining him on stage. It’s really a testament to Cottontale and all the music and careers he’s influenced.

5:45PM: From her bedroom writing songs to Lollapalooza with her band, it’s been a quick trajectory for Lili Trifilio, also known as Beach Bunny. The Chicago native seems to be taking it all in.

6:32PM: Porno for Pyros are giving us what we’d expect (fire, scantily clad women including Etty Lau Farrell, Perry chugging down a bottle of red) and then some. A surprise appearance by Billy Corgan caps off their set.

7:41PM: Banks is impressing and so are her dancers. I’m next to a gaggle of gays who’re erecting a statue to her as I write.

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