Category Archives: TVD Chicago

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 Shots:
Hozier at Huntington Bank Pavilion, 9/12

Hozier’s rich vocals cascaded across the sold out audience at Huntington Bank Pavilion in Chicago on Tuesday night, providing a transcendent, spiritual, and undeniably unforgettable journey of sound.

Known perhaps best for his hit “Take Me to Church” (which celebrated its 10 year anniversary the following day), Hozier’s storytelling combined with influences of soul, folk, and rock has allowed him to continue creating a steady stream of hits since his debut EP release in 2013.

An expert at making the crowd of 30,000 feel like personally invited guests, Hozier expressed his excitement towards promoting his newest album Unreal Unearth, telling Billboard: “This is the first time that I’ll be singing songs in the Irish language or singing parts of songs that are in Irish Gaelic. So I’m really excited to [play] Madison Square Garden or Hollywood Bowl, and sing in Gaeilge [the Irish language]… and watch as, hopefully, concertgoers and fans learn those lines and maybe even sing it with me.”

Prefacing his new song “To Someone From A Warm Climate (Uiscefhuaraithe),” Hozier explained that this title translates to “the feeling of cold only water brings.” A slow, melodic break in the middle of his set, it was a stunning moment to see Hozier’s wishes come true as the dedicated crowd sang along.

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TVD Live Shots:
Arctic Monkeys at United Center, 8/27

With nostalgia bleeding into every note, Arctic Monkeys took to the United Center stage on August 27th for the second show of their North American tour.

Whether it’s the porthole screen that projected a ’90s filtered look of the live performance, the band’s effortless style or British charm, the crowd of 20,000 strong were hanging on every word that lead singer Alex Turner had to bestow.

Since the band was formed over 20 years ago, I expected the crowd to be of a more mature age, yet I was met with an eager barricade of mostly those in their teens and early 20s—even seeing young children with their parents, excitedly pressing their bedtimes.

Opening with “Sculptures of Anything Goes” from their 2022 album The Car, the indie band then moved back in time to their 2000’s hit “Brainstorm.” The sheer range of emotions, tempos and genres explored while all still sounding exactly like the Arctic Monkeys is a feat not many bands can execute with such grace. Speaking to The Guardian in 2022, Turner expressed of his songwriting journey, noting that “you have to be comfortable with the idea that things don’t have to be a pop song.”

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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: Young the Giant with Milky Chance at Northerly Island, 6/23

Dreamy tunes with a high chance of joy. German band Milky Chance delivered an unforgettable performance at Northerly Island in Chicago on Friday night.

Opening for Young the Giant, the four-piece band has hit the road promoting their newest album, Living in a Haze. Led by guitarist and vocalist Clemens Rehbein, the group of friends have played every festival from Coachella to Lollapalooza, captivating fans around the world with their addictive sound. As I waited for the band to take the stage, I saw them embracing from the sidelines, seemingly pep-talking to each other as only longtime friends can.

Kicking off their set with euphoric dance track “Synchronize” it was clear from the first beat that even the die-hard Young the Giant fans had discovered a new musical world to adore. From their original hit “Flashed Junk Mind” to Gloria Jones cover “Tainted Love” to Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” it was physically impossible not to partake in some form of head bopping/ instinctive swaying/ foot tapping.

Addressing the sea of fans between songs, Rehbein complimented the audience’s moves while pushing them to let loose and enjoy the night. As the sun set over the city skyline, their feel-good hit ‘Stolen Dance’ rang out across the amphitheater—a core memory in the making for both myself and the sold-out crowd.

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TVD Live Shots: Fall Out Boy with The Academy Is… and Alkaline Trio at Wrigley Field, 6/21

Fall Out Boy kicked off their So Much For (Tour) Dust summer tour in Chicago, IL on Wednesday, June 21st at Wrigley Field. This marks the third time that the Illinois natives have played at Wrigley Field, a feat that lead singer Patrick Stump admitted they never could have imagined would ever happen. To mark the momentous night, they brought along their friends The Academy Is… and Alkaline Trio who also hail from Illinois, to make the show even more special.

When The Academy Is… played “Snakes On A Plane (Bring It),” a song that was unfortunately cut for time when they last played a show at Riot Fest in 2022, the crowd was being set for a show that will likely be talked about by fans for many years to come. Fall Out Boy treated the crowd to so many deep cuts—every time a song started, the crowd would scream even louder to show their shock at hearing their favorite songs live.

Patrick Stump even exclaimed that he “bet you never thought you’d hear this song being played at Wrigley,” before launching right into “Calm Before The Storm,” a track from their debut album Take This To Your Grave, which turned 20 years old this year. Stump also talked about how he was jogging around the neighborhood where the venue is located while they were writing that album, writing the song “Where Is Your Boy?” in his head. Bassist Pete Wentz quipped back “imagine us jogging,” to which the crowd laughed and cheered.

This show also saw the return of guitarist and co-founder Joe Trohman who announced in January of this year, following the announcement of the band’s eighth studio album So Much (for) Stardust, that he would be taking a hiatus to focus on his mental health. The entire band were well in sync with their guitarist back and better than ever, grooving all night with smiles plastered on their faces. They even played “G.I.N.A.S.F.S.,” a bonus from their third studio album Infinity On High, live for the first time ever.

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TVD Live Shots: Louis Tomlinson at Northerly Island, 6/15

From a world-famous boy band to a successful solo career, singer and songwriter Louis Tomlinson took to the stage at Northerly Island on Thursday night promoting his newest album, Faith in the Future. Rising to fame in 2010 as a member of One Direction, the British artist proved he hasn’t lost his touch for performing to a crowd of adoring fans.

In typical Chicago fashion, the “June” weather was a balmy 50F, and with the outdoor venue being right on Lake Michigan called for some gnarly winds—so much so that crews had to delay the show to dismantle hanging lights prior to the performance.

Met with deafening screams, Tomlinson opened with hit “The Greatest,” raising his eyebrows at the crowd as he sang the lyrics “we’ll never be left cold again.” “It is fucking freezing, freezing! Let me start off by saying a massive, massive thank you to all of you incredible people here. This is by far my favorite part of the job, I would not be able to do these shows without all of you…”

Zipping up his jacket as he powered on through the show, Tomlinson got hearts racing with the throwback One Direction hit “Night Changes.” Swinging back and forth in an effortless unison, the crowd instantly warmed up as the nostalgic melody rang out across the amphitheater.

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TVD Live Shots:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs with Sasami at Huntington Bank Pavilion, 6/1

“We’re not gonna party like it’s Friday night, we’re not gonna party like it’s Saturday night, we’re gonna party like it’s Thursday night because that’s the night the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are in Chicago!” That’s how vocalist Karen O set off the Yeah Yeah Yeahs electric show in Chicago on Thursday, June 1st. And party is exactly what everyone did.

Decked out in sparkling sequins, backlit by a huge LED panel, and armed with the excitement of being on tour, Karen O brought the most intoxicating energy—everyone in the crowd was dancing, singing every lyric right back to the band. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are celebrating the 20 year anniversary of their groundbreaking album Fever to Tell, yet the seasoned band had the same energy and enthusiasm level as they did in 2003. It’s exhilarating to see a band full of world renowned musicians bringing the same intensity to the stage as they did when they were energetic 20-somethings.

The songs they performed from their newest release Cool It Down, “Burning” and “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” brought the same soul and punch as some of their more well-known tracks from their earlier releases. Just as the audience went crazy when the band performed “Sacrilege” and “Heads Will Roll,” everyone in the outdoor theater had the same level of enthusiasm when the band performed their slower track, “Maps,” which included a special intro dedicated to those who celebrate Pride Month.

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TVD Live Shots:
Taylor Swift at
Soldier Field, 6/2

How many sequins are too many sequins? Taylor Swift proved the limit truly does not exist on Friday night in Chicago. Playing her first of three sold out shows at Soldier Field, the 33 year old performer was met by a sea of bedazzled fans.

With a one minute countdown projected on the big screen, the eruption of cheers was near deafening as the crowd buckled up for a staggering three and a half hours of music. Opening with a shortened version of “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” and “Cruel Summer,” Taylor’s dancers emerged wearing pastel fans as the singer effortlessly strutted the stage. Moving on to perform “The Man” on a three story high scaffolding, Taylor’s dancers adorned her with a dazzling blazer—one of many costume additions throughout the night that would make audiences swoon.

“Thank you for spending so much… effort… to get here tonight…” the singer joked, referring to the heavily reported Ticketmaster affair that left many fans spending thousands on tickets. Despite the cost to attend, every fan I spoke to has affirmed they have zero regrets forking out a hefty chunk of change for the unforgettable, and often deeply meaningful experience.

Pausing between songs to recognize the beginning of Pride Month, Taylor expressed her admiration for the “brilliant crowds of people who are living their authentic lives,” going on to affirm that “…this is a safe space for you. This is a celebratory space for you. And one of the things that makes me feel so prideful is getting to be with you, and watching you interact with each other and being so loving, and so thoughtful, and so caring.”

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TVD Live Shots:
Olivia Jean with
The Knee-Hi’s at the Empty Bottle, 5/18

Hitting the road in support of her latest Third Man Records release Raving Ghost, Olivia Jean and her talented backing band gave their all to Chicago, the last stop on the first leg of the tour. Gal Gun and The Knee-Hi’s provided support before Olivia took the stage.

Wearing her signature bouffant, paired with chic cat eye makeup, Olivia immediately began shredding on her guitar as soon as her set started. Shifting between surfer rock and heavy grunge effects, her music paired beautifully with her raw and powerful vocals. She even lended her talents to a stunning rendition of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow,” which the crowd immediately ate up.

The crowd was a mixture of equal amounts of jumping around and standing and admiring, with a general appreciation for the show unfolding on stage. One couldn’t help but notice how many attendees had a huge smile plastered on their faces. As the night came to an end, the crowd was left wanting more.

Olivia is an unmatched powerhouse on guitar, so whether you’ve been a fan since her The Black Belle days, or you’re hearing her music for the first time, you can’t help but be amazed at how she has honed her craft.

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TVD Live Shots:
M83 at the Riviera Theatre, 5/2

Whether you’ve followed them since their formation in 1999 or are familiar with them thanks to features in pop-culture phenomenons The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent, one thing is for sure: M83 has no problem enchanting an audience.

Promoting their ninth album, Fantasy, earlier this month, the French band was welcomed with a sold out crowd of concert goers ready to escape reality for a night at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago. A sound undeniably unique, frontman Anthony Gonzalez is a known master at blurring genres, with the band’s style teetering between shoegaze/ dream pop/ post-rock/ and perhaps almost any other musical category imaginable.

Bringing Gonzalez’s multi-instrumentalist vision to life, the venue was illuminated with a spectacle of light, immersive fog, and admittedly the desire to simultaneously cry, smile, and applaud by both myself and the nearby patrons.

Despite telling myself I would leave before the encore to beat the crowd, I couldn’t help but stick around for their #1 hit “Midnight City,” and be completely enthralled by every note. If you’re not already a fan and looking for a new musical obsession, I recommend this be your gateway song.

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TVD Live Shots:
Rebecca Black with Mazie at the Bottom Lounge, 5/12

Hot off the release of her debut album Let Her Burn, Rebecca Black played in front of doting fans in Chicago, IL on Friday, May 12th. Mazie helped pump up the crowd with an opening set.

Mazie, a pop artist featured on the soundtrack for Netflix’s Do Revenge, really brought the energy as she hit the stage and immediately got the crowd off their feet. Employing heavy bass lines, as well as a catchy electronic beats, it was hard not to bop around while she dazzled on stage.

The lights turned down and the strobes started to pop off, making it so you could only see quick glimpses as the dancers took the stage. Wrapped in a black sheet, Rebecca Black twirled to remove the sheet in an epic reveal to the crowd. As the crowd chanted her name, the beat dropped and everyone was fully immersed into the Let Her Burn era.

Armed with the same choreographer as Lady Gaga and packing powerhouse vocals of well seasoned stars, Rebecca Black has proven that she is more than the tween who went viral in the early 2010s for a song about a weekday. Rebecca’s backup dancers, Charles Fournier and Cj Jensen, complemented her moves as they danced in sync to the music, even bringing out fun props like a fully rhinestoned chainsaw to hold her microphone.

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