Category Archives: TVD Chicago

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.

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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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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/14

3:39PM: There’s a LOT of Slayer shirts at Riot Fest today. We’re ready for their final Chicago show.

4:17PM: Supergroup The Damned Things is rocking the Rebel Stage in the blinding sun. It’s a feast of talent featuring Fall Out Boy’s Joe Trohman (guitar) and Andy Hurley (drums), Anthrax’s Scott Ian (guitar), Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley (vocals), and Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano (bass).

4:46PM: Gwar and Riot Fest are synonymous at this point, so it’s always a treat to see them up close and personal in the press area. Guitarist Bålsåc the Jaws ‘O Death looks fierce—and I’m not just talking about the beastly balls dangling beneath his exposed ass. But then he takes a swig of his Bon & Viv spiked seltzer and I can’t help but laugh.

5:19PM: I have a quick chat with JP of Surfer Blood to remind him that he once crashed at my apartment the night before the band’s 2010 Pitchfork Fest set. That was fun—and so was their set earlier in the day.

5:34PM: My wife and I are playing one of our favorite games: “What Drug Is That Person On?” We’ve determined that the dude standing before us is on a combination of several, and while we can’t confirm his particular cocktail we can, in fact, confirm that it took him 3 minutes and 36 seconds to light his cigarette. The struggle is real.

6:04PM: The Struts are serving us some glam rock perfection. Lead singer Luke Spiller sounds like Freddie and moves like Mick.

6:26PM: There are lots of gems at the silent auction tent for the Coalition for the Homeless. Signed guitars and drum kits, posters and art from Riot Fest alums past and present. I hope a lot of money was raised.

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TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/13

3:30PM: It’s going to take us 90 minutes to get to Riot Fest thanks to traffic, so my wife and I are busy compiling a list of bands we hope to see play Riot Fest in the future. The highlights from our lengthy discussion include: Spinal Tap (my #1 wish), R.E.M. reunion, Smashing Pumpkins playing Siamese Dream in full, The Fugees, Talking Heads reunion, the band from School of Rock, Led Zeppelin reunion, Ben Folds Five, The Muppets, Tool, Missy Elliott. Pretty solid list, don’t you think?

4:45PM: Made it! The grounds seem more crowded than last year—especially for a Friday. It’s snug.

5:08PM: Neck Deep get some laughter and claps for their cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn.”

5:17PM: The Riot Mall is packed with the usual suspects—Fat Wreck Chords, the fake pot candy booth (Chronic Candy), and my favorite To Write Love on Her Arms—and some new faces including a tent simply labeled “I Love Vagina.”

5:42PM: The Violent Femmes are bringing me right back to high school. It’s a crowd sing-a-long—and it’s necessary. The sound is so low they might as well be whispering. Turn that shit up, Riot Fest!

6:55PM: Dashboard Confessional is playing The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most in full at sunset and I’ve witnessed at least 20 people crying.

6:59PM: Over at the Radicals Stage, Pennywise is covering a classic: Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”

7:14PM: Descendents are roaring through their set and packing it with classics (“Everything Sux,” “Hope”). Solid.

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TVD Live Shots:
KoRn, Alice In Chains, Underoath at Tinley Park, 8/21

KoRn continues to be a strong metal staple and if this night in Tinley Park was any indication, opening with “Here To Stay” with a fantastic performance, made this known. With all but one member from the original lineup (drummer Ray Luzier taking over for David Silveria in 2007), it is super special seeing these pioneers of nu-metal still killing it to this day. Guitarist Brian “Head” Welch rejoined the band in 2013 and they have since released two records upon his return with a third on the way. The Nothing is set for release on September 13, 2019.

The well-rounded bill began with fairly newcomers to the scene, Fever 333, known for their energetic and stimulating live performances. They have recently gained recognition having been nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Performance for their song “Made In America” and winning a Kerrang! Award for Best Song for “Burn It,” both within the last year.

Next on the bill was a band that is not new to the scene but instead has evolved through the metalcore, emo, screamo, and post-hardcore scenes since the late ’90s. Underoath, since disbanding have reunited in 2015 after a two-year hiatus. The album cover of their latest release last year, Erase Me, adorned the backdrop of their set. A looming statue of a broken down, crumbling angel with giant, beautiful wings set the tone for the band’s performance.

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TVD Live Shots: Converge, Cloud Nothings, Djunah at House of Vans, 8/24

The masses came out for the final show of the Vans House Parties at House of Vans this summer, curated by heavy hitters Converge. With the line to get in wrapping around the block, it was easy to recognize that this summer concert series was going to end with a bang.

Djunah was the first to hit the stage, a two-piece rock band hailing from Chicago. The crowd was watching intently, bopping their heads along with the melodies. It was pretty chill during this set, the crowd presumably saving up all their energy for the headliner. This didn’t stop Djunah from delivering an action packed set that felt like the stage was filled with multiple musicians. Their debut album is due to be released in November.

Cloud Nothings, the genre bending rock band from Ohio, came up next. Switching between slower indie rock songs, to amped up punk songs, the crowd bounced along rhythmically. Even the concertgoers sitting on the skate ramps were bopping along to the music. They were successful in getting the crowd ready for Converge.

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