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Raw Material: A Varied (and Vicarious) Pitchfork Itinerary

Alt-Rock, Chicago Artists, Festivals, Hip-Hop, Indie Rock, Jam Band, Metal, Prog-rock, Punk, Rap, Rock No Comments »


By Keidra Chaney

Pitchfork Music Fest Weekend is upon us once again. It’s traditionally been the “tastemaker’s festival” of the summer, where this year’s Pitchfork buzz acts become next year’s Lolla lineup. This year’s crop offers a decidedly local flavor, in a way hearkening back to the festival’s roots in Chicago, starting with the Pitchfork-curated Intonation Festival back in 2005. The city’s own Wilco and Chance The Rapper bookend as headliners on Friday and Sunday (with a reunited Sleater-Kinney closing Saturday), but there’s a whole lot to check out in between, from the fest itself to a whole slew of aftershows all weekend long. I had every intention of going to P4K this year, but I’m ninety percent sure I’ll be out of town, so I’ll share with you the schedule I have planned. If any of you take my suggestions, let me know how it all worked out.


I’d get out of work early and ease into my weekend with Chicago’s own guitar wunderkind Ryley Walker on the Blue Stage at 3:20pm, then run over to check out Drake acolyte/rival ILoveMakonnen on the Green Stage at 4:35pm. Friday at Pitchfork Fest tends to not be hugely eventful because the heavier rock bands that I prefer tend to show up on Saturday and Sunday, so I’d take a long break and check out the vendor booths to kill time before seeing a bit of Panda Bear on the Green Stage at 6:25pm, then leave early to jet over to the Red Stage for Chvrches at 7:20pm. This is a group that took time to win me over, because I found a lot of their synth covers of classic rock and R&B hits nearly intolerable, but their latest album has grown on me; it’s dance music that sounds BIG, like a rock band, and it’s likely to sound pretty good on the Red Stage. Wilco plays on the Green Stage at 8:30pm, and while I probably wouldn’t stick around, I am sure everyone else will. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Joe Goodkin/Schubas

Alt-Rock, Chicago Artists, Jam Band, Live Reviews, Rock No Comments »



Chicago singer-songwriter Joe Goodkin is perhaps best known as the founder of the local indie band Paper Arrows. But his career took an interesting turn when he wrote a thirty-minute adaptation of “The Odyssey” for voice and guitar, which he ended up touring around the country to widespread acclaim. I’ve only heard excerpts, but there’s an aching plangency in the work that seems to give it a direct connection to the Bronze Age texts. Now Goodkin has emerged on the other side with a new EP, “Record of Life,” that comes across almost as an adaptation of his own earlier work—or more accurately, a commentary on it; a corrective of where it didn’t go far enough—as if all that time spent with Homer has given him the cojones to call bullshit on his previous, more timid self. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Plastic Crimewave Sound/Empty Bottle

Chicago Artists, Jam Band, Psychedelic No Comments »


Celebrating the demise of something seems counterintuitive and anti-climatic, but Plastic Crimewave Sound isn’t just some buncha Chicago jerks; it’s these Chicago jerks, fronted by the ever-mustachioed Plastic Crimewave. Sure, the ridiculous heights of recording with Ya Ho Wah 13’s Djin Aquarian likely aren’t forthcoming, but there are scant dudes who can say they’ve even had the opportunity to perform with that sub-terra legend. Whatever counted as the troupe’s regular lineup apparently disintegrated sometime last spring, the travails of everyday life being cited as the main reason. You know, babies and marriage? All this PCS hoopla, though, surrounds the group’s (probable) final recording, a tape-only affair being issued through an imprint helmed by Running’s bassist. Read the rest of this entry »

Ecstatic Improvisation: “The Source Family” Documents the Strange Days of Father Yod and Ya Ho Wha 13

Jam Band, Psychedelic, Rock No Comments »
Courtesy Djin Aquarian

Courtesy Djin Aquarian

By Dave Cantor

Perched atop one of the highest points in California, Djin Aquarian remains a figure wedged into the country’s history of out-music and social experiments. Neither defines him, but both contribute to the aura surrounding a communal, religious group called the Source Family he was a member of in the seventies. Thirty-six years later, the views and practices espoused by its god-head, Father Yod, make most middle-Americans squeamish. At the time this all went down, the Family must have been at least a little terrifying.

“We worked and lived in [this world],” Djin says. “But on the other hand, we were very different. … We had sex differently, we ate differently. … we sealed ourselves off … didn’t go out of the Family and kept growing through that.”

The Source Family, helmed by a war-vet-turned-restaurateur with the given name Jim Baker, could be lumped into the miasma of 1960s social experiments. But there’s something else going on. Smoking weed was a ritual, but drugs weren’t a focus. They weren’t totally freed from monetary concerns—Baker’s Sunset Strip health-food eatery sustained them. It’s all curious—the reams of music they recorded as Ya Ho Wha 13 are, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Puffy Areolas/Lincoln United Methodist Church

Jam Band, Psychedelic, Punk No Comments »


Who woulda guessed that knife hits would eventually lead to dance hits? Puffy Areolas’ musical trajectory hasn’t moved in a calculable curve so much as it darts erratically from sub-basement loner punk to euphoric tape-deck manipulation and on to primal R&B. After the all-points Ohio band led by herb-scented Damon Sturdivant moved on from collectable tape and vinyl releases to the Siltbreeze-issued “1981,” it would have been easy to write the whole endeavor off, guessing that song after song would simply comprise a repetitive two-note screed. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Acid Mothers Temple/Empty Bottle

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Acid Mothers Temple is Japanese guitarist Kawabata Makoto and whoever he decides comprises his ensemble. The band’s members have come and gone, with Kawabata being the focal point for the better part of the last fifteen years. During that time, the guitarist has explored and expanded upon music ranging from Pink Floyd’s odder moments to Bay Area minimalism and psych-improvisations unhindered by melody and structure. All of that could reduce Acid Mothers to a simple, hippie free-for-all. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Woodsman/Empty Bottle

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If Woodsman was from Chicago, it’d be Mako Sica. But something happened to the Denver band since Mexican Summer released its 2009 “Collages.” Brittle bits of easygoing bohemian psych still surface, but it’s all contextualized differently. Maybe it has something to do with the ensemble splitting time between its hometown and Brooklyn. Or maybe it’s just that the band’s matured and waltzed into another portion of its career. The 2009 disc offered listeners a handful of low-key moments—all that whirring on the album’s closing “Mothershift.” Clever names aside, during the track’s almost twenty-minute run-time, Woodsman nonchalantly stroll through the track’s slower moments and sprint toward its conclusion. The song’s a rare instance of the band developing more than a single idea within a composition. Not much changed for the following year’s “Mystery Tape.” Another extended song (“Smells Like Purple”) closes out the disc, but the penultimate track begins to reveal the band’s newer nervy direction. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Lotus/Congress Theater

Electronic/Dance, Folktronica, Indie Pop, Jam Band, Rock No Comments »


Don’t expect this electronic jam band to just come in and do its thing when it appears onstage. In addition to the elaborate lighting it ordinarily uses, Lotus (Mike Greenfield, drums; Jesse Miller, bass and sampler; Luke Miller, guitar, keys; Mike Rempel, guitar; Chuck Morris, percussion) often thinks expansively when choosing how and what to play. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Disappears/Empty Bottle

Chicago Artists, Jam Band, Psychedelic, Shoegaze No Comments »


In three years Disappears has gone from a random assemblage of dudes who once performed with other bands to a group dispensing its own particular mélange of psych and pop run through garage’s sonic lens. Issuing two singles and a pair of full-lengths, the quartet hasn’t been developing at a rapid pace, but it still turns in concise rock songs, sporadically opting for fifteen-minute explorations of just a few notes. Adding in Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley behind the drum kit hasn’t hurt the band. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Mickey Hart/Lincoln Hall

Jam Band, Rock, World Music No Comments »


There’s no way to extricate Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead’s legacy. He was one of a pair of drummers—the other half was Bill Kreutzmann—making instrumental excess so easy for the ensemble. With Jerry Garcia’s penchant for Americana made evident through countless recordings on albums with folks like mandolin player David Grisman, Hart’s interests outside the Dead focused on roots music of another kind. Exploring a history of percussion reaching back much further than recorded sound, Hart set about not just incorporating those styles into his own work as portions of the 1972 “Rolling Thunder” express, but by performing compositions worked up in association with performers like Zakir Hussain. Read the rest of this entry »