Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

My Lolla: Craig Bechtel

Alt-Rock, Chicago Artists, Festivals, Garage Rock, Indie Rock, Live Reviews, Metal, Prog-rock, Rock No Comments »
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Death from Above 1979

Lollapalooza started as a traveling “alternative” rock carnival, but today it’s a stationary event showcasing music that ranges from rock to hip-hop to pop to electronic. If that doesn’t seem like a tremendously wide range, it’s not just you. As Lollapalooza has evolved toward the mainstream, Riot Fest (based in Chicago, but now held around the country) has pulled away most of the possible punk edges, brought back some “legacy acts” with underground roots like No Doubt and Billy Idol and introduced actual carnival rides. Conversely, having recently completed its tenth rendition in Chicago’s Union Park, the Pitchfork Music Festival can’t be rivaled in terms of their indie cred, and they supplement their bread-and-butter indie rock with a fair amount of rap, electronic and even some retro-folk explorations too. Chicago is either blessed or cursed to host 300,000 Lollapalooza-goers the first weekend in August each year, depending on who you ask, but it’s still the granddaddy of all of these festival options, in terms of longevity, attendance and scope.

Compared to Pitchfork’s three color-named stages and fifty-odd acts, Lollapalooza boasts approximately 150 performances on six corporate-named stages, plus one for Kidzapalooza presented by Lifeway, and Perry’s—named for the founder, Perry Farrell (hopefully he didn’t have to pay himself anything for naming rights)—for DJs and dancing only. So how can you choose who to see and who to hear? Research and listen, and if it’s a tie, try to split the difference. Just try not to pass out when running between the stages in the hot, hot August heat.

FRIDAY

2:30pm-3:30pm
St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Bud Light

2:50pm-3:30pm
BadBadNotGood
Pepsi
Friday holds off on tough choices until the 2pm hour, when St. Paul & The Broken Bones has to compete with BadBadNotGood. If the latter had rapper Ghostface Killah in tow to perform numbers from their excellent collaboration, they would get the nod, but I’m afraid I’d rather hear some authentically-done soul singing as opposed to seventies-set experimental explorations. Since there’s bound to be an abundance of treacly, fake-soul offerings this weekend (I’m looking at you, Sam Smith), I’m going to have to give Paul Janeway and his Birmingham-bred brethren the edge here. Read the rest of this entry »

My Lolla: Dylan Peterson

Alt-Rock, Chicago Artists, Festivals, Indie Rock, Rock No Comments »
saint-pepsi

Skylar Spence

I won’t be at Lolla this year; the following is a fictionalized daily schedule.

FRIDAY

2:00pm
You lock up your bike outside of the festival, wipe the sweat from your forehead, drink the rest of your water and start walking.

2:15pm-3:00pm
Glass Animals
Samsung Galaxy
Sex is the first thing on everyone’s mind at Lollapalooza, so it only makes sense to start off the festival experience with Glass Animals. This slinky, slow-rock band from the UK will set the mood for the rest of the weekend, whether it’s a gray, rainy day or a hot and humid 100 degrees. You’ll feel a groove either way.

3:00pm-3:45pm
Tove Lo
Sprint
Keep the sexy theme going here, with added pop hooks via Sweden. You’ve made some major eye contact with someone during Glass Animals, and now you’re a quick stroll away from getting to know that someone even better during “Talking Body.” (There’s no time to waste—when Tove Lo’s at the chorus you can’t be dancing by yourself.) Read the rest of this entry »

My Lolla: John Wilmes

Alt-Rock, Chicago Artists, Festivals, Hip-Hop, Indie Rock, Metal, Rock No Comments »
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Twin Peaks

Do you like it big? Big crowds, big sounds, big sensations? Lollapalooza, as it is wont to do, brings on every kind of big this summer. The annual festival is an excuse to indulge everything oversized, everything bloated (in the best sense) about the music world of now. Dive nose-first into the communal affair, and hold my hand if all the noisy fun and sweat start to scare you.

FRIDAY

4:30pm-5:30pm
Hot Chip
Bud Light
There is something ridiculously urgent about this band. The British synth-poppers make dancing seem like the most important thing in the world, with their slow-burn beats and the haunting lilt of singer Alexis Taylor. And who’s to say dancing isn’t so essential?

5:30pm- 6:30pm 
The War on Drugs
Palladia
It’s hard to find more finely-tuned rock schmaltz than what TWOD is churning out these days. Their chug of Americana and pretty tones was built to chain-smoke in front of when done live—if you’re into that sort of thing. Read the rest of this entry »

My Lolla: Charlie Puckett

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The Lollapalooza Issue

Alt-J

Alt-J

I used to live in New Orleans and when I moved back to the Midwest the one thing I missed most from that magical place was the way that city breathed and bled music. Except for a diehard loyalty to the city’s nonpareil brass band and Dixieland sound, the Big Easy embraced every genre that came its way with only one condition: if you’re playing in New Orleans, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re playing, the audience runs the show. The shows I saw down there permanently changed the way I watch any band live. If for one moment I feel that the audience isn’t the reason the music is being played, I have to try really hard not to call the experience a bust. For my Lolla schedule, I picked bands that I believe follow or at least have a summary understanding and decent level of respect for the New Orleans rule of thumb. You’ll find my Dixieland sentiments more than obvious with the number of folk-rock acts I chose, but for the most part, the bands I’m electing to see are those who I trust will give their crowds the chalice and make Lolla our Lolla. Read the rest of this entry »

My Lolla: Dylan Peterson

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The Lollapalooza Issue

Phoenix

Phoenix

I’m supposed to complain about how corporate-driven Lollapalooza is. I’m supposed to hate it and love Riot Fest. I shouldn’t have as much fun as I do every year, but whatever, I do have fun and honestly that’s all that really matters at Lollapalooza. Seriously, that’s it. So here’s the schedule that I think would yield the highest fun return. Read the rest of this entry »

My Lolla: Brian Hieggelke

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The Lollapalooza Issue

Icona Pop

Icona Pop

I’m old enough to have cranked up the New Order and Cure records when they were new bands (but I’ve never seen them live!), so I’m well beyond caring what others think of my music. Of course, I’m also well beyond the study-the-liner-notes obsessive devouring of music that consumed me when I did, so I decided to make a Spotify playlist of the most recent music from every single Lollapalooza performer this year and, for the last several months, have listened to little else. I chose my schedule based on what my ears had grown to love, not on what my friends say is cool. So herewith, with minimal annotation, is where you’ll find me this weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

My Lolla: Jessica Burg

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The Lollapalooza Issue

AngelHaze

Angel Haze

I am a thirty-year-old lover of many musical genres. I was raised on a hot stew of Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, The Eagles, Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox. I spent my teens ambling back and forth between alternative rock and a love-hate relationship with rap, boycotting but eventually coming to terms with homophobic lyrics; as well as the occasional purchase of a Basement Jaxx or Goldie EP. Today, I tend to look back rather than forward. I frequent soul parties and fend for rare disco-funk twelve-inches, but I always stay on point with hip-hop. There are so many bands and genres from decades past to get lost in I often neglect newcomers. I’m not some progressive indie-band genius but my friends are. Thanks to them I’ve added more to my list of all-time favorites like Death From Above 1979 or the Mars Volta. I’m looking forward to more “introductions” via this Lolla. Read the rest of this entry »

My Lolla: Craig Bechtel

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The Lollapalooza Issue

The Vaccines

The Vaccines

In the summer of ninety-one it was ninety-one degrees in the shade, or it would have been, had there been any shade.  Sandstone Amphitheater, nominally in Kansas City but technically in Bonner Springs, Kansas, played host to a traveling cavalcade of all kinds of “alternative music,” a newly nascent genre borne of college radio, the “We Jam Econo” ethos of early eighties hardcore punk and nurtured by those willing and able to stay up late Sunday nights to watch “120 Minutes” on MTV. Read the rest of this entry »

Single Servings: Bite-Sized Reviews of Pitchfork 2012

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Bite-sized reviews of the shows we caught this weekend. Dig in.

Dirty Projectors/Photo: Maddie Rehayem

FRIDAY

Outer Minds. The band opened Pitchfork 2012 with sunny-day garage rock in their hometown Chicago after a rain delay.

Lower Dens. Few people heard of them before Friday, but Jana Hunter and Co. showed they could rock and were one of the best early afternoon bands of the weekend.

Willis Earl Beal. Whiskey bottle in hand, Willis Earl Beal performed in front of the street he told the crowd he used to ride his bike down. Key word: “performed,” swinging his mike and jumping around stage—until the last song—with nothing but a tape deck to back him up. Read the rest of this entry »

Study of the Urban Jungle with Music: A Weekend at Pitchfork

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Beach House/Photo: Maddie Rehayem

By Alli Carlisle

I was already tired by the time I got to Pitchfork. Coming down the stairs from the Green Line at Ashland, we music-seekers had already been assaulted by the first wave of hawkers and scalpers crowded at the base of the stairs yelling about tickets and ice-cold water. These people looked serious—this was supposed to be fun, not some kind of death-march I wasn’t prepared for, right? I thought of the heat, the crowds, the no re-entry, and I felt old.

Right after entering, a kid made a dash through the ticket line. A pack of security guards was on him like excited lions after a lone gazelle on the savanna. When they caught him, they walked him back to the entrance and gutted his backpack piece by piece before sending him on his way. This scene repeated itself about five times that day. Read the rest of this entry »