Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

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 »

Soundcheck: After-palooza

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Devo

Music venues citywide will be vying for your Lollapalooza-loving heart before, after and even during the three-day music marathon. Thankfully, this year’s official after-show lineup clears up a lot of the schedule conflicts that cause dangerous anxiety attacks (i.e.: Hot Chip vs. The Black Keys, watching The National vs. feeling guilty that you’re not staking a primo spot for the Arcade Fire set, etc).

While the Phoenix concert as the weekend’s nightcap isn’t exactly the thrill Them Crooked Vultures was last year, the French-indie band’s House Of Blues fest Sunday will be a great chance to see one of the festival’s headliners, should you refuse to spend the money on the whole shebang.

The rest of the after-sets continue to represent the bulk of all that is worth seeing of the daytime lineup. What could be a better pre-show than Soundgarden’s last-minute concert at The Vic Thursday night, though tickets are only available through the band’s fan club. There’s also Devo with The Dirty Projectors at The Congress Theater (7:30pm) and Cymbals Eat Guitars with Young Galaxy at Schubas (8pm). On Friday, catch either Cut Copy with Dragonette at the Metro (10pm) or MGMT at the House Of Blues (11pm). Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: The xx/Lincoln Hall

Indie Pop, Post-punk, R&B, Space Pop No Comments »

RECOMMENDED

The xx released their self-titled debut album back in June of last year and, suddenly, the precocious young trio of former southwest London school mates are becoming the next big crossover hit, with their sparsely arranged tracks moving beyond Pitchfork acclaim and end-of-year-list love to popping up on hit TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Cold Case” and “Lie To Me,” and even accompanying spinach-chinned skating hero Apolo Anton Ohno in a high-profile Winter Olympic spot for AT&T. Their formula is simple: sterile guitar melodies, swaggering post-punk bass, astonishingly effective machine beats from in-house producer and drum-pad maetro Jamie Smith and, of course, the cooing of guitarist Romy Madley Croft and mumble-harmonizing bassist Oliver Sims. Sure, it might not sound like much, but the xx are masters of minimalistic efficiency, proving that it’s not what noise you make, but the spaces in between that resonate most deeply. And tonight’s show might be your last chance to catch the xx in an intimate setting like the similarly clean and black-clad Lincoln Hall. Like their biggest hit “Chrystallized,” the xx are ready to be dropped into the supersaturated solution of big-time gigs, as the band is set to return later this month to open up for Hot Chip at the cavernous Riviera, before taking their intimate sound to festival-land at Bonnaroo, Coachella and, most likely, Lollapalooza as well. (Duke Shin)

The xx play Lincoln Hall, 2424 North Lincoln, (773)525-2501, on April 8 at 9:30pm. $18. This show is sold out.

Preview: the xx/Bottom Lounge

Dance Pop, Electronic/Dance, Post-punk, Rock No Comments »

RECOMMENDEDthe-xx

It’s a sparse musical landscape where the xx roam, with clean guitars, post-punk bass swagger and sparring vocal interplay between the cooing of guitarist Romy Madley Croft and bassist Oliver Sims, who also spends a fair amount of time mumble-harmonizing below Croft’s come-on verses, too. Anchored in space with machine beats making the most of the sparse arrangements, the xx are a revelation in minimalist grooves. Their self-titled debut album—produced by the xx’s own beatsmith/button-pusher Jamie Smith—was released earlier this year, and tonight’s show supporting headlining dance-rockers Friendly Fires is the group’s first trip to Chicago. (They will open for Hot Chip next spring.) Primed and ready to break big, this might be the last chance to see the xx in an intimate venue. (Duke Shin)

December 1 at Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake, (312)666-6775, 9pm.