Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Preview: Icona Pop/Allstate Arena

Dance Pop, DJ, Electro, Electronic/Dance, House, Pop No Comments »
Photo: Fredrik Etoall

Photo: Fredrik Etoall

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Electronic DJ duo Icona Pop make tracks that sound exactly the way pop music of today should. Run, leap and tumble beats soar through starry, energetic electro-synth melodies, and land on their feet in the foggy midst of a humid, glitter-coated dance floor. When Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo met at a party in the suburbs of Stockholm in 2009, a connection surged almost instantly as the two discovered they shared nearly identical tastes in music. Within a few days they were writing songs and booking gigs, and in that same year the two moved to London to cut their first studio record with TEN Music Group. There, they met London’s Charli XCX who shared a song written for her by another Swede, Patrik Berger. The three women collaborated and came up with the international hit, “I Love It.” The song was released as the second single from their self-titled album in May 2012 and again as the first single off of their second album, “This Is…Icona Pop” in September 2013. As for the time in-between, the song’s commercial success flourished. Read the rest of this entry »

Death Grips to Chicago: You Got Gamed

Festivals, Hip-Hop, News and Dish No Comments »

deathgripsBy John Wilmes

Scheduled into one of the headlining sets of Lollapalooza’s second day, and for a sold-out performance at The Bottom Lounge, the night prior, Sacramento-based band Death Grips (described variously as noise rock, noise rap, experimental rap and thrash rap) skipped it all. At The Bottom Lounge there was only a large projection of a fan’s suicide note behind the stage, and the venue’s announcement, moments after they themselves had learned, that the band wouldn’t be coming. In a reaction of incalculable irony, fans then rushed the stage to destroy the band’s equipment, as Death Grips’ angry, caustic tones played over the P.A.—but it later came out that this was not, in fact, their equipment. The next morning, it became clear that they never even got on a plane, and their Lollapalooza set was cancelled. Everyone had been gamed.

The internet exploded with this news. And this wasn’t the first time that Death Grips has scorned their fans, eager to see them—they’ve cancelled large stretches of tours, before, to work on new material instead—or upset the booking and distribution titans of the industry, either. Their most recent album, “No Love Deep Web,” was set to be released by Epic, but the band released it for free instead, on their website, with an erect penis on the cover art. An act of defiance that, after Death Grips refused to undo it, had them dropped from the label. Read the rest of this entry »

Lolla Star Style: Musicians Who Shine in Every Sense

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IMG_1360 Read the rest of this entry »

All in the Family: Bigger is better at Lollapalooza 2013

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Huge crowd at Imagine Dragons/Photo: Christian Holub

Huge crowd at Imagine Dragons/Photo: Christian Holub

By Christian Holub

Lollapalooza is big.

These days, Lolla is far from Chicago’s only music festival, what with another Riot Fest or Wavefront popping up every five minutes. But it is certainly the biggest. When this year’s Lolla tickets sold out in less than two hours after going on sale, I automatically assumed it was because scalpers had bought them all up with plans to sell them back to Chicago’s “true” music fans at ridiculous prices. Not so. I was paying attention at Lolla this year, and it became clear that there really are more than 300,000 people in the world who want to attend the festival.

Lolla is so big that though the lineup boasts hundreds of acts, dozens of whom are pretty high-profile, even the most determined three-day festivalgoers will have a hard time catching more than four or five of the ones they want. The abundance of good acts often leads to unfortunate overlap (seriously, how is a modern indie-rock fan supposed to choose between Vampire Weekend, Beach House and Grizzly Bear?) and the spaces between stages are too gigantic to cross quickly. Read the rest of this entry »

Saying Goodbye to The Postal Service: One Last Blast From a Recent Past

Electronic/Dance, Festivals, Indie Rock No Comments »
Ben Gibbard of The Postal Service/Photo: Christian Holub

Ben Gibbard of The Postal Service/Photo: Christian Holub

By Christian Holub

It was hard to take pictures of The Postal Service at the Metro on Sunday. I know some amazing photographers who probably know some amazing tricks that could have helped, but between the dark setting, the fortress of laptops obscuring beatmaster Jimmy Tamborello’s face and singer Ben Gibbard’s constant time-keeping shoulder sway, it was hard to get photos that showed human faces rather than dark, otherworldly light blurs.

Similarly, it’s hard to put a finger on why The Postal Service is so beloved. They only ever made one album together, 2003’s “Give Up,” and as Gibbard notes during the recent short YouTube documentary on the band, “Some Idealistic Future,” the album didn’t really gain serious steam until he and Tamborello had moved back to their main projects (Death Cab for Cutie and Dntel, respectively). Read the rest of this entry »

My Lollapalooza: A Guide to Navigating the Festival for Actual and Armchair Attendees

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Illustration by Chuck U

Illustration by Chuck U

There was a time when lollapalooza was just a word, Grant Park just a green space and August a mere month for beaches and tomatoes. But that time is a memory, as the Lollapalooza music festival has come to dominate the city’s late summer these last several years in ways both physically and psychically. By now, you know whether you’re going (Craigslisters and StubHubbers notwithstanding), but you likely have not yet completed your dance card: after all, you’ll be joining 270,000 other folks sorting out 130 performers on eight stages spread across the length and width of Grant Park. Read the rest of this entry »

Lollapalooza Survival Guide: Two Field Guides to Festival Experience

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The Lollapalooza Issue

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We asked two “veterans” of the Lolla experience to share their secrets.

Keidra Chaney’s Lollapalooza Survival Guide

Make no mistake: Even if you’re a festival pro, Lollapalooza can be a challenge. It takes place on what is usually one of the hottest weekends of the year in Chicago, and the massive size of the festival’s audience and lineup can easily overwhelm. But with a little preparation, it’s not hard to avoid the usual Lolla headaches—aching feet, dehydration, sunburn—and maybe even end the fest feeling as relaxed and daisy-fresh as Day One.  (OK, I won’t guarantee that.) Here are a few survival tips: Read the rest of this entry »

My Lolla: B. David Zarley

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The Lollapalooza Issue

MS MR

MS MR

My musical inclinations are known to skip rather eclectically along the popular spectrum—from electropop to hip-hop, EDM to rock to even the odd nouveau country cut—and as such, my Lollapalooza schedule similarly careens back and forth. Of particular interest to me is the miniature post-punk revival on the schedule, as New Order and The Cure, on the Red Bull Sound Select Stage the first and last nights, respectively, of the festival, are both progenitors of sounds which are currently in vogue on the popular spectrum, from the luxe macabre of Rick Ross and “Cruel Summer”-era Kanye West to, more obviously, pop acts like The Good Natured and Charli XCX. Also of note is the vast amounts of space in my schedule; part of the beauty of an event like Lollapalooza is the ability to listen a la carte, and the spaces I have allowed are meant to be explored. Finally, keep in mind that many of the acts are doing after-shows elsewhere in the city; these are the best ways to experience a must-see/favorite artist, where some semblance of intimacy and civilization can enhance the experience. 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: Kenneth Preski

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The Lollapalooza Issue

Azealia Banks

Azealia Banks

There are very few cities in the world that rival Chicago for concert-going. The glut of talent at our disposal year round often leaves us locals spoiled by the intimacy of the venues we frequent. Add to that the listings of many artists’ after-shows, on top of the price of a ticket for a big festival like Lollapalooza, one is compelled to ask, “why bother?” The answer is simple: community. No other occasion in this city calls for such a wide swath of diverse individuals to rejoice in the ecstasy of existence, of electrical impulses writ large. It’s religious. It’s primordial. Melodies express the inexpressible. Forget the wristbands and beer and the pain of your sunburn, and keep this in mind: this weekend you get a taste of something singular and eternal. Cherish and celebrate your relation to both. Read the rest of this entry »