Friday, June 5, 2009

Bonnaroo Count Down!

The 2009 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival kicks off this coming Thursday and boy am i pumped! Im definitely ready to kick back and relax, catch some rays, listen to some tunes and have an adult beverage...or nine. This will be my third Bonnaroo experience, and i plan on taking everything in-- from 100+ music acts and the comedy showcases to the morning yoga sessions and the Scratch DJ Academy... and lets not forget the late night dance parties at the silent disco!

Yes Prince, I WILL party like its 1999! I may just take matters into my own hands like this young gentlemen below... (WATCH THE ENTIRE VIDEO PLEASE)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday Morning Pick-Me-Up!

Last night I made the rookie mistake of staying out past my bed time all the while knowing i had a pleasant 5:30 A.M. wake-up call coming my way. A couple of Bombay Sapphires to the dome, some good company and some quality tunes led me to believe that two hours of sleep was more than enough for my 7 hour work day. Did i mention that today is Saturday? FML!

Some people need that bowl of Kashi and a banana to jump start their day (one of my faves), or maybe that go-to cup of Joe to stop the morning shakes. These were not going to work for me this time. I hopped in the car around 6 A.M. dreading the day to come. I turned the key and the radio ignited with the sweet sounds of WLS-FM True Oldies. This is not uncommon considering it is my numero uno preset on the car stereo.

With in seconds i found myself sitting a little taller--my eyes wide open with a smile on my face-- and i owe it all to Chairmen of the Board (what a sweet band name!), one of the smoothest and most popular soul acts to emerge from Detroit in the early '70s. This morning i felt like shit...but by the time this 2 1/2 minute masterpiece slowly faded out, i was ready like Freddy!

Just listen and you will feel it!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

All-American Interview

So for those of you who don't know, this past month i secured a position as a freelance writer for the Chicago Tribune's RedEye. The RedEye is a daily free newspaper which highlights national news stories as well as local Chicago news, music, arts, and entertainment. Most people grab it on their way to work in the morning hence the name "RedEye."

As a special contributor to the RedEye, i will be writing mostly about local Chicago music and events, such as, record releases and promoting upcoming shows for bands and musicians that are seeking press. However, last week was a different story. Now, for you hip kids that are current with today's popular music scene will either love or hate my latest assignment.

Usually on Wednesday afternoons, i end my day around 1:30 PM and i head home for a nice lunch and some Jeopardy. Last Wednesday was a different story. At 2 PM i received a call from singer/bassist and resident teen heart throb, Tyson Ritter, from the nationally acclaimed pop-rock quartet All-American Rejects. So like i said before--you either love them or you hate them.

I will be honest to say that I'm not a true fan of their music, and before this interview, i would usually judge this book by its cover. But after everything was said and done, i realized how passionate he and his band mates were about their music. For them it was more about creating something that they would be proud of rather than just knocking out another 45 minute collection of tunes that would get them their next summer home in the Hamptons. I may not be their number one fan, but after talking with Tyson for 15 minutes, i learned that he's not concerned with what other people think as long as he and his band mates are happy with the end result.

It was definitely a lot of fun as we chatted and exchanged laughs as i learned about his true feelings regarding record labels, the story behind their impressive cover of Britney Spears' "Womanizer" and Tyson's favorite flavor of Big League Chew--which was a random question i asked based on my brother Joe's suggestion on ending the interview on lighter note. (its grape by the way...duh!)

So without further ado, here is the "Director's Cut" of the article that was published in today's (4/13/09) RedEye for all of Chicago to see. (edits were made due to length of the article and explicit language...damn the man!)

All-American Dreams
By Matt Kuhnen
For The RedEye

With a name like All-American Rejects, you would think this quartet of twenty-something pop-rockers would be nothing more than a group of slackers--breezing in and out of the studio when the record execs, and the radio, are yearning for another three and half minute masterpiece. This is not the case for these Okalahoma boys who aren’t trying to impress anyone, but themselves.

For the past four months or so, All-American Rejects have been hard at work finishing their third full length release, shooting music videos (TRL may be dead, but bands still make videos) re-inventing Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” for a Yahoo campaign (YouTube that one) and rehearsing and organizing their first national headlining tour. So when I asked lead singer/bassist Tyson Ritter how he was doing hours before hitting the stage in Kansas City, he replies nonchalantly, “Just uh…relaxing.”

The band has earned relaxation time after spending 2 1/2 years on the road while writing their follow up to their multi-platinum selling album Move Along, in addition to spending another six months in the studio bringing to life their new work of art, When The World Comes Down.

Smashing onto the pop-rock scene back in 2003 with their hit single “Swing, Swing”, AAR continued to win the hearts of its generation in 2005 with “Move Along”, “Dirty Little Secret” and the prom-themed rock ballad “It Ends Tonight.” Switching record labels in the process, AAR felt they needed to approach the new album a bit differently than past efforts.

“We had to push ourselves to a brink and it definitely teetered on this whole thing imploding--and I feel like you have to go there every time” he said. “With Move Along, it was kind of us versus the label—this time it was kind of us versus ourselves.”

The Rejects’ first single off the new record “Gives You Hell” is #1 on Top 40 radio and is over 1.7 million in digital downloads. Plans for dropping the next single are in the works having just finished shooting the video for “The Wind Blows.”

“Yeah we just did the video and it’s gonna be a sexy bastard” Ritter said laughing. “Its gonna be the video where the Rejects show a little bit of their “chesticles”…it gets pretty hot and heavy.”

When The World Comes Down really shows a different side of their music--infusing orchestral arrangements; acoustic guitars paired with auxiliary instruments, Choir inspired backing vocals and a first time male/female duet.

“Our producer Erik Valentine has such an eclectic nature which melded great with our eclectic nature, and I think that’s what some people don’t know—because people really haven’t figured out the Rejects yet” he said, in reference to comparison to other mainstream pop-punk acts such as Good Charlotte, Panic At The Disco, and Fall Out Boy. “This is the record we put every bit of our life source into and it’s finally happening…it’s finally our turn.”

The Spring/Summer tour kicked off in Albuquerque, NM earlier this month and is scheduled to hit cities across the country through May with more dates to follow. “The I Wanna Rock Tour is going to be up close and personal. We hope this is the tour Rejects fans will brag about seeing for years to come!” says Tyson Ritter.

“This is the best production we’ve taken out. We’re primed and we’re just killing shows every night and I think this is gonna be a concert the kids will tell their kids about” Ritter explains. “They’re really getting a show, it’s not a concert that has peaks and valleys—this is a show that just flows. We’ve got a solid half hour worth of hits, so when you spread that through out seventy-five minutes, you get one hell of a rock show.”

The Rejects will be swing, swinging through Chicago on their “I Wanna Rock” tour to blow the doors off the Aragon Ballroom with support from Shiny Toy Guns, Ace Enders & A Million Different People, Vedera and The Upwelling. Ritter went on to comment on his favorite part about playing Chicago.

“The kids man—the kids are different, it’s the Midwest vibe and we’re from Oklahoma and it’s the Midwest to us. In the Midwest people will give their seats up for anybody and it’s just a kinder atmosphere” he said. “You guys are the biggest city with the least head up your ass—New York has a big head up its ass, L.A. has a big fist up its ass, and Chicago just has a big boner.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Weekend With Anathallo & Bloc Party!

So last Friday night i was chillaxin' at my brother's place when i discovered the melodramatic Chicago ensemble Anathallo (“to renew, refresh, or bloom again”). As i listened to their tunes via Myspace, it was clear to me that Sufjan Stevens and The Arcade Fire had a love child--and Anathallo was its name!

I then scrolled down to some of their live videos which impressed me even more. Each member of the band, which can range from 7-9 members depending upon the night, sang in unison all the while trading instruments between songs. I thought to myself "what a great show this would be...i wonder when they will be back in Chicago?" Turns out they were playing that same night at The Bottom Lounge located at 1375 W Lake St. So we finished our drinks and made our way to the venue.

For $13 we gained entry to the Bottom Lounge which is a swanky rock 'n' roll venue i had never been to before. The show, to say the least, was absolutely amazing. Using a wide variety of instruments ranging from the usual guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards to over sized marching band drums, wood blocks, flugelhorn, and the ever so popular glockenspiel. Anathallo is definitely a collection of well trained musicians and not just a band. In 2007 they were invited to play California's Coachella Music Festival, and later that year, they released their sophmore effort Canopy Glow which they recorded in a local Chicago church.

Anathallo will be back in Chicago April 20th performing in North Park University's Anderson Chapel at 7 PM. Tickets are $10 and can most likely be purchased at the door. See ya there!

Saturday night we hit the Aragon Ballroom to get our face melted by East London art-rockers Bloc Party. If you're not familiar with Bloc Party's sound think of it as The Killers with a little bit of The Cure mixed in...pretty pretty pretty pretty pretty good! This was the third time i have seen Bloc Party, and it seemed to be louder than ever.

Bloc Party broke out onto the scene in 2005 with their first album Silent Alarm which was released on Vice records. Since then, they have released two others, A Weekend in The City, and their latest, Intimacy. The later two are very similar with only a year and half in between their release dates. Their newer music has more of a electronic rock sound to it, but the result is innovative and fresh.

The show itself was great. Bloc Party is one of those bands that sounds even better live than on the cd/iPod. We got to the show just as they were going on, so the crowd was in full effect and at max capacity. We decided to hang in the back, which was a blessing in disguise because we ran into our old friend PC, who i haven't seen since he launched himself into the seedy underworld of male modeling. What a beef cake! Anyway we proceeded up to the balcony level to meet up with the rest of his party and to catch a better glimpse of the action. Although all the members of the band exude great energy and stage presence, PC and I agreed that we could not stop staring at the drummer. A petite Asian man with hands so fast you'll freak...its just an awesome sight.
Bloc Party played a chaotic hour and half set and left us wanting more. After the show we went out to a few bars in the area to blow off some steam ending our night at the Kinetic Playground across the street from the Aragon. As we walked to the back of the bar i instantly recognized the DJ Kele Okereke....better known as the front man of...get ready, drum roll....Bloc Party! Kele kept the tunes pumping till about 3AM before he made his get away.

All and all, i had a great musical experience this past weekend. i discovered a new band which is always a plus, rocked out hard with Bloc Party, connected with an old friend, and stumbled in what turned out to be a sweet after party with a guest rock star DJ. Not too shabby!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cut Copy Gets Chicago Dancing!

Aussie based synth-pop rockers Cut Copy lit up The Vic Theater last night (3/18/09) with a fluorescent light show and dance inspired tunes. Although the show was SOLD OUT, my brother and I, with a little patience and some street smarts, finagled our way in to see what all the fuss was about.

Drum and keyboard duo, Matt & Kim, opened the show as if they were playing for their hometown Brooklyn fans, commenting on how pumped they were to be back in the Windy City. Their action packed performance proved this true. While Matt violated his keyboard, Kim backed him up on the drums with a powerful fury that would put Animal and Meg White to shame. They proceeded to play tracks off their new release Grand including their hit single "Daylight", as well as the crowd favorite "Yea Yeah" . A few songs before ending their set Kim declared atop of her drum kit like the sassy little gal she is "Tonight is all about getting fucked up and sweaty!" That paired with Matt's crowd WALKING definitely solidified their rock 'n' roll roots.
Cut Copy went a different route that took everyone on a sonic dance adventure. What i like about their music is they are able to maintain that pop sensibility with catchy hooks that appeal to song-based listeners, but what sets them apart is their ability to meld unstoppable up-beat electro rhythms often times jamming right into the next song. Fans of LCD Soundsystem, Daft Punk, and Depeche Mode can all find common ground listening to this band.
Ripping into some of their new material, the crowd responded positively to "Feel The Love" and "Hearts On Fire" both of which are getting mad hits on their myspace page. On tour in support of their third release In Ghost Colours, Cut Copy's fan base is rapidly growing continuing their tour with a slew of east-coast dates that have already sold out. One can only hope that they keep the electric boogaloo rolling into the summer festival season that is rapidly approaching.

So if you get a chance to experience Cut Copy in the flesh i suggest you go for it. Paired with Matt & Kim, you'll get an all around rock 'n' roll dance extravaganza that will leave you desiring entry to the after-party!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

$60 Dolla-palooza

Boy, am I bitter! The ever-elusive sixty dollar Lollapalooza souvenir tickets went on-sale earlier today, and once again I missed out.

If you have been living under a rock since the early 90's, Lollapalooza was organized by Jane's Addiction front man Perry Farrell in an effort to showcase to the U.S. the rapidly blooming alternative music scene. After taking a break in 1997, and returning in 2003, the once traveling festival decided to make Chicago's Grant Park its weekend long festival destination during the summer of 2005.

A few days ago if you were a subscriber of the official Lollapalooza newsletter like myself, you received an email warning everyone that the sixty dollar "golden tickets" would be going on-sale "sometime" this week. Once this was announced, the only way to obtain the coveted discounted pass was to constantly watch the ticket section of the Lollapalooza website like a hawk, waiting for them to appear. This is the fourth year in a row that i have received this email, and the fourth time I have not been quick enough to cash in on this amazing deal.

Let me explain why these deeply-discounted tickets usually disappear in a matter of 20 minutes. Each year weekend passes generally go on-sale at an initial "early bird price", and once that allotment of tickets has sold out, they release a new set at a slightly higher price and so on and so forth until it reaches a price cap over $200.00. Since the resurrection of the festival and it's growing popularity, final pricing on tickets have increased every year. So as you can see, if you plan to attend the festival on an annual basis like myself, you definitely want to score those sixty dollar three day passes and save yourself some money for the $5 beers.

Okay, now that i have vented my frustration, I urge all of you who plan on attending this year's Lollapalooza, which will take place August 7th-9th in Chicago's Grant Park, to catch the first round of early bird tickets going on-sale March 31st, 2009. Even though the line-up is set to be released mid April (rumor has it Beastie Boys, Jane's Addiction, Depeche Mode and three more "big" headliners will perform-- among others), it would be wise to lock down a ticket at the initial lower price if you plan to attend all three days. I took the initiative last year and it definitely paid off. For those of you who prefer your Lolla' experience to be "Fun Sized", single day tickets will most likely go on-sale once the initial line-up is announced.

So kudos to the couple thousand people who were lucky enough to stumble upon the now extinct recession friendly Lolla' weekend pass. As the festival approaches be sure to check back here for updates and information including initial line-ups, the after show party schedule, and my very own Lolla' Survival Guide!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March Madness!!!

With Spring in the air, more and more people are starting to come out of hibernation to have some fun. I thought i would start of the month by highlighting a few shows and events that are happening in Chicago throughout March, just in case Spring cleaning isn't at the top of your to do list.

I usually make it a point to keep up on the calenders and schedules of various venues and clubs in the Chicago land area. When i see something that tickles my fancy, I'll whip out my interactive calender and plug it in. As i scroll through my BlackBerry, i notice that there is a lot to see and hear this month spanning a wide variety of musical tastes and genres. So lets check out what March Madness has in store for us besides a little B-Ball.

Now, i have written about this event before, so this is just a friendly reminder. The first Thursday of every month, The Burlington, in Logan Square, sponsors an Oldies themed night hosted by Chicago DJ duo Flosstradamus. It starts at 10PM, free to get in (21+), $2 PBR, $3 shots, and the best oldies jams this side of The Mississippi! 'Nuff said...

Back in the early 70's John Prine was like the new Dylan. His musical styling flirts with everything from acoustic folk to rockabilly to straight-ahead country. Originally from Maywood, IL, Prine spent most of his youth writing songs and perfecting his folk bluegrass craft right here in Chicago. Eventually he made his way down to Memphis where he'd make a name for himself on the singer song-writer scene. Thanks to my Father, John Prine has been one of my favorite music story tellers since i can remember. This Saturday i get the privilege of sitting front row to enjoy some old fashioned pickin' and grinnin' by the one and only John Prine. Tickets are still available and the show starts at 8PM at the Genesee Theater in Waukeegan, IL.

MARCH 13th
If you're looking to get a jump start on the summer jam band scene, check out Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9). Formed in the late 90's in Georgia, STS9 is a melting pot of breakbeat-infused psychedelic music with improvisational elements that follow suit with many current jam bands. I last saw STS9 at Lollapalooza 2007 and it was a really fun show. They will definitely keep you grooving all night long. STS9 will be performing next Friday the 13th at The Congress Theater, door open at 7PM. BYOGS!!! (Bring Your Own Glow Sticks)

March 14th
Now for something completely different...

I can always count on Schubas Tavern to provide me with buzz worthy music at dive bar prices, and this month is no exception. Saturday March 14th, Schubas will host a double bill featuring Portland based musician and multimedia artist Yacht and iPod commercial phenoms Chairlift. I have seen Yacht open for Vampire Weekend and it was very entertaining to say the least. Yacht performs with extreme high energy, melding heavy acoustic percussion with an array of electronic noises driven by positive lyrics and hypnotizing mantras. If you like LCD Soundsystem, you will like Yacht. So i suggest you make it out to Schubas for some high quality brews and to catch some bands that are on the up and up. I've already got my ticket! ($12)

MARCH 18th

Synth-pop trio Cut Copy will be performing later this month at The Vic Theater with support from keyboard-drum inspired duo Matt & Kim. This is going to be a great show with two high energy bands that always deliver the party. Both groups have just started their North American tour in support of their new releases and have already sold out in some cities including Chicago (Daaaang!). So if you want to be included in the fun try your luck with the scalpers or you can catch an after party DJ set with Cut Copy and friends at one of the premier gay bars in Chicago, Berlin.

MARCH 21st
Once again we return our attention to the corner tavern with the stage in the back known as Schubas. Saturday March 21st, New York based folk rock acoustic pop singer song-writer Ari Hest will be performing two shows in the same night! The first show starting at 7:30 PM and then again at 11PM. Ari is just a great live performer. His voice is even better live than on the record and his song writing abilities are unparalleled to a lot of current "top 40" artists. Ari has been very busy the last year and a half launching "52" ,which was a song writing project where he released a new track every week for a year. For a small fee, you could enjoy a new Ari song every week. Pretty impressive if you ask me. In addition, he has just started a new tour to support his third official release set to drop March 10th entitled Twelve Mondays. I have seen Ari many times (OMG!!! maybe he'll remember me!!!) and its gets better every time whether he is solo or with his band. With two shows in one night there is no excuse to miss this one.

MARCH 28th
To wrap up the month, East London art punkers Bloc Party will be performing at The Aragon Ballroom. Bloc Party will for sure rock your socks off. Their debut album, Silent Alarm, appeared early in 2005 and was released by Vice Records in the States to widespread acclaim. Bloc Party brings a great blend of alternative indie rock to the stage without the sloppiness of a garage band. The couple of times i have seen them, their performances have been flawless and left your ears ringing. Go to this show... you'll thank me later.

Well it looks like this month is going to be great for live music in Chicago. I'm sure i have left a few shows out, but its hard to cram everything this great city has to offer into one blog post. I have definitely chosen an eclectic blend of shows that can satisfy any music lovers palate. Now its your job to go out there and get a taste of the goods. Hopefully after reading this, i have encouraged you to broaden your music horizons and check out some shows you normally wouldn't. So start marking your calenders, you wont want to miss out on these must see events!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Crocodile Rock!

Sorry, but the above title is not referring to Elton John's classic hit where he tells the tale of 1960's rock 'n' roll. The Crocodile "rock" I'm referring to would be that of Wicker Park's newest weekend spot, where you can enjoy a fine lager, a free personal pizza with purchase of said lager, and the only place on a Saturday night where you can dance to the illest 90's jamz!

Located at 1540 N. Milwaukee Ave. right in the heart of the Wicker Park night life, The Crocodile, offers a laid back bar atmosphere upstairs, and a basement party vibe downstairs. This being a brand new addition to the neighborhood, i did some research to see what other people had to say. After reading a majority of negative reviews all complaining of slow service and bitching about only getting one free pizza with your first drink, and not a free pizza with every drink (Hey Chubbs! you really need more than one FREE pizza???!!!), i decided to check it out anyway.

Myself and a few friends arrived at The Crocodile around 12:30 this past Saturday, and with in 5 minutes i had a cool, refreshing vodka tonic in hand. Through out the evening the prompt service at the bar was very consistent, so I'm not sure what everyone is complaining about. Although i did not cash in on my free pizza, I'm sure it was delicious... everyone knows there is no such thing as bad pizza. It's aaaalllll gooood baby!... especially when its free! As i made each step down the stairs towards the basement, I could feel the rolling bass line of Digital Underground's "Humpty Dance" grow louder and heavier, and i knew right then and there that everything was going to be ok.
Every other Saturday night, The Crocodile hosts UBERJAM, where you'll find a basement bar filled with funky fresh freaks breaking out all the hippest dance moves. You would have thought you were an extra on the set of House Party with the DJ's of the night spinning everything from Young M.C. and Salt 'N' Peppa to Biz Markie and Bell Biv DeVoe (click the link you'll recognize the song).
So despite all the bad reviews, I had a "fresh" time at The Crocodile that night, and would definitely go back for the dance party alone. I thought the music was fly and a refreshing change of pace from the usual bar scene. Even if it was for just one night, it was a fun throwback to the era of High Fades, "Motown Philly," and Gordon Gartrell shirts.
So if you find yourself craving a new joint to beak out your Running Man or show off your Tootsee Roll, head down to The Crocodile for the weekly UBERJAM! Word to yo' mother!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine's Day Blues?...Funk That! Lets Boogie Woogie!

Personally, i don't get too excited about celebrating Valentine's Day, but this year is different. Traditionally, most people will spend Valentine's Day sending flowers and cards to loved ones, or planning that perfect candle lit dinner followed by some pink champagne and romp on the ole' bear skin rug. For us Kraft Cheese Singles, its a different story. Even though Valentine's Day has sort of become a Hallmark holiday, if you're a romantic at heart, spending it alone can be depressing. So with that said, i encourage all of you singles to cancel that reservation for one, and get some strange on the dance floor!

SMARTBAR , located at 3730 N. Clark St. (two blocks north of Wrigley field) is one of my favorite spots to get down on local, as well as national DJ acts. The sound system is supreme, the drinks are poured with a heavy hand, and they usually close up shop around 4AM. I also enjoy the "come as you are" atmosphere that this underground club exudes. You don't need to dress like a hoochie or break out your shiny jeans and sunglasses to fit in. When walking down the stairs of the entrance it reminds me of a basement party, filled with party people, looking!

This Friday the 13th, SMARTBAR, will be a hosting some great DJ's that will bring the jams all night. A-Trak currently on his Infinity +1 CD Release Tour, will be headlining that night with support from two Chicago acts The Hood Internet, and Bald Eagle. Although A-Trak has made quite a name for himself in the world of DJ's, some people may recognize him as the official tour DJ of such super star acts as Kaye West, and....Kanye West. Also, a fun fact i learned from doing a bit of research is he is the brother of the tall skinny-guitar shredding-vocalist Dave-1, of the synth pop revivalist duo Chromeo.

DJ A-Trak has traveled all over the world, performing at DJ competitions, clubs, and music festivals in countries including Australia, Japan, South Africa, and Norway, all before the tender age of 18. The turntablist wunderkind has made himself a pioneer in this subculture of hip-hop just within a few years. In 2006, he released Sunglasses Is A Must, an autobiographical DVD compilation from his old battling days and up-and-coming career followed by a string of mix tapes and hip-hop productions.

Now on to the main event for this Valentine's Day celebration. Saturday Feb. 14th, I suggest keeping the dance party alive and hit the Abbey Pub for the 4th annual FlosstraPROMus.
Im not sure how this event came about since this is the 1st I've heard of it, but it is held on Valentine's Day and is hosted by Chicago DJ duo Flosstradamus. It will most definitely be a good party for the small price of $5. The doors open at 9PM, show at 10PM, 18 to dip and 21 to sip.

So if you're feeling lonely and you want to meet some singles, or you and your mate are looking to celebrate V-Day outside of the box, head out to this event for some drinks and an eclectic blend of dance mash-ups. Check out the sweet trailer below!!!

So to all the single ladies... I'm gon' go call my crew/ You go call your crew/ We can rendezvous at the bar around two ...(oh no he didn't!!!)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Oldies Night!

I cant begin to explain my love for the Oldies. Dick Biondi and the 94.7 WLS-FM Chicago crew has been my number one pre-set on the car stereo for quite some time now. Its a constant stream of feel good hits that make you want to dance like no one is watching. I sometimes wish i could travel through time and return to the era when "rock 'n' roll" was new and taboo. Now, when i say "oldies" I'm talking about everything from 50's rock 'n' roll to early 70's Motown and R&B. From Chuck Berry and The Beach Boys, all the way to The Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder... and everything in between.

Its amazing how this music has had a lasting impact on a lot of current music today. Its no secret that with advancements in technology, a lot of popular oldies of yesteryear are hits once again via mainstream hip-hop and dance music. Popular French electronica duo Daft Punk are definitely guilty of this pleasure, but that's what i love about them. They, like many popular artists of today, resurrect a lost hit making it come alive again with bass heavy beats and keytar synth sounds.

So now that i have expressed my love for Oldies like this guy, let me tell you about one of my favorite spots to enjoy such an eclectic group of songs.

The Burlington, located at 3425 W. Fullerton Ave. is a great place to grab a brew and take in some quality tunes. They are known to sponsor themed music nights such as Tender Tuesday on A Thursday: Classic country so tender you could cut it with a beer... and Disco Then? The first Thursday of every month they sponsor an Oldies Night hosted by Flosstradamus, one of my favorite Chicago DJs. Flosstradamus can be described as "2 DJs, 4 turntables, and lots of people getting buck on the dance floor," as stated on their myspace page. Every time i hear Floss is spinning at a bar or a club i definitely try to make it there. They bring the party everywhere they go spinning an eclectic mashup of electro, house, minimal techno, and sleazy R&B. So when i heard they would be hanging out playing oldies all night i had to be there.

After work, i met up with my friend Lucia and we took a brisk, 5 minute walk to The Burlington to enjoy some spirits and do the twist. Before leaving her apartment she introduced me to her new pet, who come to find out, was a Lionhead Bunny (seriously). I have never heard of this breed of bunny before, but it looked as awesome as the name sounds. I laughed out loud when i saw it. It's my pleasure to introduce you to my new friend Rocket.

Anyway, oldies night was a success at The Burlington! For a wintry Thursday night the joint was packed. With no cover charge, great tunes, and the $5 PBR & Beam shot special, it was no surprise seating was limited. As midnight approached, i found myself at the great divide of choosing sleep over the next soulful R&B classic to pour out the bar's sound system...with a 430 A.M. wake-up call i reluctantly i chose sleep.

Once again, i mos def enjoyed my time out at The Burlington. If you ever find yourself in the Logan Square neighborhood i strongly suggest stopping in for a beer, a shot, and place to rest your weary ears on some good music.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Make Way For The S-O-V!!!

I've just returned from a night out and what better way to beat the cold than to check out some live Brit-hop conveniently located in my very own neighborhood. Since her debut release Public Warning in 2006, Lady Sovereign had decided to come out of hiding and perform here in Chi-Town at the Logan Square Auditorium just minutes from my "crib." She is currently back on the road in support of her upcoming new release set to drop in April 2009.

You may be asking yourself, "who is this little tart, and why should i fancy her?" The self-proclaimed "biggest midget in the game," MC Lady Sovereign has an unmistakably British delivery and style, but a string of singles showcasing her sly wit and brash charisma over bottom-heavy beats brought on a worldwide buzz. As her full-length debut was set to drop, the buzz around the brash U.K. MC was unavoidable. Before most everyone actually heard her, they knew a few things: she was the first non-American to get signed to Def Jam; she had her chance with the ultra-hip producers the Neptunes and came up with nothing; and Jay-Z signed her on a single freestyle.

i arrived at the venue around 10 PM after visiting the "Ice House" for 40 oz of freedom. If you haven't noticed my fellow Americans...we are in a recession and i was lookin' to get a wicked hard buzz. Moving forward, i decided to bring my camera this time and take a few photos and videos of the show. i snapped videos of SOV's two most popular singles off her last album "Love Me or Hate Me" and the title track "Public Warning." I got pretty close so the sound is really loud and distorted at some points, but it got the job done.

Lady Sov also previewed a few new tracks off her new album due later this year. She opened the show with her first new single "I Got You Dancing" which she offers as a free download on her myspace page. She also busted out another new tune "So Human" in which she samples The Cure's "Close To Me" and turns it into an instant club hit. Although Sov only stands at 5'1'', she definitely owns the crowd by spitting hot fire while double fisting Heinekins, sprinkling some witty bantor between songs ('ello Gub'nor), and sharing her beloved brews with the front row. Overall, the show was a blast! The crowd was energetic, the beats hit hard, and Lady Sov's rhyme game is definitely up to par.
So if you like your Hip-Hop with a side of attitude and a killer English accent, Lady Sov should do the trick. If Lady Sov doesn't do it for you and you still crave rhymes and club beats from across the pond, check out The Streets... allllriiiioooght!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bonnaroo Wake-Up Call...

Usually Tuesday mornings i get to sleep in, however, today i was awoken by the funny noise my phone makes when i get a text message. At this point it was 7 AM and i had at least another REM cycle in me, but in all fairness the text was sent by my pal from Michigan where those crazies live an hour into the future. The subject of the text was the release of this year's initial Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival line-up.

I must say, this years initial line-up is "pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good!"
For those of you who aren't familiar with this annual festival here is a quick definition i poached from the Urban Dictionary:
Bonnaroo: 1) Referenced from a Dr. John song, "Decidedly Bonnaroo," supposedly is Cajun for "great time" 2) an amazing music festival in the cow fields of Manchester, Tennessee held in mid-June since 2001. It brings the best jam bands, rock, jazz, blues, reggae, bluegrass, hip hop, and blues together with 90000 music fiends for a beautiful amalgamation of substance abuse, mud, and music.

"Bonnaroo is gonna be tight this year! Did you see the line up? Trey's playing!"

Sounds like fun right? This June will be my third Bonnaroo experience. I attended in 2004 and again in 2006. The latter was definitely more enjoyable music wise and in overall atmosphere. While 2004 had amazing acts such as Ween, Primus, Trey, The Dead, My Morning Jacket, David Byrne, Bob Dylan, and Wilco to name a few, i was not properly prepared for the elements. Bonnaroo is not for the weak. It is 4 days of sleeping in tent, waking up at 6 AM even though you went to bed at 4 because its too damn hot to sleep, usually too many adult beverages, and non stop music and entertainment everywhere you go (which is the best part).

The whole trip was on a whim, so we stuffed as much as we could into my friends escort wagon and hit the road at 10PM the night before the gates opened thinking we had a head start. By 8 am the next morning we had made it to the exit ramp with only a few miles to the camp ground. Little to our knowledge, it would take us 5 hrs to get from the exit ramp to the camp site, a mere 5 miles..."that's like a mile an hour!" The sun was hot, we definitely brought more booze than food, and our rain gear was not up to par, but the music was phenomenal. Bonnaroo 2006 you ask? "well, that's a different story all togever...we had to beat them wif they own shoes..."

This is one of the many festivals i look forward to during the summer time...So come this June, for 5 days i will be soaking up the rays and the tunes down in Manchester, TN with a few of my friends (about 100,000 or so)...i suggest you get your freak flag out and join us! I'll meet you at the Silent Disco!

Watch the Bonnaroo 2009 Line-Up Video

Monday, February 2, 2009

What's a Passion Pit?

Let me start by saying this blog (my 1st) is an all access backstage pass into my world of music. This includes stories of live shows I have experienced and discussions on music that makes me feel alive. Although I have been going to concerts since the seventh grade, last week I went to my first show alone. As I swayed melodically to the synth-pop that was floating through the air I came to full fruition, that even though I was riding solo that night, I could still share my experience and educate my friends and fellow music lovers through magical powers I call the INTERNET! So now that my thesis has been stated, "let the great experiment begin..."

So my love affair with Passion Pit (who share the name of an 80's Traci Lords/John Holmes skin flick) all started a little over a month ago when my dear friend Mickey slid his iPod into my dock (that's what she said!) and blasted their six track EP Chunk of Change. Passion Pit's sound can roughly be categorized as big-beat/soul/game boy-electro-pop...yeah that's got a nice ring to it. I just calls 'em likes I hears 'em. They have recently toured with Girl Talk as an opener, and were voted Best New Local Act in a Boston music poll.

Passion Pit is centered by Boston-based singer-song writer Michael Angelakos. The entire EP was written and recorded solely by Angelakos as a Valentine's Day gift for his girlfriend, but now performs live with a full band. They share the same label with fellow indie artists Les Savy Fav and The Hold Steady. Shortly after my 1st taste of the Pit, i found out they were playing at Schubas Tavern right here in the Windy City for a measly 10 bucks! So, long story short, I ended up purchasing THE last ticket to the show. As I mentioned earlier, I usually don't go to shows alone, but when I saw I had a chance to snag the last ticket I knew it was a blessing in disguise.

After pounding 40 oz. of high quality malt liquor, (retail value...$2.49) I made way into Schubas tiny tavern and headed towards the back where they kept the talent. I got there just a few moments before PP took the stage and it was packed full of twenty-something beardos and cute hipster chicks downing PBR like it was going out of style (god forbid!). They opened with a little electro diddy called "I've got your number", which got the crowd off to a strong start. Angelakos' voice is even better heard live. As each song rolled on (they only played 6 songs 'cause that's all they've got) Angelako's falsetto, which can be described as if Prince and Steve Perry had a baby, pierced my ear drums with great delight, almost sounding like a children's chorus bringing down the house.

The band as a whole was an entertaining sight with two players on keys, a mellowed out bassist, your standard sweaty drummer, and a guy who played with various knobs on what looked like a member of the Flux Capacitor family (take me back to 1985 doc!). Another stand out track "Sleepyhead", which is most popular on their myspace page, made many jump in unison in addition to a lone crowd surfer (yeah...THAT guy was there). To say the least, I was very pleased with the whole experience and suggest you check out their six-track EP and keep an eye on this "buzz-worthy blogo-sphere" band's full length release in 2009.

(Passion Pit @ Schubas Chicago, IL 1/27/09)