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)