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!