Friday, July 29, 2005

Weekend Music Outlook

After two huge music festivals in town the past two weeks, I suppose this weekend is going to be a bit anticlimactic for many...and perhaps even a bit of a relief for others? Saturday For those who dig the outdoor festivals, you won't have to go through complete withdrawal this weekend as the 2-day Wicker Park Festival kicks off tomorrow at the corner of Milwaukee, North and Damen. For the complete schedule, go to, though I would especially recommend checking out the North Stage on Saturday. Local indie-popsters The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir start at 4pm, followed by fellow local favs Head of Femur at 5:15, Austin roots-rockers Okkervil River at 7:45 and the psychedelic pop stylings of The Olivia Tremor Control at 9. Burnt out with all the outdoor music hijinks?? Wicker Park music venue Subterranean is hosting The Olivia Tremor Control tonight at 10pm and Okkervil River tomorrow night at 10:15. Local band Sybris is opening for Okkervil on Saturday and will also be celebrating the release of their self-titled debut on Flameshovel Records. Sunday While we're in Liquor Park, I'd also have to recommend this week's Locale Sunday at Rodan, featuring music by the Continuous Shatter Sound System and visuals by Populationworks. Here's more from Locale Events: CONTINUOUS SHATTER SOUND SYSTEM [ATAVISTIC WORLDWIDE] The CSSS experience is like a trip around the world. Kurt Kellison, the owner ofAtavistic Worldwide, pulled the CSSS debut together in January for Locale. Consisting of elite Chicago instrumentalists Ken Vandermark, Nate McBride, CaleArthur, and Kurt Kellison himself, this group spins from an incredibly raremusic collection that comes from around the world. Video: POPULUTIONWORKS Glen Jennings / Nathan Ober. Formed in Columbus, Ohio in the summer of 2000, Populutionworks is a video installation/experimental media organization thatuses lo-fi, circuit bent and home made gear combined with live streaming video software to create a stunning array of raw visuals. Locale Sunday kicks off at 10pm with DJ residents jRicK and M50. Rodan is located at 1530 N. Milwaukee, there is no cover for this event.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Lollapalooza Photoblog Part 2 (Sunday 7/24/05)

A second set of pictures from this weekend's Lollapalooza are now available on the RFC Live Photo Archive. Part two features the Sunday peformances of The Arcade Fire and the Dig! inspired Dandy Warhols/Brian Jonestown Massacre reunion. Huge thanks to Julie Mitchell for taking these for me...and lending me her camera to snap a few myself. Check out the full set here. Technorati:

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Teenage Fanclub joins former teenage heartthrob

Don't forget, tonight's Teenage Fanclub performance has been moved from Metro to sister venue Double Door. The Scottish popsters, who recently recorded their latest album just down the street from Double Door, will be joining prescheduled headliner Evan Dando, best known for his days gracing the pages of Tiger Beat magazine as lead singer/songwriter of the Lemonheads. Obviously, presold tickets for Teenage Fanclub at Metro will be granted at Double Door...and if you already purchased tickets for Dando, well...then you'll just get a bonus double-feature performance. The show starts at 8pm, with opening acts The Rosebuds and Judd & Maggie.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

New Releases Tuesday (7/26)

Galactic Zoo Dossier - Issue #6 (Drag City) Almost entirely hand-drawn and written by Chicago's Plastic Crimewave, the "GZD" is 80 pages of psychedelic drawings, interviews, features and more to blow your mind. This issue also includes 72 trading cards and two CDs of music to accompany your reading. Pelican - The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw (Hydra Head Records) Debut full-length album from local art-metal instrumentalists Pelican. Released on Boston-based metal label, Hydra Head Records, founded and operated by Aaron Turner of Isis. Silversun Pickups - Pikul [ep] (Dangerbird) Great debut release from this LA-based band on the equally strong upstart label, Dangerbird Records. Perhaps the next big indie-rock hype?? Check out their infectious new single, "Kissing Families" here, or check out more at their MySpace page. The Church - El Momento Descuidado (Cooking Vinyl) A collection of the Church's greatest hits performed acoustically, including, of course, their big hit, "Under the Milky Way." ALSO... Bonny/Sweeny - I Gave You [Single] (Drag City) Gary Higgins - Red Hash [Re-issue] (Drag City) The Conceretes - Layourbattleaxedown [b-sides/rarities collection] (Astralwerks) Fruit Bats - Spelled in Bones (Sub Pop) Bob Mould - Body in Song (Yep Roc) Joe Strummer - Walker [Soundtrack] (Astralwerks)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Lollapalooza- An Overview

Anthony Gonzalez of M83 Two ridiculously hot weekends in a row of wall-to-wall music have utterly exhausted me, and I'm glad to find myself show-free for at least the next month to let myself recover. Still, the past two weekends of music have been a blast. The stark contrast between Intonation and Lollapalooza was evident fairly immediately- walking into Grant Park, the setting for a festival was almost unbeatable, with the Chicago skyline westward and the lake to the east, Buckingham Fountain to the north, and plenty of gardens and tree-lined paths within the grounds. If Intonation was the little Indie Festival That Could, Lollapalooza showed what money and corporate sponsorship could provide, and to be honest I appreciated getting to be a part of both. Intonation's self-involved hipster crowd was replaced with a more varied group of fans to go with the generally more mainstream lineup (not that I'm complaining- I can only take so much pretension at once). Though I wouldn't have paid more than the $35 I spent on Lollapalooza tickets, credit must be given where credit is due, and Lolla was impeccably run. Lines to get in were short, the grounds were beautifully decorated, every band starting on time, and the sound was consistently great on the festivals four (corporate-sponsored) stages. [I'd like to emphasize that fact that I have no problem with corporate sponsorship if it means they are using their money for good (putting on cool music festivals) rather than evil (donating to right-wing political candidates)]. They were also very well-prepared to deal with the 100+ degree heat of Sunday, bringing in cooling buses and misting tents throughout the grounds. Hopefully this means that Grant Park will be used for many more large musical events in the near future. I got the chance to see more music on Saturday due to the far more bearable temperatures, starting with M83 at 12:30. What I love about M83 is seeing them recreate their albums (made entirely with keyboards) on the live stage with a full band. I also love how French they are- Anthony Gonzalez never said anything other than "Merci Beaucoup" and "Thank you, this was a nice festival" at the very end. They were also one of the more unique and least-known bands to appear. My third attempt at enjoying ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead made me realize my problem with them is that I only like "Source Tags and Codes," and they never seem to play anything from it. They also act like a bunch of frat boys in a band, using extensive use of the word "fuck" in between songs and throwing their drum kits into the crowd at the end of the set. Breaking shit is cool! Actually, it was entertaining, but I think their creative juices may have been spent in 2002. Billy Idol is nearing 50 and needs to put down the microphone for good. Not that he doesn't still look great- I don't think he's really aged much physically, if at all- but other than "White Wedding," "Dancing with Myself," and "Rebel Yell," he played a bunch of crap from an apparently upcoming album and made reference to the time in "'82 when he had his finger up Madonna's ass." I missed Blonde Redhead for this? Meanwhile, in the distance we watched two giant blow-up rubber duckies emerge on Primus' stage. The Pixies continued the Longest Reunion Tour Ever by playing the hits, including "Here Comes Your Man," "Bone Machine," "Debaser," "The Lady in the Radiator Song," and an encore of "Where Is My Mind." Kim Deal is so cute, she looks like a soccer mom who drove to Lollapalooza in her keyless-entry minivan, when you know she's probably done a shit-ton of drugs. Finally, Weezer closed out the night with the biggest crowd and the trademark giant W on stage. I only wanted to hear songs from the Blue album and Pinkerton, because everything since has been pretty lame. Somehow, Rivers Cuomo heard my cries and essentially split the set into two parts- Part 1: songs the old fans like, and Part 2: songs the new fans like. So in the first 20 minutes or so, we were treated to "Why Bother," Say It Ain't So," "No One Else," "El Scorcho," "Undone (The Sweater Song)," and more. Then I was able to tune out until they ended with "Buddy Holly" and "Surf Wax America" for the encore, making this set a very pleasant surprise. Day Two was somewhat condensed due to my desire not to die in the heat, and the pictures sort of reflect my inability to hold a camera steady, but I trudged on. I heard Dinosaur Jr. from the shade of the porta-pottys, recognizing only a cover of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven." We left for air-conditioning as we passed Tegan and Sara, who we later learned cut their set short when Sara ran off the stage to vomit. The Arcade Fire wowed the crowd as expected with their energetic live show, which they managed to pull off while all wearing close to full suits and occasionally a motorcycle helmet or two. They left me with just enough energy to chill on the grass during Spoon as the sun finally went over the horizon and eventually set during Death Cab for Cutie, making it the fifth time I'd seen both bands. Wish I'd seen had it not been so unforsakenly hot: The Black Keys, more of the Dandy Warhols (though I did walk by just as Anton Newcombe joined Courtney Taylor on stage for a song, a delight for anyone who'd seen the movie "Dig!"), Los Amigos Invisibles. Check out the photoblog for another visual review of the weekend- getting good pictures was difficult in the heat, but I did what I could!

Dandy's reunite with Jonestown at Lollapalooza

(From Fri, 7/22) ...that would be perfect timing for the Dandy's to casually stroll on over to the Dark Room after their Lolla gig to come check out the Jonestown who will probably be starting their set around 10 or 11. Perhaps a spontaneous reunion or jam session might ensue??? Yeah, right...

Well, I be damned!! It actually did happen...though not at the Dark Room, but at the Dandy Warhols set Sunday night at Lollapalooza. Former Brian Jonestown Massacre guitarist Matt Hollywood and Jonestown ring leader Anton Newcombe actually joined the Warhols for a few songs during their set. It was a total riot seeing them all play up there and sure enough, there was even a bit of drama from Anton at the end. It wasn't a part of the set, but after Anton left the stage he kept bitchin' to all the security people backstage about one of the photographers, and tried to get the guy kicked out. I actually ran into the photographer in question after the show, and apparently Anton was successful in getting him booted off the stage. What was it that provoked him?? Well, this wasn't just any photog, but it was one of the Jonestown's former managers. Anton claimed to the security people that he had a restraining order on him and eventually he was escorted off stage. I didn't prod any more about whether there really was a restraining order in effect or whether it was just complete BS, but either way it's just another classic story in the dysfunctional life of Anton Newcombe and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Technorati:

Stay tuned...lots more Lollapalooza coverage and pictures to come here in the next couple of days. Any stories/pics from this weekend you'd like to share??? Send them to rfceditor(at) Speaking of which, this weekend I received a great extended piece from RFC reader Robyn Detterline about her experiences last week at Intonation. Scroll down and check it out today while we sort through all our Lolla footage this afternoon.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Intonation Music Festival 2005: A Romance

By Robyn Detterline It was a weekend of humidity, heat, pop culture and doing nothing. At three o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, July 17, while the sun reached its peak of ground coverage and intensity, and air temperature approached 100 degrees, masses of Chicagoans fixed tall glasses of iced tea, positioned their recliners in the direct flow of their air conditioners and relaxed while ravaging through their new copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The more adventurous trekked to the beach with their copies and passed out under umbrellas; the more adventurous still ditched their books, braved the bacteria and actually went for a swim. The lazy just hopped on a cool bus and spent their afternoon in an icy theatre watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. With the anniversary of the deadly ‘95 heat wave in mind, people barely moved, and if they did it was in attempt to find water, shade, a chill of any kind. But in the middle of Union Park, a parched field of dead grass and sand and maybe a dozen (or what felt like just a dozen) shade trees, stood hundreds of sweaty, pasty indie kids raising their hands to the air, convulsing and popping their bodies. A deaf person would have looked upon the seen and thought it a revival of some suicidal cult devoted to Ra. Even most of the hearing world would have thought them all insane freaks. And they probably were. But really they just loved to boogie to Out Hud. "When it’s this hot, the only think you can do is get hotter," Nic Offer, decked in his soaked "muscle" tee, enlightened the crowd at Pitchfork’s first Intonation music festival. He played the part of our evangelist, dancing primitively, erratically, and musing about the inane presence of Teddy Grahams on the stage. What he looked out upon must have seemed like a rave ripped inside out, perhaps sans X, but not lacking in hallucination and endorphins. While the rest of Chicago was idle we jumped and flailed about under the sun, realizing that Offer knew what he was talking about: once you forget the sun, once you think it is your own body’s energy that is making you heat to such a dangerous level, you become calm, euphoric, cool. On Saturday morning we didn’t know it would come to this state of ecstasy. Among the swarm of Green Line poseurs I could hear (and made myself) the declaration: "I want to see every band today. Fuck Lollapalooza. I can see every band today." At Ashland the trains emptied, hundreds of people stepped their flip-flops and New Balances onto the platform and into the sun that would strike and seethe and destroy the determination of the biggest of music geeks. By two o’clock the general attitude changed from optimistic exploration to resigned floating, and bands were chucked to the wayside left and right, becoming sacrifices for a fifteen minute wait for ice cream or a half hour nap in the shade. But the same heat that made us forget intriguing acts not at the top of our pantheon could also transform our darlings into gods. You haven’t experienced Death From Above 1979 until you’ve experienced them so close to your own demise, with a body burnt and tortured by a sweltering sun and seven-hour suppression of urination and defecation. You haven’t had your ass kicked until it’s been kicked by a scantily clad Tim Harrington, kicked so easily because your flesh has been liquefied and your will annihilated. Indeed, after hours of exposure there’s nothing for it but to give up or give in; with water a buck a bottle dehydration was no excuse, and so last weekend in Union Park enough vitamin D was absorbed to last every indie kid, every punk, every hipster in Chicago well into the next decade. No one was in her or his right mind; not Thax Douglas, Chicago poet extraordinaire who apparently has written (at least) four poems about Andrew Bird, not Tim Tutton, whose overzealous mantras of an anti-corporate, anti-commercial, Canadian-worshipping spirit did little to rally the sizzling masses. At 2:45 A.C. Newman took the stage, apparently having forgotten to tune his guitar. He strummed obliviously through "On the Table." No one wanted to say it, but we were all thinking it: Can this be? Can this indie pop icon really be a charlatan? Can he really suck? Thankfully, when the tune ended someone pointed out his folly. He tuned up; we geared up for the next song, which turned out to be "On the Table." The Go! Team romped through their set like they were the Spice Girls and Intonation was in the United Center rather than Union Park. Only insanity could make hundreds of underground music cool cats wave their hands back and forth in the air, shouting Go! Team! Go! Team! like maniacal preps at a high school rally. At the end of the set they invited the girls and boys from the local pool onto the stage; we envied their position among the Brit charm stars and also their privilege to dip back into the pool once they’d had their fill of dancing. As eight o’clock approached a low rumble of feet and mutterings spread across the park. Prefuse 73 rocked through their jammin’ beats and double drum drive; unfortunately much of the crowd hovering about the Holiday stage at this point were not paying attention. But can you blame them? The sun and temperature were going down; the slight relief brought with it the return of the ability to have conversations beyond, "It’s so frickin’ hot!" And also some crazy band of convicts was due to hit the stage. Death From Above 1979 started twenty minutes late because, as vocalist/drummer Sebastian Grainger so tactfully pointed out, the fact that there are only two of them is deceiving, and the set-up time of bands great and small takes equal time and care. Heretofore the sets went back and forth between two stages, allowing for the quick succession of shows, but the odd number of artists on day one called for the doubling-up somewhere to allow Tortoise access to the main Decimal stage that night. So someone somewhere decided DFA 1979 could prepare in about ten minutes. When they finally started thrashing, all were gutted immediately. Most of us found the sensation--one of having a fist shoved down your throat and your blood and tissue and all that hadn’t been incapacitated already from the heat removed--quite pleasurable. But others were less happy. Downright offended, I’d say. While the kids in front were lost in mosh like this was Lollapalooza a la ’94, from the back I was able to witness the mass exodus of people with scowls and perplexity and disgust plastered upon their faces. My thought: How can you not get off on this? You crazy! But the day wasn’t all about pain and frenzy, and the late afternoon and evening brought with it the paradoxical sanity of Four Tet, Broken Social Scene and Tortoise. Four Tet a.k.a. Kieren Hebden provided a clear and calm presence despite the pulses and crashes of his sampling maelstrom; he was a dark solitary figure upon the stage mixing it with vigor and grace, summoning the academic vinyl geeks from the WLUW record fair with his cracking rhythms climaxing to tones and pitches that delivered the sickest and most dazed of the lot. Broken Social Scene beckoned the freer of spirits to kick off their shoes and twirl and put the "hippy" back in hipster. And Tortoise blanketed the night with a sheen of electronic pop beauty, playing in front of a screen that flashed motley geometric screensaver-esque images. Many took the opportunity to relish the respite that nightfall brought and collapsed onto the grass while the cool tones created an ambiance we forgot could exist. I wouldn’t have been surprised if silent fireworks had started exploding above our heads or if a thunderstorm materialized from nothing and poured upon us rain and lightning and all the wind we could savor. As it was, kids started making out, falling asleep, remembering hunger and the inconvenient need to go home. And no one could believe that just a few hours earlier we were being seared, and no one wanted to think about what wrath the furies had in store for day two. It’s Dungen, people. Not Dunjin. The Swedes took the Decimal stage at 1:30 on Sunday, looking like the Scandinavian chapter of the Peter Frampton fan club, and sure we all knew they were Swedish, but did we all know that they sang in Swedish? It took me a couple of songs to realize it. The sun climaxed, the heat climbed at a rate such that we knew it would surpass the hell of the previous day, but we tried to deny it. Dungen threw full bottles of water into the crowd, ricocheting them off lights and the occasional fan. I was too far back to enjoy their generosity and had to ditch the set early to enjoy some time in the shade. I couldn’t be bothered with Xiu Xiu. I ate a Strawberry Chill and both cursed and delighted in the quick ticking of the seconds until Out Hud. At about 2:30 we slowly emerged from the trees and there was a collective groan at the sun. In an hour the temperature must have climbed ten degrees. It really was up to Out Hud; we needed to be convinced to stay. Nic Offer’s Zen philosophy was unilaterally adopted; we fought through the afternoon and at 4:30 found ourselves still in Union Park, determined and contentedly exhausted. We’d reached the home stretch and discovered that we weren’t dead or even passed out; a satisfied calm overcame us as Andrew Bird stepped onto the stage. Booking Andrew Bird for an outdoor summer music fest is a little like throwing a monk into the midst of a gospel choir. It’s not offensive, but it is incongruous and disobliging; however, for some reason it worked. Even in the scorching sun the serenity of Bird’s set surpassed the tranquility of Tortoise’s twilight ramble the night before. He was small, modest, and languid; the only hectic moments came when he switched between his guitar and violin. Still his music carried powerfully across the park, and while some remained too agitated to be bothered with enjoying beautiful music, most of us listened intently, chilled by his smooth whistling that hung eerily on the air. The earnest tone established by Andrew Bird carried through The Wrens’ performance. While we anticipated their start one could feel among the crowd an energy of reverence. Even those of us less familiar with these veterans sensed we were becoming a part of a special scene; during the set bassist Kevin Whelan revealed, "This will be the biggest day of our career." They gave us an honest, dignified, yet insane concert, highlighted by Whelan deftly and repeatedly throwing his bass into the air, and also the guest percussionists pulled from the crowd to shake maracas and bang drumsticks on the floor. Around seven there was much internal strife brewing inside of me and I assume many others. We didn’t know whether to stay at the Decimal stage to watch the end of The Wrens’ show and stake out choice spots for The Decemberists, or to abandon our posts, make our mad dashes to the Holiday stage to be immersed in the sick spectacle that is the splendor of Les Savy Fav. Let’s just say that those who chose the latter did not regret it. Andrew Bird and The Wrens calmed Intonation like the aloe slathering our sunburns and dusk easing our heatstroke. They prepared us for the epic folk rock pop of The Decemberists, the grand conclusion we’d been working so hard for. Leave it to Les Savy Fav to fuck up the dénouement, to thrust us back, deeper into the outrageous mayhem we thought we’d crawled out of for good. Tim Harrington strutted around the stage, removing an article of clothing it seemed during every song (except when he fashioned a hat from the roll of tin foil he was brandishing) until he was in his skivvies. Apparently he was still a little warm and for relief poured a bottle of beer down the front of his briefs. He threw wet sponges and an inflatable raft into the crowd. He wanted to teach us a dance that would most definitely result in passionate lovemaking, and preceded to convince us all to have a seat so we could watch his moves closely. We didn’t know what the hell was going on, but we knew we liked it, and so we all took a knee. Well most of us did. Those too cool remained standing and got chucked in the head with water bottle projectiles. I foresaw a riot. The cops threatened to shut down the fest if we didn‘t calm down. I didn’t think I’d make it out alive to see The Decemberists. But I did. About the most unoriginal, pompous thing you can do is be in a rock band. Almost as hackneyed and pretentious is headlining a summer music festival. But this is Intonation we’re talking about, and the ostentation of The Decemberists doesn’t go beyond Colin Meloy’s spectacles and odyssean lyrics. They began with "The Infanta" and moved spotlessly through songs old and new, sounding nearly as polished live as digitized, even when playing their guitars behind their heads. In a bizarrely coincidental move, we were once again beckoned to take a seat, but this time not in an effort to catch a better glimpse of the band but for the sake of taking a breather. Of all the atmospheres created by all the various bands over the course of the two days, this was the only show that felt downright fraternal, like a large crew of scouts careening by the campfire. Neither frantic nor indolent, The Decemberists played, in every sense of the word, and carried the weight of Intonation gracefully. They closed the fest with "The Mariner’s Revenge Song," a tale of survival and mania and we were invited to scream at the point in the song when the whale swallows the hero. Like veteran comrades we banded and howled and shrieked, gratefully unleashing all of the sweat and madness we had procured during the festival. Afterwards was sheer relief. We settled back into our right minds, made the trek back to the Green Line as college students and young urban professionals and music geeks, obviously spent and already looking back with nostalgia. Intonation wasn’t perfect. There were sound problems, short sets, rough transitions between bands. There were long lines and few vegan food selections. The Clap Your Hands Say Yeah disc sold out by the end of Saturday. Not one cute little indie boy asked me for my number. It was a little warm. Yet in spite of all the pain we’d endured I heard no complaining on my way home, which left me to contemplate what the hell had been so good about what I’d just gone through. Perhaps it was just the oppressive, hallucinogenic heat that made me feel that something exceptional had happened. After all, large-scale outdoor concerts can as a rule and at best produce mediocre performances. So it must have been the heat distorting my senses that created the transcendence and satisfaction. Then again, this upcoming Sunday the temperature is supposed to top 100 degrees, and several bands I love more than anyone at Intonation are going to mutilate Grant Park. And yet I haven’t the slightest desire to go to Lollapalooza. I think I’ll create more magic by sitting in my stuffy apartment and reading my new Harry Potter book.

Lollapalooza Post-Party Guide

Of course, with all the great festival hijinks during the day, you can’t forget about all of the great post-parties at night. Here’s a run-down of some of the major post-Lolla gigs already announced. Undoubtedly, there are probably a few others I missed and quite a few more that will spontaneously sprout up over the next two days. Keep your eyes peeled during the festival and feel free to pass along any other gigs or parties in the comments section of this post. Saturday The Walkmen at Schubas - 11pm Right after their 7:30pm set in Grant Park, the Walkmen will be darting up north to the corner of Belmont and Southport to rock the quaint confines of Schuba's. Unfortunately, even with the hefty $20 ticket price, this one already sold out. M83 DJ Set at Sonotheque - 9pm Anthony Gonzalez, one half of French synth-rockers M83 will be manning the decks of Sonotheque with DJ Jordan Zawideh. After a long, hot day in Grant Park, basking in the low-key, climate-controlled, acoustically-tuned environment of Sonotheque might just be a euphoric experience in itself, no matter who is spinning the tunes. Sunday

The Brian Jonestown Massacre at Dark Room - 9pm Thanks to the brilliant documentary, Dig!, I am now completely obsessed with this band. The Jonestown are actually playing Saturday afternoon at Lolla, but I couldn't help but notice that Dig! co-stars(or should I say, arch rivals?) The Dandy Warhols are scheduled from 7:30-8:30pm Sunday night. Hmmm... That would be perfect timing for the Dandy's to casually stroll on over to the Dark Room after their Lolla gig to come check out the Jonestown who will probably be starting their set around 10 or 11. Perhaps a spontaneous reunion or jam session might ensue??? Yeah, right...but then again I never thought I would see Roger Waters play with Pink Floyd again, so I guess stranger things have happened. And what's this?? Is tambourine-man Joel back in the band?? Check out the pictures from the Jonestown's recent performance at London’s Queen Elizabeth hall on If Joel is really back with the band, this really will be a post-show party.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Ex-QOTSA member plays Mother's??

I guess times are tough these days for ex-Queens of the Stone Age bass player Nick Oliveri. Apparently he played a gig last night at Mother's(?!?), a drunken Rush St. institution that...well, (to put it nicely) is not exactly known for featuring great music. Obviously, as a solo artist, he's not going to be able to draw a crowd even remotely close to that of a QOTSA gig, but of all the places to play in this town...Mother's??!? What's next, a gig at Excalibur? Perhaps a solo acoustic set at Bar Chicago? Sounds like someone needs to get a new booking agent! Keidra of local blog Enjoy and Exciting! has more.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

More Music Fest Madness rocked out at both days of Intonation Fest and you've got your tickets secured for another two days of non-stop music at Lollapalooza. However, there's these pesky 5 days in-between where there is nothing going on. So what's a die-hard music fan to do??? Road Trip!!! That's right, if two days of Intonation and another 60+ bands at this weekend's Chicagopalooza isn't enough to satiate your thirst for live music, you can take a short road trip to Indianapolis for the Midwest Music Summit. Starting tomorrow, the 21st, the MMS is a SXSW-esque music fest that boasts 400+ bands over three days. Some of the featured acts include The Ponys, Louis XIV, The Dead 60s, VHS or Beta, Longwave, The French Kicks and Hockey Night. Sure, most a lot of these bands are playing here this weekend as well, but hey, it's an excuse for a road trip! Plus, Lollapalooza doesn't start until what are you going to do all day Thursday and Friday? With a quick trip to Indy, you can create you're own 4-day, non-stop music marathon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

New Releases Tuesday (7/19)

Majorie Fair - Self Help Serenade (Capitol) Debut album from L.A.-based, but UK-adored, melancholic-pop trio. Features guest spots from Jon Brion, Joey Waronker and even keyboard legend and Beatle-buddy Billy Preston. Iggy Pop - A Million in Prizes (Virgin) 2 disc anthology spanning Pop's entire career, both solo and with The Stooges. Frank Black - Honeycomb (Back Porch) Latest solo effort from the former.., er, I mean current Pixies frontman. This one's a bit of an intimate, quiet affair that was recorded live in Nashville with local musicians.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Intonation Music Festival- An Overview

It's 6:00 PM and I'm still horrendously sore from a weekend spent on my feet in 90+ degree weather, but I'm a trooper. The festival went off mostly without a hitch, minus long lines for the food, taking too long to open the gates on Saturday morning, and a few sound problems that plagued bands like Prefuse 73 (too much bass obscuring the rest of their sound) and Xiu Xiu and the Hold Steady (certain instruments clearly not amped at times during their sets). Other than that every band started on time, water was plentiful and the mood was generally jovial. I was actually fairly surprised at how well-run it was, given what must have been a very low budget. Kudos to festival promoter and organizer Mike Reed. Hideout co-owner Tim Tutton introduced each band, and Thax Douglas provided 21 poems for the festivities, each with titles like "Thunderbirds Are Now! #2" and "Andrew Bird #4." By generally eschewing many of the other activities like the DJ tent, record fair and merch tables, I managed to hear and/or see almost every single band this weekend. I'll avoid making comments on every band for the sake of brevity, but here are some highlights and other notables: DAY ONE -Carl Newman, the redheaded frontman of AC Newman, started off his set with a guitar string completely out of tune. The band trudged through the "On the Table" and alerted him to the fact once it ended. Luckily, he managed to laugh it off, tune his guitar, and restart the show with an in-tune version of "On the Table." Andrew Bird later joined the band to whistle along with "Drink to Me Babe Then," guided by local alt-country singer Nora O'Connor, who provided back-up vocals and revealed herself to be quite pregnant. -Four Tet's Kieren Hebden performed alone with two laptops and a mixing board, a set up that may have fared better in the DJ tent. Though he sounded great, there wasn't much to watch for 45 minutes. I later spotted him hanging out with friends during the Wrens and snapped a quick picture. -The Go! Team was a treat, with singer/rapper Ninja keeping the crowd involved in their brand of 1970's action television show theme song music (Ladies say "Go," men say "Team!" "Go!" "Team!" "Go!" "Team!"). She eventually brought up a dozen or so neighborhood kids who had clearly just come from the park's public pool to dance along, which was adorable and hilarious. DAY TWO -Frenchkiss Records got the most love from the festival this weekend, with their three signature bands all featured on Sunday's lineup- Thunderbirds Are Now!, The Hold Steady, and Les Savy Fav. They were also three of the best sets of the weekend. TAN! showcased an incredible amount of energy on stage and a variety of circus tricks with their tambourines, and Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington joined them on stage for a raucous finale. Meanwhile, the Hold Steady are one of my favorite bands of the moment, and singer Craig Finn showed a ton of personality to go along with his very unique voice and style of singing. And of course, what more can be said about Les Savy Fav. Tim Harrington is certifiably insane, and LSF puts on a serious show. He fashioned himself a hat out of tin foil, got the entire crowd to sit down together, threw a blow-up raft into the crowd, and poured a variety of substances over himself. They also played one of my favorite LSF songs, "Adoptduction," a story of a man kidnapped by "a dude with a moustache and a chick with an eyepatch." Classic. -The Decemberists closed the event with a set list that spanned all three of their studio albums. Singer Colin Meloy also managed to get the crowd to sit down for him, and at one point during "The Infanta" the wind was blowing so hard at the band it seemed like they were fighting to get through the song, an effect that strangely added perfectly to their pirate-rock sound. Check out the photoblog for a visual review of the festival and more specific commentary on the bands I was able to see. For $22 this weekend's festivities were a steal, and I hope the organizers will learn from the weekend's minor faults and make Intonation an annual event.


RFC's Intonation Coverage

Radio Free Chicago chief indie-rock correspondent Nicole Chavas is currently sifting through and uploading over 75 pictures from this weekend's Intonation Festival. Stay tuned here for her complete report and flickr photo collection from both Saturday and Sunday's action.

Tragedy Strikes 3 Local Bands

Last week, members of three local bands were involved in a fatal car accident in Skokie. John Glick of The Returnables, Doug Meis of The Dials and Michael Dahlquist of Silkworm were simply sitting at a stop light at the corner of Niles Center Road and Dempster Street when a 23-year-old woman slammed in to their parked car at almost 70 miles per hour in an apparent suicide attempt. All three men were killed in the incident and three others were injured. Sincere condolences to all friends, family and fans affected by this bizarre and tragic accident. More information and updates can also be found on Silkworm's message board at the full story from AP can be found here. UPDATE 7/19: More today from the Chicago Tribune.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Intonation Alternatives

I certainly don't need to remind anyone that the 'Fork's Intonation Festival finally takes place this weekend. However, if the line-up doesn't trip your trigger or you just plain don't like outdoor festivals (like yours truly) , don't worry, there's still some decent shows this weekend that don't require wearing copious amounts of sunscreen. Here's a few alternative suggestions for Saturday night: Esthero at Metro - 9pm After a long 7 year absence, Canada's Esthero is back with a new album and is currently touring The States. While her debut was a mostly trip-hop affair, she seems to have reinvented herself as a sort of pop queen...but one with a really hip record collection. For example, guest vocalists on the new album include the likes of Sean Lennon, Andre 3000 and Cee-Lo. Check out her latest video, "We R In Need Of A Musical ReVoLuTIoN" here in Windows. The Constantines at The Empty Bottle - 10pm Also hailing from Canada, Sub Pop post punks The Constantines will be headlining this Saturday performance with openers Love as Laughter and The Oxford Collapse. According the The Bottle's concert calendar, Magnet magazine called their latest record 'the antidote for every boring and insincere rock record heard this year.' For a preview of their live show, check out this post from Radio Free Newport. (no relation) We Are Scientists at Schuba's - 9pm RFC reader "Paper Dawl" tipped me off on this one and says they're "an infectious, fun toe-tappin’ rock band. " They've also been getting lots of love from and were a recent featured Lounge Act on the station. This Saturday at Schuba's they'll be opening for Brooklyn rockers The Ladies & Gentlemen. Check out more W.A.S. hijinks here. Lumpen issue #96 release party at buddY - 9pm Their lease is up at the end of the month, so this will be one of your last few chances to party with the Lumpen crew at buddY. Highlights will include "GO GO Aroake," an experiment mixing the concept of choosing a dancer to dance with and the notion of karoake where you sing to a song; a performance by Extra-Action Marching Band, a 20-30 piece anarchist marching band and the return of the Terry Plumming gang. The night will start promptly at 9 with a Korean Polish BBQ.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Four Tet in-store on Friday

Tomorrow evening (Fri, the 15th), Domino Records and Reckless on Broadway will be presenting a free in-store performance with laptop electronica maven Kieren Hebden, aka Four Tet. Hebden is in town this weekend for the big Intonation Fest, so here is a great chance to get a sneak peak of his Saturday performance in Union Park...or a great way to experience Four Tet without dropping 15 bucks and fighting swarms of people in 90 degree heat. Hebden will also be promoting his latest Domino release, Everything Ecstatic. Brett from Reckless sez: "they continue, for the most part, to flirt with all sides of the customized BMW car commercial anthem genre, flickering between dance-a-thons of electronica, minimized and organic sampling, laid down and up loops and the instrumental gaze of music friendly enough to attract those who aren’t attracted and not bore those who are bored." The performance starts at 5:30p at Reckless Records' lakeview location at 3161 N. Broadway.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Scanning the Dial...

A couple of months ago, I finally got high-speed internet hooked back up at home after a long overdue absence. Since that time, I've been listening to nothing but a non-stop diet of, KCRW and KEXP. (for some reason, I especially seem to be in a KCRW phase lately) I hadn't hardly listened to any local radio at all until last week when I jumped into the car for a long 4th of July weekend road trip. Here's some observations from my recent scanning through the local radio dial: 1. Q-101 has finally seen the light They're still advertising themselves as "on shuffle," but they've pumped the classic alternative song quota waaaaaay up just as I ranted that they needed to when they first launched their new expanded playlist back in April. Jumping through my radio presets on the way out of town, I noticed that I kept landing on great tracks on Q-101. So, this week I tuned in at work for an extended listen to see if it was just some lucky channel surfing or if they had actually made some improvements to the playlist. Much to my surprise, the station is really sounding a lot better. Rather than just throwing in a random old school track in-between P.O.D. and Staind, they're actually playing 2, 3 or more classics in a row now, with new songs dropped in that actually blend in well with the old stuff. (hmmm...carefully coordinating your radio station's playlist so that the music flows well and people will want to listen longer. What a brilliant concept!!!) Speaking of P.O.D., it also seems like the aggro rawk and nu-metal has been toned down, thus seriously reducing my urge to turn the station off. It's still far from perfect, but I think I could actually deem it as "listenable" now...a huge jump from "annoying" just 3 months ago and "completely obnoxious" just 6 months ago. It's still not my first choice, but if you're stuck somewhere without Internet or a CD player, 101.1 FM is actually worth punching in to your radio presets again. (at least for the time being...knowing commercial radio, I wouldn't be surprised at all if they go a different direction again next month, or even drop the rock format completely by the end of the year) 2. Jack FM (104.3) is the worst station, ever! Oh my god!!! This station represents everything that is wrong with commercial radio today. No personality (literally, the station does not have any DJs...just a pre-programmed music database with commercials and pre-produced station IDs. I don't think they even bother to insert local weather and traffic updates) , cliched music (think Lite FM combined with the jukebox at a cheesy Rush St. bar) and tons of commercials. Jack FM is nothing but a homogonized and automated juke box that serves as a giant cash cow for corporate radio owners. The McDonald's at the end of your block has more local flair than this station. Making matters worse is that Jack FM replaced the beloved "Oldies/Magic 104.3" station that featured such legendary Chicago personalities as Dick Biondi and Fred Winston. Fortunately for Biondi and Winston, they are still under contract with station owner Infinity Broadcasting, which means they are still getting paid even though they are no longer on the air. However, listeners to the old Oldies 104.3 are pissed and you can't blame them one bit. Their favorite station and DJs have been replaced by a giant, money hungry robot. Infinity claims they will be bringing back the old station and its DJs very soon as a HD subchannel on 104.3...but 1. How many people have HD radios today, let alone know what the hell it is?? and 2. Of all formats they could have chosen, they're expecting oldies listeners to adapt to new technology?? 3. Jack FM makes Nine FM sound brilliant I pretty much slamed this station when it debuted last summer, but compared to Jack FM, I guess "Nine" isn't so bad. With its "we play anything" motto, Nine FM was modeled somewhat after the Jack FM concept of a station that boasts an extra-large playlist of music from a wide variety of genres. While it's still not my cup of tea, Nine FM does seem to actually deliver upon this promise. On the other hand, Jack FM is just a collection of the most overplayed and cliched songs from the past 25 years. Most of all, with live DJs, news and traffic reports Nine FM actually sounds like a radio station. Jack FM sounds like a pre-recorded music loop that was stolen from the local TGI Friday's. 4. Did I mention I despise Jack FM? It's our generation's elevator music.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

New Releases Tuesday (7/12)

Röyksopp - The Understanding (Astralwerks) Long awaited follow-up to the Norwegian duo's brilliant debut album, Melody A.M. Highly recommended if you dig lounge music, electronic pop or even dance. They're also equally amazing live and will be returning to Metro on September 19. Nine Black Alps - s/t (Tiny Evil) Debut ep from Manchester's latest rock export. They're currently on their first North American tour and will be making a stop at the Bottom Lounge on July 21. Check out their latest single, "Cosmopolitan," here in Windows or Real Player. Willie Nelson - Countryman (Lost Highway) Still keepin' it real after all these years, Willie decides to throw everyone a curve by droppin' a reggae album. (his first, at age 72 no less!) probably puts it best, "...Given Nelson's well-publicized taste for ganja, it's not surprising he's also fond of the island's major musical export." Look in your local store's new releases section for the CD with the big pot leaf on it. Various Artists - Wedding Crashers [Sndtk] (New Line) Features tracks from Spoon, Death Cab For Cutie, Bloc Party, Rilo Kiley as well as the great new Flaming Lips single, "Mr. Ambulance Driver." Check it out here in Windows or Quicktime. Lips frontman Wayne Coyne sez: "Maybe it’s just me, but is anybody noticing that big budget mainstream potential hit movies have very weird soundtracks these days? This looks more like a homemade compilation by one of my friends that own all of the new records that come out, but can’t resist throwing on an occasional ole’ fave. I mean who puts Death Cab for Cutie and Mungo Jerry on the same that’s a mash-up!! By the way if you’re driving your car be careful when you hear the sirens - that’s our song, not the fireman or an ambulance or the cops behind you...or could it be???Other Notables Daniel Lanois - Belladonna (Anti-) Prefuse 73 - Read the Books [e.p.] (Warp) Son Volt - Okemah and the Melody of Riot (Sony) Xiu Xiu - La Floret (5 Rue Christine)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Photos by Aaron Berg - SLIT JOCKEY RECORDS

Live Review: Lady Sovereign@Sonotheque 7/8/05

"Oh my god, she looks like she's 12!" That was my first reaction to seeing Lady Sovereign entering the makeshift stage at Sonotheque. I knew she was only 18 years old and barely over 5 feet tall, but oh my god did she look young up there. I had seen her press photos and, sure, she didn't look a day over 18, but all dolled up in Addidas gear, pikey jewelry and lots of make-up while drinking a big bottle of Hennessey, she looked as though she would blend right in with the likes of a Dizzee Rascal posse. In person, however, she looked more like a derelict cast member of Square Pegs. Of course, Lady Sovereign knows this and she plays it off amazingly in her brilliant self-depracating lyrics ('that girl thinks she's so big and all' But hold on I'm only 5 ft 1 !), razor sharp wit (You was born in a caravan, That don't make you ghetto...I seen more ghetto in Posh Spice's stelleto) and larger-than-life stage persona. She's not exactly Missy Elliott, but this little white girl can hold her own on stage. She started off the night with her two best known tracks, "Ch-Ching" from the US grime comp, Run the Road and "Random," her latest single. Despite seemingly blowing her wad after less than 10 minutes into her performance, she kept the audience engaged the whole night with her high intsensity delivery and grimey beats (spun by DJ Frampster). In fact, Lady Sov was so hyped up, it seemed like she didn't want to stop. She came back on for a second set after about a 10-15 break and even jumped into the DJ booth as the house lights were coming on to spin some tracks herself and sing "Random" for a third time (this time singing over the remixed instrumental). The Sonotheque staff literally had to kick her out of the booth because she was still kickin' it 10 minutes after the club was supposed to be closed. Lady Sovereign's youthful exuberance was definitely infectious and I've got to say that this night was probably the most fun I've ever had at Sonotheque. In addition to Sov's raucous performance, there were also some great grime and hip-hop DJ sets beforehand from John Herndon (Tortoise, A Grape Dope) and Biz 3's very own Ben Fasman and Damon Locks. All of this, plus the club wasn't as obnouxiously crowded as it usually is on a Friday night. UK all the way...let's keep these great grime shows coming. Technorati:

Friday, July 08, 2005

Weekend Concert Outlook

Tonight (7/8) Sonotheque is definitely the place to be tonight, as the multi-talented munchkin Lady Sovereign will be introducing her cheeky rap stylings to Chicago. Show starts at 10pm, Ben Fasman (Biz 3), John Herndon (Tortoise) and Damon Locks (Biz 3) will open with DJ sets. Saturday (7/9) Son of legendary Afro-beat founder Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti will be in town on Saturday for a set at Metro. Here's more from MetroNews: Femi is the undisputed inheritor of his father's genius, talent, and unofficial ambassadorship of Afro-beat to the world. Femi's version of Afro-beat is the most exciting new sound to emerge from Nigeria in years, borrowing the best elements of his father's powerfully polyrhythmic prototype: a funky, jazzy, heavily percussive sound that took James Brown's beat back to Africa. Femi adds to that winning formula the freshness and exuberance of young Lagos and its taste for the new R&B and dance music of American and Europe, in addition to his sharply critical political commentary.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sufjan Saga Continues

Sufjan Stevens - Come on Feel the Illinoise (Asthmatic Kitty) Delayed!!...Sufjan fans and Land of Lincoln history buffs will now have to wait until August 2nd... Actually, maybe not...the 'Fork reports that retailers have been given the green light to sell their existing stock of Superman-adorned copies of Illinoise. Anybody had any luck getting their hands on this potential collectors item? Is eBay already swamped with overpriced copies with the original artwork? I'm still out in BFE on my vacation, should I raid the local Best Buy or Sam Goody and clear them out of all of their Sufjan Superman stock so I can reap some mad eBay cash later? Let's discuss...(click on 'comments' below) Listen before you buy! Click on a full-album stream here (while supplies last)

Live 8 On Demand

RFC is extending the 4th of July weekend on a quick Summer vacation out of town, but is rather enjoying catching up on this weekend's Live 8 concerts. The event was almost unwatchable on TV thanks to MTV/VH1's crack-head production and idiot announcers, but watching it on-line (where performances are actually played in their entirety, and without interruption) you can actually appreciate the magnitude of the event and the talent amassed on stage. Of course it also helps that you can now skip through the entire Philedelphia (Will Smith, Rob Thomas, Toby Keith) and Toronto (Bryan Adams, Barenaked Ladies, Our Lady Peace) performances and just watch the London show with R.E.M., the reunited Floyd and Sir Bob himself. Check out every song from every band in all cities at Live 8 on demand here

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

New Releases Tuesday (7/5)

Sufjan Stevens - Come on Feel the Illinoise (Asthmatic Kitty) Delayed!! The highly anticipated second installment of Stevens' 50 states album project was supposed to be in stores today but it was recalled at the last minute due to legal issues with the cover art. (apparently the use of Superman on the front didn't clear with the lawyers...doh!!) Sufjan fans and Land of Lincoln history buffs will now have to wait until August 2nd to get their hands on such tracks as "To The Workers Of The Rockford River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament, And It Involves Shoe String, A Lavender Garland, And Twelve Strong Women" and "The Black Hawk War, Or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, Or, We Apologize For The Inconvenience But You're Going To Have To Leave Now, Or, 'I Have Fought The Big Knives And Will Continue To Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!'" The Juan Mclean - Less Than Human (DFA) Doh!! This one was also pushed back release date is expected to be July 26. Missy Elliott - The Cookbook (Goldmine) Whaaa?? Timbaland only appears on one track on this album??? That's like the Stones cutting an album without Keith Richards!?! Out Hud - It's For You [12"] (Kranky) Both the CD and vinyl versions feature three different mixes of the song while the CD also includes the band's first official music video, produced by The Wilderness (Phantom Planet, Enon, Keren Ann). Mr. Kranky sez: Expect lots of insects!

Friday, July 01, 2005

RFC Night tonight!

Put down those sparklers and come drink with us tonight...DJ sets from Lucifer Sam and DJ Damienone, plus visuals! ----- It's time once again for another installment of RFC Night this Friday... This time we're returning to Leadway Bar and Gallery, home of fine art and $2 bottles of Pabst. We'll be set up in the "Gallery" section crankin' up the tunes on the turntables and throwing back a few cool ones. Don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes, either…While a lot people forgot to do their mix-tape homework at last month’s party, an impromptu dance party did break out at the end of the night. (Pulp’s “Common People” gets the kids dancin’ every time!!) So clear your plans Friday night and come join us to kick off your 4th of July weekend with cheap beers and good tunes. RFC Night Leadway Bar and Gallery 5233 N. Damen (near Foster) Friday July 1, 9pm Chill tunes early…dance party late!