Friday, June 30, 2006

Big Black confirmed for Touch & Go 25th

In what may be the biggest reunion coup yet of all the Chicago festivals this year, Touch & Go has announced that Big Black will be reuniting for the big T&G 25th/Hideout Block Party in September. There is one catch though, they'll just be playing "a couple of songs." Here's the official word from T&G central: Big Black is gonna play a couple songs. For real. Big Black. Now, they’re not playing a full set or anything... just a couple songs, but who cares how many they play? This is Big Black, playing live, for the first time in nearly 20 years! It’s the old school line-up: Albini, Durango, Pezzati. Check out the full scoop as well as future updates at: www.touchandgorecords.com/links/tg25/

Live Review: Figurines w/Skybox@Beat Kitchen 6/24/06

Maybe because I was hyped up on enough Sparks alkie-energy drinks to power an SUV, or purely for the love of live music, I buzzed over to the Beat Kitchen Saturday night to catch an 11:15PM performance of Skybox and the Figurines, as a part of the Chicago Innerview June Post-Intonation Spotlight Show. All I can say is I'm damn glad I did. On a tip, I was told to get there early to catch Skybox, and hot damn these kids are a great addition to the Chicago music scene. Recent transplants to Chicago from Arizona via Missouri, they must have traveled by electro-disco-folk-rock covered wagon. This kitschy 5-piece play an amalgamated sound, they don't want classified, though you can have fun picking out the influences on their songs. They opened their set with a knee-slapping, cotton-eyed inspired "Hoedown" definitely got the intimate crowd riled up and set the mood for the rest of the set. After the funky "Disco Duck", bassist Jeff Gonzales busted a string, a improvised disco break ensued whilst he tried to re-string, eventually borrowing a bass from the Figurines. The set list was packed a cabaret of song selections off their debut album Arco Iris, along with some non-LP tracks (I was compelled to buy their CD). Tim Ellis' lead vocals and active stage persona was thoroughly entertaining and engaging. He touched on vocal notes that call to mind Devendra Banhart and Julian Casablancas, especially on "Various Kitchen Utensils", a hodge podge of Tom Waits piano tickled to life by Christian Fields, and sprinkled with wooden box beats and other burlesque textures by Anthony Hornyak. The standout for me was "Cue Conversation", in which an argumentative sing-a-logue occurs between Christian and Tim, which may as well be the same person in context of the character's voice in the song. The instrumentation melds Muse-like soundscapes with the campy romp of the Black Rider, and a very Brechtian device of breaking the fourth wall inside of the lyric, "oh my god, look everyone is watching... I'm so embarrassed..." This hands down was the best performance I saw on Saturday. Hopefully, they will stay in Chicago long enough, so I can see them workshop their other material. They are playing an Equip for Equality benefit show at Martyr's on July 20th. Definitely worth checking out. Closing out the night, was the Figurines from Denmark, touting their newest album Skeleton (2005), which is a superb LP combining punk, folk, and pysch rock, into a genre-bending 45 minutes of aural brilliance even the snobbish indie guy will enjoy. Lead singer Christian Hjelm, who looks like he uses Jack White's barber, has an incredibly, impressive voice. He sounds a bit like Travis Morrison and John Darnielle at times, even though the Figurines are from Denmark, their sound is very stateside (they barely have accents). They plowed through their set with warm energy, their punk influences definitely shined through, especially with most of their songs clocking in at 3 minutes and under. They got the audience bopping with the quicker paced "The Wonder", as Christian belted it out with all its nasally charm. There's something about the more mild, yet infectious song, "I Remember" that made me feel all ready, steady, go; with the contagious bass riff making my head bob without thought. You could really hear the CCR influences on "Back in the Day", which has a slow, acoustic folk rock appeal. Though their stage presence was a bit on the mellow side, the sound these 4 Danish rockers evoked was enthralling, they moved effortless from the gentle, more folk driven tracks to the upbeat, punkier ones with great ease, the crowd was begging for an encore, but to no avail. (Check out more pics, Here)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Load Up On New Music

Hitting the road for the 4th? Here's a choice batch of links where you can get free, legal music downloads (look for the highlighted "download" in the MySpace player) to bolster your iPod playlist for the upcoming long weekend: Doveman – Teacup Masters of both “lamp rock” and “insomnia pop,” Doveman’s song Teacup is so good I call it a “flawless victory.” Rademacher – Playing for Fun These rockers from Fresno play for fun and give a lot of great songs away for free … Jeniferever – You Only Move Twice This Swedish band makes some of the best eight-minute guitar dirges outside of Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky. Pink Mountaintops – New Drug Queens One of the strongest tracks off the best stoner rock album since the last Queens of the Stone Age. Click Click Decker – Wer Erklaert Mir Je… I swear, I never thought I’d be saying this, but I really like this German indie rock band… Great Northern - Into the Sun Another Ship Collective band makes good. Music. The Green and Yellow TV – Temporary Fix An excellent track from one of LA’s premiere indie pop acts. The Western States Motel – Southwest Planez I can’t recall a song I’ve been more addicted to listening to this year than this lazy tune off TWSM's forth-coming album. Division Day – Tigers A great track off their new self-released album ... which someone like XL or Wichita really ought to pick up and start distributing. Molecules - Get Out of The Car Listen to this husband and wife duo play my favorite song off their debut album.

New Releases - 6/26

Balún - Something Comes Our Way (Brilliante) Who doesn't love Puerto Rican acoustic electro pop? In all seriousness, this is actually pretty damn good. 3hive calls them "Puerto Rico's answer to Múm." Check it out for yourself live at Schubas on July 20. Dirty On Purpose - Hallelujah Sirens (North Street) Debut full-length from the Brooklyn indie-rockers. They'll be rocking out their new tunes July 21 at the Beat Kitchen. Dr. Octagon - The Return of Dr. Octagon (OCD International) It's been 10 years since Kool Keith dropped his legendary Dr. Octagonecologyst record, but now the good doctor is back and taking appointments. However, he doesn't appear to be making house calls at the moment. Four Tet - DJ KiCKS (K7) Kieren Hebden is the latest to mix it up for the always solid DJ KiCKS series. Includes tracks from Akufen, Animal Collective, Stereolab, Mad Villain and So Solid Crew, as well as Hebden himself. Grant Lee Phillips - nineteeneightees (Rounder) I don't know why, but I've been totally obsessed with Grant Lee Buffalo for the past couple of years, despite the fact that they disbanded over 7 years ago. One these days I'll catch up with some of Grant's solo work, but for now I'm totally digging his collection of choice '80s covers from the likes of Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Psychedelic Furs, REM and the Cure. I guess I see why I'm such a big fan of Grant...we have the same taste in music. Hopefully he'll be playing most of these covers (as well as some old Buffalo tunes????) on his upcoming two night stint at Schubas, on August 1+2.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

OK...I think that should do it

That wraps it up for RFC's coverage of Intonation 2006...believe or not, additional pics and even more reviews can be found at the esteemed New York-based music blog Brooklyn Vegan, who we were also providing content for. Special thanks to the Brothers McSwain over at Future Perfect Radio for helping out in the Vegan cause.

Best of Intonation Day 2: Jon Brion

Since the first day that the Intonation line-up was announced, I had been hyping up Jon Brion's appearance to everyone I knew. I loved all of the hip-hop on the bill, and putting grime heroes Lady Sovereign and The Streets on the same night was a nice touch, but c'mon...Jon Brion!?! The genius producer who's worked with everyone from Robyn Hitchcock to Kanye West? The guy who has done all those great scores for films like Eternal Sunshine and Punch Drunk Love? In Chicago? This guy doesn't tour. He plays out at this small club in L.A. a lot, taking requests and belting out Billy Joel covers, but that's about the only place you'll see him outside of the recording studio. It's a unique booking like this that makes festival-going worthwhile. For the first time during the festival, I closely watched the time and made a point to get to the corresponding stage a few minutes before Brion’s scheduled start. As luck would have it, this was one of the few Intonation performances that started noticeably later than scheduled. As a solo performer, seemingly without any roadies or techies, it took Brion a bit longer than most to get all of his instruments in tune and his gadgets in place. I’m sure a few people were a bit miffed about the wait, but as the set unfolded it became quite clear why all of the set-up was necessary. For much of the set Brion was a one-man band, jumping from instrument to instrument (guitars, drums and keys), looping each individual part and then jamming live with his freshly recorded backing tracks. During these sessions Brion looked like a kid in a candy store, rushing back and forth to sample everything he could get his hands on. Brion’s exuberant energy was infectious and the crowd went wild every time he returned to the front of the stage to rip into another multi-tracked guitar solo. The rest of the set was a bit more traditional, with Brion performing some amazing covers solo on guitar. In true Largo-style, he was also joined by a couple of friends in the process. Straight out of left field came Benmont Tench, longtime keyboard player for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Not sure how or where Brion managed to find Tench, but on a few tracks he added some nice metallic accompaniment on the toy piano. Later Brion was joined by a more obvious guest, Glenn Kotche, drummer for hometown heroes Wilco. Just as it had engaged the crowd, Brion’s contagious bliss kept his guests smiling the whole time as they tore into an amazing rendition of The Beatles’ “Baby You’re A Rich Man,” and later closed out the night with The Kink’s “Waterloo Sunset” as dusk loomed in Chicago. Other cover highlights from the night included “This Will Be Our Year” by The Zombies, Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and “Why Do You Do This To Yourself,” an obscure Evan Dando solo favorite of mine co-penned by Brion.

Bloc Party rocked the masses and Rhymefest lead the hip-hop pack, but in my book Brion’s set was by far the most memorable performance at Intonation 2006. Overall, I’d have to say this year’s Intonation was a success, despite the notorious falling out with nationwide cult trendsetter Pitchfork, which undoubtedly led to the slightly lower attendance figures. By far, the strength in this year’s fest was its diverse booking of artists that combined rock with hip-hop, pop with experimental and new with old. If Intonation can keep this up, it should be around for quite some time. Of course, it will be interesting to see if the market can sustain three major festivals every summer, but I think Chicago can do it. As Brion said at the close of his performance, “Appreciate your city. It’s one of the last few unique ones left.”

Intonation Music Festival 2006, Day 2

The Constantines After some morning rain moved through and threatened to bring down the festival goers, the Constantines helped inject some much-needed life to the grounds by bringing some serious rock as the sun finally peeked through the clouds. Between lead singer Bryan Webb's gravelly, Bruce Springsteen-esque voice and the way guitarist Steve Lambke thrust his guitar over is head before a big riff, I had to hold myself back from putting my fist in the air (which Chromeo would have seriously disapproved of). This band is a ball of energy and power, a rock force to be reckoned with. My only complaint was that it was over in only 30 short minutes. (NC) Rhymefest Universally known as "the guy who co-wrote 'Jesus Walks' with Kanye West," Chicago's very own Rhymefest put on a performance that proved he doesn't need anyone's coattails to ride on. After a rainy morning, and a cloudy start to the afternoon, suddenly the sun came out in force and shone right on Rhymefest and his crew for one of the best performances of the festival. Combining a raw talent for rapping and an irresistible stage presence, I was engaged from the moment he walked on stage right through the last beat. In addition to ripping through tracks from his forthcoming debut record out next month, Rhymefest also unleashed some sick freestyle during his set. During one such intense session, he even jumped down into the pit, mixed it up with the fans and leapt into the audience in what looked to be a crowd surf attempt. Of course, all the while he never skipped a beat...at least until realizing on the return trip to the stage that the wall was a bit too high scale on his own. No matter, after his posse helped him back up, Rhymefest just laughed it off and continued on another fierce freestyle routine. Also, I didn't catch their name, but there was this quick opening set from another hip-hop group before Rhymefest went on. I don't really remember what the music was like, but their hypeman had a freakin' Segway...on stage! He did his entire routine while maneuvering on the Segway. It was completely asinine, but at the same time also fucking brilliant. (BK) Blue Cheer Continuing the aging rocker theme into Sunday, the Vice people offered up the acid trip that is Blue Cheer, dubbed one of the first bands of heavy metal more than 30 years ago. This 3 piece hippie rock band from San Francisco, pump out a rich sound that caused an orgy last time they played Chicago over 30 years ago. By today's standards of metal, the Blue Cheer sound more like heavier Edgar Winter Group with touches of Hendrix and Old Chicago Blues greats. Lead singer Dickie Peterson, clad in a matted embroidered vest (that was no doubt 40 years old) screamed with his hoarse rocker voice through their bluesy-hippie rock set, bringing a little Woodstock to Intonation. He advocated "Peace and Love" in true hippie style, saying we gotta love each other before getting coherently incoherent. They christened the audience as the fourth member of their band, with their set-closer, a heavy-psych cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues", in which they relied on the audience to shout out the refrain, "there ain't no cure for the summertime blues..." (CG) Robert Pollard Robert Pollard may have moved on from Guided By Voices, and his hair may be totally grey, but the man can still put back a bottle of tequila or Jack on stage like nobody's business. What a rock star. He sure isn't letting a few more wrinkles stop him from having his fun as he made sure to throw in a few of his trademark leg-kicks and microphone twirls as he ran through a brief survey of Robert Pollard history. In his brief 45-minute set he was able to cover early Mag Earwhig-era GBV material to a song from his forthcoming solo album with some Circus Devils in between to represent "side project" Bob songwriting. But who are we kidding, it's all different names for the same thing, right? The real treat for me was hearing, out of the thousands of songs he had to choose from, my all-time favorite Guided by Voices song, "Game of Pricks." Couldn't have asked for anything more! (NC) Bloc Party Closing out the second night of Vice's Intonation Music Festival, was one of U.K.'s finest exports, Bloc Party. These four lads from London, have garnered much acclaim and quite a fan following and deservedly so. These fellas proved worthy of all the hype on Sunday, displaying their mad live performance skills, from Kele Okereke's soaring Cure-ish vocals to Matt Tong's infectious assault on the drums, to the clashing guitars of their booty shaking indie rock anthems, their full sound infiltrated the ground, echoed off the nearby buildings, and was a precursor rumble to the coming thunderstorms. They shuffled through the hits off of their debut album Silent Alarm without a glitch; "This Modern Love" and "Banquet" intoxicated the crowd into screaming fits and dance-offs. They even offered up a few tastes of their yet-to-be released sophomore album, like "Uniform" a tumbling track built on same foundation that made their debut such a hit; a slow meandering opening with XTC-colored vocals, then half way in Tong releases the drums and the Gang of Four references can begin again. Bloc Party's fun, danceable, unabashed set was a great way to end one of the most eclectic festival lineups I ever attended. (CG)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Intonation Pics, Part 2

Rory's pictures took a little bit longer to get back from the Fotohut, but they were well worth the wait: Rory's Day 1 Rory's Day 2

Best of Intonation Day 1: Ghostface

I'm not entirely convinced this was the best musical performance of the day, but it certainly was the biggest spectacle. Ghostface and his crew were arguably the best hypemen of the festival, inciting almost non-stop audience participation. Things started off predictably enough with chants of "Wu - TANG, Wu - TANG," complete with the 'W' hand gestures. (I have to admit, seeing hundreds white indie kids chant the name of one of the hardest hip-hop groups of all time was almost more entertaining than watching the performance itself) This, along with numerous other "hands in the air" moments reigned throughout the set, but towards the end the audience participation was brought to a completely unexpected level. Suddenly, a dance party erupted on stage, with Ghostface being joined by a bevy of fine ladies who stormed in from the crowd. This is about the last scene I would have expected at a show with a Wu-Tang alumnus, but maybe this is a new, friendlier version of Ghostface? (more Casper, less Killah) Check out more Ghostface dance party pics here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Intonation Music Festival 2006, Day 1

90 Day Men Math-y Chicago rock group 90 Day Men, fronted by the ubiquitous Rob Lowe (no, not that Rob Lowe), have been generally MIA for the last year or so as Mr. Lowe has been busy touring with TV on the Radio and working on his experimental side project, Lichens. So playing for the first time in how-long at Intonation should probably have been more exciting than it was. I'm not especially familiar with the band, having never seen them live and having only been exposed to a few of their post-rockish songs, but considering the critical acclaim their last album Panda Park received and my love of their instrumental epic "We Blame Chicago," I was expecting more. They just didn't have a whole lot of energy, and most of their songs were somewhat lackluster. And after getting my hopes up upon hearing the opening notes of the aforementioned "We Blame Chicago," they proceeded to take the song in an entirely different direction from the recorded version, one that sort of destroyed the melody and left me wanting more. (NC) Jose Gonzalez After the audience tried to drown out the voices of the awful Vice TV emcees standing on stage in their underwear with chants of "Jose! Jose!", the Swede-by-way-of-Argentina shyly made his way out with his guitar to a small chair at the front of the stage. Playing a large selection from his debut album, Veneer, Gonzalez's gorgeous voice and gentle guitar-playing kept the large crowd totally silent, allowing his soft indie-folk to work surprisingly well in an outdoor setting. The crowd cheered as Gonzalez launched into the opening of his cover of the Knife's "Heartbeats," one of the best covers I've ever heard. Two more were to following, including one of Kylie Minogue's "Hand on Your Heart," further showcasing his ability to draw out the melodies from great pop songs and turn them into equally great, lush folk masterpieces. (NC) Chromeo Upon first hearing Chromeo's almost over-the-top blend of funky 80s-inspired dance music, I had to wonder if the musicians were serious. Once the Chromeo duo Pee Thug and Dave 1 took the stage, it was obvious there wasn't a trace of irony in the music they were making- they just wanted people to dance. With Dave 1 on the guitar and Pee Thug rocking the synth and the talk box, the band alternated between tracks from their debut album She's In Control and brand new music from their forthcoming album. Dave 1's sense of humor played front and center throughout the show, emphasizing several times the fact that all their songs are about "girls and dancing," begging the audience to drop the tired rock 'n roll fist in the air routine and get their feet moving instead, even managing to keep the audience interested with his hilarious babble as Pee Thug took a couple minutes fixed a kit drum meltdown. He later rewarded the audience for their patience by thanking them for being so "gangsta" (insert robot-voiced sample here) as they wrapped up with the song of the same name.(NC) The Stills The Stills loss their singer/guitarist after their highly-acclaimed 2003 release Logic Will Break Your Heart, which harkened similarities to Strokes and Joy Division. They took this as an opportunity to redirect their sound, and break away from the new wave mold their debut was baked in. Adopting a tighter, more traditional pop-rock sound, The Stills displayed their latest effort with great skill on Saturday. Their 40-minute set was full of songs off their new album Without Feathers, some of the new songs felt a bit flat. For instance, "Helicopters" just didn't seem to go anywhere, technically it sounded great, the vocals were clean and simple. They played it well, like most of the songs they offered up, but the drive that I was accustomed to seemed mellowed out. They tried to summon a handclap chorus from the audience, on "Oh, Shoplifter", which fizzled out before it ever got going. Even when they pulled out their 2003 hit "Still in Love Song", that too seemed a bit different; the new wave nuances were shifted to a heavier, more grungier tone. I did enjoy the piano, giddy-up guitar, and lyricism on "In The Beginning", which is an example of the more piano-infused pop rock they have adopted. The clean lines and simplistic crooning on the new songs definitely showcase the writing, but I miss the energy the early songs had. I'm still in love, I just need some time to adjust. (CG) Roky Erickson It's a miracle he's still alive. It's been 25 years since Roky Erickson has played a show outside of Texas, the former frontman of the legendary 13th Floor Elevators has survived shock treatments, crooked record executives, poverty, and numerous bouts with schizophrenia, but he put those decades aside to play a historic show in Union Park. This hero of rock n' roll have influenced many along the way with his brand of psychedelic rock. Though his performance at Intonation might have been considered tame by his past standards, it was endearing to see him strum away and sing through some of his old songs, with his backing band (of equally matured musicians), The Explosives. His music has definitely picked up more of a Texas twang over the years, with some of the instrumentation and vocals lingering in Roy Orbison country. He definitely comes from the school of music over lyrics, especially in some of his post-Elevators material. For example, "I Walk with a Zombie", which happens to be the only lyric in the entire song (if you don't count the doo-wop style back up singing, 'He walk with a Zombie last night'). Yes, it makes his songs easy to sing-a-long to since you know all the lyrics after the first verse, but it can get a bit repetative to the casual listener. Aside from that, I enjoyed his set as did most of the responsive crowd. It didn't matter if we weren't around to witness Roky in his heyday, you couldn't help be feel supportive and apart of a historic moment. On a side note, if you enjoyed Roky's performance you may want to consider donating to his Trust Fund, that was established to pay for his medical bills and other expenses he has accumulated over the years, You can donate Here. (CG) Lady Sovereign This set was a bit short...er, sorry Sov...umm, I mean it didn't last very long. As expected, she busted out her big hits like "Ch-Ching" and "Random" as well as a couple of her newer UK singles. Performance seemed to suffer a bit from the slight staleness of her big hits and the lack of familiarity with her latest tracks. That Def Jam full-length debut that we've been hearing about forever is long overdue. (BK) The Streets The Streets were the reason I bought tickets to Intonation this year, and they managed to more than live up to expectations by putting on one of the tightest performances I've seen in quite some time. From the not-so-impromptu verses from the Arctic Monkeys' "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor" and the Pussycat Dolls' "Don'tcha" thrown in during opener "Prangin' Out," to his effortless repartee with several audience members (even asking one woman if that was her boyfriend next to her and if they were happy...all without losing the beat), it was almost as if Mr. Skinner had scripted the entire show out beforehand. But I mean that in the best way- it meant for a great show. The energy from beginning to end was incredibly high, with even typical tear-jerkers like "Dry Your Eyes" and "Never Went to Church" sounding more upbeat than usual and failing to bring the show's momentum down. I also couldn't have chosen a better set list myself, with Skinner selecting the best tracks from each of his three albums. (NC) Apparenty Skinner's new no-brooze mantra is working quite well for him, because this was indeed an unbelievably tight set. Almost hard to believe this was the same Mike Skinner who I saw about 4 years ago at Double Door who wouldn't stop throwing Budweiser on the crowd. I swear he didn't sang/rap much more than about 30 sec. of each song that night. This performance wrapping up day 1 of Intonation was the complete opposite, with Skinner living up to his Original Pirate Material promise of "excelling in both content and deivery." An excellent cap to a great first day, though I have to admit at this point I was "prangin out" a bit myself after having waaaay too many cans of Sparks. That shit seriously needs to be outlawed. (BK)

Intonation Pics, part 1

Carlo and Nicole just got back from the Fotohut and have posted their prints on Flickr: Nicole's Day 1+2 Carlo's Day 1 Carlo's Day 2

More Gratuitous Crowd Shots (Day 2)

Intonation Wrap-Up...Part 1 of our 354-part series

It seemed funny at the time, but I'm actually feeling this guy now. We'll have tons more pictures and complete reviews soon, but while we sort out our notes and put on that third pot of coffee, enjoy these gratuitous crowd shots from day one. Oh, and one quick thought to ponder...how amazing was Jon Brion yesterday?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Not ready to party yet?

If you're looking to pace yourself tonight in preparation for two straight days of festival madness, here's something a bit more low-key: DJ Spooky's Subliminal Strings Project at HotHouse

Intonation Party Madness

Not sure which one is the "official" official Intonation kick-off, but there appears to be two festival-sanctioned pre-parties tonight. The Intonation website touts that the party tonight is at Funky Buddha. No bands are promised to be stopping by, nor are there any DJs listed, but there will be no cover and free booze courtesy of Sparks and Goose Island 312. While no mention of it appears on the Intonation website, SmartBar is touting that they have "The Official Intonation Festvial Pre-Party" with DJ sets by MSTRKFT and actual Intonation performer Chromeo. Perhaps more promising than either of these, however, is the decidedly unofficial "Rocket USA" party at Dark Room:

Then on Saturday, don't wash your hands after the festival because that stamp is going to come in handy: But, of course, there's even more post-party action going on Saturday night...

The official Vice post-party will be at Sonotheque and will feature guest appearances from members of Chromeo, Panthers, Tyrades and others. And over at the Beat Kitchen, Chicago Innerview is hosting an Intonation post-party with Danish rockers The Figurines. I'm sure there are countless other smaller shindigs...so be sure to drop any hot tips in the comments section.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lolla Schedule Announced

You can already start strategically mapping out your Lollapalooza '06 experience as the complete schedule and stage configurations have been announced. Acts recently added in the 11th hour include The Violent Femmes, Ben Kweller, Cold War Kids and Kill Hannah. An additional 9th stage dubbed the "Mindfield Electronic Ambush" has also been announced, featuring a line-up of DJs to be named later. Though it would appear that everything is finalized on the main stages, the Lolla crew is still promising a couple of more surprises before its all said and done. Check it out the full line-ups here: Day 1 (Fri, 8/4) Day 2 (Sat, 8/5) Day 3 (Sun, 8/6)

Live Review- Radiohead @ the Auditorium Theatre 6/20/06

I'd seen Radiohead three times before this show, all in massive outdoor settings, so to see them in a relatively "intimate" venue like the Auditorium Theatre (from the orchestra, no less!) was a real treat. While nothing can possibly compare to the legendary Grant Park show in 2001, what made this one special was the fact that it was the first time I'd ever heard Radiohead debut brand new material live. Something like nine songs in their two-hour set were previews of potential tracks from their upcoming album, and their sound varied from some sort of rap number to a beautiful ballad featuring Thom on the piano (the one floating around the internet on You Tube at the moment). The rest of the set list was also much different from the last three times seeing them, eschewing typical concert favorites like "Paranoid Android" and "Idiotheque" for mellower fare like "Climbing Up the Walls" and "Airbag." After pleasing the crowd with a first encore including "My Iron Lung" and "The Bends," Radiohead took a second encore and went out with a bit of a whimper- a new song and "The Tourist," a far too chill way to end a show. Meanwhile, take a look at the pictures to get a sense of the the lighting and set for the show. Both were great- instead of one large video screen in the background, Radiohead opted for 10 smaller, haphazard screens, each with a different shot of a band member from above. The screens also doubled as a mode of lighting, with colored light bulbs shining from behind when the lights went down.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Live Pics - The Office@Empty Bottle 6/16/06

Updated in the Live Photo Archive today are pics from last Friday's Office show at The Empty Bottle. Stay tuned tomorrow for Radiohead pics...

Live Review: Liars @ Logan Square Auditorium 6/18/06

I have a confession to make. I’m RFC’s "Chief Indie Rock Correspondent," and I hate indie rock shows. Is she being ironic, you ask? Is she being and antidotal hipster hipster? Why no, my friends. I am being earnest and humble. The fact of the underground rock matter is that a lot of underground rock falls into three categories: 1. Cutesy pop rock 2. minimalist slow pop 3. Chaotic electronic noise These three categories are not conducive to great live experiences. It’s not that I loathe Death Cab for Cutie, or I think Low is boring, or I find Boards of Canada pretentious. It’s just that the music of some artists, when transposed to the stage, loses something, whether it is due to a crowd, or my own physical drain, or a performer’s immobility. Some music, for me at least, isn’t appealing live. It was meant to be listened to while I’m in my own element. Seeing certain musicians live, however, should be a requirement for anyone who wants to claim to have any sort of credible live show-going repertoire. Certain musicians move beyond the framework of an indie rock show and merge into the limitless confines of aural transcendence. Some music is meant to be experienced rather than listened to. And Liars is among the select modern bands whose music is at its most meaningful when it is live and coursing and threatened by the potential for collapse. With Liars your element is at the mercy of the band’s own terms. Around 10:30 on Sunday night, Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross began playing their hour-long set to a Logan Square Auditorium crowd that seemed split between those who knew what they were getting into, those who weren’t sure of what they were getting into, and those who knew and didn’t want to get into it. It was easy to either be scared or sexually aroused by just the sight of Andrew, whose black and white checked blouse and skirt sat snuggly against his bony frame, and whose wild mane and primordial facial hair gave him a disposition to match the sounds he was creating. Hemphill was a cutesy indie counter weight with boyish looks and rumpled hair that belied his powerful, percussive capabilities on guitar and drums. I couldn’t even see Gross through the mess of flailing bodies in front of me. Those who weren’t flailing stood slightly dazed, perhaps waiting for “The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack,” which never came. Liars did trek through several tracks from Drums Not Dead, but mostly the intensely percussive songs, including “Be Quiet Mt. Heart Attack!” and “A Visit from Drum,” and they also pounded through older tunes. Overall the sound was less post punk and more primal fury. Unleashed upon us was a noise so intense and seething, so rhythmic and incessant that it struck nerves and resulted in contorted faces, convulsing bodies, or emotional outpourings. It’s besides the point to critique the sound quality of a Liars show. To be honest, I didn’t even make the slightest note of the show’s production. It was all about invigorating noise, the mushy feeling in the gut. The energy was altogether profoundly personal, profoundly sexual, and through much of the show I had my eyes closed and found myself lost in the sound of raucous guitars, grumbling, screeching vocals and pummeling beats, elevated to that height of introspection where thoughts and sounds mesh, and I forgot that I was at an indie rock show, forgot the smell of sweaty bodies, forgot that I was among a crowd of music snobs somehow unmoved. Yes, there were some stone cold bodies, but mostly the crowd seemed appreciative and there was much jumping, much head-banging, much moshing-lite. Andrew worked us a bit, jabbing his guitar in our direction, sauntering oh-so seductively. He stared at us numbly. He yelled at us. He talked to us in a conversational tone that was intriguingly normal. It all reminded me of my stint substitute teaching for the challenged kids at an Indiana high school. Except Liars are perhaps geniuses, and are less likely to call me a sexy bitch than they are to make me feel like one. Indeed, this is one show I’m happy to add to my show-going repertoire. I’m also happy to add it to the fuel of my libido. Watch out fellows. Indie rock shows can still excite me, after all.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

New Releases 6/20

Frank Black - Fastman/Raiderman (Back Porch/EMI) Is it just me, or does Frank Black release a new solo album every six months? Chalk up two more for the Pixies frontman, this one's a 27-track double CD. Fatboy Slim - The Greatest Hits: Why Try Harder (Astralwerks) It seems that someone should have tried harder, because this collection is about 6 years too late. I have to admit, at the time I actually rather liked You've Come A Long Way, Baby (1998), even with "The Rockafella Skank" getting played into the ground. However, by the time its follow up was released a short two years later, Norman Cook's schtick seemed, well..."so 1998." These days, it's almost like Fatboy Slim has dropped off the face of the Earth. Does anyone remember an album called Palookaville released in 2004?? I barely remember that coming out and don't think I even heard a note off of it. Adding to the irrevelancy of this release, the entire Fatboy Slim catalog is readily available in used bins for about a buck or two a piece...so why anyone would shell out a full $18.99 for this is beyond me. Submarines - Declare A New State (Nettwerk) Cute indie couple from Boston who were together for four years but then split up after moving L.A., inspiring this record of sad break-up tunes. However, in a plot worthy of the WB primetime, the heartfelt songs written about their experiences brought the young lovers closer together than ever, and they are now married. In fact, the mastering of this record was actually a wedding present from one of their friends. Also this week... Kyle Andrews - Amos In Ohio (Badman) Brightback Morning Light - Brightback Morning Light (Matador) Guster - Ganding Up On The Sun (Reprise) Keane - Under The Iron Sea (Interscope) Luna - Best of (Rhino) Smoosh - Free To Stay (Barsuk)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Live Review: The Lovely Feathers w/Spinto Band@Schubas 6/16/06

What was supposed to be a triple bill of Dr. Dog, The Lovely Feathers, and Spinto Band was unfortunately demoted to a double bill, when Dr. Dog had to cancel their performance due to van troubles. This didn't stop The Lovely Feathers and Spinto Band from putting on a good show. This was the second time I have seen The Spinto Band, I was only slightly less disappointed than the first time. This six-piece buzz band from Delaware with a median age of 20, have a lot of potential to ripen into a solid live act. They bring a dose of high energy with their spastic dance moves, constant head bobbing, and entertaining stage theatrics. These comical antics however outshine their live audio output at times, when their heavily layered guitars and drums clash together producing a deafening roar akin to nails on a chalk board. But, when they get it right, the product is delectable. The harmonic radiance on the pop diamond "Oh, Mandy" has the power to send vibratory chills down your spine, with it's Sigur Ros-esque vocals and instrumentation. But, other than the kazoo-tastic "Brown Boxes" and the effervescent "Crack the Whip", much of their set was a bit of a wash. They did strut out some new tunes, which had some definite listening potential, but I think I will wait until a studio cut is released before I make that decision. The Spinto Band are a great example of band that sounds great on CD, but their live sound is unpolished, and at times jarring. The Lovely Feathers won my pick of the night. This five man band from Montreal barreled through their danceable post-punk pop set fueled on vegetable testosterone. They displayed a much tighter sound, cool and collected, and the chemistry between dueling guitarists Mark Kupfert and Richard Yanofsky as they switched off shared lead vocal duties was undeniably perfection. Though their voices have rather different and distinct qualities, the mixture of their unique vocals produce a very appealing result. Mark Kupfert sounds like a demented Ben Folds screaming through David Byrne's vocal cords, while Richard drips out a sweet, emotional balladeer sound (which probably stems from the guilt of not becoming a doctor despite his grandmother's wishes). Together they sprinkle ooh's and aah's like two lovebirds on a spring day throughout most of their fresh and lively set. There were a few moments when Mark inadvertently messed up Richard's "vibe", but these moments were endearing and allowed a more revealing look at their partnership. Despite these minor flubs, they played through their set with a warm and inviting energy, which was packed with songs from their new album HIND HIND LEGS. The Lovely Feathers sound just as grand live as they do on their album. They successfully replicate live the "jump off your feet energy" of their punk-pop treat "Frantic", which is pure, danceable fun. But, the true stand out moment of their set was when the exchanged jabs via guitar licks on their monopoly inspired "In The Valley", it was like a rock history snapshot torn straight from the pages of David Bowie and Mick Ronson. The Lovely Feathers take you one place and then soar you to another world, they will lull you into a fetal position then scream you awake with an emotional outburst. They are fun, absurd, and will make you dance. (Check out more pics from the show here)

Friday, June 16, 2006

RFC Interview: Office

After a successful showing at SXSW in March and a month long residency at Schubas in May, local indie-pop buzz band Office is back at work again tonight for a headlining show at The Bottle. RFC recently caught up with the big cheese of the operation, Scott Masson, to find out more about this smartly dressed new outfit. For those who haven't heard you, describe what Office music sounds like We attempt to make our music look, sound, and feel like one of those old black and white films that has been "colorized" 10 years after it's release....where every hue is slightly radiated, glowing, and a bit off. A beautiful nuclear fallout, and nobody hurt during the explosion. That's the best way I can describe us. What inspired your sound? Inspiration is a weird concept. I can honestly say the music of Office is inspired by people like Eugene Mirman, Dave Chappelle, Rimbaud, Warhol, Paolo Conte, Tom Waits, Damien Hirst, and Charles Bukowski more than any rock and roll band. I'm speaking from my own opinion, of course. I don't listen to music all that much, and when I do, it's usually in short and sweet increments. I often feel like I was born in the wrong decade, so the majority of my music collection is older than I am. If you ask anybody else in our band, they will have a better understanding of what they're inspired by musically. I appreciate the powerful combination of melody and lyrics, but I still don't even consciously think about where it came from. Describe the live Office experience. What we do onstage is celebrate the lost art of The Song, and our own eccentricities within the music market. Period. We don't care who hates us or loves us. Our live show is simply four musicians, and one singing/dancing secretary, performing these songs as if our lives depended on it. Performing is like going to war sometimes. We put our suits and makeup on, and we go to work. It's quite simple, really. The show is stripped down sonically, but that's usually more exciting and immediate for the audience anyway. We love our listeners, and we try not to ever lose ourselves to ego, idiocy, and industry politics. This gets more difficult as more people start hearing about you. We don't hide behind all the studio trickery, overdubs, and edits when we're onstage. Our band's main purpose is to keep things as truthful as possible, and this philosophy translates well into the live context. How did the band come together? Have any of you been in other groups before? The band came together in late 2004. We were all mutual friends, but none of us were extremely close. Now, we are almost like a family, as corn-ball as that sounds. Erica and Alissa were in an all-female band called "Twat Vibe" before they joined Office. Erica has also been a well-respected DJ throughout Chicago for years. Tom and I met while we were both employees at a paper store in Oak Park. He came from various punk rock bands like I did. The topic of Fugazi came up one day at work, and we both agreed that we should be in a band together. Alissa and Erica joined later. I am originally from the suburbs of Detroit, and was in tons of bands back in the 90s. I was mostly a bass player during those days, and the stuff I was involved with was pretty progressive. My fascination with production came around 1995. To make a long story short, my song-writing didn't see the light of day until I had already been doing it for about 4 years alone in my bedroom. I was self-conscious about my singing voice up until around 1998, and kept my songs to myself, a cassette 4-track, and a few close friends. I think I started playing instruments when I was 7 years old with the piano. Why did you choose the name "Office"? Because it creates an interesting dialogue between the audience and ourselves. Public vs. entertainment. Masculinity vs. femininity. Commerce vs. art. Simple vs. complicated. It blurs the lines between creativity, work, play, fear, and love for most people. Some people become their careers. In a lot of ways, I feel this band has become my number one focus in life....so the name makes sense. There are lots of groups of people who share a common goal, and they each have their own task within the organization. With that being said, every band is an office. Your self-released record from last year sounds pretty tight...have the majors been vigilant? Thank you! Hmmmmm......Oddly enough, "Q&A" was recorded in my bedroom on really lame equipment. Proof that you don't necessarily need to wait around for anybody to create. Technology developments have allowed artists the luxury of working on their own schedules, and ours is pretty hectic. Office will likely need an indie label in the end, unless there is some major label out there with a different approach. Indie labels allow artists more of an environment conducive to productivity and creativity, as well as giving those artists control over their own business decisions. You can make more money on an indie label, I think. It's my belief that major labels want to control every aspect of a band's career, and we simply cannot let this to happen to our band. They say "it's just the business", but those companies can never control the power of the Internet and exchange of information. They also know they can't have a bunch of educated progressives like us running around, causing too much noise, or writing the kind of pop music we write. But yes.....we do get flirty emails from people, phone calls, and folks from labels attending our shows. I was very receptive to this "courting" at the beginning. It was exciting, but now it's just funny. I'm waiting for the one A&R person who will blow my mind with his/her ideas. Most A&R people we've dealt with seem to miss the point of our band, and I often find myself thinking about food or sex when I'm having a conversation with them. They hear dollar signs, and we hear the notes we haven't played yet. Tonight's Office show at The Empty Bottle starts at 10:00p, with openers Raising the Fawn and Brenmar Sumday(feat. Elissa P). 21+, $8 at the door.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More Intonation Previews

This week, Newcity is also jumping on the Intonation bandwagon early with their "Vice Squad" preview issue. In addition to a complete "A to Z Guide" of the festival line-up, my esteemed colleague and editor Melissa Lane talks to the organizers of this year's Intonation about setting up the event and tapping Vice Records to curate. Somewhat disappointedly, the Intonation chiefs were again rather mum about their infamous split with Pitchfork, though they did manage to squeeze in a couple of subtle jabs. "Last year's crowd was very homogonous. There's a whole city full of people who aren't tied to their computers all day, who get their music from the radio or mix tapes..." Also in the issue is my interview with Mike Skinner of The Streets. It was only a 15-minute phoner, but I ended up with a lot more material than I had space for in Newcity. However, their loss is RFC's gain...jump to the next post for additional insight from everyone's favorite Birmingham geezer.

RFC Interview: The Streets

The pairing of you and Lady Sovereign on the same tour seems like a perfect fit, but then again here in the States, we only know like 4 grime artists total. Are you friends with the SOV? Have you worked with her much before? I’ve kind of known her off and on for years. I saw her last night for the first time in quite a while. When you promote internationally like I am and she is, you know... you don’t touch down for very long. Has there been anything from the American hip-hop scene that you've been into lately? I quite like the new Megan Rochellthere’s some new Scarface bits I like...Rick Ross...just bits of everything. I think the production is still really fresh. I think the kind of competition to see who’s the hardest is a bit of a one-way street, though. I think that’s the only problem with it. How tough do you want to get before you just end of being a bit silly. What do you think is the number one misconception that Americans have about Engish people or culture? Well, there’s a lot of different kinds of Americans. I think if you speak to most people in New York, you know...most of them more switched on people, they’ve got a fairly accurate view of how complicated and dense people we are. But I think outside of that, it’s different. For example...? Well, I think they just judge us by our past really, you know? Like I say...we make wrong stereotypes of Americans because we think they’re all kind of fat and bigoted like George Bush. But you’re not, ya know? One last question...who’s going to win the World Cup? The UK Mike Skinner and The Streets close out the first night of Intonation (June 24), schedued start time is 9:20pm...(like you're not going to be there for six hours prior already)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Quickie Interview - Manatella

Manatella began as Isabella Parole in Jacksonville, Florida in 1998. Isabella Parole members, Lauren Chase and Alissa Leonard moved to Chicago in 2004 to form Manatella with drummer Shelly Uehara. The line up includes rotating bass and guitar work between Leonard and Chase, and Uehara on drums and keys. Compared to the likes of Mazzy Star, the Softies, and strangely, the Jam, their are songs inspired by life, rabbits, employment, baker's dozens and summertime. I will be honest here, there are not many female based bands that I dig now of days (nothing against the ladies, but currently most female bands tend to sound a like in my opinion)...but Manatella has grown on me with their sweet and smooth vocal and rhythm stylings. I got the chance to meet up with Lauren and Alissa to discuss a little bit about their music and their upcoming show at the Viaduct Theater this coming Saturday.... How long have the two of been playing together for? Lauren- For about four years, we were just friends who wanted to start a band, and at 16 started taking guitar lessons. We didn't play our first gig till we were 18 though. What the hell brought you up to Chicago? Alissa and Lauren (I couldn't keep up with who was saying what)- We played a show with a Chicago based band Lesser Birds of Paradise down south when we were playing with Isabella Parole. We developed a friendship with them, and eventually came up to Chicago to play a show with them in 2004 at the Beat Kitchen. We really wanted to see how the scene was up here, and the show was encouragement enough to relocate and see how things would work out. We love the fact that there is always going on in the music scene. How has your music grown since moving out here and forming Manatella? Lauren- Shelly is more powerful and rhythm driven with her drumming, which has led us to keep up and be more rhythm driven with the rest of the band. What would you say your favorite colors are? Lauren- Green Alissa- Blue What can someone expect at your upcoming show this weekend? Alissa- A hot drummer who wears high heels and kicks ass. We will also be unleashing a My Morning Jacket style jam song...and there is always the chance of something ridiculous happening. Lauren- Expect a band of good friends, who enjoy playing music together and work hard doing it. Manatella will be playing this Saturday, June 17th with Avagami and Starina and the Vel Johnsons at the Viaduct Theater. You can check out Manatella's music at http://www.myspace.com/manatella