Friday, September 29, 2006
RFC Interview: Say Hi To Your Mom
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Fear the Sadies. Anyone who attended Schubas on Saturday night was assaulted in a most malicious, unrelenting way. I've noticed sometimes that Schubas is advertised (somewhat jokingly?) as having “hardcore honky tonk nightly.” On most nights I would be prone to question this statement, especially considering just a few hours earlier on Saturday night David Bazan of Pedro the Lion took the stage (no disrespect, though), but with the Sadies on the bill there could be no dispute. The evening began tame enough with a movie entitled Tales of the Rat Fink. The film, a documentary about the life of hot rod & custom car designer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, leans towards the psychedelic and surreal. It is largely a montage of photos mixed with some animation. John Goodman narrates, as the voice of Big Daddy himself, and The Sadies provided the soundtrack. I have to admit, I did not watch the move in its entirety; but if anything, the film may help some understand that the name Von Dutch is much more than just fashion fodder for obnoxious celebrities. First on the bill was Heavy Trash, which consisted of Matt Verta-Ray, Jon Spencer (yes, the Jon Spencer of Blues Explosion fame) and the Sadies serving as a back-up band. They formed a cohesive unit, as does any Sadies backed band/collaboration, and ripped through every track on the Heavy Trash self-titled album with style. Jon Spencer is a very engaging performer who has the presence of a televangelist combined with the moves of a 70’s-era Elvis (sans the bloated, on-too-many-meds look). I seriously mean that as a compliment …after a slew of indie rock shows lately, he may be the most electrifying front man I have seen in months. The performance could have easily been a headlining set on most nights in most venues. This set flowed seamlessly into the Sadies later set, really making this seem more of a two set show than two different bands. After a break, The Sadies were back on stage. Much is made about The Sadies in their varying backing roles, most notably for Neko Case on the extraordinary live album The Tigers Have Spoken. The fact is the Sadies are exceptional in any package, including when they take the stage on their own. While the Sadies may not be the most mobile performers, it quickly becomes apparent that this music can stand on its own. The music does not warrant any dog and pony show, as gimmicks are simply not needed here. They blazed through tracks spanning their entire catalog, with no shortage of their trademark barn burnin’, surf style, western-inspired instrumentals. As to be expected from a Sadies show, they were joined throughout the night by a plethora of guests, including Jon Langford and Sally Timms. The ease they display in morphing into the ideal backing band for whoever steps on stage is something to behold. The evening closed, as it started, with Jon Spencer fronting the band for the last few numbers. The evening was at its most electric with this combination, peaking as Jon Spencer jumped into the crowd to finish the set. As the night came to a close I was left to consider two questions: Are the Sadies the best live act going? And how is this Canadian band able to play Americana, better than most American bands? -Words and photos by Rory O'Connor...click here for the complete photoset
For the suburban faithful out there, The Sadies are playing again tonight at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Get on the List: Langhorne Slim @ Empty Bottle
Live Review: The Wire Festival 9/20/06
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
The Wire teamed up with Chicago’s Empty Bottle to bring us Adventures in Modern Music, a 5-day festival showcasing an experimental and diverse lineup of musicians and bands from all over the world. On this night alone, local musicians gathered with those from Oregon, France, and Brazil for an incredible night that would not have been possible if not for The Wire. (The Wire is a great UK-based magazine for experimental and outer limits independent music. It's a bit expensive, but is worth the cost as it comes with a nice CD sampler of the bands it covers.)
Spires that in the Sunset Rise I agree with the way that the Spires describe themselves: ...the music is a repellant and magnetizing swarm of harps, guitars, cello, drums, harmonium, banjo, mbira, spike fiddle, bells, and vocals. Although technically a four piece, they perfromed as a three piece, though their sound was still quite rich and full. I shouldn’t be too surprised music like this is coming out of Chicago. We do have a significant art scene here and this is definitely music created for and by artists with such emotional eccentricity that you feel literally like you’re being haunted by the sounds. The cello was especially beautiful and there were times when the vocals were like half angelic pained cries. At one point, the chilling sound of a scraping pen writing along the edge of an instrument caused shivers to creep up one’s spine. This small orchestra might be speaking for the actual Earth at times. It definitely serves as a rebuttal for all those who think nothing original is being created anymore. These aren’t anything close to pop songs but are nonetheless rewarding if embraced by the eccentric in all of us. Yellow Swans Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Yellow Swans is a two piece experimental band who seemed like they were going to put on a deafening set of noise until they submerged themselves into a more melodic form focusing on a less assaulting repetition between the guitar, pedal effects, and noise generator. Hear their songs by visiting them on myspace Colleen Colleen is actually Cécile Schott, a French artist who plays beautifully lush instrumentals by looping guitar, cello, and clarinet then fills the remaining air with the sound of wind chimes. She was just lovely while the music inspired a touching sort of emotion in me ala Clint Mansell’s soundtrack work on Requiem for a Dream, only not as dark. It’s very magical both in the live setting and on her two fantastic full length albums: Everyone Alive Wants Answers and The Golden Morning Breaks. Tetine I didn’t quite know what to expect from Brazil’s Tetine (pictured above). Eliete Mejorado came out clad in a bright golden metallic one piece bodysuit complete with a horse’s tail attached to her. Bruno Verner’s dress was much more modest in contrast but he was just as passionate while singing. They both sang and the songs were very keyboard dependent as well. They were captivating, raunchy, and created very danceable music which, even though the lyrics weren’t sung in English, was pretty easy to guess at subject matter wise. If you like CSS, check out Tetine. More coverage of the festival to come...check out the complete photoset here
New Releases Tuesday - 9/26
Monday, September 25, 2006
RadioFreeChicago v2.0 is coming very soon and to celebrate the new site we're throwing a big bash (aka "BANDWIDTH...A Launch Party Revolution") at the Kinetic Playground on Friday, October 6th. Also joining us in the celebration festivities will be the local indie music site Future Perfect Radio, who just launched their site last month. Of course, hanging out with a bunch of Bloggers and music dorks isn't that exciting, so we've rounded up with some great local acts to keep you entertained all night long:
Skybox Coltrane Motion All City Affairs DJ LA*Jesus More details to come... ALSO, if for some reason you happen to be reading this from the greater Los Angeles area, be sure to check out our sister site's debut concert series in Hollywood tomorrow night:
Friday, September 22, 2006
Free JET Concert @ Schubas
Vashti Bunyan is delicate, magical, and enchanting. She could charm thousand-year-old oak trees in a forest to start whispering a melody. Playing with a six piece ensemble that included Helena-Espvall from Espers, Vashti filled the air with her songs and you could just tell they sounded exactly the way she wished them to. She thanked the other performers several times and expressed both her gratitude and shock that she would have the opportunity to bring her songs to an audience with such accomplished musicians playing with her. Instruments accompanying her included violin, guitar, cello, flute and more.
Vashti sang a collection of older material from 1970's Just Another Diamond Day and newer material from 2005’s Lookaftering. She also spoke quite a bit about her songs. She expressed how her newer songs were about her children while her older songs seemed to dwell on a journey of 700 miles to Scotland that she took on horseback with a man who broke her heart. It apparently took her two summers and a winter to make this journey and left a clear impression on her. She had such an intimate grace while she was speaking that made you feel like you could be listening to her speak in a small coffeehouse.
The most surprising thing about the set was how juxtaposed amongst each other the songs all took on a different feel. Being brought to life, it almost seemed as if they had been completely removed from the time element of it all. The songs just belonged everywhere in every time period, perhaps because in some respect they are very pure folk songs in what they achieve. It was a real joy to see and hear Vashti Bunyan and I do hope that more people increasingly see her worth. As in the case of some other unrecognized musicians of that genre, Sibylle Baier and Bridget St. John for example, Vashti Bunyan adds something vital to this world and it is enriching to listen to.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Live Review: The Dears @ Schubas 9/7/06
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Two For Tuesday
New Releases Tuesday - 9/19
Monday, September 18, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Ruminations on Why the Touch and Go 25th Anniversary/10th Hideout Block Party Wasn't a Total Loss
Another highlight for me was Friday night’s closers !!!, who worked hard to get the somewhat aloof crowd dancing. Front man Nic Offer was his usual psychotic disco self, and seemed to take it personal if he saw people who weren’t shaking their asses. At one point he jumped into the crowd and was body surfed around then thrown back onstage. Afterwards he shouted, “You fucking punk rockers! I was coming out to dance with you, and you thought I was crowd surfing!”
(photo by Marcia Detterline) Pinback was perhaps not up to their usual topnotch form; however, it was apparent that Rob Crow was a bundle of nerves as he kept filling up the band’s onstage downtime with rambling nerdspeak and awkward interactions with the crowd. He admitted being self-conscious, playing for so many people and mingling with some of his personal music heroes. It was endearing to see him acting so bashfully, but all of his energy was released in their closer “Summer in Abaddon,” during which Crow’s voice cracked through his screaming, and he tossed his guitar around like a teenaged demon punkster. So yeah, it was sucky times, it was good times. My schizophrenic experience perhaps coincides with Touch and Go’s own recent tendency towards bi-polarity. The bulk of the label’s roster I find rather uninteresting; however, I’m sure a lot of the punks who claim I’m a jackass because I’m not into hardcore wouldn’t have been caught dead jumpin’ and jivin’ to !!! or swaying sensually to CocoRosie. Such is the difficulty with a label having a sundry playlist: you can’t please all the people all the time. Conversely, this diversity is also Touch and Go’s strength. It could easily have become a stagnant label. It could easily have only brought out one type of person last weekend. Instead Corey Rusk chose to grow, and I chose to risk my own comfort for the chance to celebrate a part of underground music’s history and future.