Wow! What a week we had, Surfers! We caught the sold out Deeper show at Sleeping Village with tons of local support from The Hecks, Divino Niño, and Mia Joy! LPL got to attend Saltwater Tap’s EP release show at Uncommon Ground which was a blast, and we also made it to Beat Kitchen for a killer early Sunday show featuring touring indie darlings Gabby’s World and Yowler with locals Spencer Radcliffe, Everyone Else and Gia Margaret opening. It was a great week all around for live music in Chicago. This week is TNK Fest so look forward to plenty to report in #44 next week!
Last Friday saw a flurry of singles from a ton of acts releasing albums this winter including Sharon Van Etten, Stella Donnelly, Cherry Glazerr, Ex Hex, Priest, and much more including a new standalone single from local Lala Lala. Plenty of new local albums to dig on as well from Shortwave, Lucas Gillian’s Many Blessings, and The Footlight District, with brand new records dropping from Tropical Trash, Radar State, Tallies, Ultramarine and so much more. Get your ass inside and read up on everything that’s happening! 2019 is already heating up!
Keep seeing Live Music!
Deeper / Divino Niño / The Hecks /
Deeper / all photos by NBL
NBL and I enjoyed a meal at nearby Avondale Tap before our first collaborative show. When we told our server we were seeing Deeper, he said, “Oh yeah- someone else mentioned them today, too. They’re local right?” CCS’s dream is to promote the local music scene, so hearing the excitement from knowing a band was local, without any other knowledge, was music to our ears. We left a couple stickers, finished our meals, and headed to Sleeping Village for a night stacked with four local acts.
The line to enter the stage room was already at the entryway of SV, and the ID specialist moved his post to the vestibule. Next to us, two gents apparently came on recommendation, but did not know who exactly they were coming to see. Surveying the line, one ironically observed, “we obviously came on a bad night.” The line shuffled in, and we anchored ourselves at the stage.
Despite singing in a near whisper, Mia Joy and her backing band bring an intensity that compels the question, “just what exactly is so captivating?” Joy sings in a frenetic whisper that draws the listeners’ undivided attention. Occasionally, Joy accompanies her voice with guitar using a rolling snap over the strings through a watery repetition. She sets each tune with a set of knobs on the floor and seamlessly pitches between incredibly high tones that appear to inspire her voice into a whisper. Together with EIleen Peltier on guitar, Jordan Nelson on bass, Crawford Philieo on drums ,and Abby Santourian on synth, Joy Mia has created a gentle, yet stimulating performance that I look forward to watching as it continues to unfold.
I passed the boys of Deeper who (I eavesdropped), were notifying each other that they had sold out the show. After a quick passing congratulations, I ditched our coats in the car. Returning to my post at the deep end of a sea of 350 music fans, I could see the fluffy mullet of helmsman Andy Mosiman (lead singer/guitar, The Hecks) just off stage, passing between rooms. Meanwhile, his four guitars plus 3 more for Dave Vettraino, were meticulously laid on top of his guitar case, waiting for their calls to action.
The Hecks took to the stage with chords that are not exactly typical. They are what a teacher might inform a student as being “off key.” What The Hecks have done, though, is create a sound that is so “off” that it becomes right again in a jangly ensemble that anyone can twitch to.
Mosiman maintained wide-eyes throughout his performance, and on beat robot-esque turns to check in with Dave Vettraino (guitar/voc) and Zach Hebert (drums). Tonight the three were also joined by a keyboardist who I must say resembles Ferris Bueller’s best friend Cameron (and yes, that is a compliment). He so perfectly fits the groups’ image, style, and ear for the perfect gap to fill with his own tones - even using his nose to switch a dial on his board! Together, the four make a band that could have risen to fame in the ‘80s, down to Mosiman’s skilled use of the whammy bar, the only give away being their futuristic application of accurately inaccurate musical intricacies.
Mosiman and Vettraino reached down into their troop of guitars to don a pair of well-worn beats, playing in wake of their own reverb. As an audience, it was nearly impossible for the mind to wander astray from the layers of high notes over such a hard and deep kick drum. We were invigorated from our toes, which had been rooted in the ‘80s, up to and out of our crowns, then into the exact present.
Divino Niño put on a great set at Do Division last summer (issue #14). With a band self-described as ASS POP, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by the dreamy and romantic reverberations, recognizant of the more recent artist Devendra Banhart. It was then that I gathered was ASS POP meant - playing from the seat of your pants as you pour your soul into songs written in homage to the progenitors of soulful ‘60s psych-rock.
DN surpassed my expectations tonight... Camilo Medina’s voice has remained constant, but the band’s aura has gained confidence. Drummer Pierce Codina lays a hazy rainbow as guitarists Guillermo Rodriguez and Javier Forero stroll along and raise supporting vocals. Each song ends with an overhead thumbs up from Medina. Perhaps he is releasing his shoulder from strumming action, but most likely he’s showing gratitude. Tonight, we were thanked for being an open and tender audience, as they can feel that on stage. Our receptivity was evident and appreciated. Not only did the audience get a thanks, but Sleeping Village got a special shout out for their new and clean hosting environment, and for “treating [the band] real well.”
Medina calmed us, saying, “if you didn’t know those last few songs, it’s ok because they are new and coming out on our album in August so you wouldn’t know them. The first track will be released in two weeks.” DN is heading to the east coast, but we hope to see them around Chicago and in the fest scene again this summer in anticipation of their new album.
“We are Deeper, and we’re from here.” - Nic Gohl
Even while plugging in his amp, Gohl was refracting the stage light, catching his string plate rather appropriately like a disco ball. Deeper filled the small-ish venue with the sense of seeing Arcade Fire or LCD Soundsystem, with an enormous confidence and passion for what they bring. Their high production value carries onto the stage, something they’ve accomplished rather early in the relative life of a band.
Deeper seemed to settle on their polished, undulating cerebral sound a few years ago, releasing their first single “Transmogrified” in 2016. As a band, when you get it you got it. The quartet poured their creativity into self-titled LP “Deeper” in May of last year, highlighting what it means to be an artist living in Chicago, and the world today. Tonight, without introduction, they weaved 6 new tracks into their set. ATTN: these guys are gaining speed faster than we can keep up. They just started a tour out west, but will be back for a Valentine’s Day show at Lincoln Hall to benefit Planned Parenthood with a rather remarkable local lineup. I can only imagine where they are going to grow from here.
Gohl tried not to let cheers shake his stage presence, but a few friends were persistent and he cracked a proud smile. After Drew McBride had a false start, Gohl played it off to the crowd asking us to throw our beer cans at him. One empty can lobbed its way in McBride’s direction (whoops- we took that joke as an invitation). Empties peppered the stage, drawing larger smiles from the local performers. The largest smile came after Grohl took a half-full beer to the temple, which splashed out onto his beanie and dripped down face: He didn’t flinch. He didn’t miss a note or a word, but rather grinned in approval, even glad of the experience. If possible, they met our involvement and played even harder.
The room slowly emptied, but no one wanted to leave. All the bands mingled around the merch tables, meeting their fans - new and old. In our run to the car down Belmont Ave, we hardly felt the cold as our bones radiated the warmth of our hearts. But then again, avenues are great...
Saltwater Tap / Cait Arq
Saltwater Tap / all photos by LPL
Cait Arq finished her sound check and did not accept the offered break. Before she introduced her own debut EP, “Green Is Green,” Arq congratulated Saltwater Tap on their first EP. Arq is a vocalist in SWT and produced her EP with SWT frontman Garen Hudson, tracked by many, many local musician friends. “Green Is Green” is Arq’s poetry set to music, and each creation is a brilliant match of tone to poem.
Tonight it was just a guitar and its singer, with a combined voice that gives you chills in all the right places. A genuine love pours out of Arq and swells in her songs, cresting through her listeners. I felt myself called away from taking photographs and invested in absorbing the passion as I crouched in my corner.
Uncommon Ground is not only a brunch spot with good coffee, they put on a good show, too, but at the Lakeview location, you kind of have to know about it. Their Listening Room is tucked behind the bar and almost looks like a service door. As I passed through, patrons were craning their necks wondering what they were missing. UCG has been filling their listening rooms with great acts since 1991. A seated event with table service, patrons are asked to show the band respect and keep conversations to a brief murmur - essential to an intimate space - but everyone was too captivated to talk over Salt Water Tap.
Garen and Paige Hudson are natural performers. Even PHudson’s hands flutter about in front of her as she draws song from her lungs, alongside Cait Arq. Frontman GHudson, donned in metallic paisley, brings a soulful sass to the stage as he tells his tales and climbs around on his hands tier of keyboards. Taylor Voss (guitar), Ulyses Espino (bass) and Sam Atkins (drums) pack the back section. Together, they fill the space with high-quality sound production.
Salt Water Tap sold out Uncommon Ground in emphatic celebration of their EP “Bittersweet,” released November 9. They escorted the packed house of friends, fans, and family on a tour through the six sonic lessons of “Bittersweet.” (Don’t mistake the time lapse for noncommittal, SWT has been busy.) They shared at least four new tunes. Each track was just as well-rehearsed and performed as each recorded track on “Bittersweet.”
SWT’s track titles are in fact content relevant, but the tale surprises the listener as they redefine what lyrics might typically be summarized by such a title. That being said, it seems fitting to describe the debuted songs as follows: “Bird Dive,” “Two Neighboring Yents (actual title),” “Chemistry,” and “Take My Soul.” But actually, SWT’s next LP will list these titles: “Somewhere in Kerala,” “Two Neighboring Yents,” “Motorbike Gangs,” and “Pompadour Romp.”
This might have been a room of 50 people, but the cheers from a house of genuine fans could have been 500. GHudson laid the funk into his keyboard as he cued the front row to drop into a squat, leaving the listeners to watch Espino and Atkins bring the heat as the room celebrated to the surprise releases.
SWT does not have any shows booked yet, but rumor has it they will play Uncommon Ground again soon. Do yourself a favor and see them in this intimate setting while you still can.
Gabby’s World / Yowler / Spencer Radcliffe and Everyone Else /
Gabby’s World / all photos by KPL
What a bill! This was a not-to-be-missed lineup of impressive indie heavy hitters; props to Beat Kitchen and their bookers for, as Maryn Jones of Yowler kept exclaiming, “an amazing night!” On a cold January Sunday the turnout was just right, with enough room to move but still big enough to feel Chicago-represented. With two very notable locals supporting the touring acts, the pedigree of all involved still boggles the mind. An intimate and affecting experience, this show will not soon be forgotten by any who were lucky enough to attend.
The “sleep rock” (her term) of Gia Margaret floats through the rugged terrain of the heart to pull at just the right cords, and she was on point this evening, despite letting us all know she was “high on Theraflu.” Her new record There’s Always Glimmer was a 2018 highlight, and this was the first time we were able to catch the talented singer/songwriter. Sitting centerstage, her guitar in her lap, leaning into the mic, she recounts journeys through life with an emotive urgency that belies the relatively tame sound. It’s a juxtaposition that works so effortlessly, it disappears by mid-set into the melodic bliss that wraps it’s affectionate arms around your ears. Set highlights “Groceries” and “Sugar” still give chills a day later, and she even shared a new one, rewarding those of us who showed up early for the local star. She is heading to London for a couple shows this week, but will be back on stage in Chicago February 14th for the Panache’s Annual Planned Parenthood of Chicago benefit at Lincoln Hall. Tix are $35 for nine amazing Chicago acts!
Spencer Radcliffe’s tunes ride somewhere between lo-fi and folk rock, with plenty of personal touches that brought a positive vibe to the room. A warm, large sound spilled from the stage in waves through his band Everyone Else; and his confessional, moody lyrics drip with metaphor in a way only an experienced songwriter can capture. “Brown Horse” was a particular highlight, and Grant Engstrom’s full-bodied guitar solos bring the tunes to another level. His latest EP If I Knew How captures their live sound rather well, with an immediacy that not every band can capture in the studio. They play locally all the time but don’t currently have an dates booked. Keep a lookout for this stirring local talent.
If you’ve listened to Yowler, you may expect a brooding character, but between songs Maryn Jones comes off as down to earth and friendly; but then she steps to the mic and delivers rending emotive journeys through her life with little pretense and not a drop of sentimental vibes. Life is difficult and Jones wants you to know, though because of it, she lets you rock on. Last time we caught her, years before we started this site, she was solo; but with a full band behind her, she gives moments like the explosion of sound at the end of “Holy Fire” a whole other weight and texture. It added a great grungy note to her expansive-toned, bedroom-rock feel that is evident throughout new record Black Dog In My Path.
Gabrielle Smith is a fixture in the Brooklyn indie and DIY scene, and her popularity came to a head with ‘15 release O.K under the moniker Eskimeaux. She soon dropped the label for various reasons, recording under Ó, and finally settling on Gabby’s World (a fitting name due to the real stories and experiences she shares from her life throughout her work.) New record Beast on Beast continues her solid indie cred with plenty of heart-on-your-sleeve moments and life-affirming, joyful celebrations. On stage, she and her band are the picture of comfort, with plenty of banter and joking with each other between tunes; though when it comes to performing, they’re on point. The sing-alongs to classics “The Thunder Answered Back,” with it’s shouted refrain of “You Coward! You Hummingbird!,” and “Broken Necks” chorus of “While you were breaking your neck trying to keep your head up, I was breaking my neck just to stick it out for you,” won’t be forgotten by any in the crowd anytime soon. The crowd forced an encore after Smith insisted they were done. A gift of another tune rewarded our efforts, and we drifted off into the early evening atop a bubble of positive vibes and affirmed belief in the power of live music.
Lucas gillian’s many blessings
Chit-Chatting With Herbie
The Footlight District
Fairytales for the Dark Age
Beyond The Golden Door
Southern Indiana Drone Footage
Signals into Space
All Power To The People
Love Train 2
The First & Last Days of Unwelcome
Taking Back Sunday
WHAT WE'RE JAMMING TO THIS WEEK
Lala Lala , WHY?
What Chaos is Imaginary
Gary Clark Jr.
The Seduction of Kansas
Lana Del Rey
hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but I have it
Juanes (ft. Lalo Ebratt)
Sharon Van Etten
Talk Talk EP
angelic milk / DIVINE BIKER LOVE / PNKSLM
You Tell Me / You Tell Me / Memphis
Rob Baird / After All / Hard Luck
Angelo De Augustine / Tomb / Asthmatic Kitty
Little People / Landloper / Future Archive
NEWS & NOTES
TNK Fest has arrived! 5 nights, 6 venues, 55 bands and plenty of other activities from podcasts to comedy. Pick a damn show (→) or two and support this local fest now in its 14th year!
Snail Mail / Lala Lala / Varsity
Metro 9PM Sold Out
The Hideout 10PM $20
Still Woozy / Victor! / Monster Rally / Jordanna
Schubas 8PM Sold Out
Grails / Helen Money / Black Duck
Sleeping Village 9PM $15
Decca / Showyousuck / AzMattic
Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $10 ($12 door)
Petal / Great Grandpa / Bernice / Sir Babygirl
Schubas 9PM $15 ($18 doors)
Vacationer / Pixel Grip / Couple II
Sleeping Village 9PM $16
Flesh Panthers / Railway Gamblers / Bluefish Fellows
Empty Bottle 9PM doors $5
Cherub / Mosie
Concord 8PM $25
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Chicago Theatre 7:30PM $19.50 and up
The Lil Smokies / Joybird
SPACE 8PM $15
Mndsgn / Kiefer / Swarvy
Lincoln Hall 9PM $15
Yorklore / Sontalk / Shortly / Ester
Schubas 9PM Sold Out
Negative Gemini / FEE LION / Panic Priest
Sleeping Village 9PM $12
DJ Hell / Sevron / Sold
Smartbar 10PM $15 ($20 door)
Rayland Baxter / Modern Vices / Illiterate Light
Park West 7:30PM $15
Great Deceivers (record release) / Floatie / Spirits Having Fun / Grandkids
Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $8 ($10 door)
Animal Years / The Early Sixes / Dance Bullies
Subterranean 9PM $10
The End of the Ocean / Tides of Man / The Burst and Bloom
Beat Kitchen 8PM $15
Hungry Brain 9PM $15
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Chicago Theatre 7:30PM $39.50 and up
Aragon 8PM $59.50
S. Carey / Wild Pink / Gold Star / Fran
Schubas 7PM $20
Sports / Arlie / Pavo Pavo
Lincoln Hall 9PM $15
David Bazan / Advance Base
Sleeping Villlage 9PM $25
Ornament / Jungle Green
Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $5
MONDAY January 21st
PEEL / Harvey Fox / Strange Lovelies
Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors FREE
Blind Moon / Head / Cam’s Jams
Schubas 9PM FREE
TUESDAY January 22nd
Anika / Coupler / SiP / DJ Catieo
Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $15
Basement Family / Stuck / Brass Calf
Schubas 9PM FREE
Nalani & Sarina / Mitch Mead
Martyrs 8PM $10
WEDNESDAY January 23rd
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks / Dehd
Metro 8PM $25
Yawning Man / Freedom Hawk
Empty Bottle 8:30PM $12
Natural Information Society / Hieroglyphic Being & J.I.T.U Ahn Sahm Buhl
The Hideout 9PM $10
Kongos / Fitness
Lincoln Hall 7:30PM $25
See you at the show Chicago!