Whitney at The Revolution Oktoberfest / photo by KPL

Editor's Note
Welcome to issue #30 of Chicago Crowd Surfer! We made it to the dirty thirties Surfers! Thanks to you we keep this little site going with all the positive feedback! Be on the look out soon for our new layout, coming sometime in October, but till then we have another big issue. We celebrated the end of outdoor fest season with Revolution Brewing at their Oktoberfest with a ton of local talent on hand. Lala Lala’s highly anticipated record dropped last Friday and we were at the sold out release party at The Empty Bottle! And we visited the Hideout for a night of country wonder with Courtney Marie Andrews. A big album release week again, with new records from Hippo Campus, Marissa Nadler, and experimentalist Jlin, along with local punks C.H.E.W. Plus much, much more. Check out all our recommended shows of the week at the bottom of the issue and we’ll see you at the show!

Keep Seeing Live Music!



revolution oktoberfest

Milwaukee and Fullerton

September 28th and 29th

Revolution Oktoberfest dining and dj hall / all photos by KPL

Summer is over. Fall has come to Chicago, and the last music-centric street fest of the year hit Logan Square last weekend with Revolution Oktoberfest. Milwaukee Avenue was full of revelers (you like that pun?) last Saturday and Sunday for plenty of beer, pretzels and brats. (With some damn good music thrown in for good measure.) The $5 suggested donation drew dense crowds both evenings, and—with plenty to do along the block (Emporium, Slippery Slope, Chicago Diner, The Radler, Cole’s, Cafe Mustache)—it turned the already busy block into a party atmosphere that only Chicago can bring. Here’s a few of the acts we caught last weekend and the highlights of Revolution Oktoberfest:

Frankie Cosmos

“How often does that train go by?” Gretta Klein asked as it drowned out the end of one of her perfect bedroom pop numbers. It’s true. Her set was during rush hour and a blue line rumbled by every five minutes or so. However, she persevered and won over the crowd that had braved the rain to catch her. The sign hangers on the adjacent fire escape where surely enjoying. Dancing as their “Believe Survivors” banner fluttered in the misty breeze.


The rocking trio Ex-Hex have made it back into the studio for their follow up to 2014’s Rips  and they tried out several new ones on the packed, chilly crowd. They still got us moving with their hits including killer versions of “Don’t Wanna Lose” and “Beast” however. The new album doesn’t have a release date yet, but they said to expect it early next year.

Ex Hex


This once duo of songwriters—who both cut their teeth as part of The Smith Westerns—has grown into an ensemble that produces some of the most interesting, low key indie pop out there. Now, with seven musicians, they crowded the stage. Julien Eurlich’s drum kit was front and center (as usual) and it still caught us off guard even after a couple years of catching their sets. They are in the midst of recording their sophomore album and played a couple new ones along with all their hits and a Dylan cover for one of the largest crowds we’ve seen at a street fest all year.   

Los Gold Fires

Los Gold Fires

Not your typical Chicago indie act, Los Gold Fires sounds like something out of a seventies Spanish art picture. Loungy yet psychedelic with a slowed down surf rock element, their off kilter sound entertained the few on hand in the early afternoon. They have a new album coming out as well which they just finished recording. Most of the sets material seemed to be coming on the new album so be on the lookout. We’ll let you know when it comes out. In the meantime, you can check them out at The Owl on November 15th with Engine Summer and Casual Hex. It’s FREE! Check here for more info.

White Mystery

White Mystery

Alex and Francis White always put on a show and they didn’t let the overcast chill of the day bring them down or stop them from doing so on this day too. They came on in variations of traditional garb, including Francis, donning lederhosen and nothing else. A group of kids gathered up front to witness the rock duo’s stylings and then their Mom made an appearance. They kept it PG for the kiddos and even did their classic “Buttheads From Mars” (which they claim they wrote when they were little kids.) They are hitting the road with Roky Erickson but will return to Lincoln Hall on November 9th. Get some tix right here.


We caught them a couple weeks back and have to say a club is the right place for them. Unless you get up close, like we did, it’s tough to get the full effect of the thundering of Noah Ledger’s drums outdoors. Brian Case just lays lick after crazy lick on top of the cascading rhythm to create a syncopated mind melting experience. If you want just that check them out at The Hideout on November 1st. Grab your tix here.

Kikagaku Moyo

Rolling through as part of their world tour, this young Japanese psych rock band held the crowd enraptured as they blew the roof off the stage. (Don’t worry, metaphorically.) With a heavy and grooving sound, they pulled some of the crowd out of the bars and onto Milwaukee to experience their unique brand of jamming. If you missed out there probably won’t be another chance anytime soon. When they do come back it’s a must see.


Kikagaku Moyo

lalla lala decorations.JPG

lala lala (record release) / dehd / choral reefr

The Empty Bottle

September 28th

Lala Lala record release stage decorations / all photos by KPL

Fresh out of Rev. Oktoberfest we took the quick trip over to The Empty Bottle for Lala Lala’s sold out album release party.  The EB’s famously unadorned stage was full of festive balloons and some laser lights brought by the band in celebration, and the crowd had already started filling the venue by the time Choral Reefr took the stage. The Chicago producer/singer duo produces dreamy bedroom pop with a house feel that seems it could only come from here. With Jessica Oleson’s commanding vocals overcoming the strong backing beats and her partner’s guitar cutting through the haze they made instant fans of whoever caught their set. This is couch chilling music but it still got us swaying as we got lost in Oleson’s voice and the mellowness of their tunes. They had fans on the stairs as well, Lillie West of Lala Lala and Emily Kempf of Dehd where grooving the whole set and as Oleson said “I think we have one more, what time is it?” They both were insistent, “You have two more! Two!” Looks like they already had two talented fans in the house. If you get a chance to check out this duo live, take it. In the meantime find their jams here.

Coral Reefr

Coral Reefr



As Dehd set up, co-frontman Jason Balla made his way through the crowd, a guitar strapped to his back. (Kempf and drummer Eric McGrady were already started.) As they launched into the first song it seemed apparent that there was friction of some kind tonight. Their normally easy demeanor was a bit off kilter as they plowed through a set full of new tunes. We only recognized a few like standout “Sunburn”, which we hope is a sign that a new album is on it’s way. Even with the general unease that seemed to be bubbling under their set, they still had a swinging confidence that had only surfaced in the last year or so. Maybe it’s just becoming more comfortable with each other as performers or with the material, but this is a band set to break out anytime. They are already permanent openers for numerous indie rock bands that come through and with a new album it’s possible they break through that ceiling. (We’re sure hoping as we’ve been fans for years.) Check out their tunes here.  Their next show is opening for Bully at The Hideout on October 18th, which sold out the day it went on sale. Luckily they are also opening for Grapetooth at Thalia Hall “In The Round” on November 11th. Scoop up your tix here.

The main event was up and as the lights lowered we got stuck in the back. Not wanting to push up and ruin someone's enjoyment we stayed there—which turned into a blessing as we had plenty of room to move around to Lala Lala’s new jams and open access to the bar. Lillie West’s (she is the only permanent member and songwriter) new tunes have taken a step forward and the atmospheric indie pop she produces had us jamming out the whole set. The psychedelic laser lights strobed and twirled off the performers and celebratory balloons giving the set a vibe more akin to an acid test than an indie rock show. But it all came together so beautifully as West and the band rolled through tune after tune from the new album The Lamb (see our review below). Kempf, who played bass and provided back up vocals on the album, guested on back up for a couple tunes; and the general party atmosphere was palpable. With local musician sightings all night long, it became clear we weren’t the only ones excited for West and the attention she is getting for her new work. Lala Lala is heading out on tour but hopefully they’ll do a homecoming show when they return. Till then check out the new album here.


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Aragon Ballroom

September 30th

BØRNS / all photos by LPL

KPL and I wrapped up our typical pre-Aragon meal around the corner at Fiesta Mexicana. As we approached the sidewalk, I felt a familiar presence just behind us. I turned to see George Lewis, Jr. walking out of the Green Mill with a friend. All I could do was drop my jaw starstruck and give a big grin. He dropped his jaw back at me before I was finally to get out how I was excited to see his show.

Looking around from our stage right spot by the sound board—just behind the young mob pressed against the stage—I quickly noticed we were old for this crowd. I scanned the room to find anyone within even 5 years of my age (32) and finally found someone. Again I dropped my jaw. Lewis was walking through the ballroom itself to find his way up onto the stage, his bouncy fro , a full head taller above everyone else, was easy to spot. He climbed the stage and opened with “Brace” from his newest album Caer, which means to fall. He tells the tale of life in this song and how we respond when love enters in—sometimes we brace / and then fall / sometimes we don’t feel right / sometimes we don’t fall at all.  Lewis’ matching chords physically hold you up and grab your heart. They linger for a bit before letting you go and drift with you as you begin to freefall.

Twin Shadow at The Metro in April of 2015

Twin Shadow gave a beautiful set, weaving through LPL faves “ Too Many Colors”, “The One”, and teased a quick “Five Seconds”. A string broke, but he never let on and kept on trucking straight through his set. He swapped guitars and tuned a silver beauty while he danced around the stage. (*sigh* Such talent.) Tonight was only the fourth time I have seen Twin Shadow, and am ever more and more impressed as their talent grows and grows.  I started the evening planning to simply enjoy a night out with KPL and friends, but here I am now writing about the ways in which I was moved by the music. Twin Shadow is an automatic “YES” any time they come through Chicago.

While KPL and friends were talking about the MLB games/playoffs(?)—I am obvs not concerned enough about sports to get the proper terminology—I headed down to the merch bar talk to Lewis, hoping to make up for my crosswalk freeze up. He was there, helping a fan choose the proper size for a jacket not from behind the counter, but right next to said fan as though they were friends in a shop. Impressed again by his genuine care for people, I froze up a bit and watched in awe. As he turned to walk away I inhaled and found my words. We talked 😝. We talked about how I wrote the lyrics of “Golden Light” into my vows to KPL last summer. We talked about gratitude, and adrenaline and I was totally awkward the whole time. (I know I just told you that I had found my words, but I was timid as f***!)



Right. So I did not take any photos during Twin Shadow. (The photo above is from a show I have previously seen.) It wasn’t until about 45 seconds into BØRNS that I realized that this wasn’t just going to be a “night out”. I had been inspired and was going to write about it. Every single person in that ballroom exploded in Beatles fashion, screaming from the tops of their heads. There were at least 100 phones recording in the air, but there were 1500 voices singing along in unison to Every. Single. Song. I was the odd man out here, not knowing a single word.

Garett Borns’ stage stairs were shimmery, his baby grand was shimmery, and his pants were pink...and shimmery. I did not know it to possible, but Borns has crafted a shimmery voice. All of this pleasantly fell in front of a giant, stage sized wall covered in plants. I’m sorry if you can’t make out these details in the pic. Cell phones are not good cameras, guys. Pro-tip: Put your phones down, fully get into the show experience, and let your temporary neighbors do the same; and later find the photographers with the long lense, learn their name and follow them on social media. A show experience is incredibly hard to capture—case in point: the pictures inserted here, included only to prove this point—so leave it to the professionals.

borns 1.jpg

Now, with that “old person” rant out of the way (maybe, perhaps just maybe I simply don’t understand what it is like to have never grown up without technology), this was admittedly quite a show to capture and technology is constantly improving. Borns seems to move without effort. That is, there was not a moment in which he stood still on stage. It seemed automatic and natural. Borns took to the piano and effortlessly laid into some covers, and guess what he covered…nope you're wrong. But he sure got it right! He played with confidence through Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, and then “Bennie and The Jets”. OMG the crowd gave him an even bigger reaction.

This wasn’t a sold out show, and at least two-thirds of the crowd were compressed against the stage, so we had room to move in our spot by the soundboard, but it was elbow to elbow. Borns asked us all “can we make it a starry night in here? Do we have the technology? Sometimes it doesn’t come through, but we got to see the stars.” Nearly 1,000 cell phones raised in the air, and some adoring fan took this opportunity to toss a bouquet of flowers onto the stage. Borns was so honored that he spent the time to give a few flowers to each band member, who in turn decorated instruments with flowers. He collected himself and began singing, then ran off the stage and into the audience. Everyone in front of me pushed up moving all of us up at least 10 more feet. Everyone found just a few inches around them and closed up the gaps to make this show even MORE crowded! As Borns moved through the crowd (really, I don’t know how he could move at all) he belted out Bowie and his mic picked up the screams around him, bouncing them through the Aragon terraces and above all the other screams.

borns 5.jpg

Before I wrap up the rest of this review, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on a brilliantly honest conversation that I had with a seven year old last weekend. (This is related, I promise.) Born in London, he had read an article about deportation that had him concerned for his safety. He wanted to know how to change the laws that scare people because people can’t change who they are, even if they are good people. The rest of our conversation is for another magazine, but he got me thinking. He set me up to be proud of the generations quickly growing behind me. He set me up to be a little less worried about my immediate future, knowing that the generations to come have my back and my future children’s backs. Tonight I witnessed a unified front of young people, united and unafraid to express their individuality. I want you to know I see you, and am grateful you are here. When you all get behind an interest, you go all in. You are the living change we need.

There is a reason Borns was able to honor the greats with timeless success, and capture my unsuspecting first-timer heart with his songs inspired by these greats. His website about page explains that he is a “preternatural talent. He understands instinctively how to connect the intricacies of a melody to the sensual receptors in the human ear, and how to conjure up a song from its building blocks to reach the heavens.” Tonight I was captured by the show and by osmosis, and by the sheer power of sonic resonance. I sang along when I could make out bits of the chorus from those singing around me, and told myself I would be looking up lyrics when I got home. George Lewis, Jr. told us earlier on in the evening that he was advised his audience would not be able to make out his vocals. Such is part of the experience at The Aragon Ballroom. I say just stand by the sound board where the sound is engineered. But honestly, by the time an act is big enough to book a show at Aragon, the truest fans already know every word.


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courtney marie andrews / samantha crain / david huckfelt (of the pines)

The Hideout

September 23rd

Courtney Marie Andrews / all photos by KPL

The stage was absolutely full of instruments. All three act’s gear was there, sharing the stage with the house upright piano and monitor wedges. Eight guitars, three keyboards, four amps, and a drum kit predicted the musical journey ahead. The Hideout’s festive string lights and political signage (“Abort Kavanaugh” and “Kindness and Love Do Still Exist”) were in full effect, giving the room the inviting feel you really only get in a venue with a lot of history. It was the perfect setting for these three deeply personal singer songwriters.

David Huckfelt

David Huckfelt and his guitar accompanist Jeremy Ylvisaker approached the stage, and the sparse crowd turned toward them expectantly. With his acoustic guitar in hand, Huckfelt brought us into the Iowa countryside with stories of his youth: growing into adulthood on his grandparents farm and watching the way they worked, lived and eventually died. He spent two weeks writing this deeply personal album on Isle Royale in the middle of Lake Superior. The sparse accompaniment of Ylvisaker’s guitar lent a haunting lonely feeling and left all the space for Huckfelt’s stories to unfold. They are on their way back to Chicago and will be at The Old Town School of Folk Music on November 8th. Get tix here. It comes highly recommended.

The crowd had began to fill in for the country folk acts to come and, as Samantha Crain walked onstage to a few woops!, she smiled and thanked us for coming. “I’m what you call a warm up act. Courtney will be out in a few, but I’m gonna sing some songs for you in the meantime,” she spoke humbly. And sing she did.

Crain’s voice could light up a string of lights miles away. She opens up her heart, lets fly with her breath and out comes beauty. Her lyrics are smart and savvy while paying attention to her roots. She stood solitary center stage with her guitar and delivered her tunes in a deeply personal manner, eyes closed, feeling every moment of her stories. The lyrics from the fun in “Antiseptic Greeting”, the personal in “Elk City”, and the old hit “Santa Fe” felt more like narrative poems than song lyrics. She already has a deep catalog and, if you haven’t discovered it yet,  you can check it out here.

In true Hideout tradition, a few of the local tamale men rolled through between sets, offering their fares to hungry beer drinkers from coolers packed with greasy masa goodness. A rather fitting retreat from the emotive performances of the openers. As Courtney Marie Andrews took the stage with her band, everyone who had been hanging in the bar crowded into the venue. With her fringed jumpsuit and white boots she looked every bit the country songstress. But, with it’s lonesome county roads and mom and pop hardware stores, her music is what held all the dry mystery of the Southwest. A Phoenix native, Andrews channels the desert into some of the best country tunes of the year. Along with the plaintive “Rough Around the Edges” to the hope of “Kindness of Stangers”, she gifted the crowd with plenty of tunes off her new album. The title track “May Your Kindness Remain” graced us during the encore with its beauty and honesty. An incredibly affecting performer, Andrews will be returning to open for The War and Treaty at Lincoln Hall on November 6th. Check out tix here.

Another wonderful evening at The Hideout. Here’s to many more, even if gentrification is going to reshape the neighborhood. Read about it. 



lala lala
the lamb
hardly art

The ”self examination” album is hardly a new concept in indie rock. Nor are confessional lyrics. However, Lillie West has taken these concepts to task with her newest effort as Lala Lala and the result is a cohesive beauty of a record. In the bandcamp bio of the album she says she took some time after various life changing events (including a home invasion) to examine “[her] relationships and the choices [she’d] made, often wondering if they were correct and/or kind.” She stopped drinking and began touring incessantly, booking her own gigs anywhere that would have her; and she started writing these tunes that are effectively a therapy session in and of themselves, for the musician and listener alike.

Opener “Destroyer” lays out the bones of the situation with it’s repeated chorus of: “You are the reason my heart broke behind my back.” She spends the rest of the album trying to rebuild that heart. With 90’s power pop influenced “I Get Cut”, she leans on her freind: “I get cut with every touch, you come by and soak it up.” In “Copycat” she confesses: “I started lying as a small kid, take it back if I could, every bad thing I did” and “When You Die” examines her fear for her friends safety. Her lyrics break down into poetry, speaking in simple metaphors and straightforward language to which anyone can understand and relate. Her succinct songwriting (only closer “See You at Home” is over three minutes) captures an individual in snapshots, making this an album of her life and of where and how she exists in the world. (Not an easy task, and one which many musicians’ have failed at in the past.) West succeeds because she is not afraid to show her vulnerability, her vitality, and everything else that her 24 year old life has experienced.


Lala Lala is currently on tour but you should go buy the album here.   Support local musicians and buy their albums!


feeding frenzy
iron lung

An ocean of noise washes past under screams and snarls of hardly intelligible lyrics, but as each tune gives way to the next it all becomes a brain meld; and the pure and utter anger and lucid destructiveness begins to suck you in. It’s not something easily captured on record—hard core punk rock live performances are rarely ever replicated well in the studio—but somehow Chicago’s C.H.E.W. (they claim it doesn’t stand for anything, which is extremely punk rock if you ask us) has captured the immediacy of their live shows on this new record; and we can just see Doris Carroll crumpled over, screaming into the mic as the bands tunes swirl around her and the crowd. If you ever get the chance to see them live, it’s an experience in overwhelming sensory overload. In the meantime check out the album here.


We couldn’t find their next show, but when they play one we’ll try and get you there.


autobiography (Music from Wayne McGregor’s autobiography)
planet mu

Commissioned by choreographer Wayne McGregor to soundtrack his DNA inspired dance piece, this fourth album by the post footwork producer turned experimental musician, Jlin, is filled to the brim with every electronic and dance influence imaginable. There is still some crackle beats synonymous with this Gary, Indiana native’s early footwork compositions, but a whole host of other sounds come through here. The knock of the xylophone in “Carbon 12”, the vocal exhalations of “Unorthodox Elements”, or the strange string sounds and maraca shakes  in “Kundalini” all lend themselves to balance out the electronic sounds she uses throughout to great effect. If we didn’t know this was a soundtrack it would be the perfect companion piece to last years stunning Black Origami. This is a talented producer on the rise. Expect more from her in the very near future.


It doesn’t look like she is coming home for a show anytime soon.


Marissa nadler
for my crimes
mariss nadler , sacred bones

Fall has just started and everyone’s in preparation for Halloween, mentally and physically. Scary movies are being watched, haunted houses are open and ready to scare fear mongering customers, all while fans of the holiday enamor themselves with everything dark and scary.

Marissa Nadler’s 8th album, For My Crimes, couldn’t have come at a better time.  The indie singer songwriter circles around the theme of break up with bone chilling dark melodic tones mixed with heart clenching harmony and lyrics, all a victim of heartbreak can understand.  I felt for this woman and felt with her, with songs like “I Can’t Listen to Gene Clark Anymore,” “Blue Vapor,” and “Say Goodbye to That Car,” there are moments where I thought about old break ups and found myself relating to the songs deeply.

“For My Crimes,” has such haunting tones, hearing Marissa singing with guest artist Angel Olsen on backup vocals,  creating more of an angelic melody mixed with the somber acoustic guitar, drums, and occasional harp throughout the album. This album is filled with raw emotions and looks into real life stages of an ending relationship. The title track “For My Crimes,” talks about a death row prisoner, thus setting the tone for the whole album both melodically and lyrically. This is a different type of sadness, it’s real and it’s scary.

Marissa Nadler’s For My Crimes is a beautiful album that opens the audience to feel and embrace loss that affects those who question, “why?”  Breakups suck and are difficult to get over, but Marissa Nadler gives us a piece of her aching heart and makes it into a breathtaking album that beautifully personifies a relationship’s end.      


Marissa Nadler will be at Schuba’s on Dec 3 tickets are 13.00 online or 15.00 at the door. Grab em here.

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mount eerie
p.w. elverum & Sun

Phil Elverum knows loss. The fact that he can stand onstage, a single guitar in hand, and tell us about it is a testament to his “road to recovery” from the loss of his wife to cancer several years ago, leaving behind their young daughter (she was 1 when his wife passed). Elverum weaves these tunes around remembrances and the present, details of their life before and the crushing reality of now raising their daughter alone. They are tunes of emotive beauty and hair raising sincerity. Recorded in a 13th century church as part of a festival in the Netherlands, this live album is centered around tunes from last year’s A Crow Looked at Me and this year’s companion piece Now Only. Both albums were chock full of simple acoustic tunes containing heartbreaking poetic lyrics about his loss and the daily trial of picking up the pieces and carrying on. Incredibly dark but insanely inspiring this collection of live performances will always be there as a record of this time in his long career where he used his music as a tool to recovery, to make sense of the injustice in the world, and as something he can one day share with his daughter.


Currently not on tour, he hit Chicago last Spring. We wouldn’t expect him back till his next studio album.

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hippo campus
grand jury

Beginning soft and delicate with a choral harmony and building to glorious peaks and velvet valleys, Hippo Campus’ new album is a rare record that is eminently playable. Layers build upon layers and the Twin Cities indie darling’s sophomore effort rolls by with no effort whatsoever. A musical journey that flows from one tune to the next without a second thought. Each song could stand on its own but together they form a comprehensive whole that is meant to be taken in all together. That’s what makes an album a classic, and this one comes very close to perfection. From the electro pop centric “Doubt” to the dour R&B elements of “Think It Over” these ten tunes are a bit of a departure from the looser sounds on last year’s breakout Landmark, and show the range of this Minnesota quintet.  


They are rolling through The Riv this Saturday October 6th. Scoop up some tix here.


shapeshifter II: outbreak

Quintessential New York jazz jam kings Tauk are anything but a normal quartet. Sure they have the instruments a run of the mill band might play: guitar, keys, bass, and drums. However, what they do with them makes all the difference. Creating a space age funky companion piece to this years Shapeshifter I: Construct this “concept” album would be the perfect soundtrack to a seventies sci fi exploitation flick. Matt Jalbert’s guitar wraps circles around the drumming perfection of Isaac Teel, while Charlie Dolan and Alric Carter hold down the rhythm section. Don’t get it wrong though, they each get their chance to shine on this hour long collection of accessible funky jams. Not that they offer much new here. This is Tauk just doing what they do. It’s glorious but mostly the same thing they’ve been producing since 2014’s Collisions. It’s hard to break new ground when you’re already tied to a sound, but while there is some spacing that’s different here, it’s mainly a steady flow of quality tunes ran through the same spacy art funk jazz sieve. What’s not to love.


They’ve already been through Chicago several times this year so we don’t expect em back untill at least the Spring.


acoustic volume 2

The Baltimore indie rocker, Michael Nau, is one of those journeymen of the scene that began recording under his own name in ‘16 after stints fronting for Cotton Jones and Page France. Here his lilting baritone rides over the top of jangly, tonal rock on these eleven solid tunes. The only drawback is how little variation the album contains. One track flows into the next, continuing the subtle mood he develops early on. However, it all works so well there really isn’t anything to complain about. From the acoustic seventies feel of “Can’t Take One” to the country tinged opener “Less Than Positive” he holds the listener in rapt attention; nodding along with the beat the whole way through. 


He’s bringing his chops to Schuba’s on November 9th


The Marías
superclean, vol II EP

Incredibly cool and funky psychedelic soul out of LA. If you’re like us and you like  grooves with loungy pop undertones (sometimes in Spanish): The Marías deliver. Check out their jams here.

They are bringing their style to Sleeping Village on November 24th. Snag some tix here.

tank and the bangas

Our current favorite act out of the Crescent City, they have a genre all to themselves. No one else sounds like Tank and The Bangas. This new track is no different, combining hip hop, funk, R&B and jazz into a perfect fusion.

TTB is bringing their show to Concord on October 26th with the one and only Bounce Queen Big Freedia. Snag some tix right here.

anna vaus
the california kid ep

Country Rock Cali style. The debut EP from this California girl turned Nashville singer/songwriter is a toe tapping, head nodding gem. Grabbing hold of her roots and turning them into some quality old style country jams.

It doesn’t appear she is on tour as of now. We’ll let you know if she comes around.

david keenan
strip me bare vol. 2 ep

This soulful Scots songs bring Folk to its knees. His second EP this year, this collection of four heartfelt tunes lays bare a life that is anything but easy. Gorgeous in their musical simplicity and lyrical complexity his music is made for those thoughtful morning commutes.

He swung through The Elbo Room last June, but hopefully Chicago gave him a reception that gets him back soon.

color wheel II EP

The second release of tunes off their forthcoming album Color Wheel, this groovy jam machine out of Buffalo, has been traversing the globe spreading their jazzy electro sound. The album marks their first studio effort since ‘14. The full album drops next Friday, October 12th, and we can’t wait to give it a spin.

They are hitting 1st Ward Chop Shop on November 29th. Get some tix here.


it’s gonna hurt

Legendary indie rockers Cursive, the backs that built Saddle Creek, returned this year. This is the third single off their new record Vitriola, which is set to drop tomorrow, October 5th. If the rest of the tracks are as good as the singles it will be a very worthy return.

Thalia Hall is hosting them Nov. 15th. This is a must see show Chicago. Grab some tix right here.

fucked up.jpg

fucked up
dose your dreams

Always pushing their sound to new extremes, this Toronto based ensemble started as a hardcore band but has since branched into every and any genre imaginable. This title track off their new record, set to drop this week, is full of a building string momentum that pairs with the choral vocals and front man Damian Abraham’s growl of a voice.

Not currently set to visit here on their tour, they skipped the Midwest this run. Hopefully we get em in the new year.

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half waif
every animal

A new tune from Nandi Rose Plunkett after wowing everyone earlier this year with standout Lavender, which is still in our top ten of the year. Check this one out right now . . .

She is opening for (Sandy) Alex G. at Thalia Hall on November 4th. Get those tix today!


other notable jams from this week

  • David Huckfelt - Stranger Angels

  • Henry Jamison - Gloria

  • BADBADNOTGOOD , Little Dragon - Tried

  • Tyler, the Creator , A$AP Rocky - Potato Salad

  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra  - Hanoi 6

  • Dawg Yawp - Doubles, Vol 1

  • St. Vincent - Slow Slow Disco

  • Robyn - Honey

A release we missed last week

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Mac DeMarco / Old Dog Demos / Captured Tracks , Kobalt

Indie rock’s workhorse, Mac DeMarco, lets us into his process by sharing an album’s worth of demos and instrumentals from last year’s This Old Dog. And then turned around and released a new single (“Honey Moon”) this week. If you’re a musician head like we are, you’ll get great enjoyment out of hearing early versions of his tunes.

Currently about to embark on a Euro tour we don’t expect him back in Chicago anytime soon.


Tim Hecker / Konoyo / sunblind

The Montreal producer turned experimental musician recorded this one in collaboration with the Tokyo Gakuso, in a temple outside their home city. It’s a haunting, deceptively intimate record that will leave you catching your breath at its scope and beauty.

Not set to hit Chicago in support of this one yet, we sure hope that changes.


Marsha Ambrosius / NYLA / Human Re Sources

An affecting album from one of R&B’s unsung heros. There’s no flare or oversinging here, just straight up song craft and structure. It’s a lesson in how to produce a twenty first century rhythm and blues record. Many of her contemporaries should be taking notes.

She seems to be skipping Chicago on her current tour.


Doe / Grow Into It / Topshelf

London indie trio Doe have been quietly plugging away since 2014, and their third full length may be their best yet. With moments that explode and snippets of quiet contemplation, they produce early 00’s influenced low-fi pop rock that is deceptively complex.

Doesn’t look like they are making the trip overseas anytime soon. We’re crossing our fingers for a Spring tour.


Michigan Rattlers / Evergreen / Michigan Rattlers

Adding piano really filled out their country rock sound, and this Northern Michigan trio scores with their debut full length. It’s roots-filled compositions are solid, and it’s chock full of stories from their small town life and the characters that reside there. Road tripping tunes from start to finish.

They just hit The Hideout last weekend for an album release party. We hope some of you caught em.


AURORA / Infections Of A Different Kind (Step I) / Glassnote

Norway has produced some interesting musicians over the years and AURORA is definitely part of that club. The electro pop songstress reminds one of early Bjork or Portishead. Spare beats with strings and electronics galore, Infections Of A Different Kind feels grand yet tied to the ground with it’s artists emotive outpourings.

She’s not making it to the States this fall. Hopefully come Spring she’ll come through.



Mudhoney / Digital Garbage / Sub Pop

The Joy Formidable / Aaarth / Seradom

The trio is bringing their alt rock style to Lincoln Hall Nov. 3rd. Get those tix here.

Amber Arcades / European Heartbreak / Heavenly  

Restorations / LP5000 / Tiny Engines

If you feel like a tiny roadtrip they are hitting the Cactus Club in Milwaukee on Oct. 14th. Get tix here.

Roosevelt / Young Romance / City Slang , Greco - Roman

He is on his way to Bottom Lounge on December 12th. Pick up your tix here.

The Black Lillies / Stranger to Me / Attack monkey , Thirty Tigers

They have two shows in the Chicago suburbs this month. Oct. 20th at Fitzgerald’s. Tix here.
And Mackey’s Hideout in McHenry on Oct. 21st.
Info here.

REASON / There You Have It / Top Dawg

Arrested Youth / Fear / Lowly

He is opening for Yungblud at The SubT on Oct. 18th. Get some tix here.

Logic / YSIV / Def Jam , UMG

Cypress Hill / Elephants on Acid / Cypress Hill , BMG

They are returning to Chicago at The House of Blues of March 12th 2019. Pick up some tix here.

alt-J / Reduxer / Infectious , BMG

Dillon Francis / WUT WUT / IDGAFOS

The Earls of Leicester / Live At The CMA Theatre / Rounder , Concord


  •  Summer may be over but festival season never stops as we move into the club fest season. This weekend brings the first of many with The Big Weekend, curated by Silver Wrapper. With shows from the Aragon to Concord to Park West and beyond, this Jam Band Fest brings the likes of powerhouse locals Umphrey’s McGee, funk jam legends Lettuce, and up and comers Spafford (and many, many more) to clubs and venues all over Chicago. With late and early shows it’s possible to check out two a night. There seems to be no central website so we threw our recommended shows into the calendar below. Check there for links to tickets. But here is the schedule, in case you were wondering . . .


Lettuce @ Concord Music Hall (Early)

Emancipator Ensemble & Papadosio @ The Riviera Theatre (Early)
The Revolution @ Park West (Early)
Spafford @ House Of Blues (Early)

The Motet & Special Guests @ Concord Music Hall (Late)

Umphrey’s McGee @ Aragon Ballroom (Early)
Leftover Salmon & Amy Helm @ Park West (Early)

Spafford @ House Of Blues (Late)
SunSquabi & The Russ Liquid Test @ Concord Music Hall (Late)

  • We’re hard at work on our new layout, which will include a new calendar. Until then here is our recommended shows of the week….


Thursday October 4th
Devotchka / Orkestra Mendoza
The Vic    7:30PM $28.50 - $ 78.50    Get tix right here.

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears / Vug Arakas
The Empty Bottle    7PM doors $28 ($30 doors)    Grab some tix here.

Parsonsfield / Bubbles Brown
Schubas   8PM $12  Get your tix here.

Concord    8PM doors $30   Pick up tix here.

Friday October 5th
Eleanor Friedberger / Pill / Paid Time Off DJs
The Empty Bottle    9PM doors $20  Get tix here.

Emancipator Ensemble and Papadosio
The Vic    8PM $26   Grab those tix here.

The Motet / Mungion
Concord   11PM doors  $23 Get those tix here.


Saturday October 6th
Umphrey’s McGee  
Aragon Ballroom    9PM $40.50  Get some tix here.

Lo Moon / In Tall Buildings (Solo)
The Empty Bottle  8:30PM doors $12 Pick up some tix here.

The Vic    8PM $30 - $45    Score tix here.

Hippo Campus / The Districts
The Riviera    7:30PM $26 - $99   Get your tix here.    

Leftover Salmon / Amy Helm
Park West   9PM $31 Scoop up some tix right here.

Pile / the spirit of the beehive. / Floatie
Subterranean   8PM $12 Grab tix here.

Sunsquabi / Russ Liquid
Concord  11PM doors  $20   Get those tix here.

Murder By Death / Mutts
Metro    8PM $23 ($28 day of)   Get tix here.

Sunday October 7th
Jade Bird / Field Report (solo)
Lincoln Hall  8PM $15  Score tix here.

Monday October 8th
Twila Bent (Record Release) / Billington-Shippy-Wyche / Bucket Brigade
The Empty Bottle  8:30PM doors FREE


Tuesday October 9th
Pledge Drive / BRNDA / Monograms / Juice Cleanse
The Empty Bottle   8:30PM doors $8  Grab your tix here.

Summer Cannibals / Fran / Jen and The Dots / Stevie Even
Subterranean (Downstairs)   7PM $8 Get some tix here.

Wednesday October 10th
Valley Queen / Quarter Mile Thunder
The Hideout   9PM $10 Get tix here.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones / Mattiel
The Riviera    8PM $38.50  Grab those tix right here.

Dreamers / Weathers / Morgxn
Lincoln Hall   7PM $12  Get tix here.

Shannon Lay / Night Shop / AZITA
The Empty Bottle   8:30PM doors $10 ($12 doors)  Get some tix here.

See you at the show Chicago!