Hey there Surfers! Welcome to issue #33. We once again have a large issue just waiting for your eyes! Thunderpussy came through the Cobra Lounge and JCB was front and center! Philly’s Swearin’ rolled into Lincoln Hall last Thursday and KPL checked out the wonders of CAVE at their album release run at The Hideout. It was another huge release week (they just keep on coming) with new releases from Cloud Nothings, Open Mike Eagle, Peter Bjorn and John, Khalid, and so much more; including JCB taking a look at the new John Carpenter soundtrack. Happy Halloween Surfers ! We’ll see you in November!
Keep Seeing Live Music!
KPL & JCB
thunderpussy / mykele deville / mystery actions
Thunderpussy / all photos by JCB
Saturday. Saturday. Saturday night’s alright for fighting. That’s how I felt strolling up to the Cobra Lounge last Saturday. I didn’t have a belly full of beer like Elton, but I was still amped up to 11. Reason being, I had a night of hard rocking to look forward to courtesy of one of my favorite rock bands to come out this year – Thunderpussy. I got the bar a bit early, per usual – I hate being the late photog that pushes his way to the front. It’s rude and if you want a front spot, you should earn it. So I grabbed myself a Wonder Beer, and got geared up for the upcoming noise. At the bar with me was a variety of types – old rockers, young punks, dads and sons, mothers and daughters, and a couple of grandparents. Seeing a crowd like that always sets a good mood, and I was ready to pop in to the back room… but wait, my phone rings… it’s mom… I haven’t talked to her in a while, and have a good 30 minutes before the opener, so sure. Aside from not feeling super comfortable telling my offensive-language-averse mother the headlining band’s name, it was a nice little convo. Nothing too special here, just call your moms people! Onward…
Mystery Actions is a band I’ve heard a few times over the past couple years, but never actually witnessed live. Now that I’ve fixed that, I’m not gonna let this be the last time I see them. Serving up 70s-inspired punk rock, these four ladies grabbed the stage by the balls and didn’t let go until the feedback dissipated. With enough leather to make a cow cry, hair dye and spray to double Revlon’s stock price, and attitude to make Billy Idol’s sneer seem pedestrian, Mystery Actions is the perfect band for Cobra Lounge. They’re loud, unapologetic, and their songs back a serious punch. Frontwoman Nikki Beller’s imposing ferocity adds another layer to the classic punk, leaning in close to the crowd with possessed eyes and a snarl that is up with the best of the genre. Lucy Dekay’s guitar was another highlight for me. Not satisfied merely chugging along to burned out punk rhythms, she thrashed her SG like a hard rock mainstay. Speaking of rhythm, drummer Mary Gonzales and bassist Sarah Travelstead were tight and booming, enough to make any band seem adequate much less the excellent aforementioned two. “Line In The Sand” was the highlight of the set for me, bottling all of the visual and visceral cues I gave above into a 3 minute punk gem. Give these ladies a listen, over on their bandcamp.
Rapper Mykele Deville was next up and while a male rapper may sound like an odd choice for a set sandwiched between all female rock bands, Mykele took us on a journey that seemed to end with some new fans when we finally found the final destination. I was surrounded by superfans of both Mystery Actions and Thunderpussy from the moment I got to the stage, whose headbanging during the first set must have woken their chiropractors in a fit of sweaty panic. When Mykele’s DJ kicked off the set, and the artist proclaimed himself a poet and that he was there to unite us under the sister genres of punk and hip-hop, I saw a few doubting faces. But by the end of it, everyone was reaching up to shake his hand or give a congratulatory high five. This was due in no small part to Mykele’s heavy subject matter, and the dedication in which he performed it. At times hopeful, he smiled while discussing the advice he has for his niece; at times whimsical, when he sang about a girl he calls “Shea Butter”; at times sobering, when he detailed what’s like to be a black man with crazy hair in Chicago; and at times thoughtful, when he dove into mental illness in “Mingus Baby”. The performances matched the subjects, and Mykele was able to transform his voice, expressions, and entire body to sell the meanings. This wasn’t a guy out there to cut bangers and get us to dance. Mykele has something to say, and I hope he says a lot more in the future. Check him out here.
Now for the main event. At this point, I was ready to rumble. If you’ve been paying attention to our site this year, there’s been a resurgence of classic hard rock in the late 2010s. The sex. The swagger. The fun. I grew up on the gods – Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Who. But in this age, it’s ladies that are here to melt your face. With their debut this May, vocalist Molly Sides, guitarist Whitney Petty, bassist Leah Julius, and drummer Ruby Dunphy gave us a furious 51 minutes of pure rock n roll. Songs like “Fever” (that reminded me of a better version of Heart), the infectious “Torpedo Love” (that shows off Sides’ very Florence-esque pipes), and “Speed Queen” (whose video was shared incessantly in my office), were so powerful that I worried the live versions might fall flat. I was wrong.
Sides flies all over the stage, emoting every ounce of her soul and contorting every inch of her lanky frame while Petty furiously shreds at a Les Paul (because every good hard rock band needs a Les Paul). As much as I loved seeing them at Cobra, this band already deserves a bigger stage. Theirs is a sound that is arena-level, and the presence these four ladies bring to perform it is equally massive. With a band name like this, I think I can get a little raunchy here – these ladies are straight up fucking their instruments. It’s not lights-off, sweet love. It’s dirty, fast, one night stand fucking. And the crowd couldn’t get enough. Perry played her guitar like our generations’ Jimmy Page, and she looked absolutely ecstatic to be doing it. It was a hometown show for Ruby, and between drum solos and letting us know her grandma was ready beat some ass, she made sure to exchange goofball faces with her old pals. Leah is the bassist that every band needs. She’s not happy sitting on the sidelines. Her riffs groove and thump behind the high pitched squeal of the guitar, and goddamnit she’s gonna let you know she’s there. Even while brandishing her Fender like a broadsword, she provided a much-needed ground for the rest of the raucous energy.
OK, so let me quickly talk about Molly. She has a fire in her soul. No matter how good the band, and these ladies rock, it’s doomed without a captivating front. Whether reaching out to get closer to the audience during the ‘softer’ tunes, pulling kicks I’ve only seen from the Rockettes, or owning the stage so hard that I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets asked for pointers from aspiring exotic dancers, she somehow never missed a note. Vibrato cries, literal cat growls and octave-skipping croons are just another day in the office for her. It was like watching performance art. If the rest of the band wasn’t keeping up the overdose of action, I might have forgotten they were there.
Go see this band. Don’t think about it. Just do it. Drive to another state if you have to. You’ll regret not doing so when you’re thousands of rows back at Lolla soon.
swearin’ / empath / sore history
Swearin’ / all photos by NBL
As I walked into Lincoln Hall, there were a lot of fans gearing up for Swearin’s return to stage after a 2 year hiatus from music and performing. I walked around the bar, scoped the area for a great place to photograph and I bumped into one of their fans who had been listening to Swearin’ since their earlier work. She told me their new album Fall Into the Sun was great, but was not like their old stuff. Curiously, I continued looking around the the hall for a great spot, as it was getting a bit cramped from all of the die hard fans. I finally found one in the front and waited for the band to come out. The band all came out as a group, got to their instruments and started playing. Fans were ecstatic and clapping along as lead singer Allison Crutchfield started the show with “Big Change” off their new album. The band was super fun to watch as they played together, it almost felt like they were at home, practicing in their garage. There were times when I caught Allison looking at the drummer for fellow guitar and singer Kyle Gilbride like they had some inside joke. The band played some older songs as well like “Movie Star”, and it was great seeing the audience dancing and singing along with Allison. Kyle took lead vocals on “Dogpile” and “Stabilize” with Allison right there on backup which demonstrated the band’s versatility. As with a lot of out of town music groups that visit Chicago, Swearin’ took a moment at one point to express their great appreciation towards the city. After about a 13 or 14 song setlist, Swearin’ said a quick “thank you”, placed their instruments down and left the stage. 5 minutes later, they were back at it with a 2-song encore. (One of which was a solo performance by Allison.) Seeing this band for the first time in a “local rock show” setting was great. Swearin’ put on a great entertaining show that many fans old and new enjoyed.
Check out Swearin’s new album.
cave (Record release: night 2) / Communication Arts
CAVE / all photos by KPL
When someone says that there is no longer any original music, they haven’t been exploring the world of post-genre experimentation. Whether it be post-rock, post-jazz, post-punk, or post-(insert genre here), there is a plethora of musicians pushing the boundaries into the extremes of what music can be. Sure they are influenced by each other and the artists that have pushed and pulled at the limits for decades, but what comes out almost always sounds fresh and new. CAVE is one of those bands that has been churning out this kind of genre bending sound since forming in Columbia, MO in ‘06. Now based out of Chicago, this fusion of post-everything classifies itself as a psychedelic drone band; but they are so much more than that. Clearly we are fans of theirs, which is why ventured to the Sunday show of their two night stand this past weekend.
The Hideout quickly filled as showtime approached, and Communication Arts took the stage. Chicago bassist/multi-instrumentalist Matthew Lux has been performing under this moniker for several years now with various ensembles. Tonight he had Dan Bitney of Tortoise behind the drum kit and plenty of other veteran musicians. The free jazz set they played for us this evening had a distinct Afro-Jazz feel with the clarinetist and baritone saxophonist leading the way through much of the set. But every player got their due with small solos here and there. It was abstract in every way, with Bitney and Lux laying down a complex beat while the horns slayed over the top. It was a quick, thirty minute set yet one of those experiences that sticks with you well into the night and beyond. If you get a chance to check them out at some point, they are well worth the experience. There are two versions of the album Contra/Fact available on bandcamp. The latest one is here.
CAVE stayed on stage during the fast paced change over and line check, and immediately went into the first track “The Juan” (off their new album Allways) which is where the song recognition stopped, and we were swept up in the repetitive rhythms and sick grooves that these guys lay out. Colorful projections weaved over the tops of the five members: guitarist/organist Cooper Crain, bassist Dan Browning, drummer Rex McMurry, guitarist Jeremy Freeze, and multi-instrumentalist Rob Frye all seemed to move in slow motion under the the flickering images in the same way we’ve all seen in countless photos and videos of 60s-era concerts and acid tests. What wasn’t moving in slow motion was their sound as signature note repetitions flowed through the crowd and set everyone to swaying in place, as if stuck to the ground by the groove. Crain and Frye (both also of Bitchin’ Bajas) laid down some great melodies at times, but the beat of McMurry’s drums and Brownings bass were the real heros, never straying and always on point. At times, the combination of images and sound became too much to take in, and eyes closed all over the crowd; but no one stopped the consistent groove from taking them over. The band only stopped a handful of times to raucous applause followed by stunned silence as we all gathered ourselves for another journey into the rabbit hole of CAVE. If you’re just now hearing of them check out the new album here, and then dig deep and listen to their entire catalog. It’s only four albums, so do yourself a favor and check them out. It’ll improve your day, guaranteed. And, if you dig it, check out Bitchin’ Bajas record release party on Oct. 30th at The Sleeping Village for a $5 cover charge!
Last Building Burning
peter bjorn and john
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Live from the Ryman
Halloween (Original 2018 Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Being Human In Public
Songs Of Love and Horror
WHAT WE'RE JAMMING TO THIS WEEK
among horses III ep
above the law
the front bottoms
end of summer (now I know)
other NOTABLE jams this week
Calliope Musicals / Cosmic Poison Arrow
Tina Boonstra / Find You
Sasha Sloan / Chasing Parties
Jealous of the Birds / Marrow
Billie Eilish / when the party’s over
Clara Mae / Sorry For Writing All The Songs About You (Acoustic) EP
Robert DeLong / See You In The Future EP
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross / Mid 90’s (Original Music From The Motion Picture) EP
Martin Garrix / BYLAW EP
new releases we missed last week
Young Jesus / The Whole Thing Is Just There / Saddle Creek
A stunning record from a band really coming into its own. This L.A. quartet’s fourth effort is as moody and stunning as indie rock gets. Informed from post-rock and emo they turn out a sound all it’s own. Check them out!
They are hitting the SubT on October 30th opening for Ian Sweet. Tix are $12.
THIS WEEK'S RECOMMENDED NEW RELEASES
How To Dress Well / The Anteroom / Domino
If you enjoy moody alt R&B as much as we do this is your jam. Tom Krell has been producing ambient chill beats surrounding his heart rending vocals for nearly a decade and The Anteroom is yet another triumph for the artist.
He is coming to Sleeping Village on November 20th. Tix are $15.
Papercuts / Parallel Universe Blues / Slumberland
Jason Quever’s latest foray into Papercuts is stellar. From the opening organ chords to the closing guitar riff it’s a distinct journey through his mind and life, complete with a few hummable tunes and his distinctly ever rambling vocals.
They opened up for Beach House back in August. We hope to see them again in late winter in support of this one.
Open Mike Eagle / What Happens When I Try To Relax / P + C Auto Reverse
Chillness personified but with great lyrical depth and precision Open Mike Eagle gifts us with six tracks of more questions than answers. Some personal investigations that are open to the public. The Chicago born rapper / podcaster / producer is a busy man and these tracks reflect him at his most personal.
There are no hometown shows on his current slate.
Esperanza Spalding / 12 Little Spells / Esperanza Spaulding , Concord
A jazz bassist and singer is a rare creature, especially when she is as smart and insanly talented as Esperanza Spalding. These tunes will leave you breathless at points as the beauty of what she is doing really settles in. This is pure gold. A lifetime of music experience (she’s been playing professionally since she was 15) shows its hand as she deals out this wonderfully chill collection.
Spalding is bringing these jams to The Vic on December 5th. Tix are $35 - $50
Elle King / Shake The Spirit / RCA , Sony
Elle King came out swinging on her 2015 debut, Love Stuff, with the Grammy winning “Ex’s & Oh’s”. And with an award winning album comes even more confidence, and Shake the Spirit certainly displays that. It pushes the retro sound she broke through with to the background, allowing her confessional lyrics to shine. “Shining” seems like an odd phrase when discussing addiction and divorce, but it’s a rare gift to be able to take us to the darkest of places and still get a boogie going. Part of it is probably due to Greg Kurstin’s sublime production, who is honestly one of the best hitmakers working. His pop sensibilities grab your attention, and Elle’s rocking confessional pull it in and hold it tight.
Elle King is swinging by the Vic on Nov. 10th. Tickets are $33, and can be found right here
Novo Amor / Birthplace / AllPoints
This Welsh singer songwriters sophomore LP picks up right where his debut left off. Gorgeous folk tunes centered around his falsetto vocals and soaring strings. If you’re a fan of Bon Iver this one is for you.
Novo Amor is hitting Lincoln Hall Nov. 23rd. Tix are Sold Out. Which means he’ll be back next year for sure.
Greta Van Fleet / Anthem Of The Peaceful Army / Republic , UMG , Lava
Whether you believe this band is derivative or the second coming of the great bands of the 70’s, their debut full length is still worth a listen. (If only to hear what excited fans enough to sell out three nights at The Aragon before their first LP dropped.) These brothers from the very small town of Frankenmuth, Michigan are producing rock revival jams that are causing a rift in the musical community. There are those who love it and have waited several decades for a new band to sound like their heros; and ones who find them cheesy, overproduced or way too young to be able to successfully pull off this kind of music. There is not much of an in between. Check out this Esquire article, which lays out the situation perfectly.
They are playing The Aragon on December 12th, 14th, and 15th. All three nights are sold out. There are plenty of third party tix out there if you wanna pony up the big bucks.
MORE NOTABLE RELEASES
Phony Ppl / mō'zā-ik. / 300
Neneh Cherry / Broken Politics / Smalltown Supersound , The Cherry Bear Organisation , AWAL
Becky Warren / Undesirable / Becky Warren
MØ / Forever Neverland / Sony
The Lone Bellow / The Restless / Burly Bellow
Summer Walker / Last Day Of Summer / LVRN , Interscope
Major Lazer / Major Lazer Essentials / Mad Decent
Dominic Fike / Don’t Forget About Me, Demos / Sandy Boys , Columbia , Sony
Queen / Bohemian Rhapsody (The Original Soundtrack) / Hollywood
Lil Yachty / Nuthin’ 2 Prove / Quality Control , UMG
Future, Juice WRLD / Future & Juice WRLD present… WRLD ON DRUGS / Epic , Sony
NOTES & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Tomorrow Never Knows Festival just put out its first wave of artists and it got us so excited we scooped up our tix right away. The five day club fest that takes place at Lincoln Hall, Schubas, The Metro, Sleeping Village, The Hideout and Smartbar features a huge array of artists and you can get a five day pass for $100 that will get you into any shows (some require RSVP). Tix to any of the shows or a five day pass here. First wave of shows:
Wednesday, January 16
-Charly Bliss + guests at Lincoln Hall, 9pm, $15/$17
-Bad Bad Hats + Con Davison at Schubas, 9pm, $15
Thursday, January 17
-Snail Mail + Lala Lala + VARSITY at Metro, 9pm, $17
-CAVE + guests at Lincoln Hall, 9pm, $15
-Still Woozy + VICTOR! at Schubas, 8pm, $15
-Neil Hamburger at Hideout, 8pm and 10pm, $20
Friday, January 18
-Sarah Shook & the Disarmers + H.C. McEntire at Lincoln Hall, 9pm, $15
-Petal + Bernice + Pool Holograph at Schubas, 9pm, $15/$18
-It's A Guy Thing at Hideout, 10pm, $12
Saturday, January 19
MNDSGN + Kiefer + Swarvy at Lincoln Hall, 9pm, $15
Kate Berlant at Hideout, 8pm and 10pm, $20
Sunday, January 20
-Sports + Arlie + Pavo Pavo at Lincoln Hall, 9pm, $15
-S. Carey + guests @ Schubas, 7pm, $20 Helltrap Nightmare at Hideout, 9pm, $15
We’ll get that calendar worked out soon (HA!) Till then here are your recommended shows of the week:
THURSDAY October 25th
The Trolls / Bud Bronson & The Good Timers / Acceptor
Burlington Bar 8:00 PM Cover Charge
Pond / Purr
Thalia Hall 7:30PM (doors) $20 - $30 tix.
Rebel Soul Revival
Beat Kitchen 8PM $10 tix.
Mitski / Overcoats
The Vic 7:30PM Sold Out
Nine Inch Nails / Jesus and Mary Chain
The Aragon 7PM Sold Out
SATURDAY October 27th
Tune-Yards / U.S. Girls
Park West 7:30PM $27.50 tix
Slothrust / Mannequin Pussy
Lincoln Hall 9PM $16 tix
Gitter Moneyyy / Bev Rage & The Drinks / Down Boy / Lauryl Sulfite & Her Ladies of Leisure / Ovef Ow
GMan Tavern 9PM $5 cover
The Ballroom Theives / Odetta Hartman
Schubas 9PM $15 tix ($18 doors)
Old Town School of Folk Music 8PM $24 tix
Nine Inch Nails / Jesus and Mary Chain
The Aragon 7PM Sold Out
MONDAY October 29th
Surfbort / Pink Frost / Hitter
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors FREE
FRIDAY October 26th
Anne Malin / Jessica Risker
Hungry Brain 9PM FREE
Tank and The Bangas / Big Freedia / Naughty Professor
Concord 8PM $25.50 tix
Kweku Collins / Joseph Chilliams / Christian Jalon
Lincoln Hall 8PM $15 tix ($17 door)
Anna Burch / Fred Thomas / Common Holly
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $12 tix
The Twilight Sad
Theatre On The Lake 9PM $18 tix
Mothers, Mega Bog, The Knees
Schubas 10PM $15 tix
Nine Inch Nails / Jesus and Mary Chain
The Aragon 7PM Sold Out
SUNDAY October 28th
Upper Wilds (record release) / Crown Larks / Stander
The Hideout 8PM
Low Cut Connie / Ruby Boots
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $15 tix
Billie Eilish / Childish Major / Finneas
Metro 6PM Sold Out
Yaeji / Beta Librae / Kuh Lida
Thalia Hall 7PM doors $20 - $25 tix
Girl K / Steel / Beach Bunny / Gal Gun
Martyr’s 6PM $10 tix.
TUESDAY October 30th
The Goon Sax / The Hecks / The Curls
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $10 tix
Bitchin Bajas (record release) / TalSounds
Sleeping Village 9:30PM $5 cover
Ian Sweet / Young Jesus / Longface
Subterranean 9PM $12 tix
Porches / Girlpool / Palberta
Bottom Lounge 8PM $22.50 tix
Of Montreal / Locate S, 1
Thalia Hall 7:30PM doors $25 - $50 tix
WEDNESDAY October 31st
Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds / Smooth Hound Smith
Lincoln Hall 8PM $17 tix
Shannon and The Clams / NoBunny / Escape-ism / Dirty Fences
Thalia Hall 7PM doors $24 - $40 tix
Gramps The Vamp / Black Bear Combo / Nasty Snacks
Schuba’s 8:30PM $12 tix
Joywave / Sir Sly
House of Blues 6:30PM $20 - $59 tix
The Ladies of LCD Soundsystem DJ Tour
Sleeping Village 8:30PM $21 tix
Sure Sure / Wilderado
Chop Shop 8PM $17 tix
See you at the show Chicago!