Hey there Surfers! Issue #34 is ready for your consumption. We’ve got JCB seeing Low Cut Connie at The Empty Bottle and Of Montreal at Thalia. Meanwhile KPL took in local acts Bitchin Bajas and TALsounds at Sleeping Village; and while many of us attended NIN this past weekend, our own ATD and new contributor EP chose to write about it. Lately there have been a flood of new releases and this week was not different with Chicago artists Mick Jenkins, Makaya McCraven and Typesetter all dropping albums last Friday along with new works by boygenius, Pill, Daughters, a covers album from Ty Segall, and so much more! Read it with your eyes, process it with your brain, use your fingers to find this music, let your ears in on the sounds.
Keep Seeing Live Music!
KPL & JCB
bitchin bajas / TALsounds
Bitchin Bajas / all photos by KPL
Space is where the music of Bitchin Bajas lives. So what better place to see them play than the rather pitch black confines of Sleeping Village, Chicago’s newest venue. They’ve been hosting a dollar beer night series the last few months featuring local talent; and this weeks selection was the analog synth trio Bitchin Bajas, now in their eighth year of prolific production.
Natalie Chami’s TALsounds project was the perfect warm up for the evening. Her endless loops of ambient effects and synth drone are built layer upon layer till they reach catharsis. It’s music for the free spirit. One that can paint their own pictures on the back of their eyes. And watching as she builds each tune in real time can be an exercise in picking out what she is doing at that moment. All around an exercise for the mind. She is part of Drone Activity Chicago on November 9th at Saffron Rails. You can get $10 to tix here.
The night was billed as a Bitchin Bajas record release, as they just came out with their complete collection of work bundled in a seven CD set. Some killer packaging (it’s in a record size sleeve) and the low price of $40 for eight records and more had us running to SV for a $5 cover charge and a set from the agents of drone. (You can snag the collection here.) What had started as a side project of Cooper Crain, the guitarist/keyboardist of CAVE, became a full on act and grew into a trio over several years. They have been non stop releasing music ever since. The crowd seemed to be mainly hardcore friends and fans that made it out on a rainy Tuesday night. A little under a hundred came but we were still treated to an hour set as Crain, Dan Quinlivan and Rob Frye showed up to play. Starting with “Marimba,”(I believe, though I’m never really positive of the titles of BB’s tunes) which had Frye playing a xylophone like instrument on the lip of the stage, they launched into a whirlwind of a set that ended far too soon. The repetitive simplicity and intimacy that exists in their music is melded with the universal possibilities of the format (analog synths and other instruments) to create mind melding music. Frye’s woodwinds run through effects which creates a tone of discovery each time he changes an effect or instrument. Crain standing behind his wall of keys, kind of conducting the whole affair. And Quinlivan, his hair back lit as he’s tilting his head and adds to the drone from his synth, all three quiet and alert. Creating a new form of sound where before there was just silence. If there is a God he is listening to Bitchin Bajas.
They don’t have any shows coming up but CAVE (of which Crain and Frye are members) is ending their Winter tour at Lincoln Hall on January 17th as part of Tomorrow Never Knows Fest. Tix are $15.
Low cut connie / ruby Boots
The Empty Bottle
Low Cut Connie / all photos by JCB
Thankfully, 2018 is almost over. I say this not because it’s been a bad year—we started Chicago Crowd Surfer in early 2018, and personal life things went great as well—it’s a good thing that it’s almost over because I just saw the best show of the year, and I feel bad for all the other bands that I might see over the next two months. I thought Low Cut Connie put on a great show back in June, but Sunday at The Empty Bottle was spectacular. They solidified themselves as one of the best live acts I’ve yet to see.
If you’ve never been to the Bottle on Western before the headliner comes on, it’s usually sparsely populated. Most people are either wise to the inconsistent start times, or they’re saving their energy for what tends to be a late night. Not tonight, though. The space around the stage was full of LCC fans, both young and old, and a few of which were in outfits mimicking frontman Adam Weiner’s signature sartorial choices. Showing up early to a show comes highly recommended from our camp (surprise surprise), so it must have been a treat for Aussie Ruby Boots, also known as Rebecca Chilcott, to see so many potential fans. Touring in support of her Sophomore album, Don’t Talk About It, she didn’t let them down. Coupling a traditional Nashville sound with Aussie charm, she somehow turns a set of songs dealing with sexual manipulation in failed relationships into an incredibly powerful performance. Interestingly enough, the set starts off meekly, unsure of where she stands amongst a sea of blank faces. That all changed when she sent her band away to perform I Am a Woman; her only accompaniment being a microphone. After that, the fiery singer upped the ante and matched the bravado to the passionate storytelling her songs possessed. Kicking and strutting around the stage, she charged forward and made the most of a packed room. Ruby Boots has a country twang to her sass, and her performance is raw and fierce. Find her tunes and tour here.
The brief intermission was filled with two things: the set up of “Shondra” (Adam’s piano) into the perfect location (front and center); and the sold out Bottle squeezed up close to the stage. The first was great to see, as it provided me a perfect vantage point for camera action. The second means I’m not the only one that knows LCC puts on a hell of a live show. If you’ve not heard of Low Cut Connie, do yourself a favor and put on a tune while reading this. Might I recommend this? For readers, LCC is a piano-driven, retro rock & roll band. They feature 50s inspired, foot-tapping boogies with introspective (yet cheeky) lyrics. Those lyrics often make me think of a court jester version of The Boss, as they typically detail the lives of those who travel Robert Frost’s road. Living the rock lifestyle is filled with less than glamorous lodgings and characters, but abound with subjects that make for compelling stories. One of the things I love the most about Low Cut Connie is that the music is rooted in a genre that is inherently inoffensive, yet the sleazy lifestyle of a dive bar band is dripping through their vinyls. It’s all good-natured though. Never one to be crude for the sake of being crude, Adam Weiner & Co. just want to perform on stage, and they’ve built a cult following because of that—a fanbase which includes our most recent former President, by the way.
The show in Winnetka was loud, and the band was a whirlwind on stage. It was a sight to see, but it was a lite version compared to their show at the Bottle. Adam is still in five places at once – handstands on the piano bench, singing from the rafters, playing from underneath “Shondra”, in the crowd giving out hugs, and sprawled out like a Playgirl model while crooning the rock ballads. The band is still one of the tightest groups I’ve ever seen which is impressive considering they’re just as nimble as their frontman. Lucas Rinz is by far the happiest bass player I’ve ever seen—he didn’t stop showing off his pearly whites once as he thumped away. Will Donnelly and James Everhart capture the spirit of classic boogie-rock from their guitars. James is a bit more grounded (literally speaking) than his counterpart but lead melodies will require that. Will looks like he time traveled to 2018 from Elvis’ original backing band and has no problem laying down rhythm from his back or from atop of the piano. Saundra (not to be confused with their piano) is a backing vocal queen, dancing to every beat while she keeps time on the tambourine and makes sure to fill in lyrics when Adam is upside down or underneath the piano.
Being at a Low Cut Connie show is being part of it. Adam makes sure of that. If you’re upfront, your bound to have your hair tousled or your hat borrowed. If you’re further back, you aren’t safe. The singer frequently makes trips into the crowd for high fives and hugs. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but people sweat profusely when they’re moving that much in a hot and crowded dive bar. Just like a Gallagher show, you might want bring a poncho if you want to stay clean. Some bands are content to just have a signature sound or live performance, but not many have a signature smell as well. You leave a LCC show transformed. The pure joy that takes over the room is what makes rock and roll great.
If you can, see this band. They’re my favorite show I’ve seen this year, and honestly, they may just be the best band I’ve ever seen. When getting into a band, you wonder if you’ve missed the boat. You worry that they’re selling out now, and aren’t making as good of tunes as they used to. But, with Low Cut Connie, you needn’t worry in the slightest. They get better with every album, and the energy seems to stay cranked past the max. What started as a band singing about shitting, showering and shaving—with grungy music to match—is now a mature band writing albums with back to front hits and singing about the hard times on the road. What hasn’t changed is the enthusiasm they bring to the live sets. I know they’ll be entertaining as hell at larger concert halls, but trust me, you want to be able to say you saw them in a dingy dive before they get huge.
Go buy one of their albums, and find out when they’re near you at http://lowcutconnie.com/
of montreal / locate s, 1
of Montreal / all photos by JCB
Tuesday night concerts are rough. I usually avoid them, if I’m being honest. It’s a weird day in which I haven’t quite tired of the workweek, but I’m not ready to burn out my energy just yet. So when the opportunity to see a show at Thalia Hall came up, I thought about passing… until I saw who it was. As you may have picked up in my musings, 2018 has been a year of seeing bands that shaped my love of music, specifically ones from college. There have been so many great bands that molded my formative years (I was a late bloomer, just ask to see my prom photo) resurging this year, and I can’t get enough. Of Montreal is one such band. Part of the Elephant 6 collective, they defined and redefined what pop music could be. The albums Satanic Panic in the Attic, The Sunlandic Twins, and Hissing Fauna were massive influences for me. First, Kevin Barnes (of Montreal’s mastermind) showed me what Beach Boys psych-pop sounded like when you really let the training wheels off. Later, he took Bowie’s line-blurring to another level when he fully transformed into his alter-ego Georgie Fruit. I never knew what I would get when pressing play on an Montreal album, but I knew it would open new doors every time. It had been about 8 years since I last saw them live, so off I went to Pilsen on All Hallows’ Eve… eve.
Opening up the show was Locate S,1, an experimental pop group led by Christina Schneider. It came as no surprise that a bunch of of Montreal helped her craft her debut record, Healing Contest, as Kevin Barnes has played a part in launching a ton of bands over the years—including Janelle Monae. Also true to form is that Locate S,1 has their own sound, owing to Barnes not intruding too much. Taking Christina’s low-fi roots, and injecting a heavy dose of whimsical pop, Locate S,1 presents a refreshing sound. In a dress as light as her voice, Christina was a marvel to watch on stage. She was perfectly matched to the sound, looking like a classic jazz singer or silent movie star. Her sound was just as dreamy, layering the perfect amount of synths over classic guitar-driven pop. Locate S,1 is grounded music, but altogether seems like it exists in an alternate reality. I may have just heard of them, but it’ll be a band I pay close attention to in the future.
Before the show, I was texting with a friend the odds of Kevin Barnes showing up naked on stage. Stop reading if you’re looking for NSFW pictures – it didn’t happen. There was some wonderful skirt hiking, though, so close enough? Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention that alter-ego Georgie Fruit is a man in his late forties, who has had multiple sex changes. Blurring the line between performance and art, indeed. So, no nude frontman, but I actually lost track of the costume changes. After being introduced by a top hat clad skeleton, what has come to be famously known as a spectacle kicked off and didn’t let up until the last note.
When you see of Montreal, you should expect to see intense psychedelia on the backdrop, gender bending outfits on Barnes, and a conga line of costumed background dancers. Barnes had multiple wig and dress changes, but kept the same high heels to make the legs look good. He also briefly starred as an alternative outfit from Jared Leto’s Joker – with a Parental Advisory shirt and #1 Dad hat. The backup dancers came out as aliens (or maybe robots?), skull-toting Day of the Dead extras, and a few other creatures I couldn’t quite name. Just like the tracks from their 15th record, White is Relic/Irrealis Mood, the energy was definitely 80s synth-pop. They’re very pop oriented, but feature long interludes and extended solos. It was a perfect base for the pandemonium on stage, and also allowed for more intricate costumes between lyrics. The extended jams also gave us the opportunity to get better acquainted with the band, who has some killer guitar and synth and percussion and woodwind chops.
It’s hard to describe an of Montreal show, now that I try to put words to keyboard. Imagine being sucked into a rotoscoped version of Willy Wonka. Or the Upside Down, but with pink rainbows instead of apocalyptic blackness. Or a world where a man can dress up like a lady and sing falsetto pop songs over synth dance beats, with a costumed crowd screaming for more. It may not seem like that world sometimes, but it’s there. Sometimes the right dose for endless bleak news is overdosing on bright lights and smiles.
Check out more from of Montreal @ https://www.ofmontreal.net/
NIN / all photos by ATD
A Note From the Authors: This “review” is a little different than what you may be used to seeing here at Chicago Crowd Surfer. As an homage to the atypical magic that is a NIN show, we felt that it we’d take a little creative freedom and try something new. (Plus, they are doing just fine without our promotional help. So if this goes poorly, we aren’t ruining any careers.) What follows is in many ways a freeform conversation in which we reflect on our personal impressions of the same show. Hopefully you enjoy this diversion from our typical format. Or, at the very least, find something within it to relate to. --ATD & ELP
Pieces of a Man
Julien Baker, phoebe bridgers, lucy dacus
mr. twin sister
You Won’t Get What You Want
Boy george and culture club
Where Do I Come From
WHAT WE'RE JAMMING TO THIS WEEK
living with a creature
No future in our frontman
meat wave/That’s alright and lifestyles
Wail split 7”
other jams this week
Y La Bamba / Mujeres
Spencer Zahn & Half Waif / A Life Apart
pronoun / you didn’t even make the bed
Beach House / Alien
Bierut / Gallipoli
The Palmer Squares , Probcause / Paralyzed
AFI / Get Dark
Tiësto / Grapevine
THIS WEEK'S RECOMMENDED NEW RELEASES
Unknown Mortal Orchestra / 1C-01 Hanoi / Jagjaguwar
Recorded in a one night jam session in Hanoi with his father, brother, and Vietnamese musician Minh Nguyen this journey into the psychedelic world of Ruban Nielson is a return to his original craziness after dabbling in other genres over the past few records. If you’re looking to have your mind turned to mush this is the album for you.
Nielsen was just here in May and July. We don’t expect him to return in support of this one, but hope he makes it back through next Spring.
Carson McHone / Carousel / Carson McHone
This Austin country singer brings it down home for her second album, bucking off the mainstream sound for a classic country take. Channeling the likes of Patsy Cline or Gillian Welch she makes great strides with this one. If you’re a fan of Americana you should give this one a listen.
She’s swinging through The Hideout and opening for CCS fave Joybird on November 9th. Tix are $10.
Razorlight / Olympus Sleeping / Atlantic Culture , Believe
A straight up rocking return after a ten year hiatus. It’s good to hear Johnny Borrell’s voice again even if this isn’t their strongest material. But who can really capture that London sound of their youth a second time. They’re older and a bit wiser with this one.
As of now there are no stateside dates in support of this one.
Stand Atlantic / Skinny Dipping / Hopeless
These Australian emo pop punk’s debut album is everything you would want in the genre. Self reflective lyrics set to layered guitar with plenty of sing along choruses. Give it a listen, it’s worth it.
So far there are no U.S. dates on their slate.
Oh Pep! / I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You… / ATO
Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs harmonies are a thing of beauty. These two blend to create a sonic glory that when paired with their confessional lyrics and sharp wit makes for one worthwhile listen. Yet another group of Australians killing it this year! Pep yourself up!
Oh Pep! is hitting up Schubas on March 21st! $15 tix here.
Thom Yorke / Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) / Unsustainabubble , XL
The best reviewed art to come out of this film, Yorke’s first soundtrack isn’t much different from something off a Radiohead or solo albums. Very typical of his fascination with electronic and choral sounds blending into some really gorgeous material. It will be interesting to see how it translates live.
The Radiohead mastermind is coming to the Chicago Theatre on December 4th. It is sold out but there are plenty of secondary market tix out there.
Georgia Anne Muldrow / Overload / Brainfeeder
Jazz, Afro, and R&B all blend together to form the singular sound of Georgia Anne Muldrow. Her newest work is some of the best of her career. Stepping out of her comfort zone and working with a multitude of producers she produces a cohesive soul classic that will hopefully finally get her the recognition she deserves. You gotta scope this one out.
She was just at The Promontory in early October with Madison McFerrin and we slept on it. Won’t happen again. We’ll make sure you know when she’s coming back.
Alela Diane / The Pirates Gospel (Bonus Edition) / Rusted Blue
A re-release of this folk treasures debut ‘06 record. Mainly just her guitar and her voice, this stunning lesson in songwriting belongs in every folk fans collection. The bonus edition contains a whole other record of demos and unused recordings from the period.
Currently touring Europe but we’ll let you know if she returns soon.
MORE NOTABLE RELEASES
Miya Folick / Premonitions / Interscope
Kiran Leonard / Western Culture / Moshi Moshi
Joji / BALLADS 1 / 88rising , 12 Tone
The Black Eyed Peas / MASTERS OF THE SUN VOL. 1 / Interscope
Homeboy Sandman , Edan / Humble Pi / Stones Throw
Robyn / Honey / Konichiwa , Interscope
Houston Kendrick / PINK / Houston Kendrick
The Struts / YOUNG & DANGEROUS / Interscope
They are coming to the House of Blues on November 23rd. It is sold out but there are plenty of third party tix out there.
Devon Church / We Are Inextricable / felte
Saves The Day / 9 / Equal Vision
These boys from Jersey are rolling into Bottom Lounge on November 2nd with a killer undercard in Kevin Devine and An Horse. $24 tix here.
The Blue Stones / Black Holes / Entertainment One
Royal Tusk / Tusk II / Entertainment One
Dillon Carmichael / Hell on an Angel / Riser House
Nao / Saturn / Little Tokyo , Sony
The Concord is hosting her on January 26th. Tix are $29.
David Crosby / Here If You Listen / BMG
Mr. Crosby is performing at the North Shore Center in Skokie on November 19th. Tix are $56 - $76.
NOTES & ANNOUNCEMENTS
THURSDAY November 1st
FACS / Accessory / Physical Medium DJ’s
The Hideout 9PM $10 tix.
ADULT. / Universal Eyes / Ritual Howls
Thalia Hall “In The Round” 7:30pm doors $15 tix.
KT Tunstall / Maddie Ross
Park West. 7:30pm $25 tix.
Justin Courtney Pierre / pronoun
Lincoln Hall 8PM $22 tix. ($25 doors)
The Fritz / Zoofunkyou
Bourbon on Division 8PM doors $10 tix.
FRIDAY November 2nd
Acid Dad / Flesh Panthers / Pooky
Empty Bottle 9PM doors $10 tix. ($12 door)
Ty Segall / William Tyler
Thalia Hall “In The Round” 6:30PM doors Sold Out (Thalia Hall keeps some tix back for doors)
This Will Destroy You / Steve Hauschildt
Metro 8PM $20 tix.
Mollow (EP Release) / Bloodsport: The Movie / The Band / Good Brother / Sad Witches
Subterranean (downstairs) 7PM $8 tix.
Tasha / Yarrow / Jamila Woods / J Bambii
Sleeping Village 9:30PM $11 tix. ($13 door)
SATURDAY November 3rd
Kamasi Washington / Butcher Brown
The Riv 8PM $36.75 tix.
The Joy Formidable / Tancred
Lincoln Hall 8PM $25 tix.
BRONCHO / Valen / Liily
Subterranean 8PM $15 tix.
Why? / The Ophelias / Lala Lala
Bottom Lounge 8PM $22 tix. ( $25 door)
Buke and Gase / Joan of Arc
Empty Bottle 8:30PM $12 tix.
Dead River Revival
The Hideout 9PM $10 tix.
SUNDAY November 4th
Jawbreaker / Naked Raygun / Smoking Popes
Aragon 6:30PM $53.50 tix.
(Sandy) Alex G. / Half Waif / Beach Bunny
Thalia Hall 7PM doors $17 - $30 tix.
Death Valley Girls / Gymshorts / Ethers
Beat Kitchen 8PM $10 tix.
The Burst and Bloom / I'm Glad It's You / Pelafina / Rust Ring
Subterranean (downstairs) 8PM $8 tix.
MONDAY November 5th
Captured Tracks X: W/ Lina Tulgren / Wax Chattels / Drahla
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors FREE
TUESDAY November 6th
Wavves + Beach Fossils
Bottom Lounge 6:30PM $20 tix.
Varsity / Poppies / Clearance
Sleeping Village 9:30PM $5 cover
The War and Treaty / Courtney Marie Andrews
Lincoln Hall 7PM $20 tix.
WEDNESDAY November 7th
Jake Shears / Ssion / Sammy Jo
Metro 9PM $24 tix.
Beach Fossils + Wavves
Bottom Lounge 6:30PM $20 tix.
The Million Reasons / Arclight / Snake Season / Boundary Waters
Beat Kitchen 8PM $8 tix.
Tennis / Matt Costa
Thalia Hall 7PM doors $20-$30 tix.
Nicki Bluhm / Gill Landry
Lincoln Hall 8PM $20 tix.
Gregory Alan Isakov / Haley Heynderickx
The Vic 7:30PM Sold Out
Peel Dream Magazine / Desert Liminal / Ruins
The Hideout 9PM $8 tix.
House of Blues 7PM $45.50 tix.
See you at the show Chicago!