Miranda Winters of Melkbelly / photo by KPL

Editor's Note
Hey there Surfers! Welcome to our abbreviated Holiday issue, #36.5. Last week we caught indie legends Cursive with locals Meat Wave and Campdogzz at Thalia Hall and The Funs put out a record last week and we caught the release party with Melkbelly and The Lipschitz opening.  Small holiday issue this week, but we’ll return on the 29th with plenty of reviews of all the new music! Till then, eat some turkey, take some naps, and we’ll see you on the other side. Happy Thanksgiving!

Keep Seeing Live Music!


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Thalia Hall

November 15th

Cursive / all photos by KPL


To create a soul-commanding ethereal sound takes years of dedicated work, and is only effectively delivered when its creators have a genuine bond. Campdogzz’ bond was extended to the audience on Thursday at Thalia Hall. Invitation received, I scanned the members faces to further join their souls on stage. From face to face, I found myself increasingly surprised by how young everyone was. If you played them for me with my eyes closed, I would have said they were a longstanding band with a well-known craft. But this was my first show and eyes were open. I wondered just how long the four guitarists and drummer have been together. How quickly did they form said bond? Carve their craft? About four years. Dang.

Campdogzz released their second album In Rounds in August of this year under the label 15 Passenger, which is operated by Cursive, the headliner of tonight’s show. There is a reason Cursive has decided to fly alongside them on this tour; they are good.

Jess Price of Campdogzz

Jess Price leads the crew with a raspy glow, and the rest follow suit. Matt Evert’s drums keep everyone’s roots intertwined, while Andrew Rolfsen and Nick Enderle float around on the necks of their guitars, while Mikey Russell layers a cushion over them all with his own chords, synths and vocals. They are an entire ecosystem, thriving in pure mutualism.

Out of thin air, Mikey Russell (who puts Wayne Campbell’s hat hair to shame) acquired a bow and began to draw it over his guitar. With each draw, my chest cavity swelled with the fibrous resonance reverberating through the amp. When my heart was full, he pulled out a small metal tool, maybe a tuning fork. The sounds from this called on both my root and crown chakras, creating a full body attunement to what I was now actively witnessing.

Meat Wave

Joe Gac of Meaet Wave

Joe Gac of Meaet Wave

Chris Sutter of Meat Wave

Chris Sutter of Meat Wave

I knew Meat Wave had taken the stage later when my toilet began shaking during a bathroom break. The bathroom is upstairs, and not directly over the stage, so that is quite the bass. As I descended back downstairs the volume ascended. Someone opened the door to the hall, and an honest to goodness breeze blasted through, carrying with it even more volume. I inserted my earplugs, and worked my way up to the front. My ears still have the ability to hear and I do the work to keep it that way!

Ryan Wizniak mans the drum kit. Tonight, on their tour stop through their home town Chicago, they decided to double up and get after it with Jon Olson joining with a second kit. The crew was welcomed home by lead singer and guitarist Chris Sutter’s mom, dad, brother, a few cousins and some very happy Chicagoans. People were stomping and jumping all over the place and really, I’m surprised the crowd never broke into a circle pit. Energy high, the song abruptly ended and Joe Gac stopped his bass along with a full body freeze and the most serious face, but quickly broke into the happiest smile of gratitude as he watched his fans lose it.

The double drummer brilliance began again and just kept going. It reminded me of “This Is The Song That Never Ends”, only if Lamb Chop wore all black and had a nose ring. Olson snapped his stick and sent it flying into the rail. He continued on single-handed, with no obvious change in his performance. At a quick pause he got a new set of sticks. The risk of breaking must not be a deterrent. Rather, it appeared to encourage him to play harder and he trained his new pair of sticks to play harder than the last.

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After the 30-minute set change, a recorded track began to play. A folk-ish tune, longing for a land where rivers run free. Cursive took to their posts and laid into the first track from their latest album Vitriola (the first in 6 years), setting us up with lyrics “To live is to be in schism...What reason do you need to be alive? Just merely survive.”

Trumpeter Patrick Newbery scratched us all through the cognitive dissonance created by the juxtaposition of these two tracks. One can long to live within a world spinning in its natural state. But to get there, its current state must be navigated (it is not easy or pretty).

As the band carried on, the lyrics passed from mic to mic, voice to voice, seamlessly furthering their joint effort to reinstill some hope and encouragement. Lead vocalist Tim Kasher finished a song on a scream- “You caught me mid-scream, hold on” - and grunted to bring his voice back down. He welcomed us all that evening to celebrate 20 years together as Cursive, the release of new album Vitriola last month, and the success of their own record label 15 Passenger.

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The members of Cursive have a lot of fun performing, 20 years on. Bassist Matt Maginn often takes to the standing splits - you know what I mean, punk rock splits. Tight jeans would not allow him to go any lower, even if he had the unlikely flexibility to do so. Megan Siebe shreds on her cello as a mega fan on stage, smiling and watching her band members like she was pressed against the rail. She does this sort of sideways headbang which sends her hair upwards and spinning around her head like a flying saucer. How she avoids hair snags in the tuning knobs is impressive.

Kasher gave us all air quotes as he said “one more song”.  They played a few more. Then something - perhaps a wadded up piece of paper - was thrown at him from off stage  as if to say “you have to stop playing now”. The encore was more than welcome with “Dorothy At Forty / Under the Rainbow” and “From The Hips”. He had procrastinated this ending long enough. Until next time.


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The Funs (record release) / Melkbelly / The Lipschitz

The Empty Bottle

November 14th

The Funs / all photos by KPL

Exceptional concentration was required throughout the night last Wednesday at The Empty Bottle. Three of the area’s most intense acts were sharing the bill, and it was all about deep pondering while the noise raged through the legendary venue.

The Lipschitz

The Lipschitz

The Lipschitz nonchalantly strolled onstage. Daniel Brady Lynch scooped up his guitar, and Rachael Boswell took a seat at her kit. “We’re The Lipschitz,” Lynch muttered into the mic, and then they exploded into two-person cacophony. Boswell went after her kit like her life was on the line. The back and forth vocal-calling sounded tribal at times, and even though the lyrics were in English, it came off as gibberish which matched the sped up garage rock style perfectly. They capture the spirit of playing in your parents’ basement, cares gone, just railing against the world. Sometimes messy just works, especially when these Chicago transplants from Georgia decide to slay. Do yourself a favor and check out their latest record, which dropped in April, LAVA.

The Lipschitz

The Lipschitz



Local favorites Melkbelly drifted up onto the stage one by one. Guitarist Bart Winters was first, sequestered in his corner. And as brother Liam began checking his bass rig, Miranda Winters crossed CS and bent to her pedals. Finally, James Wetzel sat behind his kit and took off his jeans, revealing workout shorts. They all calmly discussed a few things amongst themselves before finally turning off the world and entering Melkbelly. Their tunes are as if a cross section of a chord was taken and stretched over multiple bars; or in layman's terms, damn good noise rock. The night’s set was mainly made up of new tunes, and a few of them contained these incredible couple note jams where the Winters brothers and Miranda would hone in on each other and jam out on one chord for a while before moving to another to continue the process. All while Wetzel pummeled his kit with every ounce of force he could muster. Miranda’s grunts and yowls are more bitten than sung, as she releases some of her inner rage all over the stage. By the time they spun out and ended, the whole venue was pulsing with kinetic energy. If you’ve never hear em before, check out last year’s excellent Nothing Valley,

Philip Herome Lesicko of The Funs

Philip Herome Lesicko of The Funs

Jessee Rose Crane of The Funs

Jessee Rose Crane of The Funs

As The Funs began their set up (which included two cinder blocks to hold the bass drum in place), there emerged a methodical pace to their arrangement of gear. Everything (especially the drums) had to meet both Jessee Rose Crane’s and Philip Jerome Lesicko’s preferences since they both played the kit during the set. This level of detail stretches into everything The Funs do. The bassless trio are from down the road in New Douglas, IL, where they have built their own artist’s residence inside a 100-year-old funeral home. They call their home Rose Raft and have developed a community around it, including label Maximum Pelt, which has nurtured bands like Melkbelly, NE-HI, and Lala Lala. This isolation has helped craft their show into a theatre piece as well as a rock show. As soon as the first song ended, they went into a slow quiet jam before unexpectedly launching full tilt into the next explosions of noise. For a whole hour, they never stopped playing. Each song bled into the next as the whole world began to look  fuzzy. (We couldn’t even get a decent photo the whole set.) Crane’s drumming is the definition of intense, and Lesicko’s guitar lines hang in air as the whole thing crashes down onto the crowd. No one clapped between songs, stuck in Funs world. The performance never really stopped until it was done. A great set and one killer new album, check out Alienated.


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Five Questions with Deal Casino

Asbury Park New Jersey has had one of the most vibrant live music scenes in the country for years, and indie pop act Deal Casino calls it home. We caught up with the quartet while on their current midwest run. They are rolling through town tonight, Tuesday November 20th at Lincoln Hall, opening for The Wrecks and Badflower. Get some $16 tix.

CCS: Can you lay out your lineup for our readers?

We are a band of four members. Joe P is the lead singer, guitarist, and CRT TV player. Joe C does all the extra stuff; keyboards, percussion, guitar, vocals and modular synth goodness. Jon Rodney plays bass, vocals, and some keyboard work from time to time. Chris plays the drums, vocals, and a glockenspiel every once in a while.

CCS: You all have a new album that just dropped last Friday titled LLC. Can you give us any insight into what the acronym stands for?

We had a few names floating around for a long time before the name LLC even surfaced. Nothing seemed to hit us, so we just kept talking about it, and then LLC popped out. It really made sense since the music industry is so ridiculous compared to the nature of music. You grow up loving music and playing in a band for fun, then at a certain point it becomes a business, and you have to try harder and harder to hold on to the original love of music and not completely disassociate this "business" with your passion.

CCS: Your bio says you all live in the same house in Asbury Park, New Jersey, famous for birthing many great musicians in the 70's and beyond, how is the scene there now? Still worshiping Bruce and that generation, or has it move on to embrace the new acts coming up?

The Bruce thing is very still alive in Asbury Park. A rumor of Bruce being at a specific location passes through Asbury Park in an instant, and the next thing you know, the Wonder Bar is packed with people waiting for Bruce and you never even know if he'll show up. Regardless of Bruce, the music scene is awesome, with an insane amount of venues and an endless number of bands that come and go. People truly love live music in our town.

CCS: Seven of the nine tracks on LLC have already dropped as singles or b-sides. Many indie artists are starting to use this method to build up buzz before a full record drops. What guided your decision to release so much of the album before you released it in full?

Music releases have changed drastically since we started playing music. We're always looking at the industry and trying to figure out the best ways to nudge ourselves into people's earsight. Looking back on our release last year, we asked if there was a way to do it better, so we looked around and saw a lot of artists experimenting with release styles; Kanye tried the whole 7 song full-length with a bunch of his artists this summer, and I think it was genius. We decided on a very slow release to try and draw attention to all of the songs, rather than a singular record. It seems to have worked and allowed be to fully digest the album in multiple segments, rather than all at the same time.

CCS: Your songs have a catchy yet quirky vibe, do you write as a group or individuals and then collaborate?

We write our songs in so many different ways. A song like “Chocolate Cake” evolved from a 45 minute jam in our friend's basement. Then you have “Color TV”, which Joe P wrote and then brought to the band for us to put our own spin on it. The variation in songwriting really opens up a lot of different styles for our band, which is fairly apparent in LLC. Each song really has a different feel.

CCS: You've had a busy 2018 so far it seems. What does the future hold for Deal Casino after this tour?

This year really fell into place for us, so we're hoping the same happens next year. We don't have any tours planned yet, but we're going to write/record another collection of songs in the late winter. It's really up the air right now, but we'll have more music, and I have no doubt that we'll be on the road a lot.

CCS: What are your favorite venues around the country, and are there any great acts you think are being overlooked?

We are really loving our first swing around the midwest. The first string of shows through Missouri have had the best, most open crowds that have received us so lovingly. We cannot wait to get back to these towns to play for everyone we've met so far again. You're gonna hear a lot about our new friends in Badflower coming up in the next year. They are a great band, great dudes, and are about to be EVERYWHERE next year.

Thank you for taking this time with us! We are really looking forward to playing our first ever show in Chicago proper. And we'll try not to finance anything stupid at Chicago Music Exchange. We'll try. But probably not.



TUESDAY November 20th
How to Dress Well / JSPH
Sleeping Village    9PM $15 tix.

John Maus / Death Valley
The Empty Bottle   8:30PM doors $20 tix.

J. Mascis / Luluc
City Winery    8PM $38 - $52 tix.

The Wrecks / Badflower / Deal Casino
Lincoln Hall   7PM  $16 tix.

WEDNESDAY November 21st
J. Mascis / Luluc
City Winery    8PM $38 - $52 tix.

Pale Waves /  Kailee Morgue / The Candescents
Bottom Lounge    7PM  $17 tix.

THURSDAY November 22nd
Dorian Taj annual Thanksgiving Night performance
Liars Club    9:30PM  Cover?   

FRIDAY November 23rd
Russian Circles / Bongripper / Sweet Cobra
Metro     8PM doors  $21 tix.

The Main Squeeze / Bonelang  
Thalia Hall    7PM doors $19 - $30 tix.

The Devil Wears Prada / Roots Above And Branches Below
Bottom Lounge     7:30PM   $24.50 tix.

30DB feat. Jeff Austin and Brendan Bayliss
City Winery    8PM $25 - $35 tix.

SATURDAY November 24th
Triathlon / The Marías / Girl Ultra  
Sleeping Village    9PM $15 tix.

State Champion / Glyders / Bill MacKay
The Hideout    9PM $10 tix.

Har Mar Superstar and Sabrina Ellis do the songs of Dirty Dancing
Thalia Hall   7:30PM doors $22 - $35 tix.

Bayside (Acoustic)
Bottom Lounge   7PM $24 tix.


SUNDAY November 25th
Real Friends / Boston Manor / Grayscale / Eat Your Heart Out
House of Blues    5PM $25 tix.

Chastity / Material Girls / No Men
The Empty Bottle   8:30PM $10 tix.

Bayside (Acoustic) / Golds
Cobra Lounge   8:30PM $27 tix.

Little Miss Ann Band: Post Turkey Family Jam
SPACE   11:30AM  $10 tix.

MONDAY November 26th
Dumpster Tapes 5-Year Anniversary featuring Cafe Racer / Girl K / Easy Habits / Faux Furrs
The Empty Bottle    8:30PM doors  FREE

TUESDAY November 27th
Pokey Lafarge
City Winery    8PM   $28 - $35 tix.

Pooky / Sun Cop / Cold Beaches / The Edwards
Sleeping Village   9PM $5 cover.

Dead Feathers / Diagonal / Daisychain
The Empty Bottle   8:30PM doors $5 tix.

The Beaches / Space Gators / Troy Anderson
Schubas   8PM  $10 tix.

WEDNESDAY November 28th
The Helio Sequence / Wild Pink
The Empty Bottle   8:30PM doors $16 tix. ($18 door)

Tech N9ne
House of Blues    6:30PM $35 tix.

A Special Evening w/ Kelela & Moses Sumney / DJ Anthony Valadez
Lincoln Hall    7:30PM  RSVP here.

Khruangbin (DJ Set) / Title TK DJs
Sleeping Village  9:30PM  $10 tix.


See you at the show Chicago!