Well we’ve made it Surfers! One last issue before we turn 50! A crazy achievement considering we started this project a year ago with just three people and now we’ve garnered eight more solid contributors and many more who dabble with us here and there. This was a great week yet again with so much new local music, and plenty from the world outside our humble metropolis. Check out our write ups on Music Frozen Dancing, Bob Mould and locals Beach Bunny rocking out The Metro, and Dessa taking over Old Town. It was another exciting week of music and we’re here to share it all with you Surfers! Join us next week for our one year anniversary issue, (start the fanfare!), but until then plug into the playlist, dig into this brand new issue and make sure to check out the calendar. Pick out a show, get your ass there, and support live music in Chicago!
Keep Seeing Live Music!
⬐ SHOWS ⬎
Music frozen dancing
Goose Island snowman at Music Frozen Dancing / photo by KPL (all photos credited as listed)
Music Frozen Dancing is one of our most anticipated events of the winter months. A one day outdoor celebration of music, the never ending cold, and the greatest venue in Chicago (we love all the local venues but The Empty Bottle is Chicago, followed closely by The Hideout). Every year EB throws this event with sponsor Goose Island, that some see as insane, but to die hard music scenesters it is not to be missed. Every year the lineup is stellar, the beer flows freely, and everyone takes a gamble on the weather. Some years it has snowed, some have been fridged, others a balmy 45 degrees; unfortunately this year was soggy, with rain a good portion of the day, and the sky opening up right before headliners Ty Segall & White Fence took the stage, but it didn’t stop hundreds from turning up throughout the day to take in some compelling acts that made the day long, pacho clad, effort worth every moment.
Quintron’s WEATHER WARLOCK
With a 7 ft. tall weathervane contraption and plenty of electrical equipment adorning the front of the stage, a risk with the rain, New Orlean’s based Quintron took the stage first to a sparse mid afternoon crowd. Having developed the massive weather controlled synth during a battle with cancer, he now uses it to back his psych rock heavy band that was sure to let the neighborhood know that Music Frozen Dancing was back for another year.
Chicago trio Glyders doesn’t need a drummer. Their trusty drum machine fills the back end with plenty of beat for bassist Eliza Glider to mind meld with as Joshua Condon filled in the corners on guitar and vocals with a heavy psych rock influence. Their stripped down groove made Glyders the perfect oasis in a day filled with intense acts.
Intense and fabulous, the Lincoln, Nebraska electro duo Plack Blague is an experience all to themselves. The pumping beats; the constant dancing, masked, studded cod pieced frontman; the leather clad crowd that showed just for their set; and the utter delight in some and disbelief in others they produce among the crowd, was worth every minute of their set. Plack Blague is exactly what is right about independent music. It should make you embrace uncomfortability and the unforeseen.
Negative Scanner was the first local band that caught my eye when I moved to Chicago. I noticed they were consistently on the bills at the Empty Bottle and their name had a haunting ring to it. Like figure cut from Blade Runner, a sentient machine that lacks knowledge of itself but can read your psych like a grocery store receipt and knows what secrets you smuggle through the self-checkout. I first caught Negative Scanner at a Cuddle Stock and it’s awesome to see them tear into a set with the same vigor today as they did half a decade ago. The group mostly played their early songs at this past weekend’s Music Frozen Dancing, which was refreshing because I hadn’t seen them play in a while and this is the material I’m most familiar with. I had been unconsciously craving the dark, constricting jolt of “Ambitious People” (which soundtracks my inner monologue every time I take a bus through Goldcoast like a circle of protection spell), as well as the tire-spiking, careen of “Criticism.” Their set was the last I was able to catch that afternoon and a fantastic reminder of why they are still one of my favorite local bands and worth witnessing every time they convene to light a stage on fire.
Ty Segall & White Fence
Ty Segall and White Fence (Tim Presley), separately, have been dominating the West Coast indie scene for quite a few years now. The former with stints in surfer garage rock and punk, and the latter in psych pop. Together, they take the best of both worlds and grant us some of the most interesting music either has done individually. An amalgamation of fuzzed out guitar solos and beautiful vocal harmonies, Joy was one of the coolest albums of 2018. Live, the show was as raw as the sunbaked music they’ve concocted. They rode waves of strummed dissonance into genuine foot tapping choruses. If not my soaked shoes, and the ticket to Bob Mould (that kids, is called a teaser), I would have happily stuck around and ruined my clothes.
Bob Mould / Beach Bunny
Beach Bunny / all photos by LPL
Unlike most of the attendees at the Music Frozen Dancing festival, this seasoned MFD-goer was both warm and dry thanks to ski base-layers, snow pants, and a checkered poncho. The Sonic Muse messaged us mid-fest with tickets to the SOLD OUT Beach Bunny and Bob Mould show at The Metro - JCB and I did a little rainy jig and scooted over to Lakeview.
Bob Mould’s fans came early, and Beach Bunny were beaming on stage as they rocked through their set for a packed house. (Every time we see Beach Bunny, they are on a bigger stage). As the stages grow, so does their confidence and stage charisma. Their big hits are a bit tighter now too, garnering the full attention of Mould’s dedicated fans who were, perhaps, double the age of a typical Beach Bunny audience. Multiple pairs of people around us were heard commenting, “Hey, these guys are great!” and “Who are they?”
Lili Trifilio has an adorable guitar, but there is nothing diminutive about her guitar skills. She has a way of plucking through chords that do not necessarily follow her vocal tone or pace; I can only imagine how difficult it is to get your brain to do two very different tasks at the same time. I mean, I can’t even pat my belly and rub my head (or is it supposed to be the other way around?). Drummer Jon Alvarado provides the platform for Trigilio and guitarist Matt Henkels to roll between pensive strums and sunny hooks to allow listeners to receptively digest their the oft-times unsettling, albeit, familiar subject matter. Anthony Vocarro (drummer, Bur) seamlessly joined on bass. Together, the quartet radiated from the stage and up into Metro’s 91-year-old anatomy.
Our setbreak convo unveiled that I was there to see Beach Bunny, and JCB was there to see Bob Mould. It was quickly concluded that JCB best take the review from here…
Oh, LPL, by quick conclusions do you mean when the kind gentleman approached us to ask if we were, like him, the only people there for Beach Bunny, after seeing your beanie from The Hideout show last weekend… and I just kind of smiled awkwardly like some aging post-punker? Yeah, I think I scared him away.
I’ve never seen Bob Mould live, and certainly am not old enough to have seen Hüsker Dü or Sugar in action. But, his music has always swam in and out of my life. Hüsker Dü and Sugar were played alongside my metal upbringing by sage older brothers of my friends – being an only child, my family’s musical contributions were primarily dad’s Sabbath vinyls and mom’s Jim Croce cassettes. He’s been solo for some time now, so going into tonight’s free show (proper thanks to the fine folks at The Sonic Muse!) I had the assumption I’d be hearing plenty of tracks off his latest career iteration. I was jacked regardless, as I’m quite the fan of Sunshine Rock – as you will know, loyal reader, from our last issue. To my surprise, however, the first four songs included a Hüsker Dü classic (“I Apologize”) and two Sugar bangers (“A Good Idea” and “Hoover Dam”).
One thing to know for Bob Mould newbies – he has a very particular style, and has planted his feet firmly in place for the majority of his storied career (we can have a side bar about the electronic dabbles and DJing). One might even say that most of his songs sound the same. There’s merit to that, but fuck – when they’re that good, who cares? Especially when the aging rocker has more energy on a second night of three sold out shows at the Metro than I can muster in my best days at the gym. Whipping his Fender around, headbanging, lumbering around like an alt-rock Frankenstein, kicking his feet during ‘the good parts’, and yelling his acerbic and often self-deprecating lyrics like it might be the last time anyone will hear them, he absolutely destroyed the packed venue.
He didn’t talk to the crowd much, allowing the song choices to speak for him, and the measured-in-seconds breaks clearly pushed his band to the brink. The song choices, if I went into detail, would balloon this review into the stratosphere, so I’ll just say that Mould is enjoying his late 50s. He’s happy and has learned to love the nostalgia. If you want to dive in, here are some setlist gems that illustrate my point:
“If I Can’t Change Your Mind”
“Sinners and Their Repentances”
I often forget what a real sold out Metro looks like. There were people lined up on the entry steps, where you can’t even glimpse the stage, rocking their damn faces off. We loyal Mouldites (that’s a thing now) knew that this was a show for the books. Pun intended for his drummer’s other awesome band, Superchunk, it’s a time to be alive and a time to enjoy Sunny Love Songs from an alt-rock hero. 5 stars. Would see again.
-LPL / JCB
dessa / monakr
Old Town School of Folk Music
Dessa / all photos by LPL
(My Tuesday afternoon Blue Line commute served as sort of a mental draft space on where to begin this piece…) During my walk home from the train, my swirling ideas began to intertwine and threatened to form a destructive eye... As my gaze lowered and vision narrowed, a Dessa track seeped into the mental mix. “Velodrome” restored a wave of clarity as a passing car blasted it, passing up Kimball Ave.. I honed my trajectory and sat straight down to write.
Dessa is wholistically influential: Her lyrics bring an amber hue to extremely personal stories and take us through a lesson in self-realization by way of allowance. The rate and tone of her compositions cue the psyche to create an emotional platform on which to properly process Dessa’s stories. Her stage performance is intuitive and breathes of confidence (hardly an act) as she reaches each person through twinkling, extended eye contact letting them know they are the most important person in her world at that very moment. The feeling does not fleet when she looks away, but rather roots itself as she lifts the confidence of every person in the room.
Between songs, Dessa shares her pensive humor as she reads her poetry, acknowledging events in the room in real-time, and recounts her journey to the show. (Tonight we learned how she came to own the black shirt on her back: She had to duck into a high end boutique because she had only packed pajamas.) While other ladies test-drive their clothes in poised fashion, Dessa jumps up and down and throws her hands in the air, ensuring a stage-performance-style while keeping the chest and mid-drift regions in place.
Her backing band is so good that they hold down an entire opening set as Monakr, before Dessa joins them on stage...
As I entered Old Town School Of Folk Music that night, I recalled the confidence released in me at the Dessa / Monakr show at the Subterranean last April (ISSUE #5). Chicago’s own Monakr brings a well-crafted performance of three musical artists. Two-time Grammy-nominated Matthew Santos’ pristine voice surpassed my earned expectations as he resounded through to the catwalk inside the acoustic engineering of Maurer Hall. Saam Hagshenas shared the front row with a triple-stacked (two-keyboard plus a synth, and then some) slanting set-up, coupled with his own vocal dexterity. (Hagshenas table-crashed as the first song ended because they apparently “had bought too many toys.”)
While the hub rebooted, Santos constructed a track from scratch - a rare opportunity in the synth scene. He released the genius inside of him that might be fueled by stage jitters that come from an on-stage issue. Santos didn’t seem to be shaken, rather relieved to unleash a raw, creative energy that stews just under surface, otherwise intimated by pre-written works that continue to grow their fan base.
As Dessa’s on-stage gratitude informed us, Santos sings the notes that are too high for her to sing, and Hagshenas gets to sing the notes that are too high for Santos. Hagshenas graciously took that as a compliment as he should, because the resulting blend is one of inspiration. We are stronger when our unique traits are embraced, and Dessa and Monkr are a walking example of the kind of achievement that can be curated when we shift our view of differences from barriers to assets that can help us become our strongest selves.
Jonathan Marks’ drum skills, only seated in the back for ease of stage layout and sound mixing, is a masterpiece all on his own. Without even checking his stagemates for cues, he lays a brilliant cushion for their voices to nestle into, inculcating a freedom that arises through the healing power of sound.
NEWS & NOTES
The annual parade of summer music festival ticket sales has begun with tickets for Pitchfork going on sale this week, purchase your early bird 3 day $150 tickets for a limited time! The lineup announcement is coming soon, and with it a price hike, so get em while they’re cheap Chicago!
AS ALWAYS THERE ARE MANY SOLD OUT SHOWS NOT LISTED
THURSDAY February 28th
Mike Krol / The Steve Adamyk Band / Graham Hunt Gemini City
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $10 ($12 doors)
Julia Holter / Jessica Moss
Thalia Hall 7:30PM doors $20
The Toasters / Malafacha / DJ Chuck Wren
Beat Kitchen 8PM $15
Thelma and the Sleaze
Tonic Room 9PM $10 ($12 doors)
FRIDAY March 1st
Dogs At Large (Record Release) / Ester / Elijah Barlow / Fine Prints DJ Set
Hungry Brain 9PM FREE
Lowdown Dirty Brass Band
Hey Nonny 8:30PM $18
Hippie Sabotage / Sebastian Paul
The Riv 9PM $26
Hot Flash Heat Wave / BOYO / Field Trip
Beat Kitchen 9PM $13
We Banjo 3
City Winery 10PM $25 - $35
Austin Stirling / Pearls Mahone
Elbo Room 7PM $5 ($10 doors)
SATURDAY March 2nd
Absolutely Not (Record release) / Paper Mice / No Men
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $5
POP'S NICE w/ The Curls, Jaime Rojo & Poplife DJs
Cafe Mustache 10PM Cover
Ribbonhead / Buildings / Rash / Bruges
Burlington 9PM $8 cover
And The Kids / Toth
Schubas 10PM $10 ($12 doors)
Jacob Banks / Abir
Concord 8PM $25
Star Tropics / LOVELORN / DoubleSpeak / Taught Abroad
Subterranean (Downstairs) 9PM $8
Living Hour / Desert Liminal
The Hideout 9PM $10
The Way Down Wanderers / Edward & Graham
Lincoln Hall 9PM $15
Andy Frasco & the U.N. / Wild Adriatic
Martyr’s 9:30PM $15 ($18doors)
Pkew Pkew Pkew / Kali Masi / Oscar Bait / Distants
Beat Kitchen 9:15PM $10
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness / Flor / Grizfolk
The Riv 7:30PM $37
Lily & Madeleine / Brother Bird
Schubas 7PM $15
SUNDAY March 3rd
Mykele Deville (Record Release) / Sam Trump / Daryn Alexus / Jovan Landry
Lincoln Hall 8PM $15
The Burst And Bloom / Sad Witches / Acceptor / Binx
Burlington 8PM Cover?
Small Houses / Moon Ruin / Emily Blue
The Hideout 8PM $8
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets / Frankie and the Witch Fingers / Blue Dream
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $12 ($15 doors)
Goodfella / Dead Rest / Invictus
Subterranean (Downstairs) 7PM $10
MONDAY March 4th
The C.I.A. / Axis:Sova / TUMS
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $14 ($16 doors)
Royal Canoe / NIIKA / Little Church
Beat Kitchen 7PM $10
Lucy Arnell / Odd Pets / Junegrass / DJ Need A Stack
Sleeping Village 9PM $8
Marrick Smith (Record Release) / J - Hasan
HVAC Pub 8PM doors $10 ($12 doors)
Cannibal Corpse / Morbid Angel / Necrot / Blood Incantation
Concord 6PM doors $27.50
TUESDAY March 5th
Cold Beaches / Sports Boyfriend / The Edwards
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $10
Cat Mullins & Themboys / Tobacco City / Gone Valley
Sleeping Village 9PM $5 Cover
WEDNESDAY March 6th
Teenage Fanclub / The Love Language
Metro 7:30PM $24
Gold Connections / Douglas Sur
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM $5
American Aquarium / Timmy The Teeth
Sleeping Village 9PM $15
Planes Mistaken for Stars / Airstream Futures / Canadian Rifle
Subterranean 8PM $12
Bow & Spear / No Sun / Modern Color / Dead Sun / Close Kept
Subterranean (Downstairs) 6:30PM $8
Red Sea / Sunglow
The Hideout 9PM $8
Superfrye Open Mic
Artifact events, sign up at 7:30 FREE
See you at the show Chicago!