Dessa / photo by LPL

Editor's Note
Welcome to issue #5 of Chicago Crowd Surfer. We are now officially a month old!  Seeing live music gives us joy, and it is our mission, in these trying times, to spread some of that joy to you. We don’t just want to spread it, we want to share it; which is why we are a crowd-sourced publication. We want you to join us: to write about, and share pictures of, the shows you attend, the new albums you love, the bands you adore, and any other thing that has to do with seeing, performing, or experiencing music in Chicago. Please send any submissions to We may not publish everything we get, and we reserve the right to edit, but will always try and seek the submitters’ approval. Our mission is to be a positive publication, so if you have negative things to say - please look for another forum in which to express that opinion. We aim to wade through the bullshit of this modern life to find what good is left. See you at the show Chicago.

Keep Seeing Live Music!


dessa 4.JPG

Dessa / Monakr / Brandon Markell Holmes




Mar. 31st

Dessa / photo by LPL


A night of hip hop and R&B was the perfect evening after bartending through the Loyola loss last Saturday. Raising the spirits after the tough hometown loss. The Subterranean is not an ideal venue for a sold out show, so I got there just as doors were opening to find the line stretching around the corner of North and Damen,  but I still was able to get a prime balcony spot. (Is it right to call the 2nd floor at Sub T a balcony? Not sure…anyway)

Waiting the hour before the show starts is always a challenge but I bided it with a few PBR’s and made a friend in Aneesh who had scouted a spot next to me. He had never seen Dessa before, and I let him know he was in for a treat. As Chicago R&B crooner Brandon Markell Holmes started right on time, I handed Aneesh a flyer told him he should check out this site.

Holmes can sing, there is no doubt about that. His passion is also undeniable and he never stopped moving thru the very short set (3 songs) in which he was backed by Monakr drummer Jonathan Marks and backing tracks.  Hopefully I get to see Holmes at a street fest or two for a bit of a longer set. His songs were intriguing and a modern take on a classic genre without getting too out there like some indie R&B acts ( cough . . . The Weeknd . . . cough).

All of Chicago based Monakr’s equipment was already on stage so a few minutes after Holmes left, Marks returned with his fellow musicians, Saam Hagshenas on keys and vocals and Matthew Santos on vocals and a bit of keyboard. However, to say Hagshenas plays a keyboard is a major understatement, considering how many buttons and knobs this amalgamation had. I have no idea what it is called, but it sure adds to the mystique of the music.

Formed here in 2014, this modern combo of synth pop and  R&B are a joy to see live. The driving beats layered with the programing and samples with Marks’ sharp drumming nearly out in front of it all is a pleasure. Too bad some drunken unwanted attention diverted mine and Anessh’s attention until I got up the courage to tell the ladies off, just as LPL arrived. Thank god for wives sometimes everybody.


Yo. Thank goodness for tall and punctual husbands everybody. I arrived to find KPL was expertly guarding not one, but two coveted spaces on the balcony. Did we mention this was sold out? Way to go Dessa. I first discovered Dessa as a member of Minneapolis collective Doomtree at Riot Fest 2015. It was hot, there were bees in my beer and the sun was unrelenting (I am quite fair-skinned). El Sol is not my friend. But it was also noon and I found my sweaty, sober, sun-baked self getting down. Doomtree danced around every inch of the stage, circling until the next featured performer arrived at  the center. Their music moved me and their bond welcomed me to join in their adventure. Dessa’s voice would protrude from her position in back, increasing in power as she found her spot center stage to lay down her lyrics. It was an experience I often revisit. I realized tonight though, Dessa’s lyrics have been a voice in my ear for 2 years inspiring me to be a stronger woman, and embrace my past as a launching pad.

Dessa’s hair style is always evolving, but has always been dark brown. She returned to SubT tonight, as a third stop on her world tour, as a platinum blonde. Her power has only grown. SubT has a spiral staircase on-stage, which every band member has to descend. The entrance sounds like it would be too dramatic, but it is always a welcome sight. Even the people in the back of the crowd can see the performer as they take the stage. Dessa spiraled down said staircase, the Monankr trio already in position (did I mention they are her backup band), and took the stage with a timely “Good Grief”. This is one track I listened to on repeat before I could finish the rest of her new album Chime.

After the opening tune, with gratitude and her iconic smile, she introduced herself to her sold out crowd (as if she needed introducing): “For those or you who just came in for a drink or were dragged here on a date with someone with a women's studies major, my name is Dessa”. She continued through “Skeleton Key” and “Let You Go” - if you have any grief inside of you, belt along to this mantra of a song until you feel better.

If you search for a picture of Dessa, a pair of giant silver hoops don her ears. Tonight she forgot them. Fortunately, a fan had a pair in her style. The fan reluctantly loaned them for the rest of the set, after Dessa offered her phone as collateral and respected her attachment to the earrings.

Dessa’s commentary is hilarious, she is a natural comedian. As a fellow over-sharer, I felt a bit of permission to keep sharing details as I please when Dessa told us: “I’ve got a glass full of white wine, a pocket full of an albuterol inhaler and I just shaved my pits in the sushi joint across the street!” What is over-sharing though, really, but proof that we are all human? Of course you should share that information with your fans!

Monakr singer Holmes returned to the front of the stage from his keyboard for a dramatic reading with Dessa. Standing back to back. It was a dialogue from a blind date, of two people showing their vulnerabilities on their first time meeting. A refreshing honesty that I wish more people would give themselves the permission to embrace.

Dessa returned to the mic, and apparently felt limited by the stage. She popped down and performed Pallindrome among her peers. On the floor amid the crowd, rapping and singing right in their faces. (See our cover art for proof.)  We rocked with you from the balcony Dessa!

Feeling inspired as a woman, I told KPL I wanted to write this review. I also said it might mean more coming from a male. His response was perfect, and one of the biggest reasons why I married him. “You’re talking to someone who followed Ani DiFranco in the 90’s. I have been living by the strong woman message for a looong time. You should write it.”

P.S. She returned the earrings before the encore.


Lorde 5.JPG

Lorde  /  Run The Jewels  /  Mitski



Allstate Arena

Mar. 27th

Lorde  / all photos by MI

Run The Jewels

Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park, Allstate Arena in Rosemont, and yup that’s really all I got. Point is, I can only name two venues outside of Chicago. I simply do not like leaving the city to see shows. There’s traffic, crowds, driving, etc. As Randy would say, “That’s gonna be a no from me dog.” That being said, when a good friend hit me up with a fifth row ticket to see Lorde last Tuesday, I politely packed away all my first world problems and answered back with an emphatic yes. Better yet, I later found out Lorde was brining Run the Jewels along. Rosemont be dammed, my mind was set.

Insert review of Mitski here. Truth be told we missed it. Did I mention I don’t like traffic? Timing could have been better but this was my first trip to Allstate Arena. See paragraph one. Next time Mitski, I’ll be better, I swear!

This would be my second time seeing RTJ, so I was excited to see Killer Mike and El-P bring their coordinated energy to the stage once more. The hip-hop duo recently dropped a fantastically eerie remix of “Supercut,” off Lorde’s latest album. A must listen for fans of either artist. RTJ can be a bit hard to classify as they often move seamlessly between social commentary and party rap. You can easily get lost in their smooth delivery and hot beats, and completely miss the message. Then again, that may just be what makes them so unique. RTJ hit the stage before 8, which seemed a bit early, but a quick glance at my ticket reminded me this was an all ages affair. In quick fashion they had the crowd on their feet doing what they do best. Killer mike and El-P traded off bars, dropping verse after verse of real heat. Long live true lyricists. This all on top of some truly thunderous, bass heavy beats. Though I usually think RTJ’s lyrics deserve to be dissected between a pair of headphones, they are equally as brilliant on stage. Like a rollercoaster with no drop, every song seemed to raise the crowd higher. As things winded down, Killer Mike paused for a moment to offer encouraging words about mental health and suicide prevention. They then closed with “Down” off their 2016 album Run the Jewels 3. The song discusses their personal struggles with adversity.  A real way to leave a positive mark on an audience they had certainly just captivated. Then swiftly they were gone. They really keep these all ages shows moving.

20 minutes later, enough time for the girl next to me to spill beer on my leg, the lights dimmed for Lorde to take the stage. As a fan, I often forget Lorde is only 21. Her intriguingly deep vocal style and clever lyrical criticisms of youth culture give her an air of maturity. On stage she is just the ball of energy that I would expect at that age, and it’s infectious. She skips, jumps, she waves. Lorde sincerely seemed to be having fun from the start, and so were we. Lorde opened with hits from her acclaimed debut album Pure Heroine, which is now 5 years old. Damn, was she really 16?  Old favorites like “Tennis Court,” which first introduced us to Lorde’s playfully sarcastic take on the ever changing roles we play as teenagers. Not wanting to leave the party, she did a wardrobe change in a glass box on stage. It was planned, and tasteful, but people lost their minds regardless. She then transitioned to songs from Melodrama, her 2017 album which landed her the only female nomination for album of the year. On Melodrama, Lorde is once again reaching beyond her years to take a truthful reflection on past relationships. Though the crowd sang along to nearly every word, Lorde sounded outstanding. Her smoky vocals cut clear through the noise of screaming teens. No doubt she was singing her heart out. Mid way through she slowed things down, taking a moment to express her love for Chicago; remembering each of her previous two visits. The crazy roof of the Aragon, the rain soaked show cut short at Lolla, and the tiki bar she hid out in after; Lorde remembers it all. “It must be nice to come from the same place as Kanye West,” she says. Then she breaks into a soulful cover of Kanye’s “Love Lockdown.” It was a highlight for this Chicago native. Lorde closed the night with the first single off Melodrama, “Greenlight.” A song about the mutual agony and optimism felt when leaving a relationship. True to the title we were bathed in green lights from up above. Confetti shot from cannons at either end of the stage as Lorde made her way down to hug fans in the front row. I snatched a piece off the seat next to me. It read, “Melodrama world Tour. Thank you- Lorde.” The feeling was mutual.  We hopped back in the car, towards the city I had reluctantly abandoned; slowly coming down off that hit of Lorde’s energy. How bad were the crowds and traffic? I hardly noticed.


soccer mommy 2.JPG

Soccer Mommy / Madeline Kenney



Mar. 29th

Soccer Mommy  / all photos by KPL

Madeline Kenney

Soccer Mommy

I know I say this a lot but I had been looking forward to this show for weeks: since taking in Sophie Allison’s major label debut Clean, which she released in early March; but she has been on my radar for months after single “Your Dog” dropped; a scathing metaphor song for someone who obviously didn’t appreciate her.

To top off the excitement Schuba’s had been sold out for weeks; and a sold out Schuba’s show can be a great experience. So many of us who love an artist packed into that small church like room, sweating through our clothes as the body heat swealters us all.

However, when Madeline Kenney took the stage with her bassist and drummer in tow, only around half the crowd had showed, which was really too bad because this emerging performer has some really good tunes, along with some snarky lyrics that always leave a smile lingering. Like the opening line of highlight “Big One”: “My other car is your face, it drives me wild.” An expressive and emotive singer, Kenney, a Seattle native who now dwells in Oakland, performs her songs with a gusto that belies her youth. (she also as some crazy good videos on YouTube, go check em out!)

After the line change Soccer Mommy took the stage, and Allison and company ripped thru so many tracks I lost count. However, she did spend time chatting with us while tuning and revealed they had filmed the video for highlight “Your Dog” earlier that day in the city. Which is a clear single but would never get any play due to opening lyric and chorus of: “ I don’t want to be your fucking dog.“

I will have to say to that big dude who pushed his way in front of the short couple on the wall beside me, and when they taped him and said they had been standing there all night, his response was “I paid too;” I say this: “Yes, you did pay too, but you’re a six three human, have some fucking consideration.” But did I say that in the moment, of course I didn’t…..

Shoving aside my anger at certain large dudes, I got back into the set in time for a solo cover of “I’m On Fire” and a grand jam out during “Still Clean” that left me wanting more. Allison came back onstage solo for the encore and did the confessional “Waiting for Cars” which was a fitting end to the last time I’ll probably get to see her in an intimate setting.

She is returning to Chicago opening for Liz Phair at The Empty Bottle on June 9th but that show sold out as soon as it went on sale. I guess I may have to wait for the winter and hopefully a last stop in the Chi before going in to the studio to work on a new one.



The Muckers / Magic Ian


Reed's Local

Mar. 29th

The Muckers  / photo by KPL

The Muckers (Denver, CO / Lion's Lair) / photo by LPL

Let’s start this one in Denver, Colorado. My cousin Maureen and I drove from Chicago to Denver, with a stop at our alma-mater - GO HAWKS! We ate at Illegal Pete’s (think Chipotle with a bar but really cool). After dinner we heard rock music and entered this beautiful seedy dive, aptly called Lion’s Lair. The Muckers was the middle act between Smiths Grove and Gabriel Albelo. We had no idea what we were in for, just didn’t want to go home. We didn’t want cousin time to end. Two chatty Kathy’s finally shut their traps and let the psych-rock decompress us. Emir Mohseni and crew pulled us in for what we needed, an arm-waving-yeah-shouting good time. In true friendly Denver fashion, we met their post-show need for a place to sleep. They are great to hang with, and have quite the story to tell. Look them up.

Magic Ian / photo by KPL

We learned that they were finishing their tour in Chicago, at Reed’s Local, so this psych-rock fan went to see them again. Reed’s Local is a great spot. They are a venue and  family-owned bar, and boast a $4 daily special, the Three Eyed Crow: a Hamms and a shot of Old Crow. The bartender (and possibly owner?) said they have no firm start time. As a fellow-musician, he said he prefers to play for a full room and waits until the crowd beefs up a bit. The Mucker’s and I hung for a bit before the show. They celebrated their tour’s end with a Giordano’s pie. Sorry, but I had to burst their bubble. There is much better deep dish to be had in Chicago (Pequod’s forever!).

Opening group Magic Ian were great. Knowing Mucker’s sound, It took me a minute to get in rock rock mode. But man, when I did, these three enjoy all there is to enjoy from playing rock music. There were high kicks, spiky hair, tight pants, indoor sunglasses, yelling and guitar riffs. At one point, the lead singer returned to sing at his mic with enough gusto that his face knocked the mic into a vertical position, rather than conveniently tilted to his mouth. I really tried to dig up some info on these guys. I did find a MagicIan in LA, but he is an Illusionist by trade and I highly doubt that is the same Ian I saw tonight. But then, maybe this Magic Ian has made themselves disappear from the internet...or they haven’t been around long enough to have a presence.

As The Mucker’s fell into their groove, I observed the crowd doing the same. Where they were a bit chatty and swaying during the first act, their eyes were now locked onto the music and moved in a trance-like motion. It was as if they could see the sound waves coming directly towards them, entering their bodies, commanding their respect. The Mucker’s continued through their set with only brief, unspoken pauses to set the next tune. This Brooklyn band is one I will follow (from Chicago).


Next show at Reed’s Local is DCS / Royal brat (mpls) / Vacuum - April 6 - 9PM,  21+, donations at door




Dark, brooding, and atmospheric, with a plodding elegance that you can only find in the best of the post rock world, FACS debut album Negative Houses, lands just in time for the mists of early Spring to descend on Chicago. A perfect record for a rainy day cocktail. 

When Chicago locals Disappears broke up in 2017 Brian Case (bass), Jonathan van Herik (guitar) and Noah Ledger (drums) started FACS; writing all these songs and recording them before van Herick's departer and the bringing on of bassist Alianna Kalaba and Case’s subsequent switch to guitar. I have seen them in both iterations and while both had moments where they varied, both lineups were just as effective at carrying these tunes to the masses. 

Ledger’s off kilter beats add the perfect backdrop for the bass lines to ride over the top, while the squeals of guitar and other instruments (the baritone sax on “Houses Breathing” is especially effective) create an atmosphere all it’s own. Sure there are plenty of influences that we could name but they would span a gamut so large we will leave that to an interview at a later date. But what makes FACS unique is the unabashed oddness in tracks like “Others” and final track “All Futures.” These are musicians taking risks; spreading fires the length and breadth of sonic channels the mind can only begin to put out before they consume the psyche.  


FACS just had their record release party at The Empty Bottle last Friday and sadly we couldn’t make it, but we hope they return from their current tour, slated in late May, to play a street fest or two! 


A mixtape that begins with a track titled “Public Housing” could come from any major city rapper, but this one came from Chicago’s Lil Durk, but it isn’t a diatribe on growing up in the projects. It’s about how much money he has now, how much stuff he’s bought, and how no one understands how hard it is. Filled with all the things that turns hip hop into a poor subject to bring up with conservatives and liberals alike, Durk’s new album Just Cause Y’all Waited, is his first project since parting ways with Def Jam last year. While it includes material that is considered everything wrong with hip hop lately, it still has some good bangers and some emotive stuff that shows Durk’s depth. His love for his bros on “My Bruddas,” the track “Granny Crib,” and the confessional “1 (773) Vulture” are highlights, but there is just not enough to turn over the negative for this listener.  If only he could leave some of that other stuff behind… along with the vocoder. 


No tour dates for Lil Durk coming up soon in Chicago.

Orquesta AkokÁn
Orquesta AkokÁn

Daptone wants us to toe tap and shake our hips every day of our lives, but they want us to respect our music history too. This was true with Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, and the rest of their eclectic catalog; and it’s true with the debut record of the 16-piece Orquesta Akokán. This is an album that celebrates the brass/sax dominated Cuban sound of the 1940s and 1950s. The orchestra that plays ‘from the heart’ wants to take us on a ride through mambo, rumba, modern jazz and cha-cha. I am in no way an expert in Cuban music, so I don’t even want to attempt to tell you about:

  • Why “La Cosa” is a tribute to how Tito Puente played shadow games with his orchestra sections.
  • How Areito Studio 101 is just the absolute best, and how you can really hear why on this album.
  • How “Cuidado con el Tumbador” is a funny song about a conga player stealing your girl, in Benny Moré fashion.

People that know the music history already know this record and can tell you about it in better detail. For me, it’s just a fun record that got me to listen to a section of history and by extension – got me curious about an entire genre of music.

Only 3 minutes to spar? Check out this track.

Mambo Rapidito

Postscript: If you don’t like the opening track, just stop. The album isn’t for you. You also might be dead.


It’s not clear if there will be a tour, but if they do – we will let you know!


Jesus. I didn’t see this album coming. To me, Kacey Musgraves is the witty country girl that the country music machine loves to ignore. Sure, she wins Grammys. But, she is not a radio darling and won’t get the same attention her male compatriots in rebellion enjoy. So, knowing nothing about this record, I went in  assuming I was going to sit on the porch with Kacey and have a nice laugh with her at the absurdity of modern life while she played plucked an acoustic guitar. 

“Oh, What a World.” Please go listen to this song. Seriously, stop reading this and press play. YouTube it. Buy the record. Spotify it. I don’t care. It’s too good. I’d never have thought a steel guitar and banjo would work alongside a vocoder on a song about just how fucking great falling in love is, but boy does it. If you think the sun shines a bit brighter when you’re this in love, this song is for you. It’s sappy as hell, but Kacey pulls it off with an earnestness we don’t hear often.

This is an album for Taylor Swift fans that think she needs country again. Fact is, it’s glossy country pop. This is an album for watching the sun rise (I’ll get to the album title in a bit) and realizing every piece of your life just fits. And why is that so bad? Kacey has a quiet confidence throughout that is lost on today’s pop stars who love to ape the country sound, and the album unfolds at such a reasonable pace that you’re not sure what’s happening until about 4 songs in (yeah, that’s what track “Oh, What a World” is. Have you played it yet?). The song structures are 100% country, and the lyrics are stunningly relatable as should be expected from her by now. Saying something like, “Sunsets fade. And love does too.” would sound trite if not for the sweeping guitars, piano-laden backing track and heartfelt singing. It also helps when she has just enough twang to make her sound like your best friend, just recapping her life to you.

I can see her losing some fans with this one, but honestly – she’s always been a rebel. You think a disco-country song like High Horse is her selling out? You haven’t paying attention, friend. This is how she needs to play the song, and she’s going to, just that way.

Only 13 minutes to spar? Check out these 3 tracks.

Oh, What a World
Space Cowboy
High Horse

Postscript: As a photographer, I cherish the light during golden hour. It’s beautiful and dreamy, creating all the feels. This album is expertly named


Kacey Musgraves opens for Harry Styles (I’ve lost you, haven’t I) at United Center on Saturday, June 30th. Buy tickets here


As I have stated here before, Greta Kline’s music is not for everyone. It is, however, most undoubtedly for me. Her sincerity and growing experience shines on new album Vessel, which finds her and the band at a unique moment. Do they continue the low-fi charm that gave critically acclaimed ‘16 album Next Thing it’s uniqueness that took the indie scene by storm? How will their music be tamed by being signed to Sub Pop? The answers are pretty much mute. It doesn’t matter, because Vessel picks right up where the former left off with more intimate tunes about growing up, city living, touring and looking at clouds. A bit older (she is only 24, but has been performing as Frankie Cosmos since 2011, a name coined by Porches leader Aaron Maine, an ex of Kline’s), a bit wiser, but all the pieces that made me love her a few years ago are still there. 

True there is a bit more studio polish, the melodies are a bit sharper, but those same heart melting harmonies sound just as good sung into an expensive mic as they did into a cheap one. Do yourself a favor and check this album out. Indie rock gold thru and thru. I can’t say much more than that on the subject.


Frankie Cosmos is playing Lincoln Hall on May 7th and we are def going. You should too! - 7pm - All Ages - $17! 





The Wu-Tang Clan has always toed the line between hip hop sincerity and pop culture reference laden fun/banger rap, and it’s this exact balance that has made this crew so long lasting and influential. This line is again drawn between two albums released this week from two of the lesser known, but in no way less talented, emcees U-God and Inspectah Deck. 

Inspectah Deck comes first with a concept album made with English rapper MF DOOM and Boston duo 7L & Esoteric (with the later Deck is CZARFACE); and it is a glorious 45 minutes of hip hop at its most dirty and entertaining. Telling the story of CZARFACES battles with his arch nemesis MF DOOM, this self proclaimed “comic book crossover” album is full of references from every possible place and time. This is the only time Chris Mullen has been rhymed with Countee Cullen for sure. From Star Wars, to the Marvel Universe; to DC Comics; to, the Wu’s standby, Kung Fu movies; to sports figures across the board; no one is safe from these emcees. 

U-God, however, has taken the other side of the line with his new release Venom; an album full of seriousness and biography, but still has rooms for some bangers like highlight “Bit da Dust”: even if it is about young black men being shot, hence the sincerity.  Included here is also a protest song, “Climate Change;” and the highlight track “The Whole World Is Watching” gives him a chance to really stretch and show his style and range.  

This album was released along with an autobiography “Raw: My Journey into the Wu-Tang Clan,” which is apparently not kind to some members of the 26 year old rap collective, but it’s not gonna stop me from picking up a copy. 

There is still the bravado and aggrandizing that has always come with The Wu Tang Clan’s music, (well, most hip hop if I’m being honest) but it seems like a good thing given the times. We need as many strong voices out there right now as we can get , and these are legendary artists doing what they have been doing for years and doing it insanely well. 


Neither artist is on tour as of now. Maybe they were waiting for the albums to drop. We’ll see . . .



Andy Hull and company put out this moving cover of this Avett Brothers tune and to say it’s moving is not good enough. It brought us back to the old MO days when they didn’t rock as hard and Andy still played songs he had written at 16. 

They are on the Lolla bill for maybe the fifth time, we don’t remember exactly and that would take to long to research so we’ll say fifth time. Please do an after show boys. (At the Sub T like old times please!) The Grant Park Bacchanal may be in one of our contributors futures but it isn’t in ours. 


This 16 year old may be the next Lorde, just saying. Her lyrics show an age beyond her years. 

Another artist we would like to see at Lolla, but alas. (Quit trying to tempt us Dionysus!)


We can never, ever, get enough of this NOLA bounce queen! Do it, do it, do it. Listen to this now! 

She’s been playing a ton with Tank and The Bangas! Please just make the trip up the Mississippi, both of you! 


This little rocker from these Barcelona natives got us nodding, then toe tapping, on  to headbanging by the end. Our first test review was a Hinds show way back in January (which seems like an eternity ago), and we can’t wait to see them again . . . 

Good thing they are returning to Lincoln Hall on May 15th - 8PM - $16 ($18 doors)


A does it all musician hits all the right buttons on this little folk ditty. 

He is opening for All Time Low in Peoria this Saturday and it is sold out. Hopefully he’ll swing thru on a headlining tour this summer! 



  • Bloodboy - Is Now a Good Time to Ruin Your Life? 

  • Knox Hamilton - Trade My Trips

  • Ramin Djawadi - Heart Shaped Box (From Westworld: Season 2 Soundtrack)

  • Jessie Reyez , Daniel Ceaser - Figures, A Reprise

  • Tyler, the Creator - OKRA

  • Cardi B - Be Careful



Odd indie synth rock madness that could only come out of Brooklyn. 

Which is exactly where their Wednesday night June residency at Elsewhere Hall takes place. If you’re in NYC in June we suggest taking in one of those shows!



Damon McMahon, in his Amen Dunes project, has historically not been lyrically focused. The musical journey is where he wants listeners to focus, and as such – writing an overwrought review would be missing the point. If you’ve explored this project in one of the previous four releases and found the unintelligible singing too difficult to cope with, this is the mainstream version you’ve been waiting for. 

The closest he comes to here on the current tour is St. Louis on May 15th at the Peabody Opera House.



So much to unpack on this performance piece/album from this eclectic, and engaged, hip hop duo. Where to start . . . well just listen to it and you will find that Everything is indeed . . . Not Fine. 

We hope a tour announcement is coming soon. Cause we need to see this live please!



A grand album that celebrates the Canadian’s Mexican heritage while serving as a metaphor for the stages in her struggles with body dysmorphia. It’s also full of gorgeous tunes that stand alone in slide guitar beauty.  

She is visiting us on Tues. April 17th at Lincoln Hall with Hugh Masterson in support - 8PM - $15 ($18 doors)



We normally wouldn’t do this style of country but her honest lyrics and rockers that lean more toward Petty, Mellencamp, and Bruce then they do her current country compatriots. I ask you what other country artist has a song about growing up next to a heroin addict? 

She’s playing this years Windy City Smokeout, July 14th, it’s $45 for the day tix. Might be worth it just to see her and spend the rest of the day doing a cowboy vs. trucker hats count.  



Caitlin Canty / Model Bouquet / Caitlin Canty , Tone Tree

Another gorgeous album to come out this week full of slide guitar ballads and acoustic guitar tearjearkers. 

Canty is stopping by SPACE in Evanston on May 23rd - 8PM - $15 - $25  

Her / Her / FAM

Indie R&B synth act Her makes a strong statement with their debut full length. If you like your music sexy and fresh with impactful substance this is for you. 

We’re hoping, with anyone else who has listened to this album, for some U.S. dates soon!

Mary Chapin Carpenter / Sometimes Just the Sky / Lambent Light

Making country tinged folk since the late 80’s, Carpenter may have just released her best one yet.

The closest Carpenter is coming on this tour is to Bloomington IN on June 18th. 

Curren$y / Parking Lot Music / Jet Life

Chill southern rap from this NOLA product. 

No Chi dates yet this summer. We’re hoping for a Northcoast spot! 

Bettye LaVette / Things Have Changed / Verve

When this 72 year old Soul Singer announced she was releasing a cover album of Dylan tunes, we said “Do What?” But you wanna know what happened? It’s really good. 

Check her out on April 13th at Old Town School of Folk Music - 8PM - $40



  • CCS is very grateful for all of our contributors. Don't see your name on the list? Shoot us an email to find out how you can add your name. It is a super easy process, seriously. We want to read (or see) what you feel!

  • Taste of Randolph released their lineup this week, curated by Silver Wrapper, and a few names got us excited: Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real , Chicano Batman, Overcoats, Mayer Hawthorne, Andy Frasco & The UN, Monakr and more potential headliners and undercard to come. Shaping up to be a good lineup for the street fest that takes place June 15th thru 17th, you can get VIP tix for $40 a day and $100 for all three days now, but it’s just $10 donation at the gate to get in. 

Read more about Taste of Randolph and other street fests in our upcoming Fest Guide gearing up to be out in early May.    

  • Summer Camp (May 25th - 27th), down in Chillicothe, IL announced its third wave of artists and a hold on tix price increase till this Friday. At $220 for a 3 day pass it’s not the that bad considering you’re camping there and have no need for travel. Always a great gathering of Jam, Hip Hop, and Electronic acts with perennial headliners Moe. and Umphrey’s McGee playing across from each other for three nights straight. It’s an early party to start the summer off right.  
  • If you missed it Riot Fest sent out a hilarious April Fools email about the punk and rock fest being bought by Initech (the company from the Mike Judge classic Office Space.) With these hilarious images and a news article that left us crying from laughter. (How many logos can you place in this poster!)


  • The Millenium Park Summer Music Series (formally Downtown Sound) was announced and we are sorry to see that you are no longer able to bring your own booze to these shows. We saw the move coming with the addition of beer tents from Goose Island the last couple years. So our 12 pack of Old Style in the carry cooler nights, while taking in live music at gorgeous Pritzker, will have to be behind us. Regardless here is the line up and there is a whole lot to be excited about! 

Monday, June 18          Jose James Tribute to Bill Withers + Kahil El'Zabar Ethnic Heritage Ensemble
Thursday, June 21       The Aces + The New Respects
Thursday, June 28      Sons of Kemet + Melissa Laveaux

Thursday, July 19        Anoushka Shankar + Hollie Cook
Monday, July 23          Willie Colón + Canalón de Timbiquí
Thursday, July 26       The Kingston All-Stars featuring Sister Nancy + Funkadesi
Monday, July 30           Aimee Mann + This is the Kit

Monday, August 6        Bahamas + TBD
Sunday, August 12        Whitney + NE-HI
Thursday, August 16    The Sea and Cake + Moonrise Nation

That Whitney and NE-HI show gonna be crazy, ya’ll!

Till next week . . . See You At The Show Chicago!

Been inspired by a recent musical experience? Excited about an upcoming show? shoot us an email to see how you can become a contributor. Super easy process. We really want to exchange ideas and expand our little community.


not quite ready?  Head over to facebook or Instagram and get the juices flowing with fellow chicago Crowd Surfers.