Well Surfers, we made it! It’s been a hell of a year! Thanks for sticking it out with us. We released issue #1 on March 7th of last year, and here we are releasing issue #50 on the same date! If you would have asked us then if we would last a year we probably would have said “who knows,” but here we are: bigger and badder than ever. Thanks to all of you Surfers and your support we’ve been able to keep this juggernaut afloat, and keep the music news in Chicago and beyond coming at you week after week. For this issue we caught Mykele Deville’s album release party at Lincoln Hall, the emotional return of Pinegrove to Chicago from Bottom Lounge, and our first film premiere preview of the new Wax Trax documentary at House of Vans! Joybird returns to our pages with a great interview to support their new record Landing; and as always there was a ton of new local music out this week, with Absolutely Not’s new record and singles dropping from Dehd, Pool Holograph, Gia Margaret and Rich Jones and The O’My’s, along with so much new music from all over the world. We have a massive amount of coverage planned for the coming issues, so stay tuned Surfers. As always, we’ll be back next week . . . same surf time . . . same surf site. Till then . . .
Keep Seeing Live Music!
“I feel so lucky to have a rock-solid ring of talented collaborators by my constant-side in this beautiful city. I wish they could all be in the band every show.” - Jess McIntosh
⬐ SHOWS ⬎
Mykele Deville / Sam Trump / Daryn Alexus / Jovan Landry
Mykele Deville / all photos by KPL
Last week we praised Mykele Deville’s breakthru record Maintain, and we were lucky enough to get to witness it’s release party at Lincoln Hall on Sunday with a breathtaking slate of artists on hand to help the Chicago singer/rapper/ activist / poet/ actor celebrate an album that has put him at the forefront of our city’s consciousness, with plenty of positive press behind a remarkable collection of affecting tunes.
Jovan Landry has graced our pages before, way back in our Do Division coverage in issue #14, and the local filmmaker, photographer, and emcee brought her magic to open the evening. With smooth grooves provided by her backing band, featuring some killer work from saxophonist Eric Novak, she flowed through her set with passion and intensity that seems to just flow naturally through her. She’s the brainchild behind new project Synergy, the first all female Chicago hip hop record, featuring a full complement of local female emcees, producers and engineers (with a few of our favs appearing including Glitter Moneyyy, Tee Spirit and so many more!) She brought out a crew to do “Synergy Cypher Pt. 2” and they blew the roof off the place! The full record drops next Friday, March 15th, and we can’t wait to check it out. They have a release party at Stage II, Columbia College that night. Tix are only $10! Get there to support this groundbreaking and important work!
The strong and beautiful Daryn Alexus hit the stage next with her groovy R&B styled tunes. The Washington DC transplant has been around a few years now, and her 2014 record GREEN still sounds fresh. Her gorgeous vocals have only grown since then and she put on one hell of a set, including a slide show of her family during one soul stirring tune, and showing off her rock chops on another as she ran the stage in her sequined jumpsuit and white boots, hair flying around her as she lived out her self confessed childhood rockstar dreams. She doesn’t have any shows coming up at the moment but after her excellent feature on Deville’s track “Type Love” off Maintain (she appeared with him on the number during his set), we expect the attention to garner her some spots around town very soon.
Anticipation for the main event was growing as the crowd really started to fill in for the jazzy soul stylings of Sam Trump. The Houston native came to Chicago a decade ago and immediately made his presence known in acts like Sidewalk Chalk, while he studied jazz at Columbia. Now, years after finishing his degree, he has stuck around his adopted hometown and is a staple in the local scene, playing often at The California Clipper and other clubs throughout the city. His debut solo full length PURPLE SKIES hit the city in 2017 and it’s smooth rhythms featuring his fly trumpet solos really turned heads. A magnetic performer he had the whole room grooving to his genre bending numbers. A consummate performer, Trump has several more shows in March. Check his FB Page for more info.
All smiles and waves as he entered it was clear Mykele Deville was moved by the turnout (Lincoln Hall was packed by his set), and he wasted no time running right into album opener “Whispers.” A tune that lays out straight the tension in Chicago’s African American community. The West Side native has clearly already lived though quite a bit in life and uses that experience to inspire his art towards a moving and honest portrayal of making it through everyday. He threw in some tracks from his previous releases, which are strong pieces in their own right, but this was Maintain’s night and the tracks like “Free Soul,” “Kalief,” and “Loosies” lit up the room with local references only Chicagoans would understand and feel the weight behind. An energetic performer, Deville was in constant contact with the crowd, never losing any of us for even a second. It’s no wonder he’s being labeled as the next local breakout artist. He has no shows on the books as of now, which we fully expect to change as soon as bookers get a listen to this impactful record. We can’t wait to see him again.
Pinegrove / Another Michael
Pinegrove / all photos by KPL
Second chances are a part of life. Sure, that’s an old and tired idiom, but it doesn’t stop it from being true. Apologies are given and life should be able to move on, and forgiveness is a process made easier by the passage of time... It’s been over a year since Montclair, NJ indie rockers Pinegrove began an extended hiatus after a lengthy social media post in which frontman Evan Stephens Hall responded to allegations of “emotional sexual coercion.” They canceled tours, shelved a finished record, and took time for Hall to do some soul searching, and the band to absorb what had happened. They went into seclusion in a house in upstate New York to figure out where to go next. The whole situation is laid out in “Reckoning With Pinegrove” by Jenn Pelly from Pitchfork (who goes into far more detail on the full situation than you’ll get here).
After nearly a year of silence, the long-awaited Skylight appeared with little notice and even less fanfare and all the proceeds being donated to charity. A follow up to their breakthrough 2016 hit Cardinal, it was as equally beautiful as its predecessor and stunningly prophetic, full of tunes about depression, forgiveness, and angst-filled love. Suddenly it seemed like Pinegrove may have life after all. Time had passed and wounds had turned to scars. When they slowly started to tour again, fans returned for sold out shows. Bottom Lounge hosted the earnest indie rockers this past Sunday and Monday, and both nights quickly sold out when tickets went on sale months ago. Always trying to be cautious when dealing with issues of this magnitude, we debated attending; but ultimately, we decided we needed to once again experience the sense of community and togetherness that a Pinegrove show can bring. The connection of hundreds of people all singing along to songs that mean something very personal to each and every one of them is truly something special, and Monday night’s show was a moving release from the pent-up emotions that have been there since first learning of the hiatus and why it was necessary.
The energy in the room was palpable before opener Another Michael. A combination of young (it was an all-ages show,) to middle-aged and above, and a mix of genders waiting to see how the evening would go gave off the distinct feeling of worried anticipation. Would this band, who meant so much to so many, be able to pull off what many thought was impossible and put on a show to rival what they used to capture? As Another Michael took the stage, there were some supportive ‘whoops’ and a smattering of applause, but the Philly bedroom-rock act had a tough time getting through the fog of apprehension hanging thick throughout the room. Plenty held nervous conversations, and the soft-sided indie rock Another Michael did so well on last Summer’s EP LAND had a tough time breaking through... Despite their best efforts, they could only grab some of the room’s attention, even though enigmatic frontman Michael Doherty was playing his heart out. They tried out some new tunes, and their four-part harmonies were impressive; however, it was just never enough to cut through the tension. We hope they return to a friendlier room in Chicago soon, because they deserve more attention than they were given.
After what seemed like an eternity, but was only twenty minutes or so, Pinegrove finally entered and made their way to their spots. Seemingly a bit timid at first, they began a set that grew into a full ninety minutes of intense sing-alongs and quiet, introspective moments. As Hall hit the first chords of highlight “Old Friends,” the entire crowd cheered and began to belt every lyric along with him, and the hits just kept coming as they rolled through a good portion of their catalog with brothers Nick (guitar, pedal steel) and Zach Lavine (drums), Sam Skinner on guitar, and a new member on bass backing Hall through a great set. They may have lacked polish, but they were right there emotionally, even playing “The Alarmist” from new record Marigold, which is finished and waiting on a release date. Hall also hinted at a summer tour that might bring them back to Chicago. As the 9:30 curfew for all-ages shows approached, the band didn’t leave stage, but announced they had four tunes, ending with the gorgeous “Size of the Moon” into the prophetic “New Friends” leaving the sold-out crowd jazzed and ready to open another chapter in the Pinegrove story. Forgiveness comes slowly in life, and Hall may still have further to go before the scars start to fade, but second chances are a necessary part of this crazy existence we all wade through. Here’s hoping Hall and company make the most of it.
Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax
Documentary Soundtrack Release
House of Vans - February 28th
House of Vans / all photos by MDR
This past week, Chicago Crowd Surfer was afforded a sneak peek at the forthcoming release of Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax Records! hosted at the House of Vans, followed by a panel lead by Nik Carter of SiriusXM speaking with Paul Barker, Chris Connelly, Rick Wojick of Dusty Groove, and the film’s director Julia Nash.
Now I’m a little young to claim a connection to the famed industrial label since it was operating at optimum efficiency in the ’80s and ’90s. For context, industrial music during my adolescent years was Rammstein and Rob Zombie’s Sinister Urge. But even then I was fascinated by the bands whose names formed a trail of breadcrumbs through interviews with Marilyn Manson and Static X, into the dense thicket of post-punks gimmer recesses. Artists like Ministry, Revolting Cocks, and KMFDM became monolithic in my hormone-addled mind, as did the label that acted as the proving grounds for their wildest and most successful experiments, Wax Trax.
The film preview proved to be little more than an appetizer, with a trailer melding together archival footage with voiceovers from Dave Grohl, Al Jourgensen, Steve Albini, En Esch, and others explaining their connections to the label and its impact on the legacy of underground music. The real meal was served by the panel, all people who had lived through the period depicted in the film, and who add their own blend of spices to depictions of its story and characters. Director Julia Nash described the film as a genuine passion project, the germ of which nestled in her brain during the 2011 Retrospectacle at the Metro. That event was organized as a benefit for the Center on Halsted, celebrating Wax Trax’s 33 & 1/3 anniversary and serving as a memoriam for her parents and label founders, Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher. Julia mentioned that after spending an entire evening at the Metro greeting well-wishers and hearing their stories about the label's impact on them “and not being able to break away long enough to pee,” she felt that the project was necessary to recognize the influence of the label and the community it gave a home.
“Community” was the major theme of the panel: Rick Wojick provided some history of Chicago for the audience, explaining that the city’s thriving jazz and blues scenes held strong through the ‘70s, but by the ‘80s, the influence of the scene had diminished considerably, leaving a vacuum. “There were no A’nR guys at that time!” A space with no corporate influence and where not even the local papers would cover the clubs next door or the bands that practiced in the lofts above their printing presses, turned out to be fertile grounds for experimentation and friendships to blossom. “The shop would close at 10pm, so I would go there instead of the club most nights,” Rick reminisced. Wax Trax being both a label and a record shop was a place lots of people with different tastes and backgrounds would go and end up crossing paths. As Rick tells it, a lot of life-long friendships formed while folks were crate-digging there.
Friendship was the primary theme of Chris Connelly and Paul Barker’s stories as well. Both former members of Ministry, Connelly joined the band after hunting his future bandmates down during a stop in Glasgow. Chris said he was originally trying to get Al Jourgensen to help him land a contract for his band Finitribe, but after a brief conversation, Al invited Chris to sing for Ministry instead. This lead them to getting drunk and cutting a track that very afternoon. Connelly said that this was how he found his way into the band and the Wax Trax community at-large. He moved to the States, and the rest was history. Paul (Barker) clarified that the original track Connelly cut with the band in Scotland was not usable, but that they liked Connelly enough that they continued to work with him when he later came Stateside.
Paul’s comments shed some light on the so-called “Wax Trax Sound” that informs much of industrial music today. To him and others, industrial music was what bands like Throbbing Gristle did. Ministry and other bands now credited as industrial pioneers came across their sound by spending time in the studio together and allowing the music they enjoyed and found interesting to play to grow organically out of the friendships they had cultivated with their fellow musicians. The fact that bands on the label had overlapping elements in their aesthetics was a “consequence of like-minded people working together,” and “the result of 360 degrees of activity,” rather than a conscious effort to write songs that “you or another band would make.”
Julia (Nash) warned the audience that the film she had made and edited on her own dining room table was going to be a real tear-jerker and that many of those interviewed became very emotional during her meetings with them. Connelly echoed this sentiment, explaining that Jim (Nash) and Dannie (Flesher) were a huge part of his life and the lives of many others. Barker added for the benefit of those who weren’t there, that the time period covered by the film was “super-charged, passionate and fun,” and looking back, the label and record store were a “beautiful thing, but at the time it was super emotionally-charged.”
Both the film and a soundtrack album will be released on April 16, 2019, coordinated with a brief Ministry tour that will include Q & As with Julia and others connected with the film on select dates. Julia wouldn’t give many hints as to which artists would appear on the soundtrack album, but admitted that Chris Connelly was one of those featured. “It’s actually just me doing karaoke covers!” she jokingly retorted after repeated prods from the audience for more details... We’ll find out how sarcastic this statement was come Record Store Day 2019, when you will be able to pick up a vinyl copy of the Industrial Accident Soundtrack at Dusty Groove, and other participating retailers.
Industrial Accident will be screening at the House of Vans in conjunction with performances by Ministry and Cold Cave on April 13. Show Starts at 6pm. Ticket prices TBA.
NEWS & NOTES
The Hideout’s SXSW send off is this Saturday. March 9th starting at 4PM! It’s only a $10 cover for seven of Chicago’s finest acts. Come celebrate these bands and before they head to Austin for the week!
Here’s the set times:
4:00: Half Gringa
6:00: Tatiana Hazel
7:00: Good Fuck
8:00: The Curls
9:00: Waco Brothers
The Pitchfork lineup was released yesterday and as you can see there are quite a few repeats from previous years, but a great undercard and some surprising headliners. Pick up $175 3 day tix and $75 single days! Start planning your summer with the chillest music fest Chicago has to offer.
Lots of SOLD OUT shows this week that are not included here
THURSDAY March 7th
Joybird (Record Release) / Micha / Glad Rags
The Hideout 9PM $10
Impulsive Hearts (EP RELEASE) / Peach Fuzz / Glitter Moneyyy / DJ Sasha No Disco / SuperKnova
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $10
Environmental Encroachment / Wild Rumpus Jazz Band / 4-Star Brass Band
Reggies 7PM $5 cover
The Messthetics / Helen Money
Subterranean 8PM $15
The Ragbirds / The Claudettes
SPACE 7:30PM $15 - $22
All Them Witches / Plague Vender
Lincoln Hall 8PM $16 ($18 doors)
Avantist / The Phantom Broadcast / Faintlife
Beat Kitchen 8:30PM $10
Lords of Acid / Orgy / Genitorturers / Little Miss Nasty / Gabriel and the Apocalypse
Bottom Lounge 7:30PM $32.50
FRIDAY March 8th
A Benefit for Jerry Bryant of JBTV featuring
Naked Raygun / Andrew W.K. / Local H and more
Metro 8PM $40
Retirement Party / Holy Pinto / Boss Fight / Tiny Kingdoms
Cobra Lounge 7:30PM $10
Jennifer Vanilla / Vogds / Alex Grelle / Sarah Squirm / DJs Compton Q & Bryce Love
Empty Bottle 9PM $5 ($8 doors)
Baby Money & The Down Payments / Fauvely / Mynah Tones / Shannon Garcia and The Taken
Hungry Brain 9PM $10
Wicca Phase Springs Eternal / ANGEL DU$T / guardin / CURTA
Subterranean 7PM $17
Phony Ppl / Dassit
Chop Shop 8PM $20
Vandoliers / Austin Lucas / South City Revival
The Hideout 9PM $10
Tonic Room 9PM $12 ($15 day of)
SATURDAY March 9th
SXSW Send Off
Dehd / Waco Brothers / The Curls / Good Fuck and many more!
The Hideout 4PM $10 cover
Jeff Austin Band / Rumpke Mountain Boys
Martyrs 9PM $22
The Moses Gun (Record Release) / Arthhur
G-Man 9PM $7
Sam Trump’s Soul Vortex
California Clipper 10:30PM $5 cover
Flogging Molly / Lucero / Matt Heckler
Aragon 8PM $35
SUNDAY March 10th
Courtesy / Wombo / Ted Tyro / Head
Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $5 ($7 doors)
Steep Canyon Rangers / Sunnyside Up
Old Town School 7PM $30
MONDAY March 11th
Chicken Happen (Record Release) / Drilling For Blasting / Tinkerbelles
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors FREE
Nina Nesbitt / Plested / Sophie Rose
Schubas 7:30PM $15 ($17 doors)
TUESDAY March 12th
312 DAY: SO MANY EXCELLENT SOLD OUT SHOWS!
HERE IS WHAT IS LEFT . . .
Vince Staples / JPEGMAFIA / Trill Sammy
The Riv 8:30PM $35
Wet, Kilo Kish, Hana Vu
Subterranean 6:30PM $30
The Lawrence Peters Outfit
Montrose Saloon 7:30PM $5 cover
WEDNESDAY March 13th
Saint Pe / Options / Glued / Stuck
The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $8
Wilde / Arclight / Little Yellow Dog
Sleeping Village 9PM $5 cover
The Happy Fits / Deal Casino
Subterranean 6:30PM $10
Eartheater / Matchess / RXM Reality / Ariel Zetina
The Hideout 9PM $10
The Hoodie Life / Releaser / Josefina
Schubas 8PM $10 ($12 doors)
See you at the show Chicago!