This was a great week in music dear Surfers! We had a full day on Record Store Day: hitting four stores and catching a local act at each one, while MDR got to experience Ministry and Cold Cave up close and personal at House of Vans! Another Free Monday at The Empty Bottle show was a hit when J Fernandez and Izzy True took the stage along with out of towners Coughy. This week’s interview with Impulsive Hearts’ Danielle Sines is an excellent and informative read. As always we have all the new releases for you with new albums from locals Pixel Grips, Supa Bwe, and Joshua Abrams and Natural Information Society, plus new singles from Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else and Flesh Panthers. And that’s just the local music! So pull up that seat and dig in for all the weeks new music including a few reviews of albums coming out tomorrow in the excellent new Wargirl and Heart Attack Man records! Hit play on that playlist and get on in here, and don’t forget to scan the calendar for a show this week! GO SEE A SHOW! DO IT! YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO! Ok, we’re done yelling. Happy reading Surfers. See ya, next week!
Keep Seeing Live Music
“I thought about my own power and influence as an artist, and wanted to give back specifically to survivors of sexual assault. I am a survivor of sexual assault, and I wanted to use my music as a way to reclaim power as well.” - Danielle Sines of Impulsive Hearts
⬐ SHOWS ⬎
record store day
Carlile @ Tack Room and 606 Records
Negative Scanner @ Reckless Records
Namorado @ Record Breakers
Ethers @ Bric-a-Brac
606 Records / 📷 : TLM
In it’s rather short tenure, Record Store Day has become an indie cultural touchstone for many music fans. Started in 2008, the twice annual celebration of independently owned record stores (held on “Black Friday” and one Saturday in April) has grown in Chicago to become not only a big day in sales for participating stores, but also an event in the local music scene with most stores having full slates of bands play. We jumped all around the city on Saturday taking in a myriad of acts and getting a bit of record shopping done in the process.
Tack Room and 606 Records
Our day started in Pilsen at Tack Room in the Thalia Hall complex across from 606 Records. Sponsored by Dogfish Head, the full day of performers was sure to make the small space swim with sound. We scored some free swag, sampled an American Beauty Ale (a collab between Dogfish Head and The Grateful Dead), and took in the sweet one women indie R&B wonders of local star to be Carlile. After which we headed over to 606 Records across the street and picked up the new FACS record Lifelike.
Reckless Records is a Chicago institution. There is no Record Store Day that would be complete without a stop at the flagship location in Wicker Park. For sure the largest crowd of the day, it was packed to the gills for a glimpse of Chicago noise punks Negative Scanner. Rebecca Valeriano-Flores and the guys always bring it and even though there were no lights, no moshing, and no booze, the crowd still gushed as they rolled through a good portion of last years excellent Nose Picker. To celebrate the day we picked up Ex Hex’s new one It’s Real on pink and blue swirl vinyl and a special pressing for Reckless of This Heat’s BBC demo recordings.
Heading right down Milwaukee we hit Record Breakers in Avondale for our next stop to check out local indie rockers Namorado. Their low key and breezy vibe was the perfect antidote to the mid afternoon yawns and they shared quite a few new ones that will be on an upcoming EP they kept teasing. With Meg MacDuff of Bleach Party and Ryan Deffet of Faux Furrs in the house, plus Ryan Nolan of Faux Furrs guesting most of the set on guitar, it was definitely a set to remember. We can’t wait to hear more new music from Namorado!
Bric-a-Brac records is one of those wonderful places that can only exist in places like Logan Square. Full of vintage memorabilia and cast off icons of the past, along with a killer local vinyl and tape sections with plenty to keep a shopper occupied for hours. But right after we scooped up color vinyl copies of Lala Lala’s The Lamb and Oozing Wounds High Anxiety, the upbeat rock sounds of Ethers froze the shoppers in their tracks and everyone was full attention ahead for the next forty five minutes as dual fronters Russell Calderwood and Mary McKane melded seamlessly as always with Bo Hansen’s walking bass and Matt Rolin’s on point drumming. The crowd didn’t want it to end, shouting out suggestions and extending the extremely intimate show for a few songs before Calderwood called it.
It was a highly successful Record Store Day for Chicago and CCS. Remember that all these stores and so many more independent record stores are open most days in Chicago. Get there, buy local, and support the scene!
Ministry / Cold Cave
House of Vans
Ministry / 📷 : MDR
I’ve never owned a pair of Vans shoes, but I’ve been to the house they’ve built for themselves over on Elizabeth St. It’s a converted warehouse and host to many a hip little shindy. Most recently, the screening of Industrial Accident: The Wax Trax! Story, followed by a performance by Ministry and Cold Caves. It was free to get in... if you could get in. When I arrived, a belt of humanity had grown around the venue, clinging tightly to its sides as if to hold in its girth, and snaking down the block. I would have unchained the back gate and surreptitiously admitted everyone who wasn’t fortunate enough to have a press pass if I didn’t think the fire marshal would have climbed down my throat and asphyxiated me by typing my esophagus into a lucky little sailors knot (also, a stunt like that probably would have been kicked out, which would not have made it any easier to bring you this story, dear reader).
Industrial Accident of course tells the Wax Trax Story. A story of two men, deeply in love, who packed up their record store in Colorado and embarked on an expedition for the riches of our very own frigid swamp pit, Chicago. Chi-town in the early ‘80s was the ideal place to stage a revolution. As Frankie Nardiello of My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult explained during an interview segment in the documentary (and I am paraphrasing here), “Chicago was full of bums and losers,” just the types of people who had nothing to lose by attempting to do something extraordinary. Beginning with an ill-fated Nerves show hosted at the record shop (yes, the ones who indirectly made Blondie famous) in which both owners, Jim and Dannie, were arrested when the police responded to a noise complaint, through the unceremonious founding of the Wax Trax label, all the way through the degrading mess that was the Play It Again Sam deal, a necessary but traumatic bankruptcy, the significantly less damaging but still unpleasant acquisition by TVT Records, and the slow disintegration of the two men at the center of it all, both of whom died at separate times of the same plague. The choices of interview subjects for the film were predictable but reassuring and fun. Steve Albini talked about being turned on to the store by a college friend who noticed his eclectic record collection on move-in day, Dave Ghrol unloading effusive praise for the wide selection of records that he couldn’t find anywhere else, Jello Biafra in a Wesely Willis shirt and grinning maniacally recalled the dynamic between the label’s uncommonly charismatic owners, and Al Jorgenson confirmed that the scene around the shop was as weird as it appeared from the outside, and yet on the inside, a nurturing enclave for creativite genius. While watching footage of early Front 242 sets and much later performances by Ministry at the Metro where Al Jorgenson lunged from the stage at audience members while dripping with blood, sweat, and ecstasy- it was hard not to think that I was witnessing a vision of the future. A future that never came to pass. Something pure and raw and free. Something so perfect, it could have only ever happened by accident. Industrial Accident, the Wax Trax documentary is less what you’d expect, and more what it needs to be. A story of a couple’s passion lived through music, snuffed in its prime. The legacy of the label, and the men behind it, has been preserved through the love and perspiration of their daughter, director Julia Nash. A women who has dedicated an inordinate amount of time to the happiness of others, sharing with the public her joy, and her grief, and who I hope has a fabulous vacation planned in her near future. She’s earned it, really.
Following the screening, there was a brief Q&A featuring Julia, in conversation with Rick Wojcik of Dusty Groove Records, Chris Connolly, and Frankie Nardiello. The crowd at this point in the evening seemed more interested in basking in the accommodating presence of this panel of punk rock paternity than having their inquiries addressed. Of the few who stepped up to the mic, one man thanked Ministry for “So What” claiming it helped him embrace his fate as a juvenile delinquent, and another asked how the panel reconciled the many, inexorable contradictions that emerge from making art under capitalism. To the later of which Frankie replied, “the truth is we’re all just sponges, we just soak up whatever is around.” As far as answers go, this is easily in the top ten retorts of all time, right up there with “Eat my shorts,” and “What have you got?” in response to “What are you rebelling against?”
Cold Cave was the first band to perform that evening. They’re a dark synth wave project lead by Wesley Elsold. While they often draw comparisons to Joy Division, their thin but spry post-punk sound felt more like Soft Cell at their most experimental, or Ultravox during their more lucid moments. They deployed psychedelic projections which were overlaid directly on top of the band while they performed. A series of spirals and Star Trek:TNG light effects enhanced the band’s darkly urban chic. Like a version of the Velvet Underground who somehow came in the wake of punk, instead of before it. It was cool, relaxing, and one of those performances that’s easy to get lost in. It was slick enough to almost make me forget Elsold used to shake down crowds as the frontman of a NYC hardcore band not that long ago (actually several hardcore bands).
Ministry was the main attraction of the evening. I think the enticement of the band playing a “Wax Trax” era set was one of the reasons that there was a literal crush of humanity vying to get in all evening. And the band delivered. It wasn't all "Wax Trax" tracks but it was exactly what you'd hope to hear from the band just playing "the hits." The crowd that night was treated to the piston rinsing grind of “Stigmata,” and the lurching electronic uphevel of “The Land of Rape and Honey” off of the album of the same name, as well as other favorites like the demented roadrash rush of “Jesus Built My Hotrod,” the squalling thrash metal pound of “Just One Fix,” the cackling throb of “NWO,” and the 1000 Homo DJ’s pro-drug PSA “Supernaut.” Chris Connolly even made several appearances, lending his vocals to lift the dissonant quality of the group's aural assault and complimenting Jorgenson's demonic AM talk radio fed through an infernal rotating fan voice. I’m sure Jorgensen intimidates people when they see him from afar, but if you’ve heard one of his friends speak about him, you’d realize that despite his junkyard-dog-that-got-into-some-bad-edibles appearance he’s actually a total pussy cat. And that night it showed. Jorgensen and company were all smiles. It was hard to tell who was enjoying themselves more, the band or the crowd, and in a sense, it didn’t matter. We were all there to celebrate the same thing. A label that burned briefly but brightly, and left behind a powerful residual heat after it was fatally quenched. A rising tail of smoke rose from its ashes for decades to follow, beckoning disaffected youth to follow the wisping tower to its source and exhume its treasures. Ministry concluded their set with “Everyday is Halloween” an appropriate note to go out on. A reminder to the audience to live authentically and not to deny themselves for social reprisal. A prevailing message of the film Julia Nash created, as well as the community, label, and people who inspired it.
Before I forget, it was Record Store Day that night, so they had a little pop-up record store in the back. This slipped my mind because everyday is Record Store Day to me and others, just like everyday should also be Halloween.
The soundtrack to the Industrial Accident is out now through Wax Trax! Records.
J Fernandez / Coughy / Izzy True
J Fernandez / 📷 : KPL
We’ve preached the Free Monday at The Empty Bottle Sermon enough times for you to understand it’s the best deal for live music Chicago has to offer. So we’ll skip it this week. But if you weren’t at this Monday’s weekly event, you missed a great one, with Brooklyn’s kings of the short song Coughy sandwiched between the impressive Izzy True and the always excellent J Fernandez.
Local rocker Izzy True is one of those rare artists who skillfully toes the line between lo-fi confessional pop and guitar driven indie rock. It’s an avenue that many have tried to go down, but few can successfully pull off. With a give-no-shits vibe, and a deadpan between songs banter delivery that feels absolutely genuine, they make you fall in love with their warped sense of humor and skillful songwriting at the same time. Laying out quite a few tracks from last years Sad Bad, they captured the attention of the still filling house with ease, and worked in some new material towards the end of the set that showed the future promise in this still growing musician. Izzy True is opening for the excellent Partner at The Hideout on May 5th. Tix are going for $10.
Coughy was born out of a friendship between Ava Luna’s Julian Fader and Speedy Ortiz’s Andy Molholt and a challenge to write as many “tiny songs” (60 seconds) as they could. The result was their debut Ocean Hug, a twenty four minute, twenty song record that keeps its foot on the accelerator all the way through. Combining off-kilter melodies with a penchant for nonsensical lyrics, the two veteran indie scenesters hit The Bottle crowd with everything they had, rolling through the record with ease. In much better shape than their van (the sliding door had fallen off earlier that day), the quartet rode the wave of their brief tunes through their all too short set.
After receiving a good share of deserving praise for his new record Occasional DIn, king of Chicago psych pop J Fernandez returned to the Bottle stage with a plethora of quality tunes. Accompanied by the talented Anna Holmquist (Ester, The Curls) on backing vocals and his touring band, Fernandez ran through standouts like “Don’t Need Anything,” “Volcanic Winter,” and “Common Sense.” With a distinctive sixties psych influence but enough modern takes to keep it fresh, J. Fernandez is one of those on-the-brink Chicago artists that could make huge strides this summer. With his laid back attention to detail and stoner jam outs, he’s sure to make at least one street fest bill summer; his tunes were made for sunsets and long evenings sipping cocktails al fresco!
NEWS & NOTES
The summer festival lineups keep on coming with the Taste of Randolph Fest. The 23rd year of the annual fest on Randolph in the West Loop sees headlining slots from Anderson East, Real Estate, Holy Ghost! and Billy Strings, with support from the likes of Aqueous, Cults, Petal, and locals Carlile and Steady Flow, plus so much more!!
Jon Langford of the Mekons fame and front man for local rockers The Waco Brothers has written the music for a new musical, with a book by journalist Mark Guarino, titled Take Me. Strawdog Theatre starts performances of the new work May 10 and it runs till June 22nd. Check out tix at Strawdog Theatre’s site.
Lollapalooza released day lineups and tix this week!
Need more Chicago music news in your life?
Plus visit ANCHR Magazine for their coverage of Durand Jones and The Indications at Thalia Hall and Book Your Own Fest.
Lots of SOLD OUT shows this week that are not included here
THURSDAY April 18th
Pink Avalanche (Record Release) / Anatomy of Habit / Djunah @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $5 ($8 doors)
Reeds Fest: Lasers and Fast And SH!T / AWEFUL / MAMA / Hughes Family Band / Flesh Panthers @ Reed’s Local 7PM $5 daily, $10 - 3 day.
Girlpool / Hatchie / Claud @ Lincoln Hall 8PM $18 ($20 doors)
Honey & the 45s, Old Grand Dad, Local Motive @ Beat Kitchen 8PM $10
Ella Vos / Clara Mae @ Chop Shop 8PM $18
THE WLDLFE / GOLDS / 90’s Kids @ Cobra Lounge 6PM doors $12
Kitchen Dwellers / Tenth Mountain Division / Armchair Boogie @ Martyrs 8PM $15
FRIDAY April 19th
Reed’s Fest: Platinum Boys / Jen and the Dots / X49 Cleaners / Tin Foil / Practical Flats @ Reed’s Local 7PM $5 daily, $10 - 3 day.
Blood People (EP Release) with HAWKS AND DOVES and Denim Matriarch @ Beat Kitchen 9PM $8
Dilly Dally / Chastity @ Empty Bottle 9PM doors $15
Pedestrian Deposit / ONO / Nude Attitude @ The Hideout 9PM doors $10
Wild Moccasins / Multimagic / Born Days @ Subterranean 6:30PM $10
Foxing / Now, Now / Daddy Issues @ Thalia Hall 7PM doors $20-$30
Steve Gunn / Gun Outfit @ Lincoln Hall 9PM $18 ($20 doors)
SWMRS / Beach Goons / Destroy Boys @ Concord 6:30PM doors $19
Kung Fu / Lunar Ticks @ Martyrs 9PM $15 ($20 doors)
SATURDAY April 20th
Reed’s Fest: No Men/ Salvation / Bow & Spear / T. Tops / The Speed Babes @ Reed’s Local 7PM $5 daily, $10 - 3 day.
Waldo’s Forever Fest: Big Freedia / Tatiana Hazel / Air Credits / White Mystery / Akasha @ Argyle and Clark 9AM - 8PM FREE
Gazebo Effect / Captain Coopersmith / Splor @ Schubas 9PM $10 ($12 doors)
High Priest (Record Release) / Huntsmen / Fools Ghost / Snow Burial @ Burlington 8PM doors $7 cover
Lowdown Brass Band / Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal / DJ King Tony @ The Hideout 9PM doors $15
True Widow, Telekinetic Yeti, REZN @ Sleeping Village 8:30PM $18
The Murlocs / Ohtis @ Lincoln Hall 9PM $15 ($17 doors)
Health / Youth Code / Replicant @ Bottom Lounge
SoDown / Cofresi / Homemade Spaceship @ Chop Shop 10PM $18
Missio / Blackillac / Swells @ Metro 8PM $19
SUNDAY April 21st
Deerhoof / Palm / Bleach Party @ Lincoln Hall 8PM $20
Big Freedia / Roy Kinsey / KC Ortiz @ The Promontory 2PM doors $20
tunic / Ribbonhead / The Lipschitz / Luggage DJs @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $10
Wild Belle / Jeffertitti’s @ Metro 9PM $21
Victor Wooten Band and the Wooten Woods Experience @ Thalia Hall 6:30PM doors $30-$50
MONDAY April 22nd
Bike Cops / Impulsive Hearts / Gal Gun @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM FREE
Priests / Gurr @ Lincoln Hall 7:30PM $15
SUNN O))) / Papa M @ Rockefeller Chapel 7PM $36
Tyler Ramsey / Matthew Fowler @ Schubas 8PM $15
TUESDAY April 23rd
The Curls / Matthew Danger Lippman / Flamingo Rodeo @ Sleeping Village 9PM $5
Sasami / Sen Morimoto / Claude @ Schubas 7PM $12 ($14 doors)
La Dispute / Gouge Away / Slow Mass @ Thalia Hall 6:30PM $22.50-$35
Sophagus / IT-XPO / Wet Wipe / Happy Face @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $10
WEDNESDAY April 24th
Thank You Scientist / Kindo / In The Presence of Wolves @ Sleeping Village 8PM $20
Diane Coffee / Woongi @ Schubas 9PM $20
See you at the show Chicago!