The hits just keep on coming Surfers! We caught a hell of a local showcase at the Subterranean last Tuesday with Cafe Racer, Mia Joy, Claude and Zilched; while KPL did a Lincoln Hall double header with Girl Pool, Hatchie and Claud on Thursday and Priests and Gurr on Monday. The Chicago releases keep on coming, with four this week from Pivot Gang, Pink Avalanche, Vesper and Blood People along with plenty of new music from all over the country and the world. Check it out and don’t forget to scope the calendar and get to a show! Dig on in Surfers, this is a thick one! Summer’s right around the corner so be on the lookout for our Summer Fest Guide coming your way mid May. See ya next week!
Keep Seeing Live Music!
⬐ SHOWS ⬎
Cafe Racer / Mia Joy / Claude / Zilched
Cafe Racer / 📷 : TLM
50Fifty Shows has been organizing concerts for just over a year. Spearheaded by Alicia Maciel, the team has organized 23 shows at 15 different venues across the city. Half of the show proceeds go to charities such as Half Access, Our Music Our Body, and Hope For the Day. I have been to a number of their shows, and they always have a cohesively killer lineup. This show delivered a dreamscape for the SubT crowd.
Zilched was visiting us from Detroit. They have an almost grungy sound, with Chloe Drallos delivering fuzzy guitar and growling vocals. She plays her guitar with a shrug of her shoulder and rocks back and forth from the microphone. Elliot Thomas plays his bass with one knee bent, leaning into his instrument. The sound of his bass is fat, like a car without a muffler. When the music really starts to move, Thomas is sent off-balance, moving and falling around the stage. The drumming is precise and angry. Nick Russo works his jaw as he keeps the otherwise fuzzy music moving at a rolling pace. On the last song, he pushes the music faster and faster until they suddenly split into half-speed break. Drallos takes her vocals into a wail, and when the pace kicks back up and she yells into the mic, it feels like a release. “Sixteen” is my new favorite song they are working on getting recorded/released- def to be anticipated!
Claudia Ferme was central on the stage, and also to the dreamy bedroom rock of Claude. She sang with a tone that is both clear and textured. It was warm and soothing. She also played a jangly guitar that contrasted nicely to the languid bass playing by Michael Mac. Sean McClure was pulling double duty in a way I have never seen before: drums and keys. He didn’t do it on every song, but occasionally added organ-like washes with one hand as he played rhythm with the other. The audience was swaying to the music, and I was suddenly struck by the lyrics in “Screen.” “I’m watching myself through a screen...do you see me?...I’m watching the world through a screen...do they see me?...” “Watching them live free through a screen...can they see me?” “I’m trying to communicate, my messages are reaching you too late.” The disconnect created by digital communication and interaction with the world spoken so clearly and artfully hit me in that moment. It is so easy to get lost and feel invisible. As the song ended, I felt the heaviness of those deep thoughts. They shook me loose with their forthcoming release, “Oh, to be” a bit more of a rocker than most of the songs they played. It was a great pairing and my favorite moment of the night. They will be with Ziemba and Simulation at The Empty Bottle on May 7th. Tix are $8.
The breathy sweet vocals of Mia Joy was the first thing to strike me, and clearly central to her music. The music was minimalist. For this set, Mia played guitar and used a drum machine. Abby Santourian produced droning washes on the keys. Bass was thrummed with subtlety by Jordan Nelson. The instrumentation changed over the course of the set. Different musicians or instruments sitting out. It further emphasized Mia’s voice, the only constant. Her voice has a expansive reverb on, enhancing the dreamy breathy sound even further. For me the performance was more about the emotion her music evoked in me than the words she was singing. I felt her confusion, but also the love going into the music, into the questions. The need to relax, give yourself over to the inevitable pain of life.
The members of Cafe Racer let themselves get lost in their music as they layer the three guitars in washes, jangly melodies, and artfully manipulated feedback, creating landscapes for us to wander through. There music was cinematic in scope. It transported me. The three guitarists all looked as though they were feeling the music out. Reaching and moving and exploring. The rhythm section looks grounded by comparison. They were keeping the music on the rails. The bass player, Rob McWilliams, is the backbone, keeping in a clear groove with the drums. Elise Poirier turns her head to the side in concentration as she played the drums. She played loose but with satisfaction. Partway through the last song, the two of them simply walked away from their instruments, leaving the guitars to leave us with an exploration of washes of noise and feedback and echos. Schubert curled around his guitar on the ground, slowly manipulating the sounds echoing through the pedals. It was a haunting and deeply satisfying way to end. You can check them out next at Sleeping Village on May 22nd. Tix are $5.
Girlpool / Hatchie / Claud
Girlpool / 📷 : KPL
Witnessing the evolution of an artist is one of those special journeys that can truly inspire. Over the course of four records, the duo Girlpool have gone from two young women producing the very stripped down lo-fi bedroom pop of Before The World Was Big, to the lush, full-band, fuzzy dreamscape of new record What Chaos Is Imaginary. A lot has changed in the the world since Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad released their self -titled debut in 2014, and also in their lives, as Tucker has transitioned to male over the last few years- lowering their vocal register, therefore, changing the vocal dynamics of the group. Gone are the blended high harmonies, and in its place is an affecting, raw, emotional, very real voice that adds a whole other element to their irresistible tunes. After the new record hit in February, it was only a matter of time before Chicago got a chance to check out this latest rendition of Girlpool. They rolled through Lincoln Hall last Thursday for quite a set.
Up first for the evening was the Chicago-raised Claud (Claud Mintz, aka, Toast). On tour with Girlpool, the now Brooklyn-based solo artist produces pop for the lonely and disaffected who have no problem dancing in their kitchen by themselves. They set up center stage with just a guitar, laptop, and synth, and they drew the crowd in with their humor and shy demeanor. A few new singles have dropped this year, and they highlighted “Easy” and “If I Were You,” which have seen Claud tighten up their spare self-produced sound into a more pop driven direction. Switching between guitar and synth, or just diving in with only the backing track as accompaniment, Toast had made quite a few new fans by the end of their set.
We have long been a proponent of the Australian indie-rock scene, which is producing some of the best acts in the international music scene at the moment. Hatchie is one of those acts driving international attention to the world’s only country continent. After a quick changeover, Harriette Pilbeam turned to her band, bass in hand, and launched into a too-short set that included most of last year’s excellent EP Sugar & Spice, plus the dreamy, dark, pop-drenched new songs she has put out this year. The first two singles off her debut full-length, Keepsake (due out June 21st). A commanding presence onstage, Pilbeam was able to lure the growing crowd into a sun-drenched, pop-rock party dream that, in that moment, only existed for us.
After witnessing their great set at Pitchfork and catching their afterparty show at Sub T last July, (issue #20), Girlpool was a must-see this spring. With the shifts in their sound and the addition of a drummer and keyboardist, along with an another guitarist, the switch-hitting Tucker and Tividad (the two trade between bass and guitar between many of the songs), have made massive strides personally and musically. A maturity has set in with their sound with this latest album, What Chaos Is Imaginary, and the two have embraced a layered atmospheric fuzzed-out aesthetic that stands at odds with some of their previous work. However, this night’s set ran the gamut of their career, with tunes from all four records, and arrangements of older songs that demonstrated their commitment to the new sound. What once was a solid indie-bedroom duo has now morphed into one of indie rock’s most daring and inventive teams that have years of reinventing themselves to come... a chance to evolve even further and take us all along for the incredible ride.
Priests / Gurr
Priests / 📷 : KPL
Returning to the scene of Thursday’s excellent evening, we arrived at Lincoln Hall to a light crowd with only a few minutes left before Berlin indie-rock duo Gurr was scheduled to take the stage. They held off for a bit, but as the room started to fill with late arrivers, the duo of Laura Lee and Andreya Casablanca made their way onstage with their band, scooped up their guitars, and headed straight into their hard-hitting indie-rock with an edge of punk. Straight off the release of their sophomore full-length, She Says, earlier this month, the two twenty-something rockers seemed to be having the time of their lives. Starting serious but breaking down into a ‘hilarious covers’ montage and crowd banter that drove them into some early material like, “Moby Dick,” and the garage rock anthem “Klartraum,” featuring some mic stand antics from Lee and a guitar solo from Casablanca that brought her to her knees. High energy, infectious indie-rock that gets the crowd going is Gurr’s game, and they brought it for their first time in Chicago!
After releasing one of our favorite records of the year earlier this month, (the intense and compelling The Seduction of Kansas,) missing Priests wasn’t an option. The D.C.-based trio have been around for years now, breaking out with 2017’s Nothing Feels Natural, a record that deserved all the praise it received. Rolling through Chicago several times in the last few years, (we caught them way back in issue #9 last May), vocalist Katie Alice, drummer Daniele Daniele, and guitarist G.L. Jaguar embrace a form of non-conformist rock that is all their own. A dash of new wave, a scoop of post-punk, and a layered helping of riot grrrl and classic D.C. area hardcore, all combine to become the irresistible concoction that is Priests. Coming out of the gates burning, they launched into a set dominated by the new record with standouts “Texas Instruments” and “68 Screen,” highlighting a fierce breakneck set that built up steam quickly before culminating in the excellent anthemic anti-war tune “Jesus’ Son,” and ending with Alice screaming, “I think I’m gonna hurt someone” over and over as the band raged behind her. (No encore was necessary- they had already left it all on stage.)
NEWS & NOTES
Northcoast Music Festival announced their lineup for this year, reducing their normally large slate to fit the new venue at Northerly Island, along with cutting a day of the Labor Day Weekend festivities. The 10 year anniversary of the electronic and jam based fest sees the return of Bassnectar and Major Lazer to headline a mainly DJ heavy two days.
Need more Chicago music news?
Lots of SOLD OUT shows this week that are not included here
+ = Local
^ = All Ages
THURSDAY April 25th
+ Makaya McCraven / Resavoir @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $15
+ Ohni and Rizing Deity (EP Release) / Tamarie T and the Elketra Kumpany @ The Hideout 9PM $12
BEASTII / Pledge Drive / Hayley and the Crushers @ Liars Club 8PM $5 cover
Guerilla Toss / Blacker Face / Good Willsmith @ Sleeping Village 9PM $12 ($15 doors)
Billy Bragg @ Lincoln Hall 8PM $45
Shy Girls / AKUA @ Subterranean 8:30PM $15
Eels / Inspector Cluzo @ Thalia Hall 7PM doors $38.50 - $55
FRIDAY April 26th
+ Engine Summer (Record Release) / Rookie / Bat Zuppel @ Cole’s 9PM FREE
Mormor / Duendita @ Sleeping Village 9PM $15 ($18 doors)
The Slaps / Girl K / Wavy ID / Modern Nun @ Beat Kitchen 9PM $8
Neighborhood Brats / Udusic / CB Radio Gorgeous / Compressions @ Burlington 8PM Cover
Little People / Marley Carroll / Anchorsong @ Chopshop 9PM $16
Neko Case / Shannon Shaw @ The Vic 7:30PM $36 - $51
SATURDAY April 27th
+ Ohmme / Bunny / Cold Beaches @ Sleeping Village 9PM $12
+ AM Taxi / Darren Vorel / Parker @ Beat Kitchen 8:30PM $10
+ ANCHR Mag Showcase: Town Criers / The Edwards / In The Pines / Dreamboats @ Schubas 9PM $10
+ She Rides Tigers / Dangerous Chairs / This Pine Box / Farewell Captain @ Reggies 7PM $7 ($10 doors)
+ Silvertone (EP Release) / WaxWorks / Eye & I / Broken Robots @ Moe’s Tavern 9PM Cover
+ The Lawrence Peters Outfit / Jeremy Pinnell / David Quinn @ The Hideout 9PM $10
+ Jacob Joliff Band / Dan Andree / Aaron Dorfman @ Martyrs’ 9PM $15
Maypole Folk Festival: Sam Amidon / The Western Elstons / Rami Gabriel Arabic Xhaman and more!
@ Empty Bottle 2PM $15
Perpetual Groove / CBDB / Zoorfunkyou @ Bottom Lounge 10PM $17
Black Lips / Fucked Up / Wooing @ Metro 7PM $26.50
Son Volt / Ian Noe @ Thalia Hall 7:30PM doors $28
Yasiin Bey / FemDot / Altered Tapes @ Concord 8PM doors $30 - $35
Neko Case / Shannon Shaw @ The Vic 7:30PM $36 - $51
SUNDAY April 28th
+ The Evictions / Brick Assassin / Bad Sons @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $10
+ A Tribute to Andre Williams: The Goldstars / Allen Hill / Bailey Dee and More! @ The Hideout 7PM $20
Katie Von Schleicher / Half Gringa / Michael Albert @ Schubas 8PM $8 ($10 doors)
MONDAY April 29th
+ Sparkle Carcass / The Family Gold / Nathan Graham @ Schubas 8PM FREE
^ The Japanese House / Art School / Girlfriend @ Bottom Lounge 7PM $20
TUESDAY April 30th
+ Glyders / Mike Donovan / Surface To Air Missive @ Cafe Mustache 9PM Cover
+ Dan Hubbard (Album Release) / Laura Joy @ SPACE 7:30PM $12 - $20
Emily Reo / Foxes In Fiction / Apollo Vermouth @ The Hideout 9PM $8
Murs / Locksmith / Cojo @ Subterranean 9PM $16
Tom Odell / Lucie Silvas @ Thalia Hall 6:30PM doors $25 - $35
WEDNESDAY May 1st
+ Mako Sica / Stander (Record Release) / Imelda Marcos @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $8
Valley Maker / Caroline Campbell / The Singleman Affair @ The Hideout 8PM $12
Dengue Fever / Dos Santos @ Lincoln Hall 9PM $22 ($25 doors)
The Drums / Tanukichan @ Metro 8:30PM $21
See you at the show Chicago!