What a super week, dear Surfers! We caught Makaya McCraven and Resavoir at a sold out Bottle show, Guerilla Toss, Blacker Face, and Good Willsmith at Sleeping Village on Thursday, and Thank You Scientist and Kindo there last Wednesday. The local releases are slowing down a bit in anticipation of the craziness to come in May, but this week, DJ Nate dropped his long-anticipated footwork follow-up, and Ohni and Rizing Deity released their debut of jazzy, afro-beat infused jams. Bloomington, IL native Dan Hubbard released a stirring new record, and those bluesy rockers Flesh Panthers put out another single! Not to mention all the bands that put out music that are visiting our city soon, and those that aren’t. So get on in there, hit up the playlist, and check out the freaking calendar! What a week this is going to be! As we mentioned, May brings on a string of new local releases, so also be on the lookout for records coming soon from Woongi, Fauvely, and the highly-anticipated new Dehd record! Bring it on, Chicago- summer music is right around the corner!
Keep Seeing Live Music!
“I wanted my residency to be sort of a showcase of the excellent talent that Chicago has to offer and because in a kind of dorky way, it's a little love letter to Chicago.” - Anna Holmquist
⬐ SHOWS ⬎
Makaya McCraven / Resavoir
Makaya McCraven / 📷 : KPL
A Makaya McCraven show is always an event. The “new” jazz drummer garners fans of all ages and genres, and his eclectic base was on full display last Thursday at The Empty Bottle. A sold-out crowd packed into the classic Chicago venue well before opener Resavoir was set to take the stage, ready to take in a night of maverick improvisational jazz. We weren’t alone in our admiration of McCraven as members of Whitney and Lala Lala were spotted among the audience and the normal hipster Bottle crowd was mixed with older jazz aficionados and millennial fans alike.
The excitement was palpable as the young combo Resavoir filed on stage. Led by Whitney multi-instrumentalist Will Miller on trumpet and synth, the seven piece ensemble’s syncopated repetitions fed into the crowds anxious energy and the groove they sustained early established a mood they carried through the set of smooth jams. Made up of Akenya Seymour on keys and vocals, Irvin Pierce on tenor sax, Lane Beckstrom on bass, Peter Manheim on percussion, and Jeremy Cunningham on drums, the young ensemble lit up the room with each and every tune. Seymour’s wordless vocals blended with the rhythms created by Manheim and Cunningham to perfection, and Miller and Pierce’s solos never overpowered the tunes but complemented the groove at every turn. Check out their single “Escalator,” out now from local label International Anthem. We hope for plenty more from Miller and company in the future!
After what seemed like an eternity of a set break, (but in reality was only a half hour), the restless crowd jammed in closer as McCraven and his cohorts made their way to the stage. A who’s who of young “new” jazz players, the combo for the evening was made up of Junius Paul on bass, Irvin Pierce on tenor sax (pulling double duty), Greg Spero on keys, Joel Ross on vibraphone, Sun Speak member Matt Gold on guitar, and of course the man himself. McCraven was on a rather spare kit (two toms, snare, bass, ride, crash and high hat) that lent itself to the stripped-down numbers they ran through in a gorgeously spare set that featured quite a few solos from Gold and Pierce. Ross shined throughout the evening, rippling his percussive instrument through each tune with the precision of a master player. However, the attention always came back to McCraven as his polymorphic rhythms drove the entire set, even though he unselfishly set up his kit in the darkened stage left corner, in order to give the rest of the players room to breathe and own the tunes in their right. Well into the night they went, with around a third of the crowd dissipated by set’s end, but it didn’t affect the rest of us as we used the extra space to groove into ourselves and reach a peak of perfection as the musicians became one and flooded the room with an overwhelming sense of joy. If you have never experienced McCraven’s looping rhythmic compositions, the sure-fire place to begin is with his newest recording Universal Beings and work into the rest of his material. A true master of rhythm who happens to call Chicago home. We are lucky to have him.
His next show in Chicago is at the Do Division Festival, May 31st - June 2nd.
Guerilla Toss / Blacker Face / Good Willsmith
Guerilla Toss / 📷 : TLM
The first thing that hit me about Good Willsmith was the lush bass. Sometimes it thrummed, or pulsed, or was an undulating wash. But it always gave me a sense of movement and something to dance to. Then they hit us with an orchestra of digital layers. Slowly developing mid-tone chords. On top, clicks, beeps, and deconstructed video game-toned keys. All of that is created by Max Allison and Natalie Chami. Doug Kaplan’s guitar cut through their composition. He used a bevy of pedals to distort or even mask the guitar’s sound. But for me, it was strongest when he shines through in fuzzy but quintessential guitar glory. It was their new jam, as of now unrecorded "Arpeggio Funk" that really stood out to me. The guitar sound was fat. The song seriously cruised with great vintage sass. But most importantly, it made me smile and dance.
Wow. I have never experienced that kind of performance art before. Punk. Noise. Jazz. Spoken word. Opera. Blacker Face brings them all together seamlessly. I have deep love for this kind of gathering of influences into something so utterly new and unique and expressive. It is pure creation. When you listen to their music, you get the message. Seeing them play brought it to life. Their joy at being in this space creating music and expressing themselves. The anger followed to maximum impact. The smile disarms you and the anger ignites. This tone is set by vocalist, Jolene Whatevr. Her smile was radiant. Her anger fierce. Screaming out all the injustices and fucked-up-ness of the world. "Bad Dream" stood out to me. It goes into an anxiety-ridden downward spiral that ended by listing everyone's impending death. Seriously heavy and affecting. But I also loved the oddly jazzy "Punk Song." There is something of the absurd and yet so incredibly accurate about the lyrics "eat some kale, cause it's trendy. Me I like chard, cause I am way cooler…why am I so angry" that is true of many of their songs. Perfect satire. Satire you can dance to. What could be more cathartic than that?
Guerilla Toss takes control of the visuals with projections and ever-changing saturated colored lighting. Instant party atmosphere. The lead singer, Kassie Carlson was constantly in motion. Pacing, rocking, jumping, and gesturing in emphasis of the words. Then Stephen Cooper’s bass brings a funk to the music that made me want to get doooown and the drums by Peter Negroponte drove the movement. His hits on the rim, the flourishes of high hat, tambourine, cymbals, made me shiver. Nearing the end of "Meteorological" the drums pushed the music faster and faster and the audience went into a frenzy. When the music finally broke, there was a collective exhale of exhilaration. But out of that momentary silence came, what was in that moment, the most funky delicious bass line I had ever felt wash over me. I felt lifted on the wave of it. I was not the only one shouting out in delight as they carried us into "Spider Heard." It cemented it for me. Guerrilla Toss was all about the rhythms. The whole band contributed elements to create tight rhythmic compositions. They developed some parts gradually. Sometimes they all jumped in or dropped out with perfect unity. It was so complex and the lyrics had a trance-like repetition, it is hard to understand how they could all stay so perfectly together and not get lost in their own maze. Guiding us through was a delicate operation that they handled with cool precision.
Thank You Scientist / Kindo
Thank You Scientist / 📷 : NBL
It was a great night for progressive rock, a night for bands bringing in much more instruments than just the normal guitars, bass, and drums with the occasional keyboards. Kindo also known as The Reign of Kindo gathered on the stage and everyone sat in their place, like kids in a classroom, you can see keyboards, congos, drums, guitars and bass. As the silent audience staggered closely in the pit of the Sleeping Village venue, front man Joey Secchiaroli came out, greeted Chicago, then the band immediately started jamming out. Playing a mix of their old songs and promoting their new album Happy However After, the band played some really fun tunes, mixing contemporary jazz with ‘80s melodic synths and congos that got the crowd dancing and amped up. (I even heard someone comment how much they loved the band’s appreciation for the old school.) Lights at the venue were flickering and changing colors as guitars were wailing, congo solos were giving the audience a Latin jazz tune, and the drummer was beating to his own melody in his solo while one of the guitars just hummed in the background. While the band took a small break from playing and talked to the audience, Secchiaroli joked with the audience and asked if anyone has kids- a show of hands scattered along the venue and smaller shirts were flying into audience members hands- Secchiaroli joked he did not know why the band had them but glad they are able to give them to the little people. After the comedy moment, the band broke into a somber tune, the piano started playing a slower melody while Secchiaroli told the audience to simmer down, with the front man strumming his guitar and singing, and the audience was focused on the band’s serious tone. The band ended thanking Thank You Scientist for bringing them on tour as well as thanking their Patreons for supporting them for the 10+ years they have been creating music. (Patreons get a new song every month from the band before it is even created into a full album, they get a sneak peak for just simply supporting the music.) Kindo announced they will be back in August at the Cobra lounge. They played an amazing show and definitely energized the audience for the headliner. If you’re interested in becoming a patreon, visits their patreon website where you can support the band and help them create more amazing music.
Another quick opening to an amazing supergroup of a band, Thank You Scientist is a whole mess of violin, guitars, bass, saxophone, trumpet, drums, and singer Salvatore Marrano. The band’s melody filled the venue and closed out open ears with songs from both first and second albums. Hearing songs that were new to me years ago when they first opened for Coheed and Cambria are now familiar favorites that I love singing along to, as well as seeing other audience members finally getting to see a beloved band performing in such a close environment. They got the audience really dancing- I was peering back and forth from my peripherals to see a possible mosh pit, but the audience was just dancing in their own world to Marrano’s longing vocals and the band’s heavier tone. During certain songs, as the trumpet and sax blared out their tones and the guitars were strumming heavily, the vocalist broke from singing and just let the band play for the audience. Everyone cheered for the band as they were jamming out together, smiling at one another happily playing for a packed venue full of fans who were eager to hear one song after another. It was packed at Sleeping Village, it was hot, and it was full of energy. Their performance time flew by, from playing “Feed Your Horses” and “Concrete Swan Dive” to showcasing new songs from their upcoming album, fans were wanting more. When announced they were only playing one more song, fans screamed out other songs to play, but Marrano apologized and said they have a curfew but they will play just one more song. Ending their set with “My Famed Disappearing Act,” the band gave one last thrash for their adorning fans. Everyone clapped and cheered as the guitarist hit his electrifying solo, the lights continued to flickered the grove, and fans were singing along with Marrano. The show was exhilarating, I was happy to see a band starting off opening for Coheed and Cambria to having a tour of their own and introducing fans to more awesome music.
NEWS & NOTES
Lots of SOLD OUT shows this week that are not included here
+ = Local
^ = All Ages
THURSDAY May 2nd
^ Crumb / + Divino Niño @ Thalia Hall 6:30PM doors $15 - $20
^ Turnover / Turnstile / Reptaliens / Vortex @ Concord 6PM doors $25
The Felice Brothers / Johnathan Rice @ Sleeping Village 9PM $18
^ Skating Polly / Monsterwatch / Dendrons @ Schubas 7PM $10 ($12 doors)
Klaus Johann Grobe / Vinyl Williams @ Beat Kitchen 9PM $12
Kath Bloom / Moon Bros. @ The Hideout 9PM $10
CHVRCHES / Cherry Glazerr @ Aragon 7:30PM $38.50
FRIDAY May 3rd
+ Mucca Pazza / Matt Ulery's Pollinator @ Martyrs 9PM $17 ($20 doors)
+ Super Neutral / Pylons / Dentist / Dull Ache @ Burlington 8PM Cover
Knife Knights / Lando Chill / CURTA @ Sleeping Village 9PM $12
Delicate Steve / The Muckers @ Schubas 9PM $13 ($15 doors)
Strand Of Oaks / Apex Manor @ Lincoln Hall 9PM $18
^ MC Lars / MC Frontalot / Mega Ran / Schaffer the Darklord @ Cobra Lounge 6PM $15
^ Buckethead @ The Vic 7:30PM $30
SATURDAY May 4th
Chirp Record Fair @ Plumbers Union Hall 8AM $8 - $25
+ Meat Wave / C.H.E.W / Luggage @ Sleeping Village 8:30PM $10
+ Glitter Moneyyy / DXTR Spits / McKinley Dixon / So Pretty @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $10
+ EGi / Seet @ Bourbon on Division 10PM $10
+ Gramps The Vamp @ California Clipper 10:30PM $5 cover
+ Wildcat / Flat Rats / The Bannermen @ Moe’s Tavern 9PM RSVP
Family Of The Year / Hollis Brown @ Bottom Lounge 8PM $20
ACTORS / Bootblacks / The Bellwether Syndicate / DJ Greg Corner @ Chop Shop 9PM $14 ($16 doors)
The Brook & The Bluff / Jamie Drake / The Midwesterns @ Schubas 8PM $10 ($12 doors)
Mattiel @ The Hideout 9PM $10
IAMX @ Thalia Hall 8:30PM $28 - $35
Sound-Bar 15 Year Anniversary: Paul Oakenfold Residnecy @ Sound-Bar 10PM $20
SUNDAY May 5th
Partner / Izzy True / Tenci @ The Hideout 8PM $10
Film School / Mint Field / The Poison Arrows @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $12
^ Seaway / Free Throw / Heart Attack Man / Young Culture @ Subterranean 6PM $18
+ Faraway Plants (Record Release) @ The Whistler 9PM FREE
mewithoutYou / The Appleseed Cast @ Sleeping Village 8:30PM $20
Tim Atlas / + Rich Jones / + Carlile @ Schubas 8PM $12
Ganstagrass @ SPACE 7:30PM $17 - $27
King Dude / Kate Clover / Maggot Heart @ Beat Kitchen 9PM $13
MONDAY May 6th
+ Modern Vices / Town Criers / Kachi @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors FREE
+ Avantist / Lollygagger / Ovef Ow @ Sleeping Village 9PM $5
Irontom / Ember Oceans / Earthgrazer @ Beat Kitchen 8PM $12
TUESDAY May 7th
Ziemba / + Claude / + Simulation (Matchess + Gel Set) @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM $8
Iceage / Nadah El Shazly / No Men @ Lincoln Hall 8PM $17
+ Saltwater Tap / Rainne @ Uncommon Ground Lakeview 8PM $10 table
+ DEN / Exhalants / Bulls / Ribbonhead @ Burlington 8PM COVER
Deer Tick / Courtney Marie Andrews @ Thalia Hall 7PM doors $25 - $32
Mark Lanegan Band / Simon Bonney @ Bottom Lounge 8PM $27.50
Memory Lame: A Bad Songwriters Night w. Anna Holmquist @ The Hideout 9PM $8
WEDNESDAY May 8th
+ Beats y Bateira (Record Release) / DJ Sound Culture @ The Whistler 9PM FREE
Winter / FEELS / Brass Calf @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $12
Nick Waterhouse / Mattson 2 @ Lincoln Hall 8PM $17.50 ($20 doors)
^ Demob Happy with Special Guest @ Cobra Lounge 7PM $10
Bric-A-Brac Post Punk Night @ Sleeping Village 9PM FREE
See you at the show Chicago!