Summer is just ramping up and we’re on a roll, just in time to take a week off to enjoy the holiday festivities. Yes Surfers, you read that right, next week is one of the two rare times of year where we take a break and let the world turn without us. But have no fear we’ll be back on July 11th with a full two weeks of music to share. Until then we’ve got a jam packed issue with a review of Divino Niño, Bunny, Girl K, Valebol and DJ PaulCherry69 at The Empty Bottle celebrating the Latin infused release of Divino Niño’s Foam. Plus a writeup on the few bands we caught at Ravenswood on Tap. Pixel Grip, Bev Rage and The Drinks, Diagonal, and Natalie Grace Alford all entertained the drinkers sampling brews from the “Malt Row” breweries. Inside you’ll find a plethora of local records from Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, Diplomats of Solid Sound, Sun Cop, Engines, Imelda Marcos, Bonelang, and a special posthumous collection of Trey Gruber’s recordings. This issue is all Niño, all the time, with a review of Foam and an interview with the group responsible for the addicting sound we just can’t get enough of! So kick back, plug into this week’s playlist and let us take you on a journey through the week in music.
See ya in two weeks Surfers! Same Surf time, same Surf place! Happy 4th of July! Don’t blow yourselves up . . .
Keep Seeing Live Music!
⬐ SHOWS ⬎
Divino Niño / Bunny / Girl K / DJ PaulCherry69 / valebol
The Empty Bottle
Divino Niño / 📷 : KPL
Friday night started out like a typical night heading to the Empty Bottle... Leave a bit early for a couple drinks at Ez Inn, then arrive at EB right around doors, and try to get a spot up close. Hanging out before the openers, (DJ Paul Cherry was playing some groovy tunes,) excitement for the night was setting in. Then, about ten minutes before Valebol was set to go on, I decided I should check my camera. I learned, right then, not to wait until the last second to check my gear. When I turned it on, the camera read “no memory card,” and I started to panic. I knew KPL was going to be at the show, but I hadn’t seen him there yet, so I texted and called him. No answer on either attempt, so I decided to leave the show and run home. Luckily, I made just about every light to and from, and I found a parking spot right across the street from the venue. I ran across the street to head in, and in the window of nearby Bites, I see KPL and LPL, I wave and say hi and ran in. I only missed about 10 or so minutes of Valebol. The night was filled with new experiences, a new band starting in, Valebol, as well as Girl K and Bunny, playing new songs, and of course, Divino Niño playing their new album.
After getting in and walking to the stage, I was very intrigued by what I was hearing. Not familiar with Valebol, my guess was as good as any as to what they would be like. The two-piece consists of Vivian McConnell (V.V. Lightbody) and Daniel Villarreal-Carrillo (Dos Santos). McConnell was on piano, synth, and flute and Villarreal-Carrillo was on drums and conga. Incredibly, the duo’s opening set was their first performance together, but we’d never have known it- they play together like a unit that’s done it for years! Valebol has an interesting, and, at first, contrasting sound, between McConnell’s dream pop keys, synth, and flute, and Villarreal-Carrillo’s upbeat, Latin-infused drumming. The more you listen, the more you hear how well they play off each other and fill the sound between each note. The crowd was reveling in the new and shared experience of Valebol. The project was well-received by the moving and grooving late-night crowd. A highlight was their playing the flute and synth at the same time, which combined for a very rich sound.
It has not been long since we had the chance to see Girl K; KPL caught their amazing set at Rib Fest just few days ago. The only news to report was that, unfortunately, it was drummer Ajay Raghuraman’s last performance with Girl K before he leaves for New York. The group wanted to give Ajay a proper sendoff, and they just did that. With the lighting on stage set to red-ish/pink, it beautifully accentuated Kathy Patino’s newly-pink hair and guitarist Kevin Sheppard’s pink guitar. Ripping through their catalog, Girl K was top notch and continued to move the crowd. Not even a broken string on Patino’s guitar would stop them. (The crew from the Empty Bottle brought Patino an extra guitar to use for the rest of the performance!) Patino was enamored with the guitar and even committed, “it might be the next aesthetic move for Girl K.” Girl K’s play screams good times, and if you are not moving along with them, then you need to reevaluate some things. The most contagious thing about Girl K, is Patino continuously having a huge smile while playing. She feeds off her bandmates’ and the crowd’s energy- it’s apparent she is having so much fun.
Moving the night along, next up was Bunny. Led by Jessica Viscius on guitar and lead vocals, Bunny always puts on an intimate and personal performance. Viscius’ songs and shows make you feel like she is letting you into very deep, intense, and intimate sessions that stop you in your place and evoke sensitive feelings you never knew existed. It is good to be reminded of such feelings, and it makes you stop and appreciate what is important. Fans are still eagerly waiting Bunny’s debut album, but we got a glimpse into what it might contain. Viscius treated us to a few new songs, even though she was not exactly pleased with the way she played them, they sounded great.
Tickets sold out online, but they had a number of tickets available at the door (it was so jam-packed, they may have oversold a little.) This was a must go to show for anyone who is somewhat familiar with Divino Niño. Joined on stage by Valebol, Divino Niño blew everyone away. It became so crowded near the stage that I ultimately had to move back and get some breathing room. I have seen a fair amount of sold-out shows at the Empty Bottle, but few felt as packed as it did tonight. Waiting for the crowd to dissipate a little so I could move in closer, the opportunity never occurred, and the pumped crowd stayed the duration.
Once Niño started playing, you were set in a trance as their pop, psych-rock, lounge music took over. With sheets painted with palm trees and baby blue stage lights, you had the sudden urge to be laying out on a beach blankly gazing off into the water. The performance was filled with tranquility, and you wanted to stay in the moment forever.
Just about halfway through the year, (this is one of my top three shows so far,) between these three openers and Divino Niño’s performance, it was a complete show, top to bottom.
Divino Niño is back at the Empty Bottle on July 8th, Tix are $12. Girl K will be at West Fest on July 6th. Valebol’s Daniel Villarreal-Carrillo will be playing with Dos Santos at West Fest on July 7th.
Ravenswood On Tap
Pixel Grip / Bev Rage and The Drinks /
Diagonal / Natalie Grace Alford
Ravenswood On Tap / 📷 : KPL
“Malt Row” in Ravenswood celebrated all things Brew last weekend with a two day extravaganza of libations and tunes. Many of Chicago’s local breweries call the strip of Ravenswood Avenue between Irving Park and Montrose home, and for the third year in a row, the neighborhood Chamber of Commerce and a dozen other neighborhood organizations threw a bash along the industrial train track adjacent street. With a slate choke full of local acts, this was a must-attend for anyone into the local brew and music scene. Unfortunately, we were only able to make a couple hours of the fest on Saturday, but we took in some excellent acts we hadn’t seen before and a few stand-by favorites that will never get old.
Natalie Grace Alford was setting up as we rolled up to the small but functional stage, a Begyle brew in hand. Her loop machine at her feet and keyboard at the ready, the solo pop performer launched into her set with an infectious abandon that captured every passerby. The funky dance tunes were a hit with the crowd, especially one two-year-old, who wouldn’t leave the front of the stage for much of the set. With catchy tunes created with pre-recorded beats, key loops, and her compelling vocals, Alford brought life to the late lazy afternoon. A few new tunes graced her set, including brand new single “Worst in Me,” and she got the crowd moving with an imaginative cover of “Material Girl.” She was just with Whoa Dakota at the Tonic Room on Tuesday, but we’re sure she’ll have other shows on the docket soon. Keep a lookout for more from this fantastic local performer!
After my journey for a brew from Spiteful, indie psych-rockers Diagonal were just on the horizon of finishing their line check. Their three-guitar attack is the perfect delivery system for a sonic daydream of effect-laden mood enhancement. Silas Mishler’s vocals flowed through the set, tying the hovering beats together, as Dan Jarvis (guitar, Midwest Action guru), Dale Price (bass, also of Fauvely), and Alex Brumley (guitar), swirled and swayed through the driving drums from Chris Detlaff. New track “Detroit” was a solid highlight, as they rolled through a too-short set full of tunes off last year’s Tomorrow and You Are Free EP. Diagonal doesn’t have any dates set quite yet, but they should be coming to a club near you soon.
With a Spiteful Coffee Stout in hand and fists raised, we chanted along to the pop punk greatness of Bev Rage and the Drinks. Always a crowd pleaser, Bev Rage flew through a set chock full of their well known classics off Cockeyed, last fall’s wonderfully irreverent celebration of all things queer, and a couple of new tunes including the everlastingly entertaining “Permanent Receptionist.” As always, they laid out their snack picnic for the fans, and encouraged making friends while you feasted of sugary and salty goodness. With wonderful tunes like “Limp Wrist,” “Bitter Old Queen,” and “I’m Having a Tryst With a Narcissist,” the self escribed “salty drag chanteuse” kills every time, and you’ll get the chance to check them out at SuperKnova’s record release party on July 29th at the Empty Bottle; it’s FREE!
Pixel Grip has been on our must-see list for months, and it was finally time to take in the Chicago trio’s gothic synth pop in person. With heavy beats from Jonathon Freund and Tyler Ommen and the soaring vocals of Rita Lukea, the gathered crowd began to sway to the bewitching dark hammer of sonic demolition. Disco beats combined with warm synth blasts of perfection make Pixel Grips one of 2019’s most explosive local acts. After dropping Heavy Handed in April, they have been laying low with only a few shows the past months, but always feel on the verge of breaking. You can catch them next with a DJ set at Sleeping Village on July 3rd (It’s FREE!) as part of Princess Cuts, a queer dance party series that is sure to be a blast. (It’s Rita Lukea’s birthday, so come out and celebrate with her!) And they'll be at West Fest Saturday July 6th at 4pm!
Unfortunately, we had to call it a night and head to work, so we couldn’t witness the wonder that is Brbra Bush or the always rocking White Mystery, but we’re sure they were excellent! Thanks to Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, all the breweries, and the sponsors for a great Saturday afternoon of local tunes!
NEWS & NOTES
The Chicago music scene lost a legend this week. Founding member of Colorado bluegrass influencers Yonder Mountain String Band and Chicago native Jeff Austin passed on Monday evening. A fantastic mandolin player who inspired generations of bluegrass pickers to pick up the small instrument will be sorely missed. He had returned to his home city several years back to pursue a solo career that had really just started to pick up steam. The 45 year old career musician will be mourned in the jam and bluegrass scenes for months. Rest in peace Mr. Austin, may Peter have handed you a golden mandolin at the pearly gates, just in time for the jamboree.
Lots of SOLD OUT shows this week that are not included here
^ All Ages
THURSDAY July 4th
+ July 4th at Moe’s! w/ Flabby Hoffman @ Moe’s Tavern 8PM RSVP
Rebirth Brass Band @ The Promontory 7PM $29 - $39
Boy Harsher (DJ Set) @ Empty Bottle 11PM FREE
FRIDAY July 5th
West Fest @ Chicago and Damen 5PM $5 donation
+ Baby Money & The Down Payments / Dead Selves / Dana Skully / Gosh Diggity @ G-Man 8PM $5
Stef Chura / French Vanilla / Sean Green / Bric-A-Brac DJs @ Empty Bottle 9PM doors $10
Chris Cohen / Spencer Tweedy / The Knees @ Sleeping Village 8:30PM $12
Built To Spill / Orua / Wetface @ Thalia Hall 8PM doors $32
Daddy Long Legs / Uncle Sexy and the Nephews @ Schubas 9PM $12
+^ G Herbo / Calboy / Dryboy @ The Forge 6:30PM $35 - $100
SATURDAY July 6th
West Fest @ Chicago and Damen 12PM $5 donation
+ Sonny Falls / Maneka / Floatie @ Sleeping Village 9:30PM $8
+ Richard Vain / Canadian Rifle / Good Shade / Human Errors @ The Burlington 8PM Cover
+ Nick Mazzarella Trio (Record Release) / Tim Daisy / DJ Damon Locks @ The Hideout 9PM $10
+ Dead Original (Record Release) / Chout / The Balkun Brothers @ Cubby Bear 8:30PM $5
Foxwarren / Hannah Cohen @ Empty Bottle 9PM $12
Bonobo / Derrick Carter / DJ Boring / Quantic / Juan Maclean /Machinedrum @ Lakefront Green 2PM $45 - $100
SUNDAY July 7th
West Fest @ Chicago and Damen 12PM $5 donation
Adult Mom / The Sidekicks / Pelafina @ Subterranean 8PM $13
Emily Jane Powers / The Mailboxes / Claude @ Schubas 8PM $10
Deerhunter / Moon Diagrams @ Metro 9PM $25
MONDAY July 8th
+ Town Criers / In The Pines / Tommy Carroll’s Calculated Discomfort / Waltzer @ Schubas 8PM FREE
+ Tara Terra / Little Church / Late Night Laundry @ Emporium - Wicker Park 8PM $5
Combo Chimbita / Divino Niño / Dave Mata (DJ Set) @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM $12
Great Grandpa / Typesetter / Tum @ Beat Kitchen 8PM $12
The Westerlies / Twin Talk @ Elastic Arts Foundation 9PM $10
Brent Cobb / Lydia Loveless @ Millennium Park 6:30PM FREE
TUESDAY July 9th
Gabby's World / Bellows / Mia Joy / Furbie @ Empty Bottle 8PM doors $13
As Cities Burn / All Get Out / Many Rooms @ Beat Kitchen 8:30PM $18
Den / Glassing / Dead Sun / DJ’s B-Trip + 420 Web MD @ Sleeping Village 9:30PM $5
Cayucas / Cape Francis @ Schubas 8PM $15
Chris Gantry / Angela James / Tobacco City @ The Hideout 9PM $10
Dirty Dozen Brass Band @ City Winery 8PM $35 - $48
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown / The Temperance Movement / Thomas Wynn & The Believers @ Lincoln Hall 7:30PM $20
WEDNESDAY July 10th
+ ONO / Headboggle / Fire Toolz / Malocculsion @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM $10
+ Heart Bones / Good Fuck @ Lincoln Hall 8PM $17
+ Squirrel Flower / Half Gringa / Tenci @ Schubas 8PM FREE
Spose / pseudo slang / Sage the 64th Wonder @ Subterranean 8PM $15
This Is The Kit / Twin Talk @ Constellation 8:30PM $15
Sessa / The Eternals @ Hungry Brain 9PM $12
Courtney Barnett / Sunflower Bean @ Taste of Chicago 5:30PM FREE - $50
Southern Culture on the Skids / Robin Bienemann @ SPACE 8PM $20
A.J. Croce / Adam Ezra @ City Winery 8PM $15 - $25
See you at the show Chicago!