Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / photo by KPL

Editor's Note
Welcome to issue #8 of Chicago Crowd Surfer. Seeing live music gives us joy, and it is our mission, in these trying times, to spread some of that joy to you. We don’t just want to spread it, we want to share it; which is why we are a crowd-sourced publication. We want you to join us: to write about, and share pictures of, the shows you attend, the new albums you love, the bands you adore, and any other thing that has to do with seeing, performing, or experiencing music in Chicago. Please send any submissions to chicago.crowd.surfer@gmail.com. We are now up to ten contributors and are always looking for more! We may not publish everything we get, and we reserve the right to edit, but will always try and seek the submitters’ approval. Our mission is to be a positive publication, so if you have negative things to say - please look for another forum in which to express that opinion. We aim to wade through the bullshit of this modern life to find what good is left. See you at the show Chicago.

Keep Seeing Live Music!





Click the pic to read the interview with


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The Empty Bottle

Apr. 19th

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / all photos by KPL


Entering the Empty Bottle last Thursday I was greeted by the squeal and squawk of a megaphone over the pounding rhythm of what appeared to be, and was, a found item drum kit complete with a saw blade cymbal and helium tank high tom.  Such is the set up for Chicago’s own Radiant Devices, a compelling and affecting duo who sound so much bigger than the two musicians should be able to accomplish.

Founded by Fyodor Sakhnovski (guitar, percussion, and production) and Mojdeh (singing, poems, megaphone, and percussion) Radiant Devices is a wall of sound accompanied by Mojdeh’s honest and introspective lyrics. Not that you can always understand them a hundred percent but you catch the gist easy enough and the poetic intent is more the point here. Her lyrics subjects range from  the destitute of the poor, to systemic racism, to dealing and healing from trauma, and beyond. Sometimes with a mic in one hand, megaphone in the other, she attempts to push through the energetic beats and riffs from the other side of the stage to make her message clear. An accomplished metaphor to say the least. If you ever get a chance to check out Radiant Devices you should, their new EP, unheeded, is available on bandcamp here.

Radiant Devices

After a journey outside for some fresh air and trip to the bar for an Old Style, I settled in on the well worn steps across from the stage while Gold Dime finished their line check. As the trio from NYC finished setting up, it was clear that Andrya Ambro’s drum kit would be the centerpiece. She set up right in front between her guitarist John Bohannan and bassist Ian Douglas Moore. I had heard Gold Dime and knew what I was about to get hit with, but even that could not have prepared me for the sonic boom to the brain.

Ambro started banging on her kit and the world went soft. Her fellow musicians howled and boomed over the top of her relentless drumming as she mumbled, screamed, and ranted over it all. The soft red lighting that never changed added a basement quality to the set, and you felt you were watching your friends practice their flawless noise rock in a darkness with an exit light being the only light source. Their quick thirty minute set was punctuated by Ambro’s performance style, standing at her kit, mic in the face, singing while keeping beat with such precision is as hard as it sounds.

Gold Dime

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan

Now it was time for the main event. I had heard about Yamantaka//Sonic Dragon several years ago but had never seen them live. They self describe themselves as “a Noh-Wave prog collective, a black-and-white (and sometimes red) theatre company, an operatic psych cult, and the speculative prophets of humanity’s impending doom. Above it all, though, they’re a thunderous rock band,” (from their bandcamp page) They are rather successful back home in Canada, being shortlisted on multiple occasions for record of the year. But they have yet to make much headway in the States, which is really unfortunate, because their show was rather incredible. I could see them being able to do much more theatrics on a larger stage, but they made the EB stage come alive and then chewed their way through all our souls.

Clad in all black, except for both of  the enigmatic front women who were in red and white, the whole band disguised in white, red and black makeup, they tore through song after song, mainly ignoring their slower tunes in favor of their more metal and prog tunes, wailing and rocking for over an hour. The crowd stood enthralled with the spectacle of the  performance in front of them. By the end of their set, it was clear they had won over those of us who remained, as they left stage to the woops and hollers of the crowd.

I journeyed over to the the bar for one last OS before heading home to bed, and I said to the bartender “That was awesome, wasn’t it” To which he replied. “Yes, yes it was,” as he sauntered over to help the next sonic victim who wandered over from the stage.


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Art Institute - Stock Exchange Room

Apr. 17th - 9:30 show

Photo credit: artic.edu

Imagine, if you will, an ornate room with rather great acoustics; set with tables, upon which sit interesting little turntable setups, surrounded by chairs all facing a stage set up with an octagon screen flanked by two rectangular screens.  As you enter and take a seat, you start to fiddle with this turntable. It has four color coded 45s standing in slots at the top and a fader to the left below an led light. In the center is a spare needle and platter system The bottom right corner contains a small speaker and in the top right a gain pedal with three rows of knobs.

Everyone else is playing with their contraptions as well, already putting the 45s on the table and trying to see if they can get anything playing, but it does no good, the speakers are not on yet. As conversations sprout up all over the room, Kid Koala (Canadian Eric San) walks onstage and takes a seat behind his turntable set up and apologizes for starting early, and begins to walk us through how the show will be interactive, we will be using these turntable setups to participate in the making of tonight’s music. And that he’ll explain after he plays this request, an unrecorded remix track which ends up showing off all his scratching and mixing moves. A video of his tables and mixer is projected in black and white on the center screen, giving the audience the unusual opportunity to scope exactly what he is doing as he is constructing a track.  As he plays all our turntable speakers are turned on manually by his engineer.

It is jaw dropping what this man can do with a couple turntables and a mixer: tearing, stabbing, and flaring through the tune (these are DJ scratch techniques, if you want more info look for it here.

I have always been impressed with his skills ever since I first scoped them at Abbey Pub (RIP) many years ago, and he showed them off with the first track.  As it came to an end, he said that was probably the best scratching we would get all night, due to the new album, Music to Draw To: Satellite, was made for the winter and it’s slow and steady days.

He then launched into a full explanation of the evening and the devices in front of us. Our lights were to tell us which record to play by changing colors related to the record we are to put on.  The gain pedal was ours to play with as we see fit, and he explained the knobs and their functions. The key was the fader, because they were recording the performance for Canadian Public Radio, he wanted the cut offs to happen as cleanly as possible. As soon as the light went out we were to cut the sound. Simple enough. Our conductor was his synth player and he was to let us know when to and how to bump and scratch our records, which was also explained in detail.

Kid Koala then began to work through most of the new album, typing lyrics live from a laptop to the octagon screen, while a visual chemical artist created live images on a glass table and water tank which appeared in stunning detail on the rectangle screens. The combination of the visuals and his absolutely gorgeous tunes almost made LPL and I forget to put records on, but the bright led light would cue us and we would rush to get the record on so we could get back to watching the chemical artist create these worlds of galaxies of color and light.

It was somewhat difficult to pay attention to so many stimuli and towards the end of the hour and a half performance we both started to feel drained by the constant barrage of aural and visual stimuli. It became too much, a headache started to flare, but I persisted, and pushed through, not wanting to miss any of the well orchestrated performance. The records for our turntables ended up containing mostly drone tunes in different keys, at times the whole room would be playing the same record and at times different, creating a labyrinth of sound that was inescapably beautiful. As the performance came to a close, we all got to see the peak when we played the blue record, which we under strict instructions not to play until the end, and the room filled with a frenetic tone that fit the song perfectly.

Thanks to Kid Koala and his production staff and the Art Institute for an evening we won’t soon forget.

And thanks to contributor JK for the tix hookup. You would have loved it bro.  


We took no photos during this performance. It did not seem right to. This was something special that should live on in memory only.

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The Sandlot Wrigley

Apr. 20th

Rotten Mouth  / all photos by LPL

CCS is lucky say we to have another family band we can’t review.  Chris (drummer) and Clayton Mutert (bassist, vocalist) of Rotten Mouth are my cousins. Well, our parents are cousins, but we may as well be cousins. I can say that I had a great time with KPL enjoying some local jam music - a rarity in Chicago. It was refreshing to see live music in Wrigleyville, in an intimate space, where the music was the main attraction (not your typical Wrigleyville spot boasting drink specials or number of TVs). The Sandlot had just recently celebrated its 1st birthday and had some great acts (I am trying hard not to review anything!) on this Friday night 420 party. Thanks to Saltwater Tap, Zaiah and Reggie Dunlop for enhancing our cousins night in Chi.


Reggie Dunlop

Zaiah: (left to right) Adam Thornburg, Walter Sanchez, Isaiah Sanderman (lead vocals/flute/sax) Not in view: Max Clarke (keys), Paul Herzmann (guitar), Reuben Garza (drums), Austen Goebel (bass)

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Thalia Hall

Apr. 21st

Waxahatchee  / all photos by LPL


I journeyed down to Thalia Hall with KZ (CCS logo designer) for her first 17+ show. She has been to The Aragon and to Pritzker summer series, but this show was special. It was our first Thalia show together. We gobbled up some excellent tacos and fresh juice at local taqueria Atotonilco. The restaurant is in front of the factory where they make the tortillas you can buy in most grocery stores. 

Thalia Hall is a beautiful venue. (Excuse me if I have raved before. Thank you for being a dedicated reader!) The building is so ingeniously laid out, with 4 different sections - 3 bars, 2 venues and a restaurant. Down in Punch House, the basement bar, we discovered that a false wall had been twisted open to reveal a hidden lounge area. Surely this was an actual speakeasy back when it opened in 1892! After admiring the fishtank barback, we headed back up to the main hall. Thalia Hall allows the crowd to see the sides of the stage, where all the cables drape and stage hands hang out during performances. KZ and I have a lot of family who work at The Lyric Opera house, so it is very cool for us to see the crew in action. We admired the beauty of the balcony and boxes, but were glad to be on the floor, waiting in excitement amidst other music lovers. Some people seemed to be having their own noisy party in the back, but they stayed back there and we quickly tuned them out once the music started.

We were pleasantly surprised to see Bedouine come on stage. She was not listed on the ticket, so I really only expected this to be a two act show. Bedouine, born in Syria as Azniv Korkejian, was raised in Saudi Arabia. She adopted the stage name Bedouine to reflect the nature of her wandering mind, and her nomadic childhood after her family won a Green Card Lottery.  Her lyrics and sound carry you in her pack as she continues her journey. Korkejian studied sound design, and uses her talent to pair down her songs until only the essentials remain. Only then does she consider a song to be done.. She truly seeks out the necessary elements of what she is singing, and how the sounds work together. She also considers how the audience may respond to her work. During this show, she asked us to help her name a song she had finished, but cannot name. A few ideas were called out, and she took some for the running, and continued into another tune.

Hurray For The Riff Raff - friggin hurray! Alynda Segarra is an outspoken New Yorican (I learned that term during her set - Puerto Rican New Yorker). And thanks to Alynda for being an outspoken singer-songwriter, because what she is speaking about is so incredibly important. I love every word that comes out of her mouth. Every beat the band makes raises her platform as she captures the crowd.. She sings about hardships she has experienced herself, and adopts the plight of others’ hardships to give them a voice. A voice made powerful by honesty that is otherwise unheard. Her stage persona is nothing short of captivating. She is petite, which allows her the advantage to move about the stage between songs, jumping and hopping and throwing her head around. When she is not dancing around, she is armed with her guitar laying down elegant chords behind her haunting voice and lyrical truths. 

I cried during this set. And I am tearing up as I revisit this experience. You really ought to go see her live, and listen to her songs first, so you can add your voice to her movement. When you do get around to listening to her albums, really listen to the lyrics. These are not stories, or exaggerated realities, or opinionated perspectives. They are current accounts of the world we all live in. If we allow ourselves to see what is happening outside of our immediate environment, we will find that not everyone has it so good. Alynda’s goal isn’t to make you feel bad, but to remind us all of our shared humanity. To encourage you to see how the world works (or doesn’t work) for people in different walks of life, and to find your opening. In that opening, you will find a way to rise up and make a change. Perhaps you could be more accepting of others, perhaps you could be more aware, or perhaps you just need to give yourself the courage to do what you know needs to be done. Does that change need to leave an impact on a community, or does the opening lead you to change something within yourself? Your opening is yours to find.

Alynda described to us the motivation behind her final song “Pa’lante”, which best translates to “go forwards”. She uses this song to encourage the crowd to push past hardships they are facing, and to remember their fallen loved ones especially those that have fallen at the hands of injustice. As she let out her final rally cry, Alynda jogged off stage, where we could still see her but she could not see us. She looked back at her band, who were still playing with passion, and then disappeared down the hall.

  • Donate to “Mijente”, a national organization of individual campaigns for Latinx and Chicanx. Hurray For The Riff Raff is selling t-shirts to raise the resources to help one community to draft legislation and create a local campaign to pass sanctuary city policy.

Katie Crutchfield formed Waxahatchee as an American indie music project back in 2010. She started out as a solo singer-songwriter, performing acoustic sets. Thank goodness for record companies who hear a musician’s potential. Waxahatchee is great and they just keep gaining speed. 
Waxahatchee began with my personal favorite “Recite Remorse” off of their latest album Out In The Storm. A beautifully told account of the sun pulling someone up and out of a very dark headspace. This Saturday was a lovely warm Chicago spring day. Being Chicago spring however, we needed a jacket that night. On our walk from Atotonilco earlier, KZ begrudgingly zipped her zipper up to the max, and had I left my jacket open in protest of the drop in temp. We were beginning to defrost after Hurray For The Riff Raff. Crutchfield and band brought  Waxahatchee to warm us from the inside out. The rest of the show may as well have been held outside in bright sunny daylight. They moved through their collection with a newly enhanced sound, much off their new album that was co-produced by John Agnello of Merge Records. 

Crutchfield told us of a story that happened just before the show. She was having an emotional moment in her van, parked outside the venue. She was bawling. A fan saw her through the window. Instead of being embarrassed, she told us that it was appropriate for a Waxahatchee show. She sings her emotions so why not show them off stage too. With that, she began “Sparks Fly”. KZ and I had to slink to the back so we could go meet her ride (we thought the show would be over by 11 like an all ages show - whoops, now we know). We turned to the door, and back to the stage, then took a step towards the door, and turned back to the stage. Finally, we absolutely had to go. KZ could not get enough. “Next time,” she said, “I am spending the night downtown!”


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MC Chris



5 questions with KPL

Photo credit: mcchris.com

MC Chris (Chris Ward) grew up in Libertyville, IL, right down the road. He just played Schuba’s on Wednesday and he took some time out while driving to St. Louis to answer some questions we had.  He was incredibly candid, and we left a majority of what he said unedited. 

CCS: How does a kid from Libertyville go from being an art school student to becoming a major voice in the “nerdcore” hip-hop scene? 

MCC: Well, I love drawing, and I have been drawing my whole life. I got a couple awards in high school and got accepted to the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and I didn’t like it very much. So I shifted what I wanted to study, from cartoons and drawing, to film, film history, and film editing. I transferred to NYU to study screenwriting and it was there that I fell in with a pop punk band, because I had a roommate who was the head of a punk band, and it was being around that band that I started to record and rap and I created the MC Chris persona. 

That persona was invented because I was alone in New York City, very far away from Chicago and I needed to come up with an alter ego to help me survive a very lonely time in my life. I was definitely depressed and suicidal, but I loved hip-hop. My upbringings was suburbs, you know upper middle class, my reference points where Star Wars and video games, cartoons, TV shows; these were things I knew. But I loved hip-hop as well. I listened to Public Enemy and De La Soul. All those ingredients pushed me in the direction of making hip-hop that’s about myself, that represented where I came from, that was just true to myself. 

I definitely wasn’t going to pretend to be black, that was never something I was interested in doing. I was just interested in rapping. I love hip-hop and I love rapping. Then when I started rapping it was a very postmodern take on rap where I wanted to say my name a lot. I wanted to mention Star Wars. I wanted to do things you don’t really hear in rap. I wanted to rap over classic rock. That was all part of being in New York and coming up with this new way of representing myself. I was only trying to focus on my own thing until it went on television that I discovered there were others like me. That had the same ingredients in their stew. You know we’re all just making stew at the same time and stew is delicious. There’s nothing wrong with that. 

CCS: Your relationship with Adult Swim is long and varied. How did that begin? 

MCC: I was a student at the Upright Citizens Brigade, and I interned there. You know, taking out the garbage, tearing tickets, to pay for classes. The girl I was working with in the Box Office, her and I went out for a drink one night. She brought her friends from the South because that’s where they were all from; and those friends were Dave Willis and Adam Reed (the creators of Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Archer respectively; among other shows.) I made em both laugh a lot and they bought all my beers, because I didn’t have any beer money. I can drink a pint of beer in under five seconds and I did that, and got really drunk. 

Dave handed me his business card and said “We could use somebody like you.” And it had a picture of Space Ghost on it. I didn't’ know about moving to Atlanta but I was so excited to see the word cartoon again, it was kind of a childhood dream of mine that I had pushed to the back of my head thinking it was impossible and too labor intensive. But I didn’t know about moving to Atlanta. Well then, Adam had me in to interview for Sea-Lab which they made in NYC. I showed him my sketchbook and played him a couple of songs. They were impressed enough that they gave me shot. 

CCS: What led you to reject the nerdcore label and why have you now come to accept it? 

MCC: I think in the beginning I was turned off by the scene because a lot of people were mad at me. I was on Adult Swim and by being on there it gave some people the idea of “that’s something I can do. I love hip-hop, I love nerdy things, I can do that too.” So a lot of people do the same thing, if they had not already been working on it. 

They were mad that I had started to tour. I think that is when I noticed the backlash happening. I had gotten dis-raps from other nerdcore artists back in the first couple years. As soon as I became known, people had started to diss me and write raps about me. A lot of rappers did that in the beginning and it wasn’t a cool vibe. I saw a lot of bad attitudes and people getting in my face, people talking trash. So there were a lot of reasons to not want to be a part of this scene. 

But people put a lot of words in my mouth. People felt like I was disparaging their efforts and that really wasn’t what I was about. I’ve never dissed anyone in a song, I don’t write dis-raps. That’s not my style. I never come at anybody like that. Because they came at me like that I wasn’t stoked on it. It had always been a private thing to me. It was weird to open up and share it with a bunch of people. 

As time went on I started to tour with everybody and they became like co-workers and I just was at peace with it. You know, I said a rose is a rose, call me whatever you want. Bob Dylan didn’t really want to be considered King of the Hippies, he wanted to do his own thing. He plugged in and everyone said he was horrible and hated it him for it. Sometimes an artist just wants to be an artist. They don’t want to be associated with a genre, they don’t want to think genre. And they definitely don’t want to think that they invented a genre or are a leader of a genre. I have no interest in that. I’ve always just been, me wanting to represent my life, my sense of humor, to an audience of any kind. Now I’m just like, it’s a silly thing to even discuss. Nerdcore is a genre that exists online and at conventions. There’s not many touring acts left, a lot of people have taken day jobs, but I’m still going. I still love it. I still make money, my fans still have a great time. I definitely don’t have a problem with any scene. It’s hard for someone who has been alone their whole life to suddenly become a part of something. I think that was in general the weird vibe. In the beginning of the centuries, being a nerd stopped being a lonely thing and became a communal thing. That’s always been a difficult thing for me and that’s probably because I have social anxiety. 

CCS: Do you come up with song subjects on the fly or do you have a running list of subjects to cover? 

MCC: You know I don’t. Take for instance what happened this Spring, I wanted stuff to binge cause I had missed out on a lot cause I hadn’t been watching TV for months. I had missed out on so much stuff. I watched Westworld and it was a great experience and I was like, I want more great TV experiences. So I watched Ash vs. The Evil Dead on Netflix and I thought it was so good, and then I thought: oh, this is the perfect April Fools Day song. I’ve released an April Fools Day song every year, that is either about Beetlejuice or My Little Pony or The Joker, it’s been all sorts of pop culture stuff over the years, and I thought this is a great idea. Then I wrote the song really quick and it came out like that. 

Sometimes pop culture will sneak up on me and I’ll be like oh this is perfect for me because I love it, my fans love it, I want to explore it more than I have before because I think I have it. I think I have Evil Dead all figured out, but then you investigate it and you find out all this stuff. And the research is a lot of the fun for me, you know. 

With that being said there is a list of song titles I have up on my closet door at home, and I add and take away from that. I have a new album coming up, I don’t know when it will be done, but it’s about eighty percent. When I first start making an album I will make a huge list and keep brainstorming: cliches, pop culture I want to explore, personal things I want to talk about, words I like. It could be any of those things. Words I made up. It could be a call back from an earlier skit. I’ll just make a huge list and I’ll circle the best ones and I’ll hit those first and cross those out. Then I’ll find the next best group and hit those. I go about songwriting from every possible angle I possibly can. It’s a battle that can be won in an infinite amount of ways. 

CCS: How difficult is it to keep you sound fresh after nearly twenty years into a decorated career? 

MCC: You make me sound like a jet wing pilot. I don’t have a decorated career. I’ve accomplished a lot, I guess. But I don’t have any decorations unless we’re talking Halloween or Christmas. But if anybody wants to give me a medal or a statue, it’s about time. 

I stay fresh by ignoring a lot of the outdated tropes of the music industry. I don’t get in a fight with a band member and break up, I don’t get dropped from my label, I don’t believe in a person not having a point of view once they become a certain age. I think, every age has a point of view that is interesting and worth exploring, from infancy to senior citizen time. 

I like to keep it fresh by just being me. Not thinking that things have to end. I talk about my kid now. As I change the music changes. I make kids albums as well, and those are really popular. You roll with the punches. I think me writing songs about partying when I don’t really do that anymore doesn’t make any sense. That’s not really true to who I am. I want to be true. I want to make sure the fans are having a good time and I want . . . every time I deliver an MC Chris album, I want it to be consistent. I want them to get the same things you’re going to get everywhere; I want them to get a love song, a food song, a Star Wars song if you’re lucky, you’re definitely going to get a couple pop culture songs, a biographical song, an intro song; and all those songs kind of happen every album. So I just make sure to kind of hit those notes, and just keep going. 

I think the thing people really appreciate is not going away. We have so many things come and go in our lives and to have something stick around and stay consistent. Even if I might be slow and steady I think I’m a comfort to all of my fans on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. They always say “don’t ever quit, keep going, don’t stop, I need this.” And I need them, you know. My fans are my greatest reward. And a surprising result of everything I have done over the years. I’m so happy to see them everyday. I’m on my way to St. Louis right now and I can’t wait to see these people. I can’t wait to see their faces. I love these people. I wanna make them happy. I just want everything to go smoothly. 

I think people feel that when they come to the show. I’ve had people come to see me this year that have seen me twenty one times. They’re coming to see me that many times because the show is different. It’s filled with personal monologues, crowd interaction, rants about video games and science fiction; and this is stuff that no one else does. My fans are gluttons for it, thankfully. They’re always like Oliver: “Please sir, may I have some more,” and I’m happy to oblige. 


MC Chris just put out a collection of all his April Fools songs to date called, what else, April Fools Collection. 

Check it out now! 


Charley Crockett
lonesome as a shadow
son of davy

A combination of all things Americana, singer/songwriter Charley Crockett is as American as music can get. There is blues, honky tonk, rock n roll, classic country, soul, and folk all combined on new album Lonesome as a Shadow. The result is both timeless and refreshing. Many artists do not make music like this anymore. It is a forgotten art to be this open and honest in your lyrics while combining so many genres. It must have come from his travels around the world and through the country at a young age that brought out this appreciation of American music, and the ability to cross from one genre to the other with such ease. As demonstrated by being able to do a soul/blues tune like “Sad & Blue,” and go right into old time rock n roll with “Lil Girls Name,” into a soul ballad that sounds like it’s straight from the 70’s on “Oh so Shakey” into a honky tonk number “Goin’ Back to Texas.” and that’s just four of the dozen this great album contains. Do yourself, and the world a favor, and listen to Charley Crockett any chance you get. Play him for your friends. They will love him too. I promise.


He is playing Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn on Friday May 25th. It’s right off the Oak Park blue line. We’ll sadly be festing downstate, but you all should go. It’s only $12!

never gonna die

There will always be a place in my heart for the brotherhood known as Pennywise. If you have ever seen them live, you know what I am talking about. The metal riffs from Fletcher Dragge’s guitar and Jim Lindberg’s positive unifying lyrics spoke to me at fifteen, and still will at times. I gotta be in the right mood; and I must have been, because new album Never Gonna Die took me back to the mohawks, bad attitudes, and metal studs of my early teens.

I saw them several times back then, and have taken them in on several occasions nearing middle age, and it says something about living positively that makes this band sound ageless. It still makes me wanna mosh, even nearing forty. 

What a time this is to be a punk. Not since Reagan has our country had a clear villian in power. (Well, W. was stupid, but a villain, not so sure) And bands like Pennywise are sure to comment on the present danger and destruction that lurks around us every day. With tune names like “American Lies” and “Won’t Give Up the Fight” you get the picture. I don’t even have to lay out lyrics, you all know what these tunes would be about. However, what sets Pennywise above the punk crowd is their songs about living positively and independently that always stuck with me and would be especially helpful to some youth of today. The chorus of “Keep Moving On” chants: “Stay strong and carry on, the only thing that matters is you keep on moving on, stay strong and carry on, the only thing that matters is your life.” Or we have “Goodbye Bad Times” about conquering addiction. Or “Live While You Can” which is a story song containing the lesson to seize the moment and live like there is no tomorrow. All of these are classic Pennywise tropes, but they work, each and everyone.


We would not be surprised to see them grace a stage at Riot Fest this year.


Tank and the bangas
smoke. netflix. chill

One of the best acts we saw last year at North Coast. A great musical collective from New Orleans surrounding Tarriona “Tank” Ball who is as infectious as she is talented. 

They are gracing a stage at Lolla this year. Please do an aftershow, please do an aftershow, please do an aftershow. If we say it three times it will come true, right? 


What a blistering tune from this punk foursome from LA. Their bio on Spotify simply reads “Fuck it dog, life’s a risk.” Ha!

If you have never seen them live you are in for a treat the next time they come around. They clearly give no fucks and have a blast doing it.  

queen of new york

The second single from forthcoming album Nightstand. (Due out June 1st) Confessional indie pop at it’s finest. 

She just played at the Sub T on April 8th. Hopefully she makes it back in support of this one.

screaming females (feat. Sammus and moor mother)
end of my bloodline - remix

Who says hip-hop / rock crossovers are a thing of the past. This is crazy good, please check it out. 

They just played a sold out show in Chicago last month but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Screaming Females back in the fall. Neither Sammus nor Moor Mother are playing Chicago soon.

courtney barnett
city looks pretty

A nice rolling pop rock tune. The third single from the highly anticipated new album Tell Me How You Really Feel. (due out May 18th) 

Barnett is playing a sold out show at the Chicago Cultural Center on May 21st. But is returning to play Pitchfork on Friday July 20th.



  • Cherub - All In

  • Janelle Monae - I Like That

  • Leon Bridges - Beyond

  • Frankie Simone - LOVE//WARRIOR

  • Manic Focus / Umphrey’s McGee - Whistle Kids (Manic Focus remix)

  • Confidence Man - Try Your Luck


Lord Huron / Vide Noir / Whispering Pines

A concept album about a space traveller by up and coming folk rock quartet. We say, yes please. 

Unfortunately their Riv show last Saturday, with CCS fav In Tall Buildings opening, sold out before we could grab tickets. We’re rather sure they will be back in the fall or winter, and we are looking forward to it.


Old Crow Medicine Show / Volunteer / Old Crow Medicine Show , Sony

Who doesn’t love these guys by now. Sure they are commercial and sappy at times, but come on, it’s still fun music that goes great at a party or on a country drive. 

A two night stand at Thalia on June 27th and 28th is sure to sell out. But last we checked there were tix to both nights still available.


Kimbra / Primal Heart / Warner Bros. 

Indie pop music has found a new queen and her name is Kimbra. Yeah, it’s like that. 

She just played the Concord back in February, but after this effort we wouldn’t be surprised if she is back soon, possibly opening for a large act or on another headliner tour.


DRINKS / Hippo Lite / Drag City

A neo-psych duo project from Tim Presley of White Fence and Cate Le Bon, who’s sophomore effort Hippo Lite is as off kilter and amusing as one can get without venturing into full blown inaccessibility. Odd tunings, rhythms, and humorous lyrics all fold into one glorious amalgamation of experimentation.  

DRINKS is not currently on tour, but we would love to see how they would do all this live!


Exitmusic / The Recognitions / felte

Their third and probably last album (the duo’s marriage ended during the recording of this album) is downright gorgeous. We think you’ll dig it. 

Exitmusic is not touring, and probably won’t. We understand, but would love one last chance to catch them live.


Sera Cahoone / The Flora String Sessions / Lady Muleskinner

A rearranging of seven of her most notable tunes for just  guitar and a string trio. Honest and real folk that sends chills through you. 

No Chicago dates for Ms. Cahoone anytime soon. Come back and do another living room show with these strings in tow please. That would be grand.



J. Cole / KOD  / Dreamville

One of the best voices in hip hop right now and this one is not amazing but not nearly disappointing either. Solid effort from a master of the game. 

J. Cole is playing Summerfest in Milwaukee this year (see News and Announcement section for full lineup) July 3rd is his date and tix are $65 - $109.

Alexis Taylor / beautiful thing / domino

Lead singer of Hot Chip puts out his third solo album and it is everything you would expect. Dreamy, wistful and full of synths but restrained to a point. 

He is playing the Empty Bottle on June 14th, and it’s only $15! 

donovan woods / both ways / meant well

Some great folk music from this Canadian with Nashville success. His fifth album finds him at a soft moment. Just listen to final track “Next Year” and try to stay dry eyed. We bet you can’t. 

No Chicago dates yet this tour for Woods, but we hope he visits soon.

Shuggie otis / inter-fusion / cleopatra

A psyche-soul guitarist who has never really gotten his due. This album is a great testament to electric blues and where it can go in the twenty first century. Even though Pitchfork called it “a slog” and “a chore” we found it a great listen. Sure it harkens back to all sorts or 70’s cliches but if it wasn’t for nostalgia in music Ravinia wouldn’t exist. (And neither would Riot Fest, just saying. We do love you Riot Fest, we do.) 

Otis is currently only touring the UK in June. Sad but true.

Bishop Briggs / church of scars / teleport

A powerful performer, Briggs channels that energy into this killer pop album that lands her in a rare group of artists that transcend the boundaries of pop into something relevant and real. 

She is playing the Metro on June 2nd, and it’s no surprise she sold it out.

anna leone / wandered away / half awake, allpoints

This five song EP is a bit haunting in it’s tones but the sincerity here is evident and never seems forced. 
This Swedish singer/songwriter’s debut shows major promise. 

We couldn’t find any tour dates at all for her. We hope she heads stateside soon.


Nice pop punky effort from Billie Joe and friends. A bit more rock n roll than Green Day may have ever gotten, but we’re quite ok with that. 

No Chicago stop on this tour, but it would be no surprise to see them on a second or third line slot on that Riot Fest lineup, due out? …. well, when they decide to put it out, that’s when.


You want quality country? Look no further. This is where it is at. “Weed Whiskey and Willy” is a great drunk sing along for sure. 

They are opening for Chase Rice in Joliet on June 23rd at Joliet Memorial Stadium. Wow, we didn’t know they had concerts in Joliet . . .


And Sting and Shaggy put out a reggae album (which is really not terrible but it is full of tropes of the genre, with little originality) and A Perfect Circle put out new album Eat The Elephant, which wasn’t disappointing, just a bit slow for what we like from our metal.



  • Summerfest up in Milwaukee completed their headlining slots last Friday and here is what we have got. 

At the American Family Insurance Amphitheater: All of these shows are separate tix events and are not included in any GA pass. 

June 27th: Imagine Dragons and  Grace Vanderwaal
June 28th: James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt
June 29th: Halsey with Logic and NF
June 30th: Florida Georgia Line with Bebe Rexha
July 1st: Dave Matthews Band
July 3rd: J. Cole
July 4th: Journey with Def Leppard
July 5th: Shawn Mendes with Charli XCX
July 6th: Blake Shelton with Luke Combs
July 7th: The Weeknd
July 8th: Arcade Fire and Manchester Orchestra

GA Pass headliners: this is all the headliners and notable early acts you can see on a particular day. GA day passes are $21, three day passes are $51 and an 11 day pass is $100. 

June 27th
Lil Uzi Vert / Alesso / Jethro Tull / Grizzly Bear / Kane Brown / The All-American Rejects /  Party Favor / Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real / Walker Hayes / Caroline Rose / Waker / Little Feather

June 28th
Marshmello / Tory Lanez / Nelly / The Wallflowers / George Thorogood & The Destroyers / Buckcherry / P.O.D. / Sugarhill Gang / Grandmaster Mele Mel & Scorpio Furious 5 / The Crystal Method / Medasin / Matthew Sweet / The Posies / LIT / Drivin N Cryin / Meat Puppets / Alien Ant Farm

June 29th
Billy Currington / Social Distortion / Maze / Goldlink / Plain White T’s / Xavier Omar / Lissie / Jake Rose / The O’My’s / Men I Trust / Sunflower Bean / Milck

June 30th
Kaleo / Rachel Platten / Buddy Guy / The Soul Rebels / Phil Vassar / Carlie Hanson /           Jonny Lang / Welshly Arms

July 1st
Greta Van Fleet / The Neighborhood / Spoon / Chromeo / Capital Cities / Rick Springfield / Black Violin / Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo / The Edgar Winter Group / Great White / Nick Lowe / Lynch Mob / Fastball / Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers / A Flock Of Seagulls

July 3rd
Steven Tyler / Foster the People / Louis the Child / Benjamin Booker / Trace Adkins / Bishop Briggs / Joywave / Under the Streetlamp / Liza Anne / L.I.F.T. / Abby Jeanne

July 4th
Kesha / Pixies / Yonder Mountain String Band / The Fray / Cheat Codes / Gavin DeGraw / CVBZ / Chris Lane / Andreas Moss / Bay Ledges / The Wombats / Justin Caruso / Cade / Alex Guthrie / Chicken Wire Empire

July 5th
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit / Slightly Stoopid / Amine / Machine Gun Kelly / Brett Young / DJ Jazzy Jeff / Trampled By Turtles / Devin Dawson / Dead Horses / Jimmie Allen

July 6th
The Flaming Lips / Janelle Monae / Borns / O.A.R. / Judah & The Lion / Echosmith / Michael Franti and Spearhead / Hurray For The Riff Raff / Malo / Becca Mancari

July 7th
Phantogram / Kip Moore / Jon Batiste with The Dap Kings / Mayer Hawthorne / Gin Blossoms / Hunter Hayes / Howard Jones / Boney James / The Wild Feathers / Maxi Priest / Candlebox / Pop Evil / The James Hunter Six / Dorothy

July 8th
Cheap Trick / Timeflies / Victor Manuelle / Boz Scaggs / Anderson East / High Valley / Savannah Conley / Walter Lukens / Soccer Mommy


Yes, this is a great line up of huge headliners but you have to ask yourself if you are willing on putting up with the three hours in the car (more likely four) there and back and the crowds at Summerfest can be crazy big. It’s like Lolla, but a lot more older folks due to the diverse acts. Don’t get us wrong. $21 bucks to see Janelle Monae or Jason Isbell is a steal but you got to get to that stage early and camp it out to be able to get a place you can see from by the time the headliner goes on. But don’t let us discourage you from taking the trip. It is something every Chicagoan has to do at least once. That double bill of Manchester Orchestra and Arcade Fire is sure tempting us…

  • Join us next week for our photo essay of Maypole Fest at the EB and a review of local band Varsity’s new album Parallel Person and much more!

Till next week . . . See You At The Show Chicago!

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