Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hey VARSITY, just settle down!

VARSITY, photo by Aleia + Alex
I can’t remember how I got into Chicago’s VARSITY in the first place. It feels like I might have either stumbled into an opening set of the band, or maybe they were recommended to me by Keep. Or did i ever try and book them at some point? No clue.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard anything new from the band, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a Bandcamp email this morning alerting me that they had a new song!

Given the dire mood of the past couple days, this blast of pop hits the spot, even if its own lyrics aren’t quite as filled with sunshine as the music.

It looks like they also shot a video for the tune, if you feel more visually inclined today.

It looks they are also on tour! Happyface! Though it appears I missed their Chicago show. Sadface.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


I've been offline most of the day, home sick with a summer cold that just won't let go, and of course as soon as I logged on this evening I was met with this news. Not that I should have been surprised. But what is it going to take for Republicans as a whole to turn on this guy and just remove him from office before he systematically dismantles and crushes an entire nation through his own willful ignorance?

Monday, August 14, 2017

I’m speechless.

Every time I think things can’t get any worse, that the U.S. must have finally hit bottom bottom, I am proven horrifically wrong.

I don’t even know what to say.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Kesha's 'Rainbow' is finally out.

You should buy it now.

I mean, I am certain I will spill a couple hundred words on it within the next few days but trust me when I say this is definitely worth your hard-earned cash. You won't regret picking it up.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Huge, fuzzy, chunky power-pop thy name is Partner.

Partner, photo by Colin Medley
Oh my god oh my god oh my god file this debut by Partner under one of those albums you happen to play as soon as you get it and it totally makes your day and possibly becomes your instantaneous favorite album of the month and you then wonder how you made it this far into the summer without this album existing because it is sunshine and it is smiley faces and it is everything upbeat and positive and almost blinding in its pinpoint pop sensibilities (with the only misstep being the dotting of there trackless with some skits but hey you can delete those after an initial listen and once you do the album that was nigh perfect is even more so) and you want everyone to hear the whole thing RIGHT THIS SECOND but OH NO IT ISN’T OUT UNTIL SEPTEMBER 8 so you resign yourself to sharing a single song and simultaneously pity both everyone around you who isn’t listening to the whole album along with you and yourself for having to enjoy this piece of wonder in solitary because something like this is meant to be listened to with all your friends past, present, and future and JESUS this is really good and thank you Josée Caron and thank you  Lucy Niles for creating this album and making this the absolute best Thursday this Thursday could be.

Oh yeah. Partner plays Township in Chicago on September 28. Oh, and in Palatine at Dirty Nellie’s (?!) with PUP (???!!!I might have to travel to the homeland???!!!) on October 3.

Here's another song on the album that's not streaming on the album but available in single form so you can at least get another taste of the delicious brew this Canadian duo has concocted.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Oh. Did I mention I saw Parry Farrell sing with Foo Fighters in one of my favorite concert venues of all time last weekend?

Oh, I didn't? Well, I did.

Also, in case you’re wondering, I shot this without being that annoying guy at the show holding his phone above his head and blocking everyone’s view. Instead I was in the back of the room, against a doorway (it was packed in there) with no one directly behind me.

The handful of times I have filmed whole songs of bands—the very last one ever performed by The Postal Service is one of the other very few (which was exactly four years to the day from the Foo Fighters' show!)—I hold my phone against my chest if I’m not against a wall.

So no, don’t worry, I’m not that guy.

Anyway, enjoy!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

An unexpected media vacation courtesy Lollapalooza really hit the spot.

From Thursday through Monday most of my digital activity was in the realm of producing content via both my personal social channels and public articles on Chicagoist. One side effect of Lolla is you have almost no cell reception throughout the entire weekend, and when you do get a bar or two of signal I tend to use it to send out observations and reports and not waste it sucking down content. So that meant I read news stories in one or two windows of time a day (usually at home in the morning right after I finished writing and in the late afternoon via the wi-fi in the media area) and boy was that a nice change of pace.

I would love to say I learned something from this brief respite, like that I would continue to stagger consumption, but I know I won't.*

I'm jut going to appreciate how nice it was, even for such a brief period of time.

*Although, truly, if these keeps up, I will have to start rationing. We keep saying this can't keep up, and it does. Even with Trump ostensibly on vacation (incidentally not a move I consider it worth criticizing him for since everyone is due a vacation, even a President I don't care for, and in the President's case there is no real such thing as a vacation nyway so stop trying to use this as lame excuse to paint Trump as lacy, in this respect) the news cycle is running at a rate that would send a hamster wheel into hyperspace.

Monday, August 07, 2017

The fourth day of Lollapalooza was ... the last day.

Time to go home, until next year, *sniff, sniff*
Arcade Fire was great. Lollapalooza was great. It was my 18th Lolla, and Mich's 13th. I know, WHAT??

Check out the wrap-up of Sunday's music and mayhem on Chicagoist.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

The third day of Lollapalooza was ... just right!

I like this photo of Chance I took. Little Chance flanked by two BIG Chances!
Finally! We got awesome weather!

Oh yeah, and the music was good too. Read all about Saturday's Lolla goings on at Chicagoist.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Thursday, August 03, 2017

The calm before the storm.

For once the title is literal. Bracing for rain today. Is Lollapalooza a Lollapalooza if there isn't some sort of crazy weather warning going into it? I would like to think, one year, the answer will be yes.

But this isn't that year and I am packing a poncho!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Lollapalooza 2017 is almost here! Are you prepared?

This anxiety-inducing photo is courtesy of Soaring Badger Productions. It’s not as scary from ground level, I promise.
Four days of music, parties, afterparties, writing, more writing, more music, and trying to remind myself I need to eat some food then realizing it's 9 p.m. and I haven't had lunch, much less dinner!

Anyway, to help everyone get prepared here are some helpful posts I worked on that you should check out if you want to make the most of the coming looooong weekend.

Our Lollapalooza 2017 Survival Guide & Cheat Sheet

Lollapalooza 2017: 21 Acts We're Looking Forward To This Weekend

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

How much new music did I listen to in July 2017? Let's find out!

"Hey, what're you listening to?"
Huh, judging by the numbers, July was truly the cruelest month. I definitely found myself digging more into back catalogs of favorite artists as the more recent releases piled up scores of 2s and 3s.

Also, I bought and moved into a house, so that ate into my usual listening time. So, there's that.

Here’s hoping that after Lollapalooza I’ll be facing a new stream of more excellent releases!

In case you’re new to these monthly recaps, or need a refresher, here's a guide to making sense of my personal rating system.

Total number of new/upcoming releases listened to in June 2017: 52

Number of those releases that rated 7-10: 0

Number of those releases that rated 4-6: 35

Number of those releases that rated 1-3: 17

Highest rated album: Arcade Fire’s Everything Now. I know it’s getting slammed left and right, but I liked it. That said, it only warranted a 6 so it didn’t strike me as a grand artistic achievement, just a fun listen. As I get older I could care less whatWin Butler is saying; I’m just glad the music fund its groove again. I guess that’s why most people hate it? Not serious enough? Whatever.

New band I’d never heard of that caught me off guard: Aye Nako’s Silver Haze hits all the right button in me. It’s all '90s sloppy indie guitars and slurry vocals.Honestly, I need to give this another listen to see if I like it because it presses the right buttons or because it stands on its own. But for now, it counts as catching me off guard.

Most surprising discovery: That Lana Del Rey is capable of a few good songs. What isn’t surprising is she ruined the chance to do something great by releasing an overstuffed LP when and EP of duets would have been a better choice.

Monday, July 31, 2017

My limbs are all a-tinglin', feelin' like Needles//Pins.

Sometimes my immediate notes in my spreadsheet where I track everything I listen to, tell you everything about a band you really need to immediately know. Case in point these musings on Needles//Pins as I listened to their latest album, Good Night, Tomorrow.
Gravely, growly, shout-y punk rock. Sounds like lots of arms around shoulders, swaying and almost breaking into a pit populated by late-40-ish-year-olds remembering the old days and having a genuinely good time. In fact they're a younger trio out of Vancouver. Cool!
If I was gonna pick a "hit single" off the disc, it'd be "Miracle." Dig it.

Oh well, whaddya know! As I was typing this I dug back into my email for any other info I should include and it looks like the band agrees with me on "Miracle," since they made it into a video!

Boy, am I swift or what?

The band plays Quenchers in Chicago on August 13, and even though I no longer live around the corner from there, there's a good chance that's where you'll find me that evening.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Arcade Fire let their hair down.

Arcade Fire photo by Guy Aroch
The new Arcade Fire album is fun. Some people appear turned off by that in fear the band has traded their authentic intensity for marketability—listen to the lyrics and you'll se that's not the case, and in fact this is probably an intentional blend of art and accessibility that in the end I didn't really care about one way or the other as long as it kept the vibe going—but I find I keep playing it because it sounds good and makes me feel good. What a concept!

Read my full review of Everything Now on Chicagoist.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Here's a new tune from Waltham to brighten your day!

I am bonkers busy today so I'll keep this short.

Waltham are masters of the power power-pop genre, and it's been far too long since their last musical outing, 2014's Wicked Waltham EP. Hopefully the new "Summer Nights," featuring backing vocals by ex-Damone singer Noelle Leblanc, is a sign that the band is back in production mode. But even if there's nothing more new forthcoming, this is a welcome treat from the band.

Peep the video above, download (pay what you want or free!) the track below.

Oh, and everyone give thanks to Keep for making sure I was aware of this as soon as it made its surprise appearance earlier today!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Paul McCartney last night? It's turning out to be a pretty jaw-dropping week for live shows for me.

Photo by me
I've seen Paul McCartney three times over the past few years, and each time I keep expecting him to start coasting on the nostalgia and phone it in, and every time he only puts on a more energetic show than the last. I strongly suspect that since he returned to touring in 2003 and locked in with his current band, and hasn't really stopped since, being on the road is the thing that just charges his battery and keeps him from growing any older. In fact, he might be aging in reverse!

Read my full review of last night's show on Chicagoist.

Also, last night was the closest I've been to the man—17th row, just off center—and I'm still feeling a little awestruck.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I finally saw Roger Waters and it was amazing.

Photo by me
Pink Floyd is one of my favorite bands of all time,  and was one of the groups that not only got me through high school but sent me firmly down the road of music collecting as I searched out rare pressings and bootlegs of everything they put out. And I am also a big fan of Roger Waters' solo work—I believe The Pros Ad Cons Of Hitchhiking is terribly underrated and still listen to it frequently, and the original version of Radio KAOS was much more interesting than what was eventually released (even if it is hampered by '80s production tricks and tropes)—so it seems unbelievable that I had never seen him perform live.*

Sunday night I finally righted that wrong and had amazing seats to see an amazing show. You can read my full review of it over on Chicagoist. It includes video of local singer Eddie Vedder joining Waters for "Comfortably Numb" that was a pleasant surprise but not even nearly the greatest thing about the show.

I shouldn't even need to say this, but if you get a chance to catch this tour you need to BUY TICKETS RIGHT NOW if you still can.

*I've never seen Pink Floyd either, but for some reason not having seen Waters has always bothered me more.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Happy birthday Metro! Here's to 35 more years ... at least!

I still can't believe I happened across this and was able to snap a photo on my way in Saturday night. 
The Metro is celebrating it’s 35th anniversary this year, and last weekend was it’s official birthday party. It was a fun-filled evening of DJ sets from people with deep ties to the venue, film retrospectives of various eras of the club’s history, and a number of folks were invited ahead of time to share some of their own memories of what the club has meant to them. For some reason I was asked to join that latter esteemed group (I could not have felt more honored to be able to participate).

As I thought back to my own history with Metro I was amazed, though I really shouldn’t have been, how entwined out musical histories are. I tried to share some of the my personal firsts and highlights as I hit the stage for my allotted five minutes; which, of course, I sped through in three … how punk rock of me! Here's a video of it!* Oh yeah, and the intro got cut off, so magine Don Halls over-the-top energy when readig the following.

DON HALL: Our next speaker says about his first show at Metro, “If I remember correctly my first Metro show was House Of Love in 1990, and the venue had me thinking it was the hugest, coolest place to eve see a show. Obviously as the years have passed its still the coolest, but now I realize how awesomely intimate the space is.” Please welcome Jim Kopeny to the stage.

Now that you’ve seen what I actually said, here re my unused notes from the night. I had planned to go onstage and refer to my phone to make sure I didn’t miss any pertinent highlights. That was my plan until one of the earlier speakers, a teenage poet, went up there and absolutely stayed with an excellent pom he had memorized, with nary a cheat sheet or note card in sight. So I caved and braved it sans notes. And of course in doing so, missed a couple memories I wish I hadn’t skipped over.

So, now that you’ve seen the video, read the original notes below and you can probably fill in the missing pieces with my voice.
Thoughts on Metro - 7.22.17
Relative newcomer to the The Metro. I've only been coming here for 27 of its 35 years. 
Didn't get out much in the '80s, too busy collecting and building shows in my own head 
House of love - Guy Chadwick guitar string almost took my eyes out
Moved south so missed the early '90s
Hovercraft / Foo Fighters / Mike Watt - May 1995 (FF album July 4) - 1st show back in Chicago
Alanis Morrissette -1st photo pass - July 1995
Tuscadero - danced to rock music in SmartBar
Sloan - heard the heavy rock in their live sound made them one of my favorites 
Sarge - First band interview in green room (Elizabeth didn't recognize me ha!)
Flaming Lips through all various incarnations freaky 5-piece guitar band to trio
First celebrity meet and greet - Afghan Whigs 98 or 99 (learned celebrities hate meet and greets)
Naked Raygun - taste of what I missed the first time around
Triple Fast Action final show
Wife photographing band for first time
Carly Rae - broke perfect record of never getting kicked out of a show (misunderstanding over press pass and let back in)
Foo Fighters again - full circle
Written about and photographed so many bands and I felt lucky to witness every one even the ones I ended up not liking at the time 
Jane's Addiction - met Barb Glomski through Mich later and learned just how legendary that night was
Gish album release
Those are my only regrets. Why? Because Metro is the best rock club in the world. Everyone wants to play here. 
And the simple reason is every show here is special. I know that sounds like a cliche at worst and disingenuous at best, but it's true. 
There's a magic in the walls. A vibe in the room. An inescapable feel that everything in here MATTERS whether it's to a room of 5 or packed to overflowing. 
Oh yeah. Tonight is another first. This is the first time I've ever stood on stage in this room, looking out. Metro did it again. Always surprising me with new things no matter how long I've been coming there. 
Thank you again to all The Metro staff I’ve encountered since the first day I walked into that amazing room. And thank you most of all to Joe Shanahan, the man behind the legendary room. It is not an understatement to say that without Joe, your understanding of modern music might not have been the same. I’m not kidding. When you see the list of bands that have played that room, often before they were popular and still needed nurturing from the handful of clubs that could help sustain nascent touring careers, you will find you have to agree with me.

And the astounding thing is the man is a pioneer and you still see him in the balcony at shows more times than not, because the guy is just that in love with music.

Happy birthday Metro. I wouldn't be who I am now without you.

*Yes, it's shot vertically. Get over it. It was shot as a favor for me so if I can live with it so can you. Now if you want to complain about the dude talking, I can't do much for you there.