Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Thirty days.

Today marks the longest time I've gone without an alcoholic beverage in 30 days since 1995. Tomorrow will mark the longest time I've gone without a drink since the late '80s (!).

I decided a while ago it was time to make a change, a transformation, since I'm roughly halfway (only halfway, hopefully!) through my life and I'd like to make my coming years as awesome as possible. And part of that means approaching them with a clear head and a renewed focus on spirituality and doing the right things for the people (and world) around me. And putting bad habits behind me.

I know 30 days doesn't sound like a really long time, but it's just the beginning for me. I'll go into more detail about all of this at a later time, but I just wanted to share the positive news.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lester Holt's finest work to date.

Lester Holt was a longtime Chicago reporter before his well deserved leap to the national media stage. I thought he did a great job last night of moderating in a firm yet fair manner during the Presidential debate, and he should be extremely proud of that. But I still believe this golden oldie is my favorite video piece of his, and everyone who has served on a jury in Cook County is sure to agree with me.



My friends, that is a power mustache.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The great debate.

I learned two things listening to tonight's debate over the radio:

  1. Hillary has what it takes to be a good president. The end. Vote for her.
  2. Donald Trump seems to believe that repeating a lie over and over and over again must have the magical power of making that lie eventually true. At least I hope that's what he was thinking, otherwise I am even more frightened than I already should be.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Politics.

I am simply perplexed. Vote Hillary. The end. Are you a liberal who simply doesn't like Hillary so you'll cast your vote for a third party candidate? Now is not the time to "take a stand." It will be your fault if we end up handing the country over to a dangerous, unstable, man-child / demagogue.

Think about that. Then do the right thing. More people are on the side of right in this election; let's not annihilate our country by allowing a catastrophe to emerge from a fracture of semantics.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I've always preferred Cat Power's funkier side.



Not new by any stretch—I've been digging the single since it dropped months ago—but I finally got around to listening to the rest of Cassius' Ibifornia and it reminded me just what a sublime little track this is, especially when stretched out to 8+ minutes. So dig the single edit then hunt out the full-length version if you want to throw an extended private dance party at your desk / couch / wherever you may be located at right this moment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Post-fest fever.

If there's one thing I can count on, it's that I will often catch a terrible summer cold / flu after any music festival. I used to think it was because I'd abuse my body for too many days in a row, but now I realize it's probably just brought on by fields of blowing dust and the germs of a couple thousand people assaulting me non-stop over three to four days.

In other words: I'm dying right now. Hack hack cough cough!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Riot Fest 2016—it's a wrap! And a few additional notes from me...

Some guy totally ruined my excellent selfie!
Riot Fest was a blast this year. There were the usual naysayers who griped and grumbled about some things, but my personal experience was great. Here are a few quick notes about things we didn't get to address in our coverage on Chicagoist.

Morrissey
People complained about his 30 minute pre-show video (some blaming Riot Fest itself for "stalling" under the misconception Morrissey was being difficult about appearing) when this is something he shows BEFORE EVERY SINGLE SHOW HE PLAYS. There were also complaints about vendors not being allowed to sell meat during his set, which I admit was a bit of a stretch but also his prerogative given his highly principled stand against eating meat. I mean, theoretically he could have tried to ask for what he usually does and ban all meat sales, period.

And finally people were upset he didn't play a hits-heavy set, but I walked away satisfied, especially given his powerful performance of the rather prescient 2006 song "Ganglord." I thought his set was, in general, pretty punk rock.*

The layout
Riot Fest finally hit on near perfection with the layout of stages, food and vendors. The grounds were extremely easy to navigate and aside from particularly packed sets on the Rock Stage where the crowds reached back into gently rolling hills, I didn't encounter anything even remotely resembling a bottleneck. This includes exiting through the main gates at the end of each day. Kudos.

The bars
I didn't drink this year (more on that later) but I LOVED the fact that instead of generic beer tents, the bars were sponsored by Liar's Club, Cobra Lounge, Double Door, Motoblot and Reggie's—all local establishments with deep and vibrant roots into the local music scene. And they served beer in cans instead of out of kegs, which seemed to make the drinkers I ran into pretty happy.

Free water
O.K., this is the one area that could use work. Maybe next year they'll figure out how to add more water stations?

The crowd for Andrew W.K.just before everything went completely bonkers.
Happy discoveries
I had just about zero downtime this year because even when I wasn't covering a set I was supposed to catch for the Chicagoist reviews, I tended to stumble across pleasant surprises all weekend long. This included an intimate set by a band that shows future promise, The Walters; Violent Soho, an act that sounds like old school '90s aggressive fuzz pop Chicago and made me appreciate their latest album in a different light; the over-the-top reductive silliness of All Time Low, which I found kind of endearing in an odd way; The Vandals, duh; the crazy fun of Chevy Metal, which hadn't even been on my radar; the absolute power and insane crowd of The Wonder Years; and my way-to-late-to-the-party new appreciation for Motion City Soundtrack. And that's on top of what I had planned to cover and was responsible for.

The Misfits
It was packed and the sound varied depending on where you were, but I walked away happy and heard just about every single song by that band I could possibly want to see live. After too many years of either seeing The Misfits or Glenn Danzig at Riot Fest it was a true joy to see the band get back together. And if you were one of the casual fans who left early because you didn't get it, you fucked up.

The neighborhood
So far the only report of violence in the "bad" neighborhood Riot Fest's new home of Douglas Park I've seen involved a Riot Fest attendee on Riot Fest attendee attack. I even took a walk through the other side of the park—which is truly gorgeous—and enjoyed some quiet time by its lagoon (pond?) and lush greenery. Sure, Humboldt park was closer to where I live, but this location seems to offer Riot Fest great logistics, lovely surroundings and a supportive local community all too happy to set up numerous food stands and bring some more cash into the neighborhood, from what I could see. (And from what I can tell, there are quite a few Humboldt Park businesses none too happy with their Alderman for driving Riot Fest away...)

It's impossible for me to look at this photo and not laugh.
DIY
Riot Fest is still run by a small team. When you see how huge it's become—and believe me you don't know a fraction of what goes into it since attendees are completely oblivious to the small city hidden behind those screened fences surrounding the concert grounds—it's even more impressive that it's still a privately held affair. Even the handful of sponsors were aligned with the fest's philosophies and pretty much completely unobtrusive. No stages with corporate names to b seen here!

Sobriety and gratitude
This was my first Riot Fest where I didn't drink a drop of booze. And I still really enjoyed myself. I was graciously given a pass with lots of access but all I partook in was the free water and coffee. There was free food as well, but I spent my money on the local vendors on the festival grounds instead. I reckoned it was the very least I cold do when gifted with great access while others paid a pretty penny for their tickets. In fact this was the first year I was sober for all the major music festivals and it just made me appreciate even more just how lucky I am to attend these events and take in so many great bands. I've been writing about music for 27 years now, and I never take anything for granted just because I've been doing this for so long. Every concert is still an event for me (no matter how much I might grumble at times about being tired or sore or exhausted) an I hope it will always stay that way.

Thanks again, Riot Fest. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Check out our coverage on Chicagoist:

*I'm still bummed some people misinterpreted our Morrissey-related headline on Saturday and didn't actually read our piece since I think they missed the nuance that hed was trying to convey, something that actually taking in Stephen's thoughtful review of Morrissey's set would have immediately countered and clarified. Stop just reading headlines and pretending you get all the content of an article out of them, people!

Friday, September 16, 2016

My dogs are barking.

Day one of Riot Fest is over and my feet are broken. Seriously. I'm hobbling around like an old man! The forecast called for rain so I wore my boots, which are on their last legs (oof, no pun intended) instead of something sensible. And then it didn't rain.

Oh, how were the bands? Good enough to make me forget about the agony my lower extremities were in until I returned home!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"How does he skate in those jeans?"



This has been making the rounds again, so I'm sharing it for those who might have missed it. It could've easily been titled When Grunge Ruled The World™ if it weren't for the fact this clip was shot about four years after the death of "grunge."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tele Novella's "Heavy Baloon."



Tele Novella's new album is a nice like slice of catchy, old school indie rock, and "Heavy Balloon" is my favorite trackoff it. So I'm pleased to see they chose it for their first video!

If you live in Chicago they play Redline Tap on September 30.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Cheerleader is my new band crush and they might just be yours as well.


I hit up three shows in three days over this weekend, and they were all good.* But the biggest surprise was Cheerleader's opening set at last night's Caveman show at Schubas.** Prior to a couple hours earlier that Sunday I had never heard of Philadelphia's Cheerleader. I walked out of the venue a fan and haven't been able to stop streaming their debut full-length, The Sunshine Of Your Youth,  today.

Cheerleader describes themselves as an "Indie Haze-Pop Quintet from Philadelphia" but that kind of undercuts their actual sound, since their songs are filled with bouncy hooks and a rhythm section that demands you dance, not gaze dreamily into the distance. And there's just something so solidly optimistic about their sound—something that doesn't feel like it happens all that often any more without the results being stifling. The Sunshine Of Your Youth is wide open and welcoming. So give into it.

If you only have time for a song or two, jump to "A Million Ways" or "Perfect Vision," and then just try not to listen to all the other songs. You'll be hooked.



*For the record: Friday was Matthew Sweet and Material Reissue at Park West and Saturday was Band Of Skulls—who were far better than I had expected and may now be my favorite frontrunner of all the heavy blues based bands, even outstripping The Black Keys at this point.

**Caveman was also really good, even pulling out a cover of The Stone Roses' "I Wanna Be Adored" for their encore, but to my ears the night really belonged to Cheerleader.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Wicked "Warszawa" cover!

Donny McCaslin's jazz combo backed David Bowie on his final album Blackstar a.k.a. Blackstar, and the band just released a mid-period Bowie cover of Warszawa. They take the song's gently swelling synth basis and blow it into another dimension of tension through the band's instrumentation and inventive arrangement.

Dig it.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

What does ACD stand for?

Figure 1, keeping me grounded
I'm glad you asked. It stands for "Associate Creative Director," which coincidentally is my new job title. That's right kids, little Tankboy got a promotion! That means I'm the day-to-day creative lead on a whole bunch of accounts and I can't tell you how excited I am to tackle this new-ish role (like any promotion, I've already been handling most if not all of the tasks the role demands on my current accounts—it's how you get promoted, silly!).

This is really exciting news, and I am eternally beholden to all of my awesome co-workers—nay, teammates—who I have worked along side over the past few years. I can't wait to take this next step of my closerlook journey with such an amazing group of people.

Of course, the only person not impressed by this news? Pickle the Kitten (see Figure 1, above). She helps keep me humble.

Let's celebrate with a song! This one has no lyrical connection or meaning, I just have always found it super sonically bubbly and catchy and it does kind of mirror my current mood sound-wise.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

This is not a parody. In fact this TV show ran for FIVE seasons!!!



Notice that the only person sexualized in these opening credits is Lorenzo Lama. Presumably because Lorenzo didn't want anyone else to seem sexier than him.

Please be careful watching this since there is a chance your jaw will break as it plummets to the floor.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

This needs to be a stand-alone sitcom in the Marvel Universe.



I love that Marvel has a sense of humor, but I love even more that Chris Hemsworth pulls this off while still remaining convincingly in character.

Bonus points for the extra Avenger cameo.
.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Takin' today off....

...because I don't feel like laboring on Labor Day. I've actually been up and busy since 6 a.m. so it's not like I'm completely work free today, but I think I can skip a post that requires too much effort. Oh holy heck, just typing this counts as effort, right? Auuuugh! Looks like I labored on this post on Labor Day—albeit just a bit—after all!

Friday, September 02, 2016

Day before the holiday weekend.

The office is nearly empty.

I think I'm the only left who actually has any work to do.

And we are all counting down the seconds until the clock strikes three and we are free, free, FREE for the looooong holiday weekend!

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Decreasing poundage.

I'm down almost 20 pounds over the last three months. And I expect I'll drop anther 10 to 15 in the next three. The first half of this weight decrease was probably driven by unhealthy habits, the next half will be driven by building positive habits. I'm looking forward to getting in even better shape the right way!