Monday, November 12, 2018

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Greta On Fleek.

I've had a hard time squaring this in my head. Great Van Fleet was one of the best bands I saw at Lollapalooza this year, yet their debut album is leaving me cold.

I mean, I knew they were mining the Led Zepp fields from the first not of their set, but they were such a magnetic presence I was willing to just sink myself into the music. So I can't figure out why that energy didn't translate to Anthem For The Peaceful Army. What happened?

Take my word for it, I'm cool with bands mining their influences—the new Struts album is amazing—but this disc is just so, meh. None of the energy the band brings to the stage is evident. Which sucks. Perhaps it's just the result of too many cooks in the kitchen sucking the life out of the band's spontaneity?

All that said though, this thing will sell like mad. And if you have a chance to see them live you totally should!

Post-script: Title of this post totally taken from me calling the band the wrong name backstage. Whoops!

Monday, October 29, 2018


I've been "digital" since the early '90s, but being blocked by someone is definitely a more recent occurrence. My ex finally unblocked me from most of her profiles, and I'm grateful. I've regained a decade's worth of stuff that we shared. And I've learned to not talk about them. I know my ethos on this site, since 2001, has been to be honest. But I'm learning that there are some things you don't have the right to know.

I've been actively dating since the start of this year, and the early part of that was probably me moving too quick, but I haven't written about the people I've dated. And I'm not gonna do so.

So I'm crafting my own narrative now, and keeping it central to me. I thought I owed my readers full transparency, but as time as has gone on I realize you're looking in through a porthole and have probably seen too much.

Does this make me an unreliable narrator?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Triple Fast Action's final show!

It's no secret Triple Fast Action is probably my favorite Chicago bands that came out of the '90s signing frenzy that swept through town. A few years ago their drummer Brian sent me a DVD of their classic final show at Metro. The band tore through pretty much every song they ever wrote, and it ended up with every guitarist that had ever toured with them. I'm not gonna drop names, but stick around until the end of this video and your mind will be blown. I remember going to this gig with Photogal, and by the end of the evening both of us could barely stand.

I've seen few truly epic sets, despite the bajillion shows I've been to, but this was one of them.

Dig it.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

HotLips Messiah go big on their new album, ‘Disco Miscarriage.

HotLips Messiah is a Chicago quartet well known for their raucous live sets, led by their mesmerizing singer Traci Trouble. In a band where every member is careening around the stage, Trouble's charisma and searing energy help keep things as grounded as they can be. Which is to say bordering on the edge of chaos.

 The band has been hard at work over the last few years on their new album Disco Miscarriage, a sprawling double-album of 46 songs featuring a virtual who's who of the Chicago rock scene, including guest appearances from (and this is just a sampling) members of Naked Raygun, The Bollweevils, The Gravetones, and Destroy Everything.

While their stage shows are always one step away from complete and delicious implosion, the band's songwriting has grown ever tighter over the years, so expect this new opus from them to be something that will be something you cn dig into and unpeel listen after listen.

The band celebrates the album release at Cigars & Stripes tonight, October 25. The show begins at 7 p.m. as part of the venues's 9th Annual Freaktoberfest, and according to the press release, features "a beer tasting of 13, Big Ass, sought after beers including Founders KBS and other dark, gruesome beers." The tasting begins at 5 p.m.

 Chicago's The Hamburglars will open the show, and if you haven't seen their memorable take on just what a live band should look like, you definitely want to get their early for them. Fire dancer Kimchee Clownstar will also be performing throughout the night.

 Holy mackerel.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Big changes.

I'm moving in 2 days and have a ton of concerts this week so life has been a little hectic. But I'm also pretty excited to close this chapter of my life and move forward. And I had an encounter this weekend that I don't want to go into but it was incredibly positive and cathartic.

I'm feeling good about things in general. 2018 has been a rough year, but the horizon is brightening.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Feeling decadent.

I move next week. It's only across the street so that's lots of less stress. But I'm treating myself (mainly because the move is, well, so short) and having the movers pack my stuff. I mean, there are certain things I'm gonna pack myself (teddy bears, expensive artwork, erm, personal items) but holy heck, I love the idea of a bunch of folks just tearing through my house and packing everything in three hours.

Less than a week an counting.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

I've never gone this long without writing (here).


House is sold.

I'm moving.

Across the street. (I am not a fan of change.)

Mich and I speak sparingly, but at least we speak.

I'm still figuring this out, but I feel less lost.

Once I land a new gig, I have a feel everything will right itself. But I've managed the worst of it.

I hope she has too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

TFW your first meeting with your ex-wife is captured in print.

It had been online forever, but it was a slight shock to see me and Mich's first meeting make the jump from digital to paper. Especially jarring considering our divorce just became final a few months ago. At the same time it's extremely flattering (though I don't come off as well) to see that moment ambered in time. When I saw it I texted Mich—we now communicate, but still rarely—and both of us were a bit taken aback, I think. But I'm glad it's there. My marriage was a failure, but my relationship with her was not.

And for the record, Jess got it right; no one got in Mich's pants that night. But she did still stay over at my place afterwards, and it was the beginning of one of the best things to ever happen to me.

Last night my new girlfriend read the piece, and she laughed. There are funny bits in there! It felt pretty neat to be able to share something like this with her, and have her response be a positive one. Divorce itself sucks, but this piece reminded me of the beginning, and all the good things therein.

Also, while the names have been changed in this piece, I did totally get Mich's name wrong when introducing her to Jess.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

Still gathering my thoughts on Riot Fest.

One thing I've been enjoying about writing for different media outlets has been the return to me following my muse instead of just filing something as quickly as possible. So instead of rushing to type up a few quick notes about a couple various bands, I have the luxury of actually sitting on my thoughts for a day or two in order to write something more (I would hope) thoughtful and substantial. I think people care more about the festival experience as a whole, and less about a bunch of quick thoughts on this or that band's setlist. Given the response to my Lollapalooza write-up, I think this thinking is probably right. Is that gonna change how other media outlets sprint to get words up ASAP for fear they'll miss eyeballs? Probably not. But I do think it's the right approach, and I think as time goes on it'll gain more traction. In other words, we'll move back towards the days rock writing was actually writing. That makes me happy.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Solid contender for one of the best albums of 2018? Fer sure.

Photo by John Londono
The new Fucked Up has been on constant repeat for me. They really expand their sound waaaaaay further than the shouty punk you probably know them for with this one. It's long. It's ambitious. And I haven't tired of it yet.

I can't think of anything more punk rock than fearlessly messing with your recognized sound to achieve your artistic ambitions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Go! Summer ain't over yet.

I wrote about these folks a while ago and posted this tune's audio, but didn't even realize there was a video for it. To celebrate my return to regular writing in this space* (and in advance of me listening to their forthcoming new album, which I just downloaded) here's is Valley Lodge's "Go." And yes, you'll totally recognize the song and not realize how amazing it is after the first super familiar intro.

* It's been a rough summer. But I'm starting to feel optimistic about the future. I mean, I have to. And part of that is returning to regular writing again. I'm actually slightly embarrassed that after 15+ years of posting every weekday I stumbled, but again, it's bee a heckuva year. I think y'all needed a break from me as much as I needed a break from writing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Radio silence.

Yeah. The first time I haven’t written daily since 2002. Sue me. It’s been a rough year. Heck, I haven’t even been writing concert reviews. (Which is funny, because I’ve spoken them to folks and they’re like, “That’s totally complete! Just type it out!”)


So after 16 years I dropped the ball for a few days. But I’m back. So, stay tuned.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Digging deep into the rawk with The Dirty Nil.

The Dirty Nil are an Ontario-based trio that realize the fundamentals of a good rock song is melding massive hooks with even more massive guitars. I know, sounds simple, huh? But believe me, it ain't.  I've been listening to their upcoming Master Volume, and it's the kind of album you put on first thing in the morning to rev up for the day, or last thing at night because there's no reason to stop the party.

They just released a video (above) for "Bathed In Light," Master Volume's opener, and it gives you a good idea of where the band is headed. Trust me, the rest of the album is just as good.

Oh heck, here's another taste of what to expect.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

My thoughts on Lollapalooza 2018 are now up!

Head on over to Third Coast Review for my recap of this year's Lollapalooza. After years of rushing to do daily recaps it was nice to take some time and try to write something a little more comprehensive about the fest as a whole instead of just running through notes on a million bands. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Post-fest funk.

Something no one ever seems to write about is the series of blahs in the days that follow attending a large festival. This is especially true of a festival that stretches across, oh say, five days for me. It's not a depression, per se. It's more that your body and brain have been running on overstimulated overdrive for more days in a row than it's used to, so there's an inevitable recovery period.

For me that recovery usually takes a day. Historically I take the Monday off any festival off to recharge. But I must be getting older because now it's day two and I'm still run down. Maybe it's just because I'm still in-between jobs, and in the past I sort of willed myself to recharge a little faster? I don't know. But it sure is making me feel old to see Pickle the Kitten being more active throught the day than I am!