Thursday, February 15, 2024

Jon Brion² in Chicago!!!

Sixteen years after I saw him play Hideout, I finally got a chance to see Jon Brion perform Tuesday night at Empty Bottle. I considered myself lucky, since Brion never comes to the Midwest, and I felt like I was going into last night as a seasoned pro…until Nora pointed out she’s seen him over THREE DOZEN TIMES! I have rarely been so jealous of my own girlfriend, but if I could see him play weekly at Largo, I would’ve made it a regular occurrence too!

The Bottle show was 2+ hours of musical joy, and one of the very few times I not only stood in line ahead of doors opening, but stood right in front of the stage like a fanboy. In retrospect, it was a little distracting to be standing inches away from Brion at almost eye level.

Since I’m no longer out covering music 5–7 days a week, seeing two weekday shows is a rarity for me these days, and two consecutive shows by the same artist is nigh unheard of, but when Jon Brion makes a rare trip to Chicago, you DO NOT MISS IT. So last night we trekked to The Salt Shed for a showing of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind preceded by a shorter performance from the trio, and followed by a Q&A with Brion. I feel incredibly lucky—and slightly indulgent—to have enjoyed not only hours of live music from Brion—backed by / collaborating with Jay Bellerose and Jennifer Condos—AND a relatively wide-ranging Q&A I found largely illuminating.*

During the Q&A last night I did get to ask him to clarify when he was coming back to town, since at The Bottle he had hinted it would be soon. Sounds like while nothing is set at this time, he does seem interested in doing more shows outside L.A. in the near future. So, as with everything Brion, we’ll just have to wait and see if the stars align.

Want a few more shots? You're in luck!


UPDATED 2/15: Whoa! It appears someone recorded Tuesday night's full set! Listen to the whole thing below.

*After their set last night, I saw Bellerose as he was leaving and ran up to him excitedly jabbering about how much I loved his drumming, and then I saw Condos and could only seem to form enough words to say “your bass work is amazing,” probably sounding like a fool to both. Then again, shoving my foot in my mouth around people I respect is pretty par for the course, so...

Friday, February 09, 2024

Jesus jones live at the height of their early powers? Yes, please!

My history with Jesus Jones extends all the way back to the late '80s when the cover of the Liquidizer cassette caught my eye at a Sound Warehouse. A minute or two at the listening station convinced me I'd finally found something I'd longed for—a heavy rock band that was just as equally heavy a dance band, while retaining melody instead of turning down the more Industrial routes growing more and more popular at the time. 

I first saw the band in 1991 when I was reviewing their openers Ned's Atomic Dustbin both as a fan of that band and as an excuse to see the band I really loved headline. That era of the band's sound is probably my personal favorite, and last year I eagerly picked up a limited-edition LP of a 1990 show at The Metro—I literally waited for this full show to be released for years, always hoping that the smattering of live b-sides tracks recorded then might be released as a complete concert.*

Earlier this week Jesus Jones dropped a live recording from the tour that followed, from a show the band seems to unanimously agree (art least as far as I can see) that the show from the Trocadero in San Francisco stands as one of the group's favorite live experiences ever. After buying it and giving it a listen, I cans why they would. Give it a spin blow and consider adding it to your permanent collection if you dig it too. It is an older recording, and while I believe the Metro show benefitted from a proper recording rig—I thought this was recorded by WXRT's mobile unit, but can't find confirmation of that, so maybe my brain is faulty—this recording exhibits some of the hiss and slight muddiness of the time. But it sounds like "home" to my ears.

I was supposed to see Jesus Jones play last year just before my trip to see Blur at Wembley, but the show had to be postponed for logistical reasons. Luckily the band has sorted those issues out, are heading out back on the road, and will be playing on March 27 at Space, in Evanston.