Wednesday, November 28, 2007

December Shows In Chicago

Sat 12/01
AIDS Wolf, Waterbabies, Lazer Crystal, Karma with a K, Slutbarf @ Reggie’s Rock Club 10pm*

Prefuse 73, Voice of The Seven Woods, Blank Blue @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Sun 12/02
Modest Mouse @ Congress Theatre 5:30pm#

Tues 12/04
Man Man, Bronze @ Av-aerie 9pm#

Bob Schneider, AM @ Schubas 8pm

Wed 12/05
Bob Schneider, AM @ Schubas 8pm

Danbert Nobacon, Ring of Truth, 2 Wheels and a Heart @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Zookeeper, WW Lowman, The Whole Fantastic World @ Beat Kitchen 8:30pm

Thurs 12/06
Richard Hawley (of Pulp), Ferraby Lionheart @ Abbey Pub 8:30pm

White Magic, Mittens on Strings, Unlucky Atlas @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Fri 12/07
Cold War Kids @ Metro 6:30pm#

The Swimmers, Smallwire, Bad Veins @ Subterranean 9:30pm

Balkan Beat Box @ Logan Square Auditorium 8:30pm

Sat 12/08
The Redwalls, Johnathan Rice @ Metro 6pm

The Most Serene Republic, Mock Orange, Blueblood @ Beat Kitchen 9pm

Indian, Rabid Rabbit, Den of Vipers @ Hideout 9pm

Tatsu Aoki’s MIYUMI Project, Roomate, Kaspar Hauser @ AV-aerie 8pm

Gravity A, The Drastics, Avagami, The Other Planets, Philip Morris & Awdazcate, Simon Lott, Brian Coogan, Hypercolor, Wosko, Faulds, Jason Steele Ensemble, Doppler Shift @ Subterranean 4pm

Sun 12/09
Oxford Collapse, Ultra Sonic Edukators, Farewell Captain @ Darkroom 9pm

D Numbers, Lonesome Organist, Tomorrow Music Orchestra, Algernon, Silences Sumire, Matt Ulrey’s Loom, Mind v.s. Target, Box 3, Zing @ Subterranean 4pm

Mon 12/10
CoCoComa, The Dials, Catburglars @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Tues 12/11
The Lemonheads, Racoon, The New Rivals @ Double Door 8pm

Vampire Weekend, Grand Ole Party, All Smiles @ Schubas 9pm

Aimee Mann, Special Guests @ Vic Theater (2nd Annual Christmas Show) 7:30pm

Lavender Diamond @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Wed 12/12
The Lemondheads, Racoon, The New Rivals @ Double Door 8pm

Dilinger Escape Plan, A Life Once Lost, Genghis Tron, Digital Leather @ Subterranean 6pm

Mt. St. Helens, Ozark Cousins, Driftless Pony Club, May Or May Not, Sleep Out, Kris Racer, Post Honeymoon @ Schubas 7:30pm

David Daniell, Bruce Lamont, Jon Mueller @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Silverchair, Silversun Pickups, Strata @ House of Blues 5:30pm

Thurs 12/13
Shellac, Bitter Tears @ Hideout 9pm%

Russian Circles, These Arms Are Snakes, Holy Roman Empire @ Double Door 8pm

The Gnomes, The Bon Mots, Le Concorde @ Schubas 8pm

Fri 12/14
Shellac, Tight Phatomz @ Hideout 9pm%

Sybris, Headlights, Reds and Blue @ Empty Bottle 10pm

The New Amsterdams, Canasta @ Schubas 10pm

Adult, Angela Desveauz, Arouretum, Archer Prewitt, Bobby Conn, Brokeback, Califone, Eleventh Dream Day, The Fiery Furnaces, Freakwater, Fred Anderson, Frequency, Pit Er Pat, The Sea and Cake, Thalia Zedek, Trans Am, The Zincs @ Logan Square Auditorium (Thrill Jockey Bday: 2-day Pass) 7pm#

Bitchy, The Pullers @ The Note 9pm

Sat 12/15
Shellac, Allroh @ Hideout 9pm%

Shellac, Bear Claw @ Hideout 12am%

Wu Tang Clan @ Metro 10pm

Terrible Twos @ Schubas 1pm

The New Amsterdams, David Singer @ Schubas 7pm

Rriiccee (featuring Vincent Gallo) @ Schubas 10:30pm

Adult, Angela Desveauz, Arouretum, Archer Prewitt, Bobby Conn, Brokeback, Califone, Eleventh Dream Day, The Fiery Furnaces, Freakwater, Fred Anderson, Frequency, Pit Er Pat, The Sea and Cake, Thalia Zedek, Trans Am, The Zincs @ Logan Square Auditorium (Thrill Jockey Bday: 2-day Pass) 7pm

Sun 12/16
Shellac, Helen Money @ Hideout 12pm%

Shellac, Quatre Tete @ Hideout 9pm%

Mon 12/17
Awesome Color, Velcro Lewis & His 100 Proof Band @ The Note 9pm

Wed 12/19
Behold…. the Arctopus @ Subterranean 9pm

Gil Mantera’s Party Dream, Baby Teeth, Inspector Owl @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Thurs 12/20
Tigercity, Via Audio, Prairie Cartel @ Subterranean 8:30pm

Fri 12/21
OFFICE, Mannequin Men, The 1900’s, The Narrator @ Metro 9pm

Sat 12/22
SSM, The Countdown, Satin Peaches, The Ivorys, The Silent Years, Alex Winston @ Logan Square Auditorium 6pm

Sun 12/23
Marla Hansen @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Tues 12/25
Jesus @ Everywhere 6pm

Wed 12/26
The Record Low, Joe Pug @ Schubas 8pm

Sun 12/30
Umphrey’s Mcgee, Tortoise @ Aragon Ballroom 7pm

Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s, Catfish Haven @ Schubas 9pm

Mon 12/31
Spoon (w/ Special Guest) @ Metro 10pm#^

Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s, Catfish Haven @ Schubas 10pm

Black Kids @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Local H, Kung Fu Grip @ Subterranean 9pm

Pegboy, The Methadones, The Arrivals, The Brokedowns @ The Note 8pm!

*Looking for the perfect date spot? How about a romantic evening with AIDS Wolf and Slutbarf?
# Hooray!
% For an extra $5, Steve Albini will talk down to you personally!
^ If anyone knows who the special guest is at the Spoon show please kindly let me know.
! At work somebody brought up the point that if you have enough money you can look good no matter who you are. He cited Jennifer Lopez and how when she was on In Living Color and starred in the movie "Selena" she was rather homely looking. Another co-worker adamantly disagreed, and she stated that in the movie "Selena" Jennifer Lopez wasn't suppose to look hot but rather look like Selena. And she then said, "And you know, it's not like Selena was......". Sensing she was struggling to come up with an adjective I interjected with "bulletproof?". That's funny, right? Apparently not. I almost got fired.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Interview: Ben Trokan Of Robbers On High Street

New York City indie rock band, Robbers On High Street, released their latest album Grand Animals this past July and embarked on a tour of the U.S. Before they played the last show of the tour at Schubas on Sunday, I sat down with lead singer Ben Trokan who dished on their new record, Ray Davies, and the ’86 Mets.

nql: Where did you guys play last night?

Ben Trokan: We were in Minneapolis which was great. Minneapolis is awesome.

nql: Do you find it harder to emerge from a town like New York where there is so much going on versus say Minneapolis? You know, people in New York might say, “Why should I come to your show when there are 100 other things going on that I can do?”.

BT: I don’t know, I’ve never really lived anywhere else besides New York, but it might be logistically easier since New York is so expensive but at the same time in a town like New York you can more easily take advantage of exposure and it might be harder to breakout on the national level from a smaller city. But I feel like with the internet it doesn’t really matter as much anymore.

nql: I read an interesting and funny comment you made that New York isn’t very conducive to jam bands because you’re renting out by the hour.

BT: Yeah, you’re either renting out by the hour or you sit on waiting lists to get into a monthly lockout place but there are just so many bands so it can be tough. It’s like any big city like Chicago or Los Angeles where there are a million bands and 90% of them suck.

nql: I know a lot of my favorite bands come from New York but I rarely read about a “New York scene” as it pertains to rock music. And I wonder if that’s because there are so many great bands that any particular scene is hard to identify.

BT: It’s just so segregated. There are clubs in Manhattan where local acts of a certain genre play and then there’s everywhere else in the city where it might be different. But for the most part certain clubs are definitely attached to certain kinds of music, kind of similar to Schubas.

nql: Speaking of Schubas, you guys played here last time you were in Chicago, correct?

BT: Yeah, we headlined a show here in July. We were actually on tour with the Redwalls but they weren’t playing at the show.

nql: Other than the obvious, what’s the main difference from opening to headlining?

BT: Sometimes it can be less stressful when opening because there isn’t as much to worry about but there is still more of a pressure to play all the fast songs or attention-grabbing songs. And when you’re headlining I feel if they’re there to see you, you can play some of the deep cuts and the crowd will hopefully have some appreciation for that.

nql: This is your last show of the tour, is it hard to keep the energy up when playing the same songs night after night?

BT: Yeah, we switch it up, we usually start out playing one set and then about half way through we set on to something different that we all like and we’ll try and stick to that until we want to change it. But for the most part it’s all about being in a different place each night that makes it exciting.

nql: Meaning perhaps there is someone out there that might be hearing one of your songs for the first time?

BT: Right, and obviously if there is a big enthusiastic crowd that helps.

nql: How do you feel about people taping your stuff and posting it on Youtube? I’m asking mostly because I feel like no matter how good a band is, it’s hard to sound good on Youtube.

BT: (laughs) Yeah, that’s probably true. I don’t really care. I mean, I spend a lot of time on Youtube, not really watching bands, but finding or watching ridiculous things but again, I don’t care. It’s Youtube, it can only be taken with a grain of salt.

nql: Are there any cities that stick out when going on tour that you’re always looking forward to playing?

BT: Yeah, on this tour we played in Portland and we really love Portland and just hanging out there and being there. And shows we play elsewhere, whether headlining or with other bands, have always been kind of hit or miss but Great Northern (opener on current tour) got picked up and were being played on the big commercial radio there, and we played this big huge place that I think holds nearly 1,200 people. And I thought there would be about 100 people and there were probably closer to 700 to 800 so it was great.

nql: Was it the Crystal Ballroom?

BT: Yeah, it was.

nql: I was there back in September with a friend who lives in Portland and remember from an audience standpoint not liking it so much. The floor feeling like it was about to cave in was cool but the divider separating those drinking and those not drinking just made it feel like you were packed in.

BT: Right, I think the fact that it’s an actual dance ballroom has something to do with the floor moving like that, something to do with the springs. But the dividing thing, yeah, they do that in Washington state too, it’s so annoying. Essentially if it’s all ages I guess that’s what they have to do but I think just putting an “X” on your hand is usually a pretty decent system. But Portland is a great city and it seems there are so many good bands coming out of there for the size of it.

nql: What were you looking to do differently when recording Grand Animals versus 2005’s Tree City?

BT: I think just the songs were a bit more complex. A lot of songs on the last record were just verse/chorus, verse/chorus and these had changes, two of them had key changes which was pretty exciting. And we did some stuff on the first record where we had some outside instruments, you know, non guitar, non bass instruments and we wanted to do more of that but not have the production be so modern rock sounding. We wanted to make a record that sounded more 70s, like a Randy Newman record, just something that is really calm.

nql: Tell me about the decision to hook up with Italian film composer Danielle Luppi (Gnarls Barkley, John Legend) as a producer.

BT: He put out a record of his own. I think he’s from Venice but he went to Rome and found these guys in this band called the Mark Four who are the studio band for all the Spaghetti Westerns. And he’s the engineer that recorded all those tracks and essentially played the songs. And I think their organ player passed away so he began to fill in and play the organ with them. But he put out a really cool record.

nql: And you’re pretty happy with the work he did on Grand Animals?

BT: Yeah, he mostly does film scores so we were trying to get some lofty ideas about arrangements and we figured he would really be into doing that, but he was more about kind of just recording us as a band and not dealing with bringing in too many outside folks.

nql: Was the trombone in the song “Guard at Your Heel” some of his influence?

BT: Well Morgan (King) can play a lot of brass and we sort of wanted to make that song like this drunken gypsy thing so we had a lot of ideas for it whether it be trombone or organ or accordion so we just put a lot of crap on there and then he helped do a lot of deductive mixing and stripping stuff back a little bit.

nql: I want to talk about the song “The Ramp”. The first time I heard it I thought it was such a beautiful song and it wasn’t until the third or fourth listen that I noticed something really interesting going on with the lyrics.

BT: Well yeah, the melody is just a c-measure scale which is essentially the easiest thing, and I had the melody and I sort of had a couple lines but I thought it was fitting because it was about a kid and it’s kind of sad but I still like the perspective of it even though it’s coming from a dead kid. But at the end I had to lighten it up because I didn’t want it to be really sad and I thought that would sort of happen with the detachment of the parents and wondering why would this kid be interested in meeting Leo (Dicaprio). I really just thought it was funny even though I didn’t think anyone else in the band would like it mostly because it was so random and I had never really written anything like that before where it was just a narrative straight through and doesn’t go back and do the chorus or any other repeated lyrics.

nql: What is James Iha’s (co-owner of Scratchie records with Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne which is distributed by New Line Records) current involvement with the band?

BT: Well, he still runs and is still a part of Scratchie obviously but they pretty much stay away for the most part. They stick their head in when we’re at the end of the recording process which can be kind of annoying just because you’re so involved with certain people and then some dude you rarely talk to comes in and says “Oh, maybe you should put that song on the record.” And it’s like, where have you been? But no, no one is really that pushy.

nql: I don’t know if you ever read your Wikipedia page but I think there is some vandalism going on because your old bass player, Jeremy Philips, is listed as a “noted virgin”. Your response? And any suspects?

BT: (laughs) Oh my god, that is terrible! He actually lives in Chicago now with his girlfriend and he was supposed to come tonight but they’re both sick. But that’s crazy. Maybe one of his buddies did that. Noted virgin, that’s ridiculous. Although I’m pretty sure that’s not true.

nql: Any particular music you guys have been listening to in the van?

BT: I don’t know, I’ve been listening to XTC and Dukes of Stratosphere a bunch. Dukes of Stratosphere is essentially XTC and they did this psychedelic band side project thing and it’s awesome. Pending on whoever’s ipod gets plugged in, it’s always different. But at the same time being on the road for so long I know what each person will play. I know Mikey (Post) will play some totally obscure stuff like The Records or The Waterboys. He also got this record by this guy Michelangelo who’s this psyche-lunatic and I’m not even sure when it came out. Probably the 70s or maybe the early 80s but it’s crazy, the guy is just a complete madman. Other than that, people mostly just listen to their headphones.

nql: I’ve heard you mention the Kinks pretty frequently as an influence, can you elaborate on that at all.

BT: Well he’s (Ray Davies) one of my favorite songwriters and singers, his voice is so…I don’t know, he’s just such a lazy singer and so laid back which is something I try and do a little bit but his chord changes are really cool. I don’t think anyone can really put together records like he did, so detailed and based on certain things. I feel like The Who’s Tommy always gets dubbed, or Sgt. Peppers, as the first “concept” album but the concept is bunk you know? It’s just some stoner concept. Where something like Village Green or Arthur or even Muswell Hillbillies is just so much more cohesive. I’ll take any of those records over Sgt. Peppers (laughs).

nql: Speaking of Village Green, I love that album, but it seems to be one of those that I only put on when I’m in a good mood. There’s something about the music, sort of like Pet Sounds.

BT: Yeah, totally. But I find myself putting it on when I sort of want to get pepped up. I guess when I’m totally pissed it’s not a record I reach for, but it’s just so uplifting. Kind of like with Pet Sounds.

nql: Being a New Yorker, are you a Yankees or Mets fan?

BT: I’m a Mets’ fan so I’m a little in mourning after how they finished the season.

nql: Oh, that’s right! They had a sort of rough go of it at the end there.

BT: I don’t know what the hell happened. I mean they just went downhill in one of the worst slides ever. And I think (Willie) Randolph will be back as manager, they just need to…I don’t know, they have a bunch of old veterans who can take awhile to warm up. And the second to last game of the regular season, John Maine could have really turned around the season and ended the slide because he pitched a totally dominant shutout. And then Tommy Glavine just totally blew the last game which was terrible because had we won that game we would have been headed for the Playoffs.

nql: It just seemed really weird because all season the Mets had the best team in the National League and then all of a sudden the playoffs began and they were at home.

BT: Yeah, and they have all these veterans that are for the most part unreliable but when they’re in the playoffs are often really good. But then you have these young guys like Jose Reyes who one month would bat .310 and then the next .260 and it went on like that all year. But I don’t know, there just seems to be a bunch of young guys and old guys and it might be time for some new faces.

nql: I’ve always told people that it’s time for “party like a rock star” to take a back seat to “party like the ’86 Mets.”

BT: Yes! Those guys were fucking crazy. I don’t think any team ever did it the way they did.

nql: Had they not partied so much they probably could have closed out the 80s with a few more championships but at the same time their legacy is kind of built on being able to say not only did we kick everyone’s asses but we were partying at the same time.

BT: Do you remember when they performed that ridiculous song?

nql: No, was it like the Bears’ Superbowl Shuffle?

BT: Exactly. But it was even more cockier because they recorded it at the beginning of the season. I think in April or something.

nql: I never knew that. Please tell me Gary Carter was rapping.

BT: Oh yeah, him and HoJo (Howard Johnson). HoJo was rapping.

nql: Wow, HoJo is not a guy I have thought of in awhile. Where are you guys off to after tonight?

BT: We’re driving home. Straight to New York, through the night. We’ll take some shifts driving, get to New York around noon at which point most people will be back to being somewhat coherent, but it will just be good to be home.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Menomena--The Metro, Chicago, Illinois

As it stands right now, Menomena's Friend and Foe might be my favorite album of 2007. A friend of mine asked me to describe it for him and I said, "I don't know, it's just kind of weird." It really is. They even have a song called "Weird". Hooks come and go when you least expect them. And the three-piece band is constantly switching instruments and vocals. All that said, it's a lyrical triumph which is what really makes it stand out in my mind. Still, I wasn't expecting the Metro to be very crowded for music that is "kind of weird". I was wrong. If it wasn't sold out it was close. Maybe weird music is more endearing to the masses than originally thought. And you can't tell me for a second Menomena didn't name their band after classic Muppet's Show song "Mah Na Mah Na". I don't care what they say.

(It was a cold Thursday night so I brought a jacket. The coat check at the Metro is $2. At the Double Door it's only $1. Vic Theater, $3. I feel like you need to know these things.)

I missed the first act. But shortly upon arrival, the wild boys from other opening band, Pennsylvania-based Illinois, took the stage. (If you're really confused by that last sentence just skip to the next paragraph.) They promptly announced that the Metro was their favorite venue and Illinois was their favorite state. Makes sense. Illinois got some local press a few months back when they played at Lollapalooza but this was the first time I had heard their music. They have a really eclectic vibe that they mix with high energy and humor. Good stuff. Lead singer Chris Archibald bounced around from guitar to keyboard to banjo to a song that was almost strictly spoken word. A lot of bands seem to strive for a similar style but Illinois does it better than most. I think I'm going to buy their EP. And hopefully they name their next album "Sufjan Stevens".

Illinois' next project is to release 50 albums; each named for an over-hyped musical act.

Outside of David Bowie and that guy from They Might Be Giants, you just don't see a baritone saxophone that often in contemporary rock music. Well, thank God for Menomena. They weren't 45 seconds into opener "Weird" before Justin Harris started blowing into the sax giving the near capacity crowd a reminder that Menomena is a very different band. "Muscle 'n Flo" came next and concluded my ability to remember a set list. But everyone was going crazy during this song. I was set up in the balcony which allows one to not only watch the band but also watch the crowd. Surprisingly, lots of cute girls are into Menomena and I would collectively rank their presence third behind the girls I saw at Rogue Wave and Band of Horses, respectively. Honestly, go to a Rogue Wave concert's like murderers' row.

Menomena.......Do doo dedoodoo........Menomena......

If they didn't hit every song off of Friend and Foe they came close. And they definitely played all the stuff I wanted to hear with a few songs from their self-released album sprinkled in. When I got their record awhile back and first heard their song "Rotten Hell", I remember immediately hitting the "back" button on my ipod for another listen. It's one of those songs that grabs your attention on first listen. When they played it at this summer's Pitchfork Festival it gave me chills. Same thing happened this night right when drummer Danny Seim kicked it into another gear and Harris belted out....

"Well it's high time we stepped outside;
drop the gloves and settle this like a man..."

That's a great song. They are a great band. Weird is good.

Robbers On High Street (w/ Great Northern) Playing At Schubas This Sunday

Everyone check out NYC-based band Robbers On High Street this coming Sunday night at Schubas (9pm). Tickets are only $10. The Bears' game will long be over by then. That is all.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Band of Horses--The Metro, Chicago, Illinois

Sunday could not have better. After watching a rejuvenated (for the time being, at least) Rex Grossman lead the Bears to a comeback victory over the Raiders, I went to check out Band of Horses. It seemed very appropriate because that’s just the music I was in the mood to hear. I’ve heard people describe Band of Horses as a darker version of the Shins. I don’t see it. Lyrical content aside, their music always puts me in a good mood or is what I often reach for when I’m already in a good mood. The simplicity of their music, mixed with Ben Bridwell’s reverb-heavy vocals just seem to generate great campfire-esque pop songs. So this concert was looking to be a great encore for the weekend. If there was a setback it was when I arrived at the venue and realized the battery was drained on my camera so we’re going to be sans pictures on this one. Sorry.

I couldn’t help but laugh when opening-act and current Horses’ guitarist Tyler Ramsey began playing. Not because he sucks because he doesn’t. In fact, he’s pretty good. But there has always been talk about Ben Bridwell sounding like Jim James and Ramsey might sound more like James than Bridwell does. Hell, he might sound more like James than James sounds like James. (I was hoping to not mention James once and I couldn’t even make it out of the second paragraph.) Ramsey wasn’t what I usually want out of an opening act but he kept the crowd’s attention moderately well with little guitar medleys and quiet songs.

The Drones came out firing next. They’re a noisy quartet from Australia and are starting to get a lot of pub. I really liked them at first glance. Loud bass and guitars with a guy screaming at the microphone in a very heavy Australian accent is always a good recipe. But halfway through their set they started to wear me down. It wasn’t just the fact that they were way too loud. No, the problem was each song lasting nearly 7 to 8 minutes with a completely arbitrary jamming out session to end each song. Their last album might be good but they need to clean it up live. (Speaking of which, Gapers Block recently had a really interesting/scary article about hearing loss that should be read by anyone who frequents concerts. In fact, on November 18 the Empty Bottle is hosting a benefit concert to raise awareness of noise induced hearing loss. Acts include Le Concorde, The Handcuffs, and The Its. According to the article, all of these bands have had some sort of experience with hearing loss so forgive them if they’re not in tune. The idea of having this issue addressed at a rock concert is rather laughable on its face but could be worth checking out. The first ones there will receive free earplugs. Those that get their late will have to pay $2 to be able to have hearing when they're 70.)

Watching Band of Horses get ready I noticed something pretty amusing. Ben Bridwell, Tyler Ramsey and a couple of the roadies look exactly the same. All were sporting the Jason Lee in Almost Famous look. While they were setting up it looked like that final scene in The Thomas Crown Affair when all those Pierce Brosnans are walking around and no one knows who is who. Although Bridwell was somewhat distinguishable by his token ball cap and tattoos and the fact that his beard is approaching Bin Laden status.

Before Band of Horses began, Bridwell warned us that he was sick and was going to do his best to make it through the show. He put up a rather noble effort. He apologized in advanced, asked how the Bears did, and started playing. They kicked off with “Monsters” from Everything All the Time and aside from his vocals being slightly flat they sounded great. There were some new faces in the band from the last time I saw them at what was their drunken spectacle at the 2006 Pitchfork Festival.

They were a couple of songs into the show before they covered anything from their latest album Cease to Begin. It’s a good album. I think it engulfs a lot of what made their first record extremely listenable. There’s nothing in their catalog that could be equated to rocket science rather they just put out albums comprised of solid rock songs. Works for me. I thought the highlights of the evening were “Detlef Schrempf” (sadly, they never got around to awesome B-side “Drazen Petrovic”) and “Lamb of the Lam (In the City)”. These are probably the two most country influenced songs on the new album. The only part of the show that dragged had nothing to do with the band. There was a couple standing in front of me who was completely nauseating. Making out the entire time, staring into each others eyes and singing “No One’s Gonna Love You”, and on and on and on. Everyone around me was gagging. Honestly, take that crap outside.

The show was short but sweet. Somewhere along the way they hit “The Funeral” and the masses were happy. Bridwell with his ever-present smile thanked the crowd numerous times and by the encore most had forgotten that he was even sick. Their concerts are a lot like their albums; nothing fancy, just a lot of good tunes.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Art Brut, The Hold Steady--The Metro, Chicago, Illinois

Art Brut and The Hold Steady came to town this past Halloween for a show at the Metro. We had all been looking forward to this since tickets went on sale months back. After a quick pre-party my crew headed over there and arrived early enough to gain free tickets to the Art Brut post-party that was happening on the balcony after the show. Standing in line it became obvious that not everyone got the memo that it was Halloween. And if I see another "dick in a box" costume I'm going to take a flame thrower to this place. Others were just bad. One guy was dressed up like Mark Prior. But a perfectly healthy Mark Prior which makes no sense to me. He was standing upright and everything. That guy hasn't been productive for about four seasons now. If you're going to go as Mark Prior you best be on crutches or something.

It's not a pre-party until Pikachu shows up.

Pikachu, Dog the Bounty Hunter, a Bunny, and a Jewish Guy. I love Halloween.

Pikachu was nice enough to point me in the direction of the bar.

I bumped into Angus Young who was angry because his buddy wore a terrible costume.
Opening band Federale came out to kick things off. They're a Brooklyn-based rock/blues group who look like they could be the bastard children of Duane Allman with a roadie looking like Ted Nugent. They were dressed like escaped convicts, ironic being Federale is a slang term for Mexican federal police. The lead singer had "69" as his jail number ID and the bassist had "420". If only "666" could be represented we'd have all of our sophomoric rock star bases covered. Ahh wait....yep, sure enough the drummer came through. Good work Federale!
By the way, these guys are awesome. I'll take very loud 70's-ish sounding rock music for an opening band any day. Not everyone though. The guy that came dressed as Conor Oberst spent the entire time cringing in the corner. His loss. If you like the Meat Puppets you'd probably like these guys. I read somewhere that these guys were handpicked by The Hold Steady which makes sense.

Federale was wrongly convicted for sucking and had to escape. (Sorry, that was stupid.)

Fat guys? Check. Unkempt hair? Check. Doo-rag? Check. Alright, let's rock.

Pikachu shows approval for Federale's set.
Art Brut played at the Pitchfork Festival in 2006 and I missed their set because I really didn't know what they were about. That turned out to be a mistake because everyone ranted and raved about them for the months that followed. Their two records are fun but they're a band you need to see live. Lead singer Eddie Argos came out dressed like fat Elvis and other costumes included a Misfit, Trojan warrior, and whatever the hell the drummer was. They kicked into "Formed a Band" and the crowd went wild. It was pretty cool because they had this large screen behind them that often spelled out the lyrics to whatever song they were playing which threw a huge bone to those unfamiliar with their albums.

Fat Elvis, a Misfit, Trojan Warrior et al formed a band.
Eddie Argos might be the best front man in the world. He's hilarious. He cracked on Amy Winehouse, jumped into the crowd for a song and exchanged high-fives with everyone, and he does it with that perfect overtly-obnoxious British accent.

Art Brut was tearing it up. They're very crowd-pleasing. I almost forgot there was still another band. They played new songs "I Will Survive" (reminding us that it's not a cover) and "Post Soothing Out" in about three minutes. When starting into "Modern Art" I had the following exchange with a girl right by me:
Her: This is my song.
Me: Why is that?
Her: Because I used to go to art school but dropped out.
Me: Ummm, the lyrics are "Modern art makes me want to rock out". Not dropout.
Her: You're an ass.
Yikes. But whatever, "Modern Art" had the crowd in an absolute frenzy. Me included. They could have just played that song 10 times and everyone would have been happy.

Remeber, rock out, don't dropout.

They covered all their hits, including the aforementioned "Formed a Band", but also hitting up "18,000 Lira", "My Little Brother", "St. Pauli", "Emily Kane", and "Pump Up the Volume". Argos informed us they only had two songs left but assured us they were both hits. Hey, I wasn't expecting anything less. They covered new song "Direct Hit" and ended with "Bad Weekend" that had the crowd chanting " of the pops.....Hold of the pops.....Art of the pops." This band just wants to be top of the pops. They were this night. I might have to open up a 300 mile radius on seeing this band. That's how fun they are.

What the hell is in that guy's ear?

Fat Elvis has left the building and now come The Hold Steady. This was my second time seeing this band but the first time as a headliner so I was pretty excited. They were dressed as sort of western bandits ala the "Chips Ahoy" video. I bet the costumes were Franz' idea since he already had the mustache. Now is a good time to mention I dressed up like Harry Potter for the event for a couple of reasons. It's easy. It's cheap. It's very recognizable. And apparently Daniel Radcliffe is a big Hold Steady fan. So this girl standing next to me pointed out another girl who seemed to be rocking a Hermoine Granger costume since she had on a scarf donning the Gryffindor colors. I got her attention, gave her a very appropriate thumbs up and she stared at me like I was a moron. Word to the wise......Gryffindor colors are also Minnesota Golden Gopher colors. As in "He loved the Golden Gophers but he hated all the drawn out winters...". She was from Minnesota......not Hogwarts. I'm an idiot. What can you do. There should probably be some rule about not talking to girls if you're dressed up like Harry Potter anyways. The embarrassment wore off and I found out the band was also filming a live cd and dvd so cameras came out from every angle of the Metro.

Craig Finn took a drink of Budweiser, said hello to the crowd, and they ripped into "Stuck Between Stations." I was about 3 rows back from the front and there was an immediate surge to the front of the stage. It was uncontrollable for a few seconds but slowly calmed down. I don't think anyone near the stage missed a single lyric on that song. Good thing Craig's vocals were appropriately turned up. They hit "The Swish" next and same story. There's something about The Hold Steady's music that is very conducive to drinking beer. Problem is, I was near the front of the stage and I wasn't going to leave and try and come back and be that guy. But I didn't need to. People all around me were just handing me beer without me even asking. Hold Steady fans are the best. They really are. They love this band and when they're playing it's just like one big party. One of my friends that came along wasn't too familiar with the band and was blown away by the crowd. I guess we've become more accustomed to being at shows where hipsters stare at each other very suspiciously. Before they took the stage I was just listening to people around me talk about their favorite Hold Steady songs and and use perfect Hold Steady vernacular to describe why they are their favorite. A complete stranger even asked me for my take. Such nice people. A big surprise was all the cute girls in the crowd. I didn't see that one coming. Just another reason to like The Hold Steady.

This guy told me he was dressed up like Franz Nicolay. I told him to try again.

Could Harry Potter have a cameo in The Hold Steady dvd? Only the woman with the camera knows for sure.
The Hold Steady have been touring on the strength of Boys and Girls in America for over a year now. If they're tired of playing those songs you would never know it. But they tour so much the crowd can stay with them every step of the way. During "Massive Nights" a girl next to me was doing all of Craig's hand gestures and dance moves before he was even doing them. It was incredible. She must watch a lot of Youtube. I thought "Chips Ahoy" and "You Can Make Them Like You" were going to bring the house down. I think they ended up playing every song off of Boys and Girls in America while also playing a few from Almost Killed Me. Besides "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" I don't remember anything else from Separation Sunday which was slightly disappointing. They paid lip service to a few b-sides as well.
Maybe some monotony has set in, because they played a couple new songs that I hadn't heard before. They were a bit softer than we're used to but incorporated the same themes that we've come to love with this band. No word on if a new album will be dropping in the near future.

Here's one thing I have never understood. When a concert is on a Wednesday night is it necessary for it to last until 1:30 in the morning? Don't people have to work the next day? Who are these people? Can't we get this ball rolling at 6pm? Never happens. Since it was so late we decided we couldn't make the Art Brut after party, we'll have to reserve that for people who don't work. Art school dropouts presumably.
The Hold Steady came out for a pretty long encore. Starting with "Citrus" they then hit up "First Night" which may have been my favorite moment of the evening. There's just something about a bunch of sweaty kids huddled in masses yelling out "Boys and Girls in America" that I find appealing. Really, I do. That song is incredible. "Girls Like Status" came next which segued into the obvious show-closer "Killer Parties." Craig gave his usual spiel about how much joy they have up there performing and seemed to be completely aware of how much joy we were having down where we were. Tad Kubler's spacey guitars on that song seem to just put everyone in such a good mood. Lot of love all around. From talking to people, the crowd was from all over the Midwest. I might be seeing them again in Washington, DC in a few weeks and I'm curious if the East Coast crowd digs these guys as much as we do here in middle America. I know they're now based out of Brooklyn but their music screams Minneapolis. (Which, of course, is why girls show up wearing Minnesota Golden Gopher gear. Dammit.)
I'll leave you with a few more pictures:

Hey look! Franz Nicolay is down in the crowd. Oh, never mind, it's just a guy in a blue visor.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

November Shows In Chicago

Things are cooling down both literally and figuratively in Chicago. Towards the end there isn't that much to look forward to but that's not say it's a bad month. I, for one, am looking forward to the Menomena/Illinois show at the Metro on the 15th. Battles and Caribou should be fun, too. Bad Brains will even be making an appearance. Hold Steady and Art Brut pictures and article from Halloween night coming soon.

Thurs 11/01
Film School, Land of Talk, Eulogies @ Schubas 8pm

Mum, Tom Brosseau @ Logan Square Auditorium 8pm

Cameron McGill & the Quartet Offensive, Moxie Motive, For All the Sweet Children @ Subterranean 8:30pm

Tim Kensella, Cryptacize, Box of Baby Birds @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Kelly Clarkson, Jon McLaughlin @ Chicago Theatre 7:30pm

Fri 11/02
Mudhoney, Thunderwig, Plastic Crimewave Sound @ Double Door 8pm

Jens Lekman, Dave Fischoff @ Logan Square Auditorium 8pm*

Stars @ Vic Theater 6:30 pm

Kinski, Mung, Black Ladies @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Hot Club De Paris, Head of Skulls @ Hideout 8pm

Sia @ Metro 6:30pm

Coheed & Cambria, Clutch, Fall of Troy @ Riviera Theatre 7pm

Sat 11/03
Sunset Rubdown, We Will Eat Rats To Survive @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Broken Social Scene plays Kevin Drew’s “Spirit If” @ Metro 9pm*

Brighton, MA, The Forms, Brad Peterson @ Beat Kitchen 8pm

Mon 11/05
Frisbie, Fever Marlene, Hey Champ @ Schubas 9pm

Tues 11/06
The Giraffes, Goes Cube, The Lusties @ Beat Kitchen 8pm

Annuals, Manchester Orchestra, The Never @ Subterranean 7pm

Wed 11/07
Meat Puppets, Ha Ha Tonka @ Double Door 8pm

Thursday, Portugal the Man, Circle Takes the Square @ Metro 6pm

Thurs 11/08
Meat Puppets, Ha Ha Tonka @ Double Door 8pm

1900s, Headlights, Sleep Out @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Battles, Caribou, Born Ruffians, White Williams @ Metro 8:30pm*

Fri 11/09
Malajube, The Jai Alai Savant, Light Pollution @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Lucero, Bobby Bare Jr., Whiskey & Co. @ Metro 9pm

Say Hi, The Velvet Teen, The A-Sides @ Subterranean 9:30pm

Sat 11/10
Backyard Tire Fire, Phonograph @ Double Door 8pm

Athlete, The Changes @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Do Make Say Think, Apostle of Hustle @ Metro 9pm

They Might Be Giants @ Vic Theater 6:30pm

Sun 11/11
Band of Horses, The Drones, Tyler Ramsey @ Metro 7pm*

My Brightest Diamond, Tim Fite @ Lakeshore Theater 9pm

Aqueduct, Georgie James, May Or May Not @ Schubas 9pm

Mon 11/12
Band of Horses, The Drones, Tyler Ramsey @ Metro 6pm

Frisbie, Modern Skirts, Team Band @ Schubas 9pm

Zelienople, Morning Recordings, Speck Mountain @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Tues 11/13
Ben Lee, Cary Brothers @ Double Door 7pm

Razorlight, The Von Bondies, Gran Ronde @ Metro 6:30pm

Wed 11/14
Blue Cheer, Lions, Valient Thorr, Year Long Disaster @ Double Door 8pm

Ravens & Chimes, The Notes and Scratches @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Thurs 11/15
The Mountain Goats, Bowerbirds @ Empty Bottle^

Mannequin Men, Grave Blankets, Shopping, Wolfden @ Cobra Lounge 10pm

Menomena, Illinois @ Metro 8pm*

Jimmy Eat World @ Riviera Theatre

Fri 11/16
Mission of Burma, Helicopters, Comasoft, Fun Club @ Abbey Pub 8pm

Busdriver, Daedelus, Antimc @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Rx Bandits, Maps and Atlases @ Metro 6pm

Sat 11/17
Feist @ Riviera Theatre 7:30pm*

Naked Raygun, Stiff little Fingers, 7Seconds, Nekromantix, The Queers, Lower Class Brats, The Methadones, Shot Baker, The Heart Attacks @ Congress Theatre 2pm

The Life and Times, Sweet Cobra, Sleep Comes Down @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Bald Eagle, STV SLV, Bronze @ Schubas 10:30pm

Sun 11/18
Bad Brains, The Casualties, Dillinger Four, The Bollweevils, Youth Brigade, Zero To Sixty, Flatfoot 56, Deals Gone Bad, The Frantic @ Congress Theatre 2pm

Le Concorde, The Its, The Handcuffs @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Robbers on High Street, Great Northern, Happy Salmon @ Schubas 9pm

Mon 11/19
Arks, sally, Paper Mice @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Frisbie, Stereo Deluxe, The Melismatics 9pm

Tues 11/20
The Cribs @ Double Door 8pm

Sondre Lerche @ Park West 6:30pm

Office (acoustic set) @ Schubas 9:30pm

Wed 11/21
Chin Up Chin Up, Catfish Haven @ Double Door 9pm*

The Pipettes @ Double Door 7pm

Against Me! @ House of Blues 5:30pm

M.I.A. @ House of Blues 11pm

Walter Meego @ Logan Square Auditorium 9pm

Hollywood Holt, Prairie Cartel, Matt Roan, Aleks & the Drummer @ Schubas 9pm

Thurs 11/22
Against Me! (acoustic), Sage Francis, World/Inferno Friendship Society, Cobra Skulls 6:30pm%

Fri 11/23
VHS or BETA, Moving Units @ Abbey Pub 8pm

Celebratioin, Kill Me Tomorrow, Aleks & the Drummer @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Rue Royale, Horse in the Sea, Kyle Andrews, ,Brooke Wagonner @ Schubas 9pm

M.I.A. @ Vic Theater 7pm

Sat 11/24
Witchcraft, The Rebel Angels @ Double Door 8pm

The Academy Is…, Armor for Sleep, Sherwood @ Riviera Theatre 7pm

High Strung, The Teet, Dusty Rhodes & The River Band @ Schubas 10pm

The Swell Season (Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova and Martha Wainwright) @ Vic Theater 6:30pm

Sun 11/25
The Swell Season (Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova and Martha Wainwright) @ Vic Theater 6:30pm

Mon 11/26
Frisbie, Howie Statland @ Schubas 9pm

Wed 11/28
A Northern Chorus, Odawas, Rock Falls @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Thurs 11/29
Dandi Wind, Japanther, Brilliant Pebbles @ Abbey Pub 8pm

Tegan & Sara, Northern State @ Portage Theater 8pm

Fri 11/30
Robert Pollard, Death of Fashion, Party Downers @ Metro 8:30pm

Unwed Sailor, The Big Sleep, Kid, You’ll Move Mountains @ Beat Kitchen 9pm

^Cubs in Five....It's My Birthday! (Not actually my birthday, but last time I saw the Mountain Goats some idiot yelled this out incessantly the entire show. Cubs in Five was not played.)
%What better way to spend a relaxing Thanksgiving night after having consumed turkey and pie all day than standing around at the Metro for 5 hours.
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