Eclectic Chicago group Dastardly have drawn us in over the years with their signature Americana sound, laden with plenty of surprises. After a three-year hiatus to refocus and experiment with different genres, Dastardly has released their next full-length album today, The Hollow. Full of cinematic ballads bursting with lyrical expression and lush backdrops, the new material allows Dastardly to assert a new identity, brimming with innovation and an unshakeable confidence. I spoke with the group's frontman, Gabe Liebowitz, regarding their creative process, influences, and their next Chicago appearance.
Good news, North Coast Music Festival attendees! The daily lineup has been released, so you can now plan out your schedule for a jam-packed weekend of stellar musical choices. Single-day and two-day tickets have also been released, as well as the availability of discounted 3-day passes for a limited time.
Along with the lineup, North Coast Music Festival will also be partnering with Do312 to announce the 6th annual Toast of the Coast competition. Up-and-coming performers, including one DJ and one live act, will compete to perform during one of the fest's coveted time slots. Suggest an act, and you could hear them live from Union Park.
Dog lovers and music lovers will unite at Soldier Field this Saturday at Woofstock, honoring adoptable dogs. Sponsored by Animal Planet, the afternoon's festivities will include entertainment from comedian Eugene Mirman and bands like Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound and The Suffers. Plus, there'll be special appearances by celebrity animals Lil BUB and Manny the Frenchie. It all happens at Stadium Green at Soldier Field from noon to 5pm. The event is free and open to the general public — and their dogs.
Owners of rescued dogs are encouraged to being their furry friends to participate in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for "largest gathering of adopted pets," at 2:30pm.
Don't have a dog? Want to adopt one? There will be animals available from PAWS to meet and greet and maybe take to their forever home (aka your house). Details at PAWS Chicago.
Best Coast is revered for their sunny vibes, penchant for honest lyrics, and infusing that California energy within their music time after time. I got the chance to speak with the group's songstress, Bethany Costentino, regarding the group's musical identity, her thoughts on criticism, and what influenced the latest album, California Nights, in advance of their appearance at Taste of Randolph this weekend.
Tennis, revered dreamy pop duo, will be performing this weekend at Taste of Randolph Festival. From their celebrated unique musical styling, to their eclectic vibes that channel decades past, the accomplished group has much to celebrate following the release of their acclaimed album this year, Ritual and Repeat. I spoke with Alaina Moore regarding the signature sounds of Tennis, where she finds her muses, and their coveted Chicago memories.
This summer's Pitchfork Music Festival is a mere five weeks away and we're pretty excited here at Gapers Block. To celebrate the coming musical smorgasbord we've compiled a list of ten lyrical gems from artists who will be performing at Union Park this year (and a little something special for our readers):
1. "Don't try me I'm not a free sample" Shamir - "On the Regular"
Honestly this whole list could've easily been populated with Shamir lyrics - the young up and comer has some of the catchiest, smartest, funniest lyrics I've ever heard - but this one by far takes the cake. It's the perfect response to anybody getting on your nerves, although it loses something in delivery in the absence of Shamir's plus size personality. Catch the 20-year-old Nevada native on Saturday morning.
Will Butler is probably best known as little brother of Win Butler, lead singer for Arcade Fire, and fellow band member, but recently he's done quite a good job of breaking free of that moniker. In 2014 Butler was nominated for an academy award for his work on the music for the Joaquin Phoenix film Her, and then in May of this year he dropped his debut solo album Policy on Merge records.
The debut album is everything you'd expect from Will Butler - rambunctious, infectious, surprising, fun - and I'm happy to report that none of that is lost in the live setting.
All good things must come to an end. And that time has apparently come for Radar Eyes. The Chicago band has been fuzzing it up with their garage rock since 2006. While it once seemed like they were at the Bottle every few weeks, it's been a little different over the last many months as those shows have dwindled. So they'll call it a day at the Hideout on Friday. Radar Eyes have never been flashy and keep their chatter to a minimum, but, oh boy, can they spin a melodic psych-rock tune. They leave us with a handful of singles, one full-length and hopefully another one posthumously.
Radar Eyes plays their last show at the Hideout on Friday, the 5th. Walking Bicycles and Sun Splitter open the show. It's $8, 21+ and starts at 10PM. The Hideout's at 1354 W Wabansia.
In exciting music news for the city, the Museum of Contemporary Art has partnered with Pitchfork in order to present a series of curated talks, In Sight Out, which will focus on music, art, and culture. Guests will speak of their creative process and their artistry over time, much to the delight of attendees.
The first two artists participating as part of the series are the revered Jeff Tweedy and Carrie Brownstein. Tweedy will be discussing his time in the influential Chicago rock group, Wilco, as well as collaborations as part of Uncle Tupelo, singing with Billy Bragg, and his latest project, Tweedy, with his son, Spencer. He will be joined during the talk by Pitchfork's editor-in-chief, Mark Richardson.
Bummed Father John Misty and Cold War Kids are playing separate stages at Lollapalooza at the same time? Can't decide between Kid Cudi and Brand New? Lolla aftershows are the cure-all to the dreaded schedule conflict, besides giving you the chance to see your favorite bands from the comfort of an air-conditioned club rather than crammed between a bunch of shirtless dudebros under the beating sun of Grant Park.
Lolla put together an impressive roster for their aftershow line-up this year, from TV on the Radio at the Vic to The Kills at Metro to Charli XCX at Lincoln Hall. Check the complete aftershow schedule here. All shows go on sale this Friday, June 5th at 10 am.
If you're strapped for cash, don't forget there's still a plethora of free unofficial afterparties that will be announced in the coming weeks.
Some people are natural born storytellers. Narrative and description rolls off their tongue with ease and they can entrance an audience at the drop of a hat. Vance Joy strikes me as one of those people.
Even before the lineup announcement, Riot Fest has had headlines for weeks. Issues at their old home in Humboldt Park caused a spat with former ally, 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado, which led to practically everyone affected taking a side. When the dust settled, Riot Fest organizers and Chicago Park District officials agreed on a move to North Lawndale's Douglas Park. And then, of course, concerns were about who would be on the lineup, as with any other year.
And now we know. No Doubt, Modest Mouse, Faith No More, Iggy Pop and Snoop Dogg will headline the festival over the September 11-13 weekend. Even though Riot Fest is often labeled as a punk-themed festival, they have cast a wide net since moving outdoors in 2012. Some of this year's non-headliner highlights include Anthrax, Bootsy Collins' Rubber Band, De La Soul, Merle Haggard, Ice Cube, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Motorhead and Rancid. Local pop punk act The Academy Is... leads the reunions, along with L7 and Babes in Toyland. Other local acts are peppered throughout the lineup, and there are even more acts to be added in the coming weeks. Keeping in line with what Riot Fest expects, Gapers Block hopes that they saved the good bands for the next announcement.
Weekend passes are $169.98 for us hoi polloi and $299.98 for VIP. Daily lineups will be revealed later this summer. Riot Fest & Carnival takes place September 11-13 in Douglas Park at California & Roosevelt.
If you're a fan of Surfer Blood, it can hard to get past the troubles that come along with the band. After their first amazing and still catchy album Astro Coast, Surfer Blood was signed to Warner Bros and released Pythons in 2013 to mixed reviews. Their shift to a major label didn't work out as well as they were dropped later that year. But the issue that has been most problematic is lead singer John Paul Pitts arrest for domestic battery in 2012. I don't mean to riddle this review with ethical dilemmas of separating the art from the artist, but I would be remiss not to mention the arrest and subsequent dismissal of the charges. Pitts, too, understands that this incident will follow him throughout his career. I will say, when warranted, I prefer to advocate against such abuses with an inclination toward rehabilitation rather than a complete ostracization.
Surfer Blood returned to the rawer DIY nature of their beginnings in hopes of finding themselves again with 1000 Palms . It sounds as though they succeed, creating songs that feel a lot closer to Astro Coast than Pythons. A few weeks before the release, Surfer Blood suffered another devastating hit in the form of a sarcoma diagnosis for guitarist Thomas Fekete. The tour for their album became a sounding board for their bandmate and friend as they began collecting donations for his treatment at the merch booth, which would unfortunately be stolen from their car while in Schaumberg the evening following the concert. Despite all the dilemmas, it seemed that everyone at Lincoln Hall this past weekend was able to find some good in the band's set.
It's easy to forget how unpopular it was to take up arms against R. Kelly when allegations of his predation of teenage girls first were made public. For almost 15 years, former Sun-Times critic Jim DeRogatis, along with his colleague Abdon Pallasch, was the lone voice for a host of women whose upsetting stories were largely forgotten or ignored. For the majority of Kelly's audience, and for the critical establishment that propped him up, it was much easier to hum along to his songs without imagining where they likely came from.
When Jessica Hopper publicly came out in support of DeRogatis's stance in a published conversation with the former Sun-Times critic for the Village Voice, it seemed like the winds had finally begun to shift. A kind of critical mass had been reached in the run up to Kelly's headlining performance at Pitchfork's 2013 festival, and the dialogue between Hopper and DeRogatis was the catalyst to a much-needed reappraisal of Kelly's career and status as the "pied piper of R&B." A much-shared essay delving into the sordid details and public apathy surrounding Kelly's assorted affairs, the conversation between Hopper and DeRogatis remains one of the landmark pieces of either critic's careers, and it has been reprinted in full as a centerpiece within Hopper's newly published volume of her own critical essays, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic.
Hopper will appear at Quimby's Bookstore, 1854 W. North Ave., to read from her new collection on May 29 at 7pm. Admission is free.