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Transmission

North Coast Music Festival Sun Aug 31 2014

North Coast: Day Two

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I started the second day of North Coast with Future Islands, who I soon discovered are simply captivating. I really didn't know much about them, to be honest. I knew the name, I've heard a few random singles that I've enjoyed, and was about it. It was that in mind that I went to see them not quite knowing what to expect.

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Justin Freeman / Comments (0)

Review Sat Aug 30 2014

The Dutchess and The Duke Return to the Empty Bottle

dutchessduke1.jpgIt's been four years since The Dutchess and The Duke, Kimberly Morrison and Jesse Lortz, were at the Empty Bottle for an epic and legendary show filled with stories about cowboy kisses and bar top dancing galore. A little after that the same year the duo called it quits, leaving behind two incredible albums, She's The Dutchess, He's The Duke and Sunset/Sunrise, drenched with warm memories of their lovely voices. Luckily the duo reunited this past Wednesday with a full band for a pair of Midwest shows, returning to an adoring crowd at the Empty Bottle.

Opening up the night was Brian Case of Disappears with a particularly interesting set consisting one uninterrupted study on sound. It definitely wasn't or everyone, but it's the sort of experimentation that I eagerly enjoy. Case played a slowly evolving drone, keeping it low and haunting as the deep bellows of the guitar would occasionally rise out, seemingly without warning. It was a very atmospheric performance, with Case's meditative rocking edging on transcendence, gently shifting the hum of his guitar for nearly 20 minutes.

The second opener diverged from Case's long dirge to incredibly short poppy songs of The Lemons. I would be surprised if any of the songs they performed clocked in longer than a couple minutes, which was really part of their charm. You know you're in for a treat with citrus centric stage names like John Lemon and Chris Twist are commonplace. The Lemon's rapid fire set was filled with just enough goofy cartoon voices from their drummer Juicy James and self-deprecating humor. "Is this our worst show?" they quietly quipped between some of the most enjoyable bubblegum pop I've heard in sometime. Their songs were danceable and instantly catchy, from the super sweet "My Candy Girl" to the cheerful "Best Day" that ended their set.

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Julian Ramirez / Comments (0)

Review Sat Aug 30 2014

North Coast: Day One

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It all started before I even walked into Union Park.

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Justin Freeman / Comments (0)

Interview Wed Aug 27 2014

Jazz Speak with Mike Reed

By Stuart Ross

Mike Reed is an example of a Chicago musician we can't take for granted. Born and raised in Evanston, Mike has been an integral part of the Chicago music community for more than 15 years. He showcases his dynamic, skin-tight percussion work with groups like People, Places & Things. And he has a hand in producing a number of events in the city, from the Pitchfork Music Festival to this weekend's free Chicago Jazz Festival at Millennium Park, the Cultural Center and elsewhere around town. The festival kicks off Thursday at noon. See a full schedule.

I spoke with Mike about some of his recent performances and what's upcoming at the festival.

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You've been involved with the festival for several years. How did this come about and what were some of your programming goals this year?

I'm involved in this work through being a board member of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, which has been the programming and planning partner since the inception of the festival. The event itself is produced by DCASE, so this is a partnership event with a long history. It's actually the oldest of all the free city festivals.

The committee is made up of eight members, pulled from the larger jazz community as well as the insights of many other friends and consultants. Because of this larger context there's a lot of ideas that circulate on what we're programming and why. We of course want to try and represent the large swath that makes up jazz and especially jazz in Chicago. We don't always succeed in the ways we want to, but it's such a huge task that no one could fulfill every desire.

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Transmission / Comments (0)

Review Tue Aug 26 2014

Jeff Daniels Made SPACE Feel Like Home

jeffdanielsone.jpgThere is a pretty good chance you know Jeff Daniels from his acting roles. He has endlessly shown his acting proficiency, whether it's the nostalgically classic comedy Dumb and Dumber, his more serious turn in The Squid and the Whale, or roles that straddle the line between the two like in The Newsroom. What you may not know is that he is a very talented musician, playing guitar in a variety of genres including blues, jazz, folk, and a little bit country. He's been doing so for over well over a decade, taking his career as a musical artist as seriously as his acting. His ability to entertain as an actor spills over greatly into his music, making him even more of a storyteller than he already was. This past weekend, Jeff Daniels returned to SPACE for a sold out show.

Right off the bat one could tell the Jeff Daniels is incredibly comfortable on stage. He and his son's group, The Ben Daniels Band, began the show with a couple of songs before coming to Daniels first story of the night. It was the beginning of a great pattern, seamlessly transitioning from tales of his life to his wonderfully sincere songs. Through out the night he spoke of encounters with Jack Lemon, local pastors, and overstressed moms at malls with the same zeal. There was no pretense during his singing or storytelling. His performance honestly felt like it came from a different era, where a musician's relatability wasn't faked as it simply was cultivated by genuineness. It made the room feel like an inviting home with Daniels at the head of the table.

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Julian Ramirez / Comments (0)

Concert Tue Aug 26 2014

City of The Weak Rolls Into Reggies 9/2

By Lucy Rendler-Kaplan

Consider it a sign of the times — modern rock band City of the Weak found their band through a text message conversation. As Stef Huschka (vocals) explains it, "A former member and I were texting each other trying to decide between 'Conquer the City' & "Day of the Weak." I got a text back combining them that said 'City of the Weak,' and we all were like, 'that's it.'"

City of The Weak (COTW) is a young band with some serious sound. They're able to combine a modern rock 'n roll overtone with catchy pop melodies, rhythmic riffs and moving bass lines. Stef ("with an F") founded the band after she moved from Montana to Minneapolis. "I moved specifically to start a band," she said. In 2011 at McNally Smith College of Music, Stef said she "jammed with different groups of people at the school, stuck with what I had, and rotated our lineup when needed." Joining Stef is Jackson Weyrauch (backup vocals/guitar), Brent Lindblad (guitar), and Cody Hoffman (bass).

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Transmission / Comments (0)

Review Mon Aug 25 2014

Robyn & Röyksopp Do It (Again) @ Millennium Park, 8/24

There's been a lot of hype over Robyn and Röyksopp's summer tour, but Robyn could tour with anyone and it'd draw well. It's only been a couple years since the doyenne of Swedish pop has played Chicago, though it's been a while longer since the Norwegian electronic duo's played here - at Metro in 2005. Unfortunately, the setup of a co-headlining show plus collaboration led to abbreviated sets from both acts. But what's important, quantity or quality?

Röyksopp's Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland walked out to a nice reception, dressed in neon chemical suits. The rest of the band was wisely decked out more appropriately for the humid weather during their 40-minute set. They reeled off a smattering of the band's singles and had a dazzling laser show through tunes that went from bouncy fun electro-pop ("Happy Up Here") to more serious techno ("Poor Leno"). To many in the crowd, it was just dance music and a warmup. But to fans, it was a good showcase of their broad talents after many years away.

Minutes after they were done, Robyn walked out to an eruption of applause. As always, her attire was outstanding - a soccer jersey, short shorts, thigh-high boots and an orange hoodie. Much of Robyn's music reaches back to early disco, with songs about heartbreak, identity and hope masked underneath pulsing beats and earworming rhythms. A lot of it's not exactly what you lovingly sing to your significant other, but instead the words you might mouth to the hottest person at a club or the one who got away. And, to that, it's important that the lyrics don't change when the musical arrangements are flipped. (How sick she must be of singing "Dancing On My Own" the same way every night for years now. The added dramatic pause let her cut at least one repeated chorus.) But through the changes ("Stars 4-Ever" with a late-era Motown vibe, "Call Your Girlfriend" getting the cheesy 80s treatment, etc.) she never let up on the energy. Although, it may be notable that she seemed brightest on the three new songs, especially the glitzy standout "Set Me Free." And, whether intentional or not, it was her oldest songs that sounded closest on Sunday to how they do recorded.

After a quick wardrobe change, Robyn and Röyksopp returned in silver masks for their collaborative set. Their Do It Again EP is generally more abstract than their most popular output and it didn't connect with the crowd, which led to a small exodus, especially during "Monument" when Robyn spent most of the song lying down. It's minimal, so more of a slow burn than the fist-pumping anthems that dominated the evening, but even those came back with the hypnotic "Do It Again" and 2009's "The Girl and the Robot" keeping people awake and reconsidering their choice to leave early. So was it the best show ever? No. But was it super fun and worth a few missteps? Absolutely.

James Ziegenfus / Comments (0)

Review Fri Aug 22 2014

The Perfect SPACE for The Polyphonic Spree

polyphonic1.jpgThe Polyphonic Spree is a really big band. They often are made up of more then twenty members playing an impressive range of instruments. Although the band was pared down to around fifteen members for this showat SPACE in Evanston, it was very clear that the energy and talent was not scaled back at all. With no opener, The Polyphonic Spree played for a spectacular hour and forty five minutes. SPACE turned out to be the ideal venue for the band, big enough to house their still large numbers and enthusiasm, but intimate enough to create the perfect atmosphere for everyone at the show.

polyphonic2.jpgIt was near impossible upon entering the venue not to immediately notice the large white partition separating the crowd from the stage. It spanned across the room, attempting to obscure the plentiful colors and shiny streamers of the set display. Audience members, most of which were obviously die-hard fans of The Polyphonic Spree, would sneak glimpses from both ends of the divider, feeding their anticipation. That wait was infectious, spreading throughout Space till the moment the house lights went down and the soft blue beams lit up the opaque cloth followed by a steady plume of smoke. The wonderful droning of instruments was accompanied by faint hiss of a spray paint can that rose from behind the canvas, producing a decree written in reverse from the band's leader Tim DeLaughter. Every letter that appeared prompted a louder response than the last, ultimately convening the message: MAKE SOME ILLINOISE. The partition was brought down in quick flash, revealing the members of the night's Polyphonic Spree.

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Julian Ramirez / Comments (0)

Riot Fest Thu Aug 21 2014

Riot Fest Now Has a Mini-Golf Course and Is Substantially Larger

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So, it was just announced that this year, Riot Fest will have a 9-hole mini golf course. This, in of itself, is excellent news and worthy of all the celebration as drinking beer and playing a round of mini golf on a autumn Chicago night as the Wu-Tang Clan plays a few feet away sounds kinda incredible.

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Justin Freeman / Comments (0)

Review Thu Aug 21 2014

OK Go Charm Lincoln Hall

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"It's so intimate in here. I can see everyone's faces. Does anyone have any questions?" asked OK Go vocalist Damian Kulash to a sold out crowd at Lincoln Hall last week. "Where the fuck have you been?!" someone from the crowd playfully shouted. "Dude. It takes us six months to make a video. I just wish we could make videos faster."

Flanked by a constantly evolving and intricate set of visuals which rivaled their infamous music videos, OK Go are currently on tour in support of their upcoming new album Hungry Ghosts. Singles such as "The Writing's on the Wall" ooze with New Order and Prince influences. "I Won't Let You Down" sounds like a b-side for Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb On Me" while "Turn up the Radio" sounds like a love letter to acts such as The Cars.

Throughout their performance, the band was charismatic as ever as they unleashed a literal torrent of white confetti which glimmered in the lights and visuals during many of the songs. They also waxed poetic of their time living here in Chicago. At one point, Damien came into the crowd to perform an acoustic version of "New Leaf" after which some equipment failed and the band sang a passage from Les Misérables as it was repaired.

"In the end, maybe it's better we focused on videos instead of posters. Cops don't hate us nearly as much as they used to," Damien mused out loud before ending with an encore of "Here it Goes Again" as more white confetti fell to the ground, finding color in the idiosyncratic visuals and lights.

Justin Freeman / Comments (0)

Riot Fest Wed Aug 20 2014

Riot Fest Mystery Act Ur Lineup Sux, Bro Releases Single

When Riot Fest announced its lineup for this year's festival, it included a couple of acts at the bottom that were a bit of a mystery. One of them was Ur Lineup Sux, Bro, the other was Ughh, My Parents Are Here.

Both were assumed to be jokes. Well, jokes they may be, but one of them has released a debut single. The Gapers Block offices received a link to the songs below in an email that simply read, "And people thought we didn't exist. As if! :P"

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Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Review Mon Aug 18 2014

Andrew Bird Shows Us Pulaski at Night

I've seen Andrew Bird in an array of settings. I've seen him at a smaller stage at Lollapalooza six years ago. Since then, I've had the pleasure of seeing him own his unique musical style nine more times. He's played for a hushed, watchful crowd huddling around a lone microphone at the Museum of Contemporary Art. He's played at Fourth Presbyterian Church amidst the serene and exquisite backdrop. He's played a variety of Chicago music halls. However, he had yet to play the delicate and divine Chicago Theatre until this past Saturday evening, which I found baffling due to his greatness. One of my favorite venues, with such pristine sound, was about to see a glorious appearance.

Springfield native Daniel Knox opened up the show. Unfamiliar with his music, I scanned the stage to see an unconventional array of instruments, including what looked like a musical saw, piano, guitar and drums. Knox, with a burly beard and dry wit akin to Nick Offerman, featured songs with hauntingly beautiful piano accompaniments along with lyrics from his husky vocals that are sardonic and smart. In "Ghostsong" off of his latest album, he states, When I come back to life, I'll find you / Push my thumbs into your eyes and blind you. This created a ripple of giggles and smirks amongst the crowd, delighting in the fact that such a gorgeous, serious musical backdrop could be laden with these lighthearted words. His voice then emitted a ghoulish wail, yet it was beautiful, distinct and heartstring-tugging. I felt as if I was in a trance for his brisk 30-minute set, in which the theater became a silent arena for Knox to showcase his very unique music. His next album will be coming out in February, and I can't wait to listen to the newest material, some of which he debuted at the Chicago Theatre for us lucky listeners.

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Sarah Brooks / Comments (0)

Video Wed Aug 13 2014

A Theme Song for a Good Cause

"Windy City Live" host Ryan Chiaverini recorded a new song about Chicago, with proceeds benefiting the Illinois Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The video debuted on YouTube and iTunes Monday, before news broke of Robin Williams' death. Chiaverini's younger brother committed suicide five years ago, and he's been active with AFSP ever since.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Contest Mon Aug 11 2014

Contest: The Ballroom Thieves Perform at SPACE This Wednesday!

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Although they hail from Boston, folk trio The Ballroom Thieves exude soulfulness from the Delta south. Martin Earley strums his guitar with feverish finesse as Devin Mauch rattles away with his diverse percussion with Calin Peters' filling out the band's sound with the tender rhythm of her cello; all the while weaving their voices together in wonderful harmonies. The band manages to imbibe a hearty sense of rock into their music and still maintaining a gentle sincerity. Their songs are personal and earnest about their themes, whether it is the anguish of defining oneself in "Coward's Son" or delving into bad relationships by way of metaphor in "Vampires".

The Ballroom Thieves will be playing at Evanston SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston, this Wednesday, August 13, at 7:30pm. They will be joined by Humming House, a collection of musicians who've gather influences from Americana, bluegrass and traditional Irish music.

Tickets for this sure to be fantastic show are just $10, but you also have a chance to win a pair of tickets! Just email us at contests@gapersblock.com with the subject line "Ballroom!" and we'll pick a lucky winner at random. Email by 5pm today! [Update! We have a winner! Congrats to Joseluis!]

Julian Ramirez / Comments (0)

Concert Mon Aug 11 2014

Photos/Review: Echo and the Bunnymen @ Cabaret Metro 8-10-14

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It's always an exceptional thrill to see a band of the caliber of Echo and the Bunnymen play The Metro because their sound is quite massive and has become the stuff of legend. For 36 years now, Ian McCulloch's vocals alone have helped inspire countless other bands and served as a soundtrack to the childhood of anyone who grew up in the '80s and early '90s. Today, McCulloch's voice still keeps quite a bit of its range and distinctiveness while the backup band makes the songs sound impressively close to their original recordings.

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Kirstie Shanley / Comments (1)

Classical Wed Aug 06 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - August 2014

By Transmission

Before the main classical season kicks into gear in the next month or two, take advantage of these local artists and ensembles playing throughout the city.

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Blogroll

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  Venues:

Abbey Pub
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Aragon Ballroom
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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
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Groove Distribution
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Events

Mon Sep 1 2014
African Festival of the Arts

Wed Sep 3 2014
Creepoid, My Dad, & Shahman @ Township

Wed Sep 3 2014
Now What? A Conversation w/the Creators of Alaska & JoMama Jones

Thu Sep 4 2014
Owen Pallett & Foxes in Fiction @ Metro

Fri Sep 5 2014
The Hideout Block Party & Onion AV Fest

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About Transmission

Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Anne Holub, anne@gapersblock.com
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