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Friday, December 19

Gapers Block

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Stars Align Wed Dec 17 2014

Stars Align: Brad Sawicki and Bryan Kveton Jan. 15

Brad Sawicki and Bryan Kveton; Photos by Katie Scarlett Leu and Sunjacket

Brad Sawicki and Bryan Kveton infuse alternative rock with pop hooks using carefully crafted layers of sound, but they're stripping it down to the bare essentials for one night only.

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Mike Ewing / Comments (0)

Concert Wed Dec 17 2014

Shake It Up: Gapers Block Holiday Concert

The crowd cheers at the Metro. Photo: Jim Vondruska

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our 2014 Holiday Show at the Metro. It was a great time, and we were blown away by Pop Goes the Evil, the Kickback, Archie Powell & the Exports, and MUTTS.

It was definitely a family affair for the bands, with them all coming together for a finale of Paul McCartney's "Monkberry Moon Delight." It was also a big moment for MUTTS as they released their latest album, Fuel Yer Delusion vol. 4.

Whether you were there or not, here are some photos, videos, and reviews of the night.

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Mike Ewing / Comments (0)

SXSW Tue Dec 16 2014

Chicago at SXSW Music Festival 2015: Early Warning

Chicago at SXSW 2015It's that time again: The first two rounds of artists officially showcasing at the 2015 SXSW Music Festival have been announced, and as usual, there are a few Chicago-based acts in the lineup.

But just a few. The lucky early announcements are BJ the Chicago Kid, DJ Earl, Mick Jenkins, Sicko Mobb and Alex Wiley.

From the broader region, Austin Lucas from Bloomington, IN, Black Milk (the hip hop artist, not the clothing company) from Detroit, Heaters from Grand Rapids, MI, and Wave Chapelle from Milwaukee were also announced.

That's pretty light representation, but there were only eight Chicagoland acts announced this early last year, and we still ended up with over 60 local acts showcasing at the festival, and a couple dozen more from neighboring states. The next artist announcement is due Jan. 13, so we'll see just how many we get this year.

If you're planning to go to the festival, get your tickets and book a room in Austin now, as most of the hotels close to the epicenter are already sold out.

As always, we'll be bringing you coverage of Chicagoland acts at the SXSW Music Festival as it happens. Stay tuned, and read our past coverage of the fest in the archives.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Preview Mon Dec 15 2014

Chicago Calling XI at Schubas - Good Covers for a Great Cause

Image from

Cover bands are fun. There's really no disputing it. On a list of things that are fun, they rank slightly above bubbles and slightly below slip n' slides.

This coming Friday the 19th, Schubas is making it easy for you -- they're combining your quota of fun with your quota of philanthropy. For the 11th year in a row they're hosting "Chicago Calling -- Another Very Clash Christmas." The event features local cover bands London Calling - Chicago's only Clash cover band that matters and All Mods Conned -- the celebrated and potent tribute to The Jam, along with DJ Dave Roberts spinning the finest tracks. The official after party follows at Late Bar.

Proceeds from the event go to support the fantastic 826CHI, the Chicago chapter of the national nonprofit writing & tutoring center that helps students aged 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills.

If the past 10 years are any indication, this one's going to sell out fast. What better way to celebrate the holiday season than in the festive, cozy atmosphere of Schubas (which is currently decked out in Christmas lights and garlands), listening to The Clash and The Jam covers, knowing that you've given to a good cause? Tickets are only $10, get 'em while they're hot.

Chicago Calling XI: A Very Special Clash Christmas begins at 8pm on Friday, Dec. 19 at Schubas Tavern, 3159 N. Southport Ave.

Celeste Mallama / Comments (0)

Music & Film Mon Dec 15 2014

Get that Holiday Feeling at the Chicago Premiere of Jingle Bell Rocks!

jingle bell rocks! filmFor some people, Christmastime is year-round. I'm not talking about your aunt with the entire room of her house devoted to the holiday, I mean Christmas music fanatics. They're always on the hunt for that rare holiday single, that obscure recording deserving of more attention.

A new documentary shines a thousand strings of lights on the holiday music collecting community. Jingle Bell Rocks, directed by Mitchell Kezin, talk with collectors from around the country, including Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons of RUN-D.M.C, Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, filmmaker John Waters, and radio host/musicologist Dr. Demento. Locally, Andy Cirzan, vice president of Jam Productions and guest host on the annual "Sound Opinions" holiday show, is interviewed extensively.

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Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Sun Dec 14 2014

Review: Wilco @ Riv, 12/5, 8, 11

Whenever you see one band three times in a week it's going to reveal the best and worst of them. You'll experience why super fans stick around for years, and how someone seeing them for the first time can be sold immediately. But you'll also see how there's some truth to a lot of the negative things said about them. In the case of Wilco's Winterlude over the past week, the good definitely outweighed the bad.

These residencies come with high expectations. Wilco's had their phases. They can be alt-country, a little experimental or just a straight-up rock band. As Jeff Tweedy put it on Monday, coincidentally when he was least talkative, the goal of these shows wasn't to play every Wilco song. It was just to play a lot of songs. For a hometown crowd, they can afford to mix things up by running out a slew of drab songs in a row (i.e., Monday's set) or playing alternate versions of the hits (i.e., the last 3 or 4 songs each night being acoustic, "Camera" on the 5th) or playing rarities from soundtracks (i.e., "Just a Kid" on the 5th, "Blasting Fonda" on Thursday). It's not like they're forgetting crowd pleasers like "I Got You" or "Heavy Metal Drummer."

For super fans who have seen the band a lot, hearing rare stuff is a nice treat because it's not "I'm the Man Who Loves You" again. However, every show is someone's first - the kid with his parents, the out-of-towner who goes on a whim, etc. Balancing a setlist to appeal to everyone isn't easy, but it's hard to argue with many of their selections. And, like on Thursday, Tweedy had to acknowledge that sometimes the transitions can be a little ridiculous.

Really, they're just a local band answering high demand with a bunch of shows that veer from the standard sets. When they're locked in, they're terrific. Even if Monday was a snoozefest to start, it ended on high notes from the last song of the set ("Spiders") through both encores with energy that came out of nowhere. It's sort of amazing to see a band turn from lifeless to vibrant in a matter of minutes. Not many can do that. They picked me up from a grouchy mood (bad view, stuck in the smoking section, surrounded by chatterboxes) to walking out with a smile. (But I still want to know what the deal is with the guy who knew every word to the Mermaid Avenue songs yet clapped out of time.) And Thursday's show was a tour de force highlighted by not-so secret weapon Nels Cline crushing it on guitar, especially on the blistering close to "Hotel Arizona." "Hoodoo Voodoo" to start the encore was a hell of a time, too.

James Ziegenfus / Comments (0)

Concert Fri Dec 12 2014

Tristan Perich's Elegy for One-Bit Alone at the Logan Center (Hyde Park)

Tristan Perich.

Four years ago, Lampo hosted composer and installation artist Tristan Perich as part of its fall series, where he performed his composition "One-Bit Symphony" (2010), accompanied by visual accompaniment of his on-the-spot pattern generation across five black and white TVs. You can see my review of the event here. It was a hell of a thing, that night. Perich's composition, small enough to fit on a small circuit mounted inside of CD jewel case with a headphone jack, created its rising and falling patterns out of endless 1s and 0s, yet like Nancarrow's ultra-complex player piano work, the music was soulful and heartbreaking and lusty and vivacious, despite (or because of) its adherence to a restrictive medium.

Perich returns this Saturday (December 13) at 8 p.m. to the Logan Center for the Arts (915 East 60th Street, performance penthouse 901) to present "Noise Patterns," the next development in his one-bit music. Admission is free with RSVP.

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Chris Sienko / Comments (0)

Preview Thu Dec 11 2014

Ivan & Alyosha Hit the Empty Bottle Dec. 18th

Nineteenth century Russian literature might seem like an unlikely inspiration point for a band, but Ivan & Alyosha, a folk-pop band out of Seattle, draw their name from two characters in Dostoyevsky's classic The Brothers Karamazov. Ivan and Alyosha are two brothers, one pious and one agnostic, who clash over their views on God.

At first glance the band's Russian lit connection might seem tenuous — the group produces warm, fuzzy, harmony-rich pieces of folk rock full of catchy hooks and lyrics that would sweep any girl off her feet ("I wanna be the man/who gets you all the presents underneath of your Christmas tree/well they're all from me") but if you listen to the lyrics closely you can hear the band putting forth some deeper questions of life and death, faith and a higher power.

Image from

The group is known for its charismatic, high energy, feel good performances — lucky for us WXRT is bringing the band out to the Empty Bottle on Dec. 18. If you'd like to check them out yourself, tickets can be purchased for a mere $5.

Celeste Mallama / Comments (0)

Preview Wed Dec 10 2014

Downwrite Brings Holiday Concert to the Metro


The holiday season is definitely a time with packed schedules and running from place to place in a hectic frenzy, but amidst the hustle and bustle is an opportunity to give back and appreciate the simple joys around us. What better way to do so, than combined with set after set of impeccable music?

On December 20, The Metro will feature solo artists from reputable groups in a unique format. We Carol Lot: Downwrite Holiday Show features artists that have been connected with and promoted by the fans themselves, who then create customized ballads to perform in the show's dynamic solo format. Downwrite is the company that puts on those awesome Music Trivia and Concert Nights at the GMan Tavern next door, and is now bringing you the artists that have all been on the Metro stage before for a special evening of seasonal music.

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Sarah Brooks / Comments (0)

Review Sat Dec 06 2014

Wilco Winterlude: Night One in Review


20 years. That's how long influential indie rock band, Wilco, has been crafting their tunes together, with Jeff Tweedy at the helm of the group's influential journey. Much to the delight of their Chicago fans, they've decided to play six nights at Uptown's Riviera Theater, performing each song from their discography only once, and spanning their entire musical career.

We've seen them move from creating rockabilly Americana tunes on their earliest records Wilco A.M. and Being There, to moving into uncharted territory with their unique and visionary folk records Summerteeth, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost is Born, and Sky Blue Sky, culminating in their newest records, Wilco and The Whole Love. As their craft becomes evolved, their core identity remains the same. Lush guitar backdrops, delicately created lyrics, and their pure folk sound stay unchanged and untarnished.

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Sarah Brooks / Comments (4)

Concert Fri Dec 05 2014

Gapers Block Holiday Concert Saturday at Metro - Don't Miss It!

2014 Gapers Block Holiday ConcertThis Saturday, Dec. 6, Gapers Block is bringing together some of Chicago's best up-and-coming bands for our 2014 Holiday Concert at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St. Featuring MUTTS, Archie Powell & the Exports, The Kickback and Cincinnati's Pop Goes the Evil, this is one show you don't want to miss. Grab $9 advance tickets while you can or pay $12 at the door. Either way, it's going to be a great time.

MUTTS will be celebrating the release of their latest album, Fuel Yer Delusion, vol. 4, which is dedicated to anyone who's chasing a dream. It's something MUTTS knows plenty about, traveling across the country to play their heavy, bluesy rock at over 100 shows in the past year.

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Mike Ewing / Comments (0)

Review Wed Dec 03 2014

Lincoln Hall Drifted Off With Allah-Las and Tashaki Miyaki

allahlas2.jpgThe past couple years have been good to Allah-Las. They have gotten better and better with every passing performance, honing their skills and building up a reputation of great shows. Their latest album, Worship the Sun has the band completely submersed in their music, becoming more than just another simple 60s psychedelic revival. Allah-Las embody the sound so well they seem displaced in time and we in the present are all the better for it. This past weekend Allah-Las returned to Chicago and took Lincoln Hall on a very satisfying musical journey.

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Julian Ramirez / Comments (0)

Preview Tue Dec 02 2014

Need New Year's Eve Plans? We Got You Covered

The end of the year is quickly approaching and not all of us know what to do on New Year's Eve. Chicago has an abundance of events, but with so much going on in the city it's hard to narrow down the right spot for you. Luckily, you have us. If you want to ring in the New Year with a little music in your ears, we have just the place. Whether you need a little punk, folk, hip hop, dubstep, or jazz; you name it, Chicago has it for you. Here's a nice list of some interesting New Year's Eve shows with some top picks by Sarah Brooks and Julian Ramirez.

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Julian Ramirez / Comments (0)

Classical Tue Dec 02 2014

Pulling Strings: For Classical Music in Chicago, You Got a Guy - December 2014

Bluebeard's Castle at Thalia Hall
If you see only one psychologically bizarre, and fantastically creepy opera this month, make it Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle. The one-act opera opens as Bluebeard and his new wife, Judith, arrive at the castle following their elopement. Faced with seven doors, Judith discovers her new husband's dark, horrific past. This visually-arresting opera features acclaimed soloists Andrea Silvestrelli (bass) and Kara Shay Thomson (soprano) in Bartok's gripping score. Francesco Milioto conducts the New Millennium Orchestra. Tickets start at $10. Thursday, December 4, 8:30pm. Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport.


Fifth House Ensemble's Favorite Things
5HE's holiday party is as close as I'll get to recommending a holiday-themed concert, mostly because some of their favorite things include Shostakovich, Miguel del Aguila, and Marc Mellits. Enjoy cookies and booze and the potential for an audience kazoo-along. Proceeds benefit 5HE's music programs in Chicago schools. Tickets start at $12. Saturday, December 6, 7pm. Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Hip Hop Mon Dec 01 2014

Vic Mensa Rocks the Metro (Nov. 28)


I saw Chance the Rapper at the Riv at year. I think it was either the day before or the day after Thanksgiving. It was a sold out show, shortly after Acid Rap had come out and he was excellent. It was the performance of an emergence. As Chance juked around stage under the bright lights, rapping along with thousands of fans, you felt that something was happening. Coincidentally, this performance was the first time I saw Vic Mensa and the last time I saw DJ Rashad before he passed away.

Let me clarify. I'd seen Mensa once or twice before as the lead singer for Kids These Days and I'd heard his then recently released Innanetape mixtape, but watching Mensa cameo during "Cocoa Butter Kisses" during Chance's homecoming set was my first glimpse of seeing him as a solo artist. Fast forward almost exactly a year later. After touring around the world and releasing a series of singles, Vic Mensa returned to Chicago for a sold out homecoming show at the Metro, also during Thanksgiving.

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Justin Freeman / Comments (0)

Classical Tue Dec 02 2014

Pulling Strings: For Classical Music in Chicago, You Got a Guy - December 2014

By Elliot Mandel

If you see only one psychologically bizarre, and fantastically creepy opera this month, make it Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle at Thalia Hall.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records


Fri Dec 19 2014
Chicago Calling XI @ Schubas

Sat Dec 20 2014
I Fight Dragons @ Lincoln Hall

Sat Dec 20 2014
Soul Summit @ Double Door

Sat Dec 20 2014
We Carol Lot: Downwrite Holiday Show @ Metro

Sun Dec 21 2014
Do-It-Yourself Messiah @ Harris Theater

Sun Dec 21 2014
Bluegrass Jam @ Old Town School of Folk Music

Mon Dec 22 2014
Third Annual Woman Power Holiday Show @ Schubas

Mon Dec 22 2014
Jamaican Queens @ Hideout

Mon Dec 22 2014
Do-It-Yourself Messiah @ Harris Theater

Tue Dec 23 2014
Smith Westerns @ Lincoln Hall

Thu Dec 25 2014
Mr. Blotto's All Dead Show @ Cubby Bear

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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...
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