Tuesday, December 29, 2009
This sort of list requires some thought, and this list is important enough to me that I didn’t want to accidentally leave out a single one (you know how when you’re packing for a trip and you get there and you realize you left out something really important like your underwear…), hence the Google Doc. I almost didn’t even do a year end list, though. When all the magazine, blog, radio best of lists started coming out, I get tired of reading slightly different versions basically the same lists, but it’s nice to reference back to the year as a whole, and be able to start anew in 2010.
So here it is… and when any of you ask me what my favorite albums/songs of ’09 were (or any of the above questions) I’m going to tell you to read my blog.
I decided to just list them here, in no particular order, without descriptions or reasoning of why I loved them so much—I’m fairly sure I did a pretty good job gushing about each one at some point on my blog in the past year, so if you need backup, click on through to the other side.
Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Bad Veins - Bad Veins
The Flaming Lips - Embryonic
Amazing Baby - Rewild
Peter Bjorn & John - Living Thing
Metric - Fantasies
White Rabbits - It's Frightening
Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures
*PS* I'm thinking of putting up a Favorite Songs of '09 list as well (since I just realized I started a best songs Google Doc, too, and there were some good ones!).
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Then one day he opened the door to the "extra room" that I didnt realize was there. The room was FILLED with boxes, and stuff, and the walls were lined with CD racks. "THAT'S where everything is!" I exclaimed. When I moved in, I felt like I moved into my very own record store, that only carries stuff I love!
Around the same time I had gotten really into The Flaming Lips after hearing a couple of new tracks from their then upcoming Embryonic album. So, Tankboy started schooling me on the "early stuff" that he said had more of the weird--before the balloons and confetti and radio-friendly feel-good melodies.
Luckily, the F's were right by the door of the extra room, easily accessible. So I snagged what I could, loaded up my iPod, and spent a lot of time with their catalog (including the later prettier Yoshimi and At War With The Mystics). And I loved it all.
And then they go and release the entire cover album yesterday on iTunes. Tankboy (read his review here) played it for me yesterday, and while I am not intimately familiar with the original DSOTM (obviously I know most of the popular songs, and recognize some of it from my Dad playing it in the house when I was growing up), I still totally dig it. I love the weird (something I think I can thank/attribute to my year exposed to free jazz), which is why I also loooved the freakout that is their latest album Embryonic (which I recently realized I never reviewed or really talked about on this blog--maybe because I thought I couldn't do it justice...or I'm intimidated because I'm not as versed in Lips history as much as Tankboy, so I'll just direct you to his review here.)
I realize I refer you to Tankboy a lot in this post, but I think he puts into words perfectly everything I would want to say, but even better and with better authority. So go, go read, and go listen. Links are below.
The Flaming Lips - The Dark Side of the Moon
The Flaming Lips - Embryonic
(*Also, I think I am about to enter a Pink Floyd phase, with homework guided by our former neighbor. Thanks Eric!)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tankboy took me to see Andrew Bird play a special concert last night (an extension of my birthday celebration :)) at Fourth Presbyterian Church (which coincidentally is right across the street from my office and I had never been inside). It was the second of four Gezelligheid concerts--a dutch word loosely translating to “cozy” (ironic since that is the largest venue my boyfriend has seen him in… yes, we are incredibly lucky…).
The show was absolutely beautiful (I will have a hard time using any other word from here on out) musically and visually, the setting and lighting really added another dimension to the performance. Sometimes the entire height of the altar was lit up with color, and others the back was completely dark, essentially disappearing, leaving Bird on a modest looking stage at front. There was no PA, only the 4 huge horn speakers that Bird is known for having on stage, letting the accoustics of the church do the rest. Bird himself was dressed to the nines, wearing a suit for the occasion, and he was seated for the performance--which he pointed out he normally doesnt do (he injured his right heel backing into some equipment at last show in Minneapolis), but it actually added another bit of intimacy to the show. (He also donned a long past 5 o'clock shadow, which along with his wiry frame unfortunately made him look like a little elderly or homeless man when he limped across the stage--eek!)
Watching Andrew Bird play is so entrancing. He is like a scientist of music, mixing a little of this here a little of that there, building orchestras of sound and melodies; you can just picture him alone in the western Illinois barn playing with melodies and instruments and looping all alone in a desolate place for no one to hear but himself. Must be beautiful solace.
This was not a typical concert where an artist would play songs from their new album, or even the most popular songs from their catalog. This was an intimate performance featuring new melodies and the birth of old songs. I only knew about ten percent of the music he played, but it was enthralling to watch/hear development of melodies. I think I may have even liked it better when I didn’t know the songs or the melodies… It's like the first time you see a movie, the first viewing is sometimes better than all subsequent ones.
"Scythian Empires" and "Natural Disaster" were the only two songs that I remember actually knowing before the show. There was a new song near the beginning I enjoyed, which he said had words, but that he wasn't ready to share them with us quite yet. It is so interesting to hear him play a beautiful melody that he says popped up just within the past month--to hear it so seemingly perfect and practiced.
It's also interesting to hear the stories behind the writing of songs, the development and where they began, like another new song, "Lusitania," which was actually an old lyric that started out in "Natural Disaster," but wasn't used. After more research on sunken Naval ships, “I’m the one who sank the Lusitania” became it's own song. He referred to the demise of a romantic relationship when he talked about the meaning, which is the first time I remember ever hearing him refer to personal relationships like that.
Another intesting story came from the "Capital I" song from Sesame Street (“We all live in a capital I…") developed into the song Imitosis after lawyers from the children's program said he couldnt use the lyrics. Bird played the first verse from the alphabet song, then added that he bet that if Jim Henson were still around he would have let him use it. Another bit of fun came in when Before "Scythian Empires" he asked the crowd to provide the percussion by clapping along during the chorus, but then said that if someone said clap along during a song he'd be like "I'm not your monkey." (Really it's his delivery that made it so hilarious).
[Here I will mention one more song that I enjoyed, it had menacing swells and contained lyric “he is a diamond maker.” This guy seems to think it's called "You Woke Me Up." He also has a setlist from one of the Minnesota Gezelligheid concerts which was similar to ours last night.]
The setting of the show, being in a church (a rare concert for us with no booze) felt seasonally appropriate. There were distinct moments when I felt completely relaxed, despite sitting in church pews, suddenly aware of how tense my muscles were in the cold winter air. We even stopped for hot chocolate afterwards. The temperatures outside were bitterly cold though, we ran from building to building even though we were covered from head to toe--any bit of skin that was exposed was bit with pain from the freezing air.
I could tell that Tankboy was upset that my elation from the concert did not carry through our commute home and seeing him sad made me sad! - Damn you Chicago Winter!! (*shakes fist*) - I decided to write for a bit when we got home and I started to feel a little better (I've been feeling more inspired to write the week or so, just need to
So thank you Tankboy, thank you for taking me to the concert (I know that you wouldn't have gone, but you knew that I would love it). It was a nice break in the hubub and chaos and cold of the holiday season to sit in a beautiful scene and watch and listen to beautifully crafted music. I think that sometimes it's just that set-up that makes us appreciate moments like these even more.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Tonight is the big night! The Flaming Lips, Phoenix and Pete Yorn at the Allstate Arena! Birthday week continues!
Tip: Also, we figured out how to get there from the city via public transit so we don't have to drive (and rent a car, and park, and pay for parking, and not drink, etc.). PACE has an event bus set up from the Rosemont Blue Line stop. It runs for one hour before the start of the event and after the event.
PACE Route 221 Allstate Arena Express Schedule
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Wow. This is so bad, and I mean bad in the bad way, not the way people say it now when they really mean something is so good that for some reason it needs to be reversed. Why did we like them?! Why is Jordan not wearing a shirt? Joey doesnt even look to be of legal age. OH! Btw he is coming to Lincoln Hall next month, getcher tickets now!
Look out for a special surprise around 3:22.
Hey, remember when Arsenio Hall had a tv show?
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
It all started with the announcement of the Flaming Lips/Phoenix/Pete Yorn show at Allstate on the 11th; you'd be hard pressed to find a more Mich-perfect bill.
Then, Andrew Bird announced that he would be playing a bunch of "Gezelligheid" (that means "cozy," i.e. small) concerts at Fourth Presbyterian Church. I didn't go for any of those tickets bc I would have felt greedy after getting to see him at The Hideout last year, the Black Cat DC show AND Schubas, but a special someone nabbed a couple guest list spots for us :)
And then last week, there was this curious announcement of Metric playing, of all places, Cubby Bear. They were just here in June, playing a sold out Metro, and did I mention Cubby Bear is a sports bar across from Wrigley Field??? But, the myth has been verified by Tankboy--apparently the show is a part of Q101 partnership with the bar called "Q-Up" and it's serving as the station's official after-party for their "Twisted" holiday concert. Whatever, I get to see Metric at a bar.
Lets see, what else... Tonight we start the month with one of my favorites of '09, Winter Gloves (luckly) returning to Chicago after playing to a nearly empty room in May. And on top of it all, local friends Hey Champ and Tom Schraeder are playing this month too. (I keep telling Tankboy that the only way this month could get any better is if Spoon announced a last minute Chicago show).
So here's to December. It's going to be busy between concerts, holiday parties and unpacking a new home, but hey, I can breathe in January.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sometimes I feel way involved in music, then other times I feel way behind the times. I admittedly ignore most of what's popular and just listen to what I like--stumbling on it my own way instead of listening to other people (much like my life... Hi Dad!). But occasionally I'll pick up on something that's been hot for a while, and then I get my sisters going "I thought you knew everything about music." Enter Lady Gaga. I'm not going to say she's my favorite musician of the year or anything, but I just couldn't deny the draw of all those hit singles anymore. Hey, maybe I thought "Poker Face" would be a one-off and she would fade away like most popsters, but she didn't. Instead, more singles kept being released and they were all pretty damn catchy.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
P.S. The entire album is streaming on YouTube.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
White Rabbits' It's Frightening might just be my new favorite album, and I just found out it was produced by Britt Daniel (Spoon) which now that I know, I can't not hear his influence on the album--and that is NOT a bad thing. The sextet is based in Brooklyn but originally formed in Columbia, Missouri, the two frontmen having met at MU, which I was surprised to find out because that's my alma mater and looks as if they got together right after I skipped town. Man, sure wish I could have caught these guys at Mojos... Read my preview of their Schubas/Lincoln Hall shows here. A bit to add that I didn't fit in the write-up--I just noticed the heavy use of piano on the album, which I was surprised that I didn't notice before bc usually I can not STAND a lot of piano (just brings me shudders of Billy Joel) but here it doesnt annoy me, then I realized THAT is what gives it that Spoon-esque pop sound.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
UPDATE: Now it's a doc on The Who. Not a bad Sunday.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Thought I would come back from vacation all rested and ready to rock? Think again! The last couple of weeks Tankboy and I have been so busy apartment hunting I haven't had time to think about much else! But good news--the search is over! But, that just means we'll be busy packing, moving and unpacking for the next two months. Oh, and Thanksgiving and Christmas (and my birthday) happen somewhere in there don't they... Oi.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
One of my favorite albums as of late has been Bad Veins' self titled debut--from start to finish. The album reminds me a lot of The Killers' debut Hot Fuss--over-the-top, danceable indie-rock with the same longing in the vocals. Bad Veins have a lusher, more orchestral sound though, and aren't afraid of their softer side. You'll find yourself singing along, yelling the full-of-feeling choruses --I often get them stuck in my head and catch myself singing 'I would be lyin if i said i never hated you!' around my house.
While their name might not be in your musical lexicon quite yet, drummer Sebastien Schultz and keyboardist/guitarist/singer Benjamin Davis have gotten quite a bit of attention lately with their single "Gold and Warm" popping up on indie radio stations, as one of MTV's Bands You Should Know, and songs appearing in Gossip Girl and The City.
On Tuesday night, the Cincinnati duo played at Subterranean opening for LA group Division Day who they are currently on tour with. I walked in just in time to see them take the stage, and turns out they had just arrived as well--Davis saying that his eyes were still adjusted to the van and that there's something to be said for that downtime between rolling in and actually playing. They didn't sound affected however, making a whole hell of a lot of noise for two guys (although maybe it was a little too loud for that small of a room--but lets attribute that to the venue's eager sound-tech). That lush multi-layered sound could be attributed to their third "member" Irene--a 1973 reel-to-reel tape machine that took center stage.
The whole time watching them, I couldn't remember which song was my favorite because every time they started into one, I thought 'oh, I love this one!' It was hard to tell if I was the only one in the audience mouthing the words, but the modest crowd did take notice, shifting to the front of the room during "Falling Tide," which is probably their hardest rocking song. They closed with "The Lie," Davis singing into a megaphone, distorting the vocals just so and creating a sense of distance. My only gripe of the evening (besides the loud buzzing feedback between songs) was that I wish they would have played more than a 30 minute set.
My sister will be visiting this weekend for the Chicago Marathon, so we might hit up a show Saturday night. They Might Be Giants are at The Vic, Asobi Seksu is at Bottom Lounge and Drug Rug (previewed!) is opening for Portgual. The Man at Schubas. OR, I might be stuck at home tending to my bum foot... we shall see...
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
"We've got a lot of emotion to get through tonight." Eddie Vedder started off the evening with that statement at last night's Pearl Jam concert at the United Center before launching into "Corduroy." It's hard not to be filled with emotion with songs so passionate and enduring, and of course, Vedder's deep, fervent vocals. He took the stage in shorts, a move not a lot of rockstars could get away with and still look like a rockstar, but if anyone can pull it off, it's Eddie Vedder.
As if there was any question as to where Vedder calls home, after the group finished the song "Why Go" he said, "Why go home? I am home," which was answered by wild cheers from the audience. He then pointed out, as any Chicagoan knows, that if you're born in Chicago you'll always be from Chicago, and that if you ever live here, Chicago will always be in you. It's with moments like that that Pearl Jam makes an arena full of people feel like a group in an intimate venue. They even got the whole place to sing Happy Birthday to friend Mike Richter who couldn't make it to the show.
They didn't play much new material from their forthcoming album, Backspacer, saying that they'd "probably fuck it up," But many of the standards were there, including a few covers. Paying tribute to their roots and in thanks to Mr. Pete Townshend, they covered two different The Who songs--"Love, Reign O'er Me" and "The Real Me." Always one to make a statement, Vedder also acknowledged Michael Jackson's death by telling how he loved Motown when young, but then suggested that we really lost him a long time ago and played Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done."
After thanking the crowd for coming and humbly asking "We did okay?" they ended the show in true rockstar style, playing one more song as the house lights came up inside the United Center, Vedder even lighting up a smoke as they closed out the night with a Hendrix-style rendition of our National Anthem.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The highlight of my day was the one thing that got me out of bed and got my ass to the park early and that was Hey Champ performing on the Main Stage at 12:15. The guys kicked some serious dance-rock ass. It was really cool to see the guys on the big screens by the stage! I think I took more pics of the screens than I did of them!! Needless to say I was super proud, although maybe not as proud as Papa Steve :)
The one thing that sucked about Friday was the RAIN. I was waiting for all the newspaper, magazine and online headlines to read "Mudpalooza," but I did hear of one "Rainapalooza" front page. I have this theory that people are okay with rain at music festivals bc Woodstock made it look so cool. Anyway, every time it rains I think how glad I am that I bought my green Marmot rain jacket (even if it did cost $100). It was still pretty cold though, my little fingers turning white, saved only slightly by this year's Lolla koozies. Speaking of holding beers, this year the fest was selling cans of beer instead of cups, including 24 oz cans which I thought was a great call bc it meant less frequent trips to the bar. Unfortunately those big cans were gone on Saturday, likely because they could become dangerous projectiles if thrown, but bartenders were saying that people just got too drunk.
Speaking of 24 oz cans of beer, I think they were getting to my head by the time I was alone watching of Montreal on the Vitaminwater stage and my girl Brynn took off to the other end to see Andrew Bird. (I should mention that I skipped his set bc I was lucky enough to see him Thursday night at Schubas) I decided to take a trip to the porta-potties, and when I came out I saw Tom, Dan and his girlfriend standing right there on the stairs and Tom says they were just talking about me! So I took the crew over to the "BAR" where my buddy had been hooking us up all day (tip: get a friend at the bar). We pretty much ended the evening there in front of the bar. Most everyone joined back up with us and we had a little party in the background of Depeche Mode's set.
Every night after the fest, Tankboy and I somehow or another always ended up back at the Hard Rock Hotel party thanks to his Chicagoist "press" credentials (I had no press access this time around. sadface.). The girl who checked us in looked really familiar and when I finally placed that she looks like that chick from the Bachelorette, he asked me her name (Jen Schefft), and turns out she was the one he had been communicating with back and forth about credentials and party info via email. While it was nothing quite as wild as last year, it was still fun, and--I'll be honest--pretty cool to be part of such an exclusive party.
We didn't stay there too long, as Tankboy was going to shoot the Lykke Li aftershow at Bottom Lounge. I really really wanted to go to the show, but in the cab on the way there, I decided I had had enough to drink and needed to go home. But, the night ended with me locking myself out of my apartment and sleeping on the neighbor's couch... long story, not really worth it here.
Saturday was a little different in that I never made it to the festival proper at all. There wasn't anyone I was dying to see that day (which fueled some thought about heading to STL for the night to attend my ten-year high school reunion--which I didn't). The day started off with Tankboy and I witnessing a car wreck downtown on our way to the Playboy Rockstar Brunch. Luckily no one was seriously injured, but there were two pretty pissed off women.
The brunch wasn't quite as glam, or sexy as it would sound, but it was still very cool. The food was gone by the time we got there, so we hit the drinks instead (luckily we had eaten at Treat on the way). We ran into Saam and Steve shortly after arriving so we hung out with them and the rest of the Hey Champ crew. There was a bunny ice sculpture shots were being served from, a "makeout room" where Saam had his picture taken with a playmate (again, not as racy as it sounds, in the slightest), DJ Mom Jeans on the decks, and in one of the rooms there was a photo from the back of Radiohead's stage from Lolla last year, and wouldn't you know, there was Tankboy in the photo pit.
From there I had planned on going straight to the fest, but the sweltering heat was a bit of a deterrent and the crew was heading up to the Hard Rock so we went along. I figured I would spend the afternoon there and have an opportunity to go home, change, let the dog out, etc, before Hey Champ's show that night at LaSalle Power Co.
LaSalle Power Co pissed me off to no end with their pretentiousness (Maybe one day I will describe the events that took place here, but I do not feel like getting all riled up about it again. Know only that I will never attend a show here again and I will slaughter them in any preview I have to write.), and I ended up taking off for Hard Rock. Lucky for me, I arrived just in time to get in with Tankboy bc the place was crazy outside. He was taking pictures as Passion Pit and Santigold played. I found myself in the middle of the room when GZA took the stage with Santigold and the place went crazy with people throwing up Wu-Tang signs and I decided I prob didn't belong there so I went back by the bar and met this guy Roy. Totally thought he was trying to hit on me, but heended up being really cool and Tankboy and I spent most of the evening talking with him about music biz stuff. Turns out he was there as the stage manager for Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Sunday it was back to the fest. It was still hot, but it was a fairly chill day. I spent most of the day camped out on the north end after running into my old co-worker friend Devin at Dan Deacon. Brynn and Bart supplied the blanket, and Ryan eventually cheated his way in to meet us. We saw Neko Case, Dan Auerbach and Lou Reed (who set off the delay that would create much ire for me later on). It was pretty cool to see the legend on stage, even if he did look older than dirt (he didn't even put on his own guitar!).
Then, it was time for Jane's Addiction to take the stage. Apparently Band of Horses didn't get the message though because they played through their first few songs, including their over-the-top helicopter opening. I even heard that they came back out TWICE and said "one more song?" --the second time my friend Tim thought they were joking. Needless to say the soundbleed was AWFUL and pretty much ruined "Mountain Song" for me. The whole thing can be encapsulated by my single tweet from the evening: "Band of Horses. Forever on my shit list." I understand that they started late because Lou Reed started late and went over his set time, but Jane's still started ten minutes late and they could have shared the 20 minute overage. But most of all, Lollapalooza is Perry's house and you have to respect the host.
Ok, I'm done. Besides that, the show was amazing. Perry Farrell was never meant to do anything but front this band. There were so many stand out moments, the best one for me I think was just hearing "Been Caught Stealing" live. The dancers were dressed as the cover of Nothing's Shocking, drummer Stephen Perkins played against doctor's orders, Perry's kids took the stage, and there was even a marriage proposal at the end--by a photographer Tankboy and I know!! (My friend and I were actually giving him ring advice after the Metric show a few months ago!) The best part though was when Tankboy turned to me and pointed at a single tear coming down his face... I have never seen him cry. He had seen them at the first Lollapalooza and he was crying at seeing the original Jane's Addiction lineup together again. I think I love him even more now, heh. (The moment was made even more precious by Brynn telling me that her husband thought that until that moment he thought the lead singer of Jane's Addiction was a girl. I asked her if he got the significance of the "Perry's" dance tent, and she said she had explained everything to him.)
[PS-Check out Tankboy's amazing pics of Jane's Addiction.]
The Hard Rock that night was much more tame than the night before. Ra Ra Riot and Chairlift played and I met fellow GB-er Lisa in line (and I had to tell these kids to step back "five-feet" from me after gushing about being in the vip party and then asking me to take their picture with a disposable fuji and then spilling a drink on my foot. Take your slurpee cup--yes I can see that it is filled with beer--and stand over there, kids.)
Monday I took a much needed day off from my day-job to rest, write and take in the weekend. But, if you're already ready to start thinking about next year, tickets are already on sale! (geez...)
One last thing...
Happy Anniversary Tankboy.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Some girl just hurled on the sidewalk in front of me. God.10:42 PM
Some guy just offered me a free ride on a school bus and free tickets to a concert im already going to. Thanks, ill wait for the real bus.10:44 PM
Omg bitch at Congress almost wouldnt let me in bc my name wasnt on list. We gave away 20+ tickets! They're being given away on the street!11:08 PM
Congress is some kind of mess every time i come here.11:09 PM
This place is so empty, and the balcony is blocked off.11:11 PM
@creamteam I know. It feels like a high school gymnasium right now.11:18 PM
Some chick just lit a sparkler INSIDE Congress and obv got the boot.11:28 PM
@lisawhite Im actually excited to see just how weird this night is going to get.11:33 PM
@justinstrange You at Jamie Lidell too?! Come say hi! Im against the back wall where sparkler girl was w @lisawhite!11:37 PM
Ok, they're playing the Flaming Lips between sets. And i am loving it.12:14 AM
I want to make this clear, ALL Flaming Lips. The whole Yoshimi album.12:18 AM
Jamie Lidell solo kids. Looping.12:22 AM
Jamie Lidell is awesome. He is his own backing track.12:27 AM
@radiofreechicago You missed out, he's solo tonight.12:47 AM
Really trying to concentrate on the show despite the douchebags hitting on us.12:56 AM
This show should have been at Double Door.1:04 AM
A Little Bit More1:05 AM
Dear Jamie Lidell, please come to the Continental after your show. kthxbye.1:10 AM
Omg everyone is getting on stage.1:21 AM
Pregnant girl dancing on stage. Wearing a Busch beer shirt. No shit.1:26 AM
Security FAIL.1:26 AM
Oh even better, shirt says "if you like these mountains youll love my busch" #classypregnantlady1:30 AM
Oh and there are barefoot dancing hippies here too.#asifthisnightwasntweirdenoughalready1:33 AM
Aaand back to the Lips!1:52 AM