Category Archives: music

Surprise shows and dance parties

One thing I love about living in this city is that your evening can often take an unexpected, yet pleasant, turn.

Like last Wednesday. Thanks to the beauty of Twitter, I heard about a Heineken secret concert  with Broken Social Scene. Which was perfect since my pal Elaine and I were headed that way to see The Rapture (the band, not the end of the world) at Metro anyway. Holla.

The show was performed next to the 7-Eleven by Wrigley. This short girl appreciated the elevated stage. I didn’t appreciate that I missed my fave, 7/4 Shoreline. I could hear it in the distance, which was a tease. What makes this show amazing is that it is apparently one of Broken Social Scene’s last shows ever. Or for now.

My inner copywriter also appreciated the billboard flanking the show.

The fun didn’t end there. The Rapture played a dance-tastic show. The sound quality at Metro was quite good, quite as expected. As Elaine pointed out, it was a show where you didn’t have to know all the songs. You could just dance.

[I wanted to post a video clip of the hot jam from the new album, “How Deep is Your Love?” But WordPress now wants me to pay to do that.]

Wooo…Yeah…Alright!

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Get outta town

Summer in the city is fantastic. Street festivals, al fresco dining, beach days and neighborhood wandering are activities to be adored.

But sometimes you just have to get away.

While the cool kids were in Union Park listening to band after amazing band, I hit the road and held my own Pitchfork Music Festival in the comfort of my air-conditioned car. Partially due to my fear of sweaty people, but mostly for my friend Maggie’s bachelorette party in St. Louis.

I realized how little I know about the state of Illinois as I drove through its flat, sprawling farmland.Chicago is not an island on its own—there’s a whole wide-eyed state out there. It looks something like this from the road (with a few small cities in between):

Beautiful day for a long drive.

Clouds look painted.

Pit stop in a small town called Pontiac.

Things I didn’t know before hitting the road:

  • Illinois is overflowing with Lincoln pride. Not only is the state dubbed “The Land of Lincoln,” state capital Springfield boasts an Abraham Lincoln airport, museum, college and more. Wut? Also, Lake Springfield is gorgeous. I wanted to be sailing on a boat, not in a car.
  • Towanda and Funks Grove are towns I wish I named.
  • Bonanza restaurant still exists. For those of you who aren’t aware, Bonanza is like Ponderosa or Golden Corral, complete with an all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Vanity plates are still vain. Plates with “Classy” on a Mustang convertible and “My Way” on an Oldsmobile told me a great deal about their owners.

Pitchfork-inspired playlist in the speakers:

  • “Odessa” by Caribou
  • “Dance Yrself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem (Bold statement: Probably my favorite single on my favorite album of the summer)
  • “Dog Days are Over” by Florence + The Machine
  • “Feel It All Around” by Washed Out
  • “Wide Eyes” by Local Natives
  • “Austere” by The Joy Formidable
  • “On Melancholy Hill” by Gorillaz
  • “Money” by Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
  • “Riot Rhythm” by Sleigh Bells
  • “Private Eyes” by The Bird and the Bee (Guilty pleasure: Get this Hall and Oates cover album. Divine.)
  • “I Died So I Could Haunt You” by Stars
  • “Holiday” by Vampire Weekend
  • “Swim” by Surfer Blood

Hit the road and see something new if you could use a little break. I can’t express how therapeutic it was to take in the scenery, play some great tunes and soak in the sun. I temporarily forgot about my stressors and the annoying things happening with my apartment. More to come on that later. The fact that I got to hang out with some college pals in St.Louis was icing on the cake. And anyway, Pitchfork Festival is streaming live.

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Reasons We Live in Chicago #2: Live music

It’s been December for eight days, and it’s snowed three days of those days. Right in a row.

The snow hasn’t been substantial yet, but it’s been enough to make the commute annoying and make me create a mental checklist of all indoor activity options—like live music. Reason We Live in Chicago (in crappy weather) #2.

Oh, yes. Bands play here.

Sometimes, I forget how cheap and accessible a good show is in Chicago. The notion quickly came back to me last Tuesday when we went to see The xx and Friendly Fires at Bottom Lounge.

The xx

Originally, the allure of attending the show was The xx. They’re a lovely little British band I’ve been listening to for the past few months, thanks to emusic and the prompting of my good pal, Lisa.  They sounded fantastic live, true to form, especially given that they recently went from four band members to three. Favorite live songs  were “Crystallized” and “Islands.” Yessss.

The only image I got of the whole band, thanks to the enormous speaker in front of me.

Signature double white xx, encapsulated in black.

Friendly Fires

The surprise of the night was how much I liked Friendly Fires. I have their album, and I do like it, especially as a workout soundtrack. I still had low expectations going into the show, assuming they’d play like other generic British pop bands. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the amazing sound quality and immense energy that the band brought to the stage. The lead singer danced his ass off, and the crowd followed suit.

I just noticed how sweaty the guy in the middle is.

That’s the best: going from liking to digging a band as a result of seeing a live show. Especially when the show only cost you $15 plus the cost of cheap beer. The best.

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Let’s become geekier

We spend the first quarter of our lives trying to fit in, doing the same things as our friends and wearing the same clothes. Yes, to blend in is to fit in.

It took me a while but I’ve realized that, the older we get, the more we celebrate our unique interests, tastes and styles. Unlike our childhood and teenage years, being geeky makes you stand out in good way. My junior high self would be so confused by this notion.

I have to remind myself all the time that living in a city with so many things to do and see, there’s no excuse for not being geeky about something. There are restaurants opening every week, classes for everything and every kind of show imaginable. And because there are so many budget-friendly options, there’s no reason not to take advantage of them.

In High Fidelity fashion, on my top 5 all-time things I’d like to write about if knowledge and vocabulary were not obstacles, music would be #2 (wine is #1, duh). I certainly would like to be geekier about music. I like listening to music, I’m a fan of attending shows but I don’t know much about the mechanics. Luckily, live shows are crazy accessible. My new goal is to attend any show that strikes my fancy and agrees with budget and schedule. (Shows through Ticketmaster need not apply). Empty Bottle happens to be within walking distance. Perfection.

Joe and I saw Girls at Empty Bottle last Thursday. Dominant Legs and Real Estate opened. I messed up on the time, so we arrived suppperrrrr early. Probably before the bands. I enjoyed Dominant Legs’ beats and catchy pop songs. However, watching someone sing to along with a keyboard is only so exciting.

Dominant Legs. The dude is also in Girls.

Real Estate. I enjoyed their music more online that in person. Joe disliked.

I actually came to the show to see Girls. Their songs are dreamy and pop-like, yet cynical. My usual complaint about Empty Bottle is that the music-to-vocal-sound-ratio is terrible. But Girls sounded crisp and true to form.

Girls band

Girls

One of these days, I’ll learn how to upload .avi files. Until I become video savvy, I’ll work on becoming a music geek.

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