Lollapalooza Day Three – Grant Park – Chicago, IL – 8-5-17

This is the day three truth or false recap of Lollapalooza.

The Shelters

Only band to ever hail from Antarctica.

TRUE…ahhh…Sike!

This no nonsense rock band from LA brought three things with them today: wailing riffs, blistering solos, and late 60’s Yardbirds’-tinged melodies. All were apart of a successful equation. Add Tom Petty’s seal of approval and this band might be much higher in the bill the next time they play Lollapalooza. Recommended listening.

Ron Gallo

Coined the term, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

FALSE (that was George Costanza, obviously)

Ron Gallo played a furious set filled with in your face garage rock oomph. However, it comes at you with an underlying wink and a nod smartness. And what’s not to love about the set ending melt-your-face off rendition of Helter Skelter. Spririted set.

Alvvays

Pronounced All-vays (like a Transylvania vampire).

FALSE

It’s actually just always. Undoubtedly pop to the core, this Toronto based band actually had drive a van to Chicago due to inclement weather in Toronto. So, no, their arms are not tired (groan). Forlorn love and getting-my-life together angst was in their message and they did it well.

Royal Blood

Rocked the living life out of Lollapalooza.

TRUE

Listen, the immediate comparisons to The White Stripes and Black Keys is too hard not to ignore. And with any modern rock duo coming up it’s hard to espace. The trick is to make more with less. So, every drum bear and guitar riff has to matter. Everything becomes magnified.

But, ultimately, this is what makes Royal Blood work. They found the key to that sound.

Monolithic blues rock riffs and head pulsing percussion will do that. And the headbanging crowd was proof of that success.

One of the best sets of the weekend, by far. If you’re a fan of blues rock please seek them. Highly recommended.

alt-J

Named after the street name of an organic farmed joint.

FALSE

Actually typing this on a Mac keyboard will lead you to the answer. But the ever popular indy rock band certainly brought their brand of moody rock and pop rock demeanor. But with a crowd eagerly anticipating Chance The Rapper on the Grant Park stage, the atmosphere did not seem entirely genuine. Nevertheless, they worked with what they had to offer.

Chance The Rapper

Lollapalooza left disappointed.

FALSE

The hotly anticipated homecoming, of sorts, for the nearly mythical folk hero of the masses in Chicago finally arrived. It was part sing-a-long, introspection, freak out, civic pride, and overwhelming support for a near iconic Chicago figure.

It appears every time Chance The Rapper plays Lollapalooza the pageantry grows. And in reprocrocity he continues to give back, not only to his fans, but to his city.

The legend continues and he’s making damn sure he’s not leaving it to chance alone.

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Lollapalooza Day Two – Grant Park – Chicago, IL – 8-4-17

This is the day two truth or false recap of Lollapalooza.

Slothrust

…is my middle name.

FALSE

This grunge trio started a gloomy day with punk riffs and blazing blues-surf rock overtones. Lead guitarist and singer Leah Wellhbaum was a impressive. Check them out!

Skott

Endorsed by Scott Paper Towels.

FALSE

The Scandinavian chanteuse brought her soothing vocals to a receptive crowd. Impressive set.

The Lemon Twigs

The D’Addario brothers were former child actors.

TRUE

Now instead of a closed studio set they played outdoors on a partly cloudy day in Grant Park. You can’t help but hear The Beatles boroque rock in their music. Cheery set.

Phantogram

Named after an optical illusion.

TRUE

The self proclaimed electro rock act engulfed the Grant Park stage in a hazy spacey guitars and galloping percussive beats. The crowd and band were working in unity.

Foster the People

Did a billion people see this band at the Bud Light stage?

PROBABLY

Playing in front of an enormous crowd, the band played all their hits and the crowd voraciously consumed every one of them with glee.

The Killers

Too obvious to create a true or statement.

[imagine what the scene appeared to be since my camera was useless]

Playing covers of Disarm by The Smashing Pumpkins, Starlight by Muse, and their long standing rention of Shadowplay by Joy Division, The Killers no doubt played a crowd friendly set. A commanding set.

Lollapalooza Day One – Grant Park – Chicago, IL – 8-3-17

This is the true or false recap of Lollapalooza. 

White Reaper

The death reaper dressed in white finally loosened up and started a band.

FALSE

This rock and roll band from Kentucky actually is the antonym of death. In fact, they’re full of life and catchy riffs! Fun set. 

Temples

This band English band will launch you to the space time continuum.

TRUE

If you know their friend Sativa it might actually launch you into another dimension! Psychedelic blues and rock at a premium. If you’re a fan of Tame Impala then have a listen.

Liam Gallagher 

He was in band called Oasis.

TRUE

Still brit-rock-pop to the core. And that eternal fued with his brother Noel continues. And still cantankerous to the core. Set cut 40 minutes short. 

George Ezra

Is he Better Than Ezra?

UNCONFIRMED

Well, this Englishman has the pipes to lean towards true. With a breezy backdrop, it was a chilled respite set. 

Cage The Elephant 

Wait, wait, wait…do they cage elephants?

FALSE

In fact, Cage The Elephant had the set of the night. Lead singer Matt Shultz is a maniac…in every possible positive sense. Mick Jagger for the modern ages. 

Spoon

Wait, wait, wait Spoon is a utensil? 

TRUE

Probably the most consistent band in modern rock. Just like using a spoon is consistent in scooping up cereal. Don’t use a spork Communist.

Lorde

Lorde did it rain?

TRUE!!!

A few songs in and it was all over. Grant Park was deluge by rain. Rain ponchos had no chance…(the rapper). 

So, here we are. Slightly disappointed. Very wet and devoid of any climax. 

Lollapalooza day one was an incomplete grade. The worst kind of grade. You’ll live without a proper grade…relax. 

Pitchfork Music Festival – Union Park – Chicago, IL – 7-15-17 – Day Two

This is the day two haiku recap.

2:51 CST

Cherry Glazerr

Keyboard mania

Songs that lift you into space

Ripping guitar riffs

4:30 CST

George Clinton and & Parliament Funkadelic

This is a party

Premier set of the weekend

Flashlight…Atomic Dog!

5:51 CST

The Feelies

The jingle jangle

of the guitars soothe the crowd

Masses are dancing

6:38 CST

Angel Olsen

Her band is in suits

Singer-songwriter type mood

Crowd grasps on her words

7:58 CST

PJ Harvey

Everyone in black

But this was no funeral

A spirited set

9:15 CST

A Tribe Called Quest

Empty mic for Phife

A show for the ages, yo’

Real hip-hop legends

This ends the day two haiku recap. Not sure how this day will be beat.

Pitchfork Music Festival – Union Park – Chicago, IL – 7-14-17 – Day One

This is the haiku recap of day one.

3:01 PM CST (this is the intro)

Rumble of the L

You can hear in the background

Band saunters to stage


Hiss Golden Messenger

Folk-pop is their style

Piano sounds like the Stones

Biloxi shout out

4:10 to Yuma CST (I know it should be 3:10 but just work with me here)

Vince Staples

Had orange backdrop

Gauging crowd for the mic drop

He won them over

6:09 CST (not on purpose that was the time I recorded)

Danny Brown

He reminds me of

Sir Smoke A Lot From Half Baked

Enjoyable set

6:59 CST

Kamaiyah

Crowd had too much fun

Kamaiyah was killing it

Should be more well-known

7:19 CST

Dirty Projectors

Union Park is full

The crowd sways with each new hit

It’s a home run set

8:27 CST

LCD Soundsystem

Want to dance all night?

Then this is the set you want

dance yrself clean, please

This concludes the haiku recap of day one.

Pitchfork Music Festival – Union Park – Chicago, IL – 7-17-2016 – Day Three

Day three. The last stand. 

Glad you stuck around this long. I’m impressed. And aren’t you glad you didn’t have to hangout with me for three day music festival, waiting in line as we pitter-patter our feet in unison hoping the porta-potty hasn’t overrun past its sanitary levels? Yeah, me neither.

Regardless, remember when A Tribe Called Quest told us they got the jazz? Well, by some outstanding chance Union Park hosted a quality amount of it to start day three.  

So, read on as we get past this contrived beginning and let’s enjoy day three, shall we?

The Sun Ra Arkestra, with a nearly mystical background (and I urge you to look it up), ignited day three with a jazz filled set that most in the crowd were probably not expecting. But those blind expectations only sweetened the band’s free-flowing and smiled-filled set.

Recommended listening:

When Kamasi Washington’s band started out with the indistinguishable notes of Miles Davis, well, everyone just knew exacly were this set was going. The stage presence from Kamasi and his band was nothing short of captivating due to their musical chops. They know how to play their instruments (understatement of the weekend no doubt). Saxist, Kamasi Washington is making jazz cool all over again. 

Recommended listening:

Neon Indian’s set…well how the hell can you expect NOT to dance during a music festival weekend. Everyone in attendance had the chance to do so as the band played amply from their latest album VEGA INTL. Night School. Fun. Catchy. Nostalgic. Fantastic set.

Recommended listening:

FKA Twigs closed the night to a mesmerized crowd. And it isn’t hard to understand the hypnotism when you consider what type of performance she puts (I mean have you seen her dance moves?) and how unique she is in today’s musical landscape.

Recommended listening:

Sure, the 2016 Pitchfork Music Festival is over. But with any music festival the real fun is in discovering new bands, songs, or, musical styles. So, I hope this relatively small snapshot of the weekend turns you on to something new!

Until next time friends…

Pitchfork Music Festival – Union Park – Chicago, IL – 7-16-2016 – Day Two

Before we begin let’s talk about the five greatest rappers of all time: 

Well, I’m glad we got that out of the way. Don’t you? 

A sun drenched Union Park hosted day two of the Pitchfork Music Festival. And while I wilted like a lifeless tomato plant, the rest of the crowd, filled with that pesky cosmic energy, buzzed right along. 

So, let’s buzz right into the top acts of the day:

Royal Headache was anything but what their name suggested. These Aussies proved to play their garage punk set at a frenetic pace, but not at the expense of catchy melodies.

Recommended listening:

While I previously mentioned the greatest rapper of all-time (Dylan [dye-lon]), one the better hip-hop groups of all-time, Digable Planets, played a rare set to an immense crowd. Their message, aside from making sure everyone grooved right along to their songs, was a message of peace, good will to your neighbors, and mindfulness of the struggles being felt around the world. 

Recommended listening:

The Super Furry Animals brought their brand of psychedelic brilliant madness to a noticeably tone down crowd (so I guess I wasn’t the only one beaten down by the sun). That still didn’t stop them from putting on a spaced out and visually compelling set.

Recommended listening:

Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals were honestly worth the price of admission today. Anderson .Paak manned the drums and MC’d in an extremely crowd pleasing that brought smiles to faces young and old. Anderson is one of the brightest stars in music today.

Recommended listening:

Sufjan Stevens…wow. I can’t even do justice to his sprawling live version of “Impossible Soul.” It really has to be seen to be believed. And props for his cover of Prince’s “Kiss” to end the night.

Live version of “Impossible Soul”:

Honorable mention:

Brian Wilson played Pet Sounds and other Beach Boys’ hits to a massive crowd. At 74 years old, he did about as good as you could expect. A tremendous amount of respect was telling for the reverent attendance to his incredible career.

And that’s day two ladies and gentlemen. 

Pitchfork Music Festival – Union Park – Chicago, IL – 7-15-2016 – Day One

Hello, beautiful readers. How are you? How’d your morning/day/night go? Well, ain’t it how it always goes?

Well, anyways, I’m glad your reading this on your smartphone, laptop, PC, Mac, or a public library computer…or maybe even that dreaded internet cafe with bad decorations.

Anyways, I guess I just wanted to give you a snapshot (not to be confused with a Snapchat because these letters would self destruct in villainous seconds) of the Pitchfork Music Festival. 

The eleventh annual event arrived at Union Park with a dreaded drizzly start. But that’s nothing a rain poncho or an overly saturated flannel shirt couldn’t deter. 

So, this year, in the age of Buzzfeed countdown orientated articles, I decided to countdown the top four acts of my biased mind at the Pitchfork Music Festival that might even engage you to go out and listen, watch, or follow them at your own discretion. 

So, let’s get right down to it (in a no, purposely Buzzfeed, particular order):

Whitney:

With the break of sunshine late in a largely cloudy and misty set, Whitney proved to be a lighthearted but sonically diversive set to start the afternoon. A trumpet and mini string backing band will always brighten things up. 

Recommended listening:

Twin Peaks:

Chicago’s very own hosted a sizeable and raucous crowd to their garage rock set. This is the type of band you can crack open your tall boys at any barbecue and say hey wanna hear some new rock and roll? 

Recommended listening:

Carly Rae Jepsen:

My goodness. What’s the word for ethereal pop-yness? Michael-Jackson? Madonna? Sorry, but this Canadian gift of an artist (looking sternly at you Beiber) cannot be overlooked as just the girl who blew up on FM radio a few years ago with her international hit “Call Me Maybe.” (And don’t deny you didn’t sing along to this very song on your way to buy groceries a few years ago either). Friends, she’s actually the real deal. Pure pop at its finest.

Recommended listening:

Beach House: Turn the lights down low…way low. Now go ahead and grab your favorite drink. Take your time. No rush. I’m not going anywhere. Maybe take a puff of your favorite (disclaimer: not recommended) cigar, cigarette, or medicinal prescription while you’re at it. Pretty good isn’t it? 

Its honestly the only way to describe Beach House’s headlining performance. Mellow is an understatement. For you Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fans their rendition of The Korgis/and more likely known Beck’s version of “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime” could not have been more fitting for their set. 

Recommended listening:

So, as couples kissed and friends hugged, the night ended in a much needed sign of peace and love that is always (and sadly) desperately needed in our always chaotic world. Let’s hope this continues, no?

Day two just around the corner…

Charles Bradley – 4-28-2015 – Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL

Charles Bradley has taken the baton from James Brown, Otis Redding, and Wilson Pickett’s charismatic careers and launched himself as one of the premier frontmen in music.

His plights and battles to reach his level of success has been well documented, and I sincerely urge you to watch Charles Bradley: Soul of America to properly absorb his story. He’s battled poverty, homelessness, and near death to get to where he’s at:

Perhaps, it’s exactly his story that augments his genuine presence on stage. The old adage that you “have to know the blues to play the blues” is not devoid of truth.

So, on this misty night in April, as the crowd filled into the intimate Thalia Hall, Charles Bradley’s introduction to the stage delivered rising cheers from a sold out crowd. And as he saunter to the stage, Charles Bradley was front and center.

 

image

 

Currently supporting his critically acclaimed album Changes, Charles Bradley and his excellent backing band the Extraordinaires (providing the Daptone Records sound) mesmerized fans with a ninety minute soul, funk, and R&B showcase. Whether it was the fierce horn section sending nearly everyone into a mini-dance off on songs like “Ain’t It a Sin,” or the gleefully sounding “You Put the Flame On It,” the emotional roller coaster did not end as slow dancing couples adorned the upper balcony with much the same fervency on slower numbers. Even the cautionary “Change for the World” couldn’t stop the crowd from swaying in unison.

However, the notable highlight of the night came roughly halfway through show as Charles and his band played a stunning cover of Black Sabbath’s “Changes” (found on their new album, aptly with the same name). A rendition so potently hypnotic that it justifiably triumphs over the original:

 

In the end, genuine emotions were felt from a man who’s been through hell and back. The crowd fed off Charles’ lovable spirit (and also those slick dance moves). But, honestly, love (both the good and bad) was the common denominator this night. Whether it was through his songs, passing out roses to the crowd (!), or monologues to fans in Thalia Hall, it was in the consciousness of everyone present.

Charles thanked us for all the love to end the night and I’d like to think we loved him right back.

Robert Plant – 9-23-15 – FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters

Photo by Chris Sweda – Chicago Tribune

Robert Plant is a divisive figure in rock. He’s both a friend and enemy of the blues (examples here: [http://www.musictimes.com/articles/6250/20140520/7-songs-other-than-stairway-to-heaven-that-led-zeppelin-stole.htm]), the consistent roadblock for multiple Led Zeppelin reunion attempts (which some thank him for), and, of course, being the mold for future blonde front men that later pervaded the 80s hair rock scene (David Coverdale, anyone?).

However, there’s a part of Plant that is admirable. After his post-Zeppelin career, he made it a point to not sound like Zeppelin. So, while his earlier solo albums may sound dated now (some are more drenched in 80s synth than others…just take a listen to “Too Loud”) he was genuinely committed to going his own route.

His goal to stray from Zeppelin worked…for a bit, at least. But, sometimes (as many of us eventually realize) you just have to make peace with your past. Ultimately, this led to a couple of tours with his former bandmate Jimmy Page. Gradually, he began to add Zeppelin material this his live sets. Still, he kept forging ahead with a critically successful album Mighty Rearranger, and even won a Grammy for his duet album (Raising Sand) with bluegrass maven Alison Krauss. All of this exposition is really just means to document the dynamic change Plant has possessed, while still accepting his past.

As Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters sauntered on stage with the backdrop of a lit Chicago skyline reflecting against the choppy waves of Lake Michigan, the opening keyboard riffs of “Trampled Underfoot” lifted the crowd in unison. And so did the rest of the Zeppelin hits (“Black Dog”, “The Rain Song”, “The Lemon Song”, “Rock and Roll”, “Dazed and Confused”, and snippets of “Whole Lotta Love”, and “In My Time of Dying”). Songs he once didn’t care to play have once again found a home on stage. The difference now is that these songs no longer need the gravity that they once possessed. Many are reshaped but still tailored for the objective to have fun.

Homages to the blues also stretched across his set. It was to no surprise that he mentioned once again the impact Chicago and blues had on him and so many other musicians in England. Chess and Delmark Records were once the epitome of blues on Maxwell Street many decades ago. So, hearing Plant’s renditions of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful”, or even Bukka White’s “Fixing’ to Die” is part of the narrative in Robert Plant’s musical identity.

Songs off his new and critically acclaimed album Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, still find his love of mending world-beat and folk-rock into something that sounds so much like…Robert Plant now. Ultimately, the fans were more than happy to hear the roar and ceaseless Zeppelin hits, but even in his originality, a sense of joy was certainly present.

This one is for you, Horacio.