Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Helicopters: CD release and free show May 5

Local electro-tinged indie pop band Helicopters are releasing a special "Digital Bonus Version" of their latest record, Sizing up the Distance (reviewed here), and to celebrate are set to play a free release show Tuesday, May 5 at Double Door.

The LP, first released last year, has received positive reviews from both local and national press, with comparisons to indie pop heavyweights such as Postal Service, The Shins and Death Cab for Cutie. The new release will include the original album's 11 tracks in addition to a code to download six bonus cuts via the band's site. Here's the full track listing:

Sizing Up the Distance Track Listing:
01. Emergency
02. Getting Out of Town
03. Iran
04. Scraps of Bread
05. Headlights
06. White Lilly No Soul
07. Still Silhouettes
08. Harder Than You Think
09. More! Again!
10. Restless Minds
11. This Is the Bookend

Bonus Tracks:
01. This is the Bookend (acoustic)
02. Scraps of Bread (alternate take)
03. You’ve Got the Plan (original demo)
04. White Lily No Soul (a.catalyst remix)
05. Emergency (AlbinoRed remix)
06. Emergency (cmd-C/cmd-V remix)

The May 5 show will also feature Love In October, Save Pointe and Bob Nanna & Lauren Lo. Doors open at 7 and the show starts at 8.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Q&A: Gehenna

In anticipation of upcoming gigs this Tuesday, April 28 at Martyrs', May 1 at Miska's, and May 16 at Underground Lounge, recently formed local trio Gehenna took some time out to answer questions about their sound, beginnings and place in the Chicago rock scene:

How and when did Gehenna come together?

Ian Westerfer:
Pat and I were working as hired guns for a project (Chemistar) in Philly in 2008, and when we wrapped there we came back to Chicago to really hit our own material and push our band seriously. We needed a drummer, and this one sold us a microphone. We had her at hello, essentially.

Ridy Luks:
Pat and Ian begged me, it was rather comforting.

You recently recorded a your debut EP. As the introduction to the band, what did you set out to get across in the music and how do you describe your sound?

Pat Wade: We all listen to totally different shit so what ended up happening is a sound of conflict, passive aggressiveness, and hypersensitivity. I think of it as reverse-narcissistic-heavy-ish pop music. It's whiny, and as a white guy from the Philly suburbs I've got no right to whine. But life is still messy and shitty and horrible sometimes and I've found that feeling is something that other humans relate to.

IW: We were, and are, writing to find out what our sound is. We're sort of learning each other, all the time. As for the sound, I keep thinking it's the sound of a singer-songwriter working in loud, hard alternative rock. Which may sound awkward, but I think when you hear the music, you'll see how it works really, really well.

RL: We wanted our sound to be indescribable, something people can listen to and not be able to point a finger on our influences.

Which song should people who have never heard the band before check out first and why?

PW: I guess right now it's "Vortex Soul." The reason being that of the EP songs I wrote, the lyrics from this one - and this entire band - is really about "who wins" between Ian and I. So yeah, vote for that one. Also, it will trick you into thinking we're good.

IW: No way! "Electric Sheets" is the winner - it was meant to be resentful and angry, but it just came out so sad. And from the music snob standpoint (which I am, but Pat's worse), the different feels we get out of the 5/4 time-signature are badass.

RL: I think it would have to be "Army of The Sad." The vocals are intense with a fierce ending.

Who or what would people be most surprised to learn influences your music?

PW: I loathe the guitar as an instrument. I'm forced to play it.

IW: Aside from bands, my favorite music growing up was musical theater and video games. So that may be a surprise; I don't know how much Andrew Lloyd Weber or "Super Mario Bros." made it into our EP.

What sets Gehenna apart from other bands in the local indie scene?

PW: We are working to define this every day. We ascribe to the philosophy of writing good, playing good, looking good. We hope this works.

IW: Absolutely nothing. We are exactly like every other heavy rock trio with a girl drummer and singer who's basically a modern folkie.

RL: We don't want to sound generic. In our set, we will go from a balls to the wall heavy-ass song, followed by a power ballad. It's quite endearing.

What can people expect from checking you out live?

PW: You can expect mistakes because we have a tendency to write beyond our skill level. You can expect to laugh because even though most of our song material is cuttingly personal and graphic and emotionally wince-worthy, the three of us don't act that way when we play. I guess the music is serious, but none of us take each other - or anything else for that matter - seriously. Lastly, you can expect something bad to happen because I have the worst luck in the universe. My amp will die, I will break like 50 strings. I'll fuck up the solo and I will have to burp from beer at the vocal climax of at least one song. Oh, and also it will rain. Every time.

RL: You can expect a lot of beer drinking, stick falling, pick dropping and good fucking music.

How do you think being a band in Chicago affects your music? What are the best and most challenging parts of playing music in this city?

PW: Ian and I come from Philadelphia where, when we left, there were like three venues that allowed original music to be played. It was a city completely overcome and rotted inside from the popularity of cover bands. Most of the people would not give something a chance if they hadn't heard it before. I guess that's a human phenomenon, but it seemed worse there. I moved to Chicago because it is friendlier to original music. Venues and listeners have a respect and willingness to give something a chance that makes it exciting to build and develop a band in this city. The difficult part about it is that there are so many bands in this city. It's mind-numbing and can be really depressing if you think about it too much.

What band or bands would you most like to play with, local or beyond?

IW: Locally, I'm a huge fan of Skybox, but that could be a weird bill. Beyond local, we'd work well on a bill with bands like Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, Tool, Smashing Pumpkins... I probably sound overambitious, but I feel certain fans of those bands would dig what we're doing. And at least Muse would get the pleasure of blowing us out of the water after our set.

What's next for Gehenna?

IW: We want to live on this shit. Whether that means "making it" and ending up with 1,000 pools and our own edition of "Rock of Love," or just developing a small-but-hardcore fan base around the world, we don't want to work "jobs" anymore. Jobs get in the way of making music, and we want to make music all the time. It's a win-win scenario, I think - the fans subsidize our work/lives, and in return we pour all our energy into new songs. People may not always realize that running a band means a ton of bullshit: maintaining Web sites, making fliers, designing logos, booking shows, paying for a practice space...actually writing music becomes one of many priorities, instead of the priority. We don't want to focus on all that other shit, we want to make songs that people can't live without. To that end, we're looking for investors to help us fund the initial push of design, merch, CD production, etc. You'll make your money back and then some.

How can people find out more about your music?

Our MySpace is going to be the easiest way to see, hear and maybe someday feel us - gross! It's more user friendly than any other band promotion format. The three of us are in and out of there all day long, and we're not famous yet so we're still gracious and appreciative. We welcome psychos, stalkers and super fans.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Shows this weekend

Throbbing Gristle

Some great shows happening this weekend have already sold out, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get out and see some live music. Here are some options:

Friday, April 24

- Vacations at Quenchers - A local trio that features two former members of Chin Up Chin Up. 9 p.m., 21 and over. More info.

- Mason Proper at Beat Kitchen - Alternative/indie rock from Michigan - 10:30 p.m., $7 advance, $10 at door, 17 and over. More info and tickets.

Saturday, April 25

- Noah and the Whale at Empty Bottle - British indie folk - 10 p.m., $10, 21 and over. More info and tickets.

- Superdrag at Metro - The band released their fifth album, Industry Giants, in March. 8 p.m., $20, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

Sunday, April 26

- Throbbing Gristle at Logan Square Auditorium - Britain's notorious avant-garde industrial act - two shows (7 p.m. and 10 p.m.), $20, all ages. More info and tickets.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Review: Tinted Windows

I'm not quite sure what the bizarre combination of a Hanson brother, a former Smashing Pumpkin and two power pop veterans should sound like, but it clearly shouldn't be forgettable. Still, on their debut LP the unlikely supergroup - comprised of popster Taylor Hanson, one-time Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos and Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger - manages to get through 11 tracks without making much of an impact. The group employs a straightforward power pop formula that sometimes hits the mark, but as a whole leaves you wishing for more to sink your teeth into. Hanson's exuberant vocals are well suited to this sort of relentlessly upbeat pop and the guitars sound meaty and satisfying, but most of the material simply can't keep up. Lead off tracks "Kind of a Girl" and "Messing With My Head" are instantly catchy power pop-by-the-numbers, and the rest of the album follows suit. The only problem is that most of it isn't very memorable. Songs such as "Without Love" and "Cha Cha" are bright, sunny fun, and "Nothing to Me" makes use of a very cool riff that brings to mind Badfinger and Big Star, but unfortunately the record doesn't offer anything that a power pop fan's stacks of well-loved vinyl can't already provide in greater quality. Hardcore fans of the genre and anyone who has closely followed any of the band's members will likely find something to appreciate about Tinted Windows, but most probably won't find it to be an essential addition to their collections.

Tinted Windows will play a sold out show April 30 at Double Door.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lollapalooza 2009 lineup

After months of speculation, this morning Lollapalooza promoters officially revealed the lineup for the festival, scheduled for August 7 to 9 in Grant Park (tickets are available here). The headliners are the ones that have been rumored for a while, but in my opinion the true draw will be many of the acts set for earlier time slots.

What do you think? Are you happy with the lineup? Who are you most excited to see?

Monday, April 20, 2009

New releases - April 21

Depeche Mode - Sounds of the Universe - The twelfth album from the veteran British synth-pop act. The band is slated to come to Chicago in August to headline Lollapalooza.

Tinted Windows - self-titled LP - The debut LP from the world's newest (and most unlikely) supergroup, which consists of James Iha from The Smashing Pumpkins, Taylor Hanson from Hanson, Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick and Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne. The formula is pure power pop, with tunes such as lead single "Kind of a Girl" and "Messing With My Head" offering loads of high energy hooks.

Art Brut - Art Brut vs. Satan - The band's third album is produced by Frank Black and features lead single "Alcoholics Unanimous."

Jane's Addiction - Cabinet of Curiosities - A box set that includes demos, outtakes and live recordings over three CDs, in addition to a DVD that features music videos, a documentary and the films Gift and Soul Kiss.

Super Furry Animals - Dark Days/Light Years -The Welsh psychedelic rockers' ninth album.

Chicago artists:

VitalLight - Against the Wall (single) - New single from the local alternative/electro band. Catch them live on May 13 at Elbo Room and May 30 at Reggie's.

Skybox - In a Dream (single) - Following their 2006 debut LP Arco Iris, the band is back with this new single from their upcoming album Morning After Cuts. It is available for free download here.

Recent releases:

Silversun Pickups, Death Cab for Cutie and more

Neil Young, The Hold Steady and more

Friday, April 17, 2009

Record Store Day

If you've ever mourned the loss of a local record store that fell victim to online or big box retailers, now is the time to appreciate the "mom and pop" music shops that are still in business. Saturday, April 18 is Record Store Day, "a celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally."

In honor of the day, various independent record stores in and around Chicago are planning special events and music releases. Here's a rundown of some of the participating stores:

Algonquin Records - 532 E Algonquin Road, Des Plaines

Beverly Records - 11612 S Western

CYKLOPX - 7511 Madison St., Forest Park

Dave's Records - 2604 N Clark

Dusty Groove America - 1120 N Ashland - offering free prizes, special merchandise and more.

Hard Boiled Records - 2010 W Roscoe - offering giveaways, new stock and a live set by Radio Ballads at 4 p.m.

Laurie's Planet of Sound - 4639 N Lincoln -offering exclusive releases, a set by AZITA at noon, guest DJs, free gifts.

Permanent Records - 1914 W Chicago

Reckless Records - 3161 N Broadway AND 1532 N Milwaukee AND 26 E Madison - Many special releases plus in-store performances from Blasted Diplomats, The Lawrence Arms, Disappears and more. See the full schedule here.

Record Breakers - 2109 S State

2nd Hand Tunes - 800 Dempster St., Evanston

Val's Halla Records - 239 W. Harrison, Oak Park - offering giveaways and specials throughout the day.

Vintage Vinyl - 925 Davis St., Evanston - In-store performance by The Luck of Eden Hall at 2 p.m.

For more information and a full list of participating Chicagoland stores, click here.

Shows this weekend

Friday, April 17

- Welcome to Ashley with My My My and Glittermouse and Lyon and the Notary at Bottom Lounge - 8 p.m., $6 advance, $8 door, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

- I Fight Dragons at Cubby Bear - 10 p.m., FREE, 21 and over. More info.

- Wye Oak with Pomegranates at Hideout - 10 p.m., $10, 21 and over. More info and tickets.

Saturday, April 18

- Robyn Hitchcock at Epiphany - 8 p.m., $20, all ages. More info and tickets.

- The Handsome Family with Marissa Nadler and Barry McCormick at Schubas - 9 p.m., $20, 21 and over. Also on Sunday. More info and tickets.

Sunday, April 19

- Chris Cornell with Outernational at the Riviera - 7 p.m., $36, all ages. More info and tickets.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

International Pop Overthrow hits Chicago

Looking to discover some great homegrown power pop? Then be sure to check out the Chicago edition of the 2009 International Pop Overthrow (IPO) festival, which kicks off April 16 at the Abbey.

The fest, which has been held for 11 years, accumulates the finest pop-minded bands in each of the various cities it hits throughout the year, from Chicago to Liverpool to L.A.

According to the fest’s site, “The purpose of International Pop Overthrow is two-fold: one aim is to give every worthy band who'd like to play their music in a festival atmosphere the chance to do so, and the other is to bring pop music the attention it so richly deserves.”

Chicago’s installment of IPO will play out from April 16 to 25 and will feature over 70 local bands in addition to bands from outside the city. Click here for the complete schedule and here for the full list of bands. Also, check out my previous articles for more information on a few of the bands set to play the fest, The Blissters, I Fight Dragons and Tenniscourts.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New releases: Silversun Pickups, Death Cab for Cutie and more

Silversun Pickups - Swoon - The sophomore LP from the LA indie rock act, following up their successful 2006 debut, Carnavas.

Death Cab for Cutie - The Open Door (EP) - This five-song EP consists of tracks that the band recorded for their 2008 LP, Narrow Stairs, but didn't make the cut.

Metric - Fantasies - The fourth album by the Canadian band features the single "Help, I'm Alive" and is available in various formats, including vinyl and deluxe hardcover.

Siouxsie and the Banshees - Remastered and expanded editions of A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, Nocturne, Hyaena and Tinderbox - After a long wait, the iconic British punk/alternative band has released the next batch of remasters in a project that began in 2005 to reissue their entire catalog. This batch features three of their strongest studio albums in addition to their classic live album, Nocturne.

Chicago artists:

Paper Arrows - Things We Would Rather Lose - The local indie pop/rock band's second full-length, following last year's Look Alive. They'll play Schubas on May 17.

Haymarket Riot - Endless Bummer - New album from the local post-punk band, featuring nine tracks and available through their site. Catch them live at the Hideout on May 16.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pitchfork lineup additions

Pitchfork has announced eight more bands set to play its music festival, scheduled for July 17 to 19 in Union Park. The additions are Matt and Kim, Charles Hamilton, F---ed Up, Wavves, the Duchess and the Duke, M83, Black Lips and the Very Best.

The bands will join the handful announced last month, bringing the lineup so far to:

Friday - Built to Spill, The Jesus Lizard, Yo La Tengo, Tortoise

Saturday - The National, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, F---ed Up, Matt and Kim, Wavves, Charles Hamilton, The Duchess and The Duke

Sunday - The Flaming Lips, Grizzly Bear, M83, The Walkmen, Pharoahe Monch, Black Lips, The Very Best, Vivian Girls

Tickets are on sale here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Q&A: The Code Kids

Armed with a Paul Westerberg obsession and a desire to create straight-ahead, heartfelt rock and roll in true Midwestern fashion, Chicago garage/alternative four-piece The Code Kids are the kind of indie band you can't help but champion. One listen to the energetic crunch of their barroom rock will get you cheering them on, and another will have you shouting along.

Last year the band released their debut EP, We Sell It Back to You When You Beg, and they've been gathering listeners through regular gigs ever since. As they get set to play Ronny's this Thursday, April 9 and to record their next EP in next month, singer and guitarist Mike Roffman took some time out to fill us in on the band's inspiration, history and plans for the future.

When and how did The Code Kids come together?

I left Tallahassee, FL and moved to Chicago in 2007 to work on my Masters in Writing at DePaul. I had been in a few bands back in Florida, one of them being The Pax Romana with Jay [Ziegler], and I wasn’t exactly ready to stop doing that. So, I started tracking songs on my MacBook and e-mailing some of the guitar parts and melodies to Jay, who was still in Tallahassee finishing up his Bachelor’s degree. He would write some lead over them and shoot back the finished results and we’d have these rough demos. In fact, that’s how “Nobody Knows This Is Somewhere” came to be. Once he finally decided to make the move to Chicago, I started looking for potential band mates. Kyle [Masterson] was one of my friends from class here at DePaul, and he was interested in playing bass in just about anything that had to do with rock. So, we started tracking songs, too. While living in my apartment, Jay found Brad [Cooper], our drummer, through MySpace and things, well, they just clicked. About three of the seven demos came to fruition in like an hour. It was great. The band name itself came from the idea that we’re all NES junkies, especially Brad and Kyle, and we remember these idiot kids who’d sell us fake codes in middle school – something we called “code kids.” It just seemed like a good fit.

Coming from Florida, what about Chicago and its music scene appealed to you?

Musically, the city is insatiable. You can’t go wrong. It’s obvious music was meant to be here. Chess Records, Smashing Pumpkins, Alkaline Trio, Wesley Willis, Wilco…those are some good things to live for, right? Well, maybe not the Pumpkins anymore, but you get the idea. In all honesty, the Midwest is appealing for one reason: the music has always seemed endearing and honest.

How do you describe The Code Kids sound to people unfamiliar with the band?

We’re big fans of that Minneapolis sound. I’m obsessed with Paul Westerberg and The Replacements. We all are, but I get a little sick in the head about it. I mean, was it really necessary to buy the guy’s signature First Act guitar? [laughs] There’s just something about his music that seems real to me. It’s a little different than the connection kids get with Nirvana or The Beatles or even Led Zeppelin. Their music just speaks volumes about life to me, and I think a lot of Minneapolis bands do that. The Hold Steady, Hüsker Dü and even Soul Asylum – a lot of these guys just focus more on the reality of things, and that’s appealing and that’s something we go for. I don’t care about the similarities drawn, either. The music that we make speaks to me the same way these bands’ songs do, and that means the world to me. It’s why I feel the need to keep writing. We just might have a little more shredding on top, thanks to Jay.

Last year you released your debut EP, We Sell It Back to You When You Beg. As the band’s recorded introduction to the world, what did you most hope to get across in these three songs?

The three songs, “Nobody Knows…”, “Andrew McCarthy”, and “Good For You”, were what we had ready at the time, which was back in November. We had some other tunes on the dashboard, but they just weren’t studio ready. Overall, the three songs do us justice. “Nobody Knows…” is about as real to the sound we want, while “Good For You” is a song that was written three years ago and has since transitioned to the rough alternative sound we enjoy. There’s a lo-fi feel to us, and “Andrew McCarthy” has that, what do they call it, “indie” sound. I’m a big fan of what’s available today and I tried writing something a little more modern and “McCarthy” nailed that in a sense. So, in a way, the three songs are a good indicator, but more so of things to come.

Tell us about your new EP coming in May. How does it compare to the debut, and why should people check it out?

We’re really psyched for the new EP. We’re just broke. Our recent traveling stint across the Midwest hit our pockets hard, and also cut into our studio time. So, we might be left with another three song EP, though I’m pushing for four. We feel this will open more doors for us. The songs this time around have more flavor, they’re catchier and they’re more interesting. One of the songs I can’t wait to record is “How Very.” It has this great little riff and the chorus is fun as hell to hum and there’s this odd reference to Christian Slater. I have this knack for writing about celebrities, because I feel writing about myself lacks a bridge. So, if I can relate these ideas and emotions to something that people might recognize or empathize with, which might be hard with Slater but we’ll see, then I feel there’s a connection. There’s a bit of that with the new songs here, though a more introspective tune like “Moving Walkways” or the somewhat tongue in cheek “Short Circuitry” veer off in a different direction. Simply put, they move and shake.

Favorite gig so far and why?

We had a great time in Chicago before the tour began. We went on the road with The Orphan Age, who were then called Hammerhead, and our kick off show was just a blast. I was a little blasted, but it made for an entertaining show I guess. On the road, Milwaukee was just amazing, and we met some great bands like The New Loud, who are just great people. Also, there was a good turnout despite the bummer weather.

What bands – local or beyond – would you most like to play with?

Locally, we’d love to play with The Roadless some more. They opened for us at the Cobra Lounge last month, and they have this killer garage rock sound. Blueblood is another band that I’ve spoken with, and of course, The Orphan Age is fun. Beyond, the wish list never ends. Of course, I’d love to open for Westerberg, but let’s be realistic. We’d have more of a chance at snagging an opening spot for The Hold Steady, and even that seems like a dream. Actually, we contacted The Toadies about getting a spot for their upcoming Metro gig, and I know Brad would have a heart attack if that happened, so we’ll see. As for the other guys, I know Kyle would probably flip out if he ever met Jack White or Jenny Lewis, and Jay, well, he’s similar to me, but he has this Bob Mould fetish.

What have you found to be the best part of being an indie band in Chicago so far? The most challenging?

The best part is that there are tons of places to play, and with an active scene in booking and promotions, there are plenty of bands and businesses to network with. The most challenging aspect is that there’s a lot of competition since the market is very active. It can be hard to convince people that your music is worth listening to any given night compared to all of the other bands playing around town the same evening.

What’s next for the band?

A little time off, actually. Not to relax, though. We’re going to be recording in May. Our Web site needs some changes. And, we’re working on an overall new approach to reaching out to people in the Chicagoland area. Hopefully some bigger shows with some good local bands as well. We have CMJ coming up in October, and that should bring some interesting things with it.

How can people find out more about The Code Kids?


Ronny's this Thursday, April 9.

More Chicago music Q&As:




Lily Schaffer

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New releases: Neil Young, The Hold Steady and more

Neil Young - Fork in the Road - Young's latest record is inspired by his LincVolt, a Lincoln Continental that was retooled to run solely on alternative energy.

The Hold Steady - A Positive Rage (CD/DVD) - This set includes a 17-track live CD of the band's Halloween 2007 performance at Chicago's own Metro, as well as a documentary DVD that features interviews, live footage and fan commentary.

The Thermals - Now We Can See - For their fourth LP, the Portland-based trio delivers catchy indie rock/punk that has so far been well-received by both critics and fans.

Superchunk - Leaves in the Gutter (EP) -After seven years without a CD release, Superchunk are back with this five-song EP just in time for their 20th birthday and upcoming Coachella performance.

Chicago artists:

Paper Arrows - Things We Would Rather Lose - The local indie pop/rock band's second full-length, following last year's Look Alive. They'll play Schubas on May 17.

Haymarket Riot - Endless Bummer - New album from the local post-punk band, featuring nine tracks and available through their site. Catch them live at the Hideout on May 16.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Show review: Morrissey at the Aragon, 3/4/09

There are a few key elements to expect from a Morrissey gig: Eccentricity, unpredictability, stellar material and truly compelling stage presence. All of these were present in at least some capacity at Saturday night’s sold out show at the Aragon, but a straying setlist and gradual decline in firepower kept the performance from ever really hitting home.

After a set of entertaining Britpop by The Courteeners and a video montage celebrating retro glam culture via the likes of Shocking Blue and the New York Dolls, a suit-clad Morrissey and his band kicked off their set with a spot on version of the Smiths classic “This Charming Man.” Punky new cut “Something is Squeezing My Skull” and Vauxhall and I’s “Billy Budd” kept up the momentum, as Moz growled and prowled like the showman fans have come to expect. Other highlights from the first part of the set included two more Smiths standouts - “How Soon Is Now” and “Ask” - as well as stronger cuts from 2004’s You Are the Quarry and the recently-released Years of Refusal.

The later part of the set was far less essential, though, creating a noticeable disconnect between the singer and the crowd. Overloading the second half with deeper cuts such as “The World Is Full of Crashing Bores,” “The Loop,” “Best Friend on the Payroll” and “I Keep Mine Hidden” would have been fine if the quality of that material was on par with the set’s strongest moments, but it only created a take-it-or-leave it portion of the night that seemed to go on for far too long. A shame, considering the legendary front man has a catalog full of amazing songs to choose from.

After a closing trio of tracks from Refusal, the band quickly left the stage, returning only for a meager encore of “First of the Gang to Die” off Quarry. While the track is one of Morrissey’s strongest efforts in recent years, the performance seemed rushed, with Moz half-singing, half-mumbling the lyrics in true “let’s just get this over with” fashion.

And that was it. Nothing from Viva Hate. No “Bigmouth Strikes Again” and nothing from The Queen Is Dead. Two of the new disc’s strongest moments – “All You Need Is Me” and “That’s How People Grow Up – left out in favor of lesser cuts such as “One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell” and “Sorry Doesn’t Help.” The only times the audience seemed to get genuinely excited were when the Moz ripped off his shirt prior to one of three wardrobe changes and when the band kicked into Smiths classics or punchier solo tracks.

On a positive note, the singer was in fine voice, his band rocked and during the moments when everything fell into place, the formula delivered perfectly. It’s just unfortunate there weren’t more of those moments.


1 “This Charming Man"
2 "Something is Squeezing My Skull"
3 "Billy Budd"
4 "Black Cloud"
5 "How Soon is Now"
6 "Irish Blood, English Heart"
7 "How Could Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel"
8 "Ask"
9 "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris"
10 "The World is Full of Crashing Bores"
11 "Death of a Disco Dancer"
12 “The Loop”
13 "I Keep Mine Hidden"
14 “One Day Goodbye Will be Farewell”
15 "Seasick, Yet Still Docked"
16 "Best Friend on the Payroll"
17 "Let Me Kiss You”
18 "Sorry Doesn't Help"
19 “When Last I Spoke to Carol”
20 "I'm OK by Myself"

21 "First of the Gang to Die"

Friday, April 3, 2009

Five shows this weekend - April 3-5

The Faint (photo by Tom Haslinger)

The bad news is there's a bunch of great shows this weekend that are already sold out (Morrissey, The Gaslight Anthem, The Ting Tings). The good news is that there's still plenty to see. Here are five picks to help you plan your musical weekend:

Friday, April 3

- Wavves with Vampire Hands and My Gold Mask at Empty Bottle - 10 p.m., $10, 21 and over. More info and tickets.

- Yourself and the Air with Everthus the Deadbeats, The Belle Ends, and Everything Now! at Subterranean - Doors 9 p.m., show 9:30 p.m., 17 and over. More info and tickets.

Saturday, April 4

- The Faint with Ladytron and at Metro - Doors 5:30 p.m., show 6:30 p.m., $25, all ages. More info and tickets.

- These United States with Anni Rossi at Hideout - 10 p.m., $10, 21 and over. More info and tickets.

Sunday, April 5

- The Tallest Man on Earth with The War on Drugs and Red Cortez at Schubas - 8 p.m., $12, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Windy City Twitter: Chicago bands who tweet

By now there's a good chance you've caught the Twitter bug, and if you're anything like me you probably spend more time than you should tweeting, re-tweeting, twitpic-ing and generally being a social media geek. If you haven't, you're missing out on another highly addictive way to play around on the Internet (and come on, you know you need more of those). A while ago, I wrote about my plunge into the land of tweets and how using Twitter could be a good way for bands to self-promote. Since then, tweeting has gotten even more popular and many more local bands have joined in on the fun.

Below is a rundown of some Twitter-friendly Chicago bands and musicians. Follow them to get to know them and keep up with news of their music, and while you're at it don't forget to follow me @chicagorock.

Chicago rock musicians on Twitter:

Andrew Bird - The renowned singer-songwriter's tweets aren't interactive, but offer regular updates.

Aviary Ghost - "Conjures a breadth of American music, from bar room sing-alongs, jazz, folk, even cabaret."

Big Sky Stringband - "Midwest touring jamband."

Blane Fonda - New band featuring former members of The Sapiens.

Calvin Marty and the Sunken Ship - Dramatic folk-rock.

Cheap Trick - The classic power pop/rock band's account looks relatively new and so far includes a few updates.

Company of Thieves - Soulful, catchy pop/rock.

FiVe 0 SiX - Blend of funk, soul, traditional rock, heavy metal, and hip hop.

Helicopters - Electro-infused indie pop. CD review here.

Hello Dave - "Chicago twang." Blend of rock, pop, folk and blues.

I Fight Dragons - Catchy rock that incorporates NES video game noises. CD review here.

Jackpot Donnie - "High-energy rock/reggae." CD review here.

Jonny Rumble - Punk-influenced pop/rock.

Keith and the Complications - "Hard soul."

King Sparrow - Driving, gritty-yet-melodic rock. Q&A here.

Lost Cartographers - " band. Think Wilco + Cowboy Junkies."

Loyal Divide - Mix of experimental, electronic and psychedelic sounds.

Mannequin Men - Loud and reckless rock 'n' roll.

Mr. Russia - "Bastard offspring of Iggy Pop and The White Stripes."

My Gold Mask - Two-piece that makes "extrinsic pop within a minimalist context."

Overman - Mix of rock, pop, folk and blues.

Pet Lions - Catchy indie pop that mixes a Strokes vibe with classic power pop and new wave. CD review here.

Plain White T's - The pop/rock band best known for massive hit "Hey There Delilah" update regularly.

Post Honeymoon - "Think Siouxsie Sioux meets the Motels, meets Love & Rockets (without the guitars)."

Project ULTRA - "Groove-based rock with the lyrical prose and honesty of a singer-songwriter."

Seven Day Sonnet - Prog rock.

Smashing Pumpkins - Billy Corgan and company have a pretty active account, with regular updates and some interaction.

Snowsera - Pop punk meets alt. rock. CD review here.

The 1900s / Mazes - Chicago's folk pop favorites. CD review here.

The Fold - Alt.rock/pop.

The Frantic - Pop/punk.

The Handcuffs - "Think Queens of the Stone Age and Blondie on a roadtrip with Beck."

The Hood Internet - Mashup duo specializing in unlikely rock-hip hop pairings. More info.

The Hue - "Aggressive progressive fusion."

The Innocent - Melodic singer-songwriter rock. CD review here.

The Insecurities - Members of Lucky Boys Confusion go from pop punk to alt. country/indie rock. CD review here.

The Locals - Guitar-driven alt. pop. CD review here.

The Maybenauts - "Think the Runaways meet Foreigner, fronted by a foul-mouthed version of Ann and Nancy Wilson."

The Rikters - Hook-filled power rock.

The Sweeps - Indie/punk.

Treaty of Paris - "Upbeat melodies, poppy harmonies, heartfelt lyrics, and memorable guitar hooks."

Volcano! - Experimental indie rock.