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Show Preview: Preoccupations + Protomartyr at Thalia Hall [12/6]

In what should be (but isn’t) called the “PR Nightmare Tour,” two of the finest post-punk bands in recent years, Protomartyr and Preoccupations, are co-headlining dates around the U.S. from late November to mid-December. They’ll be in Chicago on Thursday, December 6th for a show at Thalia Hall, and it promises to be a night you won’t soon forget.

If you’re not already deeply familiar with Protomartyr, here’s a quick primer. Over the course of four excellent LPs and an EP, Protomartyr have distinguished themselves through densely packed arrangements and inspired yet obtuse wordplay. Their songs pound with noise and aggression, but also maintain a distinct air of humility that fits with their Midwestern (Ohio) roots.

This past summer Protomartyr unleashed the Consolation EP, which featured four beautifully destroyed tracks that focused on death and oppression, with some vocal and arrangement assists from Kelley Deal of The Breeders. Sure, it’s not the most upbeat music in the world, but post-punk as a genre very rarely is. The guitars swell into oceans of distortion as Joe Casey’s guttural vocals evoke powerful and poetic scenes of tragedy. This mixture is even more potent on stage, as the physicality of Protomartyr’s songs rise to the forefront and get spit out in fits and spasms. It’s intense, exciting, and cathartic all at the same time, which is one of the primary reasons Protomartyr remains such a worthwhile band in an ever-shifting climate.

Preoccupations have been riding high on a similarly dark and punishing wavelength since their debut EP Cassette back in 2013. Born from the figurative (indefinite hiatus) and literal (RIP Christopher Reimer) ashes of Calgary experimental band Women, they immediately struck a nerve thanks to a confrontational performance style and a so-controversial-it-was-later-changed name Viet Cong. But it was their songs that deserved and ultimately attracted the most attention. Their approach might best be described as angular, because so many of their tracks veer off in compelling and unexpected directions. You’re never allowed to get too comfortable in the world of Preoccupations, and that’s a big part of the fun. Then again, don’t let my use of the word “fun” give you the wrong impression of a band that has been known to cover goth legends Bauhaus and have an 11-minute kick-to-the-face track appropriately titled “Death” as part of their catalog.

A current of nervous yet ferocious and focused energy runs throughout each of Preoccupations’ three albums so far, as they’ve become more confident and detailed with every new release. You can detect subtle nods toward ’80s post-punk and bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain, Echo & The Bunnymen, and The Psychedelic Furs blended seamlessly into many of their recent material, pulling them away from the heavier drones that marked their earliest pieces and into more melodic visions of darkness. It’s been a fascinating transformation, and one that’s enabled them to remain vital since their auspicious beginnings. Their live show is no less impressive, hitting the gas on their Motorik stomp by using noise and passion for fuel. It’s entirely possible you’ll walk away from a Preoccupations show in a daze, unsure of exactly what you just witnessed, but that it was amazing and profound.

If you’re a fan of post-punk and haven’t already made plans to see Protomartyr and Preoccupations on their current tour, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket to one of their shows. As we sink ever deeper into the holiday season amid the extensive retail crowds, the stress of finding that perfect gift for a friend or loved one, and the forced cheer of non-stop parties and get-togethers, here are some live performances that will allow you to lean into the turmoil and (emotionally) exorcise your darkest impulses. Consider it a bit of a reprieve and a way to treat yourself to some music self-care. In Chicago, Thalia Hall next Thursday night. Be there.

Preoccupations / Protomartyr / Rattle
Buy Tickets
Thursday, December 6th
8:30PM / $17 / 17+

Pick Your Poison: Thursday 11-29-18

We’ll finally be getting Alice Merton’s debut album early next year, but to tide us over until then, she’s provided a new song that’s at the top of today’s Pick Your Poison highlights. Because December kicks off on Saturday and we’re officially in the Christmas season, I hope you’ll enjoy The Beths’ take on a festive classic. Plus, Grace Weber managed to recruit Vic Mensa for a pretty fantastic new one as well. Sail beyond the jump, and you’ll find songs from Baby Goth (ft. Trippie Redd & Lil Xan), Cheat Codes (ft. Kim Petras), Elderbrook, Fredfades & Jawn Rice (ft. Lucid Paradise), Murlo, Toby Green, Tony Romiti (ft. Russ), and more!

Alice Merton – Funny Business

The Beths – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Grace Weber – Mercy (ft. Vic Mensa)

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Pick Your Poison: Wednesday 11-28-18

It’s been a week since the last edition of Pick Your Poison, and I’m not happy about it. But there’s not a whole lot I can do when the music gods go silent for a period. Call it a consequence of the holidays. Thankfully there are some really great new tracks in this set to help make the wait feel worth it. That includes highlights from Balms, the return of Gesaffelstein, and a white hot cut from Kllo. Cruise on past the jump and you’ll find even more music from Dahlia Sleeps, Henry Jamison, ISLAND, Jake Miller, Kinder, Tanners, Yung Baby Tate, a Skrillex remix of Travis Scott’s latest single, and more!

Balms – Candle

Gesaffelstein – Reset

Kllo – Candid

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Pick Your Poison: Wednesday 11-21-18

It’s a quieter week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, but I wanted to share this collection of tracks to help soundtrack your extended break and time with family. To start, there’s a pretty great remix of Amine’s “Reel It In” with a guest verse from Gucci Mane. Something fresh from Earl Sweatshirt (ft. Navy Blue) teases his new album that’ll be out next Friday. And hey, let’s add a wonderful Shay Lia track as well for good measure. After the jump, you’ll find even more to be thankful for, including songs from Balthazar, Bjarki, Daisy Maybe x Skepta, DJ Nu-Mark (ft. Method Man), FUR, Hajk, Perfect Body, and Silverbacks.

Amine – Reel It In (Remix ft. Gucci Mane)

Earl Sweatshirt – The Mint (ft. Navy Blue)

Shay Lia – The Cycle

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Pick Your Poison: Thursday 11-15-18

Prepare for the weekend with another lovely collection of tracks, including highlights from Girl Crush, the return of Halloween, Alaska, and something new from Max Styler with special guests The Griswolds. There’s even more music to discover after the jump, including songs from Bronze Whale, Danileigh, Diveliner, Fakear, Moon Panda, Party Pupils (ft. Ashe & MAX), Rosie Carney, and Sticky Fingers.

Girl Crush – Radio Silence

Halloween, Alaska – Ginger

Max Styler – Light Me Up (ft. The Griswolds)

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Pick Your Poison: Wednesday 11-14-18

What are your plans for this February? It’s the middle of winter and you’re probably going to be bundled up somewhere avoiding the snow and cold, right? At least that’s likely to be the case if you’re in Chicago or any other chilly region of the world. Well that gets a little boring after awhile, so allow me to recommend an activity. Brand new for 2019, the folks at Pitchfork and the Art Institute of Chicago are putting on a 3-day (thankfully indoor) music and art festival. Appropriately titled Midwinter, it takes place from February 15-17 at the Art Institute of Chicago. The museum will be open with all of the artwork on display, plus all kinds of special installations and live performances to stimulate the senses.

The lineup includes notable names like Slowdive, Kamasi Washington, Panda Bear, Tortoise, Deerhunter, Oneohtrix Point Never, Laurie Anderson, Perfume Genius, Zola Jesus, Joey Purp, Hiss Golden Messenger, and many more. Experimental artist William Basinski will perform his seminal The Disintegration Loops record in collaboration with the Chicago Philharmonic. Plus artists like Haley Fohr (of Circuit des Yeux) and Mary Lattimore will be on hand all three days for some special sets. Then there are the original gallery sound compositions from people like Nico Muhly, Tashi Wada & Julia Holter, Stars of the Lid, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, and Helado Negro that will be playing to accompany some of the artwork and gallery sections. Overall it promises to be a highly creative and sometimes strange experience, so I hope you’ll consider coming out for it.

Get all the lineup details and a schedule by going to the Midwinter site. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10AM CT, and are $50 for a single day and $128 for a 3-day base ticket. A base ticket provides access to the Art Institute and most of its galleries, plus select performances. Each night also features several “add-on” shows, each costing between $15-30, that will need to be purchased in addition to the base ticket if you want to attend. The whole thing can get a little pricey if you want to go all-out and see most things, but if you do it right I’m convinced it’ll be an unforgettable time.

Now then, about today’s Pick Your Poison. There are some great tracks from Com Truise, actor/writer/director Noel Wells, and Tiny Ruins to kick things off. Skip past the jump for even more music from Anemone, Darci, Escort, Gunnar Gehl, Jesse Jo Stark, Low Tape, mxmtoon, Shadowgraphs, and $uicideboy$.

Com Truise – Kontex

Noel Wells – Sunrise

Tiny Ruins – School of Design

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Pick Your Poison: Monday 11-12-18

Okay, it’s another Monday in Chicago. There is snow on the ground for some reason. Let’s get at this week and remember that we’re only a week and a half from Thanksgiving. Don’t miss downloads in this set from Frances Luke Accord, Jane Frank, Joey Walker, and Sleepspent. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream tracks from 88GLAM, Amir Obe, Bernard Jabs, Big Twins (ft. Prodigy), Desiigner (ft. Lil Pump), GOLDHOUSE & Be The Bear, Lennon Stella, Mk.gee, Olivia O’Brien, Ten Fe, WAVEDASH (ft. QUEST), and more!

AKA Block & Tray Haggerty – Souvenir

D.B. Rouse – About the Bite Missing From Your Sandwich

Frances Luke Accord – Honeyguide

Jane Frank – Practical Jackets

Joey Walker – Frank (Single Edit)

Rebel Yell – High Authority (Rework)

Sleepspent – California

viben – Return to Triumphance

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Pick Your Poison: Thursday 11-8-18

Take it from the top, and then move down slowly with this fresh edition of Pick Your Poison. Don’t miss new stuff from Claire George, Julian Lynch, and Murray A. Lightburn (of The Dears). Ride past the jump for even more music thanks to alextbh, Elohim, EMBRZ (ft. Leo Stannard), Harry Hudson (ft. Jaden Smith), Homeshake, The Marias (ft. Triathalon), Public Memory, and Rose Droll.

Claire George – Lonely or Alone

Julian Lynch – Meridian

Murray A. Lightburn – Belleville Blues

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Pick Your Poison: Wednesday 11-7-18

There are some really fun tracks in today’s Pick Your Poison, so I hope you’ll click around and explore them a bit. Highlights at the top come courtesy of Big Twins (ft. Havoc), SPORTS, and Tee Grizzley (ft. Chance the Rapper). If those aren’t enough to satisfy your music needs, maybe keep going past the jump for songs from Arctic Flowers, BEA1991, Ellis, GRAACE, Lubomyr Melnyk, Mikey Mike, Reliant Tom, Rence, and Silent Servant.

Big Twins – Memories (ft. Havoc)

SPORTS – Professor Bitch

Tee Grizzley – Wake Up (ft. Chance the Rapper)

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Pick Your Poison: Monday 11-5-18

How about an extended edition of Pick Your Poison to make this Monday a little more bearable? Don’t miss downloads in this set from Abraham Brody, Blake Banks, Deanna Petcoff, and Hemhora and the Glass Band. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, you can stream songs from Anna of the North (covering Sinead O’Connor), Bossy Love, DEEJ (ft. A$AP Nast), Fly By Midnight, Galantis, Henry Jamison, Icarus (ft. Real Lies), NAV, SWIMM, TJ Porter, UnoTheActivist, and more!

Abraham Brody – Nightingale

Blake Banks – Surrender

Deanna Petcoff – Stress

Def Manic – Young Souls (ft. Alj)

Hemhora and the Glass Band – BMX

Jay Stone – Told You (ft. Black Spade)

Gustave Tiger – The Eternal Return

Ruby Gill – Your Mum

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Pick Your Poison: Thursday 11-1-18

This collection of tracks is actually a really great start to November, which goes to show that despite the year winding down there’s still plenty of quality new music to enjoy. Let’s start with a fresh one from Art Feynman (aka Luke Temple/Here We Go Magic), then slide into The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s cover of a Tom Petty classic, and get loud with a killer new song from band to watch Spielbergs. Cruise on past the jump for even more music from the likes of AxMod, Claire George, Dehd, Hayden James (ft. Running Touch), L.A. Witch, Morgan Page & Swanky Tunes, Nanami Ozone, Royal Canoe, and THEY. (ft. Jessie Reyez).

Art Feynman – Ideal Drama

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty cover)

Spielbergs – 4AM

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Pick Your Poison: Tuesday 10-30-18

This is technically the “Halloween” edition of Pick Your Poison, even though none of the songs sound scary or have terrifying lyrics. I suppose there aren’t a lot of legitimate Halloween songs (outside of “Thriller” and “Monster Mash”), but there are usually a few original holiday tunes that get sent to me by random bands and artists around this time of year. They are in short supply in 2018, perhaps because everything that’s happening in the world today is scary enough on its own. Anyway, try to act terrified when listening to some pretty great new tracks from Big Twins, Chicago’s own Lightfoils, and Young Fathers. Cross over the jump and check out some more monstrous songs from Baby FuzZ, JUTES, Krafty Kuts & Dynamite MC, Loyal Lobos, MOSSS, Noah & Shagabond, OWEL, Prismo, and ShadowHood. Booooo!

Big Twins – Phantom of the Opera

Lightfoils – This Time Is Up

Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar

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Pick Your Poison: Monday 10-29-18

Start your week right with a brand new song from The Faint, then give it an extra boost thanks to something fresh from pronoun. After that, maybe some Yoe Mase will keep things interesting. Those are the highlights of today’s Pick Your Poison, but there’s even more music after the jump, including tracks from BandoPop, Curbi, Mothica, Ross Henry, SAVI (ft. Aleesa & Not From Mars), The Score, Sirken & h2the (ft. Kalli Therinae), Taiki Nulight & AC Slater (ft. Dell Harris), and Wolfgang Gartner.

The Faint – Chameleon Nights

pronoun – you didn’t even make the bed

Yoe Mase – Homeless

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Pick Your Poison: Thursday 10-25-18

If you’re not aware of Hatchie, you should definitely check her out. While her Sugar & Spice debut EP made waves earlier this year, there’s an extra new song you can stream below. Also in today’s highlights are fresh cuts from Jaguar Dreams and SG Lewis (ft. Drew Love). In search of more new music? Go no further than beyond the jump, where you can hear songs from Cold Weather Company (covering Blur), Handbraekes, Hotel Mira, Old Man Canyon, Tee Grizzley (ft. Offset), T-Rextasy, TSVI, White Room, and Y La Bamba.

Hatchie – Adored

Jaguar Dreams – A Real Woman

SG Lewis – A.A.T (ft. Drew Love)

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Pick Your Poison: Tuesday 10-23-18

Chicago’s own Meat Wave lead off a cavalcade of great tracks in today’s Pick Your Poison, which also includes highlights from Toro y Moi and Westerman. Maneuver past the jump for even more music from Capital Punishment, Chali 2na, Club Night, David Allred, Grapetooth, Sky Keller, Twin Shadow, Wand (covering Brian Eno), and Young Nudy.

Meat Wave – That’s Alright

Toro y Moi – Freelance

Westerman – Outside Sublime

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