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Show Preview: Cross Record at Schubas [4/30]


Let’s start with the basics. Cross Record is the wife and husband duo of Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski. They are based out of Dripping Springs, Texas (near Austin), where they own and run a ranch and recording studio. It’s where they crafted their latest album Wabi-Sabi, out now on Ba Da Bing! Records. If you’ve not yet heard it, stream “Steady Waves” and “High Rise” to get a better idea of what they’re all about.

The dark-tinged experimental folk that populates the record falls somewhere on the strange spectrum between Cocteau Twins, Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, Mount Eerie, Chelsea Wolfe, PJ Harvey and Here We Go Magic. That may touch on a lot of different sonic markers, but the nebulous nature of their songs defies easy description. Each one is inherently beautiful, yet also raw, obtuse and deeply emotional with a sense of danger or evil lurking just underneath the surface. That’s a large reason why the album’s title is so appropriate, as it’s a Japanese phrase meaning the acceptance of transience and imperfection.

Cross Record’s show at Schubas this Saturday will mark something a homecoming for the duo, as they lived in Chicago until a couple of years ago. Their notoriety has increased considerably since their last visit thanks to the release and critical acclaim of Wabi-Sabi, so it’ll be interesting to see how the new songs shape the overall performance. No matter what, it’s certain to be a special night you’re not going to want to miss.

Cross Record, The Loom and Blind Moon
Buy Tickets
10 PM / $10 ($12 Doors) / 21+

Show Preview: Porches, Alex G and Your Friend @ Bottom Lounge [4/9]


Outside of a music festival or a special radio session, have you ever been to an indoor concert with a late afternoon start time? I can’t recall ever attending a show before 7:30pm, and would imagine that spending time at a venue when the sun is out would feel a bit weird. Yet sometimes it’s necessary, I guess, particularly if said venue is double booked for the evening. Apparently Chicago’s own Bottom Lounge does that on occasion, typically on weekends when a majority of people aren’t at work. Saturday, April 9th is one of those occasions, with a triple bill worth not only my money but yours as well.

The first thing you need to know is that it’s going to be an emotional evening, in addition to being an early one. All three artists set to perform have released deeply personal, introspective records in the last year, and received a fair amount of critical acclaim for each. First on the lineup is Your Friend, otherwise known as Taryn Miller. Though her pseudonym can be a challenge to find via traditional search engines, she and her impressive debut album Gumption are worth seeking out. The music she makes could be considered experimental folk, as there’s a fascinating dichotomy between the traditional and non-traditional, the intimate and the expansive, the calm and the chaotic. Strip them down to their bones and you’ve got a single guitar and a voice, but the use of loops, found sounds, electronics, drones and other elements twist and obscure that in beautiful ways while revealing layers of untold depth. The lyrics are reflections on the self, how we present ourselves to the world and the courage it takes to change. Listen to the song “Heathering” below to capture a better idea of Your Friend’s particular aesthetic. It’s definitely worth showing up early to check out her set.

The meat in this musical sandwich is Alex G, the shortened moniker of Alex Giannascoli. The 21-year-old Philadelphia native started to receive a fair amount of attention in 2014 with the release of DSU, his first album that was properly mastered and released on an actual label. Prior to that, he self-recorded and self-released more than a handful of other full lengths and EPs via Bandcamp, very much fitting the definition of a DIY bedroom singer/songwriter. His lo-fi, often hangdog approach has earned him comparisons to Elliott Smith and Pavement in the past, though his sharper experimental leanings on last fall’s Beach Music took things in a much darker and uncommercial direction. It’s an interesting change considering this marked his highest profile release to date and Domino Records debut. Still, there’s plenty to like if you can get past some of the odd choices he makes with vocal modulation. For example a song like “Bug” would probably have been even better if some chipmunk-styled vocals didn’t pop up for no apparent reason. Still, beyond some small missteps on the new album, his past catalog is remarkably solid and worth your exploration. The same could be said about his live performances.

New Yorker Aaron Maine is the man behind the Porches name. It’s a project that’s been around for close to a decade now, but similar to Alex G is just starting to hit it big. Prior to the release of his Domino debut Pool earlier this year, Maine put out at least eight records, though it’s a little tough to put together an official count given that at least a couple seem to have (mostly) vanished from the internet. In many ways it feels as if those previous albums were all in preparation for this new one, which has earned a wealth of critical acclaim and placed Porches on an exclusive list of rising artists. The songs on Pool might best be described as dance tracks for lonely people. You could also use the album title to show the fluidity and spacious grandeur that a majority of the tracks exhibit. Synths and other electronics surge and swirl, while guitars, when present, are often relegated to the background. It’s a bit of a departure for Maine, whose earlier efforts were more entrenched in the world of lo-fi folk. The directional shift is all too purposeful, yet still manages to capture the intimacy and introspection that Porches has been known for across earlier efforts. Take a listen to “Car” and “Be Apart” below to get a better grasp on the magic of Porches.

So there you have it, a rundown of the three dynamic artists set to perform at Bottom Lounge early on a Saturday evening in April. Show up early, see some quality performances, then grab dinner after. Nice and easy. Here are the fine details:

Porches, Alex G & Your Friend
Buy Tickets
5:30 PM / $15

Show Preview: Ty Segall & The Muggers at Thalia Hall [3/7 + 3/8]


Ty Segall is nothing if not prolific. You could easily call him one of the hardest working musicians today, and his output helps prove it. As an example he released four albums between 2012 and 2013, and at least one full length every year since then. If he’s not putting something out under his own name, he’s creating or joining other bands. Last fall he made a record with one of his side bands Fuzz, and already this year he’s put out Emotional Mugger under his own name. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s got at least one more full length ready to go before the end of 2016. Perhaps the most insane thing about all of it is how generally great and varied every release has been. I legitimately can’t recall having heard a single bad Ty Segall-involved album in the last few years…maybe ever. Along the way he’s managed to make himself into a bit of an amorphous element, upending expectations at just about every turn. Just when you think another album of fuzzed out psych-rock is on the way, he picks up an acoustic guitar and explores folk or leans hard in the opposite direction by giving metal a try. He takes to all of it like a fish to water, and even plays different instruments depending on the particular song or project.

The fatal flaw with all of Segall’s efforts is that he may be giving listeners too much of a good thing. His constant progress has created a set of unrealistic expectations, and may even be diluting what he does give us. For example, if he puts out another album in 6-8 months, will it lessen the appreciation and repeat listenability of Emotional Mugger? Can having so much available material in too short of a time span make it difficult to focus on and figure out what truly stands out and is special about it? I suppose it’s up to each one of us to decide how much we can digest, and try to manage as best we can.

When he’s not in the studio, Segall can typically be found on the road. He tours in the same way he records – like a madman. Live shows are almost always brute force displays of strength, primal in nature and loud in volume. Guitars are always at a maximum level of fuzz, and drums suffer the sort of abuse that leave you concerned they could give out at any moment. When he’s behind the microphone, Segall’s voice wails and screams right along with everything else, so what comes out of the speakers could best be described as an auditory weapon of mass destruction. If you’re standing in the right spot, his songs may motivate parts of the crowd to erupt into massive mosh pit(s), layered with body surfers for good measure. It can be a brutal, full body experience that’s not for everybody. If you’re not a physical person, stand away from those who prefer jumping around. If loud music makes you worry about your hearing, wear earplugs. No sense in denying yourself the pleasure and invigorating life force of a Ty Segall show if you enjoy his music. It’s actually quite remarkable to see his songs played on a stage in front of an audience, because it enhances what you might otherwise hear through headphones or speakers in the comfort of your bedroom. That might be the way to most fully appreciate the man and all he’s done for music these last few years.

Ty Segall performs two nights at Thalia Hall next week. Details and ticket info are below. Don’t miss this!

Ty Segall & The Muggers
Tickets: Monday, March 7 / Tuesday, March 8
9PM / 17+ / $23 (advance) / $25 doors

Buy Emotional Mugger from Drag City

Show Preview: Marlon Williams at Schubas [2/10]


People are so eager to affix artists with labels. They provide an easier way to understand what artists do, so outsiders can better determine if it might be right for them. As time marches forward and old ideas become new again, there are those that fight against such traditions, seeking to carve their own paths outside of the familiar. Pictures, words and sounds require a certain level of accessibility to establish an audience, but new twists on old favorites can usher in advancements and inspire others to do the same.

Marlon Williams is a singer-songwriter from New Zealand who is not so easily defined or labeled. Despite being in his mid-20s, many have called him an “old soul” based on the mature themes and influences that permeate his music. As with most who have grown up in the age of the mp3, such increased access allows you to explore anything and everything your heart desires. Even in the small coastal town where he grew up, the soundtrack of his youth included PJ Harvey, Smokey Robinson, Elvis, The Beatles and Gram Parsons mixed in with traditional Maori and gospel songs thanks to his time in a church choir. Williams’ father was also in a punk band, which most assuredly left an impression as well.

So after consuming so much and so many different styles and genres of music, it makes perfect sense that Williams is something of a sonic polymorph. Those quick to judgment have been saying his recently released self-titled album falls under the country or alt-country umbrella, but the reality is so much deeper and more varied. You can hear flourishes of folk, Americana, bluegrass, gospel, soul, rock and even punk twisted into this remarkable tapestry that transcends such easy definitions. At the heart of it all is that powerful voice, which anchors every song with purpose and meaning no matter what direction it takes. Case in point: he covers Nina Simone’s “When I Was A Young Girl” better than anyone I’ve ever heard outside of the original version. It’s striking and very Tim/Jeff Buckley-esque, to the level where it gave me (and I hope you) chills.

Following a sold out tour through Australia and New Zealand, Marlon Williams is now seeking to break out internationally with a tour that takes him around the globe in 2016. He’s currently making his way through North America, which includes a stop at Schubas Tavern this upcoming Wednesday, February 10th. Woodrow Hart & The Haymaker opens. This is a prime opportunity to see a rising star before he blows up, so do yourself a favor and don’t miss this show!

Marlon Williams with Woodrow Hart & The Haymaker
Wednesday, February 10
8PM / 18+ / $12

Show Preview: The Go! Team at Lincoln Hall [1/16/16]


There are very few bands on this planet whose live show could accurately be called a party. Don’t get me wrong; any artist who brings lots of passion to a performance is worth your time and hard-earned money, no matter the energy level or content. But party bands are a special breed, particularly in their ability to transcend any real notions of quality associated with their music by pumping it full of fun and excitement. Andrew W.K. hasn’t released an album since 2009, and everything that came before it sounded pretty much the same, but he’s still out there touring and selling out shows by singing party anthem after party anthem. Good for him.

Which brings me to The Go! Team. They are, in my opinion, the quintessential party band. I’ve never had a bad time at a Go! Team show. Very few people probably have. There’s just too much to enjoy, which really gets reflected first and foremost on their albums. Their sound is something of a challenge to define, in large part because they slam together so many different genres and styles for the hell of it. For example, you could get a Bollywood sampled melody paired with an old school hip hop beat, garage rock guitars and school playground chanted lyrics. The best part is that it works a vast majority of the time, like a delicious stew made from leftovers in the fridge.

I can safely say there’s never been a bad Go! Team record, though we’ve yet to get one that eclipses the 2004 debut Thunder, Lightning, Strike. Part of the reason why that was such a success was because of its novelty at the time, and perhaps due to Ian Parton’s insistence on piecing together every single element himself. Two subsequent efforts had the live band take an active role in the studio, and there’s been a small struggle to transcend past that initial sound. But last year’s The Scene Between saw Parton return to that solo dynamic, perhaps seeking to recreate the magic of a decade earlier. The results were once again solid and generated good reviews, but not quite the raves or hype levels that would elevate The Go! Team beyond their current status. Just like the album (and song) title, they in some ways feel trapped between scenes, where it can be an occasional struggle to determine where they fit into the current music landscape.

Part of that I think has to do with the vexing mystery that is consistency. If you make good music on a regular basis without stirring up headlines or dramatically changing your sound, people tend to lose focus. Hype is a fickle beast that shift attentions on a whim in a quest for the Next Big Thing, while leaving everyone else in the dust. The Go! Team continue to deliver on their initial promise, and each live show remains a celebration worth attending. They are worthy of your love, and if you’ve not yet had the opportunity to hear their music or experience one of their unique and energetic performances, that’s something you need to remedy sooner rather than later. If you’ll be in Chicago next Saturday (January 16th), come hang out at Lincoln Hall if you want to dance, jump and enthusiastically sing along for what promises to be a highly memorable and fun evening with The Go! Team. Rounding out the bill will be Javelin and Jude Shuma. It’s part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival, which you should also check out, just in general. Fine details:

The Go! Team with Javelin and Jude Shuma
Saturday, January 16
9PM / 18+ / $15

Show Preview: Ryn Weaver at Park West [11/12]

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Back in January, I had the privilege of naming Ryn Weaver to my Class of 2015 project. In case you’re too lazy to click that link, the basic idea is that each year I choose 10 rising artists and closely follow their growth and progress for the next 365 days. My track record is pretty strong, and while nobody will likely ever top the run that Class of 2014 alumnus Sam Smith had last year, a few 2015-ers are holding their own so far. Ryn Weaver is arguably at the top of the pile right now, for a couple different reasons I’ll explain in detail.

First, there’s her debut album The Fool. It came out this summer and is a collection of fun, quality pop songs worth checking out if you haven’t already. More importantly, the record proved the hype behind her first single wasn’t a fluke. Her talents extend well beyond “OctaHate” to showcase introspective lyrics and a powerful vocal range that’ll make your eyes widen and jaw drop. Many wise radio programmers have picked up on this, and provided her some strong exposure on Top 40 and Pop stations around the world. That translates to a growing fan base.

Second, there’s her live show. Weaver performed at every major U.S. music festival this summer, including Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. I was fortunate enough to not only catch her set at Lolla, but an additional aftershow she headlined the night before. Yes, she’s got incredible stage presence and knows how to work a crowd. While there’s a certain element of predictability to her set given she has only released an album and an EP so far in her young career, each song takes on a unique and distinctive life apart from the recorded versions in large part because she performs with a full band. That’s unique for someone who makes pop music, where synthetic backing tracks and overdubs are commonplace on stage. She believes that live performances should be fully LIVE, and they’re all the better because of it. Her vocals only get better too, showcasing an elasticity that goes even beyond what you hear on record.

Third, she loves her fans. I’ve seen plenty of performers go out of their way to stick around after the show and sell/sign merch, which is always nice even though most of the time they just want to make a sale. When I saw Weaver back in August, she didn’t hang out at the merch booth, but instead greeted adoring fans outside of her tour bus. For over an hour. She not only took the time to sign everything people wanted signed, but she took lots of selfies and had lengthy, genuine conversations that arguably lasted a little too long. It took her about 90 minutes to make it through a line of about 20-25 people, so everyone got a highly personal and engaging experience with her. Not sure I’ve ever seen someone display that level of commitment to fans, which really speaks to the kind of person she is.

If you’ll be in Chicago on Thursday, November 12th, you can experience the magic and wonder of Ryn Weaver in person when she plays a show at Park West. It will likely be a wonderful evening, filled with great music and quality opening sets from ASTR and Holychild. The show is all ages and starts at 7, so it should be extra high energy and fun. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased in advance here. Hope to see you there!

Show Preview: Hinds + Public Access T.V. at Lincoln Hall [10/22]


One of the most distinct features associated with garage rock tends to be its ramshackle bordering on lazy attitude toward composition and structure. Unlike most other styles of music, there’s a certain amount of charm that oozes through songs with all of the cracks visible and hinting that things could completely fall apart at any second. It’s like a lovable drunk friend or relative – they stumble around with smiles on their faces and jokes to spare, but there’s always a slight worry at the back of your mind that they’ll blindly wander out into traffic and get hit by a car or start puking heavily in the most inappropriate place. It’s all fun and games until shit gets real. Thankfully garage rock rarely if ever self-destructs in an off-putting way, and when it does only harmless jangly guitar melodies are left in its wake. There’s often a method to the madness, as even some of the grittiest bands can secretly be the greatest perfectionists. Their jeans are torn up, but less from wear and more because they were purposefully ripped to look that way.

The reason I bring this up is because two garage rock-inspired bands will be performing together in Chicago at Lincoln Hall next Thursday, and they’re proverbial trainwrecks you definitely shouldn’t miss. Calling Hinds and Public Access T.V. trainwrecks is meant as a compliment, and hopefully everyone takes it as such. The music that both bands make is distinctly bouncy, fun and memorable in such a way that you can tell it was made by people who are passionate about every aspect of life. Every album, song, video and live show is a celebration.

In the case of Public Access T.V., the New York four-piece is the brainchild of John Eatherly, formerly of the indie punk band Be Your Own Pet. Those familiar with his former group should feel some sense of connection with this new one as they share a similar attitude, though the sound and members are certainly different. Instead of hyperactive and aggressive punk rock, Public Access T.V.’s sound comes across more like a hybrid of ’70s punk and ’90s Britpop, which is a unique enough combo that it enables them to defy easy categorization. The term “garage rock” is more of a catch-all descriptor for them than it is a legitimate definition. For example, their latest single “Patti Peru” feels familiar in a Strokes or Stooges kind of way, while “All We Want” is practically indebted to new wave with its more synth-dominant melody. They are nothing if not a complex band. Considering that they currently only have a few songs to their name, there’s also plenty of room for these guys to continue evolving and shaking up some genres just for the fun of it. Of course as more and more people are turned on to Public Access T.V. they’ll figure out what’s working best and head in that direction. I’m excited to hear what that might be, and hope you will be too. In the meantime they’re playing live shows and earning plenty of acclaim along the way, which is why they’re worth showing up early at Lincoln Hall to see.

As for Hinds (fka Deers), the Madrid four-piece are members of my Class of 2015, otherwise known as 10 artists I’m expecting to do big things this calendar year. They’ve done a fantastic job building hype these last 10 months, releasing a couple of new singles, videos and a mini-album collection of older songs, all to keep us tantalized until their debut full length Leave Me Alone arrives in January 2016. Their star has continued to rise the whole time, in part due to the quality of the music but also because they’ve been touring pretty much nonstop for the last year and a half, winning over audiences around the globe. They played a few shows in the U.S. this past spring, but hadn’t really scheduled a full North American tour until recently. They spent the last couple of weeks opening for Glass Animals in a dozen or so cities around the country, Chicago included, but now they’re off on their own headlining trek and will be bouncing back through town on the 22nd. One of the things I really like about Hinds is how much they’re willing to share with their fans. Most of their music videos are the four of them goofing around backstage, on the road or at home. Last winter they released a 25 minute documentary highlighting their 2014 summer, which gave even more insight into their distinct aesthetic and personalities. It’s ridiculous how charming and effortless the four of them are together, and their songs capture that chemistry perfectly. Give a listen to songs like “Chili Town” and “Between Cans” to get a great idea of why Hinds are such a captivating band that has earned and continues to earn a very rabid fan base. They’re likely to become huge sooner rather than later, so do yourself a favor and catch them at a small-ish venue like Lincoln Hall while you can!

The Fine Details
Date: Thursday, October 22
Location: Lincoln Hall
Time: 9 PM
Age Restriction: 18+
Tickets: $15 [Buy]

Show Preview: Jenny Hval + Briana Marela at Constellation [9/3]


We’re in sort of a weird, experimental pop renaissance so far in 2015. There have been some extremely interesting and important records released this year that may have flown just under your radar but are more than worth the time and effort to seek out. I’m talking about albums from such notables as Bjork, Holly Herndon, Deradoorian and Circuit des Yeux among others. Later this year we’ll also get albums from Empress Of and Julia Holter, which should fit in perfectly with the rest. But right now I want to take a moment to highlight two particular LPs that I’ve been quite taken with so far this year.

The first is Briana Marela’s All Around Us, which came out earlier this month. It’s her first for Jagjaguwar, and for it Marela flew from Seattle out to Iceland hoping to be inspired. Iceland of course being the home to Sigur Ros, she wound up working with the band’s producer Alex Somers, as well as the orchestral collective Amiina who make their instrumental presence felt on just about every one of the band’s albums. The results are stunning and beautiful, particularly when paired with Marela’s sugary sweet yet breathy vocals. There’s a brightness that radiates through every song, reflected outward in a burst of rainbow colors like when sunlight hits a crystal. Cuts like “Surrender” and “Take Care of Me” are great examples of the expansive arrangements and slightly obtuse song structures present throughout the record.

If you’re interested in going a bit stranger and more confrontational with your music, Jenny Hval’s latest effort Apocalypse, girl can definitely help you there. Her modus operandi is tearing apart traditional pop songs and repurposing them to somehow find the more memorable and catchy elements within. There are two primary factors that help make her music so challenging. The first is the seemingly random way songs are composed, where pop melodies will emerge from a strange direction and either choose to stick around or continue on a separate path into obscurity. What the motivation behind such shifts are remains a mystery, but that’s all part of the adventure. The second has to do with Hval’s lyrics, which tend to be odd and provocative yet also meditative and well thought out. She’ll use phrases like “soft dick rock” and “huge capitalist clit” that have a certain WTF quality to them, yet their grand purpose is to make you think about concepts like the patriarchy and counterculture in a different way. Sure it’s not exactly easy listening, but the effort you’ll expend trying to dig into everything going on across this record pays out dividends across repeat listens. Give a listen to “That Battle Is Over” and “Sabbath” to get a better idea of what the album is all about and whether or not you might consider it to be your cup of tea.

What’s very exciting is that Briana Marela and Jenny Hval are touring together, and will be performing at Constellation in Chicago next Thursday, September 3rd. It’s an 18+ show that kicks off at 8:30. Tickets are $12 in advance and can be purchased here. It promises to be a highly fascinating and memorable night, so I strongly encourage you to come out and support these two powerful and innovative artists!

Lollapalooza 2015: Preview Guide

lolla2012
Are you prepared for three days of music madness right in the heart of downtown Chicago? Yeah, me neither. Every year Lollapalooza starts out so promising, the sense of excitement palpable in the air as you walk onto the grounds of Grant Park. But if you take this music festival seriously, and you should, then by Sunday night you’ll be about ready to collapse, practically wishing for the sweet embrace of death. It sounds terrible and in many ways it is at the time, but once you’ve had a couple days to recover only the fondest of memories will remain. You’ll have seen many of your favorite artists perform, and might have even been introduced to a few new ones along the way. You’ll have eaten some delicious food, sipped some delicious drinks, spent quality time with friends and maybe even made a new friend or two as well. There’s so much to be gained from the pain and punishment we put our bodies through at this festival, especially walking back and forth from one end of the park to the other. If you play it right so you’re not running all over the place, and you’re cool with sitting down and taking a breather a couple times each day, the experience actually becomes quite pleasant. So beyond tips to minimize walking, I’ll also say to wear plenty of sunscreen and drink plenty of water. That’s just a rule of thumb for life in general actually.

But what about the music? Sure, you know at least a handful of artists playing each day of the festival, but there’s likely to be times where either you’ll be clueless about who you should see or two (maybe even three) of your favorites are all on at once and choosing between them seems too difficult. Fear not, loyal reader! I’m here to help. After the jump you’ll find an advice guide recommending artists worth seeing every hour of every day, all weekend long. You’d have to be some sort of superhuman to see all of these sets, but if you’re smart and economical enough you can catch most of them and wind up having a spectacular time. So enough with the chit-chat, let’s dive right in. Brace yourselves, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2015: Sunday Preview Guide

p4k
If you’re attending all three days of this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival and are anything like me, by the time Sunday rolls around you’ll wake up even though your body will definitely not want to. The thought that you’ll have to spend another full day standing around will seem like the worst idea in the world. Take an extra hour to rest if you must, but then you’ve got to push through and get moving, because music waits for no human. Which brings me to a couple of quick tips on surviving your weekend at Pitchfork without winding up in a medical tent or the hospital. Priority one is hydration. It’s going to be hot outside, and you’ll be standing on your feet for extended periods of time, so do yourself a favor and drink plenty of water. Save the majority of your alcohol consumption for the early evening hours when it starts to cool down. The next tip is to sit and find shade whenever possible. Yes, you want to see as many artists as up close and personal as possible, but don’t put your body at risk any more than you feel you have to. You know your limits, so be sure to keep close attention on how you’re feeling and rest when and where you can. You’ll still be able to hear the music while seated under some shady trees, even if it’s across the big field in Union Park. Wear sunscreen and bug spray. You know why, and will pay the price for forgetting. Lastly, be prepared for weather. I’ve already mentioned the heat, but currently the forecast is suggesting scattered storms pretty much the entire weekend. Definitely don’t forget a poncho, and consider an umbrella too even though you’ll likely annoy fellow fest-goers if you leave it up while standing close to a stage. Also, mud. If it rains, Union Park will turn into a large mud pit, so wear appropriate shoes you’re okay with potentially trashing at the end of the weekend. So that pretty much wraps up my Pitchfork tips. Join me after the jump for the Sunday Preview Guide!

If you missed my previous Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 posts, go here to hear/see/download songs from every artist on this year’s lineup. If you’ll be at Union Park on Friday, you may want to look over my preview guide for that day by going here. Last but not least, go here for my preview guide for Saturday.

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2015: Saturday Preview Guide

p4k
Saturday was the first day of this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival to sell out. When you take a close look at the daily lineups, it makes perfect sense as to why. While the entire thing is pretty stacked, Saturday in particular looks extra heavy on quality. This is both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, you get to see all this great music in one day, meaning if you don’t have a ticket for the entire weekend it seems like the best deal for your time and money. On the other hand, you can’t see everything, leading to a nasty pile-up of conflicts that can be problematic. If you’re concerned about that, and you should be, allow me to offer some help and guidance to make the most of your Saturday at Pitchfork. Join me after the jump for the hour-by-hour breakdown of who’s playing when, complete with recommendations on what you can’t/shouldn’t miss.

If you missed my previous Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 posts, go here to hear/see/download songs from every artist on this year’s lineup. If you’ll be at Union Park on Friday, you may want to look over my preview guide for that day by going here.

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Show Preview: Torres at Empty Bottle [5/21]

Photo by Shawn Brackbill


Have you heard the new Torres record Sprinter yet? If not, immediately put that on your list of priorities for the week. This sophomore effort takes everything about Mackenzie Scott’s project and harnesses it into something that’s equal parts intense, spiritual and personal. She’s gotten much louder and more aggressive compared to her folk-centric debut, and her lyrics have gone from vague, possibly untrue stories to very specific diary-like entries. To put it another way, a curtain has been torn down, and we’re now hearing more of the living, breathing Torres than ever before. Throw some credit to producer Rob Ellis for helping turn Sprinter into one of the better things 2015 has had to offer so far. Ellis is best known for his work with PJ Harvey, who’s probably as good of a reference point as any to what this album sounds like.

Prior to the release of the record, Torres played a number of shows primarily during and surrounding SXSW in March. The reason it’s worth mentioning is because not only were those performances offering previews of what Sprinter would sound like, but they also felt like something of a coming out party for Scott, the hype building at a fast and furious rate by catching the attention of all the right people. Simply put, Torres has become a hot commodity. Not that she wasn’t back in June of 2013 when she came through Chicago for a show at the Empty Bottle, but like her new record everything is bigger and the shouts of taste makers are louder this time around. She’ll be making a triumphant return to the Bottle next Thursday (May 21st), and all indications are it will be a very exciting and powerful evening. You should definitely be there if you’re in town. It’s a 21+ show, starts at 9PM and tickets are only $10 in advance. Buy them here and thank me later. And just in case you need a little more coersion, stream a couple of the new songs below.

Show Preview: Lady Lamb at Schubas [5/6]


We’re knee-deep in the spring concert season, and great shows are blooming up just about everywhere you look. Case in point, about three weeks from now Lady Lamb (aka Aly Spaltro) will be rolling through Chicago for a headlining performance at Schubas. If you’re not familiar with Lady Lamb and her music, allow me to provide a little bit of background. The year was 2013 when a young upstart from Maine unleashed her debut studio album Ripely Pine under the moniker of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. It was a critically acclaimed work of depth and complexity, anchored by Spaltro’s harrowing vocals and lyrical poems that were intensely personal and powerful. A song like “Bird Balloons” does a fantastic job of capturing all of those qualities, to the point where I named it one of my favorite songs of 2013. This year heralded a new record called After, and the dropping of “the Beekeeper” from her name, most likely for the sake of verbiage. But just because she’s no longer tied to bees doesn’t mean she never gets stung. The album focuses on loss, be it a relationship, friends, family or even your sense of home. Spaltro gets even more personal with her reflections, and ferocious in her melodies. Perhaps the best thing about it though is how it manages to surprise at almost every turn, with many of the songs morphing over their duration so you never quite know what to expect. Take a listen to “Spat Out Spit” and “Billions of Eyes” (below) to better understand Lady Lamb’s sound and unique style. She’s more than worth checking out in a live setting too. Back in 2013 I had the privilege of seeing her open for Torres at the Empty Bottle, and it was an impressive showcase of her talents. Not only did Spaltro perform completely solo, but she managed to bring the entire room to complete silence by belting out her opening song completely a capella without even the use of a microphone. There’s just so much fire and passion in her voice that you’re compelled to stop whatever you’re doing and just soak it in. It’s my understanding that with this current tour there are some backing musicians to help flesh out the new songs a bit more, and maybe even add a bit of extra power. In short, you’re probably not going to want to miss this stop at Schubas on Wednesday, May 6th. There are very few tickets remaining for the show, so jump on it quick. Tickets are $12, it’s an 18+ show, and starts at 9PM. Hope to see you there!

Show Preview: Foxygen at Metro [4/9]


Let’s not sugar coat this: Foxygen aren’t for everyone. They’re the sort of band that thrives on doing their own thing and not apologizing for it, which can really rub some people the wrong way. If you want to listen to and enjoy music that’s safe and comfortable that’s fine, but if unsafe and uncomfortable music is more up your alley, then by all means give Foxygen a try. Their 2013 album We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic represented the band at the height of their powers, taking cues from classic artists like The Rolling Stones and The Kinks while at the same time blurring lines between psych-pop, soul, funk, gospel and straight-up rock. They took that smorgasbord of influences and doubled down both figuratively and literally with last year’s …And Star Power. Across two discs and 24 tracks, Foxygen had crafted something akin to a 70’s glam rock concept record along the lines of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Who’s Tommy. Of course both those albums are classics, while Foxygen’s latest effort was met with more of a collective sigh from many critics and fans. Much of the good will the band had amassed the year prior had been wiped away by that point anyways, thanks to band in-fighting, shows being cancelled and an overall sense of fatigue that came with spending too much time on the road. Some artists progress slowly and steadily, while others push themselves to extremes and flame out quickly and in spectacular fashion. For all practical purposes, Foxygen appear to be the latter.

Last week they let everyone know via Twitter that this will be their final tour. Now before you go crying tears of sadness or joy, depending on your opinion of the band, I think it’s important to remember the following: they may not be 100% serious about it. Allow me to offer up a reasonable explanation. Upon the release of …And Star Power last fall, Foxygen decided to go all-out spectacle with their tour in support of it. They put together a true production with a large crew, elaborate stage design and extra band members that included backup singers/dancers. Then they kind of but not really changed their name. I’m not sure if they settled on Foxygen and Star Power or simply just Star Power, but to avoid confusion everyone kept calling them just plain Foxygen anyways, so it doesn’t matter so much. Upon claiming that this is their “final tour,” that could have multiple meanings. Will this be the final tour in support of the …And Star Power record? Will they be breaking up “Star Power” only to reform again as Foxygen? Will they simply be ending their extravagant live show with extra band members and will scale back to normal? It could be any/all of those things, none of which truly spell the end of Foxygen. More than anything, I’m convinced they’ll disappear for a few years, then resurface with a new album.

Whatever they choose to do, it’s likely to be interesting if not a bit bothersome and annoying. But that shouldn’t stop you from going to see Foxygen play what could be their final show in Chicago on April 9th at Metro. At the very least it’ll be the last time they come through town for the foreseeable future with a whole big event-style performance. To give you at least a taste of what that might entail, check out their visit to Letterman from back in January where they blew him away with “How Can You Really”. Pretty great, right? Anyways, tickets to their show at Metro are $18 in advance and can be purchased here. It’s an 18+ show and starts at 9PM, just so you’ve got all the necessary details. I hope to see you there!

Show Preview: Springtime Carnivore at Lincoln Hall [3/6]; Ryley Walker at Schubas [3/9]

Though this is an all-inclusive music site featuring artists from all over the globe, Faronheit is officially Chicago-based, and as such from time to time it’s nice to send a little love out to the locals and others who might be visiting our fair city. There are a couple of quality shows coming through town over the next couple of weeks that I’d like to take a moment to mention in case you or someone you know might like to check them out.

First up is Springtime Carnivore, who will be at Lincoln Hall opening for The Dodos on Friday, March 6th. While they are technically a full band when performing live, Springtime Carnivore is actually the new solo project from Greta Morgan, best known for her roles in Chicago bands like The Hush Sound and Gold Motel. Her self-titled debut album came out last November, and it’s a delightful collection of ’60s inspired psych-pop. Morgan pretty much recorded the entire thing on her own and played every instrument except bass, which really fits in with the DIY approach of a lot of noteworthy artists are gaining exposure from these days. Check out the tracks “Name on a Matchbook” and “Sun Went Black” below to get a better feel for the album’s warm and fuzzy atmosphere. These songs should come to life in impressive fashion on stage thanks to a couple of touring members, and the crowd will no doubt be packed with locals eager to see how their once local superstar is doing with this ambitious new direction. The show is 18+ and starts at 10PM. Tickets are $15.


While we’re on the topic of Chicagoans past and present playing hometown shows, local folk hero Ryley Walker will be returning to town on Monday, March 9th as part of his tour with Kevin Morby (of Woods/The Babies). Walker will be releasing his new album Primrose Green on March 31st, and this show will provide a great chance to hear a good number of those songs a few weeks in advance. It’s his first record for Dead Oceans, and marks yet another remarkable step forward for him since shifting into a more folk-inspired direction over the course of the last couple of years. He’s taken a lot of the guitar techniques displayed during his experimental/noise rock period and smartly twisted them into jazz-prog flourishes via acoustic guitar. As such, Walker is able to embody the pastoral sounds of Tim Buckley and Bert Jansch while also showing Chicago roots thanks to small detours that’d sound at home in the Sea & Cake or Tortoise catalogs. Check out the songs “Primrose Green” and “Sweet Satisfaction” and you’ll hopefully hear what I mean. He’s worth checking out live too, and it’s probably best to do it now before he really starts to blow up. The show is 21+ and starts at 8PM. Tickets are $13.

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