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Show Review: Hinds + Public Access T.V. [Lincoln Hall; Chicago; 10/22/15]

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In my preview for the Hinds / Public Access T.V. show at Lincoln Hall, I opened with a few remarks on garage rock and how more often than not it tends to have a very gritty, ramshackle-like quality running through every song. A slightly off-key vocal here or a missed chord there is part of the charm. The lack of sheen and perfection also occasionally gives the impression that an implosion could happen at any minute, instilling the music with a precious quality, like something magical was captured that almost didn’t come together. As the crowd at Lincoln Hall found out with sets from the two aforementioned bands on Thursday night, sometimes that sensation extends to live shows too, whether on purpose or completely by accident.

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Starting the evening was Public Access T.V., a New York-based band formed and fronted by John Eatherly (ex-Be Your Own Pet). They’ve only got a handful of songs that have been released so far, but their sound has certainly evolved in the year or so since they formed. They played all of those tracks at Lincoln Hall, along with a few others destined for inclusion on their debut full length due out in early 2016. What struck me most about their live show was how tight they sounded. It stood in contrast to the loosely recorded versions of many of their songs, which realistically should have also been messier given their short existence as a band. Many artists take 2+ years to find their stage legs and craft a truly compelling show, so Public Access T.V. are ahead of schedule. Then again, with their members’ past history why wouldn’t they be?

Songs like “Monaco” and the recently released “Patti Peru” sounded quite good and were bouncy enough to dance to, which the crowd seemed to embrace for the most part. Most exciting for me however was the unreleased material they played. For a band who’s sound has undergone a significant sonic shift in the last year, these latest steps take things to a whole new level of excellence. An exceptional amount of talent was on display as Eatherly and guitarist Xan Aird both tore up multiple solos that were eerily reminiscent of modern garage heroes like The Strokes and The White Stripes. It was rather exhilarating to watch, even when mixed with some plainer material. Time will tell if Public Access T.V. actually deliver on the promise shown during this Lincoln Hall set, and if fans will embrace them even though there are probably hundreds of other acts trying to earn attention with a very similar aesthetic.

Buy the Public Access T.V. EP from iTunes

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One of the main things I know about Hinds is that they like to party. It’s been evident since their inception, and you can hear it in the recorded versions of their songs too. Therefore it only seems fitting that when I first encountered the Madrid band at Lincoln Hall they had cans of Old Style in their hands. As I was standing up against the stage enjoying the opening set, all of a sudden Carlotta, Ana, Ade and Amber appeared right next to me, dancing, laughing and just generally having a great time. They took photos of Public Access T.V., heckled their bassist, and sang along to most of the songs. It’s always wonderful when touring bands clearly admire and fully support one another, so all credit to Hinds for refusing to stay backstage and celebrating their openers with the rest of the crowd.

When it came time for their headlining set, things suddenly took a turn in an unexpected direction. Opening song “Warning With The Curling” has a fantastic vibe to it complete with complex instrumental flourishes that really give it extra bite, particularly when compared with this early version when Hinds was only a two-piece called Deers. The problem was with the vocals, which started off as non-existent before they were upgraded after a minute to a level that was barely audible. Poor mixing at Lincoln Hall rarely if ever happens, so I’m not sure if someone was asleep at the sound board or the band purposely requested the vocals at that level, but either way I could tell that something was off from the start. The issues multiplied when after two songs the band was forced to put the show on hold because a string on one of Carlotta’s guitars broke. They asked John Eatherly of Public Access T.V. to come up and re-string it for her, which he kindly did. Considering that last year I witnessed a member of the band Blank Range re-string his guitar mid-song without missing a single note, this was a little disappointing by comparison. Still, broken strings happen to every band, and there’s not much you can do about them unless you’ve got a guitar tech/roadie working for you behind the scenes. So bad sound and a broken string struck during the first 10 minutes, and thankfully things didn’t get worse from there.

There were a couple of small alcohol-related issues that emerged over the course of Hinds’ set, but nothing worth noting except to say all the band members were pretty drunk from the start and the multiple beers and shots they drank between songs most likely didn’t help anything. Of course they didn’t really hurt it in the end either. When you’ve got a bunch of quality songs that for all practical purposes sound like they were recorded on a multi-day bender in the first place, playing them live while drunk just highlights that aspect even more. Plus they’ve probably been playing wasted for so many shows by now they have it down to a science. Still, that didn’t stop Carlotta from apologizing towards the end of the set, telling the crowd, “Sorry, we usually aren’t this sloppy.”
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Despite being largely a collection of accidents, errors and alcohol-fueled terrors, there was something irrevocably charming about Hinds. Call it stage presence or generally mischievous attitudes, but when you throw heaps of personality on top of a dozen very good or great songs, a certain amount of leeway is given that both the band and crowd fully acknowledge. No matter how often things went wrong, everyone on stage and off was smiling and having a great time. The cheers were loud and passionate. At one point during “Chili Town” somebody climbed on stage and then crowd surfed just for the hell of it. When it came time for the encore, the band invited everyone to join them on stage for their cover of Thee Headcoatees’ “Davey Crockett,” despite the protests of Lincoln Hall security and management. Halfway through the song somebody stepped on a cord and unplugged Ana’s guitar. They paused for 20 seconds while she plugged it back in, and then picked up right where they left off with everyone singing and dancing along. It was the perfect way to end a gloriously imperfect night.

Preorder Hinds’ debut album Leave Me Alone

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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]

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