Photography by: Bobby Talamine
Writing by: Fiza Javid
JBTV Alumni, Grandson, literally soared to new heights on and off stage at Lollapalooza 2021. He gave one of the most iconic performances of the festival season at the T-Mobile stage.
JBTV Photographer, Bobby Talamine, had the opportunity to meet up with Grandson singer, Jordan Edward Benjamin, for an exclusive photoshoot, almost getting stomped by Jordan himself, and it couldn't have been more worth it.
Grandson is truly hitting peaks with his career, and the only way to go is up. He has been compared to many artists ranging from Rage Against the Machine to Twenty One Pilots, but here at JBTV, we know he is truly a powerhouse of his own.
For Grandson, music isn't just a way to rock out, it's a way to send an important message. To be responsible enough to use art to reflect the times you are living in. Beyond his incredible hits "Blood//Water" and "Best Friends," his songs have covered important topics ranging from gun laws ("Thoughts and Prayers") to police brutality ("6:00"). Grandson has also performed in the fundraising campaign for Bernie Sanders.
Back in Sept 2018, Grandson not only performed his hit songs, but also used the stage to talk about the importance of awareness on a range is social issues, including the issue of becoming desensitized to the violence that plagues America:
Well Jordan, if we weren't woken up before, we certainly are now! You are creating an incredible legacy and soundtrack to the movement.
His latest album "Death Of An Optimist" is out now! Be sure to follow Grandson for more information on upcoming albums and tour dates.
Lollapalooza 2021 - Jerry Interviews Radkey, Plus Day Four highlights: Princess Nokia, G Herbo, Modest Mouse, the Foo Fighters and more
Photography by: Bobby Talamine
Writing by: Fiza Javid
Witnessing Lollapalooza this year, which was declared one of the biggest festivals of the world, was remarkable. These artists are like countries, with their own population of people who would figuratively die for them. They create generations of shifting culture and Lollapalooza is the epitome of a mass migration in real time.
The day began with a statement from Lollapalooza:
"Lollapalooza was founded on diversity, inclusivity, respect, and love. With that in mind, DaBaby will no longer be performing at Grant Park tonight. Young Thug will now perform at 9:00pm on the Bud Light Seltzer Stage, and G Herbo will perform at 4:00pm on the T-Mobile Stage."
This was one of the best statements for festival goers to hear, as the comments section of Lollapalooza was consistently calling out for his cancellation following his homophobic comments at Rolling Loud.
Sir Chloe, wearing a Björk shirt gave transient energy with the grittiness of Hole. Dogs on the screen. They were ideal to open up the deal and keep the stress levels down.
Audience camped out as early as 11:30 to make sure they don't miss Foo Fighters by the end of the day.
Beyond the star-studded headliners, JBTV was ready to cover Radkey, American punk rock band from St. Joseph, Missouri who formed in 2010 by brothers, Dee, Solomon, and Isaiah Radke.
Radkey came in Saturday afternoon for an interview at the JBTV studio, where they talked about how they got their start, going on tour with the Foo Fighters, and performing with L7. This clip also contains an exclusive JBTV clip of Foo Fighters at the Metro in 1995, straight from the JBTV vault.
Radkey rocked out with notable songs "Evil Doer, "Dark Black Makeup" and closed out with "Romance Dawn" while the audience stomped and clapped along. Be sure to check them out on tour!
"I started in the New York City underground rave scene, and this is the exact same outfit I wore to my first rave when I was underrage." Her beautiful Kandie infused outfit added to her dynamic performance, which also tied back to her roots. She attempted to crowd surf but stated "I wanted to but you all had your phones," which was honestly a wake up call for me to put my phone away too.
She is an incredible artist who stays true to her roots, but there was a sample that caught myself and the audience off guard. She briefly sampled "Pardesi, Pardesi" line "Mujhe Chod Ke," meaning "leaving me behind," from the hit Bollywood movie "Raja Hindustani" starring Aamir Khan and Karisma Kapoor. I am going to attribute this to her potential love of Bollywood, which would be exciting, but I hoped she would talk about it to help ease the confusion of the Desi fans, like myself, in the audience.
More notable performances included CHIIILD, the Aquadolls, Sofia Valdez, Dr. Fresch, Brittany Howard, Sullivan King, The Front Bottoms, Brockhampton, Band of Horses and Yellow Claw.
Modest Mouse played their hits which included "Float On", and pulled out a banjo for "Satin in a Coffin", wearing red jumpsuits. They were simply put, satisfying.
G Herbo replaced Young Thug, who scored a headlining set at the Bud Light Seltzer stage, replacing DaBaby. The audience had a ball as he brought out who may have been Marshmallow, as well as Chance the Rapper, who helped him perform "PTSD" for a fan-girl excited audience. He ended his set walking through the crowd, delighting fans who didn't expect to see him at the festival this year.
"One of my first shows was when I was 13 years old at the Cubby Bear. I saw a punk rock band called Naked Raygun," said Dave Grohl as hyped up the audience.
I have a theory. Rock never died. It's just that no one has been able to rock harder than Dave Grohl for a while. After watching the Foo Fighters close out Lollapalooza, with Taylor Hawkins a drum kit with Barry Gibbs face on it, the experience was pure rage and catharsis.
They played through some "old songs for the oldies in the crowd," who was happy to take the beating. It also seems that the Foo Fighters were the first band to recognize essential workers through their classic song "My Hero." One of the opening songs was an extended version of "Pretender."
It is obvious that Dave is one of the few rock legends left, carrying the burden of the rock music industry, however, when he let his daughter Violet Grohl on stage to do a song, he was paving the way for the future as well.
She was very reminiscent of a young Courtney Love, and the name Violet only made that more striking. She definitely has the same vocal power as her dad. The two did a cover of a punk song called "Nausea" by a band called X, who happens to be related to Dave through his grandmother "Bonebrake." I can't think of a more punk rock maiden name.
Lollapalooza 2021 - Day Three Highlights: Post Malone, Limp Bizkit, Megan Thee Stallion, Young the Giant, Angels and Airwaves, Journey & Marc Rebillet
Photography by: Bobby Talamine
Writing by: Fiza Javid
Welcome to day three of Lollapalooza, where the sun was beating along with the drums. The day was so relaxing that it almost felt like the start to day one. Little did everyone know that the theme would quickly shift from clean and COVID friendly to the world's biggest raunch-themed festival. Believe it or not, that is precisely what made it thrilling.
The lineup today was truly exceptional, with the old and the new, this audience was taken through a journey of hits, with a day that literally ended with Journey.
Love was in the air as The Backseat Lovers flowed through the T-Mobile stage. They rocked their long hair, their amps were turned up to 11, they stomped on the stage as they head-banged and rocked back and forth, letting the music rock the audience with them.
Young the Giant is a rarity and deserves to go to the moon in his career, even with their 10th anniversary approaching, their songs are still timeless. They shocked the audience by not only playing their hits like "Cough Syrup" but shifting to "Hot in Here" by Nelly (remember how I said the theme was raunch?), and "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac. With Sameer's vocals, the audience was in pure bliss, however, as he moonwalked through the stage through the screen visual affects, it was pure art.
I must say, identity is a key aspect of what is driving many artists careers these days, and I couldn't think of a bigger inspiration than Sameer, who commanded the stage with his melodic vocals. Although he is a California native, he is one of the rare Desi frontmen you will find in an industry that had yet to fully represent ethnically south asian artists. Here I am, a Desi writer, in complete awe of that fact, and he is going to pave the way for more diversity.
Megan Thee Stallion was a true badass and a goddess, and it was her set that truly shifted the festival into the "Hot Girl Summer" it needed to be at. She was wearing a powerful corseted bodysuit with patches of rock T-Shirts sewn together ranging from AC/DC, Ramones, and Iron Maiden. She twerked through all her major hits from "Savage" to "WAP" alongside her powerful dancers who truly got to strut their stuff.
During her performance it was also Megan heaven, as Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly strolled past the stage to watch her perform. They were shortly followed by Chance the Rapper and Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why, and frontman for band Wallows).
Watching Limp Bizkit was surreal. I had to pinch myself and figure out if it was 1999, and it was deeply exciting. Building up to the set, it was unnerving to know if today's generation would accept him, but when he opened with "Break Stuff," the response was one of the greatest feats for rock that Lollapalooza hasn't seen in years. Three mosh circles formed, men took off their shirts, crowd-surfers jumped into the crowd and it was an all out rage fest. He played his hits "My Way," "Nookie," but along with DJ Lethal did his classic House of Pain "Jump Around," "DMX's "Up in Here," Naughty by Nature's "Hip Hop Hooray," and Cypress Hill's "Insane in the Brain."
That wasn't the best part. He ended his set with a debut new song "Dad Vibes." He then ran into the audience handing out T-Shirts, running into Marc Rebillet. It was a riot after the crowd watched these two legends hug, and the future was immediately palpable.
Rock is going to come back with major revenge.
Genuinely honorable mentions were Angel's and Airwaves, JBTV Alumni Whitney, Cannons, Cavetown, Jessica, Porches, Michigander, Vnnsa, Jake Wesley Rogers, Vintage Culture, and Tate McRae.
But then there was Marc Rebillet.
Marc Rebillet closed out the GrubHub stage and was the most original, collaborative artist in the entire festival. Rebillet aka "Loop Daddy," who is surely owed a headline at Lollapalooza in the coming years, has made an astronomic rise in the shortest time in the most unprecedented way. He created his career, entirely on his own, starting in 2016, and has since become the king of fan-powered YouTube live-steaming. Within the 5 years, he has garnered nearly 79 million views and 1.7 million subscribers. He is the future of music, and I will tell you why.
What really gets the audience going about him is the fact that he improvises everything, and every single set is unplanned and different. I can't think of any other artist brave enough to man their own stage at one of the biggest festivals in the world, bringing in a true love of music, however, what truly adds the flavor to his performance is his ability to use carnal sexuality as his strength.
Throughout his performance, the screen behind him had sexually suggestive imagery, and I have never seen a crowd of grown men shout "daddy" or "take it off" to a male artist as much as I have here. They were so hyped that Marc went past curfew, ending his set with a loop called "Let Me in I'm Trying to F***." He let a fan on stage who popped a champagne bottle into the audience and toasted with Marc himself. This man can carry a sea of people into the wildest places with the press of a button and true musicianship.
Be sure to look out for him. With how far he has come in a short period of time, he will be everywhere before we know it, and you don't want to miss a future show.
Post Malone closed the night out at the T-Mobile stage to an audience that was camping since 2pm. He truly proved that you can headline without having to be theatrical, with a trove of dancers or anything. He showed up on stage with his music and his star-power alone, and it was truly satisfying. He opened his set with "Wow" to a jaw dropped crowd, effortlessly flowing through his set.
He got the crowd going when he pulled out his acoustic guitar and teased "Seven Nation Army" sending the crowd into a chanting session like a football game. "Sunflower" was truly the moment everyone was waiting for, as the song was a constant during the pandemic. He ended his set to "congratulations" as the crowd screamed along.
Meanwhile at the Bud Light Seltzer stage was a phenomenal throwback, Journey serenaded an audience that was happy to sing right back. Saturday was truly a beast, and while I was not able to catch every single performance, Bobby was able to get the full story through photographs, immortalizing the most memorable festival night of the year.
Cheers to another successful festival day and night! Until tomorrow, Lollapalooza!
Lollapalooza 2021 - Day Two Highlights: Tyler the Creator, Grandson, Black Pistol Fire, Tai Verdes, Mick Jenkins, Rookie, Giveon, Roddy Ricch and Honorable Mentions
Photography by: Bobby Talamine
Writing by: Fiza Javid
Going into the second day of a major festival starts to feel like a permanent reality, but hey, this one sends you to la la land, or better yet, la la palooza, and day two was the epitome of festivals thanks to all the remarkable performers.
The day started with Rookie, a modern American rock band who gave major Kiss vibes and what they describe as a touch of "cosmic country" and incredible vocals. Their song, particularly "Sunglasses" bring the kind of groove that inspire a generation of musicians to pick up an instrument.
It was so refreshing to hear this sound in Chicago, with hints of blues sounds in a sea of electronic. Although, the remainder of the festival was a truly won by Rap, R&B, Soul and Hip-Hop.
"This is my first time at a concert, I've never even step foot at a festival," said Tai Verdes as he joined the Bud Light Seltzer stage to what would equate to a sold out show. The crowded chanted to his vast array of hits from "Drugs" to "A-O-K." That was when he stated "this is the first song I ever memorized on my iPod," busting out with a cover of "Beverly Hills" by Weezer.
Following Tai at the Tito's Stage, Canadian born, Austin based rock duo, Black Pistol Fire came out like arsons, from "Look Alive" to "Wildfire, they sent their explosive sound over a sea of screaming rock fans, and their diversity of sound was truly remarkable. They even threw in a cover of "Redbone" by Childish Gambino.
That's when the fans truly started camping out by Bud Light Seltzer stage. Legendary Mick Jenkins, an Alabama native whose music career originated in Chicago, came through with his effortlessly irreverent, aggressive rap style analogous to Tyler the Creator. These two, both listed in this top ten MC list, were in a spectrum of incredible rap music presented to Lollapalooza, with Mick opening the day and Tyler anticipated to close it, and it couldn't be more perfect.
Parallel to Mick Jenkins at the T-Mobile stage was JBTV Alumni Grandson, who never fails to get a crowd wild. With elements of what I would call political rock/rap, reminiscent to Rage Against the Machine, he excited the crowd from "In Over My Head" to "Oh No!!!" featuring Chicago's beloved Vic Mensa (Who I remember because I graduated with his original band Kids These Days). Grandson was electric from beginning to end, finishing up his set with "Blood//Water."
I could go on for hours about day two. Honorable mentions were Elephant Heart, White Reaper, Boy Pablo, Oston and Njomza.
Giveon serenaded the crowd and I've never seen an audience swoon more. He is a heartbreaker as well as a rising R&B artist who is on the path to a headlining sooner than we can imagine.
Roddy Ricch put on an award worthy performance with special guest DJ Mustard. With his diamond studded necklace and equally star studded perfomance on top of a high rise stage. He gave an ode to Nipsey Hussle to an adoring crowd. "Lemonade" was a genuine crowd favorite and through each song he was surrounded by hip-hop dancers as well as pyrotechnics. He was the perfect opener for what was to come.
Tyler the Creator was the performance of a lifetime. One that you would want to relive over and over again, and it would still feel like the first time.
Super-fans camped out for Tyler the Creator, whose team worked hard building his set prior to his headlining performance. The crowd watched in awe as they added a boat, a deck, and what looked like one of those luggage carts you see at a hotel. The full theatrical display only made the suspense more nerve-wracking. There was also a sign on the stage with his album title "Call Me if you Get Lost."
When "Sir Baudelaire" started, Tyler came out pushing the full luggage cart dressed as a bellhop, full get-up and all. He opened one of the suitcases, changed his clothes into his classic white fur 'ushanka' hat and comfy tee and leopard button up, with a diamond studded necklace.
The transition between each song flowed as smooth as butter. His theatrical timing added to the experience of the music x10. From "Corso" to the throwback to "She" and "Yonkers." That wasn't even the best part. He jumped on top of his rocking boat as he performed "Lemonhead," and moonwalked through pyrotechnics. He even made a costume change to his unforgettable Grammy's performance outfit with the wig and send the crowd flying to "New Magic Wand." He also told a story about going to a Starbucks drive-thru in a Rolls Royce that flowed right into "Lumberjack."
I hate to be the one to say 'you had to be there,' but the best part about festivals like Lollapalooza is that it gives you a sneak peak into what you can see in the major tours of a wide variety of artists. Highlights here are enough to set you for life.
Until day three, Keep on rockin'!
Lollapalooza 2021 - Day One Highlights - Miley Cyrus, Orville Peck, Aly & AJ, Post Animal, Black Pumas, and Christian French
Photography by: Bobby Talamine
Writing by: Fiza Javid
Lollapalooza, it feels so good to be back.
"You are attending the largest music festival in the world, in Chicago, the greatest music capital in the world," said Lori Lightfoot to a delighted audience, right before presenting Black Pumas.
Day one of Lollapalooza 2021, in the heart of the Windy City, kicked off with clear blue skies, a beautiful lakefront breeze and music in the air.
JBTV Alumni, Post Animal, began their soundcheck 11:30am at the Tito's stage to a crowd with rock n roll getup and colorful hair. There were sleepy eyes when 12:30 rolled around. Suddenly "Gelatin Mode" started, and the crowd started pushing to the front. This band stays true to their roots and utilizes the power of their instruments in creating that raging vibe this crowd needed.
Who said rock n roll was dead?
Christian French was a real crowd pleaser and a genuine pop-star. At 12:15pm at the Lakeshore Drive stage. Adoring fans ran from Tito's to the other side. He grooved through the stage and worked the front row as he performed a notable new hit "Avalanche" and "Good Things Take Time" among many.
Former Disney stars were coincidentally a focal point of day one of Lolla. The T-Mobile stage laid vacant until Aly & AJ hit the stage. They played through songs off their new album that sets the record for longest title, "a touch of the beat gets you up on your feet gets you out and then into the sun." The beachy, indie vibes of this album swayed through the crowd. It was clear that the audience was new to the music, but they responded with genuine admiration. A highlight of their new album was "Personal Cathedrals," which felt holy and peaceful in the midst of all the festival chaos. The bliss was broken as the crowd screamed into a frenzy as they ended their set with the explicit version of "Potential Breakup Song.
The audience proved to be incredibly diverse. Talking to audience members, there were fans that came from Texas, New Orleans, Baltimore, Southern Illinois, Florida, Seattle, etc, and T-Mobile was their hot spot for the night.
Following Aly & AJ there was Orville Peck, who switched all the pop vibes from the early day to a real country croon. I wasn't sure how well Chicago would respond to country music, but his stage presence, powerful voice and showmanship proved earned him the title as one of the major favorites of the festival season. I watched an audience member cry as he performed "Roses are Falling."
That was when Lori Lightfoot came out and did a speech, before declaring Black Pumas the greatest artist of Lollapalooza who "has a mix of Rock, R&B, Jazz, and everything." She was not wrong in the slightest. Black Pumas carried through his set with the single most powerful voice that reverberated from a mile away. From "Next to You" to "Mrs. Postman" and "Black Moon Rising," it was impossible to pick a favorite.
Throughout the festival day, it was impossible to know who the best artist was, not that there should be. Until Miley Cyrus went on, that fact was indisputable. She shined on stage, literally, in her custom made Gucci romper, covered in red rhinestones, with knee high boots that looked covered in diamonds on stage. Miley was reminiscent to Joan Jett with her rocker attitude, but she also shined like a true queen superstar.
It is impossible to describe which part of her set was the best because it was riveting through and through. She opened her set with "Can't Stop" to an audience genuinely shocked to see her. Other notable originals were "Malibu" and "See You Again, " but you can't be Miley without equally chart topping covers. She covered "Where is my Mind" by the Pixies, "Heart of Glass" by Blondie and "Bang Bang" by Nancy Sinatra.
To a stunned audience, in came Billy Idol to help Miley perform "White Wedding." The star-power alone was phenomenal. But she could not perform in front of Chicago without performing "23," alongside special guest Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa, with a tweking Benny the Bull dancing in front of a screaming audience. Through the flash of her songs there were also a promise that she kept for her Instagram fans that she fulfilled: showing undying support for Britney Spears and the #freebritney movement. The words flashed across the screen right as she performed "SMS (Bangerz)".
It all sounds crazy, but that didn't even cover all the details of her set, not to mention that this was only day one. The diversity of fans and music genres is what made Thursday truly special, and the chart topping performances set an incredibly high standard for the remainder of the weekend.
Until tomorrow, Chicago!
Lollapalooza 2018 highlights - Billie Eilish, Clairo, Taylor Bennett, Tyler, The Creator, Greta Van Fleet
Photography by Bobby Talamine
Writing by Fiza Javid
Friday August 2-3rd, 2018
Grant Park, Chicago
The sun was shining, the skyline was beaming, and the stars were rocking away, showcasing some notable favorites and paving away for a new generation of music.
At JBTV, we are all about spotlighting the up-and-coming artists, and this festival season couldn't have kicked off with a better start, with none other than Billie Eilish.
This young artist put her heart on the stage, performing her new hits "Bellyache" and Copycat," she rocked out with mixed hip-hop and pop elements, and the crowd had a reason to keep jumping. Her energy and passion could be felt from far away. The crowd was laden in Billie crowns while she commanded the stage.
Off to Tito’s stage, JBTV caught some of the remaining set of Clairo, who kept the crowd vibing. Another incredible artist who is also setting the standard for a new generation of music.
By the Perry’s Stage, we caught 5x JBTV Alumni, Taylor Bennett, from the crowd. Crowd certainly adored him and his Chicago Bulls jersey, as he worked the crowd into a fever pitch.
Having witnessed Taylor performing live a few times now, and I have to say, it’s definitely celebratory and he is a Chicago staple.
At the Grant Park Stage all the way south to catch the one and only Tyler, the Creator. JBTV was looking forward to Tyler’s set for weeks prior to Lollapalooza. He’s such a forward thinking rapper, who crosses over genres at a moment’s notice, working the massive Grant Park Stage left to right, enticing the crowd for sing alongs and chants, dressed in a tropical and flowery shirt and shorts, he is a truly accomplished artist with cool vibes. Tyler is one of the coolest acts at Lollapalooza day two.
At the American Eagle Stage, the one and only Greta Van Fleet, came bearing wings with legendary classic sound, ready to rock to the masses. Crazy band equals equally crazy fans, from the first note forward. This band is one of the most anticipated acts to appear at Lollapalooza this year. Simply look at the amount of photographers covering Greta: must be 30 in the packed pit waiting for them to hit the stage, and they do not disappoint. Greta Van Fleet is ready to rock, and then some.
The Kiszka brothers- Josh Kiszka on Lead Vocal, Jake Kiszka on Guitar, Sam Kiszka on Bass, and Danny Wagner on Drums. These guys are incredible and unveiling a classic rock sound to a new generation. Their set is a barnburner, all the way to Josh flaying around with a Tambourine for a song, then breaking it into pieces and tossing them into the crowd. All band members dressed as if they were cloned from 1976, bare midriffs and all. These Michigan artists know how to rock. An anticipated set equals a great set, and the crowd loved it.
This is JBTV with the exclusive coverage, stay tuned for updates from day three!
Writing and Photography by Bobby Talamine
I have to say, when the band Ganser announced their three night residency at the Empty Bottle back in May, the news couldn't have come at a more opportune time to officially christen witnessing and appreciating live music again, especially in an intimate and iconic venue such as the Empty Bottle.
But the nagging questions up to the event: will everyone entering be vaccinated? How are the shows going to be socially distanced- chairs or no chairs? And the capacity limits? You can go on from there with the 2am questions while trying to get a good nights sleep, and thinking things through to the benefit of the band, the Empty Bottle, and to this review and the pictures.
You want to do right by all. You want to not be intrusive, get quality images, and also soak it all in, but with such a good band as Ganser- a band that's going places that's solid. A band that is fighting the fight through a pandemic and some unfortunate circumstances that have put them behind the eight ball on more than one occasion over the past year.
And yet--here we are--on night one of their three night residency. Everything is well and good. Easy going, with a protocol of soundcheck, the Empty Bottle staff going about their business as if it's business as usual; the past year as a blip on the radar and nothing more.
Make no mistake- witnessing live music again in an intimate venue such as the Bottle was so gratifying, even on a Thursday night, and Ganser did not disappoint. The doors opened at 7:30pm, and the show beginning at around 9:30pm.
The real buildup for the show for me was documenting Zoe- the Production Manager of the Bottle, writing out the Thursday night event on the front door chalkboard of the Bottle- and knowing that this show is official, and it's going to happen.
So it's Ganser for tonight's show, and only Ganser, with no opening acts.
Ganser played a little over an hour's set- 16 songs in total- highlighting last year's release of there 2nd album- "Just Look at that Sky". They opened with "Pyrrhic Victory", and going into "Self Service"- a one- two punch of '90's style art punk, with guitar jabs and shreds and sounds coming in waves from Charlie Landsman, sonic metronome beats from Brian Cundiff, restrained and sustained vocals with an added flair of synth and keyboard from Nadia Garofalo, and the much needed propulsive and complete bass grooves with additional vocal from Alicia Gaines.
Ganser performing live: rhythmically driven and focused, they are a band that commands your attention. They share in a powerful kind of communion that makes you wonder if things are going to go off the rails mid whichever song, and yet with all the ying and yangs that come from all four committed band members, everything stays intact and spot on, time and time again. Most of the songs performed live from "Just Look at That Sky" are performed with an edge, sharing with the audience some raw and basic emotions, but delivered in such a way that's kind of like a brush off, like their perceptions on viewing their world are magnified and you should pay attention, but also let's view some of this observance from the sidelines and document the craziness of living and surviving and all.
I can go on and on with the outward explanations, but that belittles the point about Ganser, and what they each individually bring to the table in constructing these songs they create, and quite identifiably going about them that makes them kind of unclassifiable.
It's not as easy as it sounds, I suppose, when crafting these songs from scratch.
Suffice it to say, that Ganser on record requires repeated listens. As for performing live- Ganser requires repeated viewing and attendance- and then some.
As for me- you can't get more cooler than that. You'll want to see a band like Ganser succeed, even in the more dire of times, and you'll keep coming back for more.
Photography by Bobby Talamine
Writing by Fiza Javid
The sun shined on day two of the 2021 Pride in the Park Festival, bringing in more excitement and less mud slides to dance on. Day two proved that fashion is just as much a necessary staple to performance and that a festival could never have too many DJs.
GRAMMY-winning and lesbian electronic dance music DJ, Tracy Young kicked off the festivities at the GoPuff pride stage with fellow hype dancers, performing her electrifying remixes. Tracy Young won the GRAMMY for her pride remix to Madonna's "I Rise," earning her not only the award, but a personal congratulations from Madonna herself.
On the other side of the festival in the land of the groove, the CircuitMOM Grooveland stage carried equally notable DJ sets. DJ Matt Suave remixed the top pop hits of Ariana Grande. Matt was followed by Lady D, a trailblazing female DJ who shined through with her house, disco and open-format remixes. Karsten Sollars was also a major highlight of the DJ set finale, bringing the vibes as he showcased his most notable mixes, closing the Grooveland stage for the festival season.
American Transgender singer Mila Jam opened the main performances at the GoPuff stage with incredible fire. She performed her original song "Fierce," a notable collaboration that was created alongside Angelica Ross from the hit FX series Pose. With classic ballroom culture dance moves, Mila moonwalked through the stage and genuinely turned heads. Fierce was followed by a slow ballads, a theatrical skit. She closed out her set with her hit song "Better Days."
The next performer, Tenderoni, truly brought the crowd back to the 90s, doing the running man on stage to "Poison", by Bel Biv Devoe and sporting a bedazzled zebra print suit, he stripped and twerking on stage, landing in a splits until he walked right out. He later returned to the stage following The Vixen, doing dressed as Powerline from the Goofy movie, performing the hit song "Stand Out", followed by Gangnam style and an electrifying Michael Jackson cover.
Next up was The Vixen, notable for being Season 10 contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race, was a true fashionista. Performing original songs such as "Tea Party," "The Vixen," and a major crowd banger "Chicago" in a draping hot pink boa laden dress, with a matching pink flower crown, she flowed through the stage effortlessly alongside her dancers, who had colorful flowy wings as the backdrop. The backdrop included a childhood photo. She performed her songs with a scarf that blew through the wind as she moved through the stage. In her second set, she returned with with colorful umbrellas and an incredible checkered outfit, with a black latex skirt.
Kinley Preston took the stage doing Dua Lipa covers in an incredible four section trail that fanned the stage, held by her dancers. She took off the trail to reveal a stunning shimmering gold pom-pom laden bathing suit, keeping the crowd dancing.
Chaka Khan's set began with a beautiful surprise. The daughter of the soulful legend herself, Indira Khan showcased her original songs and edged in a new era for her family. She effortlessly swapped styles with her soulful voice as well as rapping. She is definitely making a name for herself, and we couldn't wait for more.
"It feels good to be home," exclaimed Chaka Khan. The crowd went wild when Chaka Khan was announced on stage, as the team members in the office of the mayor was giddy with excitement. As she performed hits such as "Tell me Something Good" and "I'm Every Woman," there were tears in the eyes of both media outlets and the front row.
The night closed out with Gryffin, who sent the crowd into a frenzy. The crowd jumped and head banged to his remixes that covered "The Pursuit of Happiness" by Kid Cudi and "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers.
This post COVID festival for Chicago was a wild success that not only allowed nearly 13,000 Chicagoans to experience pride but also celebrate each other's diversity, and that couldn't have been displayed more through the music. 2021 Pride in the Park was one for the books with a colorful future ahead for the coming years.
Writing by: Fiza Javid
Photography by: Bobby Talamine
With every storm, we are sure to see a rainbow. On Saturday afternoon, day one at the 2021 Pride in the Park Festival, Grant Park was flooded with a sea of colorful rainbow umbrellas, costumes and a crowd ready to kick off their first post-pandemic festival. Enthusiastic crowds in speedos, and corsets were ready to dance through the rain and get down in the mud.
“Rain or shine, this was going to happen, not just because of the challenging year we’ve had, but because we are some proud motherf**kers!” Exclaimed Naysha Lopez, during her performance at the GoPuff Pride Stage, which was the main stage for the day.
After a two-hour delay, the festival kicked off with a Ballroom set on the GoPuff Pride stage. For those that don’t know, the Underground Ballroom Culture officially developed in the 1920s-1960s as a counterculture. It originated in New York City and consisted of “walks” or competitions with mixed performances such as modeling, dancing, and lip syncing. The Pride Parade itself also developed as a protest to advocate for same-sex marriage.
There was also a secondary stage entitled Circuitmom Grooveland, which featured DJ sets from Hector Fonseca, CircuitMOM, Denali Foxx, Chamilla Foxx, and gogo dancers.
Chicago’s Pride in the Park commemorated all of the aspects of both the parade and Ballroom Culture, which were further exemplified with the main stage performances.
Renowned Chicago DJ Derrick Carter kept the crowd moving smoothly throughout the day.
The main performance went off with a bang with Miss Toto, who stunned the crowd with Beyonce impersonation with the choreography and fashion en pointe. She stunned the crowd as she joined the stage twice with a Madonna themed bustier and a glamorous belly dance skirt, gliding through the stage to “Supermodel” by RuPaul. She brought it back to 2009 dancing to “Took the Night” by Chelley and more.
Naysha Lopez brought the theatre with group choreography as she lip sang “Boys” by JBTV alumni Charli XCX, and other classics like “Milkshake,” “Jump On It” and Britney Spears’ “Boys.”
The #Free Britney campaign was also a prevailing statement with a number of guests, as well as Tiesto, honoring the singer by wearing Britney Spears shirts.
Alyssa Edwards stunned the crowd with an incredible cover of “Proud” by Heather Small.
Betty Who performed original songs alongside dancers Joshua and Shawn, and uplifted the spirits of the audience, reminding everyone how much has been overcome.
"It is genuinely the best day of my life thank you very much, it's been a long pandemic, it's taken its toll on me, but here we are! I want you to have the night of your lives, who cares if it rains on us!”
Mascots Benny the Bull and Tommy Hawk excited the whole front row as they threw Tiesto hats and t-shirts into the audience. By the end of the night, pride shone through the crowd, who couldn’t have been more electrified for Tiesto, which ended the night like a firecracker.
Pride in the Park is on the track to becoming one of the most popular festivals in the country, and Chicago is ready for it. No matter that mother nature wanted to rain on this parade, Pride in the Park was not just a smooth sail, it was a success. Filled with love, commemorations, glitter, and stunts, day one was truly one for the books.
Stay tuned for day two, with coverage on the performances of Chaka Khan and Gryffin!
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
Hardcore and punk intertwine with American Nightmare, a band that started back in 2000 with singer Wesley Eisold, also known by his other popular band Cold Cave. American Nightmare is nothing like Cold Cave in sound and presentation- this is all for intents and purposes, a bare bones kinda set, with minimal load in.
Simply arrive at whatever venue for the evening, unload the musicians and their instruments, and that's it.
Should have known and investigated a bit further on the amped up nature of American Nightmare fans. Simply for the fact that I'm getting older, and physical punishment from all angles to my body is just not as fun as it used to be back in the day.
I was perched on the lip of the stage front and center, surrounded by other photographers and patrons, when not even thirty seconds into American Nightmare's first song "Love American," I was pummeled and crushed repeatedly.
I made the mistake of vacating said spot in front of the stage to the center of the opened mosh pit, to kids going counter clockwise in full tilt by the dozens, not relinquishing their forward march for anybody, especially this photographer.
American Nightmare? Indeed. On many levels.
From the relative safety of stage left audience right, I got my composure to get some decent shots of Wesley and his band, then went up to the balcony to see the rest of the show from there.
I'm not much of a hardcore / punk guy myself to be honest. I do know of some bands in the genre that I've photographed in days of yore, such as GBH, Black Flag, Minor Threat, and of course The Dead Kennedys and The Misfits.
The scene was (and still is), a band / audience communion, with a relentless release of energy to everyone's mutual satisfaction.
I guess I didn't want to investigate further, knowing Wesley from Cold Cave over the years, and frankly, just loving everything he sets his mind to tour and perform with.
And since we had Ceremony in our JBTV studios a few years back, I figured to some extent there'd be some aggression, but nothing I can't handle.
From the balcony watching the show, I get the connection with Wesley and the audience at the front of the stage. When Wesley, dressed in black, including a black baseball cap that shrouded his face, wasn't whirling around the stage or standing on the drum riser, he was kneeling front and center within inches of his audience most of the time. Everyone involved in the sing along and companionship.
This was made more so, because there was no barricades at all for this show.
It was fun to behold, this simple set with simple lighting, and music having to be pushed that much further into the forefront to everyone's satisfaction.
The same holds true with the opening band Ceremony from California.
Although not as relentless as American Nightmare, they still have quite a few songs in their catalog that are in the genre of hardcore, with singer Ross Farrar for the most part swinging his microphone with physical might from his shoulders to the ground with relentless and physical might, over and over and over again.
With Anthony Anzaldo on guitar, Justin Davis on bass, Andy Nelson on guitar, and Jake Casarotti on drums, they're are definitely an odd looking bunch, with no one in the band truly playing the part of a rock n' roller, more like a bunch of cab drivers convening in a garage after a shift to work on some songs.
Trust me when I say that's not a bad thing, because these guys are tight and can play. Ross loved the communion with the audience, equal to Wesley and American Nightmare.
Have to say both bands brought the heavy, with plenty of angst, and yet, there's some solid songwriting chops in the songs for both bands.
Kind of unique having this show at Thalia Hall as well. Nice to know the venue can hold up and take a pummeling from the relentless mosh pits from show beginning to show's end.
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Bobby Talamine
Although it was Valentine’s Day and the high in Chicago was around 15°F before windchill, people started lining up at the House of Vans around 2 p.m. in order to get into the sold out Lamb of God show. Once the doors opened, people began to flock inside to the warmth, art, and free beer. A line quickly formed for the free posters, hats, shirts, and bandanas being given away at the merch booth.
The art lining the walls was a special photography installation by Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe. Black and white photography depicting varying themes from isolation to corruption lined the walls. There was a special spot for the upcoming album’s artwork and tracklist in the corner. The room with the art was quiet, save for a few murmurs between friends, in order for the art to be completely absorbed.
Chicago-based hardcore band Harm’s Way started out the evening. Throughout the first song, people were beginning to find their way to the stage. That was the only moment of calm throughout the night. Chaos endured when the pit opened up. At some point during that set, lead singer and powerlifter James Pligge removed his shirt, showing off his tattoos.
After their set, the air was thick with anticipation. A few got a beer refill or some merch. Most stood, waiting for the main event: Lamb of God’s album announcement party. Only one single “Checkmate” has been released from the self-titled album, which comes out on May 8th.
The DJ was playing heavy metal and hardcore punk to keep the mood going. People were discussing how many times they had seen the headliners. Some had been lifelong fans but this was only their first or second time, but some were up in the double digits for how many times they had seen them live. There were a few couples there to enjoy Valentine’s Day.
It was finally time for what everyone was waiting for. With a flash of energy, Lamb of God took the stage. Beers were immediately spilled as the crowd went wild. A hole opened up, which the pit immediately filled. People were slipping on the wet floor, but were immediately picked back up.
Fans were screaming along, showing their horns. The energy was all the way up the whole set, both on stage and in the crowd. A fan had grabbed as many bottles of water as he could and was handing them out to people when they took a break from the pit so nobody would pass out.
The biggest break during the set was when Blythe introduced “Checkmate” as it was being performed live for the very first time. When they left the stage, there was a chant for an encore. After a few minutes, Lamb of God obliged and retook the stage for a few more songs.
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
Elder Statesman. Avant- garde poet. Professor of all things experimental. Sonic architect of one of the greatest rock bands of all time The Velvet Underground.
I could go on and on with the accolades about John Cale, but then, he'd say to me- "Get to the point already."
John Cale is not so easy to pigeonhole when performing live. At this late stage in the game, at the age of 77, he sparingly chooses events in which to perform. So The Art Institute of Chicago was the lucky recipient to have John Cale perform at the beautiful and classy Rubloff Auditorium, on the last day of the Andy Warhol exhibit, to a packed house.
A riveting and compelling performance, John flanked by a band that follows suit to his tastes. With a guitarist who slashes and burns notes like a keyboard, a drummer who's left hand the entire night of the show played sampled keyboard beats, and a bassist who brought the low end and turned his electric bass into a cello of sorts by striking a violin bow on the strings. This stellar band was of course rounded off by John himself, trading off between electric guitar and also electric keyboards.
And then of course, his voice--frail and strained at times, but not punishing or out of tune. Strained in such a way to convey the emotion, or novelty depending on his mood, on a certain lyric or phrase.
Having witnessed artists of similar stature who repel at playing the same song twice (Bob Dylan comes to mind)- it's refreshing in this day and age to see an elder statesman of John's stature still taking risks, and digging deep into a catalog of music that can easily go all over the map.
Such an extraordinary setlist, opening with "Helen of Troy" on electric guitar, and then into "Dying on the Vine" on keyboards.
From the first song to the encore of "Emily," you could hear a pin drop through the auditorium.
But works from the Velvet Underground, The Andy Warhol exhibit, the inevitable and extraordinary turn later in the setlist with the Velvet's "I'm Waiting for the Man", let alone the John Cale / Lou Reed song "Style it Takes", and of course "Gun / Pablo Picasso."
I could easily go on and on, but simply put, the stars aligned to make for a perfect Sunday evening, and witness an extraordinary performance with one of rock and roll's, one of avant- garde and art rocks true pioneers- John Cale.
John Cale, his solo work, The Velvet Underground and their ultra cool album covers designed by Andy Warhol, is still one of rock's hippest names to drop in any conversation and influencers.
It's definitely a conversation ender, considering- "How do you top this?"
Not many artists I can think of amongst the living can you compare him to.
And yet he's still questioning and experimenting with everything, even his band, mid song on whatever song, turning away from his keyboard on occasion to give cues, or to unleash the hounds at a moment's notice.
Stylistically diverse and creating challenging music up to the present day- that encompasses John Cale.
Still boggles the mind 24 hours later, John Cale performed at The Rubloff Auditorium at the Art Institute of Chicago in conjunction with Andy Warhol. Again- how cool is this?
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
Oh my god. Where to begin? On a cold Monday night, Heilung gave a spellbinding performance to a packed Riviera Theatre in Chicago.
My review of this show is going to be all over the map, with quotes and thoughts that still leave me in shock and awe, even 48 hours after the performance.
First off: Heilung's music. There is no genre or category to define it, except maybe to use the band’s own bio as “amplified history from early medieval northern Europe and should not be mistaken for a modern political or religious statement of any kind."
To go a bit further, to the uninitiated, principal player and founder Christopher Juul discussed the origins of Heilung’s unique music and aesthetic:
“[Our] sound [is] from the Northern European Iron Age and Viking period. We used everything from running water, human bones, reconstructed swords and shields up to ancient frame drums and bronze rings in the songs. The lyrics contain original texts from rune stones and preserved spear shafts, amulets and other artifacts. Furthermore, poems, which either deal with historical events and texts or are translations/ interpretations of the originals. Every attempt to link the music to modern political or religious points are pointless, since we in Heilung try to connect the listener to the time before Christianity and its political offsprings raped and burned itself into the Northern European mentality. Heilung means "healing" in German and describes the core of the sound. It is supposed to leave the listener eased and relaxed after a sometimes turbulent musical journey."
Even with that context from Juul, there's still more questions of wonderment and classification regarding Heilung.
How is it that only metal magazines have covered Heiling and not much else? Is it because of the imagery, or the once in a while front and center throat singing by Christopher Juul?
Some reviewers liken the band to the bombast of power metal and black metal, combining elements of both genres. However, those reviewers are missing the point.
The point of unclassification.
The sole intent of their live performances is clearly communal, which was the case on Monday night at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago. The community of Heilung actually started way, way before the doors even opened for the show.
Walking around the Riviera Theatre and surrounding blocks, I counted license plates from Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Not to say that all these cars are fans going to see Heilung, but I’d give them the benefit of the doubt.
What was the line like outside the Riviera on a chilly, Chicago day of 30 degrees? The line started to form at around 12:30pm, with doors not opening until 6pm. The costumes / state of dress of the first 40 people in line were dressed like members of Heilung to some extent.
Once in the venue, all the background music before the show was Mother Nature sounds. Birds chirping, insects sounds, running water, the gentleness of finding yourself in the middle of an old age forest, probably late afternoon into dusk. With ambient orange and yellow lighting hues, and projections of Heilung imagery that lit up the balcony.
The devoted Heilung fans on the main floor of the Riv, supplemented the sounds of Mother Nature with their own wolf howls. Wolf howls of all kinds, sometimes loud, sometimes soft, both male and female. Howling occurred all the way up to the actual performance.
And as far as their live show? Elaborate as all get out.
Sophistication abound, both in imagery and in lighting for striking effects, as well as amplified audio that wasn't taken for granted.
The three principal players of Heilung- Christopher Juul, Kai Ewe Faust and Maria Franz- all shared in the spirit of wonderment of a Heilung performance. Surrounded by backup singers, percussionists, and assorted Viking shield bearing soldiers, Heilung clearly knows how to make use of minimal staging and backdrops to full effect. The minimalism made for more impact and unforgettableness, allowing for striking and contrasting lighting. Focusing on the principal players, particularly Maria Franz, all the more evident, all the more beautiful.
The song selections themselves, 10 in all, told a story from beginning to end, with no English. But that didn't matter, because you can follow along to get the gist.
The ideas of "ceremony" and "ritual" revolving around Heilung, cannot be underestimated.
The opening ceremony, was a recitation of call and response, a communal prayer from performer to audience, which was magical to behold.
Everyone at the Riviera, front to back, recited back verbatim the words from Kai Faust. I had chills from the side of the stage, listening and taking it all in.
You cannot underestimate the power of thought in performance, not relying on the grandiose, but actually the exact opposite.
So it goes through the show with Heilung, up to the end, when Juul, Faust and Franz came to the front of the stage extension. Faust raised his staff to the devoted faithful, then lowered it with a boom to the floor, signifying the end of the show.
Magical, absolutely magical, this band Heilung.
As for the inevitable comparisons to bands such as Wardruna and Dead Can Dance? Can we give it a rest? All three are uniquely different.
I will say this in regards to Dead Can Dance in reference to Heilung, their album Spiritchaser has unique liner notes curated by Brendan Perry. In Spiritchaser, Perry uses quotes from Joscelyn Godwin’s 1987 book Harmonies of Heaven and Earth:
"In most musical instruments the resonator is made of wood while the actual sound generator is of animal origin. In cultures where music is still used as a magical force, the making of an instrument always involves the sacrifice of a living being. That being's soul then becomes part of the instrument, and in the tones that come forth, the singing "dead" who are ever present with us, make themselves heard."
Like Godwin’s quote used in Dead Can Dance’s album, Heilung amplified the “singing dead” of a pre-Christian, Northern Europe idenity with a meditative and tranquil trance.
Heilung left the audience spellbound and wanting the ritual and ceremonies to never end.
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
TOOL came to play in the city of Chicago, relentless and uncompromising.
2019 was such a hyped up on steroids year for TOOL. Starting with headlining some festival dates in the late spring / early summer, with a stop at Chicago's Open Air back in May, news about a new release to come out (finally!) in late August, and the band playing a couple new songs on the festival circuit from Fear Inoculum- that being "Invincible" and "Descending."
Talk about putting all facets of social media in an uproar.
Fans couldn't get enough about hearing the new songs being performed live.
So then the album comes out, reviews being absolutely favorable, worth repeated listens, and lo and behold the strength in sales knocks Taylor Swift off being number one, and so enters TOOL.
And then the announcement that TOOL will be going out on the road in the fall with openers Killing Joke. Life can't get any better with a bill like this.
Of course, tickets on almost all the dates sell out immediately, with a fan frenzy at a fever pitch, fans making plans to see their beloved TOOL on multiple dates, not as nutty as following The Grateful Dead back in the day.
The TOOL army is a rabid and devoted fan base, collecting everything within earshot, and wearing their TOOL T's proudly.
And so the tour comes to Chicago a few days after Halloween, and let's just say, they played like monsters. opening with the song "Fear Inoculum," Danny Carey positioning himself comfortably behind his drum kit, wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey, looking menacingly left and right for the cues to begin the impending percussion punishment.
The setlist has not changed on this North American tour, most likely because of the complex nature of each and every TOOL song, and the amount of musicianship that goes along with each and every song.
Of course the heavy hitters from TOOL's catalog are on full display, from "AEnema", "The Pot", "Parabol" into "Parabola," and on and on.
Relentless, and breathtaking, song after song after song.
Four of the thirteen songs performed on Sunday came from Inoculum keeping in mind that virtually every song that TOOL plays is over ten minutes long, leaving little room in a two hour or so set to get more songs into the set.
No matter. The fans got what they wished, endorphins flowing times ten, all songs providing an instrumental showcase of the juggernaut kind.
Adam Jones? On his A game.
Justin Chancellor? On his A game too.
Danny Carey? What do you think? Of course he's on his A game as well.
Man, the thunder from these guys.
While in the pit for the first song, found it hard to maneuver around, with the twelve subwoofers on the main floor jutting out from stage left to stage right, providing that extra thump and wallop.
Absolutely riveting when this band is full on- with Maynard James Keenan being a key part in the tension from the swells of music ricocheting all over the place. Sporting a nasty looking and fierce mohawk, Keenan mainly worked in the shadows towards the back of the stage, from two risers to the left and right of Danny Carey, and depending on his mood, brandishing the necessary vocal lift as he saw fit. Maynard stalked the back of the stage with a sinister bent, like he just got out of the insane asylum, and was looking for a hearty meal.
This show was a twisting and mind- bendingly awesome roller coaster of a ride from "Fear Inoculum" to the end with "Stinkfist."
No weak link in the bunch, the heightened impact and revelry of exquisite showmanship intact and inventive and enthralling.
The heavy hitters that are TOOL, showing no signs of wear and tear, and in no need of Bengay to massage the joints after this punishing set, at least not yet.
As for Killing Joke: ‘Tis a shame half of the fans were not in their seats, but waiting in gargantuan long lines to get their TOOL merch, or waiting to get a selfie with the LED display that highlighted TOOL, or waiting for beers or whatever. Their loss.
Not to go unnoticed from me, that's for sure.
How can you not be present for Geordie Walker's crushing guitar fills, and the apocalyptic forces surrounding frontman Jaz Coleman?
This was a 45 minute set highlighting Killing Joke's massively influential catalog, from "Eighties," "Seeing Red," "Total Invasion," "Pandemonium,” "and of course "Butcher."
This band is deserving of a full audience, no matter the venue.
And as for the tech wizards and engineers for TOOL: let it be known that it would be worth your while after the first song to take down from the gargantuan LED screen the name of the band Killing Joke, and replace that with a live feed of Jaz's mannerisms up close and personal.
That way, fans at the back of the venue and in the upper sections can witness firsthand what Jaz Coleman is all about, and witness Geordie fire off riff after heavy riff.
They're opening for TOOL for a reason. That being TOOL certainly get how important and influential they are, and are worthy of your attention, some 31 or so years since fruition.
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
What a better way than to join the fine folks at House of Vans on Halloween night for an extra special art and music takeover, featuring The Hu, Mongolia's finest export in all things Folk Metal?
So you have that, which is awesome, and then you have openers Lightning Born and also Doomriders.
Adding color to the festivities: Dennis McNett and and all things Wolfbat, which promotes shows, events, performances, and new works of art from Dennis McNett and Wolfbat Studios.
So try to take this all in:
Upon entering House of Vans, you encounter the usual trappings of their wonderful events- an open bar, splendid background music fitting for Halloween, gigantic murals emblazoned both stage right and stage left, looking like wicked Indian carpets with a mystical bent, and then of course the gigantic artwork of Dennis Mcnett and Wolbat studios: two eight foot Wolves, two eight foot crows, and two eight foot skulls.
All of these fantastic creatures are on rollers, with movable arms and other features, and they come out in full regalia for each act appearing onstage throughout the show.
Hard to take this all in, since you have a packed main floor obviously set in place to enjoy the show and performances, and your typical trappings of a raucous rock n' roll show.
Have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it worked out, both with sympathetic fans allowing the creatures to get close to the stage and maneuver around, and also security having not much trouble with the audience being unruly, or manhandling the artistic creatures.
None of that happened thank god, and everyone in the audience was respectful, even when losing their ground during the performances.
Most of the audience were brandishing their cell phones to document this one of a kind display of beauty and might, and it worked in conjunction with all three bands throughout the entire night.
From a photographer's perspective, and the massive scale of the creatures in relation to the venue and bands: that posed a challenge, to try to your best to get the full creatures, let alone the profiles of their magnificent and beautifully designed faces, let alone when they were rolled up to the front of the stage, the perspective of them in relation to full band.
Easier said than done, on many levels.
I hope my pictures do some justice to this fantastic display and the event itself.
As far as The Hu is concerned- what a splendid and magnificent performance from the Mongolian brethren, who hail from Ulaanbaatar Mongolia, ready to rock House of Vans Chicago, their second performance in two months to our fine city- the first being back in September at Riot Fest.
They still have that fearsome look of power and might, conveying their brand of dark folk metal that is sung in their native language, and not in english, which works on so many levels.
This band is so special to JBTV Music Television, having taken the time after their Saturday performance at Riot Fest to walk the grounds and come over to our tent for an interview and celebration.
From Jerry Bryant of JBTV, Lauren O' Neil of 101KQX, the JBTV crew, we had a blast documenting the going's on and hanging with The HU along with their devoted fans who showed up to our tent at JBTV.
An unforgettable and bucket list kind of day, that's for sure.
Openers Doomriders brought the "hard and heavy" throughout their performance as well, even with not much of a soundcheck because of plane delays from Boston apparently, but with there take no prisoners approach to crunching metal, it was a fast paced 45 minute set with no weak link in the bunch.
Same holds true with opener Lightning Born, featuring members of Corrosion of Conformity, Demon Eye and Mega Colossus, matching their songs with amped up and crunching blues riffs, and a wall to wall wail of a voice from Brenna Leath.
Again, a mighty fine 45 minute performance from them as well.
Have to say that Chris Vicente's spirit was evident during The HU's performance- tragically passing away a little over two weeks ago- he adored The HU, and did his best to get them to perform a live taping at JBTV.
it's a shame that this didn't come to fruition, but having said that, he would've been front and center at this show at House of Vans, and when the gigantic wolves rolled out for The HU's performance, with their jaws opened and arms flailing to the beats, Chris was smiling from ear to ear from the heavens.
So yes- this show worked on so many levels, all things onward / upward with House of Vans and JBTV.
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
Sleater Kinney arrived in Chicago for the first of two nights at the Riviera Theatre as a two piece, without the powerhouse drummer and founding member Janet Weiss. Weiss quit the band after the release of their new album The Center Won't Hold. Many critics have commented that there is a huge hole to fill with Janet leaving the band.
Finding a new drummer with capable chops is no easy task. However, Sleater Kinney pulled it off at the Riv in Chicago, with a whole new lineup and a whole new album of material. Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker were front and center, while the other three new musicians were in the back and in the shadows, clearly marked as backup.
Back in the day, Sleater Kinney were noted for their incendiary sets, their no frills attacks, their trailblazing from one song to the next, all the while becoming a sweaty and lively mess.
The Center Won't Hold is a huge departure from Sleater's previous releases. More electronic and more pop sheen without the blistering attacks and "Riot Girl" esthetics that made Sleater Kinney.
Carrie and Corin are a bit older now, and dress kfashionably, even with Carrie donning a sexy lace top, hot pants, and bright red lipstick with a nice hair style.
Who thought that I'd be writing about fashionista this and that while describing and reviewing a Sleater Kinney show of all things?
Just goes to show how times change, and how new releases bring forth new ideas and new beginnings.
Keep in mind, Carrie and Corin can bring the heavy hammer to rock at a moment's notice, especially during their set dive bombing into "Price Tag” and "Animal," vocal empowerment intact, and also "Jumpers" and "The Fox" were awesome standouts.
As for the new drummer? The person with ultra heavy shoes to fill, and well let's face it- could give a crap about all the hoopla and build up before even playing the first note? That would be Angie Boylan, and she played great. Stoic and solid in the beats, and from my vantage point, hard hitting without breaking a sweat.
We all know that Sleater Kinney is no longer a three woman hard hitting crew. It's now two capable musicians front and center, presenting to the world a new version of themselves, with respect to the past, yes, but all smiles in presenting the new material as well.
Some hit and misses from The Center Won't Hold? Yes, as is the case with most established bands of any genre when you look at it with open eyes. Like any show as well, you hear the songs you love, and you leave more than satisfied.
You want some continuity, sure, but you also take what you like, and leave the rest. The breathless urgency of some new songs were galvanizing to hear live, such as "Hurry on Home" and "RUINS."
The Center Won't Hold has grown on me after repeated listens.
And now having witnessed most of this new album performed live, it reassures me that having Carrie and Corin back in any form performing as Sleater Kinney is a good thing, and something to treasure.
Words + Photos by Ava Butera
On the eve before the craziness of Lollapalooza hit, I made sure I was present at the Chicago stop of The Night Running Tour featuring Beck, Cage the Elephant, Spoon, and Wild Belle. Ever since I got wind of this co-headliner, I had been counting down the days until July 31st - eager to see two of my all-time favorite bands share the stage.
As I entered the venue, opener (and Chicago-natives) Wild Belle opened the show to a rather sparse crowd. Soon enough, with their sultry vocals, infectious instrumentation, and powerful stage presence, the crowd of few grew in size as attendees quickly shuffled into their seats to witness the band’s performance. As their short set came to a close, I found myself immediately whipping out my phone to download their music on Spotify. Talented bands like Wild Belle are hard to come by.
Shortly after Wild Belle’s set commenced, next up was Spoon -- Indie-rock darlings hailing from the indie capital of the world, Austin, TX. The opened up their set with the acoustic guitar-driven “Knock Knock Knock” that starts out slow but soon enough erupts into a crescendoing track. Spoon quickly went straight into “No Bullets Spent”, keeping their set a little mellow. Despite that, the crowd was absolutely loving it, screaming every lyric and dancing in the aisles. Soon enough, the band went straight into the Van Morrison-sounding classic, “The Underdog”, and the crowd was absolutely in awe of lead singer Britt Daniel’s stage presence. As the set progressed, Spoon played other notable hits such as “Hot Thoughts”, “Inside Out”, and of course closing out their performance with “Rent I Pay”.
Then, after about a half hour later, Cage the Elephant graced the stage -- each member dashing out on stage. Before he even ran out, the crowd had their phones recording, waiting to catch a glimpse of lead singer Matt Shultz and his infectious presence. Opening the set with “Broken Boy” and the quickly moving into “Cry Baby” and “Spiderhead”, fans could hardly take a breath. As I watched Shultz run through the crowd in his ‘Black Madonna’ garb for the tour and new album cycle, I was awestruck. And while I was fixated on Matt, I quickly noticed the crowd shift toward the opposite side of the pit. Guitarist Brad Shultz ambushed the crowd to play a little guitar amongst the fans. A Cage the Elephant performance is truly like no other.
Throughout the rest of the set, iconic tracks such as “Cold Cold Cold”, “Mess Around”, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”, and of course “Cigarette Daydreams” and “Teeth” were played and to great response of course!
Words + Photos by Ava Butera
The evening of October 12th was one filled with inclusivity, uniqueness, and of course a fantastic performance by everyone’s queen — Charli XCX. Promoting her latest and long-awaited album Charli, each person present at the singer’s sold out Chicago show was anxiously awaiting her House of Blues show ever since we saw her absolutely crush her set at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival only a few months prior. But before we could embrace Charli’s set, we had to witness her tour mates, Dorian Electra and Allie X’s performances.
First up was Dorian Electra. Accompanied by two energetic and talented dancers, Dorian completely won over the crowd with their dance-influenced music and electrifying choreographed move. By the end of Dorian’s set, the crowd was buzzing with excitement, ready for the next performance.
Next, Allie X took the stage. Unlike Dorian’s party-like performance filled with dancing and fun music, Allie sharply contrasted that by taking the stage completely solo, with only a microphone accompanying her. With her captivating performative dance routine and serious facial expressions, she left the crowd stunned.
Finally, the moment we were all waiting for, by 9:30 sharp the lights dimmed and our girl Charli bolted onto the stage by opening her set with “Next Level Charli,” “Click,” and “I Don’t Wanna Know.” Though the crowd was jumping and screaming the lyrics by now, by the time she broke out into the fan-favorite, “Vroom Vroom,” the audience absolutely erupted and the floor felt like it was about to burst due to the crowd’s energy and dancing. Before I knew it, Charli quickly went into two of my favorite songs from her new album, “Gone” and “Cross You Out.” As I looked around, the audience soon enough turned into a club, filled with everyone dancing and singing with one another.
As her set progressed and she breezed through a set filled with almost every new song from Charli, she finally ended her set on a high note by “taking us to the future” on “2099.” While we were still buzzing with excitement and screamed for an encore, Charli came back out moments later to sing an encore filled with her hits including “Unlock It,” “I Love It,” “Boys,” and of course her latest hit, “1999.”
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
Like the hard working American farmers that are honored by this annual concert event, Farm Aid 2019 pressed on through the damp weather on Saturday, September 21st. Fighting the wind and occasional rainfall, the 30,000 plus crowd was let into Alpine Valley in East Troy Wisconsin to embark on listening to music from a who’s who of country and folk music. A who’s who that included performances by Wille Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews--the founders of the Farm Aid festival.
To show appreciation and support for American farmers, Farm Aid began with an opening prayer and dance from the Wisdom Indian Dancers and the Ho-Chunk Thundercloud Singers. This was followed by terrific, but brief, sets from Jamestown Revival, Ian Mellecamp, and Particle Kid.
Tanya Tucker was next with her short, down to earth country set. Tucker’s vocals were fresh and twangy and her ten gallon cowboy hat and outfit were the definition of "Country.” The crowd got on their feet for Tucker’s splendid rendition of her famous hit "Delta Dawn," and poignantly called attention to farmers’ plight with her song "Bidding America Goodbye.” Written in the realm of a foreclosure letter to a farmer, “Bidding America Goodbye” gave a harmonic voice to the struggles of American farmers, especially in this day and age.
The next performer was Yola, a force of nature with a dynamic vocal range. Hailing from the U.K. and a voice reminiscent of early ‘60’s soul, Yola’s currently getting well deserved attention here in the states. Her cover of Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” was the showstopper of all showstoppers. She elevated John’s anthem through the roof of Alpine Valley with her upper register vocal intact.
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real had a grand old time onstage. Lukas was joined by his brother Micah Nelson and Nathaniel Rateliff onstage, along with Margo Price and Yola to sing a few songs.
The true star of Lukas Nelson’s set was Leon, the young son of Promise of the Real’s percussionist Tato Melgar. Strapped with a fender guitar, Leon busted out some moves during the set and helped the crowd have as much fun as he was having onstage.
No other performer on the line up was the true definition of a "Farm Aid Performer” than Margo Price. In 1985, the year of the first Farm Aid, Price's family lost their farm in Aledo, Illinois. This hardship gave inspiration to Price’s breakout album Midwest Farmer's Daughter.
A Farm Aid regular since the album’s debut, Price made it clear that this was her favorite gig of the year. Her set reflected this enthusiasm with a wonderful cover of Janis Joplin's "Move Over" and an uptempo performance of “Nowhere Fast,” with the band pushing on the gas pedals throughout the set.
Jamey Johnson took the stage, alongside special guest Randy Houser, and the two interjected fine and sincere vocals throughout. The persistent and windswept rain made it difficult to stay in one place and listen, but the crowd hunkered down and sought cover with plastic, blankets, and whatever else they could find. No matter, their song selection was sublime, and Johnson and Houser traded fiery vocals and guitar licks throughout their set.
Next, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats barn burned through their set. Hit after hit, the band was sweating from the first song onward. Farm Aid brought out the best in this soulful band and their set was very tight and in the groove. Rateliff flourished throughout each song, even throwing some James Brown dance moves with his feet on the slippery stage, grabbing the mic and tearing into "S.O.B.” and "You Worry Me" in particular. Definitely one of the highlights of Farm Aid 2019.
Bonnie Raitt, and her impeccable slide guitar front and center, reminisced on seeing Stevie Ray Vaughn’s last ever performance at Alpine Valley before his untimely death by helicopter crash. Raitt dedicated a solo acoustic cover of Skip James’s "Devil Got My Woman" to Stevie and fellow blues guitar artists. Raitt's set was a treasure of original and cover tunes, particularly the cover of the Talking Heads "Burning Down the House," which as Bonnie predicted, "blew the roof off this place!"
Luke Combs and his stalwart country band proceeded Bonnie with all of his hits, making the pavilion at Alpine Valley a downright beer swigging country dancing party. The relatability of Combs’s songs caused even the men in attendance to dance in their seats. His music was definitely smooth enough and catchy enough for country radio, and the Alpine Valley crowd certainly dug it.
Dave Matthews was joined by his acoustic companion Tim Reynolds, and the two blazed away during songs like "Ants Marching" and "So Damn Lucky." Free from the constraints of a large ensemble, Matthews and Reynolds let it rip on acoustic guitars throughout their set.
John Mellencamp had some mixing troubles during his set, which softened the sound of his vocals and the band, but that didn't stop the crowd from singing and dancing to "Scarecrow" and "Jack and Diane."
Neil Young took the stage with Lukas Nelson's band Promise of the Real, and Neil took time to vocalize his thoughts on the plight of America's farmers during his set. The crowd appreciated hearing Neil speak candidly about the importance of family farmers and how we need to take care of Mother Earth. Neil Young urged the crowd to buy from local farmers, to avoid processed foods, and to give a big middle finger to factory farms. Particularly, a giant “fuck you” to the food giant Monsanto, which drew a rousing and noisy applause from the audience. Fine moments in Neil's set abound- from the raucous and blistering "Rockin' in the Free World," along with the gentle "Harvest Moon," and plenty of good stuff in between.
At past Farm Aid events, Wille Nelson would introduce the opening acts, but not this year. The 86 year old Nelson, who's had some health issues as of late, saved his only appearance until the end.
Regardless of the recent health issues, Wille Nelson was in good form. Sprightly and all smiles, Nelson opened his set as always with "Whiskey River." Willie’s two sons Lukas and Micah Nelson joined him onstage to do renditions of "Still is Still Moving to Me," "It's All Going to Pot," and "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die."
Accompanied by his trusty guitar "Trigger," Willie Nelson ended Farm Aid with a spirited performance of “I’ll Fly Away” alongside Neil Young, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Nathaniel Rateliff and Margo Price. Willie Nelson solidified the end of the night’s festivities by tossing his cowboy hat out into the crowd.
A wonderful and splendid time at Farm Aid 2019 was had by all.
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Bobby Talamine, Wes Nott, and Freddie Benitez
The rains early in the morning of September 15 turned Douglas Park into a mud pit. As a crowd waited to turn those mud pits into mosh pits, the Riot Fest crew was putting down mulch to help soak up the moisture.
The first band on the lineup was Ultra Q. A small, but strong, group were waiting for the band to go on. Their sound drew in others who were waiting for other acts. The big mud pit was no worry for a small group, who proceeded to slip and slide while forming a mosh pit.
The sun came out and dried up a majority of the grounds, save for a few deep puddles. Later, on the same stage as Ultra Q, was Frank Iero and the Future Violents. All members on stage were in matching jumpsuits. The mud had mostly dried up, which was good because the pit did not stop during their set.
JBTV alum The Beaches took the stage that day. It was their second Riot Fest, but their first in Chicago. They have previously performed at Riot Fest Toronto. The crowd was drawn in by the loud music, coordinated outfits, and fun dance moves.
One of the acts that was highly anticipated were the Village People. The members came out in their costumes, and the front to the back turned into a dance fest. The group ended with their most famous song, Y.M.C.A.
Against Me! had a double-album play with Reinventing Axl Rose and Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Two completely different eras, blended together. Although 12 years and lots of changes separated the two albums, the sound was still the same. The same energy was there. As the crowd screamed “baby, I’m an anarchist” with the band, the 17 year old song felt brand new.
Another highly anticipated act were the B-52’s. Another classic band, taking the stage. The crowd had their lobster claws, or inflatable lobsters. The band had their costumes on, ready for a funky time.
As the sun began to go down, Patti Smith took to the stage. Born in Logan Square, Riot Fest was almost a homecoming. Her first breath was taken in Chicago. The giant crowd hung onto every last word she spoke and sang.
The two headliners were hard to choose between. Taking Back Sunday or Bikini Kill. Taking Back Sunday were playing their albums Louder Now and Tell All Your Friends. The crowd gathered, anticipating, ready for a wave of nostalgia.
Rows and rows of people were jumping around. It was a high energy, carefree crowd. The screaming fans almost drowned out Adam Lazzara. Lazzara thanked Riot Fest, and the staff who made the weekend possible.
The other headliner, Bikini Kill, were playing their first show in Chicago in 24 years. This energy was different from every other show that weekend. Rows and rows of girls and women were lined up in the front, ready for this act.
Kathleen Hanna did not say her signature phrase, “Girls to the front,” even though people were chanting for it. “I would join you, but there’s too many people here and I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Bobby Talamine
Bright and sunny, the morning proved that the weather would be perfect for Riot Fest. Sunny and warm, but not too hot for walking around. Being in a pit might get a little too warm, but that’s expected.
Day two started out with alum Masked Intruder. Although it was shortly after the gates opened, there was still a sizable crowd. Although Intruder Purple is still filling in for Intruder Yellow, fans wore their yellow masks. During their set, Green found a dance partner from the crowd. A young woman even came on stage to sing the duet “Heart Shaped Guitar.”
On the neighboring stage, the band The Hu came out next. Once Masked Intruder ended, the crowd began to chant “Hu.” The band, which blends Mongolian throat singing and heavy metal, came on stage to quickly tune their instruments. Some members played traditional Mongolian instruments, which couldn’t be easily tuned by the Riot Fest crew.
The pit that broke out was different than the other pits of the day. It was more marching along with the beat. There was still pushing and shoving, but it was slower and more methodical.
The Hu walked from their tent to the JBTV booth to interview with Jerry. They were being filmed while Jerry walked with them back to their tent. Fans who saw began to chant “Hu. Hu. Hu.” at the members, but nobody could achieve the gutteral sound produced by the band.
The Damned Things are a side project of several bands. With vocals by Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die, bass from Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio, rhythm guitar from Scott Ian of Anthrax, and Fall Out Boy’s Andy Hurley on drums and Joe Trohman on guitar, this supergroup was not one to miss.
Their sophomore album High Crimes recently came out, 9 years after their debut album. The catchy lyrics and heavy rock instrumentals had the crowd singing along while fighting in the pit. Security sprayed several bottles of water through the audience, trying to make sure nobody overheated.
Grandson’s political laden songs were paired with matching video clips behind him. “Overdose” was matched with clips of drugs and celebrities who overdosed at a young age. After his set, he walked over to the JBTV booth to chat with Jerry and to enjoy the rest of the festival.
The Struts energy made everyone forget how tired they were. Songs were cut up, spliced together, parts separated. A majority of the crowd had seen them live before. There was a lot of engagement with the crowd, with call and responses.
The audience was encouraged to become fireworks during the climax of the set. Crouched down until instructed to stand up by frontman Luke Spiller. Once given the sign, everyone jumped up and confetti was shot loose.
The biggest conflict of the entire festival was from 7:15-8:30 on Saturday. It was the choice between Manchester Orchestra, Andrew W.K., Wu-Tang Clan, and Rise Against
A chant of “party” is what drew Andrew W.K. onto the stage. It was his eight time performing at the festival over its 15 year run.
Wu-Tang Clan had a huge crowd. They announced that they would be doing an album performance of 36 Chambers.
Rise Against thanked Slayer for everything that they have done over the past 40 years. JBTV was able to talk to vocalist Tim McIlrath from Rise Against. Jerry and Tim reminisced about old times and their first JBTV performance and interview, which was Rise Against’s first TV performance.
Slayer’s Riot Fest performance was their last Chicago/Milwaukee area show. A huge sea was there already to see them, and hoards shoved their way through. As Rise Against got off stage, the Slayer chants started.
Although they have been around for decades, it was hard to tell their age. They performed like it was 1983.
With their final show over, the night was also over.
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Bobby Talamine
Although this Friday the 13th started out overcast, the sun came out as the first day of Riot Fest kicked off.
Patrons filtered inside, exploring the grounds. Five stages, a row of rides, a few attractions, and multiple vendors were spread out across the beautiful Douglas Park.
Some patrons headed straight for the Butter Stamos sculpture, sad that it wasn’t done. But instead, they got to check back over the day and see the stick of butter turn to the likeness of John Stamos.
Anti-Flag was the first alumni band of the day. They came onto the stage and exploded into “Die For The Government.” Although it was still early in the day, they drew a large crowd who were screaming along with the lyrics.
Frontman Justin Sane made it known that they have not changed their beliefs over the years. “We are taking a stand against racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia.”
During their set, Jerry and some of the JBTV team walked around the grounds. Jerry met fans, some of whom who have been watching the show for years.
As Anti-Flag finished up, I Don’t Know How But The Found Me was starting across the park. The electro-indie duo is fronted by Dallon Weekes, ex-guitarist of Panic! At The Disco, and supported by Ryan Seaman, the ex-drummer of Falling In Reverse. Their set ended with their two most popular songs: “Do It All The Time” and “Choke.”
Later that night were JBTV alum Lucero. A crowd of fans were ready for the alt-country band.
Dashboard Confessional were one of the bands of the evening playing an album set. Their choice was The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most from 2001. The band backing singer/songwriter Christian Carrabba came and went, as the songs alternated from acoustic to needing a full band.
The Flaming Lips were also playing an album performance. Their choice was Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. It was an eccentric performance, like their performances tend to be. While Dashboard Confessional played on the other stage, Riot Fest crews were setting up the stage. Streamers hung down from the rafters, their “Fuck Yeah Riot Fest” balloon being brought on stage.
During their set, singer Wayne Coyne alternated from singing to picking up a trumpet. He also went into the crowd, but didn’t crowdsurf. Instead, he brought out a giant blowup ball and got inside. The security carried him through the photo pit and let him loose in the audience. Fans passed him around as he rolled around inside, before being carried back to the stage.
The final album performance of the night was JBTV alum Blink-182’s Enema of the State. As soon as the band hit the stage, the audience let loose. Within the first two songs, at least twenty people in the front had to leave, or at least move back.
During the song “Aliens Exist,” giant blowup aliens were let into the crowd.
A few songs into the second half of the set, after they finished Enema, Matt Skiba asked for all the girls in the crowd to make some noise. All the girls cheered.
“Is that it? Are those all the girls here? This is a sausage fest. Anyways, this one is for you. Guys, plug your ears or text your mom or something” introduced “I Miss You.”
Blink-182 and Jawbreaker played at the same time, and the sea of people for Blink-182 impressed the band. They would have all been at Jawbreaker.
They exited the stage, and that was the end of the day. The first day of Riot Fest 2019 ended on a great note.
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
ZZ Top is without question one of the longest running bands with its original line-up, vocalist/guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist/vocalist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard, still intact. A feat many groups with half of ZZ Top’s longevity and legacy can say.
"We're the same three guys, bashing out the same three chords," Gibbons told the audience at the Hollywood Casino Ampitheatre on September 7th. The group may only see themselves as “that little ol’ band from Texas,” but after 50 years together and accolades that include an induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, ZZ Top is sure as hell anything but little.
Being their 50th Anniversary Tour, ZZ Top’s performance was heavy on the hits, including songs from their massive selling Eliminator, the album that cemented the group as MTV video icons. With their fuzzy guitar and bass on full display, ZZ Top performed “Legs,” “Gimmie All Your Lovin’,” and “Sharp Dressed Man” to an eager Chicago crowd.
Even with a setlist stacked with their hits, ZZ Top didn’t shy away from doing a few covers. While introducing their cover of Merle Travis’s "Sixteen Tons,” Gibbons talked about how in St. Louis the night before none other than Jeff Beck came onstage to perform the song with them.
How’d St. Louis get so lucky? It’s hard to say, but even without the aid of Jeff Beck onstage, it was clear “Sixteen Tons” was a song that is deeply beloved by the group with their soulful rendition.
From the stillness of “Sixteen Tons,” ZZ Top shifted gears into the raucous "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers," with the vocal trade off between Gibbons and Hill. ZZ Top continued this high energy until the last song of the night, a cover of Elvis Presley’s "Jailhouse Rock."
Although ZZ Top weren’t accompanied by livestock and a live rattlesnake in plexiglass like they were during their 1977 Chicago Stadium performance on their Tejas Tour, the band still has the bite and energy that honors their strong blues roots and iconography. Iconography that has no peers, with their long beards front and center.
Eminently powerful, eminently soulful as always, ZZ Top’s power and influence has rippled far beyond the borders of Texas in their illustrious 50 years together.
As historic as this tour is, ZZ Top needed a heavy hitter group to help commemorate the occasion. Gibbons, Hill, and Beard looked at none other than Rockford's very own Cheap Trick to help with the celebration.
Consisting of the always fine vocals of Robin Zander, the crazy five-neck Hamer guitar antics of Rick Nielsen, the style and sophistication of bassist Tom Petersson, and backbeats provided by Rick’s son Daxx Neilson; Cheap Trick is a musical institution solidified as a power pop progenitor with catchy tunes like "I Want You to Want Me,” "Dream Police,” and of course “Surrender.”
Why three quarters of the people on the main floor chose to sit down for most of Cheap Trick's set, except for the notable songs, baffles me. Everyone in my section was standing and yelling out every lyric, some appearing older than me, and I'm well over sixty.
Local H’s Scott Lucas surprised the audience when he joined Cheap Trick to perform their biggest hit “Surrender.” A clear fan of the band himself, Lucas looked like he was having a grand ol' time, joining Rick towards the end of the song and flinging vinyls into the audience like frisbees during the song’s refrain "rolling numbers, rock and rolling, got my Kiss records out."
ZZ Top's 50th Anniversary Tour with Cheap Trick at Tinley Park was a night of musical legends showcasing the talent that made them superstars. Though time always marches on, ZZ Top and Cheap Trick’s performance on September 7th showcased how their music and live shows are timeless.
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Curt Baran + Daniel Boczarski
The final show of the House of Vans House Parties season was curated by Converge. It was a show to end all shows. As it was a perfect day to wait outside, the line wrapped around the building.
As people began to filter inside, the art presentation started. Lights and sound lit up quotes on the walls from House of Vans alumni from all over the world. These quotes were what drew the artists to the punk music scene. Why they chose to pursue that path. The floor was even covered in art.
Photos by Daniel Boczarski
Sipping on free Goose Island, patrons enjoyed the art exhibit. Burlesque of North America was screenprinting live. The blank wall filled up with prints as the night progressed. In addition to the Burlesque of North America prints, Jake Bannon of Converge and Thomas Hooper were also working on prints.
Photos by Curt Baran
Djunah, pronounced like June-ah, was the first band up. This Chicago-based band consists of Donna Diane on guitar, bass, and vocals, and Nick Smalkowski on drums. Diane plays the guitar and bass simultaneously, the latter being played by her feet. This noise rock duo is releasing their debut EP November 1st, 2019.
Djunah finished their set and were immediately replaced with Cloud Nothings, who were setting up. The indie garage rock band captivated the audience. Dylan Baldi, the lead singer, said that it was his 28th birthday. The foundation was set for a pit, but one didn’t break out until the very end.
There was no pushing to the front after Cloud Nothings left. Instead, a space opened up. People went to get last minute refills of beer, bottles of water. Anything to hydrate before what was coming up.
It was time. Converge got up on stage and mayhem ensued. Goose Island was getting thrown everywhere. It was impossible to tell where the barrier of the pit was because it was so big and so dark.
Everyone was screaming along to the lyrics, getting beat up in the pit, getting soaked by sweat, water, and beer.
The chaotic movement of the pit went on the entire show. Although it was a mess, everyone was still friendly. Helping people as they slipped on the now-wet floor, making sure people found their phone or glasses even if they were destroyed.
The pit consisted of mostly men, with a handful of women joining in. It was a very welcoming environment. If you wanted to get beat up in the pit, you could.
As the last notes rang out, everyone left sweaty and bruised. It was a great end to the House of Vans House Parties season.
Photos by Curt Baran
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Bobby Talamine
A group of unsuspecting women, one with a guitar, buzzed up to the JBTV studio using the building’s front door. What the passerby didn’t know was the utter starpower they were walking past: Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes with her mentee Lion.
When they entered the studio, both introduced themselves to everyone working. Lion, using her given name Beth.
Linda is an alum of JBTV, having played both solo and with 4 Non Blondes, but has only been in the old studio. She was very interested in touring the new location, wanting to know what went on in every room.
Lion was more interested in what was on the walls. While she was looking at the posters, a performance by Jeff Buckley came on and she was starstruck. Immediately needing to know if she was about to perform on the same stage as her “husband,” as she referred to him, she took off to get an answer.
A decent sized crowd came out at 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon to see Lion’s performance. Although it was just her and her guitar in a stripped down set, it wasn’t an acoustic performance. Lion’s electric guitar was plugged in.
Linda Perry gave Lion’s introduction. Perry signed Lion and has been mentoring her. After the introduction, Lion came out. Boxed water in one hand, tea in the other. She set down her beverages and picked up her guitar and started.
Without the background of a large band, her vocals took center stage. Dramatic shifts from soft to loud. Her voice alone was captivating.
Lion has an amazing stage presence. Standing there with her guitar and singing, it was impossible to tear your eyes away. It was hypnotic.
That’s exactly what Linda Perry saw the first time she met Lion. Perry’s manager had quit, and all her calender said was “Beth, U.K.” Perry had no other details about who was coming in. When Beth came in, Perry was honest and said she had no music, no details, nothing. Beth offered to play demos, but Perry wanted to hear her live.
Lion was nervous about that first meeting. She expected it to go differently, with Perry having already heard her music and wanting to make an album.
Jerry noted that Lion has elements of Linda Perry. They have a similar stage presence. Perry and Lion had just found out that they have the exact same signature. It’s an L with a squiggle and then a little heart.
They wrote some of Lion’s songs together. Perry’s favorite song is “Wolf.” Lion was having a bit of a meltdown in the studio, and out of that came a stadium hit.
Perry is huge on mentoring young artists. She said that if she had been like other managers, she would’ve hit Lion and changed her sound. Instead, she’s creating a safe space for Lion to create. She misses the days where labels would work with new artists and help them grow.
It was a day full of firsts for Lion. From her first poster signing to her first television performance in the USA. It was also her first time in Chicago. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s like a movie set,” she noted.
Lion will definitely be back to Chicago. She and Linda Perry want to come back to JBTV with a full band and do a fully plugged in set.
SOCIAL MEDIA INTERN