Pride in the Park Chicago Festival: Alesso, The Chainsmokers, Daya, Rebecca Black, Monet X Change, Moore Kismet, The House of Couleé and more
Photography by Bobby Talamine (IG @btalamine) & Tony P (IG @tonypphotos)
Writing by Fiza Javid (IG @xxfizax)
Day One, Grant Park. June 25, 2022
As the weekend approached, no one anticipated that we would wake up to post Roe America. The anger and shock was a catalyst and reminder of precisely what Pride was always meant to represent: unity, acceptance, love and an inherent fight for the freedom to choose, be it your partner or the ability to decide when to have a child. While last year’s festival was a celebration of pride alongside surviving a plague, this year brought on another earth-shaking perspective. Festival goers of the annual Pride in the Park Festival kick-started the weekend to not only celebrate, but to also remind themselves that the celebration itself was now more necessary than ever.
It might seem like an illogical statement. That is no way partying and celebrating could solve anything, but the opposite is true. We are living in a country where there are people in positions of power who want more than anything to silence these prideful celebratory exclamations and to drown them out. Perhaps we are fighting fire with fun.
This message certainly reverberated through the two days, through the voices of artists and political leaders alike. The actual act of protest remained behind a subliminal curtain, ready to be unveiled. The real stars of Pride in the park eagerly prepared behind the actual curtain, ready to excite us all, as we waited with gratitude in our hearts.
Saturday was kicked off with DJ Avi Sic, who played dance/electronic mixes with hits like Britney Spears, house music. A light crowd arrived to get the party started early. The eagerness was up this year, and while last year there was an issue with rain, the rain is merely an afterthought as the drizzle did not dampen the movement.
It was also immediately apparent that House season was kicked into gear. With both Drake and Beyoncé releasing their new album and single, respectively, it is clear that it is being pushed for summer popularity. However, House is truly where the indi artists shine, particularly artists like Spencer Brown.
I caught Bobby jumping on to the stage to capture Spencer Brown where I caught some candid shots. Spencer was effortless and let the music do all the talking, while he held down the beats and projections of overhead shots of landscapes, geometric shapes and ocean clips.
Spencer is known for not only being signed by Avicii, but for his collab with Deadmau5 and Above & Beyond, and this LA native truly set the tone for the future of electronic music.
No one would anticipate such a lax electronic dance session would transition into an electrifying drag show.
Both days were incredibly led by DJ Dom Brown, known for being part of the team that hosted Porn and Chicken, which were Monday night ragers at Chicago’s club Mid.
Shea coulee came out with an announcement, right before Dusty Bahls came out caffeinated with four lovely dancers in silver set outfits. The crowd went absolutely bonkers when they began with the iconic Bring it On performance. The tone was truly set and was incredible throughout.
All hail queen Sasha Love came out with 4 leashed men and brought the provocative touch the show needed, and she performed a slow, distressed jam of Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” which turned into the real choreography of the original “Crazy in Love''. Sasha’s Beyonce theme was such a joy to witness, with the real, necessary crowd favorite being her ode to “Run the World.” Sasha Love shined with six backup dancers!
“There is no other festival in this park besides Lollapalooza, and We get to hold his park down for Pride!” she said.
The headlining performer was the one and only Monet X Change, who was the season 4 winner of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and currently in Ru Paul’s All Stars edition.
“I’m gonna werk for Chicago tonight bitch!” she said. Shea coulee and I should have been on the top!” She transitioned into a reggae mix, “I grew up on that shit I love reggae music.”
She spoke about the current issues affecting the country,
“We need to affect change and this is a March” which led to the incredible performance of her song “March.”
“We aren’t asking for charity much too late for formalities.”
This is definitely what Pride is all about.
That was when a “special guest” was called to the stage, aka the leader that should treat us like special guests. As much as there has been a lot of criticism of Lori Lightfoot throughout Chicago in the past year, with many calling her “clout chasing” throughout Twitter, this was truly a moment she did not deserve judgement. She IS the leader to speak for the risk of the Supreme Court attack on LGBTQ+ issues.
Lori Lightfoot came out screaming “Fuck Clarence Thomas! We will fight! Today we have pride but tomorrow we fight! We are a welcoming city who has justice for all, but we are never going backwards! We need to vote, voting matters! Voting is what got us to 2016, and we need to fight to make sure our rights are secured, and our democracy.”
It was the essence of that speech that was followed by Saucy Santana’s drag performance that embodied the energy of the festival. It did not feel like another day, another year in Chicago music. The crowd was still light at this point, but the excitement and activism was still palpable. As much as I want to really exemplify the artists, it is vital that I say that the audience shined equally, and the Dom Brown Members definitely made sure to recognize that. Members of the crowd were then chosen to come on stage for a little twerk session.
Tommy hawk gets the crowd all excited right as day one was prepared to be knocked out of the park by The Chainsmokers and Joel Corry.
Alex and Drew made sure to have their voices heard, declaring “their bodies, their choice!“ and “equality now” which definitely was more validating. It was genuinely great to see powerful artists recognize their voices as voting Americans, fighting for the rights of all Americans, while simultaneously entertaining us. While it might seem like both perspectives should stay separate, and that it further blurs the lines between our leaders and our entertainers, these artists do have a platform to speak and influence as the country continues to make tumultuous turns. It is also nice to hear these words and then feel the tension dissipate with the music.
The Chainsmokers played new music, which will absolutely be the highlight of their year. They talked about how by a sudden shift of luck, their 2019 Lollapalooza performance went from being a 2PM show to a 7PM, which is a major difference in terms of crowd reaction as far as Lolla goes. They attributed their song “Roses” to the Chicago crowd as they were greeted with warm energy. More songs included “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Closer” which were undeniably beautiful.
Joel Corry ended the night with a powerful electronic club punch to all the faces of the audience, and as I had to head out of the festival, I did not miss a beat. I could hear his music all the way into Lake Shore Drive.
Ultimately, the love, the kindness, the gratitude, the all around feeling of unity that does not always show up in everyday life, was what made day one truly memorable. These are unprecedented times, and these are the moments that need to be grasped. Pride exemplified that and more. From the individuals who put the festival together, to the attendees, from all sexualities, genders and backgrounds, are living proof that we are not as divided as they want us to be, and depending on the corners in which we look, we may just find that unity at a local festival that deserves a hell of a lot more love. I don’t doubt that Pride in the Park will continue to grow every year until it hits Lolla levels or more.
Day Two, Grant Park. June 26, 2022
While day one allowed everyone to blow off some steam and come together to showcase Pride and protest on not only the news of the week (unapologetically) Day two began as a more relaxed feel, as festival goers have already had a chance to familiarize themselves with the events attractions. This could also be due to the record numbers at the Pride parade, that were not yet at the festival.
Still, people were taking in all the incredible offerings, which included a FREE hair styling booth provided by Dyson, which would probably cost at least $100 if it was a trip to the salon. There was not an excuse to have a bad hair day here. I decided to give the booth a swing and it was totally worth it. I tames my mane, and ran head forward to the main stage, which I was truly not ready for what was to come.
This name. Moore Kismet. Remember that.
“I am a 17 year old and unapologetically non-binary!”
They were an absolutely powerful force on stage! Their colorful jumpsuit and beaded colorful hair turned your eyes into the nucleus of the stage, and the energy was truly out of this world. Moore was truly the star of the party, and the only artist capable of getting the crowd into headlining energy at the beginning of the day. The energy they brought, and managed to get the few early comers to truly not regret their decisions of being early arrivals and missing the parade. Moore is going to be unstoppable, just you wait. I’m getting Avicii success level vibes here.
Next was Ms. Rebecca Black, and if you were a millenial in 2009, you certainly remember who she is. I had no clue what to expect. I just remember the fact that she not only was declared as having the “worst song in the world” at a mere 13 years old, but also the highest watched video in YouTube history at the time, as the site was in its infancy. I’ll be honest, I had some jokes in my mind about knowing Rebecca black was next, as the video itself changed the course of her career forever. That video was so strange to ears that it was once the center of a lyrical conspiracy claiming it was about the Kennedy assassination.
“Wait….is that REBECCA BLACK?” I heard someone say.
“Everyday is a good fucking day to be gay, am I RIGHT?”
Rebecca black came out as an absolute show stopper. Wearing a skin tight black top with an image of bare breasts, her confidence was absolutely dominating. She danced, she gave the audience fierce eye contact and was truly lost in the moment of her performance,
I never knew she was so dominant and commanding in her persona, and such a natural dancer.
“I want to ask you all a question, how many of you have ever been told you were the bad guy? That you fucked someone up? Don’t lie to me Chicago, don’t LIE.”
Which broke into her next song, “Don’t Lie.” She also sang a cover of La Roux’s “Bulletproof.” Very fitting choice! Rebecca truly is unstoppable, the way she took ownership of the ridicule and transformed into a Hyper-Pop diva that deserves the attention in a more positive light. She’s a Rihanna level pop star at heart, and she danced and beamed with an iconic smile that may be the only aspect of her that reminds us that she is the same individual from that viral video. Her smile is absolutely recognizable, but “Friday” did nothing to showcase who she truly was as a performer. THIS Rebecca black, she should be up there with Lady Gaga.
“Who wants to be my girlfriend?” She said, and also introduced her drummer who is a Chicago native.
We then watched her go into the sidelines as an audio track played through a news story restating what happened with the “Friday” song. I could see her panting in the sidelines, and I kept thinking, “Is she going to do it?”
Well she definitely did, and she remixed it. She ran out into the stage to the Hyper-Pop mix and threw some kicks and dance moves at the audience as she sang through the song, with the new version of the video playing behind her, showing her with a long braided pony-tail, a skin tight black latex suit and brief twerks. Okay, this was the moment she became a queen. The audience adored it and sang along with her, because lets be real, everyone learned the words.
It was the perfect level of excitement to bring on the drag show.
The legendary “House of Coulee” was ready to shine, as the crowd screamed the names of and donned fans for Shea Couleé, Kenzi Couleé, Mimi Marks, Luci Ami, Bambi-Banks Couleé, and Khloe Couleé. Move aside Kardashians!
Shea came out with a full band, colorful hair, green and blue, chained up jumpsuit with the sides cut off. She played her song “Cocky” with fans screaming “We love you Shea!”
“This is my first pride in 3 years, what is the tea? I’m so happy to be back, I’m so happy to be black. Here is the new new.” she said.
She was a true pop princess and not one song was lip sung by her. She sang through everything, danced and was beaming.
Mimi Marks came out in a draping white gown that unveiled a shining fitted shimmer gown, and another leotard underneath, with backup dancers. Her heartfelt performance was enough to bring anyone to tears of joy.
“10s across the board!” Dom stated from the side. Bringing all the Pose fans to their invisible seats.
Kenzi Couleé went full Gaga as she opened with Bad Romance, and to add to the talented house, she came out with a violin! She played through the songs beautifully on violin as the track played above.
I had a moment to check out Circuit Mom dancing their hearts out before Daya came on.
Daya, known for her hits alongside being the iconic Chainsmokers “Don’t Let Me Down” voice of her own song, was the perfect pre-headline the day after The Chainsmokers. She sang her hits “Hide Away” and “Don’t Let Me Down” but also unveiled a new song coming out on Wednesday July 6th entitled, “Love You When You Are Gone,” which is definitely one to look out for.
“Are you ready for the gayest song I’ve ever written?” before performing “Bad Girl.”
She took a moment, post song, to give a speech on the Roe decision and her experience of coming out:
“It’s hard to be American or proud to be an American, when they don’t seem to respect us as women, queer women, trans women. It’s hard not to feel powerless but we need to give ourselves permission to feel those feelings, but we don’t need to feel completely powerless. This community is embracing and warm. I experienced that when I came out a few years ago. It’s been the best family and community since. What we have they can’t take away from us, it’s what they don’t have, it's what we have. It’s what we will always have as long as we support each other and build one another up. I am committed to that and I hope you are too. Let’s me louder than ever and let’s me stronger than ever, and let’s get these old fucks out of the office. Abort the court.”
She ended her performance carrying a Pride flag and was near tears embracing the crowd. Daya, you are a true gem.
After her performance there was a beautiful video tribute to Richard Pfeiffer and Tim Fry, two notable historical figures in Chicago’s Gay History. Dusty called to the audience to rejoice Tim, who was in the audience and supported Richard for 40 years when he had cancer. It was a perfect note to remind the audience just how far the Pride celebration has come and to honor the history that often is left invisible.
The night closed out with Alesso, who brought in a bass heavy jam session that had the audience reverberating. The pyro was hot and the set was hotter. He kept a space theme going as it felt like a very Sci-Fi, EDM show with intense drops. From songs like “Heroes” to “Falling” with imagery of two genderless human beings kissing, it was a chef’s kiss to the end of Pride in the Park Chicago, 2022.
The audience walked out overjoyed into a dark reality as there were religious protestors greeting them, attempting to start fights. That did not matter, and they were brushed off. They can not and will not take the liberties away from these music loving, and honorable individuals. Pride in the Park needs to keep growing, and Chicago Pride is here to stay.
Until next year, with endless gratitude and love, Fiza Javid - JBTV Music Television.
Live Review: Kraftwerk - 3D North America Tour 2022 - Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom - Chicago - Thurs 6/2/22
Writing and Photography by Bobby Talamine
Edited by Fiza Javid
German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk return to North America for their immersive 3D concerts with a stop at the Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.
Bringing together their sophisticated electronic music with performance art is quite the accomplishment, considering how easily this whole thing could go sideways without the right equipment, the right budget, the right people to man the controls (both onstage performance wise, and also at front of house as well).
We all know that Kraftwerk's music speaks for itself, and can sustain longevity without added fanfare.
But what if you think big, as obviously sole survivor Ralf Hutter of Kraftwerk must've done?
Well the visuals, 3D or otherwise should overwhelm, so that's why you have a white backdrop that's gargantuan, that can easily absorb the bright and colorful hues from the 3D projectors up in the balcony at the back of the house.
So let me tell you now that this works on many levels, from the first song- "Numbers / Computer World / Computer World 2", to their last song- "Non Stop / Boom Boom Tschak / Music Non Stop".
Even their display on center stage, four clean podium standing synthesizers and samples, from right to left, all even, and centered, with the giant white backdrop directly behind.
Simplicity in design, production wise, with no fuss and clutter.
And the audio- the PA was top notch, immersing you in their mechanical world, specifically with musical nuggets such as "The Man- Machine",
"It's More Fun to Compute / Home Computer", let alone more popular electronic tidbits such as the innocent "Autobahn", and "Trans- Europe Express / Metal on Metal / Azbug".
These songs may come off simple, but like any musical genre, simple is not as easy as it sounds to create songwriting wise, and hold you captivated, and have you hum specific identifiable refrains on repeat- you know, like the good ear worms, not the nauseating ear worms.
Kraftwerk were to originally bring this sophisticated production to our shores back in 2020, but like most shows in the books at the time - derailed by the pandemic reared its ugly head, coinciding with the group's 50 year anniversary.
So when you wait, and hunker down during Covid 19, you know full well that you're gonna come out the other end, somewhat unscathed, and enjoy the finer things when given the chance- such as witnessing Kraftwerk perform live and in person yet again.
Having seen many incarnations of Kraftwerk over the years, even now with one soul survivor remaining, that being lead singer and keyboardist Ralf Hutter- have to say how much I enjoy how Ralf pivots accordingly to the times we are in, modifying songs to fit a mood, whether it be "Autobahn" of course, or even the conscientious "Geiger Counter / Radioactivity", with visuals of names such as Chernobyl and Fukushima (amongst others) keeping you immersed in such disasters, and the consequences that they bring.
It's refreshing to see their music changing to the times, without being outright reconstructions, and the visuals related like minimalistic filmstrips of current thought and meaning brought on by fresh and new technology.
That's the beauty with bands such as Kraftwerk- you don't have to be dated, or stuck in a rut to perform- you obviously have technology on your side, and you either do your best to adapt, or whither and die in the vines.
So throughout their set, it's a constant sonic push and pull, done with subtlety in thought- not meant to bash you over the head with shocks to the system, but the exact opposite- the trance inducing music speaks for itself, and immerses you on a level to embrace the visuals, without giving much thought to the four men standing behind their synthesizer pedestals.
And when you think about it- how keen in observation from the men in Kraftwerk to immerse themselves in the production, the whole concept being as one.
It's shows like these that leave an indelible mark in your head- groundbreaking yet again, witnessing guys in their seventies who still come off as anything but.
So yes- their setlist, their production, their visuals, the setting at the majestic interior of the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago- all of it- a total work of art.
For the remaining dates- heading a bit east, then west, ending their tour in early July in Vancouver - a definite must see.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago
Writing and Photography by Bobby Talamine
Edited by Fiza Javid
Prior to the sold out show with Orville Peck at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, you make note to cover the crowd and the Riviera marquee for a bit, knowing full well that the faithful will turn out in droves, all adorned up western style, and some going even further with the anonymous and sophisticated fringe masks similar to what Orville wears while performing.
To the faithful, it's a big deal to get all dolled up, Orville Peck style.
It's fascinating to watch and photograph, experiencing first hand the energy it brings to an event and performance on the scale of Orville Peck, and his meteoric rise witnessed firsthand over the past few years.
And here we are, with Orville and his band celebrating his latest release "Bronco", which came out back in early April, and now on the road supporting the release on his "Bronco Tour" of North America.
Orville starts the show off with "Daytona Sand", the first song and first released single off of "Bronco", bathed in various hues of blue. and even though in sophisticated cowboy fashion from head to toe, which you expect, down to his cowboy boots and ten gallon hat- had no idea of just how sophisticated his getup was until he ripped into the second song of the evening- the punchy and resentful "Turn to Hate", and the stage bathed now in white light.
Now you can see Orville's outfit in all of its glory- all turquoise, with a bit more added turquoise, and done up in true cowboy splendor.
I bring this up as a case in point separate from just talking about the songs from the setlist outright- there's a lot going on with Orville Peck and his desire to always put on a show (no matter the venue) that is unforgettable, and leave your worries behind at the door.
It's amazing to watch Peck's musical growth, as a singer / songwriter, and also as a confident performer, becoming more and more fearless, and even a bit more unruly, if you can believe that.
Even if you want to remain anonymous, hiding a bit behind your fringe masks, the haters will still come, one by one, to belittle you and let you know directly and indirectly some modicum of contempt.
A guy like Orville takes this to heart, brushing off some of the criticism, that being his vocal timbres and range, which uncovers a bit of Roy Orbison a bit of Morrissey, and blessed as well with a deep baritone that conveys a sense of loss and repression when the timing is just right.
He writes songs about pain and loss, because he's experienced firsthand multiple times his fair share of pain and loss.
And to top it off, with the wide spread acclaim he received from his first album, "Pony", back in 2019, which was embraced not just by true country fans, but also the indie and alternative crowd- Like most artists new to the game- how do you follow that up without the dreaded "Sophomore Slump" hanging over your head?
Well if you're a guy like Orville Peck, I believe you rest up a bit, take some deep breaths, and reconfigure anew, and take some risks with some wide ranging ideas, since you know full well that you have an awesome band that's been with you through thick and thin, and they have your back.
I mean I guess you have to answer a simple question: What makes you want to be a songwriter anyway? I believe every take on every album is going to be different, just from shared life experiences and simply living, and proving to yourself your worth and validation. That, and don't be fake, and try not to be hard on yourself.
I feel that Orville, with each and every passing turn through life, is asking these kind of questions.
Maybe the mask will come off somewhere down the road, maybe not.
But laying out the groundwork anonymously for a career in your chosen genre (and genres) of music- to allow you to flourish and shine with polished singing and songwriting should help to bear fruit for years to come.
The point to all of this is to convey just how much I get the impression that he truly cares, and takes all of this to heart, even with downtime during a pandemic.
So in regards to the making of "Bronco", and touring on the strength of these songs, you can tell from the outset that they are therapeutic to some extent, getting out of a depression, re- finding your voice, making sense of another bad relationship- kinda like keeping a diary of tragic mistakes and bad behavior, and how to correct past behavior. Songwriting to that extent, I'm sure truly helps you get out to the other side.
And what makes you whole again? Taking out these new songs for a spin on the road.
You've witnessed now the aforementioned "Daytona Sand", and you also get to hear "The Curse of the Blackened Eye", followed by "Lafayette", and also "C'mon Baby Cry", "Any Turn", along with "Kalahari Down", amongst others.
And it looks from my vantage point throughout the entire show, from the pit by the stage, to the back of the house, that Orville is enjoying himself immensely, even on a hot Wednesday night in the sauna known as the Riviera Theatre.
And that turquoise outfit ain't coming off until the end of the show.
You gotta love and admire a guy like Orville Peck, always approaching live performance with sincerity, and coming from an authentic place- haters be damned.
Having witnessed Orville so far come through Chicago- first at the intimate Lincoln Hall, then at Lollapalooza last year in the blazing sun, up to the present day on his Bronco Tour, he still proceeds on that plane, pouring his heart out to his faithful fans, approaching everything with deliberate honesty.
So refreshing to see and witness live with Orville yet again.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago
Writing and Photography by Bobby Talamine
Edited by Fiza Javid
Deftones and Gojira bring the heat to a chilly Friday night at the Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island in Chicago.
Yes- with a slight wind chill, it still ended up being cold once the sun had set just off the shore of Lake Michigan.
And both Gojira, and also Deftones, just tore away with incendiary setlists that made the ground shake and your chest feel the mighty thump from the low end- from both bands.
Headliners Deftones, fronted by the ever still so volatile Chino Moreno, entering the stage to the music of "Pimpf", from Depeche Mode- a slice of cool instrumental music from their album "Music for the Masses"-
Maybe as homage to the recently (and tragically) departed Fletch from Depeche- if that was the case, as always, Chino and Deftones, their heart is certainly in the right place.
But once fitted onstage, they blast away with the opening track of their most recent release- "Genesis", from "Ohms", a blistering attack in essence on a discussion of rebirth and renewal.
A song meant to go for the throat.
And how poignant to open with "Genesis", a song when released, back in September of 2020, with so much uncertainty, and the inevitable postponement of their summer tour in 2020.
Might as well come out of the gates embracing what you love, and missing so much what you love.
Their set was riveting throughout, with sophisticated lighting worthy of your most accomplished EDM artists- yes- that kind of vibe, with striking vertical strobes, and a triangular, or diamond shaped lighting rig conveying hues that washed over the background vertical white backdrops. worthy of your attention to match the onslaught of heaviness from the band.
To hear the trailblazing "Rocket Skates" into "Prayers / Triangles", and with Chino singing with such full force, like his life depends on this moment in time- gives you chills.
Most of the main floor within earshot of me was feeling the same vibe, looking around to confirm that we were all in agreement with what we were witnessing- a band coming at you full force, and with deep rooted passion.
The intensity didn't lapse one bit throughout their set, ending up with some 19 songs in total, three of which, for their encore, all blistering indictments as well, with "Lotion". into "Engine No. 9", and closing with "7 Words".
After that, with ringing in your ears, and a cold sweat on your body from top to bottom, you couldn't help but feel a brotherhood with them, jamming their hearts out to the bitter end.
Same could be said for the mighty Gojira- a band that equally pummeled the crowd right out of the gates, opening with "Born for one Thing"- the opening track to their critically acclaimed latest release back in April of 2021- "Fortitude".
This album- I mean holy shit. No wonder it made everyone's- I mean EVERYONE'S top ten lists from last year. Not a weak link in the bunch, with the Duplantier brothers outdoing themselves yet again with conscientious metal which is downright breathtaking in might and thought.
Four songs in total, played by Gojira from their latest release, interspersed with heavy hitters from their equally cool back catalog,
By the end of "Born for one Thing", a gigantic moshpit had broken out, and basically all involved maintained their huge chunk of real estate in front of the stage throughout to the end of their set.
Joe Duplantier on vocals and guitar, and his brother Mario on drums, both equally convey intensity followed by passion, and might, not ones to dress fancy or rock star ish- more like everyday blue collar, which for me, just transcends perfectly into their honesty and approach into offbeat and rapid fire musicianship.
Again, from my vantage point, even after finishing the first three songs from the pit, everyone on the asphalt in front of the stage audience wise, was in on the action, fists pumped in the air, trying their best to match the intensity of the band, enthusiastically embracing the energy, with the foot on the gas with no letup.
Even the breather of an hour or so between sets was met with jovial enthusiasm by one and all, with huge smiles on everyone's faces.
Man oh man - was this a show or what?
What way to start off Memorial Day Weekend in Chicago.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago