Live Recap: 101 WKQX- The Nights We Stole Christmas 2021- Night #4: Evanescence, with support from Badflower & Cleopatrick
Night Number four of 101 WKQX's The Nights We Stole Christmas form the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago- and like last night with Kings of Leon- a pleasant surprise to see the 101 WKQX faithful coming out in droves for headliner Amy Lee and her band Evanescence.
A lot has happened with Amy Lee and Evanscence over the past few years, not all of it pandemic related- more of it band member related, in regards to getting the look and feel to push forth her vision and gifts for dynamic singing and songwriting, and doing her best to find the right fit to make things gel.
Have to say I was on the fence with this particular show out of the five nights of We Stole Christmas- I guess in reality not knowing what to expect production wise, band member wise and such, and how Amy will be performance wise.
All of that changed for me from reading Selena Fragassi's article in Wednesday's Chicago Sun Times, and the insightful background on not only Evanescence's latest release "The Bitter Truth", but also getting to know a bit where Amy's head is at in regards to her songwriting, and status on her current state of affairs, both on a personal level, and also a global pandemic level.
All of this being inspiring enough for me to feel satisfied a day before her headlining set at the Aragon Ballroom.
So for me, all you need is one spark of motivation to be all in and embrace the inevitable- especially when you're looking for that extra push to do right by the band, the radio station 101 WKQX, and especially JBTV.
Have to say you know things are going to be good three minutes prior to the band entrance, and everything stage wise is bathed in a dark shade of purple, and the PA is blasting a snippet of Queen's "We Are the Champions".
Opening to the instrumental title track from "The Bitter Truth"- "Artifact/ The Turn", and then Amy trailblazing her way though "Broken Pieces Shine", also from The Bitter Truth", and Amy has set the standard for tonight's performance, with pleasant surprises throughout.
Although for us photographers present it was a soundboard shoot- that really didn't matter.
The stage was decent enough for decent imagery of full band and isolated musicians, with the sophisticated 101 WKQX LED backdrop being crisp enough to show fire and brimstone as if it was true pyro, followed by brimstone.
And as for Amy Lee, decked out in black, with a silver / sparkly right shoulder shawl, she commanded both sides of the stage, and also front and center, in front of an elevated drum kit, and her voice....the high notes coming from her were giving me chills.
I haven't heard Amy sing that convincingly in ages- as if we were back to 2003 at the Metro Chicago, still seeing her trying to find her way as a new and upcoming band.
The setlist showcased lots from "The Bitter Truth", some seven songs in total, much of it equal to earlier releases, with lots of heavy and dark theatrical undertones, like you'd expect from an Evanscence album.
But song number three of the night- "Take Cover", into "Going Under", followed by "The Change"- no slouches here at all.
The whole set was riveting, and her band, consisting of bassist Tim McCord, lead guitarist Troy McLawhorn, drummer Will Hunt, and backing vocalist Jen Majura were up for the challenge as well, sensing that you know their must have been plenty of rehearsals to get this production right, and play as if seasoned veterans in the same camp.
Have to say I walked away stunned at just how good a show this was with Amy Lee and Evanscence, and how satisfying it is booking wise with 101 WKQK and these five shows for The Nights We Stole Christmas.
That goes for the openers as well, with equally blistering sets from both Badflower (who are JBTV alums by the way), and opener Cleopatrick- a dynamic fuzzed out rock n' roll duo from Canada.
As for Badflower, who to this day have a vision and presence that's the definition of badass in their own right- you know things are good and well and amped when you see Ali and Lauren from 101 WKQX taking in their performance from the pit with us photographers.
The show- all three bands- not a weak link in the bunch.
Now to try to get my composure and some measure of sanity before tonight's performance with headliner's Rise Against, which, as you and me know- is the definition of righteous insanity.
—Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago
Live Recap: 101 WKQX - The NightS We Stole Christmas 2021 - Night 3: Kings of Leon, with support from Dayglow & Almost Monday
Night Number three of 101 WKQX's The Nights We Stole Christmas— Their annual knock it out of the park at the renowned Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, featuring none other than Kings of Leon.
And from the looks of things from the back of the main floor minutes before the Kings hit the stage- a pretty much packed and close to a sellout show.
As well it should for Kings of Leon, with lead singer / guitarist Caleb Followill, along with his brothers, doing a few special shows for the winter season, before heading out early next year for a bigger tour overseas.
Which makes this show at the Aragon that much extra special, with a fine tuned setlist consisting of 18 songs, with all the hits, and then some.
The Followill brothers have certainly put in the hard work over the past few years, making a name for themselves with strong songwriting and musical chops to back it up, and yet gone through their fair share of hardships, resolved and came out the other end of that much healthier and in fighting spirit, and also found some time to re group during the ongoing pandemic and come out with a strong album back in March of 2021 titled "When You See Yourself".
They played a couple songs from their latest release, opening with the title track "When You See Yourself, Are You Far Away", a moody and slow build up of a song, with a solid plea of refrain from Caleb: "One more night, one more night will you stay here, One more night , one more night will you be safe dear", which, when you think of it, is a plea of sorts, with a melody that tugs at your heart to embrace the trust and also the grief, but also with some question and answer to resolution.
And the lighting for this opener of a song is low key and moody orange, the band highlighted, but barely visible.
Such is the thing with the Followill's and conjuring striking moods again and again - a band built with diversity, a band built for taking risks and following their own path and no one else's.
The rest of their set was concise and spot on- with "The Bucket" into the giant and never gets old "Supersoaker", followed by "Revelry", which of course, the main floor of the Aragon Ballroom was in revelry as well.
Of course the main hit songs were front and center about halfway through their eighteen song setlist, what with "Sex on Fire' making the Aragon go bonkers, along with "Radioactive", and "Pyro" as well.
But they saved their best for last encore wise, with "Use Somebody", an extended jam of punctual melody and awesome vocal from Caleb, before ending and exiting stage left.
Such a fantastical and wonderful and memorable evening with the Kings, making the world a better place for WKQX's TNWSC, and leaving us drained and yet oh so satisfied, especially with what we've all been up against the past year and a half or so.
Openers Dayglow from Austin Texas, and Almost Monday, a pop trio from San Diego, set forth with lighthearted moods of pleasant ear candy- not as brash as the Kings of Leon, but still entertaining nevertheless- as much as you'd expect with the celebrations as such for The Night We Stole Christmas.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago
She Past Away with Twin Tribes and Wingtips - DJ's The Pirate Twins - Thalia Hall - Chicago - 12/1/21
Writing and Photography by Bobby Talamine
Talk about a dark dance party- even on a late Wednesday night in Chicago, at the gorgeous and intimate Thalia Hall in Chicago.
The music? Provided by the headliners She Past Away, with support from Twin Tribes and Chicago's Wingtips.
And if that wasn't enough, before and in between bands and also after- DJ's Willam Faith and Sarah Rose (The Pirate Twins), with a splendid playlist from them as well.
And the faithful came out in droves, with what looked like a pretty crowded Thalia Hall, from the main floor to the balcony, everyone enthusiastically responding to all three bands throughout the night, making this event even more special, considering that Volkan Caner and Doruk Ozturkcan come all the way from Turkey- and considering the times that we're in, pandemic related and all, that getting visas to tour the USA ain't easy.
So that's what makes this a special night, with no hiccups, considering the last time She Past Away came through town, it was anything but easy- the poor band having to drive non stop from the east coast to make it in time for their show at the Chop Shop in Wicker Park.
As far as this night is concerned, the revelry between audience and band was high strung and enthusiastic throughout from my vantage point, with most of the audience within earshot reciting all lyrics to every song.
And the same can be said for Twin Tribes and the Wingtips sets as well. making this a memorable evening of some of the finest and polished Dark Wave and Post Punk music currently on the scene today.
And it goes without saying how cool this is between all three bands, considering that they're all duos.
All three bands visually had beautiful background lighting, with striking vertical white strobes from the ceiling down, twisting and turning to the melodic and hypnotic voice of Volkan from She Past Away, and Luis Navarro of Twin Tribes, and the same can be said for Vincent of Wingtips as well.
She Past Away- some 15 songs in total, all sung in there native Turkish- and that didn't matter. The Chicago faithful in attendance ate it up, from the opener "Durdu Dunya", into Katarsis", all the way to the end with "Insanlar".
Volkan and Doruk bring sophistication to their hypnotic performance, with eerie background visuals to make things even more exotically sinister.
Such a splendid set by them.
As far as Luis Navarro and Joel Nino, Jr of Twin Tribes- the same can be said for there set as well- all dark and mysterious, with dancing in place throughout from the faithful on the main floor of Thalia Hall.
And again from my vantage points- everyone within earshot knows the lyrics to every song, and were singing along enthusiastically in shadowy bliss.
All the way up to their heavy duty set closer- the song "Fantasmas", which in my opinion, is a captivating tune from beginning to end, with a swinging dark and sinister beat throughout, with added punch from Luis and his heavy and dark baritone. All songs- memorably crafted and throughout- no filler- just killer beats, and to the point. Twin Tribes is the kind of duo that get down to business, with memorable songs and lyrics to boot.
And as for Hannah Avalon and Vincent Segretario of Wingtips: These guys just keep on getting better and better and better, from their confidence and presentation while performing, down to their crafty songwriting, with the Chicago faithful spurring them on with chants and dancing from beginning to end.
And it should be said how cool it was to see the main floor packed for Wingtips set as well, and that the Chicago faithful arrived nice and early for their opening performance.
So all n' all, a wonderful and captivating evening of Dark Wave bliss, holding court in the perfect venue for accompaniment- Thalia Hall.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago
Photography by Bobby Talamine
Writing by Fiza Javid
Live at Cobra Lounge on Wednesday evening, Baroness prepared an incredible for the West Loop of Chicago. Fresh off the holidays, the excitement was in the air as I journeyed to the area, expecting a modest crowd, potentially in fear of COVID regulations.
I walked to the side of the venue and caught a glimpse of their gorgeous tour bus, with silver flames designed through the side. Knowing the awesome jam sessions that probably go on in there, I was even more excited to see them on a personal level.
To my amazement, and not to my surprise, Baroness yielded a massive crowd, packing the Cobra Lounge to the brim, with patrons unable to make it to the inside of the hall with the stage. From the far back, individuals pinched their camera on their smartphones, zooming towards the stage to catch a glimpse of what is to come. Even through the masks you could tell they were eager.
I slowly worked my way as close to the stage as possible, feeling like a Tetris piece trying to spot the right spot to fit to catch the action.
The way the stage lit up, with John Baizley emerging on the stage, was like a glorious sunrise. He is such a powerful front man, and this was the first time I was going to hear Baroness's incredible songs in person, in such an intimate, laid-back setting.
What an honor it was. The riffs of Ogeechee Hymnal" slowly took the crowd from a slow build up to pure underground rock n roll intensity.
The next songs they played were "Take My Bones Away", "Rays on Pinion" to "March to the Sea," and the way each song flowed to the next, I cannot think of a more pure rock experience. Fans around me seemed to just flow into the music as I was, some with their eyes closed, just taking in a moment with this band that wouldn't have been possible a year ago.
My favorites would have to be the acoustic session, which really made the experience that much more intimate. While the showmanship of John Baizley, Gina Gleason, Nick Jost and Sebastian Thomson was already perfect through the initial songs, but as someone who was experiencing this band for the first time, I didn't expect an acoustic guitar to be pulled out at all by anyone for this show. They did the songs "Cocainium" and "Foolsong" which felt like a complete 180 from what the of the set provided, significantly more folky, but still classic rock. These two songs really showed the depth of what this band is made of and their musicianship is incredibly intricate.
The set ended with "The Birthing" and "The Sweetest Curse," and honestly, it all felt like five minutes flew by. With the fears of the virus still looming, I was ready to get out of the sweaty packed crowd, but I still imagined Baroness coming back out for another 22 songs. They were so effortless in their showmanship that I am a hooked fan for life. There was no branded gimmick about this band, Baroness is truly the real deal and their musicianship shined through and through.
Thanks again Cobra Lounge for making this possible! Until next time,
Fiza Javid - JBTV Music Television