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.
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
A packed crowd at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre awaited the return of Slipknot, who brought a galvanizing and barn burning show. Billed as Knotfest, Slipknot hit the road with an eclectic bill of metal stalwarts--Volbeat from Denmark, the technical prowess and might of Gojira hailing from France, and the brutal extreme metal from Polish metal band Behemoth.
Think about this for a moment, four bands that are equally important in their genres of metal, appearing together for a festival of the ages. All trailblazers, all deserving to be headliners, which says a lot about the boys in Slipknot, who are uncompromising in their production and aren’t afraid of showcasing such great supporting acts.
Bottom line, Slipknot still delivers. It’s only fitting that Knotfest in Tinley Park coincided with their sixth studio album release We Are Not Your Kind. Slipknot’s first album since the firing of longtime member Chris Fehn. Regarding Fehn’s termination, Slipknot have made it clear they'd rather not talk on the issue and move on.
Only two songs from their new album made the cut for their setlist. "Unsainted," a blistering and unrelenting song worthy of stature in the band’s canon, and "Solway Firth," which made its live debut at Tinley Park. The set started off hard and heavy, with a foot stomp statement of "People = Shit," then into "(sic)," followed by "Get This."
The beginning of Slipknot’s set was the definition of intensity, and we haven't even started with the vertical pyrotechnics. The three- tiered stage set up was perfect for the members of Slipknot, since there's so many of them, to equally lay waste to a normal rock n' roll show, having audience members’ eyes ping-ponging from one musician to another, watching the uncontrolled antics of Slipknot acting like gremlins to the tenth degree.
I say this with positivity and genuine appreciation.
A lot of thought has gone into this stage design, courtesy of founding member Shawn Crahan, otherwise known as "Clown" aka #6. Clown has his hands in everything Slipknot, from stage production, music videos, and songwriting. There were giant panelled video walls, air vent windmills below Jay Weinberg's drum kit, and a small treadmill below Sid Wilson's mixing table. Wilson’s mixing table set up added to the chaos by having an elevated percussion kits 20 feet up. Sid Wilson cemented his place in music as a genuine and unpredictable performer.
Of course, ringleader Corey Taylor was lively as all get out. From heavy and gnarly vocals to his costume and new mask, Taylor was as wicked as wicked comes. You can't keep your eyes off him.
An A+ show from Slipknot. These metal legends brought a setlist that was unrelenting from beginning to end in all things heavy. Being Midwesterns themselves, Slipknot’s from Des Moines Iowa, they made it known time and time again how important Chicago and the Midwest region has been to the band’s success over the years.
Each act of this Knotfest roadshow brought something different, something unique, something fresh.
Even with the sun shining brightly, openers Behemoth did not disappoint. With Nergal front and center, with his nasty, trademark corpse paint and unique headpieces on full display, was surrounded by a band that knows the definition of uncompromising punishment.
Same holds true for Gojira and Joe Duplantier, with patrons in the main GA pit in the center of the main floor thrashing about in unison to the band's plentiful set of heavy on top of heavy songs. Furious in approach and furious in might, Gojira have continued to develop into an inspired live act with lots and lots of touring in the states, and a polished set of songs that leave you drained and your ears buzzing for days on end.
After the two downright heavy openers, we were entertained by Copenhagen, Denmark's Volbeat. Led by frontman Michael Poulson, who was jovial and energetic, looked like a rockabilly rocker who's fixated on early Elvis, but has a passion for dark speed metal. Lots of wah wah riffing heavy guitars throughout, with a snippet from Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" before tearing into "Sad Man's Tongue," with over the top heavy guitar playing from Rob Caggiano, who is super underrated in guitar playing. A high energy performance from these dudes, before headliner's Slipknot took the stage.
A remarkable show from four awesome bands, and no loose ends in the line up.
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos courtesy of Label27
What started out as a backyard event in Topanga has grown into California’s biggest reggae fest. Reggae on the Mountain is entering its 10th year bigger and better than ever.
Inspired by growing up in Topanga and charging a little money for events, founders Amit Gilad and Brooks Ellis decided create a festival. Originally hosted in the Topanga Community Center, it has moved and is doing it’s first year at the King Gillette Ranch in Malibu.
With the move to a bigger and better venue, it can truly become a proper festival. The new venue has room to add a campground and has an 11 p.m. curfew, far later than the old 8 p.m. curfew.
Although the festival physically has grown, it still holds onto its roots. For the anniversary, they are bringing back all-stars such as Julian Marley. The founders are still entirely grateful that they can put on the show.
The festival can unify everyone of different ages, races, and backgrounds. On a beautiful sunny day in Malibu, it’s a great family outing. There is a place for children to run around while adults listen to the music. Children under the age of 10 are let in free.
On the day of, it’s important to speed things up, so make sure everything is together before arriving. Get prepaid parking, make sure festival tickets are easily available, and get there early because the parking will fill up. Coolers with non-alcoholic beverages are allowed inside.
In addition to the music, this is also a wellness festival. On Sunday morning, some well-known yoga instructors will be leading early morning yoga. There is also a sound bath, to help heal through sound.
A vendor village is included to promote a healthy lifestyle. The booths include CBD vendors and yoga studios.
Some tips they gave to live a healthy lifestyle include listen to yourself, exercise, and try to eat raw and healthy foods. But, how to lead a healthy lifestyle varies from person to person. So it’s up to you to listen to your body.
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Bobby Talamine
The latest House of Vans show was curated by mid-00’s electronica indie-rock band The Rapture. They featured performances by the bands Seedy Films and Tandem Jump with art by Rich Jacobs.
While guests were being checked in, those inside leisurely strolled around, the 21+ guests holding a cup of free Goose Island beer. They made their way over to the free shirt line, getting a green-orange ombre shirt that announced “The Rapture at the House of Vans.”
Some guests stayed inside, dancing to the tunes the DJ was playing. Others chose to go outside to get some fresh air, more beer, or to order from the food trucks parked. But, once the first act started, people started to filter inside.
Tandem Jump started out the night. Their music was very quirky, with comedic hints. One of their songs was an apology letter from the lead singer to her mother, apologizing for cheating on her with a different mom.
More people chose to stay inside after that set, dancing to the music playing.
Seedy Films followed Tandem Jump. The three women in the band alternated singing lead on their songs. The overarching genre was rock music, with notes of reggae mixed in.
After Seedy Film’s final song, everyone went back to dancing to the pre-show music coming from the loudspeakers.
Their music was loud and electronic and fun. The House of Vans was almost transformed into a dance club
From the first notes to the very end of their set, it was a non-stop dance party. Everyone was moving and dancing with each other.
One of the singers from Seedy Films and the singer from Tandem Jump sang backup, having fun the entire time.
They left the stage and the stage lights went out. Everyone was chanting for them to come back on stage.
They did come back on stage to play “How Deep Is Your Love.” After one last dance, they left the stage for good, leading the audience to filter out, grabbing posters off the walls as they left.
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Bobby Talamine
When the Anderson .Paak RSVP went live, it almost immediately sold out. Everyone wanted to see the Grammy Award-winning artist.
Showday the line outside the House of Vans wrapped around the building. Excited fans had been waiting for hours to get inside, ready for a jazzy night of rhythm, blues, and rap.
Sipping on free Goose Island or Canned Water, guests wandered around, enjoying the art by Dewey Saunders, who created the art for Paak’s “Malibu.” The art was made using mostly black, white, and yellow, save for one giant picture of Anderson .Paak that hung by the bar. The giant Anderson .Paak picture was black and white, with pops of bright color.
In addition to the art, guests could experience skateboarding down Santa Monica Pier via a VR headset, YouTube, and skateboards attached to the ground.
The art included a photo corner. Foliage covered walls held up a bright green sign that read “Yes Lawd!” in script. There sat a drum set, covered in stickers and leaves.
While people were still filtering in, Kadhja Bonet started. Her 1950s-esque soul vocals overpowered the chattering crowd. Her entire set was jazzy and full of soul, with classical elements.
As Bonet left the stage, the crowd started pushing forward. The Free Nationals, Anderson .Paak’s band, was up next.
Paak joined the Free Nationals onstage briefly, leading to lots of cheers. He wasn’t performing with their set, but was up there to announce them.
“This is my first time seeing them live without performing with them,” he announced.
The Free Nationals’ jazz set was very music heavy, light on the vocals. The members encouraged the crowd to start a pit. They started the dance party and were a preview of what was yet to come.
The crowd was very friendly, chatting with each other, dancing to the pre-show setlist. People were sharing their water so nobody had to lose their spot. Strangers were dancing with each other.
The security guards started to flash their lights at each other, leading the crowd to speculate what was going on. People were guessing that someone had thrown up, or passed out.
The smooth sound of Maurice Brown’s Intro on a trumpet came from the crowd, where the security guards flashed their lights. The trumpet player made his way to the stage and took his place. That was the Free Nationals’ cue to take the stage again, this time joined by Anderson .Paak.
Anderson .Paak claims to have the best teef in the game, according to his late spring/early summer 2019 tour title. It’s confirmed: he does. Up on stage behind his drum set, his teeth looked great.
Everyone started dancing as soon as the first song, “Heart Don’t Stand,” started. The dancing lasted through his entire 20 song set. From the very beginning to the very end, the energy was at a very high level.
Although he spent most of the set behind his drums, he got up a few times to showcase his dancing. He danced his heart out while he belted out “Come Down.”
He also came into the audience and walked around while performing. From the VIP lounge to the bar, he went everywhere. A quick shirt change later, he was back on stage.
The entire set, the dancing was edging on forming a pit. But during the song “Bubblin” one started. Everyone went wild, dancing as hard as they can.
His final song was a tribute to Mac Miller. They made the song “Dang!” together, which was on Miller’s album The Divine Feminine. Anderson .Paak announced that he could feel Mac’s presence and that he was in the air.
Maurice Brown Intro
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Bobby Talamine
There is no wrong time for a dark and gritty rock show, as Badflower rocked out our studio at 1:30 p.m. on a Monday afternoon.
(L-R): Bassist Alex Espiritu, Singer Josh Katz, Jerry, Drummer Anthony Sonnetti, Guitarist Joseph Marrow
Dedicated fans starting showing up early, trying to secure their place and to catch a glimpse of the band. The first fans showed up before 11:30 a.m, a whole two hours before the show.
Badflower dropped their first LP “Ok I’m Sick” only a few months ago, but had already built a strong and steadily growing following. Some fans called off work and drove 9 hours to come to this show.
The stage was lit up for a big show, not an intimate crowd. Lights made by Katz stood in the background, ready to flash green and blue.
“Thanks for waking up early. I know it’s the afternoon, but I’d usually still be in bed,” joked Katz after taking the stage a little after 1:30 p.m.
Their first song, Jester, had everyone singing along, and their next song, Die, had everyone screaming along. The crowd were screaming out the political lyrics with Katz, dancing to the heavy rock.
Their biggest song, Ghost, was performed last. People in the crowd were crying as they sang the raw and emotional lyrics. Like many of their songs off “Ok I’m Sick,” it deals with Katz’s struggles with anxiety and depression.
The band went into the green room, but the crowd still hung out by the stage. They wanted to catch the band exiting the green room. Some people had brought albums and other merch they wanted autographed.
Katz and Joey Marrow, the lead guitarist, headed into the lobby to have a meet and greet with the fans. While they ate the food they got before the show, they talked to everyone who came. They gave hugs and took pictures, they autographed albums and posters. Fans were able to mingle with each other and with Katz and Marrow.
They had to be dragged away from the lingering crowd to do the interview.
During their conversation with Jerry, fun tidbits were released about each song off the album. The oldest song on the album is Jester. It wasn’t written specifically for the album, but it had been performed before. So they decided to add it to the album.
The song “Die” is one that causes some of their fans to stop being into the band. They shot a live video of it from the Epicenter music festival in North Carolina.
“During the video you can watch people who liked our band just crumble,” Katz joked about the song’s strong message. It’s a song condemning the political state in the United States and the meat industry. Katz and bassist Alex Espiritu are both vegans, and, even though Marrow and drummer Anthony Sonetti aren’t vegan, all four members are very conscious of what they put in their body.
Katz said that they are the superheroes here to save America. Espiritu is the biggest superhero fan in the band. His favorite hero is Spiderman. “He has been borderline kicked out of the band” Katz joked about the fact Espiritu claims that Batman would destroy Superman in a fight.
They are also on the lookout for aliens. They live together in the desert, in California City. Although they haven’t spotted any UFOs yet, they have heard some sonic booms from the nearby Air Force base.
Owning a house in the desert helps them creatively. Katz is able to work and write songs in peace.
Katz likes to be very hands-on with all creative production work. He writes all of his songs, helped build the lights that were on stage, and mixes all of his music. He said he would be just fine wearing all black and doing tech work. Although he loves to perform, it’s his least favorite part of the job. Although, watching their live performance, that’s impossible to tell.
Words + Photography by Bobby Talamine
With a slight rain delay to start, and the only casualty from the delay being Dreezy's set, the last day of Pitchfork 2019 was underway.
Having said that, things ran smoothly after the rain delay, and it was a weekend that celebrated musical diversity without question. A communal event where the spirit of mixing it up with strangers, dancing in place, or chilling out on blankets to simply take in the relaxed vibe held sway.
Once considered the cutting edge of music festivals, Pitchfork has branched out with bookings over the past few years, courtesy of Pitchfork's talent buyer Mike Reed. Reed has been bringing a keen perspective to all of the bookings, and selecting artists and bands from all genres, and all age groups.
To start Day Three of Pitchfork, a French- Cuban duo Ibeyi. Comprised of twins Lisa- Kainde Diaz and Naomi Diaz, their set involved keyboards, samples with electronics, assorted percussion, and a mix of hip hop. With their shared vocals and genuine enthusiasm, Ibeyi had everything come off as captivating as it was silky smooth.
Up next: Clairo, who is a definite do-it-yourself success story. A nice crowd showed up for her afternoon set at 4:15, witnessing first hand her homemade and laid back music and overall vibe.
Khruangbin was next on the line-up. A psych (with a hint of surf music) trio hailing from Houston Texas, and between most of my photographer friends, Khuranggbin was a must see for Sunday. These guys are cool factor times ten, from their stage presence and fashion, right down to the instrumentals they create and play. With a mix of South American, via the Middle East by way of Southern California vibe throughout, Khruangbin was definitely one of the highlights from Day Three at Pitchfork.
Chicago band and JBTV alums Whitney, led by Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek were next to grace the stage with their captivating and subdued psychedelic folk sound. A pleasant and laid back set from beginning to end, adding to the overall vibe of Pitchfork this year and the definition of "Chill."
All of that did a complete 180 when Charli XCX hit the stage, which we'll get to in a moment.
Up next, a rare performance from Swedish artist Neneh Cherry. Challenging herself musically at every turn, even through ear monitor problems at the start, she recovered nicely to bring forth her eclectic style of "all over the map" electronica and pop.
The brash, take no prisoners, even when performing solo with no band and just background tracks, JBTV alum Charli XCX was next and flipped the chillness that Whitney left on his head. What a sexy / take no prisoners stage presence, Charlie XCX ups the ante in her performance every time she hits the stage and knows how to party while performing.
The audience, bopped up and down during her set from beginning to end, with relatable and catchy tunes that jam and mix easily from one to another.
This was a set that by definition is "Party," and F everything else.
Another Up there highlight from Pitchfork 2019.
To close out Day Three from Pitchfork was headliner Robyn.
Robin Miriam Carlsson has established herself as a top tier dance-pop performer and innovator. Lots of white backdrops and various, fabricated drapes shrouded her stage and instruments, with the emphasis on the color taupe.
We got the announcement that us photographers were allowed to shoot approximately 40 minutes or so into her set, which was a change from the last time she was in town a couple months ago at the Aragon. The costume change we were allowed to photograph had her in a costume (white of course), dressed like a matador, accompanied by her dancer, and sitting on a throne of a giant hand.
Robyn is fascinating to watch and perform live, ever so confident in her style and presence, with a voice that's silky smooth and polished.
Definitely a free spirit, with her set building in momentum, and becoming an outright dance party.
With that, we close out Pitchfork 2019. A weekend that had a splendid array of styles and diversity in all things music.
Words + Photography by Bobby Talamine
Day Two of the Pitchfork Music Festival, and it was all things hot, humid and sticky.
From the start of day Two: Welsh musician Cate Le Bon. You can tell Le Bon is a ringleader with a lot of style and class, not just in her presentation and fashion, but with music that pushes gently into uncharted territories. A perfect start to the day, and a round of applause to the bookers of Pitchfork, for bringing forth an eclectic music cast throughout the entire festival.
Next up: Parquet Courts. And right from the get go, with the song "Master of My Craft," things got unruly with bodysurfers, lots of pushing and shoving from the front of the stage, and genuine hooligan behavior that added to the caterwaul of discontent and release.
The band was in on the fight, especially with guitarist Austin Brown releasing unholy wails from his guitar, taking it off and pretending to bash his head with it and sliding the strings along his mic stand.
As their set continues, the storm clouds come rolling in, and then the announcement comes to evacuate Pitchfork. The evacuation and suspension of Pitchfork lasted about an hour and twenty minutes, making Kurt Vile's and Amber Mark's set both casualties of the lineup for Day Two.
After the brief thunderstorm delay, we're back in business with English - French ultra cool avant pop from Stereolab. You know things are going to be fine and dandy with an announcement from Laetitia Sadler, saying "Hope you enjoy our set of light French disco."
Although that seemed weak when announced, Stereolab's music is anything but meek.
Lounge instrumentals abound, Sadler added the flair of comfort and cool, and possessing unorthodox time signatures intact, even after all these years.
A definite highlight from all things Pitchfork.
Up next: The quirky fun of chamber pop / folk rock coolness from Belle and Sebastian, with Stuart Murdoch enlightening everything and upping the ante as their set went forth. What started off their set with slight restraint, ended up celebratory when Stuart hopped off the stage and partook in some late afternoon fun with the audience jogging down the main runway in front of the stage. Lots of handshaking and sing-alongs, then back to the stage to finish off their set.
Belle and Sebastian know how to write songs that are impressive and hard to pigeonhole, presented in such a way that to classify them is nearly impossible. Another terrific set from Day Two at Pitchfork.
Headliners The Isley Brothers were up next, with Ronald and Ernie Isley still intact and going strong. Lead Vocalist Ronnie Isley, debonair and playing the flamboyant sophisticate, and his younger brother Ernie on lead guitar, looking badass and oh so cool down to his bandanna.
Ripping from the start, with opener "Fight the Power," into "Who's That Lady," with Ernie's swaggering guitar intro still sounding so fresh and clean, into the sexy and slinky "Between the Sheets."
This was a night of celebration of all things R&B, straight up Rock n' Roll, heavy doses of soul, and a mix of Funk with Doo -Wop. You could tell they were having a grand old time, with backup dancers and sexy models providing the necessary bells and whistles depending on whatever song they were playing.
A downright party from beginning to end with The Isley Brothers, closing out Day Two from Pitchfork.
Words + Photography by Bobby Talamine
So begins another year of the Pitchfork Music Festival: The hot and sweaty and sticky version of Day One.
Lots of drinking of water, lots of shade between acts to get out of the uncomfortable sun and humidity.
First up: Standing on the Corner. Formed by Gio Escobar, Standing on the Corner is an improvisational group in the realm of free spirit jazz, for lack of a better term- kind of like a mellower version of Lester Bowie's Art Ensemble of Chicago, and their version of Avant- garde jazz. Not much of a live presence, more musically inclined, with Escobar giving direction at various times with the horn section into the rhythm section.
A decent start to today's festivities.
Chicago rapper Valee was next up on the lineup. Having witnessed his live performances a couple times before, he's the definition of "Mellow." Lots of weed smoking, pacing the stage from left to right slowly yet assuredly, and well- a sleepy set for a mid afternoon performance in the blazing sun.
Next up: Sky Ferreira. Plagued with audio ear problems from the start of her set, Ferreira truly never fully recovered from the audio inadequacies. Trouble hearing her band, pulling out the ear monitors, looking at the stage hands for help, replacing portable ear monitors, awkward pacing, blazing sun, cover tunes, such as Aimee Mann and Till Tuesday's "Voices Carry." She can surely capture a crowd with all the mistakes, and yet- there's mistakes.
Earl Sweatshirt graced the stage next with his brand of cool vibe, American quality rap. An exciting rapper who lays down sophisticated beats, simple in performance, but yet powerful.
Next up: Julia Holter, an LA- based singer- songwriter, who creates challenging and sophisticated albums worth a listen, and when performing live, the sound collages are guaranteed to make you listen intently and assuredly.
Pusha T came out next with his forceful nature of rap and hip hop. He’s the kind of guy you don't want to mess with, and a guy with lots to say. There's a sense of unease when he stalked the stage, and it's fascinating to watch. Pusha T had fun, but you can tell he has lots on his mind, and needs to get it out, like expelling demons.
Next up: Sophie Allison and her band Soccer Mommy. Definitely one of the highlights of my day at Pitchfork. She sights Mitski, Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne as some of her influences. But the opening instrumental of her set- I hear the Cure, and Jangly post punk. Definitely songs that are catchy, songs that are beyond the realm of the three influences mentioned.
All please hail and bow to Mavis Mavis Mavis. Mavis Staples was the standout set of the day, from beginning to end. A force of nature. A soul legend times ten. Oh so convincing, oh so brilliant with a voice from the heavens. From the mighty "Take us Back," to a cover of The Talking Heads' "Slippery People," up to the end of her set with "No Time for Crying," your in deep with soulful gospel, and a testimony to how gospel should be done righteous and with purpose and meaning.
Next up: The Minneapolis via Duluth trio Low, a band that challenges itself at every corner, every new release. The group still as unpredictable as ever. And before they played their first note, lead vocalist Alan Sparhawk wanted to know why everyone isn't over witnessing Mavis Staples perform live, saying that they don't compare, but they'll do their best to proceed. Alan said this not as a joke, but as a real head scratcher with everyone watching them play live instead of Mavis. Low proceeds brilliantly, and unrelenting.
And the headliner: Haim, in all their American pop band glory. visible on the giant LED screen behind the drum kit, live footage of their backs walking up the ramp to the stage, and the crowd going crazy nutty for their grand entrance. The three sisters- Este Haim on bass and vocals, Danielle Haim on guitar and vocals, and Alana Haim on guitars, keyboards and vocals, each came out one at a time to knock out some serious floor tom drumming, and then onto the hits. Captivating as they are, left to right on a shiny red lit stage, it was hard to navigate the pit to get decent shots of these three, with umpteen (and I mean plenty) of photographers filling up the entire pit. As decent as the girls are, not my cup of tea.
However- they do know how to put on a show.
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photography by Patrick Luhrs and Daniel Boczarski
It was a hot day, the Chicago summer in full swing. Standing in the heat was a huge line outside the House of Vans. Tonight’s event was sold out. This House of Vans House Party was curated by Taking Back Sunday, featuring Pronoun and Rozwell Kid.
Tattoo artist Brian Ewing created the art for this show. The artwork spread all over the walls had horror elements to it, with a pop art aesthetic.
Pronoun kicked things off. Alyse Vellturo, the indie/synth artist, is based in Brooklyn. She revealed that she was asked to be a part of this House of Vans show the last time she was in Chicago. Her first full-length LP, i’ll show you stronger, was released May 24, 2019.
Continuing the indie genre, Rozwell Kid came on next. This West Virginia band likes to incorporate comedy into their performances. Jordan Hudkins, the lead singer, started many call and responses with the audience. He asked if he should take his glasses off or leave them on and if he should wear his hat backwards or not.
The entire floor was packed. Everyone was ready for Taking Back Sunday. People were chattering over the music playing through the speakers, waiting.
It was time for the main event. Taking Back Sunday came on the stage.
A pit formed almost immediately. A group of men, who have been fans since the release of Tell All Your Friends in 2002, immediately occupied it.
Adam Lazzara gave a lot of anecdotes and fun facts about their history. Before the beginning of the band, he lived with guitarist John Nolan. They had a TV but didn’t have cable. They had the preview screen, so they could see the names of the programs. Lazzara, one night, decided that all songs on the first album would be named after program names he saw a preview for.
The track “Timberwolves at New Jersey” is actually named after the Minnesota basketball team, playing in New Jersey. But Lazzara did not know that. “Do I look like a sports guy?” he asked the audience. “I thought the people in New Jersey were getting attacked by Timberwolves!”
Their usual drummer, Mark O’Connell, was missing during the show. He was at home because his wife was expecting a child. She gave birth to a daughter on Saturday night.
He was replaced with Atom Williard of Against Me! Lazzara joked that “Laura Jane is never getting him back.”
The set ended with “MakeDamnSure” and “Cute Without The E.” The pit expanded from a concentrated circle in the middle to the entire floor in front of the stage. Everyone was going nuts, losing themselves.
People weren’t only losing themselves, but were losing glasses, phones, and bags. The rest of the audience was helpful, searching. Many of the lost items were returned broken or cracked after being accidentally trampled on.
The crowd chanted for one more song. But, as the last notes of “MakeDamnSure” rang out, the night was over. It was another great night at the House of Vans.
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photography by Bobby Talamine
The line outside of the House of Vans was long. Doors were at 7, but people had started to line up as early as 3. The BANKS show was sold out and everyone with a ticket wanted to secure their entry.
As people began to file inside, they spread out everywhere. Some went to get free Goose Island beer, some to the merch table, and some to look at the poetry. A few people made sure they were front and center for the show.
The poetry installment by Jillian Banks was an interest for most people. Her poems and drawings were printed on large sheets of crumpled paper, individually lit with colors that reflect the mood of the poem. The entire room was filled with low light and paper.
The merch table had an incredibly long line for the free “BANKS at the House of Vans” shirt that they were giving out. Next to the free shirt line was some merch for Samoht, one of the openers. They were giving out free fans because it was very hot inside.
Samoht was the very first opener for the evening. On stage, it was just him and his drummer. The microphone was hidden in a bouquet of flowers. The Brooklyn artist released his sophomore album, Exit, in June.
The second opener was billed as a surprise guest, so nobody knew who it was going to be.
BANKS’ friend, DJ Anna Lunoe, was the surprise guest. After playing a set of remixes, she began to perform songs off her album, Right Party.
The crowd was buzzing, waiting. BANKS was up next and nobody could wait. The entire space was filled. The energy in the air was electric.
Accompanied by two backup dancers, BANKS came on. They were backlit, dark figures against a bold red background. They had sharp movements, forming beautiful pictures with their bodies.
For most of the show, she was backlit. The band was hidden behind the bright lights, colored in bold hues of blue and green and red. It was a beautiful aesthetic.
For the songs that she did not have dancers on stage, she was also front-lit so the audience could see her.
She played a mix of songs from her old albums and a few newer ones. Her new album, III, came out July 12.
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Pictures by Bobby Talamine
Culture Abuse proved that there is no wrong time for a punk rock show. On a Thursday afternoon, their hard rock energy was brought. On their first day off in three weeks, Culture Abuse put on a show that was not on their official tour.
(L-R) Nick Bruder, David Kelling, Shane Plitt, June Bug, Anaiah Lee
The five piece group hails from California and have toured with names like Nothing and Green Day. The band is made of David Kelling on vocals, June Bug on guitar, Shane Plitt on bass, Anaiah Lee on drums, and Nick Bruder on guitar. Culture Abuse has a surf punk vibe and sound. The band formed in 2013 and recently had their 6 year anniversary of their first show.
A strong crowd came out to the show, including the bands that they have been touring with. Most of the crowd had bought tickets to their show at the Subterranean.
Kelling brought a film camera on stage and took a few pictures during the performance. He had been taking some around the studio and during set up and later took some during the interview.
They started off their set strong, with the titular track off of their latest album Bay Dream. The song is about being on the road and away from home. The crowd went nuts for it.
Their track list included a cover of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash.
Their final song, “Turn It Off” was off of their first album, which they were hesitant to do. They didn’t want to give any royalties to that company. But they decided that they’ll “give them the 25 cents and play it anyway.”
Kelling occasionally made some interjections between the songs. He talked about everything from how nervous they were to be filming a television show to their first record label.
They had a bad contract on their first label and were being taken advantage of. For the release of Bay Dream, they have switched labels and been able to prosper.
After the set they came out and mingled with the crowd who came. They were selling vinyls of Peach and Bay Dream and autographing them.
During the interview, Kelling revealed that “Bay Dream” was about leaving his mother who has a terminal illness while he’s on tour. He doesn’t know if he should sing the meaning or go with the music because it’s a very personal song.
They signed the first contract offered to them, which was not a good one. They got a tour offer and when they reached out for money to help get a tour van, they were told to “sell more records” by the company. It’s hard to be just about the music when there’s a business side to it as well.
Their set in Chicago was the next day, at the Subterranean. It was an entirely different environment than the intimate show the day before. The crowd starting filtering in for the first opener, Buggin Out.
Buggin Out is a Chicago-based hardcore band who joined Culture Abuse during their show at the Subterranean. Several members had their parents’ in the audience and the lead singer’s mom was filming the entire act on her phone.
DARE OC STRAIGHT EDGE is an LA-based hardcore band. Lee, who performs with Culture Abuse as their drummer, is in DARE.
Young Guv and Tony Molina were both great transitions to Culture Abuse. They are both surf rock bands. They brought the crowd down from the hardcore screamo music that Buggin Out and DARE brought, but kept the crowd hyped enough for Culture Abuse.
Around 11 p.m. Culture Abuse finally came on and immediately everyone began to lose their mind.
Because of the lack of barrier, people were going up on stage to throw themselves into the crowd to crowdsurf. Bodies were flying everywhere.
Kelling was sharing the use of the mic. He was throwing it up to the balcony, and having people who came up stage sing into it.
There was a never ending mosh pit. The audience were screaming all of the lyrics while throwing themselves around.
The crowd was super friendly and helpful throughout the chaos. One guy lost his glasses so people were looking on the ground for the glasses and the lens that had popped out. Both were unharmed.
At one point someone got thrown into Kelling, who has cerebral palsy. Both went down onstage and people immediately jumped up to help them both up and make sure they were both ok.
1. Bay Dream
2. So Busted
3. Be Kind To The Bugs
5. Calm E
6. Should I Stay Or Should I Go
7. Rats In The Walls
8. Turn It Off
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Bobby Talamine
Potty Mouth came back better than ever. Their first JBTV performance took place back in 2016 when they played at Lollapalooza. Since then, the power punk trio has gone on to play Riot Fest and to open for artists such as The Go-Go’s and JBTV alum Andrew W.K.
Potty Mouth consists of Abby Weems on guitar and vocals, Ally Einbender on bass, and Victoria Mandanas on drums. The three-piece band formed in Massachusetts out of a series of jam sessions. They were joined by their friend Ada Brumback.
L-R: Ada Brumback, Abby Weems, Jerry Bryant, Victoria Mandanas, Ally Einbender
Driving in from Ohio that day, they came straight to our studio. They were exhausted but put on an amazing show.
The show was intimate, but the stage was still electric with punk energy. The intimate feel allowed them to interact with the crowd.
After a little interaction with a fan about the name of their latest album, Snafu, they said that “Snafu backwards is U Fans” and they do it all for you, the fans.
All of their songs have straightforward lyrics. There’s no hiding what the intention was behind the song. Each song is one to bang your head and dance to.
“Smash Hit” was the opener song. It’s about the music industry only wanting hits and being about making money. It was a strong start to a strong set.
During the interview, they said that everyone hears something different in the guitar riff. People have gotten everything from a Creedence Clearwater Revival vibe to an All American Rejects feel from that riff.
The rock and roll energy filled the entire stage and audience, with everyone dancing and rocking out. Weems played her guitar behind her head and even got on the ground to jam.
“I Wanna” was a great song to end the set with. It was high energy and easy to sing and dance along to. Weems said that it’s like every Ramones song and that’s why they like it. It’s about going after what you want.
After the set, the members came out to mingle among the fans who came. They brought some merch, such as the usual array shirts and albums and CDs. A fun twist that they have is that their merch for sale includes a “Dog Song” pillowcase.
During the interview, Weems said she writes a majority of their songs. She compares songwriting to completing a puzzle. It’s therapeutic for her to write songs because she has had time to work it out and process everything that she’s writing about.
Although she writes a majority of their songs, she doesn’t write all of them alone. During a series of songwriting sessions, she got hooked up with Gina Shock of The Go-Go’s and they co-wrote “Fencewalker.”
Through that meetup, Potty Mouth was able to open for a few The Go-Go’s shows. Shock loves their band.
Potty Mouth would like for people to watch the music video for their song “Liar.” It’s their favorite one that they’ve done. It’s funny and features them as superheroes. They like the campy feel to it.
1. Smash Hit
3. Do It Again
4. Fence Walker
5. Dog Song
7. I Wanna
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Jordan Swanson
The third show in The House of Vans summer season was curated by Julien Baker, featuring performances from Macseal, Wye Oak, and herself headlining, with art by Ariel Wolfe Baldwin and Lauren Asta. This show was sold-out, so the venue was absolutely packed.
As people began to pile inside, those already inside sipped on their free Goose Island beer as they looked at the art installed. It was a mix of abstract art and pop art based on Baker’s songs. A few people braved the rain to buy food from the food truck outside, enjoying it under some tents set up.
Macseal started off the night. The pop punk band, who hails from Long Island, has a sound that’s ripped from 2006. They recorded an LP back in March and announced that it’ll be dropping soon, but didn’t give a date. Catch Macseal back in Chicago at the Subterranean on September 11th!
The second band was Wye Oak. The electronic indie pop-rock duo was founded in Baltimore in 2006. Their fifth album, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs was released in February 2018. Halfway through their amazing performance, they said that this was their first performance in 8 months. Amazingly, the band still sounded extremely tight.
The crowd was starting to get anxious while they waited. The suspense was building up for Julien’s performance. The 23 year old, who’s opened for artists such as Death Cab for Cutie and Paramore, just walked out and started to play.
She had great stage presence, a hush falling over the crowd as soon as she stepped on stage. The House of Vans, packed to capacity, had fallen silent.
She started playing her sad songs, occasionally stopping to take a sip of tea or to great the crowd. After receiving a lot of applause near the end of her set, she said “Thanks for clapping and physically showing your enthusiasm” which led to more clapping.
It was just her and her guitar for about half of the show. Baker swapped out her acoustic guitar on a few songs for a piano. She was not alone on stage for the entire time, though. She had a violinist join her for a few of her songs.
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
From the soggy confines of the Hollywood Casino Ampitheatre in Tinley Park, another edition of the annual 101WKQX PIQNIQ occurred on Saturday, June 15th. The day started with steady rain for all the acts appearing on the second stage, which forced me to miss The Strumbellas, The Glorious Sons, Shaed, and opener Friday Pilots Club.
With nowhere to stay covered for the opening acts, I didn't even attempt to go in the venue to start reviewing and shooting the show. Safe to say, soggy, wet consistent rain and expensive camera gear are not a good combination.
Although, I did venture to the second stage for the headliner Blue October, a cool alternative American rock band from Houston Texas. The band didn’t seem to mind the rain that was now a consistent drizzle, which at least made it tolerable to shoot something from the second stage. Blue October even seemed to enjoy the gloomy weather, playing with excitement and verve to make the performance that more special. Lead singer Justin Furstenfeld is a charismatic performer, and worked the sloppy and wet stage from left to right. not caring about the rain and chilly weather. A nice way to get the 101WKQX PIQNIQ off the ground for me.
By now we had the protection of the pavilion for the main acts, starting with AJR, a band made up of three brothers from Manhattan. The kids sure did like them, knowing the lyrics to every song, with their infectious mix of Indie Pop, a bit of white boy dubstep, and some doo wop. Which when all thrown into the kitchen sink, makes this photographer think of high school glee club, and this is the final assignment of the year.
Harsh as that sounds, the kids dug them (LOTS). Maybe I'm out of the loop or something. Nevertheless, they were quite the performers, and they made most of their 30 minute ish set.
Now we're back to business with heavy guitar and showmanship, with Tom Morello starting his set unannounced from the GA floor pit, enticing the crowd with his riffs of heavy metal / punk hybrid- inspired sounds. Morello relished in his verve for political activism, brandished with his trusty guitar that stated "Arm the Homeless," and wearing a hat that states "MADIBA"- referring to Nelson Mandela.
Outside of Morello's obviously renowned guitar playing, his way of enticing audiences to reach out, rise up, and not take crap from anyone never gets old. An all too brief set, clocking in under 45 minutes, with a surprise appearance from Tim Mcllrath of Rise Against handling some of the vocal duties for the Rage and Audioslave songs. Midway through the set, Morello did his rendition of Springsteen's "Ghost of Tom Joad," making the song more relevant, and downright gloomier than Sprinsgsteen's version. To start the show with audience accompaniment, and end with audience accompaniment from the stage, it just goes to show Tom Morello is a man of the people.
Up next, Catfish and the Bottlemen from Wales, who the day before played at Bonnaroo, and made it in time for PIQNIQ.
They were full on from the first note, with a neon sign all vertical and lit up right behind the boys, a design from their recent album release The Balance, with lead vocalist/ guitarist Van McCann wailing away from the get go, swinging his microphone with stand all over the place, a sweaty mess even after the first song. The boys of Catfish were unrelenting from then on, all downhill song after song, showing once again how badass these guys are, and how cool to say that we at JBTV had them play on our intimate stage back in the day.
A band that's unmistakable in sound and fury and might, and oh so convincing.
The mellower (but still cool) vibes of Irvine California's Young the Giant were next onstage. The crowd at PIQNIQ totally dug their music and moved to the beats provided from these dudes. All over the venue I looked and everyone was dancing and swaying in their seats to Young the Giant, with Sameer Gadhia providing the necessary lead vocals and stage presence needed to elevate and captivate the masses. Young the Giant- a band that commands your attention, commands you to listen. This adage was apparent by the performance the band gave at PIQNIQ.
Now on to the headliner. From Denver Colorado, The Lumineers were dressed like they were right out of a tavern from 1867, with the only thing missing from the set was tumbleweeds.
A very popular band, with a mix of folk rock and Americana that's hard to ignore. Wesley Schultz lead the way with upper register vocals, the occasional foot stomp, and big bodied guitar sounds intact.
Jeremiah Fraites provided the steady backbeat, Lauren Jacobson the violin, Byron Isaacs the vintage/cool bass, and Brandon Miller the guitar/ Mandolin and some percussion. This band truly lives in a bevy of influences that defy their age, and make music that is cinematic in scope, with a soulfulness that comes off sincere and definitely not fake by any measure.
So all n' all, a nice cross section of past and current indie/alternative music to spend a Saturday in Tinley Park.
Until PIQNIQ 2020....
Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Patrick Luhrs
The 2019 season of the House of Vans House Parties continued to go strong with their second show on June 15th. This show was curated by The Breeders, with Divino Niño and Palehound opening and an art installation by Chris Bigg.
Upon first viewing, the House of Vans appeared charmingly small. A beautiful concert space, but nothe most optimal for max-capacity crowds. Eventually, the place was packed with people, thus proving me wrong. As more people filtered in, the show’s aura and energy became undeniable. We were in for a great show.
Before the show and in-between sets, the audience enjoyed their free Goose Island while wandering around, admiring the curated art. Some lounged in bean bag chairs, some were at the merch table picking up their free House of Vans shirt. The art, covering the brick walls, was based on different album covers by The Breeders.
Chicago-based Divino Niño went on first. Their 60’s surf-rock vibe make for a warm, nostalgic sound that many can enjoy. Their new album “Foam” is out June 21st. Catch them at The Empty Bottle on June 21st and their return to Chicago November 6th to perform at Thalia Hall.
Next up was the Boston band Palehound. This indie group has already built quite a resume from performing with artists like Courtney Barnett. This is all super impressive considering the band’s lead singer Ellen Kempner just turned 25. Palehound recently released their third album “Black Friday.” They’ll be back in Chicago on October 18th at The Metro.
Finally, The Breeders came on. Almost 30 years after their debut album, they still commanded the stage with a dominant energy. The crowd, both young and old, was engaged from the get-go. Whether they were fans since the release of “Pod” in 1990 or people who had just recently stumbled upon the group, there was a palpable excitement amongst the crowd. A woman next to me told me that she had to get her husband to hold her beer and purse so she could come into the pit like she did when she first saw the Breeders in the ‘90s. Her enthusiasm certainly was appreciated by many.
The Breeder’s brand of indie grunge made for quite a diverse show. With a few high energy songs opening up pits, there was a slower song thrown in every once in a while to give the pit a break.
With the setlist including both old and new songs, like “I Just Wanna Get Along” and “Nervous Mary,” all fans felt involved. A native to Ohio, Kim Deal even gave a shout out to all of the Ohioans who came to Chicago for the show, and there were a lot of them.
The show set a very high standard for the rest of the House Party season. But with artists such as Taking Back Sunday and Anderson. Paak, it should be a great season.
The Breeders Set List
Wait In The Car
I Just Wanna Get Along
Driving On 9
40 Years of Machine Gun Etiquette: The Damned Live At House of Blues Chicago With X and The Detroit Cobras
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
When Punk was truly PUNK, The Damned formed in 1976.
Fast forward to now, the band is currently on a tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of their third album Machine Gun Etiquette, which brought The Damned to House of Blues Chicago on Thursday, May 30th.
Still as debonair and renegade cool as he was back then, lead singer Dave Vanian showed he still has that dangerous, sonic baritone at age 62. Softening Vanian’s dangerous vocals were lead guitarist Captain Sensible’s goofy and light hearted stage antics and keyboardist Monty Oxymoron’s eccentric looks and otherworldly hair. Finishing off the lineup with Pinch on drums and Paul Gray on bass, The Damned are still relentless in approach and might. Pushing forth with the terrific songs from Machine Gun Etiquette, and then onto other Damned nuggets such as "Liar,” "So Messed Up," and of course the iconic "Street of Dreams." Man, what a show.
For opener X, an awesome band from Los Angeles, celebrated over four decades of quintessential L.A punk with their performance. John Doe, Exene Cervenka, D.J. Bonebrake on drums, and rockabilly veteran Billy Zoom on guitar firing off riff and riff like he's channeling Chet Atkins and Eddie Cochran all rolled up into one-- left the audience in complete, splendid awe.
And with Billy Zoom coming off his stool for a bit on baritone sax, and some vibraphone added in to close their set, it left the audience wondering- what the hell just happened? Can we all just take a breath and rewind the tape for a minute?
Confounding and awesome confusion prevails, because the experiment and intuitive improvisation works- on many levels. The X are it man, making for a double whopper of music along with The Damned. X is always a blast, like last summer for Riot Fest Chicago, John Doe and Exene Cervenka gave one of the best interviewers JBTV did for the festival. They never ever disappoint.
As for the other openers The Detroit Cobras, let's just say things get outta hand quickly. From the first couple of notes onstage, lead singer Rachel Nagy literally tumbled right into me. Laughing out loud, kinda embarrassed and smiling, she proceeded to sing the first song lying down on the stage.
Nagy is something else. All party and not much stage banter talk. She apologized for the fall from the drum riser, and blamed the fall on her high heel boots. Which she took off, socks included, and proceeded the rest of the set barefoot. With other original player Mary Ramirez on all things rockabilly guitar, they more than made up for all the miscues.
After all, it's rock n' roll baby.
They grow up so fast. Riot Fest turns 15 this year. To think, they've had teenage angst since they were pre-teens. We all knew it could get wild when they really blossomed into full high school angst but for f**k's sake, look at that lineup! If you're one of those people that really needs to see the line-up before you go to Riot Fest, this should be all you need to put your mind at rest and your money on the table. We're not even saying that because our logo is on the poster, we really mean it!
Blink-182 is making good on their promise to play Riot Fest this year after needing to cancel last year due to health reasons. Slayer is closing out their Chicago & Milwaukee performance days at Douglas Park. Jack White will be there with The Raconteurs, Rise Against will return for the first time since playing the inaugural outdoor fest, oh, and BIKINI KILL! Need we say more. (The full line up is below, gawk for yourself!)
Full Album Performances
As Riot Fest as a reunion, the full album performance is a staple of this festival. Our good friend Wayne Coin and The Flaming Lips will be playing Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot in its entirety. Against Me! is doing a double wammy with Reinventing Axl Rose and Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Avail will be playing Over The James, Bloc Party, in celebration of it's 15th birthday, will be playing Silent Alarm. Dashboard Confessional playing The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most, Glassjaw with Worship and Tribute, The Selecter shredding Too Much Pressure. Senses Fail will also be doing a double feature including From the Depths of Dreams and Let It Enfold You as well as Taking Back Sunday with Tell All Your Friends and Louder Now. Oh, and Ween is playing The Mollusk in full, so thats something.
PLEASE STOP READING, WE'RE SUPPOSE TO BE AN ILLITERATE NATION, JUST CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS TO RIOT FEST 2019
WHAT: Riot Fest's 15th Birthday Party
WHERE: Douglas Park — Chicago Illinois
WHEN: September 13th - 15th
WHY: Because it would finally make your parents proud
HOW: Buy a ticket by clicking here
WHO: All of these fine folks
WHAT THE HELL? WHY HAVEN'T YOU BOUGHT TICKETS YET?!?!?!?!? WHATS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?!?!?!?! I'M NOT SURE YOU EVEN CAN MAKE YOUR PARENTS PROUD AT THIS POINT! BUT YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO TRY ANYWAYS, THEY'D PROBABLY APPRECIATE SOME EFFORT
MORE TO RIOT ABOUT
We've been round the block a few times, if you want to see some of our past Riot experiences, click here. We have some cool interviews, pretty pictures, vulgarity — a good time all around.
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
Even with an early downpour of lightning and thunder, day two of Chicago Open Air had all the bands perform. No cancellations.
Alien Weaponry was the first up to perform. Their drummer started the show with a Maori War Dance and chant from behind the drum kit and displayed a tribe's pride--showing the unity and strength within this band. For such young dudes, they have presence times ten.With some of their songs spoken in their Maori language from Waipu New Zealand, it was a short and riveting set.
The Black Dahlia Murder were next up, and presented great guitar playing from Brandon Ellis and Brian Eschbach. Although in regards to vocalist Trevor Stmad, things fell flat. Almost like a phoned-in set from these guys.
Wicked as wicked comes was Fever 333’s set. Definitely one of the highlights of the day, with all three band members going apeshit at any given moment. Unpredictable to the core, making the most of their 35 minute - ish set, with vocalist Jason Aalon Butler worked his way into the crowd, and on top of the roof of the two story building stage left to belt out the last song. Drummer Aric Improta did lots more than drumming by jumping around and standing on top of his kit to get the crowd riled up (as if it's even necessary). Guitarist Stephen Harrison also worked his way into the crowd playing guitar in the middle of a heavy mosh pit. Fever 333. Crazy. Nutty. Awesome.
The next band on the lineup was In this Moment. In This Moment’s set was like a scene from Spinal Tap. It took what seemed like forever for the roadies to adjust and tweak the stage props, fog machines, and whatnot. And for what? To open the set with a David Coverdale / Whitesnake tune, followed by a hallowed occult instrumental to actual band--equals awkward. And for what?
Lead singer of In This Moment, Maria Brink, has the vocal chops, but with the stage cluttered with too many distracting props, it was hard for her to maintain the audience’s attention. Even for a brief 40 minutes.
Onto the mighty Gojira, lead by brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier. The Duplantier brothers--who hail from Bayonne, France--brought the fierceness like Meshuggah did on day one. Gojira was relentless from beginning to end with a vertical pyro...I mean jesus! No skimping with these guys. Gojira: caffeinated times ten.
Then comes The Cult, lead by Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy with accompaniment by drummer John Tempesta, which was cool. But talk about falling flat...what a bummer. Yeah, the music's still there, sort of. Hard to screw up and sink the ship with Billy Duffy, that's for sure. What was irritating during the show was mid performance, Astbury expressed trepidation with Chicago fans by explaining the lack of community and brotherhood he felt from Chicago to a rather tepid audience. With the lukewarm enthusiasm from said band, which for all intents and purposes- is flat with a capital "F.” News flash to Ian Astbury, don't piss off Chicago. Come to play, and do your damnest to try to sing upper register if at all possible please.
Now all things TOOL. Sophisticated with a simple and striking production, aided by vivid vertical LED backdrops, and solid musicianship still intact. Danny Carey came out in his trusty Kansas basketball jersey to the drumkit, followed by Justin Chancellor in a fine vest and long sleeve shirt, looking clean cut, but played as wicked and as heavy as ever. Hermit looking Adam Jones came onto the stage, hoodie up, all eyes down to guitar pedals and ready to go. Maynard James Keenan was the last one to get onstage, costumed up from head to toe in a wicked leather jacket emblazoned on the front with some alien ish cartoon, a red and black checkered tight fitting pants, sporting a shaved head mohawk of mohawks, and wicked joker makeup that gives you the feeling of dark and sinister. Keenan’s get up screamed “don't fuck with me.”
I'm exhausted in writing that, without even getting to the music of TOOL, opening with "Aenema" and "Learn to Swim" in refrain over and over and over. I'm in full bore, with Tool heading directly into "The Pot," followed by "Parabola" and "Descending"--a new song Tool has added to their setlist--along with one other new song "Invincible," which is appropriately titled.
Again - utter exhaustion from this lengthy edit for JBTV Music Television, but nevertheless...TOOL rules.
A splendid day of assorted metal, with a few hiccups, but still - oh- so- cool.
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
Thunderstorms, high winds, and lightning win the first couple hours of Chicago Open Air Day One, delaying the opening time from 2:30pm until approximately 4:30 pm, and delaying fans from entering Seatgeek Stadium to start the show.
The first three opening acts got knocked off the bill: Code Orange, Knocked Loose, and Vein. Leaving four remaining once the storms cleared: System of a Down, Ghost, Meshuggah, and Beartooth.
System of a Down were the usual volatile and relentless self. A long set with plenty of piss and vinegar, and the crowd eating it up and wanting more. Unfortunately there were no photos for this performance, just the quick review, and the fact that System of a Down, even though playing just a few festival dates, still brandish a mighty wallop.
Before System of a Down: Cardinal Copia and the Ghouls of Ghost. This version of Ghost front and center- showmanship. Lots and lots of showmanship, a stage dressed up with steps like a mantel to a cathedral. Heavy on backlit murals that looked like stained glass windows of sophisticated dark imagery. Musically, these guys are spot on with Cardinal Copia who lashed out vigorously from the first song "Rats" by hanging on to the last vowels with the "T" to no end, sending chills down your spine. Cardinal Copia worked the stage left and right, preaching to the masses all things dark and sinister. And so it goes with the said showmanship, with all the Ghouls making their mark with heavy guitars and drums and bass and keyboards. Nasty and oh so polished - that's Ghost.
How about Meshuggah and their version of extreme and mathematical metal? Still as fiendish and unrelenting as ever. No one comes close in the onslaught of all things Meshuggah, with Tomas Haake heavy on the backbeat and percussion, one song blasting into the next, with Jens Kidman front and center with the howl of deep throated vocals, and never losing his range or his might in song after song. The mindbending guitars of Marten Hagstrom and Fredrik Thordendal, still wildly inventive and tight as ever. Vicious- these two, both in improvisation, and physical might of said song, with Dick Lovgren holding down the fort in all things low end and complicated bass.
Openers Beartooth provide wicked party time, with the rain soaked crowd in attendance bursting forth with mosh pits after mosh pits.
As for the four bands on Day One of Chicago Open Air: It is what it is.
That said- you can never go wrong with Meshuggah and Ghost.
Might mighty fine players, these dudes.
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
The 1975 have come a long way since appearing at JBTV Music Television in the summer of 2014, and that was made clear during their headlining performance at the United Center in Chicago on Wednesday, May 8th with openers No Rome and fellow JBTV alum Pale Waves.
London-based musician No Rome started the show with a performance that radiated chill and laid back vibes; while Pale Waves gave a live performance that bursted with confidence that matched their Goth/Rock/Pop vibe. With Heather Baron-Gracie fronting the band, Hugo Silvani on guitar, Charlie Wood on bass, and Ciara Doran on drums, it was great to see Pale Waves have a stage and audience size that matched their talent.
Shortly after Pale Waves’ set, The 1975 graced the stage and gave the audience a multi-sensory, visual experience. Bold and vivid colors washed across the massive backdrop of LED screens behind the band as the first notes of "Give Yourself a Try" from their most recent release, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, started to take shape.
Theatrics and sophisticated visuals can fall flat if the musicianship is not there, and that is far from the case with The 1975. Each band member plays multiple instruments with Adam Hann on lead guitar, keyboards and synths, Ross MacDonald on bass, keyboards and synths, and George Daniel rounding it off with drums and percussion.
Bathed in mostly magenta and light purple hues, The 1975 frontman Matt Healy worked the front of the stage with awkward delight, donning a fine two piece suit with black sneakers. Healy contorted his body with his tongue hanging out throughout the set, as if in on the joke of the definition of what "rock n' roll star" means in this day and age. The young teenage girls packed at the front gate ate it up, knowing the lyrics to every song, and dancing in wide eyed delight. Matt Healy worked the crowd like a true frontman, even taking moments to say how the band and him loved Chicago. Healy professed his love for Chicago by sharing a story on how he experienced the worst hangover on record right here in Chicago, with all the pain that ensues in trying to recover from an epic night out.
Hangover-riddled anecdotes aside, Healy’s already commanding stage presence was supplemented by the stage configuration and the crafty, back up dancers Taitlyn and Kaylee Jaiy--known professionally as the Jaiy twins. The front lip of the stage had a slow, moving walkway that added showmanship and emotion to every song that was aided by the dance moves of the Jaiy twins. With the multi-talented band members, the cheeky antics of Matt Healy, the dynamic nature of the stage, and the Jaiy twins’ skilled choreography; The 1975 gave the United Center a show that demanded the audience’s full, undivided attention.
See The 1975 perform live on their current North American Tour and buy their latest album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships!
It’s been a bit since the famed Midwestern indie rock band, Hippo Campus stopped by the JBTV Studio for a performance. To be exact, the last time they came was in 2015 and at the time they only had two EPs out. Now, in 2019 when I had the chance to see them live in concert for the second time, they’ve grown, matured, and ultimately found their sound as a band and have two ALBUMS out into the world. To say that they’ve come a long way would be a gross understatement.
It’s been such a pleasure to watch this band grow up, and I feel as though I’ve grown up with them. At the time when I first discovered their perky, upbeat, and infectious Bashful Creatures EP in 2015, I instantly felt electrified. I didn’t realize music could be so fun yet so meaningful until I found Hippo Campus. But even as members Jake Luppen (lead vocals and guitar), Zach Sutton (bass and keys), Nathan Stocker (guitar), Whistler Allen (drums), and DeCarlo Jackson (trumpet) matured, so did their music. In 2016, the now-five piece band dropped their debut album Landmark, which went on to receive massive amounts of praise. The album was placed on album of the year lists as well as many ‘bands you need to keep on your radar’ lists. Though this was just the beginning of Hippo Campus’ accolades.
Right when it seemed as though they were being fit into a cookie-cutter classic indie-rock sound, the band did a 180 on listeners and critics with the release of their 2018 effort Bambi. This album proved to be experimental and polar opposite of what they seemed to have perfected on Landmark. Though true fans stuck with the band and traded in their Doc Martens and Pavement records for pink-tinged outfits matching the album’s aesthetic, others weren’t as keen and were more so confused as to what the band was trying to hone in on (myself included). However, after multiple listens and witnessing Hippo Campus perform these new songs live on The Bambi Tour, I can attest to the fact that this album and era is truly coming-of-age and is brilliantly done.
On April 26th, and after many months of anxiously (no pun intended here) waiting, I ventured back up to Madison, WI to see Hippo Campus play my favorite venue, The Sylvee. It just seems as though I’ve been so inspired by these said ‘Wisconsin pines’ that the band sings about in their song “Way It Goes”, that I’m always caught going out of my way to see them in Wisconsin. It’s an odd coincidence, but I thought I’d bring that to your attention, reader.
First up for the night was indie-pop songstress, Samia. In the weeks leading up to the show, I was eager to witness this promising young singer grace the stage. After hearing praise for her on her recent tour with the fabulous Donna Missal, my hopes were rather high. As the lights dimmed and Samia’s band ran on stage, her lead guitarist opened with a revving riff of Heart’s “Barracuda” and Samia immediately bounced out and the crowd was instantly hooked on her and her band’s positive energy. After playing a mix of sad songs and upbeat ones and closing her set with a powerful, full cover of “Barracuda”, the crowd was left breathless and excited for Hippo Campus’ performance.
At 9:45 sharp, one-by-one the members of Hippo Campus waltzed onto the stage to play to a sold-out crowd filled with long-time fans, new listeners, natives of Madison, along with a ton of dedicated Minnesotan fans traveling solely to see their favorite band live. Instantly, they burst into the catchy and synth-heavy title track from Bambi. From there they quickly transitioned into the warm “Golden” and the iconic “Way It Goes”. Looking back at the crowd, each person was off their feet - either jumping or dancing. Regardless, everyone in attendance was having a fantastic time, even three songs in.
Soon enough, the band surprised the crowd by completely switching up their setlist from the few nights prior by sprinkling in the catchy “Baseball”, my favorite song of theirs “Vines”, the more somber “Monsoon”, and one of the lead singles off of Bambi, “Doubt”. They also played my favorite deep cut from the new album, “Honestly”, a summery jam with prevalent guitars and a quirky “I suck, I suck, I suck” from Jake at the beginning of the song. Then midway through their set, Hippo Campus whipped out the crowd-favorite “South” which had everyone screaming a the top of their lungs “you go down south, south” on an endless loop before the song commenced. And soon after, they instantaneously transitioned into “Simple Season” a cute little song (another one of my favorites of their’s) that’s been absent from their live shows for a while.
For the duration of their set, their lighting was spectacular and romantic as warm ambers, cool purples, and bright pinks all glowed during their captivating performance. Between the phenomenal music and stage presence from Hippo Campus that was the main draw of the night, the soft lights were a nice accompaniment.
After leaving Madison with a smile plastered to my face and new songs I hadn’t delved into prior playing in the back of my head, I was pleased with my evening with Hippo Campus. If you get a chance, go out to a date of The Bambi Tour!
Words + Photos by Ava Butera
House Of Vans Hosts Show Honoring Wax Trax! Records With Film Screening And Performances By Cold Cave & Ministry
On Saturday April 13th, the city of Chicago had quite the special Record Store Day thanks to the House of Vans hosting a documentary film screening of Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records. The screening not only had a panel discussion and Q&A after the film, but a live music performances by opening act Cold Cave and headliner Ministry.
For those not necessarily in the know, Julia Nash, daughter of the founder of Wax Trax! Records Jim Nash, along with her husband Mark Skilicorn, produced and directed this mighty fine documentary. The documentary is a beautiful and insightful record of Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher, founders/owners of Wax Trax! Records, and the story behind the iconic label and record store.
How special is it for the city of Chicago, to have these two wisecracking pioneers relocate from Denver to Lincoln Park, and single handedly create and become the forward thinkers to releasing records devoted to a new genre of music: "Industrial" or better yet- "Industrial Swing," or better still- "Wicked Industrial Disco"-- as I like to call it.
Wax Trax! Records’ fourth release was from Front 242, a band that had a profound influence on Industrial Music, or what they liked to call "Electronic Body Music."
For a period of about 15 years after the 242 release, Wax Trax! would sell over a million records by Ministry, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Revolting Cocks, KMFDM, and 1000 Homo DJ's, just to name a few.
Yes, there's sadness to this story- the demise of the record label, let alone the record store from Lincoln Avenue, and its inevitable end at Damen in Wicker Park.
We’re not here to dwell on that, as this night is a celebration of Wax Trax!’s influence to music. To have the bands, the players behind the scenes, and the devoted fans reconvene at House of Vans on Record Store Day for a film screening and show honoring the store and label, it is clear that Wax Trax! Records does not need a formal address. For it lives on, and will continue to live on, through the people it impacted.
Ministry, fronted by the mighty Al Jourgenson, headlined the Record Store Day event at House of Vans.
At soundcheck, it was hard to make heads or tails on what to expect setlist wise. Outside of Chris Connelly working out vocal duties alongside Al, not much time was given to early Ministry/Wax Trax! releases.
What inevitably transpired during the performance was a set heavily devoted to early Ministry and it's side projects. Ministry’s set included "The Land of Rape and Honey," "The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste," and "Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs." Their set was also peppered with songs from the Revolting Cocks and 1000 Homo DJ's. The four songs with Chris Connelly adding vocals, elevated the performance to a whole other level. Towards the end of an acoustic version of "Everyday is Halloween," the audience devotedly sang along with the refrain and the chorus.
Openers Cold Cave, even with some projector problems and a short set, did not disappoint.
Wesley Eisold and Amy Lee have such solid musicianship performing live that the songs truly speak for themselves with a blast furnace swing and might throughout.
An incredible band, that is Cold Cave.
Relentless in scope and might, and considering the tidy and cozy confines of House of Vans, that is saying something. A truly trailblazing show from beginning to end. This was the best I've heard full on Ministry in years.
This show from Ministry still resonates in my head days after, and trying to comprehend what I just witnessed leaves me drained, in a good way.
A most splendid time all around.
As for Wax Trax!, the brand, the documentary, Julia Nash and Mark Skilicorn...we have no problem singing their praises time and time again.
The label lives on, and the devoted fans show no letup in the love and support that is righteously reciprocated at any and all events.
What a magical evening from beginning to end.
1. The Missing
4. Jesus built My Hotrod
5. Just One Fix
8. Burning Inside (with Chris Connelly)
9. So What (with Chris Connelly)
10. No Devotion (Revolting Cocks cover with Chris Connelly)
11. Supernaut (1000 Homo DJ's cover from original song from Black Sabbath)
12. The Land of Rape and Honey
13. Every Day is Halloween (Acoustic version with Chris Connelly)
Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
On a chilly and calm Spring night, I made the trek up to Madison, WI to witness one of the best tours of the 2010’s -- including co-headliners Pixies and Weezer. Last summer, I had the chance to see this astonishing lineup in my hometown of South Florida. That show last June left me awestruck by both bands’ stage presence, live show, and ever-changing setlist. On March 31st, I got to relive that experience I so dearly cherished.
The first band to take the stage was British punk-rock newcomers, and recent signees to Fueled by Ramen, Basement. Though I could sense that the majority of the crowd had never heard of the band prior, Basement didn’t let the unfamiliar crowd affect their performance. They went on to hype up the crowd through their energetic set, filled with amped-up tracks. Lead vocalist, Andrew Fisher was constantly jumping around the stage, as though he was playing to a sold-out crowd of his ‘own’. The band’s positive energy was infectious and by the end of their set, the entire 10,000 seat arena was on their feet dancing along to the last few songs of Basement’s set. It can be said that Basement’s sound is a bit different from that of their tourmates, however it was refreshing to witness the band win over these Pixies and Weezer fans.
Next up was JBTV alumni, Pixies. It’s even cool to write that! One of the most influential alternative rock bands in all of music played the very stage that I walk by at work. I, personally, have always been a huge fan of Pixies. When I first began to immerse myself into different-sounding music (meaning not the typical Top 40 Hits), I soon enough stumbled upon this band. Between the band’s lyrical content, lead singer Black Francis’ unconventional singing style, and just their aura of coolness, I was instantly hooked. As a long-time fan, I definitely was not let down by the band’s diverse setlist. Incorporating tracks spanning their entire musical career, I got my fill of Pixies for the night!
The band started strong by opening with “Bone Machine”, from the fantastic sophomore release Surfer Rosa and quickly transitioned into “Gouge Away” and “No. 13 Baby” from the critically-acclaimed album Doolittle. They then continued on to include the melodic “Caribou”, the infectious “Here Comes Your Man”, and of course their undeniably most well-known song “Where Is My Mind?”.
Throughout Pixies setlist, they gave fans a treat by playing a handful of new, unreleased material, which I assume will be off of their upcoming September 2019 album. Toward the end of their set, they went on the play fan-favorites such as “U-Mass” (my favorite Pixies song), “Isla de Encanta”, “Wave of Mutilation,” and “Vamos”. Between their captivating light show and captivating live performance, once the band left the stage, the crowd was left speechless.
Finally, the third band of the night, Weezer took the stage shortly after Pixies. But before they officially took the stage, they performance a barbershop quartet version of the silly, yet infectious song “Pork and Beans”, off of the acclaimed Red Album. Soon after, they rushed to the stage, the curtain dropped, and Weezer powerfully blasting into “Buddy Holly” and by this point everyone in the crowd had a smile plastered onto their faces. Weezer is fun and humorous band, and their silly side is often conveyed to the crowd through the band’s antics and live shows. And of course shortly after, lead singer Rivers Cuomo exclaimed “Let’s take it back to Africa!” as the band covered Toto’s “Africa”, which had the crowd singing along, while also laughing at the same time. The band debuted “Tired of Sex” from cult-favorite El Scorcho to their setlist, while also playing well-known classic like “Undone”, “Island In the Sun” , “Beverly Hills”, and “My Name is Jonas”. Weezer also chose to play a wide variety of covers from their recent cover album, The Teal Album. Throughout the night they scattered songs like “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears, “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, and “No Scrubs” by TLC to name a few.
By the end of the show and after Weezer played their encore, including “El Scorcho”, “Surf Wax America”, and “Say It Ain’t So”, the entire crowd was still beaming and dancing from witnessing three incredible bands. Last night’s show was definitely a memorable one and I recommend you check this co-headliner tour out!!
Check out more photos below!
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