ANCHR Magazine

Holding you down with the best new music

Live Recap: Benefit Show for Our Music, My Body at Sleeping Village 11.27.18

Photos by Maggie McInerney

Whenever I find myself at a music festival or a bar where bands are playing, I will have my friend by my side one moment…and the next moment a man will have wedged his way in between the two of us. The combination of an eye roll, slight shove, and “um excuse me” will typically result in the reuniting of my friend and I. Giggling but scared and holding onto each other’s arms a little tighter than before, this scenario is all too familiar. These uncomfortable interactions may vary in extremity from one scenario to the next; It can range from a guy dancing too close, to verbal harassment, or even groping, and so on and so forth. It is unfortunate but true when I write that this behavior is almost a given at concerts; expected each and every time in some capacity. Music is a communal experience; a space for friends to come together; to share and bask in the straight up magic of a live event, and for that magic to truly exist, the said space needs to be a safe space. A space where women don’t have to worry about harassment at the bar or on the dance floor. A space where I can dance under a disco ball with my girlfriends and not feel the stinging pain of the male gaze moving it’s way up and down my body; examining my every move. This harassment extends far past my own experience and has tainted or even completely soiled some music fans’ love of experiencing their favorite tunes live.

 The Edwards by Maggie McInerney

The Edwards by Maggie McInerney

With that said, I was ecstatic when I learned that ANCHR would be hosting a benefit concert for Our Music, My Body at Sleeping Village, which took place last week on November 27th. If you don’t already know, Our Music, My Body is a non-profit organization that sets out to create and promote “fun and consensual music experiences for all,” as a collaboration between Resilience (formerly RVA) and Between Friends. Sexual harassment in the music scene is ever so present and can get to the point that attending a concert or music festival is dangerous specifically for, but not limited to women, males in the LGBTQ+ community, and music fans who identify as transgender. Walking into Sleeping Village for this event, I was overcome with hugs and greetings from friends all across the music scene. The sense of community at this event pulsed throughout the venue, and I was thrilled to see so many people out supporting such an important cause. This incredible welcoming energy extended to all points of Sleeping Village—from the dance floor, to behind the bar, and to the musicians on stage. I didn’t feel the need to fold my arms and hide myself in the back corner in order to enjoy some tunes; for the first time in a long time I enjoyed some music without feeling the need to physically close myself off from those around me in order to remain safe.

This evening of music started with The Edwards. Their sound made me wish it was summer again with my windows rolled down on the highway, a best bud on either side of me. They would be on the same playlist with some of my favorite Mac DeMarco tracks; with their perfectly smooth and warm tones. Their jams induced a nice groovy sway and head bop; I found myself rolling with the sound rather than fighting against it. After the show I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Murphy, a member of The Edwards. What Chris said about the band perfectly paralleled the event itself: Music based on collaborating; celebrating what each musician has to bring to the table. With three guitars and a trumpet on stage, their sound dived deep into exploring how these very different musicians come together to create a unique and cohesive sound. Be on the lookout for more live performances from The Edwards coming your way in February. 

 The Edwards By Maggie McInerney

The Edwards By Maggie McInerney

 Thee Casual Hex by Maggie Mcinerney

Thee Casual Hex by Maggie Mcinerney

Following The Edwards was Thee Casual Hex accompanied by face paint, some psychedelic realness, and some pretty amazing polka dot garments. The disco ball in Sleeping Village came alive the moment this group stepped onstage. Similar to The Edwards, a diverse group of musicians that meshed perfectly to create a 60’s inspired jamming set. When I spoke to guitarist/vocalist/band member Alice Kraynak after the show, the 60’s glamor the band exuded was made even more apparent. Whether it was Alice’s fur coat, face paint, or polka dot dress I am still unsure, but she emanated the mod style and influence that are clearly at the base of Thee Casual Hex’s sound. The band’s sound perfectly encapsulates psychedelic vibes from the 60’s while still paying tribute to modern psych bands; Remembering the past while celebrating the future. Alice made clear that Thee Casual Hex is so excited to continue making and playing music; be on the lookout for some live shows after the New Year. It’ll be a far out time. 

Before the final set of the night, the collaborative project of songwriter and producer Andrew Humphrey, Sun Cop, took the stage and remained just as collaborative onstage as off the stage. Pooky’s Duncan Lee took on double duty and played with Sun Cop, while the evening’s DJ Cadien Lake James also made an appearance to sing a tune with Andrew and the band.

 Sun Cop by Maggie McInerney

Sun Cop by Maggie McInerney

Closing out the evening was the electric Pooky. I have seen the boys of Pooky play a few times now and they never fail to put a smile on my face; red and sweaty from dancing. Their clear bond and enjoyment for the music makes me want to be onstage next to them. With a wide range of tunes, this band can make you want to jump around one second and have you slowly head bopping the next. With a sound  that roars, Pooky’s vocals paired with some major shredding will have you immediately searching where they are playing next by the end of their set. A dynamic and truly entertaining group that never fails to amaze, Pooky is a band to keep your eye on in 2019. You can also catch them one last time in 2018; at The SubT on December 20th with Engine Summer, Rainbow James and Rabbit Folk.

 Pooky by Maggie McInerney

Pooky by Maggie McInerney

All in all, the artists in the Chicago music scene set the stage for how to create a consensual music environment, and each band that performed at this show was a huge reason said space existed. These bands are making it clear that community is at the root of all their work; Respect for the music, respect for other musicians, and most importantly respect for their audiences. I am excited to know that bands such as these work, create, and share music with these ideals at the forefront. May all Chicago bands follow in their footsteps to create live music spaces that are fun, communal, and most importantly: safe!

If you couldn’t make it to the show, but would still like to show your support for Our Music, My Body, you can snag some of their merch here, or donate to either of their parent organizations.

Last but not least, head over to Beyond The Music’s site to vote for your favorite edit by the three featured photographers who covered the showcase: Emma Zanger, Colt Liles, and Maggie McInerney.

Live Recap: Empress Of at House of Vans 11.30.18

Last Friday, House of Vans filled its space with enough warmth and color to last us through most of these gray winter Chicago days. Jen Stark’s projections filled the entire venue with psychedelic geometrics that extended even to the stage area. Injury Reserve bathed in the projections and got the dance party started, followed by Empress Of’s electropop tunes. The night was vibrant, the music and art were so empowering that winter was a long forgotten thing.

Photos from House of Vans on 11/30/18

Grab tickets to see Empress Of at Sleeping Village on March 1st, 2019 here, and listen to her album Us in full below.

Live Recap: Albert Hammond, Jr. at The Nights We Stole Christmas 2018

If you’re a fan of live music, The Holidays don’t just mean time with family and friends, presents, and ugly Christmas sweaters; This time of year also guarantees that there will be plenty of radio sponsored concerts to attend. And last week, the city’s alternative radio station WKQX kicked off their string of annual holiday concerts held at Aragon Ballroom, deemed The Nights We Stole Christmas, on Thursday, November 29th. After a successful first night, the second night brought in Albert Hammond Jr, Grandson, and Smashing Pumpkins to take over the Uptown venue for a sold out, Friday night party.

Albert Hammond, Jr got the party started at 7PM sharp, returning to the city for the first time since his sold out headline show at Bottom Lounge. His past performance had been full of electric energy— both from Albert and a sea of enthusiastic fans, and his show on Friday held the same level of energy. While people were still filing into the ballroom’s main floor when Albert’s set began, the room buzzed with excitement when the singer burst onto the stage donning a gold suit perfect for the special occasion. The frontman and his band played through songs from his extensive discography, but heavily focused on the most recent album Francis Trouble, released in March of this year. Throughout the 45 minute set, the gusto behind Albert Hammond, Jr’s stage presence only accelerated, and he poured everything he had into the last few songs of the night. Whether he was jumping off the stage to walk the catwalk that had been barricaded off by the venue, leaping off the drum kit, or lifting his guitar above his head, Albert Hammond Jr gave the crowd plenty to remember during his finale. As Albert and his band left the stage to waves of applause, the crowd had been successfully warmed up for the rest of the night.

Check out photos from the set below if you missed out— and see where you can catch Albert Hammond Jr next here.

PHOTOS: Khruangbin at The Vic 11.28.18

After selling out two nights at Lincoln Hall earlier this year, Houston’s Khruangbin returned to Chicago to play a sold out show at The Vic Theatre. If you couldn’t snag tickets to the show, check out photos from Khruangbin’s set below.

See where you can catch Khruangbin on tour next here and keep up with them on Instagram + Facebook

Live Recap: The Struts Sell Out Two Nights at House of Blues

British rockers The Struts kicked off a sold out, two night stint at The House of Blues last Friday night. Despite it being a rainy, cold evening and the day after a holiday, by the time openers The Glorious Sons were wrapping up their set with a cover of “Gimme Shelter,” the theater was packed wall to wall with fans eager to see The Struts for the first time since their new album YOUNG&DANGEROUS came out.

After a stage changeover, The Struts burst onto the stage and were immediately greeting by thundering applause and cheers. Each band member sported a custom getup and lead singer Luke Spiller had painted glitter war stripes onto his face, giving them a glam rock aesthetic to match their sound and bravado. Opening up with “Primadonna Like Me” and “Body Talks” from the new album, the band immediately let the crowd know they were in for a wild ride with their magnetic and intense stage presence. Although Spiller later on addressed the end-of-tour slump any performer will surely experience from time to time, saying he was “absolutely knackered” after this recent run of shows, no one could have guessed it based on the band’s gusto that accelerated from the get go and only kept on going throughout the set. Spiller credited the crowd’s support as keeping them going during long stretches, adding that nights like tonight made it all worth it. Throughout the rest of the set, Spiller also encouraged positive energy and interaction amongst audience members; After performing new songs and a couple throwbacks like “Kiss This” from 2016’s Everybody Wants, Spiller prompted everyone to ask their neighbors to dance to their cover of “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen.

Nowadays, there’s never a shortage of new music being created and plenty of musicians can make a great record, but the same can’t be always be said for live shows. However, with The Struts, their live shows are something so magical, yet indescribable at times; it’s a force between the musicians onstage and between them and the audience…something so magnificent that it can drown out the outside world and let people escape with the music for a couple of hours. Perhaps it’s the seemingly natural ease of being on stage that exudes from frontman Spiller— he saunters across the stage, singing every word with intention while decked out in extravagant costumes, reminiscent of the greats like Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury— or maybe it’s the entire band’s love for rock’n’roll music that shines through in every song that they write, but The Struts’ performances have such a genuinely remarkable air about them. It’s that unique quality that keeps audiences coming back again and again— and perhaps why the audience on Friday was full of fans of all different ages and demographics. No matter the differences between the audience members, The Struts were able to bring everyone together through their music and give everyone another reason to smile on Friday night.

If you missed out on the incredible sold out shows, check out our photo gallery of the first night below.

Listen to YOUNG&DANGEROUS in full below!

Live Recap: Rookie at Tonic Room 11.21.18

Walking into the Tonic Room on Wednesday night, I was greeted by a man in a fringe vest as ABBA played overhead; an ideal entrance to see some tunes. I had been fortunate enough to see ROOKIE perform recently at the Empty Bottle where their booming sound, undeniable musicianship skills, and  matching jumpsuits made it nearly impossible to stand still while they played. If you go to see ROOKIE, you are going to be dancing, so dress accordingly. With the Tonic Room being much more of an intimate space I was curious to see how their sound and performance would differ from the first time I saw them. When they stepped onstage I almost didn’t recognize the band without their matching outfits but the Superman shirt to Sox baseball cap automatically created a sense of community between artist and audience before the music even began. They set down their PBRs and Highlifes, picked up their instruments and with a “Hey how is everyone doing tonight? We’re ROOKIE,” the music began.

ROOKIE kept the sense of community going during their set by breaking the fourth wall between performer and viewer and getting close with the small yet bustling crowd of the Tonic Room. While singing along to “One Way Ticket” I noticed that I was a part of the most impressive karaoke session and that the audience was not shy about how often this song is replayed by each of us on Spotify. The band welcomed this singalong from the stage with fist bumps and loving head nods. These gestures were just part of the effort made from each band member to welcome the audience, creating a really unique and individual experience for each listener. 

ROOKIE’s flow from beginning to end of show was high energy and fully committed to creating an alive and kicking set despite the small space. It felt like they were playing Aragon Ballroom and not the Tonic Room based on the energy they put forward, and they kept moving forward instead of allowing themselves to fall back into the comfortability of a smaller crowd.  Their sound reverberated off all four walls of the space, even when I walked to the back of the bar to snag another beer, the music still clung to me. 

The strong sense of community didn’t just exist between band and audience, but watching ROOKIE interact with one another onstage made clear why they have such an impeccable sound and loyal following. From smiles to nods to inside jokes onstage they were having fun with each other. When seeing bands perform there is sometimes the unfortunate “me, my instrument, and some other random people around me” energy. This did not ring true for ROOKIE; the band works as a cohesive entity—not just as strangers playing alongside each other. When band member, Dimitri Panoutsos, encountered a broken string mid set, the other members were quick to swoop in and help their fellow musician out before his next solo. This clear web of support among the boys of ROOKIE makes you fall in love with them a little more than you already have.

By the time Uncle Sexy stepped onstage, the Tonic Room was a choir of laughter, dancing feet, and empty beer cans. Cover song after cover song the energy of the room never faltered and the show remained at full throttle thanks to ROOKIE and Uncle Sexy’s infectious stage presence and evident talent. Not only do I plan on making my way back to the Tonic room but I will be sticking with ROOKIE in the same way my boots stuck to that wood floor covered in PBR. 

Keep up with ROOKIE on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram

PHOTOS: Supergroup boygenius Brings Their Special Show to Thalia Hall for Two Nights

Last week, the supergroup of the year, boygenius, brought their unique and collaborative show to Thalia Hall for two sold out shows. Both nights featured individual sets from boygenius collaborators Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker, before all three singer songwriters joined forces and closed out each night with a magical performance as a trio. Check out photos from Tuesday night’s show below and see where else you can catch boygenius on tour here.

Listen to the boygenius EP in full below

Live Recap: Tenacious D Rocked The Riviera for Two Sold Out Shows

Earlier in the week, Jack Black and Kyle Gass—better known as Tenacious D—brought their mix of rock’n’roll and comedy to Chicago’s Riviera Theatre for not one, but two sold out performances. The duo’s latest project comes in the form of six-part animated series released on YouTube, called Post-Apocalypto, and their recent tour centered around the new series. On both nights, the show kicked off with a large screen positioned at the front of the stage, the video for the Post-Apocalypto theme projected on the screen. The screen remained on stage for the first several songs of the set, with Black, Gass, and their band performing behind it as video clips weaved throughout songs like “Hope,” “Take Us Into Space,” and “Robot.” Longtime devoted fans of Tenacious D packed the concert theatre in Uptown, and everyone remained completely enthralled with the audiovisual-filled first half of the set.

After playing through all of the newest songs on Post-Apocalypto, Black and Gass took it back to the early days of 2012, 2006, and 2001, playing crowd favorites from their albums Rize of The Fenix, The Pick Of Destiny, and Tenacious D. As they played through part two sans the projection screen, their lighting show still remained intricate, and the production changed for each song. While the magic of Tenacious D’s show really stemmed from Black and Gass’s charisma on stage, the production design really added a theatrical and dynamic layer to the show. Tenacious D’s performance was more than just a concert, it was a fully immersive live experience that had the entire audience walking away with smiles.

If you weren’t one of the lucky ones to score a ticket to the sold out shows, check out photos from Wednesday, November 14th below and see where you can catch the tour next here.

Keep up with Tenacious D on Instagram and Facebook, and watch Post-Apocalypto below.

PHOTOS: Grapetooth with Dehd and Sports Boyfriend at Thalia Hall 11.11.18

Thalia Hall hosted a hometown party for Grapetooth’s sold out record release show on Sunday, November 11th. The rowdy in-the-round show kicked off with Sports Boyfriend and Dehd. If you missed out on tickets, check out photos from the show below.

Keep up with Grapetooh on Twitter + Instagram + Facebook and listen to their debut album in full below.

PHOTOS: Madeline Kenney and Girl K at Schubas 11.09.18

Check out photos from Madeline Kenney’s show at Schubas on November 9th in honor of her new album Perfect Shapes.

Can’t get enough Madeline Kenney? Check out our interview with her below.