ANCHR Magazine

Holding you down with the best new music

PHOTOS: Hatchie and Girlpool at Lincoln Hall 04.18.19

This past Thursday night, Hatchie and Girlpool shared the stage at Lincoln Hall, putting on a stunning show. Hatchie performed a mix of her first EP and singles, as well as songs from her upcoming debut album Keepsake, out June 21st.

See where you can catch Hatchie next here, and check out photos from the evening below!


If You Don’t Like It, Book It: A Recap of Book Your Own Fest

Content Warning: discussion of sexual assault


While interviewing the organizers of Book Your Own Fest, we ended up discussing our shared love of indie punk band, Camp Cope. Organizers Tia and Tayler Krabbenhoft told me that last summer they got a chance to see Camp Cope live, and afterwards got in a word with drummer, Sarah Thompson. When they relayed their stories of speaking out against abusers in the music scene Thompson replied “you’re pissing off the right people.” Keep this sentiment in mind as you read.


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Not many music festivals can say they were begat from a meme. Except for Book Your Own Fest, which just had its inaugural event this past March in Fargo, ND. You can thank Tayler Krabbenhoft, the main organizer of the festival, for the cool name. Or you can thank fellow Fargo music festival, The New Direction Fest (TND), for the conversation that spurred it. Back in January, Krabbenhoft posted a moderately innocuous meme on Facebook poking fun of TND Fest’s dude-heavy lineup, and a former TND volunteer took to commenting “if you don’t like it, book your own fest.” And so Krabbenhoft did exactly that.

“I wanted to prove that with less money, less resources, and less time we could get a lot of diverse acts— genre-wise and people-wise,” Tayler tells me during a break between sets. It’s the final day of Book Your Own Fest and I am sandwiched in Tayler’s tour van along with her sister and bandmate Tia Krabbenhoft, longtime friend and fellow organizer Cydney Berlinger, and a case of Hamms.

Performances at Book Your Own Fest ranged from ambient spoken word to fast punk sets and, poignantly, not a single act on the bill was all-male. But Book Your Own fest almost didn’t happen. The sisters recently received a particularly unsettling threat that made them hesitant to continue for safety reasons. But unfortunately, the sisters seem pretty used to handling this type of thing. Their band, Free Truman, earned a reputation last summer when they publicly called out a man who non-consensually kissed a woman at another local venue. After doing so they were met with outrage and online harassment from various men, and after Tayler’s meme caught wind, she endured another round of online barrages, eventually ending in someone leaking her address. It seems impossible to discuss Book Your Own Fest without also discussing sexism and rape culture. It’s all inextricably linked. “People who… aren’t so much with [Book Your Own Fest], would be like ‘oh they’re just causing drama, they’re just starting things’” continues Tayler. That word, ‘drama’, sparks palpable frustration in the van. Being accused of drama is one of the oldest ways in the book to diminish women’s feelings and write off the importance of their ideas. Is DIY an ethic or a middle school hallway? (P.S does anyone wanna book Drama Fest next? I’ll cover it.) Conflating “drama” with “talking openly about experiences with sexual assault” seems to be all too common of a confusion. Quieter, but still adamant, Tayler reminds us how often it happens (sexual assault that is, not drama) ”Things like this affect more people than you even know… it happens all the time in the music scene.” With all that said, I down a shot of tequila from one of several red plastic cups littering the floor of the van and go back inside, trying to reorient myself.

Book Your Own Fest is held at Red Raven Espresso Parlour. A cafe and venue that Cyndey is a barista at. But inside it’s easy to see why Red Raven would be the logical choice regardless; Adorned with pieces of kitsch decor and various anti-Trump memorabilia, I think it’s safe to assume this is where any DIY kid would scamper off to in a small town. And hey, they even had gender neutral bathrooms (which is honestly ahead of a lot of venues on that curve). Given the high visibility of it all, I assumed there would be more righteousness in the air. That it would feel radically different to see performers on a stage where they weren’t being evaluated as comparisons to men. But perhaps the chip on my shoulder is weightier than that of Tayler’s. I also couldn’t help wondering if some of the fun of Book Your Own Fest comes from a community showing that they could do everything the boys could and more. But there was an extra layer of safety. I felt better taken care of in Red Raven Espresso Parlor than I have in many a house show. I moved in the space, unafraid to take up room. I didn’t feel like that, at any moment, a late twenties man in a leather jacket would use me to start a mosh pit at an uncalled for period of time. And, although Fargo, ND is far from a queer oasis, my tired boyfriend who I bullied into driving me 3+ hours and I were able to curl up in a booth at the cafe with no side eyes. At one point a friend nicknamed ‘Coach’ announces to the Krabbenhofts that the baked potatoes were here. Which encompasses part of the feeling of being at Book Your Own Fest. Tayler and Tia had been cooking all week so that there would be homemade food at the fest. And, evidently, they ordered baked potatoes as well. There’s nothing quite like home-cooked food that says “I want you to be here”.” The warmth of the atmosphere suggests the fest has happened before and will happen again. Not to mention that the schedule ran on time (for the most part). At one point the vocalist of Lincoln, NE band Histrionic said “I suck. No I don’t suck” as they tuned between songs. “I know if I say that you’ll all be like ‘no you don’t!’ Whatever.” During Free Truman’s own set, Tia’s drumstick briefly went flying, which was only met with cheers. There was room for mistakes at Book Your Own Fest, and there was room for support.

Book Your Own Fest is special, it’s one of the first of its kind. But it also isn’t exactly hard to find non-men, and queer folks, and black and brown folks making music. So if this is who’s making music, shouldn’t festivals generally reflect that? However, I have a strong feeling that anyone condemning an ask for a more inclusive lineup are the same people who are on social media asking if anyone “knows any good female-fronted bands.” In case you were curious, TND Fest did eventually book more “diverse” acts. Seven to be precise. That would be seven acts that aren’t all male out of twenty one. A whopping one third. Take that, sexism! To clarify, Tayler did not just sit around making memes at the ready. She actually met with a TND organizer to have a conversation regarding the lack of… women. The organizer apparently had the audacity to ask her “is this not enough for you?” No. It isn’t. Book Your Own Fest is the result of years of tokenization. Of being a band comprised of two latinx women who are used as check mark in the diversity box. Don’t throw us a bone and expect us to treat it like a feast. Book Your Own Fest is the feast. It’s the lineup that made me drive over three hours to a city I barely knew existed. All because I wanted to bear witness to something that seems impossible for music scenes, whether they be DIY or industry giants, to understand: a lineup with many acts that aren’t cis white dudes. The whole night, something nags me. Where are you looking in which there are not any non-male bands? Where are you looking in which no POC bands exist? Or is your milktoast lineup the result of not looking at all because it’s far easier to pretend you’re not part of the problem and offer up flimsy excuses? Defending lazy lineups by way of sending threats to young women?…Perhaps the lady doth protest too much.

It is a potent time to be an artist with an opinion, particularly a non-male artist with an opinion. Book Your Own Fest feels like a call to action in this sense. Music doesn’t have to look like that. Book Your Own Fest exudes a you-can-do-it-too attitude. And it only takes one. That first time you see someone who looks like you doing something you love, it changes you. Free Truman themselves wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for seeing Cydney’s former band, Uncle Grandpa, play a show when they were younger. And now Free Truman is providing that same affirming mirror, both as a band and with Book Your Own Fest. Earlier Tayler told me, “It’s literally life changing to see someone who looks like you playing music.” I hope someone in the audience feels that same way.

The music industry is so often viewed as a boys game, and if you want to gain entry it’s advised that you play like a boy. But the Krabbenhofts developed their own strategy. Book Your Own Fest thrived without a single all-male act on the bill. It thrived with a differently natured community. Which begs the question, if three young women in a small town can put together an inclusive two day festival in under three months, why can all professional bookers and promoters scrounge up for us is an opener?



Keep up with Free Truman on Instagram + Twitter  and Cydney Berlinger’s band Plumslugger on Facebook





PHOTOS: Durand Jones & The Indications and Divino Niño at Thalia Hall

On Thursday Night last week, Durand Jones & The Indications returned to Chicago for their third show at Thalia Hall— this time headlining to a sold out crowd. Check out photos of the night, including Divino Niño’s set, below.

See Durand Jones & The Indications’ upcoming tour dates here and keep up with them on Instagram.

PHOTOS: Ex Hex at Thalia Hall 04.10.19

On Wednesday night last week, Ex Hex brought their electrifying show to Pilsen’s Thalia Hall. Check out photos of the neon-colored night below!

PHOTOS: Bad Sounds and Broods at Metro 04.10.19

Earlier this week, Emily Nava caught an energetic show from Bad Sounds and Broods at Metro Chicago. Check out her photo coverage of the night below!

See the rest of Bad Sounds’ upcoming tour dates here.

PHOTOS: ANCHR's In the Round Showcase at Thalia Hall

A couple of weeks ago, we hosted our biggest showcase yet at the beautiful Thalia Hall with Varsity, Pool Holograph, Stuyedeyed, and Rookie. If you missed out on the monumental occasion, check out some photos from the evening by Cat Florea below!

Get tickets to the next ANCHR Showcase with Town Criers, The Edwards, In the Pines, and Dreamboats here.

PHOTOS: Tomberlin and Hand Habits at Hideout 04.04.19

On Thursday night, Tomberlin and Hand Habits shared the stage at Chicago’s The Hideout for the first of two sold out shows there with Hand Habits. Both musicians put on a mesmerizing performance that had the crowd enchanted and attentively listening the entire time.

See photos from the show below, and see the rest of Hand Habits’ upcoming tour dates here.

Listen to Hand Habits’ album placeholder and keep up with them on Facebook and Instagram.

PHOTOS: Ten Fé Make Their Chicago Debut to a Sold Out Schubas Tavern

London’s Ten Fé finally played their first show in Chicago over the weekend at Schubas Tavern, and unsurprisingly, the show was completely sold out. The evening’s setlist featured a good mix of songs from Ten Fé’s 2017 debut album Hit The Light and their brand new record Future Perfect, Present Tense.

Stay tuned for an interview with the band coming to ANCHR soon, but in the meantime check out photos from their Chicago debut!


Live Recap: Stella Donnelly's Sold Out Soiree at Schubas Tavern

“I just took a Malört shot to the eye!” Stella Donnelly exclaimed to the sold out crowd at Schubas Tavern on Friday night, March 29th. *Record Scratch, Freeze-Frame* You’re probably wondering how we got here…so let’s start at the beginning, when Faye Webster opened up the show at 9PM.

The music room had filled in, with fans eager for the evening’s performances, when Webster took the stage accompanied by only one bandmate; Pistol, who played a pedal steel guitar. Webster’s gentle vocals made for the perfect way to ease everyone into the concert, with Pistol’s pedal steel providing a dreamy, surfy vibe to the songs to put everyone in the room in a groovy trance. Webster threw in some surprises during her set too; first with a creative cover of “Cheap Thrills” by Atlanta rapper Feather and second, when she pulled out a yo-yo to show off some tricks she’d recently learned. The best surprise came when Webster invited an audience member by the name of Xion onstage to perform some serious yo-yo tricks, which were greeted with thundering applause and cheers from the crowd.

After the exhilarating yo-yo tricks at the end of Webster’s set, the room was buzzing with nothing but good vibes when Stella Donnelly took the stage shortly after. The last time I had seen Donnelly, she had played a solo set opening up for Natalie Prass at Lincoln Hall, and her debut album Beware of the Dogs had not yet been announced. At the Lincoln Hall show, Donnelly had completely commanded the room with just her voice, her guitar, and her witty banter. And at the Schubas show on Friday, Donnelly once again showed off her chops as a solo performer by opening her set playing a handful of songs sans her touring bandmates. For most of this first portion of the show, Donnelly had an infectious positive attitude about her, and she kept the mood light with some cheeky humor. When it came time for Donnelly to perform “Boys Will Be Boys,” a weighted song that tackles the subject of sexual assault, she gave a content warning about the subject matter before sharing that the song was inspired by an incident that happened to a close friend. Donnelly’s candid and fearless approach to her songwriting comes across on many of her songs, but particularly in this track, which acts as a timely reminder for everyone to believe and support survivors.

When it came time for Donnelly’s full live band to join the mix, the infectious energy that she had exuded on her own only multiplied, and you could feel the joy bouncing between bandmates as they looked to be having the time of their lives playing together. They all had such an easy-going manner and their chemistry as bandmates came across as natural, like they were all just old friends jamming out. Between the laid-back nature of the bandmates and Donnelly’s flawless vocal execution and charm, you couldn’t help but be hooked on this performance. The feel-good mood came to a high when Donnelly invited Faye Webster and Xion (and their yo-yos) back up on stage for the ironically upbeat tune “Die.” The bandmates, Webster, and Xion ended the song in a coordinated dance, which was obviously met with deafening cheers by the audience.

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for...the Malört shots. Earlier in the set, Donnelly had mentioned between songs that one of her bandmates had yet to try the infamous Chicago liquor, which is a rite of passage for anyone visiting our city. Luckily for Donnelly’s band members, Malcom Brown (of Whitney) was in the crowd that night, and he saved the day by bringing up a tray full of Malört just as the final full-band song of the night, “Tricks,” was coming to a close. Cue: Donnelly taking her shot and getting some of it in her eye. Like a champ, Donnelly went on with the show and wrapped up her first sold out headline show in Chicago with a solo rendition of  “Mechanical Bull,” throwing in some improvised lyrics; “There’s Malört in my throat” in place of “You've been at my throat.”

Between the impeccable musicianship, cheery stage presence, and moments of humor, I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect start to the weekend than Stella Donnelly’s show. Easily one of the best shows I’d seen in a while, Stella Donnelly is not to be missed if she’s performing in a city near you. Check out her upcoming tour dates here, and relive the fun of Friday’s gig with the photo gallery below.


PHOTOS: Roman Lewis, Jungle Green and Matt Maltese at Beat Kitchen 3.27.19

This past Wednesday night, London singer-songwriter Roman Lewis celebrated his 18th birthday by playing his first show in Chicago at Beat Kitchen. Lewis played alongside Matt Maltese and Chicago’s Jungle Green— check out photos of the evening below.

For more on Roman Lewis, revisit our interview with him here.