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Filtering by Tag: Empty Bottle

Live Recap: Ryley Walker, OHMME, and Ben LaMar Gay Brought Improv and Collaborations to the Empty Bottle

On Friday, December 28th, Ryley Walker, OHMME, and Ben LaMar Gay brought a sold out crowd to The Empty Bottle for a night of improvisation, collaboration, and celebrating live music.

The bill of Chicago natives kicked off with Ben LaMar Gay, whose set was definitely the most freeform and jazzy of the evening. The composer and cornetist took the stage right around 10PM bringing along a full band that included a tuba player. Throughout his 45 minute set, the audience got to experience elements of hip hop, avant-garde, and soul that focused more on the instrumentals and melodies over lyrics. Instead of a traditional set where you recognize the transition from song to song, Ben LaMar Gay’s set played out more like a theatrical play, where it moved from scene to scene or segment to segment. As an audience member, you could hear the improvisation happening, but the band worked so well together through the winding transitions that sometimes you doubted that any of it was free-form playing.

OHMME, the duo of Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, took the stage next, bringing the audience back to a more traditional place of arranged songs, but their show still had some surprise guests and songs. The set began with the song “Water” from OHMME’s debut full length Parts, which was released earlier this year. With its bold, distorted guitar and layered harmonies, the explosive opening song showcased why OHMME is one of the best live acts around and just how well Cunningham and Stewart work together. After the pair performed the title track from their album, they welcomed a friend onstage to play the drums and jingle bells, in place of their usual drummer Matt Carroll, for a rare performance of a Christmas cover song: “Jing-a-Ling Jing-a-Ling” by The Andrews Sisters. “In Chicago we do special things like that,” Cunningham told the packed room after the Christmas cover. During the performance of their single “Icon,” the pair were once again joined by a special guest to fill in on the drums, which celebrated the collaborative nature of the Chicago music scene.

Just after midnight, Ryley Walker and his band took the stage to close out the special evening with a performance that once again celebrated free-form and improvisation by blending elements of jazz and folk music. The show on Friday marked the end of Walker’s most recent tour in support of his album Deafman Glance and his own version of The Lillywhite Sessions by The Dave Matthews Band, both of which he released this year via Dead Oceans. The unique set began with a trumpet player center stage for the first few songs, which the crowd loved (at one point, an audience member yelled “More horn!”). Despite it being a late night, the venue remained completely packed as Walker and his band jammed out, delivering extended arrangements and feeding off one another’s energy. For the majority of the set, the songs blended into one another, smoothly transitioning very much like Ben LaMar Gay’s set had done. Walker would occasionally check in to see how the audience was doing, but surprisingly, he didn’t make any banter between songs. Based on his hilarious Twitter feed, I had been expecting some between-song jokes, but the focus of the set remained solely on the intricate musicianship displayed by Walker’s live band. While the set heavily featured songs from Walker’s 2018 projects, he did throw in some older tracks, like “The Roundabout” from 2016’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung.

Overall, Friday night’s show highlighted what a wide array of talent the Chicago music scene has to offer at the moment, and captured the magic of friends playing live music together. If you missed out on a ticket to the sold out evening, check out our photo gallery below for a glimpse of what you missed.

PHOTOS: The Nude Party at Empty Bottle 09.19.18

Last week, The Nude Party returned to The Empty Bottle in Chicago, playing the venue for the first time since the release of their self-titled debut album. If you missed out on the show, check out photos from their set below.

Check out the rest of The Nude Party’s upcoming tour dates here, and listen to their album in full below.

PHOTOS: Lee Mo and serpentwithfeet at Empty Bottle 7.01.18

Baltimore R&B artist serpentwithfeet made his Empty Bottle debut on Sunday night, putting on an interactive and multi-faceted performance for the sold out venue. Throughout his show, he weaved in improvisation and poetry from artists that inspired him between songs from his debut album soil. Philadephia singer songwriter Lee Mo opened the night; check out photos from the evening below. 

Check out the rest of serpentwithfeet's tour dates here, and listen to soil in full below. 

PHOTOS: Bodega and Engine Summer at Empty Bottle 6.19.18

Brooklyn band Bodega came through Chicago on Tuesday night to promote their upcoming debut album, Endless Scroll, out July 6th. Chicago's own Daysee and Engine Summer opened up the show; Check out photos of the gig below. 

See the rest of Bodega's upcoming tour dates here, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram. 

Live Recap: Bedroom, Town Criers, Acid Dad at Empty Bottle 3.29.18

Last Thursday night, Acid Dad returned to Chicago for the first time since playing Warble Daze back in October. Local bands Bedroom and Town Criers warmed up the Empty Bottle stage for the Brooklyn based four piece, perfectly complimenting Acid Dad's blend of punk and psych rock. The Chicago crowd instantly warmed to Acid Dad as they played songs from their self-titled debut album, out March 9th via Greenway Records, as well as a couple from their debut EP. If you missed out on the show, check out photos of all three bands below.

Listen to Acid Dad's album in full below, or order a physical copy from Greenway Records here. 

Can't get enough Acid Dad? Revisit our interview with them here

PHOTOS: Cafe Racer Album Release 2.19.18

Local outfit Cafe Racer celebrated their new album Famous Dust with a release show at the Empty Bottle this past Monday night. Check out photos from the show and listen to the album in full below!

PHOTOS: Bully at The Empty Bottle

This past Monday night, Jim Beam and The Empty Bottle treated Chicago to a free show from Nashville rockers, Bully. Fans packed into the intimate Ukrainian Village venue to experience the special performance from the group, who just put out their sophomore record Losing last year. Check out some photos from the one-of-a-kind evening, and listen to the album in full below!

PHOTOS: Yoko and the Oh No's and GGOOLLDD at Empty Bottle 12.16

Milwaukee's GGOOLLDD headlined Empty Bottle on Saturday night in celebration of their Teeth EP, which came out earlier in December. Their set had everyone dancing along, and lead singer Margaret Butler wasn't afraid to jump off the stage to join them. Check out photos from their vivacious show below, featuring some shots of Chicago's Yoko and the Oh No's

GGOOLLDD will be hitting the road again early next year. See their tour dates here, and while you await their return, listen to the Teeth EP in full below!

PHOTOS: The Districts at Empty Bottle 12.10.17

The Districts closed out a two-night, sold out streak with Sun Seeker and Katie Von Schleicher the Empty Bottle on Sunday night, in support of 2017's Popular Manipulations. Check out photos from the show below.

The Districts are hitting the road in 2018 with another ANCHR favorite, Twin Peaks. See all of those tour dates here, and listen to Popular Manipulations in full below!

LIVE: Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile Bring a Lotta Sea Lice and a Lotta Talent to Empty Bottle

Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett-- and their band of Sea Lice--closed out their three night sold out streak in Chicago at the legendary Empty Bottle. The pair took the stage just around 9:30, forgoing an opener, to perform songs from their recently released collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice. Their stunning performance began with Vile and Barnett's debut single from the aforementioned album, "Over Everything." 

From the get go, the crowd at the intimate venue radiated their excitement, displaying as much enthusiasm as a crowd of a larger size. Vile and Barnett radiated a similarly infectious energy, and an electric current of chemistry flowed between the duo and their other bandmates, which included Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney. While the pair performed songs from their Lotta Sea Lice album, they also bounced back and fourth between performing their own songs and covers from other artists. Although they both performed songs from their past albums, Barnett and Vile reworked their songs to make them duets, with Barnett taking on parts in Vile's songs like "Life Like This" and "On Tour." Vile also contributed to the live performances of Barnett's songs like "Depreston" and "Dead Fox." While they performed, the two would often back away from their microphone stands to meet in the middle of the humble stage, facing each other as they strummed their guitars. Whenever they did this, the musical chemistry between them only grew stronger, making the show that much more special.

Other highlights of the set included the performance of Belly's song "Untogether" and Gillian Welch's song "Elvis Presley Blues." The latter opened up the band's three song encore, and Vile and Barnett performed that cover as a duo without their band. The stripped back performance allowed for the duo's harmonies and flawless vocals to really shine through. As the night wound down, Barnett mentioned that the Empty Bottle had been where she played her first show in Chicago, so it was great to be back. The set closed out with two more of the pair's own songs; "Pretty Pimpin'" and "Avant Gardener."

The pairing of Barnett and Vile on this album and the accompanying tour showcases the magic that can happen when artists come together and instill a sense of community and camaraderie in the music industry. If you missed out on the spectacular evening, check out our photo gallery of the show below. 

If you can't get enough Kurt and Courtney, check out some photos from their second night in Chicago, at Thalia Hall.

See the rest of the Courtney and Kurt tour dates here, and listen to Lotta Sea Lice in full below!

Thumbnail photo taken at Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile's show at Thalia Hall on 10.27