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Live Recap: A Rowdy Monday Night with Bleached, Refused and The Hives at The Vic Theatre

My week began with an action packed and adrenaline-pumping show from Bleached, Refused, and The Hives; a lineup that easily made for one of the rowdiest Monday night shows I’ve ever seen.

The evening kicked off with the sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin of Bleached taking their places on a dimly lit stage as a duo. Their first song started slow and led to a huge build up when the Clavins’ bandmates joined them onstage and bright lights kicked in while the music crescendoed. As the audience trickled into the Vic Theatre, Bleached quickly won the crowd over with their raucous guitar melodies that are laced with pop hooks and sibling-perfect harmonies. With a new album Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough? due out July 12th, Bleached’s setlist heavily consisted of brand new songs— many of which they were playing live for the very first time, as Jennifer and Jessica announced about halfway through their show. During the beginning of their set, you could almost pick up on the newness of these songs just based on the Clavins’ body language, but a few songs in, you could also sense the weight of the uncertainty being lifted from their shoulders as they got into the groove and let loose. One of the new songs they performed, “Hard To Kill,” was just released as a single on April 30th and features a playful whistling loop over a funky melody, which really highlights the multifaceted sound that Bleached has honed in on over the years. They’ve got an extensive catalog which nods to glimpses of rock and roll influence from different decades; From the 1970’s Runaways to the 1990’s The Donnas and 2000’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs, it’s truly like Bleached took some of the best elements of rock music from different eras and put their own spin on it. Particularly with the new material, Bleached will keep fans on their toes and push their past boundaries, so make sure you take a listen to the album once it’s released.

When Bleached concluded their opening set with an explosive, extended jam, the room had mostly filled in and fans were buzzing for the upcoming sets from co-headliners Refused and The Hives. Bleached set the bar high as far as energy levels went, and Refused burst onto the stage, continuing to boost the morale of the room. Refused’s frontman and vocalist Dennis Lyxzén leapt off the stage during the first song to join fans in the mosh pit, and from there, the energy only escalated. An hour of strobe lights, microphone swings, and lots of jumping swirled together for an unforgettable set that ended in a standing ovation.

Then, just when I thought things couldn’t get any wilder, the five members of The Hives rushed the stage donning matching white suits for the final set of the night, and chaos immediately broke out. The Hives’ lead vocalist and frontman Per Almqvist (AKA Howlin' Pelle Almqvist) also didn’t shy away from leaving the stage to join the crowd, and within a few minutes, he was already crowd surfing. The iconic punk band truly lived up to their reputation and the audience’s expectations— after they dove right into mayhem without skipping a beat at the start of their set, they just kept delivering energy, leaving everything they had on the stage.

Check out Bleached’s upcoming tour dates here to see where else you can catch this trifecta of a lineup, and see photos from Monday night’s show below.

Keep up with Bleached on Facebook and Instagram

PHOTOS: Grizfolk, Flor and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness 03.02.19

This past Saturday night in Chicago, Grizfolk, Flor and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness rocked the packed house at The Riviera Theatre. Check out our photo recap of the evening below!

Live Recap: Barns Courtney and The Kooks at The Riviera 02.21.19

This past Thursday night, The Kooks returned to Chicago for the first time since the release of their fifth studio album, Let’s Go Sunshine.

After Future Feats opened up the show, singer-songwriter Barns Courtney warmed up the packed house, getting everyone ready for The Kooks with a blaze of energy. Courtney burst onto the stage to join his live band as they opened up with an unreleased track “Fun Never Ends.” The high energy song set up the crowd to expect a good time from Courtney’s set, and he definitely lived up to that expectation as he sang through songs from his debut album and some new singles. As Courtney sauntered across the stage and put his all into his music, an appreciative fan shouted “you’re the coolest person ever!” Based on the amount of audience members dancing and singing along, both on the floor and in the balcony, it seemed that most agreed with the enthusiastic fan. The spirit of Courtney’s set culminated during the final few songs “Kicks” and “Fire,” in which the singer first crowd surfed, and then finished out the set singing the latter in the middle of the crowd.

Needless to say, Barns Courtney’s set left the crowd buzzing and ready for The Kooks, who hit the stage performing one of their classics “Always Where I Need To Be.” From their years of playing together, the band members had a sense of chemistry and ease about them that perfectly complemented lead singer Luke Pritchard’s captivating stage presence. Alongside the band’s long history of playing together and their lengthy setlist that pulled songs from every chapter of their extensive discography, The Kooks also had an impressive light show that added another special touch to their live show without being overpowering.

While the mood remained very energetic for most of the night, allowing for Pritchard to show off his dance moves, the set did slow down during the performance of “See Me Now” from 2014’s Listen, which Pritchard dedicated to his late father. Pritchard performed the emotional song at the piano, sans his bandmates. Although a hush fell over the crowd during this song, with everyone giving their undivided attention to the stage, the energy quickly picked back up when the full band rejoined Pritchard for “Pamela” from the latest album. While the band members kept their onstage chatting to a minimum in order to focus on the music, they didn’t shy away from fleshing out their songs with special, one-of-a-kind live arrangements. During “Bad Habit,” the band extended the introduction as Pritchard and the audience members partook in a call-and-response style chant, and during “Seaside,” the audience sounded like a choir backup Pritchard’s vocals in the simple song.

Eventually the time came for The Kooks to leave the stage, but it didn’t take long for the crowd to request an encore performance. Instead of the traditional “one more song!” or “encore!” chants, the crowd asked for the band to return by chanting the vocalized introduction to “Bad Habit” once again. The band obliged and returned with “No Pressure” and “Naive.” Before they began the final song of the night, Pritchard dedicated that night’s performance of the 2006 single to fan named Jeffery, giving one lucky fan a very special memory of the evening.

The Kooks wrap up their North American tour this week— see their live dates here, and check out our photo recap of Thursday night below.

Listen to Let’s Go Sunshine 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: Mallrat and Maggie Rogers at The Riv 10.30.18

This past Tuesday night, Mallrat made her Chicago debut, warming up the stage for Maggie Rogers. The sold out Riviera Theatre marked Rogers’ biggest headline show to date, but after her performance on SNL this coming Saturday, she’ll surely keep playing bigger and bigger shows. If you couldn’t snag a ticket to the show, check out our photo gallery below.

Listen to Mallrat’s In the Sky EP below, and keep up with her on Instagram + Facebook

Live Recap: Years & Years Brings Palo Santo Tour to The Vic Theatre, 10.15.18

British electro-pop trio Years & Years and pop singer songwriter CYN kicked off the week with a sold out show at Lakeview’s The Vic Theatre.

Following a quick opening set from Australian singer-songwriter Jess Kent, CYN took the stage to shake things up and get everyone in the packed theatre ready for Years & Years’ long-awaited return to Chicago. In a way, CYN’s show on Monday evening acted as a homecoming; after growing up in the neighboring state of Michigan, CYN had attended and graduated from DePaul University. CYN’s short but sweet set began with a bang as she burst onto the stage with a rush of energy to perform her single “Believer,” a dance tune that features a bass line groovy enough to get everyone’s hips shaking. While playing some familiar singles which have racked up millions of plays on Spotify, CYN also introduced the crowd to some brand new, unreleased material, like “Bubble Bath,” which teased what her upcoming debut EP might sound like. About half way through CYN’s set, the energy slowed a bit for the performance of her newest single “I’ll Still Have Me” which juxtaposes the usual funky tones to CYN’s songs with its gentle, lulling guitar melodies and CYN’s hypnotizing vocals. CYN dedicated the song to one of her best friend’s moms before starting it, mentioning that so many of her best friends were in the audience that night. While speaking about Chicago, CYN took a moment to tell the crowd how much this show was a full-circle moment to her because just a few years ago, she had seen some of her favorite artists (Sam Smith and Kiesza) perform on the very same stage. CYN closed out her set with a few higher energy songs, closing with what she mentioned will be her new single; “Holy Roller.”

Next, after a 30 minute changeover, it was finally time for Years & Years to perform in Chicago for the first time in years (and years). The eager audience full of dedicated fans of Olly Alexander and his bandmates Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen last had the chance to see the band perform in town at 2016’s Lollapalooza. Before that, Years & Years had performed another sold out headline show in 2015 at Park West, which highlighted songs from the group’s debut album. Now, the trio was back and bigger than ever to celebrate their sophomore album Palo Santo, which was released July 6th this year. For the Palo Santo Tour, Alexander, Goldsworthy, and Türkmen set themselves up for the best possible live show, bringing a backdrop that featured theatrical lights, steps and a platform for Alexander to dance along to their music. They also brought along a drummer to help recreate their production-heavy songs in an authentic, live setting and two backing vocalists to add a richness and depth to Alexander’s silky smooth vocals. The full band helped bring newer songs like “Sanctify” and “Karma” to life, but they also put a fresh spin on the older songs that had led many fans to first discover Years & Years, like “Shine” and “Desire.” With the fullness that the band provided to the live show and Alexander’s flawless vocal performance that never faltered, even through energetic dance moves, the momentum of the night never hit a lull. Even during the band’s one slower song, “Eyes Shut,” which featured Alexander stationed at a keyboard in the center of the stage, the energy remained high as the crowd loudly sang the all the words back. When it came time for the band to exit the stage at the end of the night, the crowd demanded an encore with an overwhelming thunder of applause and cheers for Years & Years’ comeback show. The night wrapped up with an encore of “All for You” and “King;” and the latter had everyone in the room on their feet, dancing it out one last time.

If you missed out on the dance party, check out photos of CYN and Years & Years below!

Catch the Palo Santo tour in a city near you—dates here, and listen to the album in full below.

PHOTOS: Naked Giants and Car Seat Headrest at The Riviera Theatre 9.07.18

Check out photos of Car Seat Headrest's show in Chicago with Naked Giants on Friday, September 7th below!

See if Car Seat Headrest's tour is coming to a city near you by checking out the dates here. 

Live Recap: The Kooks and The Academic at The Vic Theatre 5.30.18

This past Wednesday, The Kooks returned to Chicago for a sold out show at The Vic Theatre, returning for the first time since 2015 when they played the same stage. The show had originally been slated for October 2017, but the band pushed the gig back to May in order to work on completing their fifth studio album Let’s Go Sunshine, which will be this August. 

Following a short but sweet set from The Academic that warmed up the crowd, The Kooks made their highly anticipated return to the Vic's stage, opening their set with "Eddie's Gun" from their 2006 debut album Inside In/Inside Out. The band made the wait for their comeback worth it by not only playing fan favorites like "Ooh La" and "Bad Habit" from their expansive discography, but by sprinkling in brand new songs throughout the set in order to showcase what they had been hidden away working on the past few years. Frontman Luke Pritchard expressed the band's gratitude for their fans, calling out all the different The Kooks t-shirts from the past years in the audience. When he wasn't expressing gratitude to the crowd, Pritchard often chatted between songs, providing backstories about the lyrics. During the songs, Pritchard pranced around the stage, making sure that he connected with the entire room by working his way across the whole stage. 

While the set remained high energy, the mood remained dynamic with the band occasionally switching up the pace by having Pritchard perform a song at the keyboard, or by having guitarist Hugh Harris perform a song on his own. After the first part of the set, Pritchard returned on his own to sing "Seaside" as the opener of a 3-song encore, asking the crowd if they were up for a sing along before beginning. Judging by the echoes of the lyrics coming from all parts of the venue, the crowd was definitely into singing along, as they had been most of the evening. The set wrapped up on a high note with "Always Where I Need to Be" and "Naïve," the group leaving the stage to thundering applause. 

Check out our photo gallery of the evening below, and see which cities The Kooks will be hitting next on this tour here. 

Preorder Let's Go Sunshine here and keep up with The Kooks on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram 

Live Recap: Unknown Mortal Orchestra at The Vic 5.3.18

This past Thursday night, Unknown Mortal Orchestra returned to Chicago for the first time since 2016, touring in support of their latest record Sex & Food, out April 6th via Jagjaguwar Records. 

The 90 minute set started off heavy with songs from Unknown Mortal Orchestra's early catalog, easing the crowd into their new material. The night kicked off with"Ffunny Ffrends," a track from the band's debut, self-titled record, which was followed by "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)" from their second album. As the setlist weaved through the band's diverse discography, frontman Ruban Nielson and the rest of the band maintained an incredibly tight sound throughout the entire show. While the performance remained incredibly sharp, the band also had a relaxed and infectious energy about them, often extending out their tracks with instrumental breaks that added depth to the live experience of their records.

Early on in the evening, during "From The Sun," Nielson actually jumped into the crowd with his guitar and played his way through the entire room, even making it up to the balcony. From that moment on, the crowd's eyes clung to the stage, the audience eager to soak up the showmanship and musicianship that Unknown Mortal Orchestra has expertly honed in on over their years together. While the band exuded an incredible stage presence, an intricate lighting show backed them, adding another facet to their live production. Between the production quality, the setlist selection, and the chemistry of the band members, Unknown Mortal Orchestra put on the perfect show.

If you get the chance, do not miss Unknown Mortal Orchestra on this tour--see the remaining dates here

Photos of Unknown Mortal Orchestra at The Vic, May 3rd, 2018

Lastly, listen to Sex & Food in full below, and keep up with UMO on Instagram and Facebook.

PHOTOS: King Krule at The Riviera Theatre 4.27.18

Photos from King Krule's show at Uptown's Riviera Theatre on Friday, April 27th, 2018

See King Krule's upcoming tour dates here