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Filtering by Tag: Live Recap

Live Recap: A Night of Nostalgia at the Pop2000 Tour

This past weekend, Joe’s Live in Rosemont hosted the Pop2000 Tour, opening up a time portal back to fifteen plus years ago, when the acts of the tour dominated the pop charts. 

After an introduction from *NSYNC’s Lance Bass, the night of nostalgia kicked off with actor/singer-songwriter Tyler Hilton, who took the stage by himself armed with an acoustic guitar. Hilton had a short but sweet set, and while he has a new album out now, he didn’t shy away from taking the trip down memory lane to perform some older favorites. Hilton took some fan requests and since the room had several One Tree Hill fans, he treated everyone to a solo rendition of “When The Stars Go Blue,” which he had performed on the show with actress Bethany Joy Lenz.

Next up, Ryan Cabrera took the stage; Like Hilton, he performed sans backing band for this tour. This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of Ryan Cabrera’s debut album Take It All Away, and his entire set paid homage to the album, keeping up with the theme of nostalgia. Between performing the hits from the album like “True,” “Shame on Me,” and of course “On The Way Down,” Cabrera recited anecdotes about the songs’ lyrics and his muses. Cabrera also showed off his chops as an entertainer when he threw in a medley of cover songs, which included The Goo Goo Dolls, Justin Bieber and Third Eye Blind.

Aaron Carter and his live ensemble were up next, and after opening with the hit he had in 2000, “I Want Candy,” Carter’s set remained a steady mix of new material with just a few throwbacks. Carter talked about his 2018 album LØVË and performed singles like “Fool’s Gold” and “Dearly Departed,” which both had the crowd singing and dancing along. By the end of his energetic set, the crowd was fully ready for O-Town to hit the stage. 


Headliners O-Town didn’t disappoint in terms of nostalgia--opening up with their hit “Liquid Dreams.” While they were able to take the audience back to the days of TRL and Making The Band with their dance moves and classic songs, the band also announced that they had new music on the way this month, thanks to crowd-funding that allowed them to record brand new music. The set of course included some of the new material, but they drove home the hits of the early 2000s era by closing the night with not one, but two covers of *NSYNC songs ahead of their final song, “All Or Nothing.” Their finale was definitely the highlight of the night-- between Lance Bass making an appearance to do the choreography to “Bye Bye Bye” with the O-Town band members and the entire room belting along to the closing ballad, the entire night ended with a bang.


Photo of Tyler Hilton, Ryan Cabrera, Aaron Carter, O-Town and Lance Bass

Live Recap: BANKS Makes Her Chicago Comeback on the Eve of Third Album Release

The House of Vans Summer House Parties concert series always presents a wide array of different artists— from pop to hip hop and rock, the Summer House Parties give music fans in Chicago an opportunity to see some of their favorite artists or discover new ones.

This past Thursday night, the venue hosted an evening curated by one of my personal favorite artists: BANKS, who brought her raw and vulnerable R&B infused pop tunes to the stage in Chicago for the first time since 2017. The evening not only marked BANKS’ comeback to Chicago, but in general; With her third album being released at midnight the night of the show, this performance celebrated the beginning of a new era. Fans that had lined up around the block to attend this House of Vans performance were undoubtedly excited to hear some of the newer material performed in front of them for the first time ever, but they were also eager to revisit some of their old favorites from BANKS’ first two albums: Goddess and The Altar. When BANKS appeared on the dimly lit stage to an enthusiastic welcome, she delivered several throwbacks in the first section of the set; After opening with 2013’s “Waiting Game,” she followed up with “Fuck With Myself” and “Gemini Feed.” These songs, with their personable sentiment and their gut-wrenching sense of honesty, allow for fans to truly feel and connect with the music. In the live sense, that connection only intensified thanks to BANKS’ emotive and earnest vocals, which swirled together with moody lighting and theatrical dancing to create an immersive experience.

The production element of Thursday night’s show and BANKS’ stage presence in general seemed more developed since her last performance here— the singer appeared more at ease in front of an audience, even as she bared her soul through her lyrics. Just like her stage persona, BANKS’ new songs like “Gimme,” “Contaminated,” and “Look What You’re Doing To Me” from the new album all seem to have more intricate layers to them, signifying the growth that the songwriter has experienced in the last couple of years. As the night continued on and BANKS poured her energy into performing her songs from the past and present, the concert felt like a cathartic therapy session for both her and everyone in the crowd. When it came time for the show to end, the mood in the room was bittersweet, but BANKS’ return had been well worth the wait. After Thursday’s show, it’s clear that BANKS is back in full swing, and if you loved the show as much as I did, you don’t have to wait long for her return— BANKS will be performing at The Riviera Theatre in September with Kevin Garrett.

Photos of the BANKS House of Vans show-featuring special guest Anna Lunoe

Keep up with BANKS on Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Live Recap: Charly Bliss Bring The High Energy to Lincoln Hall

Just last month Charly Bliss released their highly-anticipated second album Young Enough - out now on via Barsuk Records - to a flurry of fantastically positive reviews. It is a definitive glow up from the band’s debut album Guppy that was a short yet powerful 29-minute hit of power pop to the face. Building on the excitement of fresh new material and already beloved “oldies”, the band brought Young Enough tour to Lincoln Hall on Saturday, June 15 with support from Emily Reo. 

It isn’t every day that a show opens up with an artist on the keytar, but that’s Emily Reo. Her ambitious electro-pop sugar coats darker lyrics about mansplainers and beloved cats who have crossed over to the beyond. Performing songs from her latest release Only You Can See It with her trio band as support, Emily Reo’s stuns audiences with her efficacious vocals and multi-instrumentalist talent. 

Busting out onto the stage in a tulle dress and a matching band in all white outfits, Charly Bliss - started by sister brother duo Eva and Sam Hendricks - launched into ‘Blown to Bits’ from the new album. Bouncing around and feeding off the crowd’s energy, the band’s overwhelming positivity and lively spirit was so infectious you couldn’t help, but want to dance too. Every band says “Chicago is one of their favorite cities to play in,” but you could truly feel the love this time. The setlist was a good mix of new work from Young Enough and Guppy with a ‘Mr. Brightside’ cover thrown in at the end for a good ol’ razzle dazzle to finish off the show. It is hard to not to fall in love with Charly Bliss’ power pop anthems rich in cathartic energy, especially in live form. It’s only a matter of time before the Brooklyn-based band take over with their in your face punk bubblegum pop.

Charly Bliss is on tour for the remainder of the year. Check their website for additional details and listen to Young Enough on your favorite streaming platform. 



LIVE RECAP: Faye Webster at Schubas 06.19.19

Just a few short months ago, Faye Webster had warmed up the crowd at a sold out Stella Donnelly show at Schubas, captivating the packed room with just her dreamy vocals, her guitar, and the accompaniment of her pedal steel-player, Pistol.

When last Wednesday night rolled around, it almost felt like no time had passed since that night, but Webster’s return for her sold out headlining show included a full live backing band, as well as a fleshed out set list featuring songs from her latest album Atlanta Millionaires Club, released May 24th via Secretly Canadian. Webster’s band helped create a more full sound and bring songs like “Right Side of My Neck” and “Flowers” from the album to life. While the set primarily focused on the new material, it also mixed in songs from Webster’s 2017 self-titled album and a cover of Atlanta rapper Father’s “Cheap Thrills” that Webster played solo, sans her bandmates. Following a couple of solo songs, Webster welcomed not only her bandmates back onstage, but the yo-yo connoisseur Xion to the stage. Xion and Webster’s own yo-yo skills stole the show and got the audience amped up for the final few songs of the evening.

If you missed out on tickets to the show, see where you can catch Faye Webster next here, and check out photos from the show below.

Keep up with Faye Webster on Instagram and Facebook

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

Live Recap: Molly Burch Makes Chicago Headline Debut at Schubas 05.16.19

After a handful of support slots for artists like Tim Darcy and Alex Cameron, Molly Burch finally made her headlining debut in Chicago this past Thursday night. The Austin-based singer songwriter instantly captivated the crowd at Schubas with her soulful and alluring sound that’s both reminiscent of the classics like Billie Holiday and Patsy Cline, yet refreshing and unique. Her dreamy vocals combines the perfect mix of croon with just a hint of twang.

Much like Burch’s dexterous singing capabilities, with a range that scales both powerful and delicate notes, her stage presence has an effortless grace about it. Burch remained cool and composed even when belting out the chorus of her debut album’s title track, “Please Be Mine.” That song has always been a favorite of mine from the album, but seeing it performed live by Burch and her bandmates (who lent some harmonious backing vocals to the tune) really brought the ballad to life. Thursday’s night set was also a special treat for me because I got to hear several songs off of Molly Burch’s sophomore album, First Flower, live for the first time, since this was the first time Burch had toured in Chicago since its October release date. The follow up to Please Be Mine stays true to Burch’s signature style but also shows a growth and exploration of new subjects and sounds, and the new songs translated very well in the live sense. It was nearly impossible not to sway along to every song throughout the night.

If you get a chance to catch a show from Molly Burch, don’t pass it up— see her upcoming tour dates here, and check out photos from her Chicago show below.

Listen to Molly Burch’s First Flower in full below.

Live Recap: Kevin Garrett Makes His Return to Lincoln Hall

The first time I saw Kevin Garrett perform was way back in 2015, when he opened up an X Ambassadors show at Lincoln Hall and he only had one EP (Mellow Drama) to his name. This past Sunday night, I got to see Kevin Garrett return to the very same stage—only this time he was headlining, and he had a lot of new material under his belt.

Between the first time and this most recent show, Garrett has been back to Chicago performing on several different stages, and he independently released 2017’s False Hope Ep and his 2019 full length debut Hoax. His debut album had been a long time coming, and it followed a significant touring hiatus. “Some people thought I died last year,” the singer had joked during his set when he mentioned his time away. While it may have been a significant break, fans old and new filled up the room, eager to soak in long-time favorites and brand new songs. Garrett and his live band beautifully delivered everything they had as they performed songs from the album for the first time and put a refreshing spin on some of the older material. They even performed “Pray You Catch Me,” which Garrett had written with Beyonce for 2016’s Lemonade. The dynamic setlist truly went full circle— beginning with the first track from Hoax, “Warn,” and ending with Garrett’s most popular track, “Coloring,” which is the first track off his debut EP. Throughout the 90 minute set, Garrett’s signature falsetto vocals never wavered, pulling the crowd in with the vulnerable and raw quality of his songwriting. Fans joined in on the cathartic singalong of course, which didn’t go unnoticed by Garrett. “I’m in Chicago and you guys are singing songs I wrote in my bedroom,” he said as he thanked the audience for their continued support throughout the years.

There’s an undeniable sense of authenticity to Kevin Garrett’s music and his live performances, and it’s clear that as long as that quality remains, Chicago will be showing up to support him for a long time. See where you can catch Kevin Garrett on tour next here, and see photos of his latest Chicago performance below!

Live Recap: Matt Maeson at Lincoln Hall 05.06.19

After a headlining show at Schubas back in 2016, a handful of opening slots at various venues around town, and a set at Lollapalooza 2018, Matt Maeson returned to Chicago on Monday night for a headlining set at Lincoln Hall. Unsurprisingly, the show sold out weeks in advance.

The same fans who had eagerly bought tickets for the show arrived right on time to get a prime spot to hear Maeson’s heartfelt narratives that blend together indie rock and pop vibes with his soulful vocals and poetic lyricism. This show marked Maeson’s first time in Chicago since his full length debut album Bank On The Funeral dropped on April 5th, but his set opened up with the familiar single “Hallucinogenic” from 2018— it’s slow-building and begins with an acoustic guitar and Maeson’s soft crooning. When the explosive and emotive chorus for the night’s opening song kicked in, the whole crowd could be heard singing along, providing a stereo style singalong. That same style of singalong continued throughout the rest of the night; It didn’t matter if Maeson was singing one of his newer songs like “Beggar’s Song", one of the singles from his full length, or if he was performing his most popular song “Cringe”— the entire room echoed the words back.

Although a vast majority of the songs possess a certain heaviness and sincerity in the subject matter and the tones can be mellow and melancholy, Maeson did lighten the mood with some banter in between songs. During one of the breaks between songs, a fan yelled out something about shiny boots, which had made an appearance in a promo shoot that Maeson did. Sadly, he had to post a follow up video to clear up that he didn’t actually own the $1500 boots and just had them for a photo and video shoot. Luckily, one of the fans in the Chicago crowd heard about the loss of the boots, and she crafted a mini pair of the boots to gift Maeson during the concert.

If you weren’t able to snag a pair of tickets to this sold out show on Monday, check out our photo gallery of the evening for a peak of what you missed!

Keep up with Matt Maeson on Twitter // Instagram // Facebook and listen to Bank On The Funeral in full below!

More on Matt Maeson

Live Recap: Aly & AJ Provide Sanctuary for Their Fans at House of Blues

In the past few years, it’s almost come to be expected that a movie from our childhood will be remade, a TV show from the 90’s will be rebooted, or a band whose poster we hung up in our room in high school will embark on a reunion tour. So when sisters Aly and AJ Michalka announced a new EP 10 years in 2017 and returned to touring after a bit of a hiatus, it came as no surprise that both long-term fans and new listeners alike flocked to support the duo in a new era. With yet another new EP, Sanctuary, dropping this Friday, May 10th, and another massive tour underway, it’s clear that Aly & AJ’s comeback offers so much more than just a token of nostalgia; there’s a genuine passion and an immense talent that shines through-- both on their latest releases and during their live shows.

On Sunday night, the sisters returned to Chicago to perform to a sold out crowd at The House of Blues, promptly returning to the city after their last live show here in July at Thalia Hall. As eager fans quickly filled up the historic theater to see the show, it was clear that Aly & AJ would be welcomed back to Chicago any time. The house lights dimmed and light poles that had been positioned around the stage glistened, blinking on and off, signifying the start of a journey that fans would experience during the show. That journey began with “Church,” the lead single from the upcoming EP, giving everyone a taste of the new music before diving into a setlist that would touch on every era of Aly & AJ’s sound.

Throughout the show, the sisters moved around onstage donning matching blue, sparkly suits and their lighting rig transitioned between different tones and hues for each song, giving the audience a spectacle that was just as visually enthralling as it was audibly. Aly & AJ’s close bond clearly translated as they played together, but they even had incredible chemistry with their other bandmates; their tightness as musicians spotlighted the time and thought that they all put into making the show the best possible experience. The great sound quality, production quality, and the sibling harmonies mixed with some refreshed and drawn out live arrangements really made for a special event and one of those shows where you just had to be there to explain the energy in the room. To top it all off, Aly & AJ also treated their fans to their own rendition of “Slow Burn” by Kacey Musgraves in between fan-favorites on their setlist, like “Rush,” “Potential Breakup Song,” and “Like Whoa.”

About their tour, Aly has said “Shows are a sanctuary for our fans. We find a lot of peace and healing comes with talking to them while on tour,” and after getting to experience one of their recent shows, there’s no denying the truth in that statement. The sisters have also partnered with the Trevor Project, which is a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people, on this tour. By taking some time to discuss the work that the Trevor Project does and collect donations, Aly & AJ further emphasized the point that their shows are safe spaces for all of their fans.

If you’re looking to experience you own Aly & AJ oasis, see where you can catch them on tour next here.

Photos of Aly & AJ at House of Blues 05.05.19

Pre-order Sanctuary here and listen to the latest single “Don’t Go Changing” below!

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 Father 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.