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Filtering by Tag: Live Review

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: Canadian Punk Rockers PUP Deliver a Masterful Sold Out Performance at Metro

When PUP rolls through your town, you know you’re about to experience a cathartic show. And their recent concert at Metro on May 4 was nothing short of a sweaty, moshing sold out dream. Chicago indie-country rising stars Ratboys helped open up the show playing a few hits off their last album “GN” - out on Topshelf Records now. Songs included “Elvis in the Freezer”, “Molly”, and “Crying about the Planets.” Fronted by Julia Steiner and David Sagan, the duo delivered serious punk rock energy on the stage - even busting a few strings along the way.

Before PUP even began their set, there was a rush of fans to the barriers and electrifying excitement pulsated in the air. It’s been a minute since the band graced the Midwest and it certainly had fans riled up. The band kicked off their set with the single off their recently released album of the same name Morbid Stuff. They played fan favorites such as “Free at Last,” “Scorpion Hill,” and “Reservoir.”

Earlier in the year, the band shared the tabs to their song “Free at Last” on Twitter and asked fans to cover the song. One of the best covers the band received was from Kodakrome, a local Chicagoan act. PUP invited the band to play their version of the song for the crowd and then launched into their version of it. Before playing their final song, PUP announced they don’t do encores and ripped into “DVP”…A grand way to end a masterful first sold out show at the Metro.

The band will return to play the venue once more on May 23rd. Check out their tour dates, many of which are sold out, here.

Photos of Rayboys and PUP on 5/4/19

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: The Japanese House and Art School Girlfriend at Bottom Lounge 4.29.19

This past Monday night, my week started off on a high note with a sold out show from The Japanese House and Art School Girlfriend. The moniker for English musician and songwriter Amber Bain, The Japanese House is no stranger to Chicago, having played sold out shows at Lincoln Hall and Bottom Lounge in the past, and performing at Lollapalooza. This show marked Bain’s return to the Bottom Lounge and her first performance in Chicago since releasing her debut full length album Good At Falling on March 1st.

While I was able to catch The Japanese House’s set at Lollapalooza in 2017, this show was my first time seeing a headlining show from Bain and her bandmates. I arrived at the venue early to catch the opening set from Art School Girlfriend, the stage name for solo musician Polly Mackey from Margate, UK. Mackey took the stage on her own and captivated the audience with her experimental electronic sound, which had hints of influence from the likes of Zola Jesus and The xx. When Art School Girlfriend’s set started, the Monday night crowd had still been pretty thin as everyone still made their way to the venue from work— but by the end, the room had mostly filled in.

After a short changeover, Bain and her band took the stage to a hazy intro track, which faded into “Face Like Thunder,” from 2016’s EP Swim Against the Tide. Right away, Bain hooked the audience with her dreamy vocals, mesmerizing harmonies, and a tightness with her bandmates that brought the songs from her album to life in a really vivid way. Early on in the show, an audience member shouted out, “you’re my favorite artist!” (a sentiment that I think many people in the crowd shared) and passed a bouquet of flowers to Bain. That moment set up the night to become even more special, as a room full of strangers bonded over a shared love of an artist. Bain also did a great job at crafting a setlist that highlighted the best parts of The Japanese House’s discography, including a throwback to “Still” from her 2015 debut EP, which the crowd seemed to love. The audience also eagerly soaked up the performance of newer songs, like “Follow My Girl” and “Lilo” from the the new album.

The Japanese House’s show on Monday provided an oasis-like escape for fans to hear some of the new material performed live for the first time. If you weren’t able to attend, relive some of the magic by checking out photos from the evening below, and see where you can catch The Japanese House on tour next here.

Listen to Good At Falling in full below and keep up with The Japanese House on Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Live Recap: ‘A Night Out With’ Aussie Surf Rockers Hockey Dad and HUNNY at Subterranean

Roughly 15,078 km away from their home of New South Wales Australia, Hockey Dad - comprised of duo Zach Stephenson and Billy Fleming - made Subterranean feel like home with their catchy surf-rock tunes, with a set that included a stellar mix of hits off of their first two albums. Returning to the Windy City six months after their previous headlining show at Beat Kitchen, the show was twice as packed and twice as fun. The sold-out show was vibing off the band’s infectious energy, singing back lyrics and dancing to the tune of crowd favorites like “Danny,” “My Stride,” and “Sweet Release.” The duo’s set saw plenty of crowd surfers catapulting off the stage, giving the show a very punk and rowdy vibe.

The band was accompanied by post-punk, pop band HUNNY from California, whose melodious sound had the crowd jumping and the floor shaking. Hunny played a few new singles such as “Vowels (And the Importance of Being Me)” and the already beloved songs, such as “Natalie,” “Rebel Red,” and “July.” The highlight of the band’s set was when HUNNY is frontman Jason Yarger hung off the balcony rail over astonished and (only slightly) frightened fans below during the band’s last song. He made it down safely into the pit to finish off the set. Pllush ( with two ls and from San Francisco—as to not be confused from the other Plush band out there) opened up the show with their sweet shoegaze/groovy pop that was rife with heavy 90’s influenced bass lines. This being their first time in Chicago, the band was greeted with warmth from the crowd who couldn’t get enough of lead singer Karli’s sweet harmonies and vocals. The Father/Daugther records artist are absolutely on the rise and their last album Stranger to the Pain is worth a spin or two.


Listen to Hockey Dad here and visit their website for additional tour info, merch, and news.

Photos of Pllush, HUNNY, and Hockey Dad from 2.01.19


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.

Live Recap: All Time Low's Holiday Weekend Kick Off at House of Blues

All Time Low returned to downtown Chicago’s House of Blues on Friday, December 21st to kick off the holiday weekend.

Fans of all ages flocked to The House of Blues on Friday night, bustling with excitement as they filled the decadent theater from wall to wall. After an opening set from Los Angeles band The Wrecks, the sold out crowd animatedly chatted during the stage changeover. Finally, after the 30 minute stretch, the house lights dimmed and the sound of “We Will Rock You” by Queen surrounded the audience, who clapped, stomped, and sang along while they waited for the four members of All Time Low to hit the stage. Seeing as the show took place a few short days before Christmas, the Queen song transitioned into “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey, teasing the crowd one more time before the band finally burst onto the stage.

Once the band members had taken their place on the dim stage, the show began with a flash of bright lights and the opening notes of “Stella” from 2009’s Nothing Personal rang out into the crowd. From the get go, lead singer Alex Gaskarth refused to remain stationary for too long, often leaving his designated spot at the center of the stage to wander closer to the edge of the stage and give attention to every corner of the room. The fans in the crowd matched the band’s lively spirit, loudly singing along and jumping to every single song, no matter if it was from the early era of the 2000’s or one of their latest singles like “Everything is Fine,” which they played second. Along with the jumping and dancing that made House of Blues’ floor bounce and shake, fans immediately began crowd surfing and they stayed up for the entire show— with some fans crowd surfing even during the band’s slower songs.

Throughout the night, the unbeatable sense of chemistry and the enthusiastic performance from the four band members kept the mood high, but between songs, the band kept the audience laughing and smiling with their humorous stage banter; with Gaskarth and guitarist Jack Barakat often firing quips back and forth or cracking jokes with audience members. Gaskarth also kept the tone of the night light-hearted by granting passes for normal security faux pas— when introducing the song “Something’s Gotta Give,” he encouraged the crowd to channel their music festival habits, saying, “I understand in this here establishment, we can’t get on shoulders, but I’m gonna need you to get on some shoulders for this.” Fans took a break from crowd surfing for this song to climb on their friends’ shoulders and sway. Things slowed down slightly for “Therapy,” which followed, but the audience’s sing a long still echoed loudly, and some fans put their phone lights or lighters in the air to keep the crowd participation levels up.

Later on in the night, an interaction between Gaskarth and a long-time fan summed up a good portion of the room’s history with the band; When a crowd surfer got pulled over the barricade right at the end of a song, she got lucky enough to catch the singer’s ear and he asked security to let her stop and introduce herself with the microphone. “I looked down and she’s just like HEY I’M CHRISTIE! I WAS 13 WHEN I FIRST SAW YOU,” Gaskarth said, filling in everyone in the balcony and the back of the venue who may have missed the beginning of the interaction. While the crowd on Friday night definitely contained teenagers and some older generations, the majority of the audience members, like Christie, were now in their 20’s and had been listening to All Time Low for more than 10 years— since they were teenagers. And luckily for the fans who have been with All Time Low for years, the setlist for the Chicago show contained a good mix of their discography, filling everyone with nostalgia during the early-day throwbacks. Further catering to the nostalgia, All Time Low ended Friday’s encore with “Jasey Rae” from their 2006 debut album and “Dear Maria, Count Me In” from their 2008 album So Wrong, It's Right. Regardless of how long you’d been listening to the band or how many years you’ve been going to their concerts, there was no denying the feel-good mood of the room and the sense of happiness everyone felt as they left the show that night.

If you missed out on the sold out show, check out photos from All Time Low’s set below.

Keep up with All Time Low on Twitter // Instagram // Facebook



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

Live Recap: Celebrating Halloween with Sir Sly and Joywave at HOB Chicago

On All Hallow’s Eve, fans packed the House of Blues to catch a co-headlining tour from Rochester’s Joywave and LA’s Sir Sly.

After husband and wife duo from Minnesota and Sweden, respectively, Flora Cash warmed up the stage for the evening’s co-headliners, Joywave made their long awaited and highly anticipated return to a Chicago stage, rushing out to a startling swirl of lights. Along with the flood of overhead lights, the band set the night off with a bang, opening with the appropriately titled single “Blastoffff,” which just came out this Summer and features a heavy bassline and explosive chorus. Massive light boxes with phrases like “Applause,” “Jump,” and “Vape” sat behind the band, adding even more glimmer to the bright production set up. The group kept the momentum going by following up with “Somebody New” from their 2015 album, which also features in-your-face bass. Of course, with it being Halloween, Joywave added some spookiness to their set by donning costumes onstage, but they really upped their Halloween game towards the end of their set. After playing nearly an hour long mix of songs from 2015’s How Do You Feel Now? and 2017’s Content, their set began to wind down with “Tongues” from the former. During the second to last song of their set, one of the band’s friend crashed the stage dressed as the devil to help them finish out the song, which immediately segued into their closing song “Destruction.” The set’s finale had the whole room jumping in unison, causing the floor at the theatre to bounce.

Closing out the night, Sir Sly— or Disturbed, as Joywave’s Daniel Armbruster had teased their Halloween costumes earlier in the night— took the stage rocking full goth makeup and black outfits. As they began their first song, their latest and unreleased track called “Welcome The Pressure,” the room filled with a haze of fog, going along with the dark and spooky vibes of the night. Frontman Landon Jacobs and his bandmates Hayden Coplen and Jason Suwito had last been to Chicago just a couple months prior to play Lollapalooza, one of the many festivals the band hit on their Spring and Summer tour runs. Chicago warmly welcomed back the LA trio, with the full house loudly singing along to Sir Sly songs old and new, and Jacobs couldn’t help but break out of his dark demeanor to show his appreciation. “Have you ever seen a goth this smiley?” Jacobs asked the crowd, beaming about the fact that this show marked their biggest headline show in Chicago to date.

Throughout the rest of the set, the three piece kept a heavy focus on the fact that it was Halloween, but their usual goofy personalities also continued to shine through. “I didn’t wear makeup for nothing,” Jacobs also joked when asking the crowd to go as hard as they could for the rest of the night. The audience didn’t disappoint and kept their energy high to match the momentum of songs like “Trippin’” and “Change” from 2017’s Don’t You Worry, Honey. Jacobs kept the latter fresh and unique to this show by delivering a one-off monologue during the bridge, which has changed every time I’ve seen them on this album cycle. The band also kept their Halloween show special by giving the audience a rare “choose your own adventure” option after performing another one of their aptly spooky songs “Ghost” from their debut album. Jacobs gave the crowd the choice of either hearing a sad song with a speech introducing it, or hearing another Halloween song. Of course, the votes swayed towards the second option and the band played “You Haunt Me,” the title track from their 2014 debut. The eerie mood continued throughout the rest of the night, when Jacobs introduced their single “High” by saying it was based off the scariest thing that’s ever happened to him. “I got too high in a hotel room and I thought I was gonna die. Here I am still standing, but I tasted a little bit of death,” he said before launching into the song. The song once again had the room jumping so high that the floors would shake, but Sir Sly didn’t let the mood die down; instead they launched into an immediate encore performance of the popular single, feeding everyone a second dose of “High.” The night ended with “&Run,” another high intensity single, which the band performed with a fleshed out live arrangement, stretching out the ending with a crescendoing finale. Every time I’ve watched Sir Sly perform, they leave everything they’ve got on the stage, pouring themselves into the performance in such a genuine fashion. It’s only a matter of time before they’re headlining bigger shows and getting more of the attention that they deserve as artists.

If you missed out on the Halloween festivities, check out our photo gallery of all three bands below, and see where you can catch Sir Sly next here.