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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





SXSW 2019: The Complete Photo Gallery

Check out our photo gallery from the annual SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas— and stay tuned for interviews and more recaps coming next week.


March 12th featuring Husky Loops, Fatherson, and ShitKid

March 13th featuring The Dunts, Thyla, Easy Life, Dehd, Molly Burch, Slow Pulp, Shy Boys, Fontaines D.C.

March 14th: ANCHR Showcase featuring Faux Furrs, Seasaw, The Golden Fleece, Deeper, Pool Holograph, Uma Bloo, Half Gringa, Rookie, Thompson Springs, The Evening Attraction, Blue Dream

March 15th featuring Pottery, Parrot Dream, Black Belt Eagle Scout, HÆLOS, Tasha, Sir Babygirl

March 16th featuring WAND, Fontaines D.C., Gnarcissists, Stuyedeyed, High Waisted, Pinky Pinky, The Dunts, Native Sun, Miya Folick, Kirin J Callinan

Portraits featuring Stuyedeyed, Nardwuar with Public Practice, Pinky Pinky, Native Sun, Ric Wilson and The Dunts


SXSW 2019 Highlights: The Best New Acts We Saw in Austin

As with most music festivals, I went into the week at SXSW having a list of artists I had seen before and wanted to see again, but the true beauty of any festival is stumbling across some gems that you’ve either never seen before, or never even heard of. With hundreds of showcases and more than a thousand artists, SXSW offers the best opportunities for music fans to discover their new favorite bands, and this year I definitely found a few new personal favorites. Read up on the nine best new bands I caught at SXSW 2019 below!


Fatherson

I caught a great set from Scottish rock band Fatherson on my first night in Austin, on March 12th at Seven Grand. The Kilmarnock-based trio fronted by Ross Leighton have actually been around since 2010 and toured with the likes of Biffy Clyro, Frightened Rabbit, Panic! at the Disco, and Enter Shikari, but this year marked their return to SXSW for the first time since 2015, and I finally got the chance to see them perform this time around. Throughout their set at Seven Grand, the bandmates seemed to have this sense of ease and chemistry between one another, which perfectly complimented Leighton’s powerful, yet silky vocals.

Listen to Fatherson’s 2018 album Sum of All Your Parts here and see where they’re playing next here.

For Fans Of: Foals, Twin Atlantic, Frightened Rabbit

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ShitKid

Swedish musician Åsa Söderqvist— AKA ShitKid— took the stage at the wee hour of 1AM on March 12th at Cheer Up Charlie’s indoor venue, and while she and the audience theoretically should have been exhausted from a full day of music at that point, no one let on and the room buzzed with an electric energy during the entire set, proving you shouldn’t ever judge a band by their name. Söderqvist and her bandmate kept the crowd entertained throughout their set with different antics; whether it was dismantling the drum set on stage, climbing ledges around the room, or lifting their instruments above their heads, there was never a dull moment during the show. Unsurprisingly, the crowd begged for an encore song from ShitKid, but unfortunately the venue curfew didn’t allow for their demands to be granted.

Keep up with ShitKid’s upcoming tour dates here.

For Fans Of: Cherry Glazerr, Chastity Belt, Charly Bliss

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Fontaines D.C.

Easily one of the most buzzed about bands at this year’s festival, the Dublin-based Fontaines D.C. put on a show well worth the hype. I had the pleasure of seeing them perform twice, for the first time on March 13th at Swan Dive, which drew a huge crowd and a line out the door. The band’s collective stage presence had this juxtapositional sense about it, with lead singer Grian Chatten coming across visibly anxious as he paced the stage on his tip toes and bit his fingernails, while his bandmates would thrash around the stage or climb up on the amps during the show. The dynamic worked really well and had everyone hooked, and towards the end of the set, a large mosh pit started going for the Irish punk band.

Fontaines D.C. returns to The States later this year for a tour with Idles— dates here, and you can listen to their latest single here.


For Fans Of: Idles, Iceage, Protomartyr

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The Dunts

Another great export from across the pond at this year’s SXSW: Glasgow’s The Dunts. The four-piece formed in late 2016, but have already garnered plenty of buzz around their sound and live performances, which has earned them past slots at Reeding and Leeds festival and upcoming slots at UK Festivals this summer. Their guitar-driven tracks and rowdy stage presence blends perfectly with their catchy choruses and guaranteed-to-get-stuck-in-your-head melodies. Although this was their first ever SXSW, both of their performances that I caught (on 3/13 at The British Embassy and 3/16 at 720 Club) drew in very large crowds of enthusiastic fans.

Stay tuned for an interview with The Dunts coming soon, right here on ANCHR!

For Fans Of: The Vaccines, Shame, White Reaper

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Black Belt Eagle Scout

I was lucky enough to catch Black Belt Eagle Scout, the project of singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Katherine Paul, on Friday, 3/15, when I arrived to a venue early for HÆLOS’ final set of the festival. While I had never had a chance to listen to Black Belt Eagle Scout’s music, Paul and her bandmates instantly won me over with their live show, which kept the audience on their toes with a dynamic performance. The set had more delicate, softer moments that lured the audience members in, but Paul and her bassist also didn’t pass up the opportunity to shred.

Black Belt Eagle Scout will tour with Julia Jacklin in April and May, including an already sold out show at Schubas Tavern on May 8th. Full dates here.


For Fans Of: Julia Jacklin, Miya Folick, The Beths

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Pottery

Montreal’s Pottery hasn’t been around long at all, but they had large crowds at both of their sets that I attended. Blending together elements of different genres—from surf rock to post-punk to krautrock— there’s a special element to their sound that you just can’t put your finger on, but it made the perfect soundtrack for Friday afternoon when I first saw them at a Cheer Up Charlie’s day party. So far Pottery has only released two singles, but based on their live shows, their future releases will be worth the wait.

See where you can catch the new band on tour next— upcoming dates here.

For Fans Of: The Districts, Omni, Ty Segall

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Sir Babygirl

For the Father/Daughter Records showcase on Friday night, Sir Babygirl (the moniker for musician Kelsie Hogue) went all out with her stage presence; face paint, a full getup featuring a tutu-esque cape, and back up dancers. While that performance was completely captivating and demanded the audience’s attention for obvious reasons, I also had the chance to catch a solo, acoustic set from Sir Babygirl on Sunday afternoon, and Hogue’s stripped-back performance commanded the room just the same as the first time I saw her perform. As a songwriter and performer, Sir Babygirl exudes her message so clearly and so powerfully that you can’t help but listen and appreciate.

Keep up with Sir Babygirl updates here.

For Fans Of: Hand Habits, Caroline Rose, illuminati hotties

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Native Sun

SXSW-goers packed in Cheer Up Charlie’s indoor room for a rambunctious show from New York’s Native Sun on Saturday night, 3/16. While the four-piece was another one of buzziest bands this year, my first time seeing them only exceeded my expectations. Between the crowd surfing that occurred in the low-ceiling venue and lead singer Danny Gomez jumping off stage while the rest of the band let loose onstage, I think it’s safe to say everyone in the room had their adrenaline pumping at the end of the set.

Keep up with Native Sun here and stay tuned for our interview with them.

For Fans Of: Acid Dad, Naked Giants, Twin Peaks

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Gnarcissists

I got the chance to finally see one of Gnarcissists’ many SXSW sets on Saturday, 3/16, at Spider House, and besides being one of the best new bands I saw, their set was one of my all-time favorites at SXSW. Although this set was near the end of the long week, the band members cranked up the volume and still poured all of their energy into this performance. Refusing to remain confined to the stage set up outdoors at Spider House, the band jumped offstage to play amongst the crowd that had gathered to watch the care-free gig.

Keep up with Gnarcissists’ upcoming shows and announcements here.


For Fans Of: Cage The Elephant, Frankie and the Witch Fingers, Stuyedeyed

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SXSW Spotlight 2019: Ten Acts Not to Miss This Year

The annual SXSW Festival kicked off over the weekend in Austin, Texas with Interactive and Film festivals, and the Music festival commences this week with over a thousand showcasing artists performing at different venues around the city. Between unofficial and official showcases happening all day and all night, creating your schedule for the fest can be quite an overwhelming feat. If you’re looking for some help selecting artists to keep on your radar throughout the week, we’ve got you covered! Below are ten official showcasing artists that are ANCHR approved must-sees.


Deeper

With their catchy, punchy guitar melodies and the refreshing spin they put on post punk influences, Chicago’s Deeper is one band you can’t miss at SXSW this year. They’ve played stages of all sizes across Chicago over the past few years— most recently selling out a headlining gig at Sleeping Village and taking part in a packed Planned Parenthood fundraiser at Lincoln Hall. Since the release of their self-titled debut record in 2018, Deeper has spent a significant of time out on the road, including a cross country stint with The Districts. Get to know more about the band here, and go see them at one of their nine shows this week!

For Fans Of: Omni, Ought, The Districts

Start With: “Pink Showers,” “Pavement,” and “Message Erased”

Where to catch them: Deeper will be playing showcases 3/12 through 3/15. See their full schedule here, including a spot on the ANCHR Magazine showcase.

Thumbnail Image of Deeper by Brendan Carroll

Madeline Kenney

Multi-tasker extrodinaire Madeline Kenney followed up her 2017 debut record with Perfect Shapes last year, an album she recorded in Durham, North Carolina with producer Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes). Kenney managed to write and record her sophomore effort while also running her own record label and touring throughout the year— sharing stages with the likes of Wye Oak, Soccer Mommy, and Jay Som. Perfect Shapes embodies Kenney’s growth as an artist and the triumph that can come from creating outside of your comfort zone and past boundaries. Although the album is full of complexity on both a lyrical and sonic level, weaving together layered and experimental sounds, Kenney and her band step up to the challenge of bringing these songs to life on stage, with more limited resources than in the studio. Don’t miss out on Madeline Kenney’s handful of gigs this week, and get to know more about her here.

For Fans Of: Miya Folick, Lala Lala, Flock of Dimes

Start With: “Bad Idea,” “Cut Me Off,” and “Perfect Shapes”

Where to catch her: Madeline has shows at SXSW from 3/10 through 3/14. See her full schedule here.

Lunar Vacation

Hailing from Atlanta, Lunar Vacation’s surf rock vibes (or “pool rock,” as they describe it) will fit right in with the warm weather in Austin this week. On their EPs Artificial Flavors and Swell, the band mix breezy guitar melodies with enchanting, hazy vocals that will be sure to get you swaying along during their shows. Although Lunar Vacation just formed in 2016, the band has already shared the stage with the likes of Hockey Dad, Calpurnia and Triathalon, and they’re giving you plenty of chances to see them during SXSW.

For Fans Of: Beach Bunny, The Marías, Hockey Dad

Start With: “The Basement,” “Swimming,” and “Too Late, Colin”

Where to catch them: Lunar Vacation has shows at SXSW from 3/11 through 3/17— full schedule here.

Slow Pulp

Slow Pulp recently moved from Madison to Chicago and quickly took the city by a storm, selling out a headlining show at Schubas in January and opening up a sold out Vundabar show at The SubT only a few weeks later. It’s no doubt they’ll be a hit at this year’s SXSW with their easy-on-the-ears sound that blends together the best of psychedelic rock, indie pop and punk genres. Lead singer Emily Massey’s dreamy vocals are just as flawless onstage as they are in the band’s recorded tunes, and the whole band pours everything they’ve got into their live performances—so be sure to catch one of their energetic and inspiring gigs this week.

For Fans Of: Vundarbar, Hala, Bad Bad Hats

Start With: “Steel Birds,” “Preoccupied,” and “Die Alone”

Where to catch them: You have nine chances to catch Slow Pulp at SXSW- see them all here.

Tasha

Chicago singer-songwriter Tasha released her stunning debut album Alone at Last in 2018 via Father/Daughter Records, garnering high praise from both music critics and fans. Blending together soothing vocals, gentle melodies and poetic lyrics, the album provides listeners with a tranquil oasis. “These are bed songs,” Tasha aptly says about the collection of soulful indie-pop songs, which will undoubtedly be a heavenly escape for SXSW festival goers this week.

For Fans Of: Gia Margaret, Jamila Woods, Sir Babygirl

Start With: “Lullaby,” “New Place,” and “Winter Song IV”

Where to catch her: Tasha will be playing a handful of shows on 3/14 and 3/15—full details here.

TWEN

Nashville’s TWEN (Jane Fitzsimmons and Ian Jones) doesn’t actually have any studio recordings out at the moment, but their vibrant live performances have already fostered a lot of buzz around the band. Recently, Jones, Fitzsimmons and their bandmates have toured around the country with Naked Giants and Ron Gallo, but this year marks the indie rock duo’s SXSW debut. They’re coming in hot with eight gigs at the festival, and you can get ready for their shows by listening to their live EP on Spotify.

For Fans Of: Caroline Rose, Ron Gallo, Sunflower Bean

Start With: “Awestruck,” “Damsel,” and “Baptism”

Where to find them: Twen is giving you plenty of chances to see them play this week, from 3/13 to 3/16. Full schedule here.

Taylor Janzen

Winnipeg-based indie folk singer-songwriter Taylor Janzen just released her debut EP last year, but she’s already struck a chord with listeners across North America. Deemed Interpersonal, the four song collection boasts a raw and vulnerable quality that’s both relatable and refreshing. This year will mark Janzen’s SXSW debut, but she’s also slated for sets at festivals like Winnipeg Folk Festival, Bunbury Festival, and Shaky Knees later this year, so don’t miss your chance to see her early on. You can find out more about Taylor Janzen (including her love for Dennis Quaid) by checking out our interview here.

For Fans Of: Soccer Mommy, Phoebe Bridgers, Boniface

Start With: “Stations,” “The Waiting Room,” and “Colourblind”

Where to catch her: See Taylor’s official SXSW schedule here.

Stuyedeyed

This Brooklyn-based four piece fronted by Nelson Hernandez-Espinal pack their music and their show with energy, volume, and a clear message. Through their lyrics and their onstage commentary, Stuyedeyed makes it clear they’re here to say something with their art, and that they’ll always use their platform to call out negative behavior and create a safe space. In addition to being advocates, the members of Stuyedeyed have proven themselves to be one of the hardest working bands by constantly touring and playing shows, while also working on new material. The band just recently wrapped up a run with Post Animal and Ron Gallo, and they’ll also be swinging back through the midwest for a string of tour dates post-SXSW. Stuyedeyed is returning to the festival this year with a show every day, so there’s no excuse not to catch them at least once this week!

For Fans Of: Post Animal, Naked Giants, Acid Dad

Start With: “Mr. Policeman,” “Funeral,” and “Gun”

Where to catch them: See Stuyedeyed from 3/11 to 3/17— more details here.

Dehd

Dehd combines the best from Chicago musicians Jason Balla (NE-HI, Earring), Emily Kempf (Vail, formerly Lala Lala) and Eric McGrady to craft a distinctive sound that’s undeniably their own. Their punchy guitars and breezy melodies have a signature tone that sets Dehd apart from other artists in the same genre, and their unique set up and enthusiastic performances make for one of the best live shows in the city. Following their 2016 self-titled debut, Dehd has released an EP and a few singles, but just last week the band announced their next full length album, Water, out May 10th. Make sure you catch one of their many shows this week to get a sneak peek at what the album will sound like.

For Fans Of: Preoccupations, Priests, Flasher

Start With: “Dying For,” “Sunburn,” and “Lucky”

Where to catch them: You have plenty of chances to see DEHD from 3/12 to 3/16—full show details here.

HÆLOS

Back in 2016, London’s HÆLOS had just released their debut album, Full Circle, and they were one of the buzziest bands at that year’s SXSW. This year, they’re finally back at the festival and on the brink of their sophomore effort, Any Random Kindness— out May 10th. The band made their first recent release with single “Buried in the Sand” in October and have since drip-fed a few more singles from the upcoming album, all of which showcase lead singer Lotti Benardout’s hypnotizing, ethereal vocals. While HÆLOS’ sound falls within an electronic pop realm, their live shows have a very organic vibe and a special touch that you can’t get just from listening to their record, so don’t miss them this week.

For Fans Of: TV On The Radio, HONNE, London Grammar

Start With: “Dust,” “Pray,” “Buried in the Sand”

Where to catch them: HÆLOS will be playing shows 3/12 through 3/15. See their full schedule here.


This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bands to check out at SXSW 2019, and this only includes official showcasing artists. There’s still plenty of bands popping up on unofficial shows all week— including ANCHR’s first unofficial showcase on March 14th. RSVP for that show to see Pool Holograph, Deeper, Uma Bloo, Seasaw, Rookie, Thompson Springs and more!













Live Recap: Yoke Lore's Sold Out Return to Schubas for TNK Fest 2019

Brooklyn’s Adrian Galvin (AKA Yoke Lore) is no stranger to Chicago, having played the city several times over the past couple of years. At Schubas alone, Yoke Lore has performed there supporting Overcoats and as headliner, and this past Saturday, he returned to headline a sold out show. The TNK show, which took place on the fourth night of the annual winter festival, had sold out weeks in advance, so I knew going into the show that the room would be packed with eager fans.

After Shortly had to unfortunately cancel their set, Deanna Devore stepped in to open up the show, alongside Chicago’s Ester and Nashvilles Sontalk. The crowd of dedicated fans showed up early and listened attentively to the first three acts, and in the final moments before Yoke Lore would hit the stage, the room buzzed with anxious excitement. Finally, the lights dimmed and Galvin and his bandmate made their way up onto the dark stage. As Galvin began to strum his banjo, the lights flickered on and Yoke Lore music videos and visuals were projected on the screen set up as a backdrop. The crowd sang along to the set openers “Fake You” and “Only You,” and Galvin’s signature dance moves accompanied his ethereal vocals and twangy banjo. When it came time in the set for Yoke Lore to perform the viral cover of “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden, an audience member shouted out that the track was their wedding song, and Galvin dedicated the performance to them. The highlight of the night came when it was time for Galvin to perform the popular single “Beige,” and the echoes of every single person in the room singing along bounced around the room.

Eventually, it was time for Yoke Lore to exit the stage, but the audience begged for an encore with cheers and applause. Galvin didn’t make them wait long before he returned for a couple more songs, including the unreleased “Tom Robbins.” Before playing the final song, Galvin explained that he’ll probably never record the tune, in order to keep it as a special part of his live shows forever. “When you record a song, there’s a piece of it that gets morphed,” he said. “I want this song to be just for us,” he continued and played the song while the backdrop showed a starry night scene.

Yoke Lore’s TNK performance added another layer with the visual projections, but at its core remained the beautiful authenticity that Galvin’s art and music has always showcased. Based on the success of this show, 2019 is gearing up to be a huge year for Yoke Lore, so don’t miss him when he comes to a city near you! Check out Yoke Lore’s 2019 tour dates here.


Photos of Deanna Devore, Ester, Sontalk and Yoke Lore at Schubas Tavern

Live Recap: Snail Mail Returns to TNK Fest for a Sold Out Show with Varsity and Lala Lala

Last year, Lindsey Jordan’s project Snail Mail played a sold out headline show at Schubas as part of Chicago’s annual TNK Festival, and this year, Jordan and her band returned to do the same. Only this time, they played to about five times as many people at The Metro.

From the moment the doors opened at the Wrigleyville venue, streams of fans took their place in the packed room for a great night of music, which kicked off at 9PM sharp with Chicago’s own Varsity. The indie pop-rock five piece delivered a short, but sweet set to warm everyone up for the rest of the night. Varsity kept their between-song banter to a minimum and smoothly transitioned from song to song in order to pack in as many of their tunes as possible into their set time. The crowd sang along to a lot of Varsity’s familiar favorites, like “So Sad, So Sad,” which got a lot of cheers when the opening chords rang out. Before closing out with one of their latest singles “The Dogs Only Listen to Him,” the band tested out a brand new song on the attentive audience.

Next, it was time for Lala Lala, the project of Chicago-based singer-songwriter Lillie West. The set kicked off with the single “Water Over Sex” from Lala Lala’s second album The Lamb, which was just released in September last year, but was easily one of my top played albums of 2018. Based on the amount of people singing and dancing along, it clearly wasn’t just me who had the album on repeat. Like the album itself, the live set showcases the dynamic production and soundscapes of the songs, ranging from the jarring, percussive intro of “I Get Cut” to the mellow and slow-building “Lala Song.”  Although West’s live lineup of fellow Chicago musicians often changes with different tours based on schedules, her current band had great chemistry and seamlessly flowed with one another. West and the band closed out the set on a high note, performing West and WHY?’s collaboration “Siren 042,” which had just been released the week prior. The final song of the set featured Sen Morimoto on saxophone, who will also be joining Lala Lala on their nearly two month tour that kicked off last week.

Finally, with the crowd warmed up and anxious for Snail Mail to hit the stage, the lights dimmed and Jordan made her way onstage with her bandmates. The musicians were welcomed with an overwhelming wave of cheers and applause as they began an instrumental intro, which bled into the single “Heat Wave” from Snail Mail’s 2018 debut album Lush. The crowd immediately became a choir, echoing the lyrics back to Jordan, who gave her approval with a “sounds good” and a smile. While Snail Mail may only have one album out, the band spent 2018 touring relentlessly, and the graceful and humble nature displayed by Jordan on Thursday night was that of a seasoned, veteran performer.

Throughout the rest of the set, Jordan’s humility remained, paired with an effortless and natural stage presence that kept the sold-out crowd hypnotized. Whether it was to songs from the album, like “Let’s Find An Out” and “Deep Sea,” or earlier material like “Thinning” from Snail Mail’s 2016 EP Habit, the audience never stopped singing along. When it came time for Jordan to perform the lead single from the album, “Pristine,” she invited a couple of guests up onstage to lend a hand as backing vocalists. As the night began to wind down, Jordan closed out the set sans band to give a solo performance of “Anytime” and “Stick.”


If you missed out on tickets to the memorizing TNK show, see where you can catch Snail Mail next here.


Photos of Varsity, Lala Lala and Snail Mail at TNK night two

TNK Spotlight: Nine Artists You Can't Miss at Tomorrow Never Knows 2019

It’s mid-January in Chicago, and you know what that means, right? Tomorrow Never Knows Fest kicks off this week! You’ve got your 5-day pass (or at least I hope you do—they’re already sold out), and now all that’s left to do is plot out your schedule for this annual indoor winter festival extravaganza that takes place across different venues in the city, like Lincoln Hall, Schubas, Sleeping Village and Metro. If you didn’t happen to snag five day passes, some of the shows still have individual tickets available, but read up on our recommendations and act quickly so you’re not left out in the cold for this year’s TNK!


Active Bird Community

Photo Credit: Eleanor Petry

Photo Credit: Eleanor Petry

Brooklyn-based four piece Active Bird Community combines long-term friendships with a candid, yet playful demeanor to deliver a live show full of punchy riffs and inside jokes told between songs. Tom D'Agustino, Andrew Wolfson, Zach Slater, and Quinn McGovern have been playing music together for more than ten years, which translates as a true sense of camaraderie both onstage and on their records. Every time I’ve seen this band, I spent their set bopping my head along to their upbeat melodies and laughing at their stage banter, making their set one not to miss at TNK. This past Fall, they released their third album Amends, which follows up 2015’s I’ve Been Going Swimming and 2017’s Stick Around, so their set at Lincoln Hall will be sure to feature some new music. For more on Active Bird Community, check out our interview here.

For Fans Of: The Frights, together PANGEA, Vundabar

Start With: “Pick me Apart,” “Virginia,” “Amends”

Where to catch them: Wednesday, January 16th at Lincoln Hall with Charly Bliss and Girl K

Lala Lala

Photo by Matthew James-Wilson

Photo by Matthew James-Wilson

The project of London-born, Chicago-based singer songwriter Lillie West (AKA Lala Lala) has been garnering buzz throughout the city the last few years, and recently nationally since West and her band toured nearly non-stop last year with bands like Frankie Cosmos, Wolf Parade and WHY?. 2018 saw the release of Lala Lala’s second full length album, The Lamb, which showcases West’s knack for honest and introspective storytelling through her lyrics. West also fearlessly dives into different sonic territories on the album’s twelve tracks, blending together different genres that portray the various emotions explored in the songs. The Lamb is easily one of my most listened to albums of 2018, and the band puts on one of the best live shows. If you need even more reason to add this to your TNK itinerary, this gig will be the last chance to catch Lala Lala in town for a while (they embark on a two month tour afterwards). Don’t miss it!

For Fans Of: Madeline Kenney, Jay Som, Soccer Mommy

Start With: “Water Over Sex,” “Scary Movie,” “I Get Cut”

Where to catch them: Thursday, January 17th at Metro with Varsity and Snail Mail

Pool Holograph

Photo by Rachel Zyzda

Photo by Rachel Zyzda

What began as a solo, bedroom-recorded project of songwriter Wyatt Grant has since blossomed into the full four piece that is current day Pool Holograph. With Zach Stuckman and brothers Paul and Jake Stolz joining Grant, their sound has filled out and developed in order to transition well in a live setting, making Pool Holograph’s show a must-see at this year’s TNK. The group recently followed up their 2017 album Transparent World with two new singles “Contours” and “No Escape,” which both highlight the band’s versatile sound that blends together elements of post punk, art rock, and lo-fi genres— or as Grant describes their sound, it’s like “a closed Urban Outfitters store circa 2008.” For more fun facts about the band (if that one didn’t already sell you), check out our interview with them here.

For Fans Of: Omni, NE-HI, Clearance

Start With: “Heat Map,” “Contours,” “Stratus Sheets”

Where to catch them: Wednesday, January 16th at Schubas with Bad Bad Hats, Video Age, Con Davison

Varsity

Photo by Kristina Pedersen

Photo by Kristina Pedersen

With their polished indie rock sound and memorable melodies, Chicago’s Varsity has an air about their music that is familiar without being derivative. Over the past few years, the group has toured regularly and shared stages with the likes of Japanese Breakfast and SALES, earning them a well-deserved fanbase that extends outside of the city. In the midst of touring (and sharing members Paul and Jake Stolz with Pool Holograph), Varsity still managed to release their sophomore album Parallel Person and two singles, “The Dogs Only Listen to Him” and “UFO,” in 2018. On top of all of that fresh music, the band teased the possibility of another brand new song being ready for their TNK set this week, so hopefully you already snagged tickets to this sold out show!

For Fans Of: Japanese Breakfast, No Vacation, Alvvays

Start With: “UFO,” “Downtown,” “A Friend Named Paul”

Where to catch them: Thursday, January 17th at Metro with Lala Lala and Snail Mail

Jordanna

Photo by Juliet Cangelosi

Photo by Juliet Cangelosi

Whether it’s her musical transformation from lead singer of a punk band to a sweet and soulful solo artist, her thoughtful marketing strategies, or her humor on social media (I mean have you seen her lip-sync videos??), Jordanna’s artistry knows no bounds. Her buttery vocals and sultry, smooth tempos are equally enthralling and soothing for her listeners and audience members, and she brings a sense of authenticity to everything she does. Jordanna’s debut EP, “Sweet Tooth,” features tracks like “Lucky For You” and “Sugar” which will be sure to have you grooving and swaying along. Her show at TNK is sold out, so hopefully you have a ticket or a 5 day pass— but if not you can also check out Jordanna at her own annual event on February 23rd: Candyland.

For Fans Of: Your Smith (FKA Caroline Smith), Tasha, The Marías

Start With: “Lucky For You,” “Eu Quero Você,” “I’m Your Girl”

Where to catch them: Thursday, January 17th at Schubas with Still Woozy, Victor!, Monster Rally

Yoke Lore

Photo by Rachel Zyzda

Photo by Rachel Zyzda

Adrian Galvin (aka Yoke Lore) is part musician, part visual artist, part dancer, and part spiritual guru. He’s even an expert on pirates (more on that here). Despite the fact that Galvin has so many creative passions, he still manages to excel in all aspects of his art. Through his message and his music, Galvin radiates motivation and positivity that can’t help but lift your spirits when you hear it. By blending ethereal vocals, the occasional twang of a banjo, and sweeping melodies, Yoke Lore’s music is easy to love and hard to forget. Yoke Lore’s show is one of the sold out ones on this list, but if you were smart enough to snag tickets ahead of time, be prepared to be blown away at his show on Saturday night.

For Fans Of: Overcoats, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Lewis Del Mar

Start With: “Beige,” “Goodpain,” “Cut and Run”

Where to catch them: Saturday, January 19th at Schubas with Sontalk, Shortly, Ester

Bad Bad Hats

Photo by Zoe Prinds-Flash

Photo by Zoe Prinds-Flash

Minneapolis’s Bad Bad Hats earns a place on this list as one of the few non-Chicagoan bands with their bright, effervescent indie pop-rock. The trio, consisting of Kerry Alexander, Chris Hoge, and Connor Davison, has released two albums (the most recent, Lightning Round, just came out in August), and both records deliver a multifaceted, layered and diverse soundscape. Their sophomore album especially explores different genres and hues that set each song apart as a separate chapter, yet each track seamlessly complements the rest of the album perfectly. Their show at TNK will certainly keep the audience on their toes with the band’s dynamic catalog of songs.

For Fans Of: Hippo Campus, Maggie Rogers, Hala

Start With: “It Hurts,” “Midway,” “Psychic Reader”

Where to catch them: Wednesday, January 16th at Schubas with Video Age, Con Davison, Pool Holograph

Sports

With their groovy bass lines that you can’t resist dancing to and their live production that adds an extra layer of sparkle and shine, it’s impossible not to smile while at a Sports show. The band’s feel-good, synth laden music and the infectious energy that the band members all exude with their stage presence will make their show on Sunday night at TNK the perfect end to the five day festival. This past August, Sports followed up 2016’s album People Can’t Stop Chillin with Everyone’s Invited, so their set will be sure to feature some new tunes since their last show here in Chicago.

For Fans Of: POND, St. Lucia, Triathalon

Start With: “Panama,'“ “You Are the Right One,” “Don’t Tell Me”

Where to catch them: Sunday, January 20th at Lincoln Hall with Pavo Pavo and Arlie

Girl K

Photo by  Xitlaly Viveros

The brain child of Chicago-based singer songwriter Kathy Patino, Girl K, has provided a refreshing addition to the local rock scene, making a huge splash in a relatively short amount of time. Much like a few of the other artists on this list, the project began as a solo endeavor for Patino in 2017 before she added a full roster with musicians Ajay Raghuraman, Alex Pieczynski, and Kevin Sheppard. Girl K has kept Chicago music fans hooked by regularly playing shows around the city and releasing music— In 2018, Patino released three singles to follow up her debut full length Sunflower Court, and her recent live shows have featured performances of brand new material. 2019 is gearing up to be an even bigger year for Girl K, so don’t miss them kicking off TNK on Wednesday night.

For Fans Of: Beach Bunny, Lunar Vacation, Slow Pulp

Start With: “Dog Year Lungs,” “Cinnamon,” “80’s Baby”

Where to catch them: Wednesday, January 16th at Lincoln Hall with Active Bird Community and Charly Bliss


Audiotree Music Festival 2018 Recap

The Chicago-based audiovisual tastemaker company Audiotree set up camp in Kalamazoo, Michigan during the weekend of September 22nd and 23rd for their annual music festival. This year, the fest’s lineup showcased a diverse lineup of talent from across the spectrum. Artists ranged from up and coming bands from the Chicago or Kalamazoo areas to the likes of Real Estate, Local Natives, and Father John Misty. With just two stages that never had overlapping set times, the festival allowed the attendees to really focus on this music and appreciate the art without any overcrowding or over-scheduling.

The event also remained a safe space the entire time, with the organization Our Music, My Body tabling the festival so that concert-goers had someone to talk to if they felt violated, or if they just wanted to get further educated on consent and keeping everyone comfortable in public spaces. Throughout the weekend, bands like Diet Cig and Stuyedeyed began their sets announcing that any behavior that made others feel unsafe wouldn’t be tolerated.

If you missed out on the weekend, relive the experience with our photo recap below.


Day 1 featuring Stuyedeyed, V.V. Lightbody, Melkbelly, NE-HI, The Regrettes, Diet Cig, Michigander, Basement, Khruangbin, and Local Natives