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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to Let’s Go Sunshine in full below

Live Recap: ‘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: 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

Live Recap: Deeper's Sold Out Tour Send Off Show with Divino Niño, The Hecks, and Mia Joy

Last Friday night, Deeper topped off a stacked bill for their winter tour kick off show at Sleeping Village, which included Mia Joy, The Hecks, and Divino Niño. Just as the music was about to kick off, friends and fans of all of the bands flocked to the Avondale venue to catch the show, creating a line out the door that signified tonight’s show would be a good one.

As everyone in the venue’s packed bar eventually filed into the music room, Mia Joy had just taken the stage with her full band, who assisted her in bringing her atmospheric indie pop tracks to life. Mia Joy’s delicate and dreamy vocals enticed the full audience, providing a comforting oasis from the chaotic scene of the crowded bar we had all just passed through. This opening set was the perfect way to reset after a long week and get ready for a full night of music.

Next up The Hecks were set to take the stage, and before they even began, the show had officially reached capacity, giving Deeper a sold out send-off show. When The Hecks started playing, it felt as if we had all been transported back to the 80’s with their throwback sound that swirls together post-punk and new wave genres and nods to influences from the likes of Talking Heads and Sonic Youth. With their bright and punchy guitar melodies, The Hecks got the energy picked up and had people dancing along to every song. During their set, the band also played some new material, which still had their signature tone of nostalgia mixed with a refreshing and unique energy.

Next up, Divino Niño delivered a sweet set packed with their Latin-tinged dreamy, indie rock tunes. The entire band exuded a relaxed and breezy vibe that enchanted the room as they played through a bunch of new material. Lead vocalist and guitarist Camilo Medina informed the audience that these new songs will be included on the band’s new album coming out this summer, and that one of the new songs would be the first single released in just a couple of weeks. The best thing about Divino Niño’s 45 minute set was that each of their songs had its own distinct and diverse stamp on it, but still flowed seamlessly with the rest of the setlist.

Closing out the night, Deeper finally made their return, playing their first headline set in Chicago since their sold out, album release show at The Empty Bottle. The set began with the lights still dimmed as the band played songs like “Should Be” and “Pink Showers” from their self-titled debut album, which was released last May via Fire Talk Records. Like The Hecks, Deeper’s post punk sound has a sense of nostalgia about it, but they put a rejuvenating spin on it to make it their own. The band members poured their energy into their playing, and the crowd reciprocated the same level of energy as they danced along throughout the set. Deeper also continued the night’s trend of playing new music and tested out some new tunes, which were well received by everyone.

If you weren’t able to make it to the show Friday, you can catch Deeper on the rest of their tour dates with the Districts, at Lincoln Hall on Valentine’s Day, or at SXSW!

Photos of Mia Joy, The Hecks, Divino Niño and Deeper

 

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


ANCHR Turns Two: Our Anniversary Show Recap

Just before I stepped through the double doors at Schubas’ entrance, the alluring sound of laughter and good tunes hit me and plastered a smile on my face. I must have looked a little too excited based on the way the bouncer couldn’t help but grin and chuckle at me as I walked in. This didn’t come as any shock to me, as this is a typical occurrence when attending an ANCHR event. Some might envision their ideal birthday party to have a photo wall, a tiered cake, and champagne. ANCHR Magazine crept its way into my birthday party dreams and had a bill packed with rocking bands, plenty of PBR to go around, and funky party hats for all. After two years, ANCHR Magazine has become a cornerstone in the Chicago music scene and that wouldn’t at all be possible without the dedication from our readers and the community of friends in the city. It is an honor and a privilege to exist and contribute to said community. With that being said, a celebration to match the love and excitement that this past year has given to ANCHR was imperative to continuing this wave of prosperity and good times. Plus, who doesn't love a party celebrating music?

I was elated to see friends from all across the Chicago music scene there to celebrate ANCHR. As we all cheered and made our way towards the stage, OHMME’s DJ set had the arduous task of setting the scene for the evening. Don’t fret, they were more than capable and filled the room with bops that had everyone moving before the bands even began. Schubas completely sold out music hall coupled with the dance worthy tracks filled the room with what I like to call a cozy concert temperature. (Let’s just say my denim jacket didn’t stay on for long and we all got nice and comfortable with each other for a night filled to the brim with live music.)

As the lights dimmed and the first act, Ruins, came onstage you could feel that pre-concert electricity buzzing throughout the room, through the floor, and right up into your toes; tapping with anticipation. Adam Schubert of Ruins began a solo performance that would match the energy of all the other bands playing. Schubert’s vocal and guitar skills engulfed the room in a magical musical sheen the same way a full band would. His melodious tunes had Schubas entire hall swaying to and fro as he sang. Cheers to Ruins for starting the night off with groovy tunes that would set the momentum for the rest of the evening.  

As the next band, Cold Beaches, took the stage, I was completely hypnotized by some badass style before the music even began. The diversity that existed onstage between all the band members resulted in the most captivating hodgepodge group of musicians I have ever seen. From Adidas sneakers to glitter loafers, I was already invested in Cold Beaches even before any note was played. Cold Beaches possesses an infectious, inherent energy in their records but also in the performance of their music. I can’t play a lick of base or drums, but I wish I did just to be able to share the stage with Cold Beaches, maybe even take a little seat and continue to shred with lead singer and guitarist Sophia Nadia. When the lights came up on their set too early, Cold Beaches members waved their hands in the air calling out, “Wait, we aren’t done yet! There is more!” If there was a catchphrase for the evening, this would be it. Cold Beaches unintentionally set a major mood for another year of ANCHR Magazine. From their most recent releases to a birthday serenade, Cold Beaches swaddled ANCHR in some groovy birthday love. 

V.V. Lightbody was next and to say she graced us with her presence is an understatement. I felt like a magical mermaid was serenading me and luring me into her lair, and I think I can vouch for all of Schubas when I say, I would have followed her voice anywhere. Before playing, V.V. Lightbody made it clear that live music was happening and conversation should not. “That’s what a bar is for,” she addressed the crowd. This might have been one of my favorite moments of the evening. Nothing hurts my heart more than when a band plays my favorite song that I am excited to see performed live, but it keeps getting interrupted by the group of people next to me near screaming about the tacos they had for dinner. V.V. Lightbody requested and the audience listened, and they obliged. If I ever had to create a chill cocktail lounge playlist, it would be jam packed with some V.V. Lightbody. With collaborative efforts from other Chicago musicians, including Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham of OHMME, the hall was filled with enchanting siren tunes, and some major flute action. Yes, there were flutes. (And yes... It was awesome.)

Slow Pulp closed out this birthday party with songs that are still running through my mind. Sometimes when a band comes on stage and gets all set up, I get this feeling in my stomach like, “Yea…they’re gonna be good.” This feeling goes double for Slow Pulp…the band just completely owned the stage. There was this ease about their stage presence that completely supported their dreamy, psychedelic music style and drew me in even closer. Despite the fact that they only moved to Chicago recently, Slow Pulp looked completely at home on the Schubas stage that night. They had a sense of familiarity that seeped its way into the audience and is pretty rare to come by. Every audience member in attendance no matter how different their taste in music from the next person was, could enjoy Slow Pulp. In Schubas’ sold out music room, the show felt intimate. Lead singer Emily Massey has vocals that are smooth like butter, and her silky vocals paired with some attitude made it nearly impossible to not sway along to her melodies. Their lively tracks from Spotify became even more animated on stage, making for a truly mesmerizing performance. 

Just like that, ANCHR's second birthday party came to a close. Thank you to all the bands and audience members in attendance! Without this unwavering support, ANCHR would be adrift; lost at sea somewhere. We may ground you with tunes, but your support is the ultimate foothold for success and prosperity. As I made my way out of Schubas on Friday night, the bouncer chuckled at me again. I don’t think he realized my giddiness could be heightened, but after this birthday throw-down, how could you not? Cheers to another year for ANCHR and cheers to all of you. 

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.

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Live Recap: Benefit Show for Our Music, My Body at Sleeping Village 11.27.18

Photos by Maggie McInerney

Whenever I find myself at a music festival or a bar where bands are playing, I will have my friend by my side one moment…and the next moment a man will have wedged his way in between the two of us. The combination of an eye roll, slight shove, and “um excuse me” will typically result in the reuniting of my friend and I. Giggling but scared and holding onto each other’s arms a little tighter than before, this scenario is all too familiar. These uncomfortable interactions may vary in extremity from one scenario to the next; It can range from a guy dancing too close, to verbal harassment, or even groping, and so on and so forth. It is unfortunate but true when I write that this behavior is almost a given at concerts; expected each and every time in some capacity. Music is a communal experience; a space for friends to come together; to share and bask in the straight up magic of a live event, and for that magic to truly exist, the said space needs to be a safe space. A space where women don’t have to worry about harassment at the bar or on the dance floor. A space where I can dance under a disco ball with my girlfriends and not feel the stinging pain of the male gaze moving it’s way up and down my body; examining my every move. This harassment extends far past my own experience and has tainted or even completely soiled some music fans’ love of experiencing their favorite tunes live.

The Edwards by Maggie McInerney

The Edwards by Maggie McInerney

With that said, I was ecstatic when I learned that ANCHR would be hosting a benefit concert for Our Music, My Body at Sleeping Village, which took place last week on November 27th. If you don’t already know, Our Music, My Body is a non-profit organization that sets out to create and promote “fun and consensual music experiences for all,” as a collaboration between Resilience (formerly RVA) and Between Friends. Sexual harassment in the music scene is ever so present and can get to the point that attending a concert or music festival is dangerous specifically for, but not limited to women, males in the LGBTQ+ community, and music fans who identify as transgender. Walking into Sleeping Village for this event, I was overcome with hugs and greetings from friends all across the music scene. The sense of community at this event pulsed throughout the venue, and I was thrilled to see so many people out supporting such an important cause. This incredible welcoming energy extended to all points of Sleeping Village—from the dance floor, to behind the bar, and to the musicians on stage. I didn’t feel the need to fold my arms and hide myself in the back corner in order to enjoy some tunes; for the first time in a long time I enjoyed some music without feeling the need to physically close myself off from those around me in order to remain safe.

This evening of music started with The Edwards. Their sound made me wish it was summer again with my windows rolled down on the highway, a best bud on either side of me. They would be on the same playlist with some of my favorite Mac DeMarco tracks; with their perfectly smooth and warm tones. Their jams induced a nice groovy sway and head bop; I found myself rolling with the sound rather than fighting against it. After the show I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Murphy, a member of The Edwards. What Chris said about the band perfectly paralleled the event itself: Music based on collaborating; celebrating what each musician has to bring to the table. With three guitars and a trumpet on stage, their sound dived deep into exploring how these very different musicians come together to create a unique and cohesive sound. Be on the lookout for more live performances from The Edwards coming your way in February. 

The Edwards By Maggie McInerney

The Edwards By Maggie McInerney

Thee Casual Hex by Maggie Mcinerney

Thee Casual Hex by Maggie Mcinerney

Following The Edwards was Thee Casual Hex accompanied by face paint, some psychedelic realness, and some pretty amazing polka dot garments. The disco ball in Sleeping Village came alive the moment this group stepped onstage. Similar to The Edwards, a diverse group of musicians that meshed perfectly to create a 60’s inspired jamming set. When I spoke to guitarist/vocalist/band member Alice Kraynak after the show, the 60’s glamor the band exuded was made even more apparent. Whether it was Alice’s fur coat, face paint, or polka dot dress I am still unsure, but she emanated the mod style and influence that are clearly at the base of Thee Casual Hex’s sound. The band’s sound perfectly encapsulates psychedelic vibes from the 60’s while still paying tribute to modern psych bands; Remembering the past while celebrating the future. Alice made clear that Thee Casual Hex is so excited to continue making and playing music; be on the lookout for some live shows after the New Year. It’ll be a far out time. 

Before the final set of the night, the collaborative project of songwriter and producer Andrew Humphrey, Sun Cop, took the stage and remained just as collaborative onstage as off the stage. Pooky’s Duncan Lee took on double duty and played with Sun Cop, while the evening’s DJ Cadien Lake James also made an appearance to sing a tune with Andrew and the band.

Sun Cop by Maggie McInerney

Sun Cop by Maggie McInerney

Closing out the evening was the electric Pooky. I have seen the boys of Pooky play a few times now and they never fail to put a smile on my face; red and sweaty from dancing. Their clear bond and enjoyment for the music makes me want to be onstage next to them. With a wide range of tunes, this band can make you want to jump around one second and have you slowly head bopping the next. With a sound  that roars, Pooky’s vocals paired with some major shredding will have you immediately searching where they are playing next by the end of their set. A dynamic and truly entertaining group that never fails to amaze, Pooky is a band to keep your eye on in 2019. You can also catch them one last time in 2018; at The SubT on December 20th with Engine Summer, Rainbow James and Rabbit Folk.

Pooky by Maggie McInerney

Pooky by Maggie McInerney

All in all, the artists in the Chicago music scene set the stage for how to create a consensual music environment, and each band that performed at this show was a huge reason said space existed. These bands are making it clear that community is at the root of all their work; Respect for the music, respect for other musicians, and most importantly respect for their audiences. I am excited to know that bands such as these work, create, and share music with these ideals at the forefront. May all Chicago bands follow in their footsteps to create live music spaces that are fun, communal, and most importantly: safe!

If you couldn’t make it to the show, but would still like to show your support for Our Music, My Body, you can snag some of their merch here, or donate to either of their parent organizations.

Last but not least, head over to Beyond The Music’s site to vote for your favorite edit by the three featured photographers who covered the showcase: Emma Zanger, Colt Liles, and Maggie McInerney.