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Kirin J Callinan brought his extravagant one-man spectacle to Chicago’s Bottom Lounge on Thursday, May 9th, warming up the stage for Broncho. Callinan’s set included dance moves, outfit changes, crowd participation, an A cappella closer and more— making for one of the best solo performances I’ve ever seen. If you missed out on the fun, check out photos of Planet What and Kirin J Callinan’s set below!
When PUP rolls through your town, you know you’re about to experience a cathartic show. And their recent concert at Metro on May 4 was nothing short of a sweaty, moshing sold out dream. Chicago indie-country rising stars Ratboys helped open up the show playing a few hits off their last album “GN” - out on Topshelf Records now. Songs included “Elvis in the Freezer”, “Molly”, and “Crying about the Planets.” Fronted by Julia Steiner and David Sagan, the duo delivered serious punk rock energy on the stage - even busting a few strings along the way.
Before PUP even began their set, there was a rush of fans to the barriers and electrifying excitement pulsated in the air. It’s been a minute since the band graced the Midwest and it certainly had fans riled up. The band kicked off their set with the single off their recently released album of the same name Morbid Stuff. They played fan favorites such as “Free at Last,” “Scorpion Hill,” and “Reservoir.”
Earlier in the year, the band shared the tabs to their song “Free at Last” on Twitter and asked fans to cover the song. One of the best covers the band received was from Kodakrome, a local Chicagoan act. PUP invited the band to play their version of the song for the crowd and then launched into their version of it. Before playing their final song, PUP announced they don’t do encores and ripped into “DVP”…A grand way to end a masterful first sold out show at the Metro.
The band will return to play the venue once more on May 23rd. Check out their tour dates, many of which are sold out, here.
Photos of Rayboys and PUP on 5/4/19
See where you can catch Black Belt Eagle Scout and Julia Jacklin on tour next here.
After a headlining show at Schubas back in 2016, a handful of opening slots at various venues around town, and a set at Lollapalooza 2018, Matt Maeson returned to Chicago on Monday night for a headlining set at Lincoln Hall. Unsurprisingly, the show sold out weeks in advance.
The same fans who had eagerly bought tickets for the show arrived right on time to get a prime spot to hear Maeson’s heartfelt narratives that blend together indie rock and pop vibes with his soulful vocals and poetic lyricism. This show marked Maeson’s first time in Chicago since his full length debut album Bank On The Funeral dropped on April 5th, but his set opened up with the familiar single “Hallucinogenic” from 2018— it’s slow-building and begins with an acoustic guitar and Maeson’s soft crooning. When the explosive and emotive chorus for the night’s opening song kicked in, the whole crowd could be heard singing along, providing a stereo style singalong. That same style of singalong continued throughout the rest of the night; It didn’t matter if Maeson was singing one of his newer songs like “Beggar’s Song", one of the singles from his full length, or if he was performing his most popular song “Cringe”— the entire room echoed the words back.
Although a vast majority of the songs possess a certain heaviness and sincerity in the subject matter and the tones can be mellow and melancholy, Maeson did lighten the mood with some banter in between songs. During one of the breaks between songs, a fan yelled out something about shiny boots, which had made an appearance in a promo shoot that Maeson did. Sadly, he had to post a follow up video to clear up that he didn’t actually own the $1500 boots and just had them for a photo and video shoot. Luckily, one of the fans in the Chicago crowd heard about the loss of the boots, and she crafted a mini pair of the boots to gift Maeson during the concert.
If you weren’t able to snag a pair of tickets to this sold out show on Monday, check out our photo gallery of the evening for a peak of what you missed!
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In the past few years, it’s almost come to be expected that a movie from our childhood will be remade, a TV show from the 90’s will be rebooted, or a band whose poster we hung up in our room in high school will embark on a reunion tour. So when sisters Aly and AJ Michalka announced a new EP 10 years in 2017 and returned to touring after a bit of a hiatus, it came as no surprise that both long-term fans and new listeners alike flocked to support the duo in a new era. With yet another new EP, Sanctuary, dropping this Friday, May 10th, and another massive tour underway, it’s clear that Aly & AJ’s comeback offers so much more than just a token of nostalgia; there’s a genuine passion and an immense talent that shines through-- both on their latest releases and during their live shows.
On Sunday night, the sisters returned to Chicago to perform to a sold out crowd at The House of Blues, promptly returning to the city after their last live show here in July at Thalia Hall. As eager fans quickly filled up the historic theater to see the show, it was clear that Aly & AJ would be welcomed back to Chicago any time. The house lights dimmed and light poles that had been positioned around the stage glistened, blinking on and off, signifying the start of a journey that fans would experience during the show. That journey began with “Church,” the lead single from the upcoming EP, giving everyone a taste of the new music before diving into a setlist that would touch on every era of Aly & AJ’s sound.
Throughout the show, the sisters moved around onstage donning matching blue, sparkly suits and their lighting rig transitioned between different tones and hues for each song, giving the audience a spectacle that was just as visually enthralling as it was audibly. Aly & AJ’s close bond clearly translated as they played together, but they even had incredible chemistry with their other bandmates; their tightness as musicians spotlighted the time and thought that they all put into making the show the best possible experience. The great sound quality, production quality, and the sibling harmonies mixed with some refreshed and drawn out live arrangements really made for a special event and one of those shows where you just had to be there to explain the energy in the room. To top it all off, Aly & AJ also treated their fans to their own rendition of “Slow Burn” by Kacey Musgraves in between fan-favorites on their setlist, like “Rush,” “Potential Breakup Song,” and “Like Whoa.”
About their tour, Aly has said “Shows are a sanctuary for our fans. We find a lot of peace and healing comes with talking to them while on tour,” and after getting to experience one of their recent shows, there’s no denying the truth in that statement. The sisters have also partnered with the Trevor Project, which is a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people, on this tour. By taking some time to discuss the work that the Trevor Project does and collect donations, Aly & AJ further emphasized the point that their shows are safe spaces for all of their fans.
If you’re looking to experience you own Aly & AJ oasis, see where you can catch them on tour next here.
Photos of Aly & AJ at House of Blues 05.05.19
Pre-order Sanctuary here and listen to the latest single “Don’t Go Changing” below!
Last week The Drums returned to The Metro’s stage, in honor of their new album Brutalism, which was released on April 5th via ANTI- records. The Drums filled the venue with positive vibes and good energy, and gave Chicago fans their first live taste of the newest songs.
Check out photos of the May 1st show below, and see where you can catch the band next here.
This past Monday night, my week started off on a high note with a sold out show from The Japanese House and Art School Girlfriend. The moniker for English musician and songwriter Amber Bain, The Japanese House is no stranger to Chicago, having played sold out shows at Lincoln Hall and Bottom Lounge in the past, and performing at Lollapalooza. This show marked Bain’s return to the Bottom Lounge and her first performance in Chicago since releasing her debut full length album Good At Falling on March 1st.
While I was able to catch The Japanese House’s set at Lollapalooza in 2017, this show was my first time seeing a headlining show from Bain and her bandmates. I arrived at the venue early to catch the opening set from Art School Girlfriend, the stage name for solo musician Polly Mackey from Margate, UK. Mackey took the stage on her own and captivated the audience with her experimental electronic sound, which had hints of influence from the likes of Zola Jesus and The xx. When Art School Girlfriend’s set started, the Monday night crowd had still been pretty thin as everyone still made their way to the venue from work— but by the end, the room had mostly filled in.
After a short changeover, Bain and her band took the stage to a hazy intro track, which faded into “Face Like Thunder,” from 2016’s EP Swim Against the Tide. Right away, Bain hooked the audience with her dreamy vocals, mesmerizing harmonies, and a tightness with her bandmates that brought the songs from her album to life in a really vivid way. Early on in the show, an audience member shouted out, “you’re my favorite artist!” (a sentiment that I think many people in the crowd shared) and passed a bouquet of flowers to Bain. That moment set up the night to become even more special, as a room full of strangers bonded over a shared love of an artist. Bain also did a great job at crafting a setlist that highlighted the best parts of The Japanese House’s discography, including a throwback to “Still” from her 2015 debut EP, which the crowd seemed to love. The audience also eagerly soaked up the performance of newer songs, like “Follow My Girl” and “Lilo” from the the new album.
The Japanese House’s show on Monday provided an oasis-like escape for fans to hear some of the new material performed live for the first time. If you weren’t able to attend, relive some of the magic by checking out photos from the evening below, and see where you can catch The Japanese House on tour next here.