Tag Archives: live music

Sylvan Esso

AMELIA SYLVAN ESSOI went to see the indie duo Sylvan Esso recently.  I had weak expectations of the folk singer/EDM collabo, but these two found a way to fill up the stage and the sold-out venue despite their lean two-party operation.  Amelia and Nick only have one eponymous record, so it was a quick and dirty performance.  They had to dig deep for the encore.  Nonetheless, the show was a delightful little treat.  I’m sure these two will hit the festival circuit hard this summer, so catch a set if you get a chance.  SYLVAN ESSO MINNE



ANDERS TRENTEMOLLERWent out for Trentemøller and it was like stepping into a total 1980’s New Wave Joy-Division-Depeche-Mode moment, a moment I was grateful to experience since I was barely old enough to remember the first time around.  Anders is touring with a band which I didn’t necessarily expect, but sure appreciated for the dimension it added to show.  The performance wasn’t pitch-perfect-polished, but it did organically build to ultimately bond the small (but devoted and mostly gay) audience.TRENTEMOLLER BAND

Ms. Lauryn Hill: Queen of the Stanky Face

IMG_4894IMG_4929Lauryn Hill is one of the few artists for whom my affection has never waned.  I saw her in her mainstream prime in 1998.  Recently, I caught up with Ms. Hill again.  Her voice is as honest as ever.  Sure, her rearrangements of older material display distinct signs of mania.  She relies a little too heavily on the Bob Marley box set to fill out her 2.5 + hour show, but I don’t care because there’s nobody alive I would rather hear singing Bob Marley covers than Ms. Lauryn Hill.  She fusses at her band, the lighting guy, and the sound tech.  She’s a true artist and has the temperament to match.  She makes the best stanky faces when the going gets good.  Yeah, she’s late to start, but she’s also late to finish.  We didn’t get out of there until 1:30 am.  Ms. Lauryn Hill doesn’t come cheap, but she gives you your money’s worth.  Catch her if you can because she’s blessed with rare genius. IMG_4936IMG_4991IMG_5076


EMA LOST LAKEI saw EMA this week at a local hole in the wall.  This joint is so small you literally brush elbows with the talent.  She invited Mas Ysa to open for her.  He was neither superb nor abysmal.  I would describe his set like I describe this website – as amateurish, but charming.  Anyway, after he finished and during EMA‘s set he settles in next to me.  We chat a little.  He sporadically shouts at the stage and dances wildly with nervous over-intensity.  I tried to reassure him with a few kind words about his performance.  I came to see EMA, so I’m not trying to talk to the opening act during her set.  That seems a bit disrespectful.  The room is small, so everyone can see everyone.  After loudly proclaiming his love for the headliner, he flailed around for two songs and then split for the bar.  I suspect this is a metaphor for his entire existence.  Sometimes, you learn everything you need to know about someone in the first two songs.  MAS YSA


Neko Case, can we be friends?

NEKO CASE LIVEMaybe I just have a weakness for Titian songstresses: Florence Welch, Tori Amos, Bonnie Raitt, Bette Midler, but I thought Neko Case was the cat’s pajamas when she blew through town the other night.  Even though she felt shitty complaining of a cold, she filled up the whole room with her velvety bourbon-flavored sound.  NEKO CASE FALLONNeko’s total transparency makes for such an appealing live experience.  Without any trepidation she launches courageously into acapella.  The sound is as clear, piercing, warm and authentic as possible.  Nothing blocks the transmission of energy between Neko and her audience.  When she speaks to her devoted fans, it’s like she’s sitting at the next bar stool.  She banters with her band with what seems like sincere and jovial camaraderie.  The dynamic feels intimate, as if you are backstage after the show.  Maybe that explains why people shouted requests from all over the theater?  I have never heard so much aggressive requesting at any show I have ever attended ever.  It’s not a piano bar people.  (And enough with the Freebird.  Tiredest joke ever.)Lately, I’ve been really fed up with the rude-ass behavior of my fellow attendees (ehhhhem MGMT douches), but at Neko’s show my boldly printed vintage jumpsuit was enthusiastically appreciated by at least three separate sets of fawning complimenters, (not even including the cute pedicab driver on the street afterwards).  This is not intended as a humble-brag, I’m just highlighting that in Neko’s tribe the women support wild jumpsuit wearing. NEKO CASE LITTLE BIRDNeko Case is on tour now.  Please go see her.  She is sublime.  Afterwards you’ll wish she was your best friend.Neko Case on her horse farm in rural Vermont

The Most Annoying People at the Rock Show

BUTT GRABThe guy who leads his girlfriend around by the ass.FLAILING BITCHES

The woman who over-enthusiastically dances to the band’s two hit songs and then texts, talks loudly, and gets sloppy-ass drunk for the remainder of the show.

BRAD PITT DORK DANCEThe interpretative dancer who gesticulates in accord with the lyrics.  RAISE THE ROOF

The slutty underage Forever 21-clad girls who skank around the drink line begging guys to buy them beer.



Rodrigo y Gabriela + The Colorado Symphony + Red Rocks = everything

ROD Y GAB PLAY TOGETHERWhen two forces as reliably fantastic as Rod y Gab and Red Rocks combine together, you know you are going to get a killer show.  Add the Colorado Symphony to create a fuller, richer, more substantial outdoor amphitheater sound and you’ve got yourself one sublime music miracle.RED ROCKS SOLD OUTI’ve been a fan of Rod y Gab for several years now, and the first time I saw them was in some little standing-only venue which probably wasn’t even sold out.  Here we are a few years later and they’re selling out Red Rocks.  Good for them.  Rod is still a machismo dickhead who won’t let the luminescent Gab sputter out a few heavily accented words in English before trampling over her words with her guitar.  His fear that she is just too good, too beautiful, and too respected to stay with his ass is palpable and frankly probably somewhat legitimate.  Rod expertly plays guitar, but without Gab’s creative percussive techniques, he would be lucky to be playing open mic nights.  Just saying, guys with guitars are a dime a dozen.  Dickheads with guitars are a dime per hundred.  The couple creates a stringy symbiosis and it’s a credit to them both that they can sustain a personal and professional relationship without imploding. GABThe two Mexican metalheads rapt the sold out crowd for more than two hours.  The setlist was a healthy mix of old and new, but it doesn’t really matter what the duo plays.  Fans come for the mastery and display of their unique and personalized technique.  The concert was taped for broadcast on Mark Cuban’s AXS TV, so if you want to see the show it is available to you.  Even better, do what you can to see Rod y Gab in person as nothing compares to the live experience.  It was one of the most romantic and magical shows I have ever had the pleasure to attend.  ROD Y GAB BW


festival faceoff: coachella v. pitchfork

PITCHFORK 2013The music = Coachella

The sheer volume of performers means Coachella owns the title for superior festival line-up.  From the obscure, to the mainstream, to the reunited, Coachella serves up a summer’s worth of concerts in three compact tightly scheduled 12+ hour days across a polo field of stages.  Pitchfork hosts a number of specifically well-cultivated acts spaced temporally further apart on three different stages situated relatively close together.  Even though Coachella has more musical opportunities, there is no way to see every artist which leads to inevitable disappointments.  Know what wasn’t a disappointment?  The Breeders playing Last Splash from beginning to end at Pitchfork.COACHELLA 2013

PITCHFORK 2013 CROWDThe people = Pitchfork

Chicago gets away with unacceptable bullshit (shitty weather, crumbling infrastructure, violence), but the city’s still beloved because of the charm of its people.  Chicagoans take no shit, but they aren’t fucking L.A. assholes either.  Their midwestern mamas taught ’em right.  The crowd peppered the days with “excuse me” and “thank you.”  Unlike, Coachella, everyone doesn’t stand thisclose at PitchforkPitchfolks mostly keep a reasonable and respectful distance.  In contrast at Coachella, a bitch had her saggy left tit on my shoulder for the entire Foals set.  Even the cops were nicer at Pitchfork.  In a surprisingly good-natured gesture two cops eye-fucking my friend and I pulled out perpendicularly to block traffic so we could strut the crosswalk unscathed.  (Hey Chicagoans – you all walk – stop at the crosswalks.  Crossing the street I felt like a fucked-up sequined version of Frogger.  G-Sus.)


Don’t fuck with Chicago when it comes to food.  We happily feasted on $5 vegan corn dogs and waffle fries from The Chicago Diner stand.  I was introduced to the beauty of Jeni’s ice cream at PitchforkPitchfood reigns.  Coachella offers the poisonous churro, lukewarm water, and chunder-inducing garlic fries.PITCHFOOD

The drugs = Coachella

Basically, people are eating their own hair at Coachella.  Everyone is super fucked-up.  An extremely permissive attitude permeates the polo grounds from security to the fans.  In comparison, at Pitchfork I was lying in the grass extremely faded on edibles listening to Wire when these annoying kids settled in next to us.  One of the girls was one of those narrator-types who wove the word “literally” inappropriately and excessively into every sentence.  “My weed is literally in the grass you guys.” Dude responds, “I want to be rolling so hard that I can’t feel my genitals.  That’s how bad I want to be be rolling right now.”  Obviously, these kids were killing me.  As I lay there contemplating this hell of my own making, I heard a stern female voice say, “What’s in the bag?”  My heart stopped and I kept my eyes closed.  A few beats of silence followed.  Then I heard the annoying nasally girl whine, “She literally just took our weed.  At least we only have an hour and a half left.”  She literally reassured the group.  “She’s totally going to smoke it.” Dude replied.  I have never seen security take anyone’s weed at any show I have ever attended until I overheard it happen to Chicago’s most annoying hipsters at Pitchfork.  I smiled inside at the thought of the security guard blunting up their sack after a hard day’s work corralling doughy bearded white boys around Union Park.  I’m not mad at you Sister Security.PITCHTREE

The Fashion = Coachella

Bless your heart Chicago, style has never been your strength.  I ask you manboys, what is with the super tight denim cutoffs?  This is a very strange not-at-all flattering early 70’s look to resurrect.  Newsflash: 99% of all men look like boys in shorts.  Shorts are a dignity issue.  Dress like a fucking man.  Mostly, it was just a vast sea of unoriginality among all genders.  Don’t worry, we were an island of freshness as I insisted on teasing my reluctant friend’s hair into a major modern beehive.  Coachella breeds its own version of annoying conformity that I wouldn’t at all consider a creative expression unless you consider the art of the coochie cutter the bastard cousin of couture.  However, at least the Coochellites try.  In Chicago, bitches think khaki shorts constitute a style statement.PITCHFORK 2013 JENA

Pitchfork 2013 = sunday