Monthly Archives: December 2014

Comedy Review: Trap at iO in The Mission Theater

The iO has relocated to West Old Town from its former location in Wrigleyville.  The new building looks fantastic.  Upon entering you see a large bar which is perfect for grabbing a drink before and after a show.  Second City should take note.  Tonight’s show is in The Mission Theatre, located just down the hall covered with pictures of famous alumni.  The theatre has 144 seats and stadium seating, so there isn’t a bad view in the house.  Upon being seated, a waiter gave us a drink and food menu.  At past shows, someone quickly returned and asked for our order, but on this night, nobody stopped by our table the entire evening.

Trap is a two act sketch review with a few improv scenes tossed in the middle.  The opening scene features a man threatening to blow up a building.  Various characters speak to him via a megaphone.  The best is a standup comedian who says he needs to do every open mic he can find.  This earns a great laugh from the audience.  Later on is a scene of an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s who is asking for donations door to door.  The resident answers the door and soon dismisses her.  She quickly returns and the resident informs her that she was just here.  “I know, you inconsiderate asshole.  Your dome light is on in your Honda! Geez!”

The best dramatic scene featured a woman being chased by a killer in the woods.  The lights were completely turned off and all that could be seen was the flashlight of the madman. It was a very intense atmosphere as the actress portrayed real fear and loud screams.  The scene ended with a one liner, which seemed very out of place for the mood created.

Overall, it was an entertaining show, but the price of $20 is a bit steep.  Most shows at the iO are closer to $10, and this one should be the same.


Chicago’s Best Rock and Roll: The Shams Band with Dan Price and Terrance J Haefner at The Tonic Room

It’s unusually warm for a late December night.  It won’t be a White Christmas this year.  Hence, it’s not surprising that the Tonic Room is hot tonight.  Terrance J Haefner (from Oak Park) is making it even hotter with his excellent rendition of Let’s Get It On (originally recorded by Marvin Gaye in 1973).  His entire set displayed excellent musicianship.

Next on the stage is Dan Price.  He plays a song that sounds very country with a good dose of reverb.  It’s hard to get a good view of the stage from the bar as the stage is no more than a foot above the ground.  So, the available view is of the lazily decorated bar.  There is a sign stating no “Wagon Wheel”, a song that had been over played in the past, but is no longer relevant.  There is also a sign warning that requesting “Free Bird” will result in ejection from the bar.  This is a fantastic rule. Figgy pudding is a special on the menu tonight, but nobody is ordering it.

At last, The Shams Band takes the stage.  Directly in front of the stage is a space where people step to dance shortly before retreating back into the crowd.  Behind this space is an elevated portion at the same height as the stage with a bench across the wall.  This area provides the best view in the bar.  Before long, it’s clear the lead guitarist knows what he is doing with a guitar.  His solos are definitely a major strength of this band which at times sounds like bluegrass version of The Rolling Stones.  Also a strength is the songwriting, as displayed in the catchy “The Des Plaines River”, during which most of the crowd sings along.  The entire band is singing along too.  Throughout the set it’s clear the band is having a great time, and the audience is along for the ride.  A live Shams Band Show is like a great house party, and you don’t want to miss it.

A Fine Christmas Tradition: Scott Lucas and the Married Men with Wolvereen at The Hideout

It’s a cold December night in Chicago.  However, the crowd has become adjusted to the weather and no complaints are heard as they shuffle in to see the fifth annual Scott Lucas and The Married Men Christmas Show at The Hideout.  Wolvereen, formerly known as Purple Apple, are first to take the stage.  These four girls rock out to some Christmas classics mixed in with originals.  One of the best moments is when a few children are invited on stage to sing  “I’m Getting Nothing for Christmas.”  They sing the first part and then leave the stage.  The lead singer then says, “We’re not finished yet!” and launches into a heavy rock version of the song strongly contrasting the cute version just sang.  It was very well done.

Next up, The Married Men take the stage.  They follow the same strategy of rocking Christmas songs mixed with originals.  Midway through the set, Scott Lucas adopts a very low growling voice.  It seems very strange until he begins singing the next song, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” as performed by Thurl Ravenscroft in the original TV Soundtrack.  His re-creation is spot on.  Later on the rock is kicked up a notch as they play “Run Run Rudolph”, which was originally recorded in 1958 by Chuck Berry.  To close out their set, they invited Wolvereen back on stage.  They go on to perform a fantastic version of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), with the girls singing backup vocals.  It’s a great finish to what the lead singer of Wolvereen calls, “The Best Show of the Year!”

Maek Showcase

Maek –  Independent Record Label. Free music. Free videos. Catchy tunes. FREE.

This is Maek. Maek is an independent free music record label based out of Chicago, IL. The artists on this label are Zaena and Jason Maek. The label centers itself around Electronic music, but does not restrict itself to one genre specifically, as you can hear sounds similar to Lana Del Rey, Kendrick Lamar, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Flume, and Beyoncé all on the same album.

Zaena – @zaenaworld

Zaena is a dynamic electro-popstar who shines on the “Maek Pandamonium” visual album. In the visual album, Zaena acts as a fitness instructor, portrays herself as a robot, wears a onesie, and so much more, all while belting out lyrics and dropping sick dance moves. Zaena is a truly unique musical talent, with a catchy voice that traps itself in your head. Some of her hits on the album that will push her to the next level in terms of musical recognition are “Fire” and “UFO”. Zaena’s dedication to creating a new musical mold is unmatched by other rising artists for the upcoming year of 2015.

Jason Maek – @jasonmaek

Jason, along with his best friend Tiffany, founded Maek, and is the heart and soul of everything that Maek stands for. Maek gives life back to the music, choosing to give away his music for free, which is unheard of nowadays. Jason is not afraid to use his lyrics to spark conversation, as he often touches on racial issues, homosexuality, and domestic violence. He wants his music to speak to his listeners, and make them think. Jason reminds me of Kanye West in this way, he does not follow the traditional rappers who talk about money, girls, and success. Rather, his lyrics delve beneath the surface of what is usually unacceptable to talk about in modern music.

Maek Pandamonium (

I am at a loss for words about this project. Maek Pandamonium offers a one-of-a-kind project that has never been done by an Independent record label before. It has racked up over 300,000 views on Youtube, was featured on the front page of VEVO, and has accumulated a huge amount of attention from the Youtube community, as well as music bloggers. Many YouTubers made reaction videos to begin to put into words what they just saw.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it. I would love to hear some of your reactions to this. It is one of the most controversial, unique, and thought-provoking music experiences I have ever witnessed. I don’t even want to spoil the surprise, but some of the visuals you have to look forward to are a three-minute video of a girl twerking, people robbing a store, and a dead-on accurate “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” depiction.

Check out Maek Pandamonium. Jason & Zaena will be on festival lineups before you know it. Catch them on their way up, this is going to be huge.

Matt Peters (PlaylistHQ Intern)

Pick of the Week: Scott Lucas & the Married Men and Wolvereen at Hideout (December 20, 2014)

Scott Lucas & The Married Men

A Festivus miracle! They’re getting the band back together for the holidays! After taking all of 2014 off to play music with their other bands — Scott Lucas is the frontman for long-running, two-man band Local H, while several of the Married Men also play in Celtic Punk band the Tossers — Scott Lucas & the Married Men will reunite for their 5th Annual Hideout Holiday Music Hour. Their first and only performance of the year will be recorded and broadcast from the band’s website around Christmas.

The show will feature plenty of holiday classics — in the past they’ve taken on “Feliz Navidad,” “Last Christmas” by Wham!, “Mr. Grinch,” “Father Christmas” by the Kinks and many more. Lucas and his six-piece backing band, the Married Men — a collective that includes violin, organ and accordion and has drawn comparisons to Wilco, the Waterboys and Nick Cave — will also perform original songs from their most recent records, Blood Half Moon and The Cruel Summer EP, as well as Married Men staples, drawn from their first two releases: George Lassos the Moon and The Absolute Beginners EP.

Wolvereen is made up of four Chicago girls, Liv, Nonie, Madison and Devin, who have written and played together for the last six years. Friends since they were three and now they are 16 and 17 (and 25), Wolvereen’s sound is a combination of Blondie, Joan Jett and Haim. Having played Lollapalooza, toured with Lissie and are the youngest band to headline at Metro Chicago, Wolvereen (formerly Purple Apple) is gearing up to release their new EP, produced by veteran music writer/producer, Mike Chapman.

Scars on 45 with Augustana at House of Blues San Diego (December 8, 2014)

It’s the end of a sunny day in San Diego.  Scars of 45 takes the stage and begins playing their style of indie rock love songs.  The combination of a male and a female lead singer works well for this style.  Midway through the set, they challenge the audience to be very quiet so they can come out into the crowd to play a song completely acoustic.  The two singers come out with just a guitar and play in the very center of the floor.  It’s a very intimate moment between band and audience and it works splendidly to gain the full attention of everyone there.  They return to the stage and everyone stays quiet.  The band says it’s no longer necessary to be quiet, let’s get loud.  Then they jump into one of their faster paced songs.

Later on, they tell the story behind Crazy for You.  It’s about friends of theirs in Bradford, England, who had been friends for a long time.  Others had urged them to date but they insisted that they were only friends.  Finally, they went on an official date and it went very well.  Eventually they got married.  And now they are divorced.  “Just kidding,” the bands says; they’re still together.  It’s these stories and the band’s playful nature that make their show such a joy to attend.  Through their near constant touring, they’ve learned all the tricks to put on a great performance.

The headliner for the night is Augustana. They take the stage and immediately launch into their set.  They go on playing song after song without saying anything to the audience.  Halfway through a song, the right side of the audience starts getting loud.  A man drops to his knees and proposes.  She accepts and they embrace while everyone applauds.  Throughout the band plays and smiles as they realize what is happening.  After the song, the lead singer finally breaks his silence and mentions the proposal.  He goes on to congratulate the couple on comment that it’s a really great vibe here on this Monday night.  It’s true, love is in the air.

A few songs later, they play their biggest hit, Boston.  “I’ll get out of California, I’m tired of the weather” they sing.  Augustana is from San Diego, but now they are located in Nashville.  It’s a joy to hear this song and see how it foreshadowed their move out of town.  San Diego is always happy to have them back, and this night was no exception.


Must See East Coast Concerts in December

The Script

Saturday December 13

Mid Hudson Civic Center – Poughkeepsie, NY

This Irish pop rock band is just plain fun to listen to. Their lead singer’s voice is unique and distinctive, and their songs make you want to sing along and turn up the sound.

Justin Timberlake

Saturday December 13

Mohegan Sun Arena – Uncasville, CT

Or, you could go see Justin Timberlake performing at Mohegan.   It’s tearin’ up my heart trying to decide which show to see, but either way, you’re in for an awesome night.

Chiodos & We Came As Romans

Sunday December 14

The Chance – Poughkeepsie, NY

For those who haven’t heard of these guys, here’s a taste of their tunes. Personally, I’m in awe of the We Came As Romans cover of “I Knew You Were Trouble.”

The Airborne Toxic Event

Tuesday December 16

Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel – Providence, RI

With an addictive sound that will make you want get up and dance, ATE is an indie favorite that you won’t want to miss. Just check out their song “Changing” and see how long it takes for your head to start bobbing along.

Andrew W.K.

Monday December 29

The Loft – Poughkeepsie, NY

Slick back your long hair, tie your sneakers, and prepare to party hard with some awesome (head-banging) songs at this show.

– Kacey Rainone