Monthly Archives: January 2015

A Slow Burn Keeps the Hall Warm All Night: Bahamas with David McMillan at Lincoln Hall (January 30, 2015)

Welcome to Lincoln Hall, one of Chicago’s best midsize music venues.  It’s ideal for catching an intimate performance of some of the best up and coming bands.  This venue opened in 2009 with a crisp, modern look and fantastic acoustics.

First on the stage is David McMillin of Fort Frances.  He announces his song, Plastic Hearts, is going to be featured on The 100 on CW.  He doesn’t recommend watching the show, but if you do, you may hear his song playing in the background at a bar.

Next up is Bahamas.  They start with a fan favorite, “Never Again”.  Though, to say it is a fan favorite doesn’t single it out as the crowd loves all the songs they play; as their latest album (Bahamas is Afie) points out. Afie Jurvanen, lead singer and founder of the band, informs the crowd he is from Canada, home of Strange Brew and SCTV. He responds to the crowd’s question about Al Jackson with a definitive NO. These delightful interactions with the audience make his live shows very intimate.  He makes the audience all feel like his friends.  In reference to their soft rock sound, he says, “We are heating up now. We like to burn at a slow medium heat and keep it there, for a long time.” While introducing “Stronger Than That”, he mentions he recorded the song many ways.  Someone yells out “50 ways?” He quickly responds, “No.  I remember you from Milwaukee, and I see you brought your joke with you.”  The audience cracks up.  “Thanks for coming again”, he smoothly adds.  They close the set with “Lost in the Light”, the biggest hit from the Barchords album.  Everyone sings along happily to this fantastically written and perfectly performed song.

Bahamas_-_Barchords

After they leave the stage, nobody heads for the exit.  The entire crowd demands more and the band is met with a loud applause when they return.  The close out the night with the song currently getting airplay on XRT, “All The Time”. This song encapsulates the best of Bahamas: catchy riffs, outstanding backup vocals (Felicity Williams), and quirky guitar solo to boot.  It’s the whole package and is definitely a must see act!

Quinn Delaney

Laughs for Everyone!: Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail at The NerdMelt Showroom (January 28, 2015)

The house is packed tonight.  Buying something from the store is rewarded with first entry in to the back room with the stage, and today it is worth it.  All the seats are quickly filled and soon it is standing room only in the back.  Tonight’s show is Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail.  This show won’t be broadcast on Comedy Central, but past shows have been featured on the channel.  This has caused the show to gain quite a following.

First on stage are the hosts, Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani.  They are both drinking from red solo cups since the NerdMelt doesn’t have a bar.  They only serve soda.  Kumail asks Jonah to say something funny and then he demonstrates a spit take by spitting up his drink on the stage.  Jonah asks Kumail to say something sad to show a sad spit take.  He then proceeds to cry and just let the liquid spill out of his open mouth onto his shirt.  The audience applauds enthusiastically, so he does it again!  After goofing around for a while longer, Jonah comments he is surprised how fast his shirt is drying.  “Maybe I’ll stay up here until it’s completely dry!” Shortly thereafter, they decide to start the show on bring on the comedians.

Alex Hooper is first up.  “When you look like me and someone says ‘I Love You’, you hold on to them!” Next up, Moshe Kasher does a bit where he sings a made up Chinese song, and then comments that he should just Google a real song if he’s going to keep telling that joke, so as not to be racist. Jerrod Carmichael talks about women’s rights.  “Women have been around as long as men.  I don’t know how it happened, but you lost.  Get over it!”  Some people laugh while others respond with awe. Moses Storm and Michelle Wolf keep the laughs coming.  To close out the night, James Adomian takes the mic.  At the end of his set, he does excellent impersonations of comedians.  His Louis C.K. is flawless.

Overall, it was a very funny night.  It’s definitely best to get there early because standing in the back with all the posts blocking your view is way less fun than sitting front row and interacting with the comedians who always did a bit of crowd work.

Must See Sketch Comedy! – Private Street and Boat at UCB Theatre (January 27, 2015)

The line stretches down Franklin Avenue and curves up Bronson Avenue.  Passersby wonder what all the commotion is about.  It’s all for a night of sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.  The inside space is very limited. Instead of having people wait inside, they move the line outside.  To further demonstrate the small size, there are only two bathrooms inside.  A single unisex bathroom and a single men’s bathroom with only a urinal.    The shows often sell out with only $5 a ticket, but you can always try the waitlist if you are just walking up.

The first group of the evening is local group Private Street.  Everyone takes the stage and they wish the audience Happy New Year by popping a bottle of champagne.  The cork flies off and it bounces around the room with great sound effects and the actors on stage whipping around their heads until one the actors catches it.  The cork then starts to pull him around the stage until he releases it and it flies into another actor like a bullet and kills him.  It then flies off stage.  We hear loud knocking.  An actor opens the door and is hit by the cork so hard he rolls off the stage and dies.  One by one, all the actors die until there is only one left.  She cries “All my friends are dead!”.  The stage goes dark and the screen displays a bottle of Andre.  A voice of the PA says, “Don’t let a cork ruin your party!  Get our new twist off bottles!” The audience erupts with applause.  This scene and the rest that follow display incredible execution of hilarious concepts and fantastic acting.  Sketch comedy doesn’t get any better than this!

Next up is Boat from New York.  Their best scene consists of a fight between two of the actors.  A third man is dressed all in black making the action scenes possible.  One actor spits and the man in black carries the spit across the stage and smashes it on to the other’s face.  The fighters fly at each other superman style with the man in black placing them on chairs stomach down and then pushing the chairs together.  Finally, one actor says he will piss on the other and begins to pull down his pants.  The other responds he will shoot poop in return.  The man in black has had enough and runs to each of them to pull up their pants.  He continues going back and forth across the stage to stop this madness.  Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence comes on over the PA as the announcer says “And so the man in black continues on forever preventing two people from peeing and pooping on each other.  So when you think your job is long and boring, think of the main in black, and stop complaining!”

After the first group, I thought the comedy couldn’t be matched, but Boat managed to do just that.  Their writing and acting were just as fantastic as Private Street.  These two make a great match and provided an excellent hour of comedy.  Catch these groups wherever they perform next, you won’t be disappointed!

Quinn Delaney

Rock, Rain or Shine!: Mates of State with Fictionist and Babes at the Bootleg Theatre (January 26, 2015)

It’s raining in the California desert.  In Chicago terms, there is a slight drizzle.  However, this doesn’t stop live music fans from coming out to the Bootleg Theatre.  This venue has two stages: one small side stage and a main stage.  Tonight, only the main stage is being used.  It has a large open standing area in front along with many rows of seats in the back of the room.  They host concerts and plays here.

First up is Babes, a tough band to Google with their generic name.  The two lead singers are brother and sister, and the other guitarist is their brother.  Friends on bass and drums round out their band.  They are big fans of their music as displayed by the very joyful song, “Life Is Always Turning Me On”.  See the video here: http://www.vevo.com/watch/babes/atmo/USUV71401657

Next up is Fictionist.  Another band with two lead singers, but this time one is a guy with big hair and another with a very closely shaved head.  They open with “Free Spirit”, a high energy song that features the catchy lyric: “You gotta free, free your spirit!” Later on, the lead singer says “See if you can guess this cover” and then they play a fantastic version of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics. For many of the songs, the talented drummer sets a solid beat with great energy.  Bass and synthesizer add great groves with a fantastic guitar solo on top for their excellent jams which gets the whole crowd dancing.  It’s evident this band is well rehearsed and only needs to find their audience to be successful.

By the time Mates of States takes the stage, the theatre is packed.  As with the other bands, they have two lead singers also.  This married duo is on keyboards and drums.  The drummer thanks the crowd for coming out in the rain.  He asks if the locals like the rain.  It’s a mixed response to this question, and to their music too.  Later on they say the next song is about kidney stones and Hurricane Katrina, an odd grouping.  Suffice it to say, this show is a bit random.  Perhaps this was not the best match-up for them to tour with Fictionist.

Quinn Delaney

A Classic Show Still Shines: The Armando Show at iO West (January 24, 2015)

The iO West bar is packed on this Saturday night.  Is it because of the $3 Olympias and $4 Miller Bottles, or is everyone here to see a show?  It’s hard to tell.  Tonight’s 9pm offering is the Armando Show, an hour long improvised comedy show inspired by an audience suggestion, which the special guest interprets through a personal and truthful improvised monologue. Inspired by that monologue, the cast perform scenes that, in turn, inspire a response from the special guest. This propels hilarious interchanges between the monologues and the company’s scenes.

The suggested phrase is “I Love You”. The host talks about how many meanings there are for that word.  She wants more words to describe the many varieties of love.  The cast begins a scene with coworkers in an office.  The boss says she ADORES the marketing team.  Her only concern is that it is comprised of only guys.  Cut to a scene interviewing a female.  Cut to the female working on the team.  These quick cuts keep the action moving and results in some big laughs

Later on the monologue is about Vaseline Glass.  It is a green colored glass made with uranium that glows under black light.  The manufacturing process was toxic, so they stopped making them.  However, the finished product is safe and used to be hard to find.  However, with the internet, it’s easy to locate now.  She misses the hunt.  The cast launches into a scene of Antique Roadshow.  A man is selling and old Irish armoire with a  secret compartment that many are afraid to open.  This leads to a hilarious back and forth as he tries to open it.

Overall, it was a hilarious night of improv.  The actors quickly established locations and relationships that led to very funny situations like firefighters responding to an emergency at a VERY slow pace.  On this night, a ticket to this early show gave you access to all the later shows as well.  Take advantage now of this great deal for live comedy and cheap drinks!

Quinn Delaney

Still Rockin After All These Years: Styx at Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA (January 23, 2015)

It’s the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.  It’s a classy place.  As Styx says, “There was a time when bands like us weren’t allowed in venues like this.  I guess we are all grown up adults now, so they think we’ll behave.  We’ll see.” They may be older now, but they can still rock.  They quickly get the crowd riled up by playing “Fooling Yourself” and “Lady”.  During the songs, Lawrence Gowan spins the keyboard around in circles with the special setup he has created.  Later on in the night, he talks about how it’s a very nice neighborhood.  He found the really nice jacket he is wearing in someone’s trash!

Later on, Gowan is the only one on stage.  He launches into a cover medley playing “Piano Man” by Billy Joel, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones, “Let It Be” by The Beatles, and finally “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.  This is all a lead up of classic rock songs to their greatest hit, “Come Sail Away”.  The audience goes nuts as they tear the roof down and finish off their set.

Some older bands turn into a hits jukebox and lose their enthusiasm for the music.  Styx isn’t one of them.  Catch them now while you still can!

Quinn Delaney

See the preview article here: https://blog.playlisthq.com/2015/01/20/pick-of-the-week-styx-at-saban-theatre-in-beverly-hills-ca-january-23-2015/

Choice Slopeside Rock: Turnpike Troubadours at Steamboat

Over winter break, I took a week’s vacation to go skiing in Steamboat Springs, CO. I unknowingly scheduled my trip during “MusicFest”, a week-long music festival held in Gondola Square at Steamboat Springs Mountain Resort. If you have never been to Steamboat, this stage is literally steps from the snow, between the slopes and the gondola.

The Turnpike Troubadours began at 1PM, a perfect time to get some good shredding in during the sparsely populated morning hours, then take a lunch break outside with fantastic live music before heading back up to the slopes.

After the first song, they instantly began telling jokes and gracing the crowd with funny personal accounts about their airport travel experiences. They immediately caught the attention of the crowd by playing their two most popular songs “7 & 7’s” and “Every Girl” as the third and fourth songs in their set. The band offered the perfect sound for the venue, as they clearly showed that they were enjoying having a good time on vacation just like everyone else. The largely Texan crowd got a kick out of the folk band from Oklahoma, as they ate lunch, hung out slope-side, and played an organized Washer Toss tournament next to the stage.

This was a fantastic event held by Steamboat Mountain Resort, which offered entertainment all day and night for the whole family. Whether taking a break day from skiing, or for the spouse who would rather relax and get a massage than hit the slopes, this event was great for the town and its guests, that I feel like more resorts will evolve to this style of entertainment to cater to the whole variety of their guests.

Matt Peters