Sarah Vowell is an alumna of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, so this is a bit of a homecoming for her. During the question and answer section of the evening, someone asks how her career progressed from studying art, to being a music critic, to writing about American History. She explains it wasn’t all planned out and sometimes it was just a matter of circumstances. For instance, of all the schools she applied to, only SAIC accepted her. So that was an easy choice!
Another audience member asks if she wrote about the Articles of Confederation in her latest book and if she could write an entire book about them. Vowell’s response: “Not much and no.” It was met with a burst of laughter by the crowd. She goes on to explain that she doesn’t take requests like Bon Jovi. However, she does understand what’s it like to be interested in something most people aren’t. Vowell’s talent lies in making a subject that could be dull, such as American History, and adding a modern take with comedic overtones. Get her latest book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States now!
What would the characters from Seinfeld do during the Zombie Apocalypse? Would George Costanza be able to convince George Steinbrenner that he is infected so he doesn’t have to work? Would anyone be able to tell if Puddy was acting normal or had become a zombie? EEK! Entertainment’s performance captures the essence of the characters expertly. Phil Platakis nails Kramer’s mannerisms and speech patterns. Loren Jones becomes Elaine Benes perfectly. Joshua Simpson’s portrayal of J. Peterman is just as hilarious as on the actual show. Jason Van Duys as Puddy has the audience laughing after every line. The writing and acting are so good that it feels just like an episode of the show. All Seinfeld fans must catch the final performance on Halloween night!
Starting off Saturday night’s show at Chicago’s House of Blues was machineheart, a band from Los Angeles, California. The lead singer, Stevie Scott, has the stage presence of Taylor Swift and the vocal talent of Ellie Goulding. To the audience’s delight, the band covered “Hit Me Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears as an intro to their closing song, Circles. It was a clever transition as they both feature the lyrics “one more time” repeatedly. This young band, formed in April 2014, is off to a great start. Catch them on tour now with Smallpools and Phoebe Ryan!
Rayland Baxter’s music is calming and beautiful. It’s perfect for listening to on a Sunday morning and a great way to start off this Friday evening concert at the Chicago Theatre. He starts 15 minutes early so the music welcomes everyone as they enter. Tonight, he is opening for Grace Potter, so to ramp the crowd up he plays a few “Saturday night” songs which are more rocking and provide a great transition.
Grace Potter gets her set started with “Never Go Back”, from the album The Lion The Beast The Beat and immediately everyone is out of their seat and dancing. She says not everyone has to stand, but don’t be bothered if someone is dancing in front of you. Later on, all the band leaves except for Grace and the lead guitar player. She tells us a bit of the story behind “Stars” which adds even more meaning to this fantastic song. She goes on to sing with great emotional intensity. It’s followed by the loudest applause of the night so far.
The most fun song of the night is “Your Girl”. It’s about wanting to steal a girl’s boyfriend, but then deciding otherwise because she likes the girl too much. Grace dances around the stage to the funky bass line and sings with a wide smile across her face. It’s a joy to witness. During the encore, “The Lion The Beast The Beat” becomes an extended jam that finishes with the entire band playing on the two drum sets to the audience’s delight. To close out the night, she sings a mashup of My Kind of Town (Chicago Is) and Paris (Ooh La La). It’s a fantastic end to a set of rootsy rock music. Catch Grace Potter and Rayland Baxter on tour now through December!
The lead singer of the Darkness, Justin Hawkins, enters the stage wearing a stylish white and black striped sport coat. Before long, he removes the coat and is just wearing suspenders and pants, both black and white striped. It’s a rock and roll look that matches their glam rock music. When they play, One Way Ticket, the audience jumps around energetically and screams the lyrics back to the band. It’s extremely fun to hear the entire audience sing falsetto during “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”. In fact, it sounded really good along with the fantastic guitar solos during the song.
For the encore, Justin returns wearing a full Cubs jersey. He comments on how now they need to win four straight and then will reach their “sports achievement”. He then proceeds to climb up on the speakers and stage dive into the audience. Who needs a baseball team to win when The Darkness are victorious every night?! Catch The Darkness, all the way from the UK, on tour in the United States now!
Watching live theatre on a Monday night is rare in the city of Chicago as it’s usually a night off for performers. However, an audience of performers is ideal for this show about shows. This musical comedy is filled with tongue-in-check jokes including a running gag about not being able to see someone dressed all in black (aka stage hands or a puppeteer). The performers also make fun of many clichéd characters such as the cop that is retiring in 3 days and is too old for this $&^#, sexy Spanish guitar players, princesses, and many many more two dimensional characters. The two main characters are coworkers trying to avoid an office romance and thus becoming another cliché. “You only date a coworker if you are looking for an excuse to quit in 6 months!” Will they or won’t they? Find out now at the Chopin Theatre through November 8th!
Hands were up in the air for Cashmere Cat on Thursday night. The mood started out very laid back as he played some of his slower, smooth tracks, but as the night went on the atmosphere quickly turned into a party scene. Playing tracks infused with colorful beats, it was clearly a night for non-stop dancing. By mixing electronics, hip-hop, and pop components, Cashmere Cat’s music is not only magical, but can mold to almost anyone’s taste in music. After seeing how he lit up a room of people and controlled the energy by literally a touch of a button, there was no doubt that Cashmere Cat is passionate about what he does. His impressive performance is one that will never leave my mind and I hope to see him again in the near future.