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Strong Set! Izzy Bizu opening for Coldplay at Soldier Field (August 17, 2017)

Izzy Bizu steps out on the enormous stage at Soldier Field, where the capacity is 61,500. This is a much different setting than her last appearance in Chicago, at the Bottom Lounge, in front of about 100 people. For those who arrived early, Izzy delivers a strong set. One of the highlights is “Someone That Loves You”, a track she released with HONNE. She sings “Don’t touch me. Boy I want you. Not allowed to. You have someone that loves you.” Exactly two weeks ago, HONNE performed this song just a mile away in Grant Park during Lollapalooza.   

To close out her set, she plays the fantastically peppy White Tiger, which whips the crowd into a dance party with its syncopated chords and strong bass line. Every girl in the audience wants to be her friend and every guy wants to take her out dancing. When her 45 minute set ends, the crowd is left wanting more. The future is looking good for Izzy Bizu.

Quinn Delaney

Chance, Blink-182, PUP, Cloud Nothings, Slushii and more at Lollapalooza in Grant Park

For three or four days every year, Lollapalooza transforms Chicago. While taking the train or walking the streets, it’s extremely easy, judging by their colorful tank tops, bandanas, and flower crowns, to pick out who’s on their way to the festival. Once you enter festival grounds, you immediately immerse yourself in this self-contained, colorful, insane little world of music and youthful nonsense, or more concisely, a Baby Boomer’s version of Hell.

But for us younger folk, the festival is a great place to mosh, sing, and kill brain cells. The ingenuity of the place is amazing; I once saw somebody dig up a bottle of booze by a marked tree that they had buried a week before with their bare hands. You can avoid all of this and just enjoy the music if you’d like, but watching the chaos unfold around you is half the fun.

Musically, the festival was no slouch. Favorites like local star Chance The Rapper, pop-punk banger group PUP (@puptheband), quirky indie rock act Cloud Nothings (@cloudnothings) gained new fans and invigorated old ones with their energetic ballads. Emerging future bass artist Slushii (@SlushiiMusic) performed a great set that had half the crowd knocking each other over in a giant mosh pit.

Last but certainly not least, beloved pop-punk giants c (@blink182) put on a fantastic and electrifying show. Despite a few shaky lineup changes the past few years, the band managed to retain their charm and humor for their performance. Being one of my favorite bands from my angsty teenage years, hearing “The Rock Show” live put a notch in my bucket list.

Justin Cabrera

Legendary! Foreigner at Hunting Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island (August 9, 2017)

In 1976, Foreigner was founded in New York City. In 1978, they toured with Cheap Trick. From 2004 to 2008, Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham) was the drummer for Foreigner. And now, for their 40th anniversary tour, the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience and Cheap Trick are opening!

Foreigner opens with “Double Vision” which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for two weeks in 1978. From there, song after song is a huge hit. Everyone there, from young to old, knows almost every word and happily sings along. They have installed their own custom lighting above the stage. It moves up and down and the lights go on and off perfectly with the songs.

Mick Jones, the founder and the leader of the band, is introduced by the lead singer, Kelly Hansen. He steps up and says “I guess it’s time for me to sing one. I thought the first album needed a spacey song, so I added this one.” He goes on to play “Starrider” to the crowd’s delight.


After a strong keyboard and drum solo, they play a very familiar melody. It’s “Juke Box Hero”. The rest of the band enters the stage and the singing starts. “Standing in the rain, with his head hung low. Couldn’t get a ticket, it was a sold out show.” But where is the lead singer? Finally, he is spotted, on a 25 feet tall podium high above the crowd in the back. It’s a fantastic touch and further proof these guys know how to put on a fricking rock show!

For the encore, the Chesterton High School choir from Indiana joins the band on stage for “I Want To Know What Love Is”. It’s an epic moment as the audience decides to abandon their seats and crowd in front of the stage as they scream along to every single word and dance while embracing those around them. “I want to know what love is! I want you to show me! I want to feel what love is! I know you can show me!” They really should have ended the show with this song. Instead, they play one more, “Hot Blooded”. It’s a great song, but after they had a FULL CHORUS on stage, it’s a bit of a comedown. Put this song  first in the encore and you’d have a perfect show. Either way, this was an incredible night of music by one of the world’s greatest bands at a world class venue on a beautiful night in Chicago with everyone in attendance singing all the songs in their heads for weeks to come.


See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney

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Review: Hair at Mercury Theatre Chicago (August 5, 2017)

Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, first appeared on Broadway in 1968. In 1979, the film version was released. In 2009, a Broadway revival opened and won the Tony Award for best revival. And now, in 2017, the production is being staged at the Mercury Theatre.

In the musical, Claude is drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. His friends all tell him to burn his draft card and resist. The threat of jail time for failing to serve weighs on him.

HAIR, Mercury Theater - Ensemble (Brett A. Beiner)

The highlights of the show are the opening number, “Aquarius”, and the closing song, “Let The Sun Shine In”. The cast’s vocal talent is fantastic.

HAIR, Mercury Theater - Matt Keffer and ensemble (Brett A. Beiner)

Get tickets now for Hair through September 17th!

Quinn Delaney

Emo Legends! Cap’n Jazz at House of Vans

For many, the phrase “emo music” conjures thoughts of 2007 Myspace-core bands like Panic! At the Disco and My Chemical Romance being blasted through the speakers of their local Hot Topic. While there’s nothing wrong with those bands, the Midwest has been harboring its own much smaller, more intimate emo scene for the past few decades. Many bands in this scene, such as American Football,  have attained cult status through their themes of heartbreak, aimlessness, and angst. Chicago based Cap’n Jazz has released only one full length album, the eloquently named Burritos, Inspiration Point, Fork Balloon Sports, Cards in the Spokes, Automatic Biographies, Kites, Kung Fu, Trophies, Banana Peels We’ve Slipped On and Egg Shells We’ve Tippy Toed Over, and one anthology (Analphabetapolothology). Their discography is concise yet hugely influential within the scene. So, when the band decided to perform in their native Chicago for the first time in seven years, misunderstood youths from all over the city flocked to the House of Vans.

Upon meeting up with a friend, we entered the line for the show, which was over three blocks long (!!). We waited anxiously in line, unsure if we would get in due to the first come first serve policy. After about an hour of inching forward along sidewalks and alleyways, we finally made it to the entrance of the venue. Neither of us had heard of the House of Vans before, and expected the usual small Chicago bar. What we did not expect was a gigantic, smoky warehouse with an indoor skate park and a gigantic stage. The neon glow of the lights looked like something out of Blade Runner, and colorful murals and skate decks layered the walls. The staff was friendly and talkative, and they gave out beer to of-age fans. In case that wasn’t enough, a gigantic security guard even gave my friend a free slice of deep dish pizza.

The opening act, Hop Along, played an excellent set that combined indie rock with explosive grit. When they finished, Cap’n Jazz quickly took the stage and immediately launched their set. The band members were clearly having a great time with the crowd.  Frontman Tim Kinsella asked for audience members to throw their shirts on stage (he got dozens). Somehow, he managed to dive into the crowd without dropping his mic stand multiple times, screaming his cryptic lyrics as his fans literally lifted him up. He repeatedly threw his tambourine into the crowd. As my friend Mike foolishly tried to catch it, the tambourine slammed into his hand, bruising him. Elated that one of his favorite musicians bruised him, Mike enthusiastically jumped back into the pit.

Cap’n Jazz will be playing more shows across the US, so be sure not to miss being able to see these elusive emo legends live.

Justin Cabrera

Poignant: The Modern Noir of Water and Power at UrbanTheater Company

(This review is spoiler free)

Written by Richard Montoya and directed by Richard Perez, and produced by the UrbanTheater Company (@urbantheater), the Chicano play Water & Power is an intimate, conflicted, and hopeful portrayal of Hispanic urban masculinity. The play follows eponymous brothers Water (Dennis Garcia) and Power (Ivan Vega) through the past and present as it frames their relationship. In the flashback scenes, their father (Juan Delgado), a hardworking immigrant who works for Chicago’s utilities system, encourages his twin sons to seek respect and power in order to escape systematic oppression. The story is never monochrome, the conflicts that the main characters experience in their quest for power and family are never black and white. The show balances two different stories at its core: obligations to family in times of crisis and the acceptable limits of power. Juggling these two themes is ambitious and complicated, and Water & Power smartly intertwines these two stories to create a play that is both emotional and powerful.

The play was originally written to be set in LA.  For the Chicago performances, the writer smartly rewrote the script to reference the Windy City. This, combined with the cramped, one room setting of the play lends the performance intimacy and tension. The script and dialogue intentionally resemble spoken word poetry, but thankfully the performances don’t come across as preachy or unnatural. UTC is renowned in the Chicago arts scene for their satirical performances, and Water & Power represents the studio’s first foray into more dramatic territory. Thankfully, given this experience, the script is peppered with jokes and moments of brevity that help prevent the gravitas of the story from becoming depressing or emotionally exhausting.

Though the show has closed its initial run in Chicago, stay on the lookout for future performances. The play’s charming but conflicted characters, intense performances, and beautiful, poetic writing make this one a must see.

Justin Cabrera

Delightful! Broadway in Chicago Presents An American in Paris at Oriental Theatre (July 26, 2017)

An American in Paris is a new musical that won four Tony Awards in 2015. However, it doesn’t feel like a modern musical as it is based on the 1951 film of the same name. The music also doesn’t sound like it’s from the 50s. That’s because it’s from George Gershwin’s orchestral piece of the same name from 1928.

AAIP_TOUR_0676.jpg –An American in Paris Touring Company. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

In the story, it’s 1945 and World War II has just ended. Jerry “missed his train home” and has decided to stay in Paris to become an artist. On his first day there, he meets Lise — and he is instantly smitten. He runs into her again soon after and learns that she has a serious boyfriend. He doesn’t let this deter him and he continues to pursue her. On a professional level, he strives to be a designer for a ballet.

An American in Paris is half musical – half ballet. The best parts of the musical half are “I Got Rhythm” and “Fidgety Feet”. The cast does an excellent job singing these songs. The dancing is fantastic as well. A ballet within the show takes place in the second act that showcases the talents on stage. Even the Joffrey Ballet would be impressed.

The play is completely in English, but there are a few French touches. Here are a few translations:

Merci – Thank you

Monsieur – Mr., sir

Madame – Mrs., ma’am

Merde – Damn it!

AAIP Tour 1268 – Nick Spangler and the An American in Paris Touring Company. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Will Jerry end up with Lise? Find out now through August 13th at An American in Paris!

Quinn Delaney