Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Review: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard with Amyl and The Sniffers at The Riviera Theatre (6/10/18)

As the night of June 10th progressed, a sauntering heat began to fill the Riviera Theatre. Even so, the suffocation of the venue’s air did not stop the diverse crowd from going all out. Head-banging and moshing immediately ensued upon the first song of Amyl and The Sniffers’ set. The eclectic sound and look of the group perfectly encapsulated the feel of the audience which, in turn, made for a very intimate performance. Rarely do openers strike this kind of personal connection with crowds’, so it was quite refreshing to see this effort from Amyl and The Sniffers.

While the crowd was grateful for that strong start to the night, the audience dropped all previous thoughts and engagements upon hearing the aggressive and downright heavy entrance of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard track “Digital Black”. The sinister track off 2017’s Murder of the Universe snapped the audience into form instantaneously with tremendous fervor. The impressively commanding music continued with the blissful psych-rock jam “Lord of Lightning”. Being a crowd favorite, “Lord of Lightning” propelled the creation of many mosh pits and overall just alleviated a lot of tensions within the crowd. The brute force and aggression didn’t maintain throughout the night, as King Gizzard also tap danced through many more laid back compositions.

“Sleep Drifter”, “The Wheel”, and “Beginner’s Luck” all saw King Gizzard exploring more free-flowing and jazzy contours. Tinges of Latin music, swing-era jazz, and psychedelia may not have reacted in the biggest pits of the night, but they were certainly welcomed changes of pace.

On top of the impressive display of music, the colors and tripped-out visuals projected throughout the performance made for an insanely immersive experience. At times, it was hard to take all of it in honestly, but perhaps that it is a sign that you are witnessing something that is truly beyond you. At the end of the day, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard put on a must-see show. Their layered backgrounds, unbelievable musical abilities, and overall showmanship make for an all-encompassing odyssey that you will not soon forget.

Griffin Boyle

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Sonderland Music Festival featuring CJ Run, Jackson Davis, and Templeton Vibes (June 1st, 2018)

When you hear the word festival it is reasonable to think of theatrical and produced musical moments, a constant yet thrilling reverberation of bass, or large fields of people. While the prototypical festival experience may fulfill much of this criteria, a festival may take whatever form it pleases. 

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 Founded in Bolingbrook, IL, Sonderland is the brainchild of Ellie Hahn. Her vision was to showcase local music and art throughout Illinois, while also fundraising for good cause. Chicagoland Rape Victim Advocates received all of the proceeds earned from the event, only further demonstrating Hahn’s selfless nature. Held in the close-quartered venue that was Ellie’s home, Sonderland managed to hone in on something truly special: the beauty of unbridled love and creativity. 

 

A wide array of genres were represented at each stage. The garage generally displayed more lush and active compositions. House DJs, Bedroom Indie Pop, and Jazz Fusion were all proudly displayed within the colorful confines of the garage. The wide-ranging perspectives shown at this stage were perfectly paired with a community mural as a backdrop. Jackson Davis and Templeton Vibes were particular standout performers with their deliberate, yet spontaneous-sounding compositions. 

 The second stage in the back showcased a more minimal and personal sound. CONA’s passionate, yet fun-loving rock set was wildly entertaining, and CJ Run’s personal and poetic hip-hop set was a perfect cap on the night. Their relentless flow coupled with their laid-back demeanor made for an experience that was both astounding and profoundly human. 

 

At the end of the day, you do not need bright lights, huge pieces of land, or even the craziest budget to make something special. All you really need is a vision and some motivation. If you work hard and allow others to lend you a hand, anything is possible. 

 

Griffin Boyle

 

Punk / Pop / Ska! Mad Caddies at Bottom Lounge (June 1, 2018)

After two great openers, Mad Caddies take the stage.  This is their first show since playing at Riot Fest last year and they jump right into it with one of their harder rocking punk songs.  Before long, there is a mosh pit in the middle of the floor.  Later on, they slow down the pace with a fantastically catchy pop friendly song, “Shoot Out the Lights.” It gets everyone dancing around with a smile on their face.

In a throwback to 1998, they launch into “Monkeys,” a frenzied ska song which keeps the dancing going strong.  This band is truly a mix of a many different styles leaving the audience guessing as to what type of song will be next.  Thus, when their set ends, the crowd chants “One More Song!” The encore is well deserved and results in one final mosh pit.  Don’t miss these guys as they tour the country, it’s guaranteed to be a crazy party!

Quinn Delaney

Rambunctious! King Tuff at Lincoln Hall (May 25, 2018)

Even as the cold breeze passed through the sparsely packed Lincoln Hall concert hall, I could feel a certain electricity brewing. The look of friendly faces in the crowd, the loose Friday night atmosphere, and the cathartic performances of both Sasami and Cut Worms cultivated quite an anticipation for the main act. Luckily enough for the audience and I, this anticipation was met with a very satisfying and polished act of gratification.

King Tuff provided the audience with electrifying guitar riffs, hard hitting percussion, and even some witty stage banter. They thrived on their eclecticism all night as evidenced by lead singer Kyle Thomas’ dazzling checkerboard suit. The startling contrast of “The Other” and “Raindrop Blue” made for a great opening to the performance. One moment with these guys you will be gloomily tapping your foot to a somber vocal driven ballad, the next you will be thrust into a  dirty bass out groove. This exercise, in contrast, was also present in the transition from the tracks “Pyscho Star” to “Ultraviolet”. The light and bouncy drum and keyboard interplay on “Psycho Star” make for a perfect dancing environment whereas “Ultraviolet” is more of a fuzzed out, head-banging rock track. And even though King Tuff desire to fulfill a plethora of niches, they still manage to maintain their own identity.

Whether it is the soaring vocals on “Never Ending Sunshine” or the rambunctious space horn solo on “Infinite Mile”, King Tuff never fails to sound like themselves. They have officially established themselves as a great band and now they’re just having fun with it.

Griffin Boyle

 

Fantastic! John Waite at City Winery (May 24, 2018)

John Waite has been making music since 1976 when he formed the Babys in London. He starts his set with a song from that era, “Midnight Rendezvous”. In 1981, the group disbanded and he released the album Ignition as a solo artist the following year. For the second song of the night, he plays “Change” from that album.

His second solo album, No Brakes (1984), produced his most famous song, “Missing You”, of which he does an acoustic version tonight. He introduces the song by saying it took him only 50 minutes to write and it changed his life.  It’s a giant sing-a-long and the entire audience is all smiles.

In 1989, he formed Bad English and they released “When I See You Smile”, which is also part of tonight’s set. It’s a real career retrospective that all goes together very smoothly.  In 2017, he released Wooden Heart, Volume 2, which features “Downtown”. He tells us this song is about walking around downtown Manhattan and seeing the places his friends and former lovers used to live.

He plays two covers tonight. “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan and “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. While these are both great songs, they seem out of place in his set and he doesn’t give any context for them.

Throughout the night, he is very conversational with the audience. This includes a long exchange with a guy who got up to use the restroom while he was talking. He also calls out the server for not giving him drinks. This stage banter makes the show feel more intimate and definitely adds to the fantastic performance.

See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney

Blues Rock! Ana Popović at City Winery (May 22, 2018)

Ana Popović is on tour promoting her latest album, Trilogy. It’s three albums worth of music featuring Joe Banamassa, Robert Randolph, and many more. Tonight she shows why those are her peers with her virtuostic guitar playing.

A highlight of her set is “Johnnie Ray”. It is a fantastic blues song that really showcases her vocal talent as well as her guitar skills. She also plays a few great covers tonight. One of them is “Fencewalk” by Mandrill. She tells the crowd that they are a 70s funk band out of New York. The song is truly rocking and very funky. She also plays “New Coat Of Paint” by Tom Waits.

Fans of the performance should definitely not miss Chicago Blues Fest next month!

YouTube Playlist of her latest set:

See her past setlists here.

Quinn Delaney

Music Lovers! Daryl Hall and John Oates with Train and Kandace Springs at the United Center (May 18, 2017)

Before the show begins, they are playing videos of Live From Daryl’s House. Both Kandace Springs and Patrick Monahan of Train, the two openers tonight, have appeared as guests. On the show, the guest plays some of their songs, at least one of Daryl’s songs, and a cover or two. During tonight’s performance, Daryl brings out Monahan to sing a few songs. They sing a song they wrote together for this tour, “Philly Forget Me Not”. Sometimes when older bands write new songs, it doesn’t match their old ones, but this is not the case with this new single. It sounds fresh and lively. It fits right in with the rest of their tracks. Pat also sings “Wait for Me” and “Calling All Angels.” It’s just like a mini version of Live From Daryl’s House!

Just like on his show, Daryl Hall is having a fantastic time on stage. After one tune on the piano he says, “I love playing that song”! It’s clear that he is a true lover of music. He enjoys jamming with friends and performing on stage, even in “a big club”, as he refers to the United Center.

Hall & Oates songs are still very common in popular culture. They played “Private Eyes” towards the end of the show. Psych did a cover of this tune as a promo for Season 4.  Also, to close out the night, they play “You Make My Dreams” come true. This song was just used at the end of Ready Player One, the new Spielberg film. It will be exciting to see what is next for Daryl Hall and John Oates. Their story is surely not complete.

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See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney