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

 

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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

Spotify Playlist for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Summer Series at Harris Theatre (June 7-10, 2018)

Here is the Spotify playlists for for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Summer Series at Harris Theatre (June 7-10, 2018). It features a wide ranging score from Dean Martin to mambo to techno to traditional Israeli music. It also includes Ravel’s Bolero, which was also used in Alvin Ailey’s spring performance last year. Also of note is “Hava Nagila” by Dick Dale, which sounds very similar to Dale’s song, “Miserlou”, made famous by the dancing scene in Pulp Fiction.

“Isa Nori” by Maxim Waratt.

“Train” by Goldfrapp.

“Fur Alina” by Arvo Pärt, lyrics by Charles Bukowski and vocals by Bobby Jene Smith.

“Stones Start Spinning” by David Darling.

“Mabruk Wo Arisna” by Ali Hassan Kuban. Arab Folk Music by Habib Alla Jamal and Khader Shama.

“Bolero” by Maurice Ravel, arranged by Isao Tomita.

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arlen & EY Harburg, adapted by Marusha.

“Hooray for Hollywood (cha cha)” by Don Swan and His Orchestra, written by John. H Mercer and Richard E. Whiting.

“Sway” by Dean Martin, written by P.B. Ruiz & N. Gimbel.

“Hava Nagila” by Dick Dale.

“Echad Mi Yodea” by Ohad Naharin and Tractor’s Revenge.

“Na Tum Jano Na hum” by Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai.

“Wahed” by Chronomad.

“You’re Welcome” by The Beach Boys,” written by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks,

“Pictures” by Ohad Fishoff and Maxim Waratt

The program will feature two works by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, Minus 16 and Deca Dance.

Get tickets now for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Summer Series from June 7th to 10th!

Quinn Delaney

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Also, see our review of Hubbard Street Dance : An Evening of Alejandro Cerrudo from the spring here.

 

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

Award Worthy! To Catch a Fish at TimeLine Theatre Company (Through July 1, 2018)

Based on a true events, this is the story of a young man who starts working for a couple of shady characters who have set up a pop up shop. Initially, he is just handing out flyers, but then they ask him to tell people they are also buying guns. The young man is eager to please them and he does just as he is told. He tells his cousin about his new job who becomes very concerned, just like the audience.

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Geno Walker’s performance as the young man is outstanding. If this were a movie, it would be Oscar worthy. It’s very difficult to portray a mentally disabled person, and he does it expertly. He is surrounded by an excellent cast including Al’Jaleel McGhee (Breach)  as his cousin, who tries to protect him the best he can. Linda Bright Clay (Breach) is fantastic as the constantly worrying grandmother.  Also, Tiffany Addison plays the young man’s girlfriend so real. Lastly, AnJi White, Stephen Walker (The White Road), and Jay Worthington play the shady characters who keep their intentions well hidden.

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The ending of this play is very soft. After such dramatic performances, it deserves a stronger ending. At the very least, they should have a narrator state what ends up happening to the young man. Tonight’s performance included an excellent talk back, which provided the answer to this question and many more. However, most audiences wouldn’t have this chance. After seeing the play, rethink about the title. After all, it’s not really about fishing.

Get tickets now for To Catch A Fish through July 1!

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