Archive for ‘Events’

January 29, 2012

This Week In Guitareste

This week has been crazy busy for me.  And full of guitar goodness.  Last Friday I watched Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains.

This movie was a revelation to me, boys and girls.  It stars Diane Lane, and is about a young woman who has lost both of her parents.  She goes on the road with her sister and a good friend, forming a band, and calling themselves The Fabulous Stains.  They start with one (really bad) song, and gain celebrity, infamy, and heartbreak along the way.  It’s a comedy, poking fun at the music industry.  I loved it.

Last night, I attended the Forever 27 concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music.  For those of you who don’t know, the 27 club is all of those talented musicians who died at 27.  The list includes Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Robert Johnson, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, D. Boon of The Minutemen, Pete Ham of Bad Finger, Mia Zapata of The Gits, Jim Morrison, and the school snuck Nick Drake in there for good measure (he was 26).  There were many great performances last night, including those by talented women guitarists such as Lisa Derosia, Shelley Miller (last night playing banjo), and Cheryl Lawson.

And finally, all week I’ve been playing with a new little toy of mine.  It’s the Vox AC30 AmPlug.  It’s this tiny little amp you plug directly into your guitar so you can play into headphones.

This thing rocks!  Like the name suggests, the one I bought is designed to sound like a Vox AC30 amp, but they have a bunch of varieties including “Lead,” “Metal,” and “Twin.”

My S.O. was also performing in the concert last night, so he had to practice a lot this week.  He does much better practicing along with recordings — he’s all ear — while I like to switch back and forth between practicing single riffs and practicing with the recording.  So this week we kept finding ourselves in situations where we both needed to practice at the same time, but we were practicing different things.  With this little amp, I can just sit my butt down in the bedroom, close the door, and jam away.  I don’t have to drag my amp and cables in there to set up.  I just need the guitar, the tiny AmPlug, and my earbuds.  It is great.  Plus, I can practice “at full volume” any time I want without disturbing the neighbors.  It’s far preferable to practicing unplugged.

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January 6, 2012

Wild Flag On Jimmy Fallon Tonight

Wild Flag are on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon tonight.  Very cool.

October 6, 2011

X Was Spectacular At The Bottom Lounge Last Night

I don’t have time for a full review right now, but X was amazing at the Bottom Lounge last night. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people dancing at a rock show. There was no opening band, but rather they screened the Ex documentary The Unheard Music. I was skeptical about standing in a club watching a movie for an hour and a half, but it was worth it to hear the music that loud. The crowd was surprisingly attentive, although they began to get a little rowdy toward the end. The show itself blew me away. I’m hard presses to think of any other band, with the exceptions of perhaps Sonic Youth and Sleater- Kinney, that I just love every single song they’ve ever written.

July 24, 2011

Concert Review: Wild Flag At The Subterranean

The temperature’s been in the high 90s all week in Chicago, with heat indexes in the triple digits. So it was hard to be enthusiastic about anything this week. But I couldn’t wait to see Wild Flag.

The Subterranean was cool when we arrived. The ac was cranked. But it didn’t take long for the small venue to fill up. The show was sold out, despite the fact that Wild Flag would be playing the next day at Wicker Park fest. Both openers were local bands, Radar Eyes and Mickey. Radar Eyes are earnest and charming garage rockers. The four piece put on an impressive performance. They had all the right elements: three part harmonies, a manic bass player, and a lead guitarist with some nice chops.

They were followed by the five piece Mickey — all decked out in glitter, paint, and leather jackets. The lead guitarist played a red Epiphone Casino, and wore a lame cape and scroungy dreaded grey fright wig. The front man jumped into the crowd several times, bopping around and sweating on people. The overall impression? It felt like a group of homeless guys grabbed some instruments out of a dumpster and decided to cover Kiss. They played a tight, fun set, and it will be interesting to see how this band develops over time.

A spiral staircase leads from the Subterranean’s green room to the stages. Fans started cheering and snapping photos as soon as they saw Janet Weiss, decked out in a sparkly black top and cut off jeans shorts, descend those stairs. Wild Flag is a strange commodity in this way. They still haven’t released a full studio album. But with two former members of Sleater-Kinney (drummer Janet Weiss and guitarist Carrie Brownstein), guitarist Mary Timony of Helium, and keyboard player Rebecca Cole of The Minders, Wild Flag had fans almost immediately after announcing they had formed. They were a buzz band at SXSW, and fans (me included) have been bothering them (via Facebook and Twitter) to tour more, play more shows, and record more music.

Expectations were high, and they didn’t disappoint. They began with the anthemic “Electric Band”; Weiss pounded out the opening beats, Timony singing and playing rhythm guitar while Brownstein and Cole traded melodies on guitar and keyboard. From the very beginning of the concert, Wild Flag gave a fun and energetic performance. Janet Weiss put her whole self into her drum-playing, leading the diverse group and keeping them together. Rebecca Cole provided backing harmonies while playing complicated keyboard parts, reminiscent of the great psychedelic bands of the 60s and 70s. Timony and Brownstein are both talented guitarists. Timony tapped away on her Jazzmaster, bouncing around the stage and singing her tunes with that distinctive, husky voice. Brownstein was as if the universe had taken the DNA of both Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry and fused them into female form; her singing was sometimes guttural, sometimes ethereal, and her guitar playing was infectious. She fingered away at her Gibson SG, playing three and four note melodies up and down the neck. She pinwheeled her arms. She dropped to the ground, writhing and kicking her legs, somehow still playing those distinctive melodies.

Because Wild Flag hasn’t released that much music, it’s difficult to write out a setlist. I know that they started with “Electric Band.” They followed that with what has become my favorite tune of theirs, although I do not know what it is called. I have seen it called “Short Version,” so let’s go with that for now. They played “Racehorse” and “Romance.” Before “Glass Tambourine,” Weiss asked that the crowd raise their arms at the appropriate time. “You’ll just know when,” she said. I’m pretty sure we would have figured it out, but Timony helped everyone out by giving a wink and raising her own arms. (If you see them soon, I’ll give you the heads up. Raise your arms during the a cappella section.) The thing that the struck me the most about them, more than their excellent playing — the entwining melodies, and multi-part vocals — is how often they smile at each other. They just look like they’re having so much fun.

It was hot at the Subterranean. The air-conditioning couldn’t keep up with all that body heat, all those sweaty, bouncing fans. For the most part, the band shrugged off the heat and played through the haze. But Brownstein did stop at one point. She thanked the fans, said she appreciated that there was a crowd. She said she was happy to be in “hot” Chicago, and that it was 63 degrees in Portland. She was wearing a salmon-colored blazer over her tank top, and she quipped (I’m paraphrasing a bit), “I’m not talking to you just to give us a break because of the heat.” A few seconds of silence, leaning into the mic and wiping her forehead. “I refuse to take off the blazer. Poor choice.” After standing there for several more seconds in front of the mic — “We don’t need a fucking break.” She spun toward her bandmates and started the next song.

After finishing their set, Wild Flag reascended those spiral steps. The fans responded with raucous cheering and floor-pounding. The band returned after several minutes. Brownstein’s blazer was gone. Timony approached the mic and asked the crowd, “Are you guys hot?” We answered with a resounding cheer of “YES!” She responded before starting the next song, “I don’t think I’ve ever been so hot in all my life.” They played the Stones’ “Beast of Burden” with Timony on vocals, followed by Brownstein’s rendition of a Distillers tune.

And this is where Brownstein’s stage theatrics literally smacked me in the face. At the very end of the set, during the final chord, Brownstein kicked a can of PBR that was sitting on the stage. Still full, it rocketed into the crowd, smacking the

girl in front of me in the chin and me in the mouth. At the time, I didn’t fully realize what happened. I saw the kick, and then felt a tap as the can hit me, exploding cold beer all over my face and torso. There I was fulfilled by the concert, but now drenched, stinking of beer, with a throbbing lip. If the band had stunk, I might have been mad. But as it was, it felt like I had been touched by the spirit of rock n’ roll itself. A skunky, red-white-and-blue, painful spirit made of sharp metal and weighing about 12 oz. But the spirit of rock no-less.

July 23, 2011

Photos: Wild Flag At The Subterranean

I saw Wild Flag last night.  It must have been 100 degrees inside the Subterranean, despite the air conditioning.  But the women of Wild Flag didn’t let that stop them from performing a “blistering” set.  (Ok, sorry.  I had to go for the pun.)  There’s a lot to talk about, including the fact that I have a busted lip from a flying PBR can.  Yep, one of Carrie Brownstein’s signature kicks sent a projectile hurtling toward my face!

I’ll write up a short review of the concert a little later, but I wanted to get a few of the photos up.  To check out the full set, you can visit the new brand-spanking new Guitareste Flickr stream.

Here you are — enjoy!

Radar Eyes
Opening Band Radar Eyes

 

 

Mary Timony's Pedal Board

Mary Timony’s Pedal Board
 

Carrie Brownstein

Carrie Tunes Her Guitar
 

Mary Timony

Mary Timony, with Janet Weiss in the background
 

Janet Starts The Set

Janet Gets Things Started
 

Mary Timony Singing Electric Band

Wild Flag, with Mary Timony Singing Electric Band
 

Mary Timony

Rebecca, Mary, and Carrie (and Janet’s drums!)
 

Mary and Carrie

Mary and Carrie
 

Wild Flag
Carrie Brownstein

 

Rebecca Cole

Rebecca Cole
 

Wild Flag
 

Janet Weiss

Janet Weiss

July 13, 2011

Pitchfork Is This Weekend. Are You Going?

Ok, I have a confession.  I quit going to Pitchfork two years ago when the price went to $40 a day.  It’s always blisteringly hot that weekend, and I just think that $120 dollars is too much to pay for a weekend of music.  But I am old and curmudgeonly.  So the fact that it will be 95 degrees with 75% humidity in Chicago all day on Saturday and Sunday shouldn’t keep you from going to Pitchfork.  You are young, beautiful, and well-hydrated, right?  Your feet don’t hurt after twenty minutes of standing in one place.  Or at the very least, you are still cool enough that you can pretend that your feet don’t hurt.  That means you should definitely go see EMA, Neko Case, tUnE-yArDs, and Superchunk.  And then send me the pictures.  Because I’m going to stay in my apartment, pet my dog, eat popsicles, and watch rock documentaries on bio.

June 25, 2011

Girls Rock! Chicago Camp Extravaganza Tomorrow!

Girls Rock Chicago

Girls Rock Chicago! holds a concert tomorrow to mark the graduation of a whole new set of young rock n’ rollers.  They have tons of cute photos of the young campers over on their website and in their Flickr stream.  (Bonus:  the Flickr stream includes photos of past Guitareste interviewees and Girls Rock! Camp counselors Miss Alex White and Ruadhan Ward.)

From the organization’s website:

This Sunday we introduce the newest class of GR!C grads – our session one campers – in a performance at the legendary Metro. That’s 18 bands guaranteed to rock your socks off, PLUS young DJs fresh out of DJ camp. As always, this event is ALL ages. Bring the kids and let them dance in our reserved shorty section while sharing in the inspiration.

This sessions band’s include your new favorites: Octopie, Flaming Mustaches, The Recycled Hearts, Corduroy Converse, LOL, Black Cats, Painting the Roses Red and many more!

Sunday, June 26th
3pm – 5pm
3730 N. Clark
Chicago, IL
$7 in advance, $8 at the door.

Kids under 8 are admitted FREE

Congratulations, campers!

March 16, 2011

Women and SXSW 2011

We’re smack-dab in the middle of SXSW week, and the Guardian has an interesting article about the increasing number of women attending the event.  It’s in the Guardian’s Tech section, so it’s not very music focused.  But still a good, short read.

From the Guardian:

The attendees today decide that they should form an alliance, and the working title is mooted as the Relentless Women of SXSW. It has a forceful ring to it, and appropriate given that the number of women attending SXSW is rising every year. Gascoigne, who has attended SXSW four years running, says the presence of women this year is visibly larger than ever before. It’s an encouraging sign that at a conference which covers a trio of industries dominated by men – interactive, film and music – women are finding the time to band together in an effort to continue this trend.

I’m sad to say I’ve never been.  Are any of you all at the festival?

February 17, 2011

Double Nickels Benefit

Very cool event.  A group of local musicians, including my awesome guitar teacher, Nathaniel Braddock and an impressive list of local guest vocalists, are getting together to cover the entire Minutemen album Double Nickels on the Dime.  It’s a benefit for Girls Rock! Chicago, a rock camp for girls ages 8-16.

Chicago Reader article

February 6, 2011

Yo La Tengo Photos

Ok, I know this is sort of off-topic, but we went to see Yo La Tengo the other night and I wanted to share my photos. Georgia Hubley is known to pick up a guitar every once in awhile, and in my opinion, she’s one of the best drummers working today, so we’ll just squeeze this one in, ok?

Yo La Tengo Chicago February 2011

From L to R: James McNew, Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley

On their current tour, Yo La Tengo is doing two sets, determining their first set by spinning the wheel shown in the center of the photo.  The wheel has things like “Condo Fucks,” or “Songs that Start with S” on it.  In Chicago, we ended up watching them perform the Chinese restaurant episode of Seinfeld.  It was cute, but didn’t go over all that well with the crowd.  But in typical YLT fashion, the trio came back out after a break and rocked everyone’s faces off.  The Yo La Tengo proper set consisted of old favorites like “Autumn Sweater” and “Sugarcube.”  They also played “Periodically Double or Triple” from the album Popular Songs, and played a Condo Fucks song during the first encore.  Click on this link for the full set list at setlist.fm.

 

Ira and the wheel

Ira Kaplan explains what's up with the wheel

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