Today, we debut a new monthly series, “Our Live Life,” in which we chronicle our live music experiences of the last 30 days. This month, we hear from Managing Editor Peter Lillis, and staff members Jordan Mainzer and Tim Myers, who made it to shows you weren’t able to in Chicago and Columbus.
1/7 – Parquet Courts @ The Summit, Columbus
Of all of the dive bars into which I’ve dived, The Summit is probably the divey-est. But get past the broken shards of glass in the sink and the faint, lingering smell of sewage, and these venues are probably the best DIY spaces in Columbus. Instead of hosting the usual spat of local punk shows and metal DJ nights, The Summit brought in NYC slacker post-punk band Parquet Courts to a packed crowd. The night started slowly, as a local touring act whined there way through an excruciating set of indie garage songs, whose condemnation of the bar’s soundsystem resulted in a cascade of “boos” and a perfectly-executed middle finger from the bartender. At that point I began to wonder if the night might have better spent with a six pack at home, mining Kids in the Hall episodes on Netflix.
However, Parquet Courts proved to be worth the wait. In spite of a few sound problems of their own (the vocals were almost inaudible for the first three songs), Parquet Courts put on a blistering set of punk rock revivalism, channeling the likes of Richard Hell and Gang of Four. The infectiously hooky “Borrowed Time” and the dueling guitar-wonking of “Stoned and Starving” proved to be highlights, sure to thrill anybody with a soft spot for retro punk. While not all of Parquet Courts songs stuck, the group’s punk rock ethos ultimately won me over. After all, what’s not to love about a group of unassuming 20-somethings, playing a show with an unworthy cast of local bands for $5 at the door, who are fully content to plow through a series of PBR’s and pass out on a stranger’s futon? —TM
1/11 – Canoe Canoe @ Subterranean, Chicago
It seems like the quaintest mode of aquatic transportation is the new trend in indie rock band names. Sandwiched in between pseudo funk-metal screamers Norman Toronto And His Band and the dreamy Audiences, heavy poppers Canoe Canoe played a solid six song set that included one new song and standout set closer “Push On”. “We write a new song every time we practice,” keyboardist Otto Stuparitz (and, full disclosure, my friend) told me after the show. The band, who effortlessly switch from Vampire Weekend-y Afro-Pop to gravel-throated Americana in the span of a single song (reminiscent of the recently disbanded WU LYF), got the crowd moving, at least in comparison to their confusion-inducing predecessors. As a result of the band’s writing speed, we’ll hopefully see a full release from these guys sometime in the near future. It’s sure to make waves in the Chicago music scene, much like the releases of Stuparitz’ other band, the Champaign, Illinois-based Santah. At the very least, Canoe Canoe should inspire up and coming bands to move on to paddle boats. —JM
1/12 – Chicago Psych Fest IV @ The Hideout, Chicago
Really, all I can say about Chicago Psych Fest IV—which featured many of our weirdest acts, including: Mako Sica, Energy Gown and Variety Lights—is that getting weird doesn’t mix as well with an exceptionally exhausting work week as you’d think. Let’s just say: “the abyss gazes also.” My state of mind aside, it’s pretty great to experience the rise of the psych revolution at the ground level. Extra points to DJ Psychedalex for keeping things going with his deepest of psych cuts. —PL
1/18 – Archer Prewitt, The Hideout, Chicago
First, the title is a bit of a misnomer: Prewitt ended Adult Swim’s Delocated Witness Protection Program Variety Show. The event, part of Tomorrow Never Knows 2013, included comedians Larry Murphy, Greg Johnson, and Kurt Braunohler. They all complemented Jon’s (the Delocated host) brand of weird, uncomfortable, often hyper-sexual humor. Prewitt came on at the end with a vocal pitch shifter, to play two songs. False advertising? Maybe. Funny? Without a doubt; especially because he ended by covering Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places”. It certainly went along well with Jon’s Coors Light pajama pants. —JM
1/25 – James Murphy (DJ Set) @ The MID, Chicago
I’m not a “club” person. You know what I mean by “club”, and The MID is Chicago’s clubbiest “club”. I braved the cold and clouds of cologne that Friday night really just to catch a glimpse of James Murphy, one of the most important artists of the last decade. His DJ set—filled with plenty of dance, funk and soul that I’ve never heard—didn’t have too many surprises, but was still enjoyable. In the end, I don’t think I’ll be going back to The MID, but at least I don’t have to wonder what James Murphy’s DJ set could be. If only somebody showed me this Boiler Room set before, I’d be at least $30 richer.
1/26 – Antony & The Tramps @ Double Door, Chicago
In 2013, I vowed to say “yes” more. I mean, why not? So when I was asked to check openers Paper Thick Walls at Double Door, I was bound by my promise to myself. That, and The Road Warrior just finished. A competent performance by the first band, and a largely shameful set by the second, I started to wish I was watching Beyond Thunderdome instead. Fortunately, Antony & The Tramps special brand of “American Gypsy” (think The Lumineers meet Gogol Bordello) brought me back into the light. While their 2012 self-titled debut leaves some to be desired, their 5+ piece live show should work wonders on the summer outdoor music fest circuit. Just another reminder that great music can be found everywhere. —PL
1/27 – Lucinda Williams @ City Winery, Chicago
There’s something indescribable about experiencing a living legend. Of course, veteran performers have an air of assuredness that can only come with age. But, also with age, comes the tension of growing old, which can push some performers to seek a helping hand. As a 35-year veteran, Lucinda Williams is about as comfortable as one can get on stage. Her love for her music or her fans hasn’t waned in the least, nor has her interest in putting on a great show. Which is why it was fortunate that she hired multi-instrumentalist Doug Pettibone as her accompanist. While her fire may still burn, she relied on Doug extensively to fill in the musical blanks. —PL
1/28 – Brokeback @ saki, Chicago
It’s no secret that I really dig Thrill Jockey records, and Brokeback and the Black Rock is an early frontrunner for my favorite release of the year. Brokeback—the instrumental vehicle for Doug McCombs, known as the bassist of the immensely talented Tortoise—played their new record in its entirety on a frigid night in Logan Square’s record store/venue saki. Kicking off the newly established “Off The Record” series—a monthly music series sponsored in part by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events—Brokeback took a more traditional approach to post-rock, drawing inspiration the likes of Ennio Morricone, The Miles Davis Quintet and (of course) Tortoise. Download the whole session over on Epitonic, although be forewarned: it sounds exactly like the album. That’s how good these guys are. —PL
Upcoming FP Shows in Chicago:
2/8 – Buke & Gase @ Lincoln Hall
2/9 – Coheed & Cambria @ Congress Theatre
2/10 – Mikal Cronin @ saki
2/15 – Matmos @ Empty Bottle
2/21 – Daedelus @ Bottom Lounge
2/24 – Ruby Suns @ Schubas
2/26 – Bosnian Rainbows @ Bottom Lounge
Peter Lillis, Jordan Mainzer and Tim Myers are yet to be in the same room at the same time.