Better late than never? Today we continue our live music roundup with shows from across Chicago that we saw in February.
2/1 – Yo La Tengo @ The Vic
It was a big day coming. On Friday, February 1st, at the Vic Theater in Chicago, Yo La Tengo treated an eager audience to about two and a half hours of material spanning their almost thirty-year-old career. Playing most of their excellent new album Fade and a variety of cuts from some of their classic albums of the past fifteen years–I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, and I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass–YLT certainly gave everybody their money’s worth. Especially because tickets were only twenty bucks in person. –JM
2/8 – Ahleuchatistas + Buke & Gase @ Lincoln Hall
It’s generally not good practice to cover a live show without listening to the performer. That said, there’s no way I could have prepared myself for Ahluechatistas mind-expanding, crushing opening set at Lincoln Hall that Friday night. The two-piece instrumental group from Asheville keep it weird, fusing math rock, post-hardcore, free-form jazz, performance art and traditional Eastern sounds into the singularly most exciting genre experiment since Battles’ Mirrored. Live, guitarist Shane Perlowin and drummer Ryan Oslance exude a near-telepathic link, pulling perfectly executed breakdowns out of thin air, complete with warped loops and unorthodox percussion instruments. Certainly the most experimental set I’ve ever seen at the traditionally mainstream Lincoln hall. After the intense set from Ahleuchatistas, the inventive and buzzworthy Buke & Gase seemed quaint in comparison. –PL
2/9 – Coheed & Cambria @ Congress Theater
Coheed and Cambria proved that their live reputation still stands above their studio reputation. Replicating the harmonies on record in a venue whose reputation for poor acoustics precedes itself, the band was able to transform their best record yet (Descension) into a captivating story, one that exists in the same universe the band has created over their over ten-year career. Hang on to the glory, indeed.
2/10 – Mikal Cronin @ Saki
Even without their famed “Saki Sessions” with Epitonic or the newly established “Off the Record” partnership with the City of Chicago, Logan Square’s Saki would be one of the best local record stores. Their shelves are filled with many cheap left-of-the-dial greats, and the atmosphere is far more welcoming than your typical wax dealer. Add some truly special in-store guests, donated Goose Island beers and a family-friendly environment, Saki becomes not only the best local record store, but also a damn good venue. As part of the Trouble In Mind listening party, Mikal Cronin—bassist and frequent collaborator with Ty Segall—played a stripped down, 12-string acoustic set with drummer Emily Rose, the morning after they sold out the Empty Bottle twice in one night. Despite some prevailing sound issues, Cronin’s 60s-like pop psych had the crowd moving at that early hour. We even got treated to a few new songs, to be included on MCII upon release in May; his debut for Merge Records. –PL
2/14 – Joy Orbison @ Smart Bar
This was a much later night than I imagined, but that’s fine. Not a whole lot to say, other than it’s refreshing to see and electronic show that isn’t concerned with keeping up with the bro-step trends. Joy Orbison is part of the dying out world of UK’s future garage and dubstep scene, and he’s more interested in spacing you out than he is in dropping a “sick beat.” –PL
2/16 – Rebecca Rego @ Schuba’s
The opportunity to see an artist grow is rare, but enlightening. Singer-songwriter Rebecca Rego—a friend and neighbor—invited me to see her perform at Schuba’s opening for Canadian two-piece Whitehorse. In the process of a reinvention from a bandleader to a solo artist, Rebecca debuted a series of new songs freshly christened on the road. While I dug her previous records, her new sounds indicate a well-worn wisdom, perhaps learned from her recent national and local tours. Whatever the case may be, her confidence and assuredness plays well, and I’ve got a feeling that there’s more to come. –PL
2/26 – Bosnian Rainbows + Marriages @ Bottom Lounge
Say what you want, it’s undeniable that The Mars Volta is one of the last great major label experiments. Mastermind Omar Rodriguez-Lopez may have gotten overzealous and under-appreciative—as claimed by singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala—but his warped compositions were universally understood as the most engaging part of the band. Wasting no time, Rodriguez-Lopez is back, this time shifting focus from his eponymous band to a new project, Bosnian Rainbows, fronted by Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes. While the project as being billed as a more traditional post-punk sound (as compared to Mars Volta), the band is uniquely and comparably intoxicating. Playing through what is likely their upcoming record (self-titled, to be released in June on Sargent House) Omar and Teri heated the crowd to a rolling boil on mostly unreleased material. While the new wave resurgence has come and gone, Bosnian Rainbows filter the sounds of Siouxsie and the Banshees, New Order and Television in ways we’ve never heard.
Marriages are another Sargent House band, and a spinoff of post-rock supergroup Red Sparowes. Opting for a more shoegaze-inspired sound, Marriages fit the bill quite well. What their record lacks in punch is made up for by the sheer power of their live set, most notably from the expert drumming from Andrew Clinco. -PL
2/26 – Mouse on Mars @ Mayne Stage
If anything has plagued German electronic duo Mouse on Mars as of late, it’s their inability to adapt trendy electronic music styles to their own music without sounding like copycats. Understandably, I was skeptical when they asked the crowd at Mayne Stage, “What’s hot in Chicago right now? Juke music?” before they, yes, delved into some juke music. Nonetheless, the combination of an awesome venue and Parastrophics highlights like “Polaroyced” interspersed among old classics made you forgive the fact that they were really just taking advantage of trends (and the fact that their projector wasn’t working). The duo made the most out of a poorly attended concert: from the first two hipsters to courageously enter the dance floor and give it their all to the fist-pumping crowd at the end, the people who did go to the concert recognized the duo’s efforts. The show definitely deserved a better attendance. Perhaps “German electronic duo Mouse on Mars” sounds a bit too SNL. –JM
2/27 – Mountains + White/Cream w Frank Rosaly @ Hideout
How does one review a minimalist electronic show? The joy of a Mountains live show is experienced on a seriously personal level, despite standing in a crowded room. Maybe it’s just me, but plaintive synths, guitar loops and subtle beats in a dark room is a perfect opportunity for extensive and intense self-reflection. That is, until the house lights come up.
Upcoming FP Shows
3/7 – Low & Jeff Tweedy @ Saki
3/9 – Cult of Youth & The So So Glos @ Empty Bottle
3/11 – Ian Torres Big Band @ Gallery Cabaret
3/11 – Psychic Ills @ Hideout
3/13-16 – SXSW
3/22 – Darwin Deez @ Schubas
3/23 – Javelin @ Empty Bottle
Peter Lillis and Jordan Mainzer are Managing Editor and Staff Writer for Frontier Psychiatrist, respectively. They met in person at the Mountains show.