Monthly Archives: July 2014

Nickel Creek at Taste of Chicago

The rain has cleared and the sun is trying to break through the clouds.  The crowd has weathered the elements and the wait is almost over.  Nickel Creek hasn’t toured in 6.5 years.  Yes, Chris Thile has been touring with the Punch Brothers.  Sara Watkims had also been touring as a solo act.  Sean Watkins has been busy as well. These projects were enjoyable, but always left me longing for the old band to get back together.  The wait was long, and it seems only fitting to throw in the some precipitation at the end to pass just in time for the band to make their return.
As the band takes the stage, the audience greets them warmly. They all look happy. And as Chris explains, he’s happy because the Cubs won. Only 11 more wins and they are up to .500. The band rocks through many of their greatest hits. They also throw in a few new songs which are just as good as the old ones. They still have the touch. In the middle of the set, Chris explains why they had to take a long break. They ran out of instrumental titles, as evidenced by the poorly titled “The Smoothie Song”. But, now they came up with a new one which is fantastic, “The Elephant in the Corn”. They launch into the song, and the title becomes clear during the standup bass solo.
As Nickel Creek closes their set, Chris says its been a pleasure. Chris, the feeling is mutual.

Emmylou Harris at Taste of Chicago

The rain is just beginning to stop when Emmylou takes the stage.  Only a few drops here and there as she goes through her set of old fashioned slow country.  It’s appropriate for the gloomy weather in Grant Park.  Looking east, it does seem that it will clear by the time the more upbeat Nickel Creek takes the stage.  Interesting how it just works out that way sometimes.

Parker Milsap at Taste of Chicago

It’s slowly drizzling in Grant Park as the tunes on the Petrillo Music Shell begin.  Where there would usually be a large crowd, just the prepared fans remained.   Colored umbrellas, raincoats, newspapers, and even a blanket repurposed as a tarp are used to stay dry.  Parker is bringing the sound of Oklahoma to Chicago.  The acoustic guitar and violin create a sense of calm on this rainy day.  He thanks the crowd for sticking it out and says it doesn’t rain in Oklahoma.  It’s just tornadoes I guess.

SOJA at Northerly Island

I pull up deep into their set. They are in the middle of a heavily percussive jam. The mood is instantly set. It’s a relaxed vibe. Michael Franti joins them for a song and it becomes clear they make good tour mates. Their styles blend smoothly. As the band leaves, they exclaim that Franti is up next. They appear to be just as excited as the audience is, and why not?

Janelle Monae at the Taste of Chicago

It’s beginning to cool off as the shade begins to cover Grant Park. The skyline casts a long shadow over the lawn in front of the Petrillo Music Shell. Fans await who they have journeyed here for, Janelle Monae.

At times, living in Chicago is a segregated experience. But at the Taste of Chicago, the city is united as one. North, South, and West all gather to celebrate summer and to take advantage of the incredible talent Chicago can attract for a free lakefront concert. This is why we live here, and we’re all soaking it in.

Finally, the band takes the stage. They’re all dressed in white. It’s clear we are in for more than just a concert, this will be a performance. Janelle comes out and the crowd erupts. She and the band rock through her set, dancing along the whole time. She throws in a few covers by James Brown and the Jackson 5. “I Feel Good” and “ABC” respectively. By any other artist, this would seem like pandering to a large crowd, but in this case, they integrate perfectly into the performance.
At one point she leaves the stage to grab a leather jacket. She’s cool and she knows it. And during her show, she is hanging out with all of us, and we feel cool too.

Quinn Delaney (Founder)

Gary Clark Jr at the Taste of Chicago

It’s a warm summer evening in Chicago. Gary Clark Jr walks onto the stage. The crowd is average sized but continues to grow as the 9 to 5 crowd walks in from the Loop. He casually begins his set of groove filled blues. The audience soaks it in. In a hectic world, a smooth groove puts your worries in the background. Clark moves seamlessly from song to song, through great riffs and expert solos. His band mates keep it going on drums, bass, and guitar. Before you know it, an hour had passed and his set is complete. You know it was a great set when he leaves you wanting more. And everyone wants more.

Quinn Delaney (PlaylistHQ Founder)

August Concerts in (and around) Connecticut

There are so many awesome concerts coming up in New England this summer, it’s hard to choose which ones to see. Here’s a quick look at what’s happening!

3 Doors Down
Newport Yachting Center – Newport, RI
Friday, August 1

Nothing beats a little nostalgia every once in a while. Especially when it sounds this good.

The Duhks
Hygienic Art Park – New London, CT
Saturday, August 2

Cannot get enough of these guys: mellow, beautiful folk songs that will stick with you long after you’ve heard them.

Panic! At the Disco
Mohegan Sun Arena – Uncasville, CT
Saturday, August 2

Alternatively, Panic! At the Disco will be playing over at Mohegan Sun, and they’re sure to put on a great show. Choose wisely, folks!

Modest Mouse
Oakdale Theater – Wallingford, CT
Wednesday, August 6

Good news for people who love… good news! Can’t get enough of Modest Mouse.

Kings of Leon
Xfinity Center – Mansfield, MA
Saturday, August 9

So much yes.

Linkin Park & Thirty Seconds to Mars
Xfinity Center – Mansfield, MA
Saturday, August 16

Why not hop back on the nostalgia train? These guys know how to put on a good show. Also: Jared Leto.

Boyz II Men
Cape Cod Melody Tent – Hyannis, MA
Sunday, August 17

Forget it; let’s just call August ‘the Month of Revisiting Old Favorites.’ Is that too long a title?

Arcade Fire
Xfinity Center – Mansfield, MA
Tuesday, August 19

The Xfinity Center is on point with the artists they’re showcasing this summer. So many amazing acts, so little time!

Alanis Morissette
Newport Yachting Center – Newport, RI
Thursday, August 21

What it all boils down to… is that Alanis is amazing and this show’s gonna be great.

Motley Crue and Alice Cooper
Xfinity Center – Mansfield, MA
Sunday, August 24

This is The Final Tour. Unmissable. (Four for you Xfinity Center, you go Xfinity Center.)

-Kacey Rainone (PlaylistHQ Intern)

Thalia Hall: Andrew Belle and Johnnyswim on June 28th 2014

Directly quoting a lyric from Johnnyswim’s hit song “A Million Years”, the combination of Andrew Belle’s and Johnnyswim’s set at Thalia Hall in Chicago on June 28th , was “all that I have ever wanted” in a concert.

The Thalia Hall show in Chicago that featured Andrew Belle and Johnnyswim celebrated the passion and endearment that life is comprised of. The humbled and down to earth stage presence of Andrew Belle and Johnnyswim created an amicable atmosphere. The riveting show put on by the opener Andrew Belle was harmonious and peaceful. Accompanied solely with his instruments, the raw talent that radiated from Andrew Belle captivated the audience with the enticing melody of ‘The Ladder’, that added to the tranquil atmosphere.

The peaceful atmosphere came to a halt when Abner Ramirez, one of the lead singers of Johnnyswim, sang ‘Pay Dearly’. Dedicating the song to all the wrong and injustice that his father endured during his life, Abner Ramirez sang ‘Pay Dearly’ with vigor and vehemence. Accompanied solely with his acoustic guitar and his wife, the other half that makes up the powerful singer songwriter duo of Johnnyswim, Amanda Sudano, looking endearingly on from the back of the partially vacant stage. The combination of the backstory of ‘Pay Dearly’ and the fervor that was conveyed through Abner Ramirez’s stage presence, was a testament to the raw talent of Johnnyswim.

The media has a responsibility to inform the public when an injustice has been done. At a steal of eight dollars a ticket, I felt like an injustice occurred in the scheme of the viewing the exceedingly talented Andrew Belle and Johnnyswim for a relatively low price. The music industry is in dire need of more concerts where the performers, such as Andrew Belle and Johnnyswim, use the roots of their humbled beginnings to inspire their down to earth stage presence and the lyrics to their captivating songs. The raw talent that was vocalized from both performers should have raised the ticket prices for a Johnnyswim and Andrew Belle’s gig to be priceless.

Grace Farley (PlaylistHQ Intern)

July Concerts to see in Chicago

Ah, summer is here. The warm weather has finally started to hit Chicago. Now, you should take this opportunity by attending some exciting music festivals and concerts! Lots of great artists are coming to the Windy City in July. Below is a list of some events you don’t want to miss. Let’s go out and see some of the finest acts this summer.

1. Dave Matthews Band
July 4-5 at Firstmerit Bank Pavilion

What’s a better way celebrating July 4th weekend than a thrilling set from Dave Matthews Band along with an incredible view of the city?

2. 311 feat. Ballyhoo!
July 11 at Firstmerit Bank Pavilion

90’s alternative-rock band. Good vibes. Mellow jams. Classic sing-alongs. This is certainly going to be an energetic show worth seeing.

3. Pitchfork Music Festival
July 18-20 at Union Park

From indie to hip hop, this three-day festival includes 40+ powerful acts. Beck, Kendrick Lamar, Neutral Milk Hotel, Grimes, and the Tune-Yards, just some names you can’t miss.

4. Phish
July 19-20 at Firstmerit Bank Pavilion

A new 12th album that was recently released at the end of June, you can expect to hear a lot of Fuego this summer. Every set they play is always so fresh and unique in its own way. Let’s get groovy!

5. Nine Inch Nails feat. Soundgarden
July 24 at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

Since headlining Lollapalooza 2013, Nine Inch Nails are taking on a 23-date summer tour along with Soundgarden. One of the first stops being in Chicago, it’s undoubtedly going to be a great performance by the two.

6. Jay Z & Beyoncé
July 24 at Soldier Field

The famous hip-hop couple will be joining together for their “On the Run Tour” this summer. You can expect a jam-packed set list that will certainly get the crowd singing along. This is going to be an epic night.

Josh Kohn (Intern)