Monthly Archives: November 2014

Improv Review: Competitive Comedy at National Comedy Theatre Phoenix

It’s a cool night in Mesa, AZ.  The audience fills into the theatre of capacity 118.  The referee explains the rules and the games begin.  The first game, titled, Schoolyard Insults, involves players hurling put downs at each other trying to include the secret word which their teammates are miming to them.  One of the audience suggestions was ambulate, which the referee remarks is probably a made up word, or is what ambulances do.  In fact, ambulate means to walk or move about.  Amazingly, the word is guessed correctly just by adding shorter sounds together.

Later on, they ask the crowd for a suggestion of a major life change for the game, Timeline.  I yell out “moving out of the country!”  The ref asks why and I respond that my wife lives there.  My family erupts with laughter as I am impersonating my brother.  Thus, it is difficult to refrain from laughing as they ask further follow ups.  The improvised scene is especially hilarious to us as they interpret Skype calls and life in Australia.

The next game involves one player guessing the activities being explained by their teammates using gibberish.  Through audience suggestions, he has to figure out they are playing Quidditch on toasters chasing Oprah Winfrey on the Death Star.  You’d have to be there understand the hilarity of this routine and how amazing it is that he was able to guess it correctly.

In review, the first half was much funnier than the second half.  This is likely because it involved longer scenes where relationships and plot could be fully realized while the second half had more games where the concept ran stale a while before the game completed.  Overall, it was a great night out and I would highly recommend that everyone goes to see an improv show and take one of their workshops as well!

Upcoming Concert: The White Panda and Kid Slim at House of Blues (December 19, 2014)

The White Panda and Kid Slim at House of Blues (December 19, 2014)

The White Panda

The White Panda’s highly anticipated return to Chicago has finally been announced for December 19th at the House of Blues. Bursting onto the scene at Lollapalooza in 2012, The White Panda has blown up and their newest projects have around 1 million plays from their loyal listeners.

If you have not heard of the White Panda, their music is the ultimate party-starter. They specialize in blending of lyrics from one well-known song, with the beat and rhythm from another, clashing them together seamlessly. They have created 5 hour-long nonstop albums named after their “panda” mascot. Examples of their albums that you should check out are “Pandamonium” and “Bearly Legal”.   They have mixed all styles of artists from Kayne West to John Mellencamp to Swedish House Mafia and every artist in-between.

The live show experience at a White Panda show is unique because they bring all of the lights, lasers, and bass of a traditional EDM concert, but they also provide the sing-a-long lyrics of any other type of concert. Their sing-a-long style promotes dancing and jumping, keeping the audience on their toes for which of their favorite songs will play next. These concerts are one-of-a-kind and it is sure that the House of Blues will provide an intimate rager for all of the college students heading home for their winter break. Hope to see you there.

Matt Peters (PlaylistHQ Intern)

Review: Hey Rosetta! and Stars at the Vic Theatre (November 21, 2014)

It may be cold in Chicago, but Hey Rosetta! won’t complain.  They’re from Canada after all.  The septet rocked through their set, including a handful of songs from their latest album, Second Sight.  The album has been released in Canada, but not yet in the United States.  Spotify will let you see the album and it’s tracks, but will display an error message for American users until the album is officially released here.  However, the album is for sale at the merch booth, as the lead singer mentions.

In the middle of their set, they play one of their biggest hits, “Young Glass”. This song features a catchy hook with a slow start.  It gradually builds to a great climax.  In a live settings, it’s exciting to watch as each band member goes from just watching to joining the song.  This is Hey Rosetta! at their best.

Up second was Stars.  They are also from Canada, but the similarities to Hey Rosetta! end there.  Their sound is much more electronic pop as evidenced by their opening song, “From The Night”.  This didn’t seem like to greatest match.  It’s always an interesting experience attending a show for the opener.  For the first half of the night you are in the minority of people dancing around and then the second you are one of the few not dancing.  It is one of the goals of PlaylistHQ to introduce fans to the opener ahead of the show by automatically including their songs in the playlist.  A show is always best when you are a fan of all the bands!


See the preview post here.

Reggae Review: Shaggy with Akasha at Cubby Bear (November 20, 2014)

Winter has come early to Chicago, so a dose of Jamaican reggae is just what Wrigleyville needs.  Akasha takes the stage to start out the night.  When attempting to look up this band online, you’ll likely discover there are many bands with this name.  They should really change their name to avoid confusion.  Their sound is solid enough that it would be a shame if this technical issue prevented them from greater success.  They easily bonded with the audience singing Chicago centric lyrics that mention Humboldt Park, Austin, and Logan Square.  One of their best songs is “Start a Revolution”, which may be most the most relaxed call for revolt ever written.  After their set, the audience was definitely warmed up for a night of reggae.

After changing over the stage, the lights go out.  A Bob Marley songs begins playing and almost everyone brings out their cellphones to prepare for Shaggy’s entrance.  The DJ switches to another Bob Marley track.  And then another.  He goes on to sample almost the entire “Legend” album before throwing in some modern hits like Magic’s “Rude”.  Finally, the band minus Shaggy takes the stage.  They play a reggae beat with riffs of Shaggy’s biggest hits thrown in.  Is this a promo for a reality show?  Could they drag out his entrance any longer?

Finally, Shaggy takes the stage! Early on he teases with singing each line of Boombastic followed by a long pause.  It begins to seem like a hip hop show where the singer never actually sings but just yells the choruses.  But then he launches completely into the song and the audience rejoices.  Later on, his co singer joins him on stage and they proceed to pit the left side of the crowd against the right side.  It goes back and forth a few too many times, creating a feeling of a rap battle.  They truly are merging many different styles into this show.

A new song begins with a familiar riff.  It’s his biggest hit, “It Wasn’t Me”. He stops the song midway to talk about famous cheaters.  He says, don’t do it the way Tiger Woods did.  Follow the footsteps of the greatest, Bill Clinton. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  If you couldn’t already tell from this song, Shaggy has a great sense of humor and it was greatly displayed repeatedly during his set and he goofed around with the crowd.  He was having a joyous time and the crowd was more than happy to be transported to his Jamaican party for a fantastic Thursday night show.

Pick Of The Week: Hey Rosetta! and Stars at Vic Theatre (November 21, 2014)

Hey Rosetta! and Stars at Vic Theatre (November 21, 2014)

Hey Rosetta!

Hey Rosetta! hails from the rocky and cold northeastern province of Newfoundland, Canada. In 2005, frontman Tim Baker arrived home from a road trip with a suitcase full of poems and melodies. Hey Rosetta! was formed soon after with the addition of a string section (cellist Romesh Thavanathan and violinist Kinley Dowling) and rhythm section (bassist Josh Ward, drummer Phil Maloney, and guitarist Adam Hogan). Since then, they’ve blossomed into a powerful group whose explosive live shows have earned them a devoted following.


Stars’ music has been described as “beautiful, eloquent indie pop”,[9] characterized by lush instrumentation, nimble production and mixing, narrative lyrics, and soft but nuanced vocals. The band’s style has evolved from an electronic-pop sound as heard on Nightsongs (released on Le Grand Magistery record label) to more rock-based instrumentation on their following three full-length albums, reflecting the permanent additions of singer-guitarist Amy Millan and bassist Evan Cranley on Heart (released on Paper Bag Records), and eventually drummer Pat McGee on Set Yourself on Fire.

Alex Clare with Taylor Berrett and Milo & Otis at the Metro (November 18, 2014)

Milo and Otis (aka M & O) open the night.  With two backup singers, this band focuses on the vocals.  They were solid indeed, as shown during their cover of Hey Ya and the Acapulco finale (I think she meant a cappella).

Next up is a much smaller act. Taylor Berrett by himself on guitar.  He is friendly with the crowd as he jokes the next song is one of the best songs ever written.  He then clarifies that it is a cover and he’s not that pretentious. He goes on to play a lovely version of Blackbird by The Beatles.  Afterwards, he encourages the audience to send him a message on social media.  He promises to respond since he isn’t that famous.  Let’s see if he responds this review!

Finally, Alex Clare takes the stage.  He sings through his set heavily featuring his new album, Three Hearts, with a lot of soul and without many breaks.  One of the few times he talks he is responding to a comment about his accent.  You don’t get many British acts here, he asks.  The answer is few enough that his accent is unique to the crowd. He closes his set with his hit “Too Close”.  The crowd is pleased as he leaves the stage.  The lights come on and it is clear there will be no encore.  Perhaps this is because the Metro was only half full due to a high ticket price of $25 plus fees.  After all, for his upcoming show in Salt Lake City, tickets are only $5. (  Overall, it was a solid performance by an artist sharing his soul.  Let’s hope he can sell out his next Chicago show!

Review: Shame That Tune at The Hideout (November 14, 2014)

It’s a freezing night in Chicago and the cozy Hideout is warm and welcoming.   Tonight’s event is a comedy game show.  The idea of the show is someone will tell an embarrassing story, and then the piano player will write a song about it that goes to one of the songs on the wheel.  The wheel on stage has these options: Still The One by Shania Twain, Time of Your Life by Green Day, Time of My Life,  Jack and Diane, That’s Amore, It Was a Very Good Year by Sinatra, Golden Girls Theme, ?, Forever Young, Wind Beneath My Wings, Winds of Change,  and Changes by Bowie.

The first guest told a story about her Italian Dad.  The second story was about attending a Richard Simmons workout session with the main himself hitting on him.  The third and final story involved sneezing on a window as Lady Gaga walked by.  The wheel had chosen Changes, and it was hilariously renamed to Contagious! While leaving I found myself singing to myself, C-C-Contagious!

Today’s show was their 50th show.  It was clear this night that it has lasted due to a great format and the creative co-hosts, Brian Costello and Abraham Levitan.  Be sure to catch this monthly show the next time on Friday, December 12th!

Upcoming Shows to Close Out November in CT

Summer may be over, but our favorite bands are still touring. Here are some of the awesome artists that are performing in the remaining months until the New Year! This list is chock full of performances, in order to give you our take on some of the hottest shows to see from New York to Massachusetts, so that you can make the most of the remainder of 2014.

Fitz & The Tantrums : @FitzAndTantrums

Friday November 14 : The Oakdale Theater – Wallingford, CT

A neo soul/indie pop band, the music of Fitz & The Tantrums is unique, funky and extremely fun to listen to.

Steve Miller Band: @SMBofficial

Saturday November 15 : Palace Theater – New Haven, CT

Steve Miller Band rocks hard in concert, and they’re sure to put on a great show. Who can resist hearing old favorites like “Fly Like an Eagle,” and “Take the Money and Run?”

Bob Dylan : @bobdylan

Saturday November 15 :Providence Performing Arts Center – Providence, RI

Alternatively, the same night you can see another living legend in the flesh. It’s a hard choice to make, but either way, both are so worth it!

Atmosphere : @atmosphere

Monday November 17 : Toad’s Place – New Haven, CT

Yes. To infinity. Introspective, catchy hip hop music that’ll have you singing along and reminiscing long after. It’s on a Monday night, but so worth it.

John Butler Trio : @JohnButlerTrio

Saturday November 22 : Calvin Theatre & Performing Arts Center – Northampton, MA

This jam band is known for their relaxing, smooth sound, and their show is sure to be both of these things, and more.

Straight No Chaser : @SNCmusic

Saturday November 29 : Mohegan Sun Arena – Uncasville, CT

This an acapella group will have your jaw on the floor with their frankly aca-mazing sound, which will put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step. I know where I’ll be on the 29th!

– Kacey Rainone

Chicago Humanities Festival – Wayfinders – Review

I’ll keep this one short.  I didn’t get it.  I arrived right at the start time and was handed a thick program as I walked in.  I was completely lost for the entire show.  Perhaps if I had time to read the whole program, it would have made sense.  However, this shouldn’t be a requirement for any show.

Chillfest Chicago 2014 Concert Preview (November 15, 2014)

Chillfest Chicago 2014

The Soil & the Sun

Originally from Michigan, “the Soil & the Sun” are headlining the Chillfest after party at the Sub-T. What do they sound like? Think about a beautiful Pure Michigan commercial with images of beautiful land, mountainous hills, and the atmosphere of the Great Lakes. These images set the tone for the spiritual journey that you will feel when listening to their music speak to you. Rhythms that you cannot get out of your head, combined with heart-touching, soothing vocals offer a deep personal experience from the music that can be hard to come by these days!

Minor Characters

Hailing from Good Ole Chicago, Illinois comes “Minor Characters”, playing smooth indie pop. Their sound is extremely easy to listen to, and listeners at Chillfest will have no problem falling in love at first listen. They have begun to establish a following around the Midwest with shows in big cities such as Chicago and Madison. This exposure combined with their relaxing sound is the perfect recipe to catch a band before they make it big!


The 2012 album “Chasing the Sun” inspired a massive worldwide tour including stops in Australia, Glasgow, and plenty of destinations in-between. Their message of living while you are young brings you back, and offers a return to the punk-rock traits of the 1990s. A modern day, slightly calmer version of “Good Charlotte” is my best interpretation of their sound, which offers a way to “Chase the Sun” back to our past.

Matt Peters (PlaylistHQ Intern)