Monthly Archives: February 2015

Upcoming Concert Picks This Week – Hozier, Motion City Soundtrack, Blue Man Group

Feb 25 – 7:30 PM – Riviera Theatre

After an incredible 2014 in which Hozier burst onto the scene, seeing them live would be a treat. The LeBron James beats add no doubt affected them positively and gave them a bit of well deserved time in the limelight. Their almost ethereal sound and deep lyrics make them a treat to listen to and having that experience live would be well worth the money and time.

Motion City Soundtrack
Feb 26 – 6:30 PM – House of Blues – Chicago

Being from Minneapolis, I grew up listening to Motion City Soundtrack, with sounds very reminiscent to my youthful days. Similar to pop punk such as New Found Gory and Good Charlotte, seeing MCS would be a nice present. They have been around for quite some time and seeing them in the historic Chicago House of Blues is an experience I would not want to pass up.

Blue Man Group
Briar Street Theater, Chicago, IL

The Blue Man group is one of the most entertaining acts that I have ever seen. I remember watching them as a little kid and being so mesmerized and lost in the moment that I fell in love with them. I have seen them twice in Chicago before and I would love to see them a third time. Their antics are sure to keep anyone on the edge of their seat and laughing, however do not forget to take some time and listen to their music. The have some really enticing experimental music that is often overlooked by the insane performance in front of you.

Jack Olevitch (PlaylistHQ Intern)

Austin Rocks Chicago: Saints of Valory with The Wind and the Wave at Lincoln Hall (February 22, 2015)

It may be freezing in Chicago, but it’s heating up inside Lincoln Hall. First on the stage is The Wind and The Wave. Dwight is “The Wind” and Patty is “The Wave” and the drummer is the “Crash”. The Austinites roll through their set of southern rock and quickly get everyone moving around to hits such as “With Your Two Hands” and “My Mama Said Be Careful Where You Lay Your Head”. Midway through their set, Dwight tells a story about the last time they played Chicago at Schubas. A woman in the audience kept talking during their set. Patty asked her to be quiet and the audience member responded with “Bands have to earn my attention!” So Patty said, “Come say that to my face!” And the woman did! “Wow, Chicagoans are tough”, said Dwight. They close their set with a cover from their latest release, “Covers One”. It’s Ignition (Remix) by R. Kelly. The audience loves it. It’s a fantastic example of transforming a song from one genre to another and giving it a fresh new sound.

Next up is Saints of Valory, also from Austin. They may be from the same town, but their sound is much louder. A few songs in, they start playing “Take Me to Church” by Hozier and then transition into one of their songs. This is a cool effect which is even better when they blend back into the cover. They continue to play their arena sized rock at full volume, even though Lincoln Hall has closed off the top floor for a more intimate show. Saints of Valory make it feel like it’s the United Center and everyone in attendance has scored pit tickets in front of the stage. For the encore, they play two new songs. This is a bit anti-climactic as everyone had been just jumping around to their favorite tracks “Kids” and “Neon Eyes”. It’s usually best to put new songs in the middle of your set, and finish with crowd favorites. Either way, these Texans put on a great show complete with great lighting shining behind them giving them the authentic rock band look.

Quinn Delaney

Musical Comedy at It’s Best: Cupid Has A Heart On at Stage 773 (February 21, 2015)

Tonight’s show is Cupid Has a Heart On at Stage 773. While the crowd is shuffling in, one of the actors is conversing with audience members while another is handing out raffle tickets for a free CD. This early interaction is common for this show which breaks through the fourth wall constantly. In one scene, an actress pulls up a male audience member and proceeds to tie him to a chair. As he makes shocked expressions, she sings about making sure nobody else can have her man, in a light and playful tone. This contrast plays very well, and it is highlighted by a few lines in a very sinister voice.

Midway through the first of two sets, the actor wearing a sling says he needs to leave because he is in a lot of pain. As he walks out, he stops in front of a woman in the front row. He pauses as he looks her up and down. The audience waits in anticipation. Finally, he sings and asks for a small favor. He needs help due to his injury, as there are some things he just can’t quite do. He pauses again nervously, and then he asks her to tie his shoe! He thanks her and then walks away, only to return shortly with another request. He shyly asks, “Will you scratch my back?” She complies again, and he again leaves. He soon returns with one final request. “Take off my pants!!” She is reluctant at first, but then she does. Right away, all the male actors line up to have their pants removed! As she is taking off all their pants, the lights go off as the audience is in a roar! A fantastic scene pulled off with charm, grace, style, and great vocal talent.

There are many more scenes with just as much laughter and display of musical talent. Men in Speedos, parental intercourse, live guitars, ukuleles, piano, and lots of butt sex are just few of the topics explored. The audience was laughing and applauding the entire show, and you will too. Don’t miss this show!

Quinn Delaney

Immersive Theatre: finding gräfenberg at the Hairpin Arts Center (February 19, 2015)

Welcome to the Hairpin Arts Center! Walk up the stairs or take the elevator to the second floor. Enter a large triangle-shaped room at the intersection of Milwaukee and Kimball with large windows all around. There is no stage, as the play will take place throughout the entire space. Prepare for a unique experience.

Tonight’s play is finding gräfenberg. It’s about a company working on a project called Grafenberg. This is the name of the doctor for whom the G-spot is named. Throughout the play, the coworkers are more interested in each other than the work. Relationships develop and fall apart. Love triangles are formed. Crushes are revealed and passions are ignited.

The acting is very professional and skillful. The characters are well developed and create a very real office environment. Direct interaction with the audience is minimal, but you do feel immersed in the action as it happens all around you. The first scene is especially exciting as the actors step out of the crowd and you try to determine who is in the play and who is just watching. Dress business formal to make everyone think you are an actor.

Towards the end of the action, it’s a nice touch when the scene switches to a holiday party and everyone moves over to the Christmas tree in the corner. The audience is served champagne and the party begins. You feel like you are a new employee in this exciting yet dysfunctional corporation. Want to know what a sexualized 9-5 office job is like? This immersive theatrical production is for you!

Buy tickets here:

Review: Game Night at Up Comedy Club (February 18, 2015)

It’s Game Night at Second City in the Up Comedy Club.  The night starts by dividing the room up into East vs West.  Then, the first game begins with four Second City actors.  The rules are simple; get your partner to guess the famous person on the wall without saying the name.  In the second round, you use the same names but you can only use 2 words to describe the person.  In the third round, you can’t use any words and must act out the name.  It’s fun to watch them play, and it’s even more useful to learn the game so you can play it at your own parties.  Later on, there is a scavenger hunt where various odds and ends are collected and everyone who is double jointed or can sing a national anthem in another language goes on stage.  Oddly enough, there is only one person on stage from the east side who has one double jointed finger while the west side has about 10 people.  They have an assortment of double joints, including one women whose shoulder allowed her to wrap her arm behind her head way beyond most people’s ability.  They also have two people who sang the Polish and the German national anthem.

After an intermission, Family Feud is the game.  They have the authentic X image and sound whenever someone got an answer incorrect, but they didn’t have an interactive board of answers.  It was the west side verse the actors, who were completely throwing the game.  Next up was $25,000 pyramid where the audience created the answers by shouting out suggestions.  The first round consists of a player describing things within a specific category trying to get their partner to guess the items.  The second round consists of a player naming things that fit into a category while their partner guesses the category.  This game is fun, but something is lost when nothing is at stake.  The final game is charades where the answer is a song and their partner must sing all their guesses to the music being played by the musical director.

Overall it was a fun night, but it could be even better if they removed the Second City players and had the audience do all the parts of the game.  Also, if there were free tickets on the line for the winning team, it would be more competitive.  With these small adjustments, they’ll surely have a hit on their hands!

Rocking a Dance Club: Bifunkal with Nonpronto and Sol Shine at Debonair Social Club (February 13, 2015)

Welcome to Debonair Social Club, the venue known mostly for their late night dance parties.  They now have a live music series on Friday and Saturday nights from 8 to 11pm, before the DJs start.  DSC has a small stage at the back of the first floor, with booths along the sides of the room and a large bar in the center.  The red lighting gives the room a crimson glow.  The crowd shuffles in out of the cold and the music begins.

First up is Sol Shine.  This blues/rock/reggae band enjoys their time on stage.  They laugh and goof around as they rock through their set.  Their lineup consists of drums, guitar, bass,  and the lead singer, who also plays the keys.  The singer says he hopes everyone recognizes the next song as he sings “She packed my bags last night, pre-flight.”  It’s “Rocket Man” by Elton John, and everyone perks up to hear their reggae rock interpretation, which is solid.

Next up is Nonpronto.  They transform the club into a jazz lounge.  They’re making new fans tonight as they play songs from their past albums such as “Sweet Times Run” and “Like Shit”.  They also play a whole bunch of new songs from their upcoming record, which will be released on May 8th.  They will be playing the Tonic Room for their record release party, and then heading out on a tour of the South and the East.  Their combination of pop, rock, and jazz is fresh in today’s music scene and should lead to great things!

To close out the night, Bifunkal takes the stage.  The drummer sings the bass line into a microphone plugged into a bass amp.  He then loops the bass line while he sings.  At the same time, the guitarist plays the rhythm, loops it, plays lead guitar, and sings on top of it all.  It’s an impressive performance as these two skilled musicians sound like a five piece band.  Their intricate rock/funk jams are entrancing and are an excellent finale to this music filled night at Debonair.

Pick of the Week: Bush with Theory of a Deadman and Stars in Stereo at Riviera Theatre (February 13, 2015)

Bush with Theory of a Deadman and Stars in Stereo at Riviera Theatre (February 13, 2015)

Bush are a British rock band formed in London in 1992. The grunge band found its immediate success with the release of their debut album Sixteen Stone in 1994, which is certified 6× multi-platinum by the RIAA.[3] Bush went on to become one of the most commercially successful rock bands of the 1990s, selling over 10 million records in the United States. Despite their success in the United States, the band was less well known in their home country and enjoyed only marginal success there.[4] Bush has had numerous top ten singles on the Billboard rock charts,[5] and one No. 1 album for Razorblade Suitcase in 1996.[6] The band separated in 2002 but the name was revived in 2010 and they began work on a new album, The Sea of Memories, which was released in September 2011. The album produced the number one single The Sound of Winter, which topped both the alternative and rock charts. After touring extensively for two years, the band announced their upcoming sixth album, Man on the Run in August 2014.

Theory of a Deadman is a Canadian rock band from Delta, British Columbia, formed in 2001. The band is currently signed to Roadrunner Records as well as 604 Records. The band also includes traits of other music styles, such as country and acoustic, as well as their post-grunge and alternative rock base. So far, they have a total of seven top 10 hits on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, including two No. 1 hits, “Bad Girlfriend” and “Lowlife“.

Stars In Stereo was formed in 2011. It consists of vocalist Hollcraft, guitarist Jordan McGraw, bassist Ryan “Frogs” McCormack, and drummer Drew Langan. The group released their eponymous album, Stars In Stereo, on April 9, 2013 through their own indie record label, Hundred Handed Inc. The band came together after McGraw, McCormack, Langan, and Justin Siegel’s band, City (Comma) State, broke up

@bushofficial @TOADM @Stars_In_Stereo @TheRivChicago

Out of Character at The Playground Theatre (February 6, 2015)

Tonight’s show is at The Playground Theatre.  What?  You thought it was closed?  The wall on the side says celebrating 15 years, 1997 – 2012.  Surely if it was still open in 2015, they would have updated that.  Nope!  When you look in the front door, you can’t see anything, it’s just dark.  The lights that should be lighting the sign saying The Playground are either burned out or not on.  Thus, it is no surprise that the only people in the audience tonight are performers.

The theatre itself is quite small with 4 rows of about 20 seats each.  It’s BYOB, so don’t forget to bring drinks, perhaps from Paired Wine, which had a complimentary wine tasting with appetizers just before the show.

Despite the small crowd, the host comes out with enthusiasm.  He introduces the first act, in which he is a member.  The suggestion for their scenes is Fight Club.  Each of the four members tells a story about a fight they experienced followed by an improvised scene inspired by the story.  The stories were interesting, but the scenes didn’t add much. The second group’s suggestion is sleeping in.  A scene takes place with a man hitting the snooze button.  It was a snooze worthy performance.

The final group is Out of Character.  One of the members addresses the audience in character as Gooch.  He’s a jock running for student council speaking to the school.  This initial monologue was prepared and then the following scene about a school shooting is improvised.  The crowd laughs as the characters react nonchalantly to the occurrence of gunfire in the building.

Overall, it’s about what you would expect from a small theatre.  When there isn’t much of an audience to feed energy from, it’s hard to keep up the intensity.  Hopefully they’ll spruce up their outer appearance to attract a bigger crowd.

Tropical Reggae Rock! – The Green with Through the Roots at Lincoln Hall (February 7, 2015)

On a cold winter night in Chicago, locals are looking for an escape.  Through the Roots is here to bring a little Southern California to warm the crowd up.  Listening to their set transports you to a warm and sunny beach in San Diego.  You can feel the sand between the toes as you admire the backdrop of palm trees in front of a sunset.  As they play “Dancing in the Rain” and “Higher”, the audience happily dances along.  Later on, the lead singer asks, “Who loves the 90s?”  He then starts an excellent reggae version of a hit by Ginuwine – Pony, to the delight of all the R&B fans.  They close their set with “Bear with Me”, their newest song produced by a member of The Green.  Their entire set kept a fantastic vibe going the entire time, and perfectly set up the next band.

To continue with the warm vibes, The Green bring a taste of Hawaii to the stage.  As they play through their best songs, such as “Always and Forever”, we are transported 4000 miles away to the middle of the Pacific.  As people dance around a packed Lincoln Hall, the temperature rises.  Every once in a while, the fans turn on, and it feels like an ocean breeze.  The lead guitarist tells us they aren’t used to this frigid weather and that Through the Root’s trailer is stuck in the snow.  He then invites us all to come back to Hawaii with them!  They close out their set with “Love and Affection”, a fantastic reggae groove.  Nobody heads towards the door after they leave the stage as an encore is requested.  They return and play an extended intro to the namesake of this tour, “Chocolates and Roses”.  The lead singer invites a lady on stage halfway through the song and proceeds to serenade her with this jazzy, romantic tune.  She loves it, and so does the entire place.  Through this  90+ minute performance, enough warmth has been shared to get these fans through the rest of this wintry week with smiles on their faces.

Finely Tuned Rock and Roll: The Whigs with Ballroom Boxer at The Beat Kitchen (January 30, 2015)

The Beat Kitchen is packed tonight. A shoulder-to-shoulder crowd fills up the small venue, their faces taking on a reddish tint from the pink lights that snake across the ceiling. As they enter, they shed their coats on hooks along the wall, one piled on another, and then head to one of the two bars.

Ballroom Boxer, a five-piece indie rock band, takes the stage. They perform a solid set including an excellent cover — King of Leon’s “Molly’s Chambers.”

After a short break, the theme song of the Atlanta Braves (The Whigs hometown team) plays over the speakers.  The crowd does the chopping motion as the band takes the stage.  They get into position and it’s straight to the business at hand, rock.  They play through their set with barely a break. Toward the end of the night, the lead singer pays homage to the Beat Kitchen — the location of the band’s first Chicago gig, 11 years ago. Surveying the packed crowd, he says the turn-out is quite an improvement from the mere 15 fans that had first showed up over a decade ago. Now, their time on the road has allowed them to hone their skills and produce a finely tuned rock and roll show — which definitely deserves a full house.


(David Bowie cover)

Quinn Delaney