Monthly Archives: June 2015

Accept the Challenge: Trapped in a Room with a Zombie at Room Escape Adventures (June 28, 2015)

Upon entering the door at 408 S Michigan in Chicago, the group is greeted by a doctor who speaks with a German accent.  The doctor instructs everyone to form a semi-circle and asks for tickets. The group peppers him with questions and he answers each one, staying calm and in character. This is a great performance and a great intro for what is to come. After putting on name tags and the rules are told, we are lead into the room.  The room is filled with locks, safes, and many other contraptions.  While searching for clues, the zombie leaps at us while everyone screams and runs to the other side of the room to escape.

The clues and puzzles include brain teasers, mini arcade games, magic eye, and riddles. At the same time, you must avoid coming into contact with the zombie, whose chain slowly increases in length as the time runs out. It’s incredibly exciting. With only 2 minutes left, we find the 5th and last major clue.  We piece together all the major clues to open the last remaining lock. Inside the drawer, there is a key. Only 50 seconds left! We run the key to the door and open the door. 40 seconds remaining! Everyone runs out the door and closes it with only 28 seconds left.  Our group was one of the 30% of groups to successfully escape! Think you have what it takes? Buy tickets here:

Quinn Delaney

A Perfect Match: Young the Giant at World’s Largest Block Party (June 27, 2015)

When Young the Giant returns to the stage for an encore, the audience is very excited to hear more. Sameer Gadhia, the lead singer, explains that they always play the following song when they are in Chicago. “And for those born in 1994, this is a cover.” Then, he sings Ignition (Remix) as the crowd dances enthusiastically as a tribute to R. Kelley, who is from “Chi-city”. Then, they slow things down and play “Islands”. Finally, to close out the night, they play their biggest hit, “My Body”. It’s a rocking number that gets everyone jumping up and down as they shout “My Body tells me no, but I won’t quit, cause I want more!” For the Old St Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party, which was moved to a new location to get more space, it was a fantastic finish!

Quinn Delaney

See the full setlist here.

See the preview article here.

Not Just a 90’s Band: Third Eye Blind at Firstmerit Bank Pavilion – Northerly Island (June 26, 2015)

When Third Eye Blind starts playing Graduate, the audience is instantly transported back to 1997. This song was all over the radio that year and the power of music brings those memories flooding back. Everyone is jumping around and the party has officially begun.  Later on, Stephan Jenkins, the lead singer, asks the audience which song they would rather hear, “Deep Inside of You” or “How’s It Going to Be”. The second choice barely wins out and he begins to play the song solo. Then, midway through the song, the band comes out and they crank it up to the next level. It’s an excellent build that amplifies the change that occurs in the album version of the song.

At the end of the set, Stephan talks about the Supreme Court’s ruling this morning that legalizes same sex marriage in all 50 states. He says he is proud to be American today. Then, they launch into “Jumper”, a song about talking a friend out of committing suicide. Hopefully today’s historic ruling will lead to many less gay suicides. For many, Third Eye Blind is just a nostalgia band from the 90’s, but tonight proved they have lasting power.  Firstmerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island was packed even though it was raining for the entire show. Their live show is solid and they’ll be around for many years to come!

Quinn Delaney

See the full setlist here.

An Absolute Joy: Ingrid Michaelson at the Chicago Theatre (June 24, 2015)

Ingrid Michaelson writes and sings beautiful songs.  Early in her set, she plays Keep Breathing ) and the audience responds with their full attention to this expertly crafted song; the magic continues right into “Maybe”. Ingrid then invites her lead guitarist and the lead singer from Secret Someones on to the stage to sing with her. They perform a fantastic version of Skinny Love that has the whole audience swaying.  Prior to singing “The Way I Am”, she labels the tune as a “fart song”. She quickly explains, “it just came out.”  During “You and I”, the entire band, including the lead singer from Jukebox the Ghost, surround one microphone and alternate the vocals. The continuous changing of vocalist and band setup makes every song fresh and exciting.

Later on, the band performs an excellent mashup of covers while playing the same chords.  Ingrid starts with “Soldier” and then transitions to “Poker Face”. The lead guitarist sings a few lines of “One of Us” followed by the other guitarist singing “With or Without You”. The bassist sings “Undone (The Sweater Song)” followed by the keyboardist singing “Call Me Maybe”. The mashup finishes with Ingrid singing “Ghost”.  This innovative performance delighted the already captive audience.

Before starting the next song, Ingrid stands in the center of the stage without a microphone or an instrument. Clearly puzzled by the lack of her tools, she runs off to the side of the stage. Ingrid quickly returns to the stage and heads to the keyboards. This talented performer explains that they just added a new song to the set list and was confused by the lack of the microphone. “It was like a nightmare being alone on stage!” she exclaimed. The casual way she interacts with the crowd draws everyone in and creates an intimate show despite performing in a large venue such as The Chicago Theatre.  All of this wonderful entertainer’s stage banter is an absolute joy for the audience. “Before I completely unravel, let me say this. If anyone is reviewing this show, please stop reviewing now!”

Quinn Delaney

See the full setlist here.

Bassel and the Supernaturals, Tennis, and The Dandy Warhols at the Taste of Randolph (June 20, 2015)

The Taste of Randolph is a must-see festival during the summer in Chicago. This year, the three-day festival hosted bands including The Dandy Warhols, Best Coast, Tennis, Little Hurricane, Dinosaur Jr. and more! What is the best part about this festival? It’s free! Located in Chicago’s West Loop, this three-day festival celebrated its 19th year with incredible musical performances, artists’ tents, and fantastic food.

Kicking off the West Stage at noon on Saturday, June 20, was Bassel and the Supernaturals. The band is a local eclectic 9-piece band which is led by Syrian-American songwriter Bassel Almadani. They are influenced by soul, funk and jazz. The lyrics of their songs reflect on topics such as love, loss, and a war in Syria that has affected Bassel’s family along with 10 million others. They put on an outstanding performance and opened up with their song “Advertise Me”. Another song I enjoyed was ‘Distracting Imagery’.

Tennis played the West Stage at 7:30pm. They are an indie pop band consisting of husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley. Most of their songs consist of very lively guitar sounds and Moore’s relaxing vocals. The crowd was swaying to my favorite Tennis song “Marathon”. This song is very breezy and my favorite part is the wordless chorus containing Moore’s harmonizing “ooh’s”.

The Dandy Warhols closed out the West Stage for the night at 9pm. They are a rock band formed in Portland, Oregon led by singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor. Their music has some psychedelic and BritPop influences. This talented band played an incredible show. They played their popular song “Bohemian Like You” from 2000. They were a great ending act for Saturday.

Taste of Randolph is a can’t-miss event. I highly recommend checking it out if you have never been!

Marissa (PlaylistHQ Intern)

The Ultimate Throwback… Tuesday(?): Bowling for Soup and The Dollyrots at the Bottom Lounge (June 23, 2015)

Christmas 2004: I’m nine years old probably entering one of the most awkward phases of my life. With pretty crooked front teeth, glasses that didn’t fit my face right, and the heinous middle part that average girls can’t pull off, I screamed pre-teen. As I tore through my presents I come across a small square one from my dad. The content: Bowling For Soup’s 2004 album A Hangover You Don’t Deserve. And while the title of the album and the content of the songs were probably way too mature for a nine year old, it was my first CD that wasn’t a Disney one. I played it on repeat for probably a year. Flash forward to June 23, 2015. I’m now 19 years old, with perfect teeth (without braces some how), fresh contact lenses, a hairstyle that better suits me, and I’m considerably less awkward. I’m standing in a crowd of people at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge that range from 17 to 45 and we all have one thing in common, we’re anxiously waiting for Bowling for Soup to play.

The opener for Bowling for Soup was the Dollyrots. The Dollyrots are an American pop punk band composed of Kelly Ogden, the lead vocalist and bass guitar player, and Luis Cabezas, the lead guitar player. You might have heard their song “Because I’m Awesome” if you watched The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, the ABC Family television series Greek, or just television in general as the song was featured in a back-to-school Kohl’s commercial that played on repeat in 2007. Even though I hadn’t really heard of the Dollyrots, I throughly enjoyed their set and thought they had great stage presence. Kelly, Luis, and their drummer Mickey were even nice enough to let me take a photo with them afterwards.

The Dollyrots opened with “My Best Friend’s Hot” and closed with “Because I’m Awesome”. If you’re looking for the rest of their setlist here it is:

Bowling for Soup is made up of leader singer and guitarist Jaret Reddick, guitarist Chris Burney, bassist Erik Chandler, and drummer Gary Wiseman. These four are best friends, all from northern Texas. Janet and Chris went to high school together and met Erik and Gary soon after. When they opened with “Almost”, the crowd went wild. They followed their opener with “Trucker Hat” and “High School Never Ends” which kept the crowd’s energy high. I absolutely loved their performance. During moments where there would usually be a lull, Jaret, Chris, and Eric made jokes that cracked the crowd up, keeping the crowd’s energy high. During their performance, Bowling for Soup delighted the crowd with covers of “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne, “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band, “Jump Around” by House of Pain (my favorite cover of the night), and a Tom Waits version “I’m a Little Teapot”. They even threw in the Phineas and Ferb theme song, which was great for me since I watched the show as a kid. Bowling for Soup closed with their classic song “1985” which gave me serious flashbacks to when I was nine years old and was the perfect song to close with. If you’re looking for the rest of their setlist here it is:

Overall, the performances were great. I had a lot of fun. And I can probably attribute some of that to the fact that I used PlaylistHQ before the concert and listened to a kick ass Bowling for Soup and Dollyrot playlist.

Liz Byrom (PlaylistHQ Intern)

Pick of the Week: Young the Giant and Neon Trees at Old St. Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party (June 27, 2015)

Young the Giant

Formerly known as the Jakes, Young the Giant began making eclectic indie rock in Irvine, California, where bandmates Sameer Gadhia (vocals), Jacob Tilley (guitar), Eric Cannata (guitar), Payam Doostzadeh (bass), and Francois Comtois (drummer) all met each other during high school. Following graduation, the guys ditched their respective bands and formed their own outfit, drawing upon their European and Middle Eastern roots to forge a worldly, summery sound. Although the boys left Orange County shortly thereafter to attend different colleges, they continued making music together, eventually deciding to put school on hold and focus on the group instead. The decision wasn’t in vain; by early 2009, they were opening for Kings of Leon and playing shows at South by Southwest. Several months later, they were signed to Roadrunner Records. (Excerpted from Andrew Leahey Biography on AllMusic)

Neon Trees

Scoring hits such as “Animal” and “Everybody Talks,” Provo, Utah’s Neon Trees kicked off the 2010s with smart, catchy pop that blended new wave, dance, and indie with mainstream-friendly hooks. In 2011, the band scored a hit, “Lessons in Love (All Day and All Night),” with house producer Kaskade; a guitar-heavy version of the song appeared on the band’s 2012 album Picture Show, which found Neon Trees going in more rock and electronic directions at different times. They performed their hit song “Everybody Talks” on that year’s edition of America’s Got Talent. In January 2014, the single “Sleeping with a Friend” offered the first taste of Neon Trees’ more polished approach. That March, Glenn revealed he was gay, and a similar soul-searching mood ran through the band’s third album, Pop Psychology, which arrived in April 2014. (Excerpted from Itunes)

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Chicago Humanities Festival Presents Judd Apatow at the Art Institute of Chicago Rubloff Auditorium (June 18, 2015)

Judd Apatow is promoting his latest book, Sick in the Head today at the Art Institute. This event coincides with the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Parade that is occurring outside. Prior to introducing Apatow, the host references the Chicagoans who are celebrating their favorite sport, day drinking! During the interview, Richard Roeper, a film critic from the Sun-Times, asks Judd Apatow about filming scenes in the movie in which his wife’s character has sex. Judd responds that the scenes are mild.  Apatow futher clairifes that he is not writing Blue Is The Warmest Color, a French film that received a NC-17 rating for explicit sexual content.

At the end of the interview, audience members are invited to ask questions. A young woman asks for advice for new comedians.  Judd says to go ahead and create something: make a video and put it online, (perhaps and see what happens. Judd reflects on a story he shared earlier about interviewing celebrities for his high school radio station and pretending it was a prestigious radio station. He acknowledges that was his earliest version of creating “something”.  Judd further discusses his new movie with Amy Schumer, Trainwreck. He explains he thought Amy was really funny and should be in a movie. Judd then realized if he didn’t make it himself, it wasn’t going to happen. The rest is history!  Grab a copy of his book now in stores and see Trainwreck in theaters starting July 17th!

Quinn Delaney

Concert Preview: Summer in Chicago

Summer is finally here and one thing is certain, it’s concert and festival season! July is the perfect time to experience new music and see your favorite artists perform live. School is out, the weather is beautiful, vacation days and holidays all create the best atmosphere for concerts.

There is no shortage of awesome concerts and festivals in Chicago this July. Remember when you woke up one morning with the entire new U2 album on your iPhone? If you’re like me, you might have taken the time to listen to it, and rediscover the talent and musical passion of one of the world’s best-selling music artists. On July 2nd, U2 will be performing with Innocence at the United Center. Hopefully you got tickets to this sold-out show, because it’s bound to be an incredible experience.

Everybody loves the Taste of Chicago, and the musical artists this year are something to get excited about. Starting July 8th to the 12th, there will be performances from Weezer, Erykah Badu, Spoon, DJ Duane Powell, and more!

By now everyone has heard the songs “Talking Body” and “Habits”. I highly recommend listening to rest of this upcoming artists album, Queen of the Clouds. Tove Lo may just recently be gaining popularity, but she has been writing top hits like “Heroes”, “Love Me Like You Do”, and ‘Sparks” for many years. Tove Lo’s exciting and carefree attitude is why her show on July 30th will be one of the best you’ll see.

If you plan on going to any of these shows, don’t forget to find them on Songkick and create a Spotify playlist on the PlaylistHQ website!

Elyse Link (PlaylistHQ Intern)

And Here Comes July

To me, July is really the iconic month of summer. Everyone is out of school (yes, even including you weird college kids on trimester/quarter schedules), the weather is always gorgeous, and there’s never a shortage of things to do. From the weekend BBQs, to sailing on Lake Michigan, to the Fourth of July firework show at Navy Pier, no other city does July like Chicago. I don’t know about you guys, but July always seems to be the busiest month of the summer for me. So if you have some downtime in-between your hectic July schedule, there are a bunch of great musical acts to check out this July.

Whether you’re into rock, alternative, hip-hop, pop, or country, I guarantee there is a musical act that you will want to catch during the month of July. Some musical acts to consider seeing include: Lupe Fiasco at the House of Blues on July 1, Moe at House of Blues on July 2, Train with The Fray and Matt Nathanson at First Midwest Bank Amphitheater on July 3, Steve Miller Band at Ravinia on July 10, Aretha Franklin at Ravinia on July 10, Jason Aldean at First Midwest Bank Amphitheater on July 17, Milky Chance at the Aragon Ballroom on July 24, and many others.

And if those artist aren’t “mainstream” enough for you, the top artist of the year, Taylor Swift is performing at Soldier Field on July 18 for her 1988 world tour. Vance Joy and Shawn Mendes join her on stage as her openers. I’m not a huge Taylor Swift fan, but damn she makes some catchy tunes. If I could afford to go, I would because I’m sure her show is going to be filled with sparkly outfits, perfectly choreographed dance moves, maybe some fireworks, and images of TSwift’s cats. Basically, why wouldn’t you go?

And if you don’t want to limit yourself to just one musical act in one day, there’s a plethora of music festivals during the month of July. The first festival in July is the Taste of Chicago, a four day festival celebrating everything involving food. In addition to tasty eats from vendors from around the city, you can check out the awesome acts that close out each night of the festival. This year, Weezer, Erykah Badu, The Chieftains, Spoon, Maze ft  Frankie Beverly, and many more are to perform. Taste of Chicago runs from July 8 to July 12 and is held in Grant Park. For all you beach bums, I highly recommend checking out Mamby on the Beach. From July 11 to July 12 at Oakwood Beach, you can check out artists such as Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun, Phantogram, Röyskopp, James Murphy and more. If you’re going to be at the beach all day anyway, you might as well enjoy some great music. If you’re a huge Chance the Rapper fan like me, go check out Pitchfork Music Festival which runs from July 17 to July 19 at Union Park. Other headliners include, Wilco, Sleater-Kinney, Mac Demarco, and Vic Mensa. I hope to see all you there. And lastly, the god of all music festivals, Lollapalooza, will close out the month of July. From July 31 to August 2, the up and coming, the current, and the legends will play at Grant Park. The notable headliners include: Paul McCartney, Metallica, Florence and the Machine, Sam Smith, Bassnectar, the Weeknd, Alt J, Alabama Shakes, Of Monsters and Men, Kaskade, Alesso, and A$AP Rocky. That list is less than a quarter of the line up, and the rest is just as amazing. For those of you who can afford Lollapalooza, hats off to you, I’m very jealous.

If you have spare time to kill during the month of July, and some spare change to spend, Chicago has no shortage of musical acts and I most definitely think you should take advantage of them.

Liz Byrom (PlaylistHQ Intern)

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