Tribe Society from New York City formed in 2015. Thus, they stick out a bit on a lineup with Collective Soul and The Goo Goo Dolls. However, they quickly get the audience on their side by playing 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins. The crowd also enjoys the flute player running around the stage is a cool unique feature of this band.
They close their set with their single “Kings”. This song sounds a lot a band from South Africa called Kongos. This is definitely good company to be in.
The lead singer commented that Chicago has the best food and weather. The food part is always true and the weather was great this night. However, most of the year isn’t 75 and sunny which makes the crowd appreciate this night even more. He also said to prepare for a night of timeless music. Will Tribe Society’s music prove timeless also? Only time will tell, but they proved tonight that they are off to a great start.
Union Park hosted one of Chicago’s most iconic music festival for the eleventh straight year. The lineup this year offered a whole different array of acts such as pop star Carly Rae Jepson and music legend Brian Wilson. Out of all of the three days to go, I chose Saturday, because I thought it was the best day the festival had to offer. I arrived at the festival grounds about two hours before the first act who I wanted to see. Inside the festival there were numerous vendors selling everything from vinyl to handmade leather goods. After I got my fair share of seeing what the vendors scattered around Union Park had to offer I went on to see my first act.
The first performance of the day was Kevin Morby. He is a singer-songwriter from Kansas City who has played in a few bands including Woods and The Babies before starting his own solo career. This year he released his third solo album titled Singing Saw, which gained him much critical attention including being named best new music by Pitchfork. Morby’s performance went on for close to an hour and featured songs from all three of his albums. For a few of songs he had three backing vocalist with him as well as a trumpet player to make his music sound as good as possible in the live setting.
After Morby was Martin Courtney. He is the lead singer of the New Jersey based indie band Real Estate, and he is no stranger to the festival. He has played it three times before with his band. In October of last year he released his first solo album titled Many Moons. There are many similarities and differences between Real Estate and Martin Courtney. Courtney has a voice which I find both soothing and comforting which made me calm and relaxed on a beautiful summer day.
Once I was done listening to Martin Courtney I raced across the park to the red stage to catch Blood Orange. Blood Orange is the work of Devonte Hynes a British musician who has done work with many other musicians including Florence and the Machine. The crowd was packed with thousands of people ready to see Blood Orange. I was barely able to see the stage so I watched most of the show on the screen. Within a short time of the performance, Hynes proved to the crowd that he was a performer worth seeing. From dance moves while he was singing to him to picking up a guitar and soloing on it for a brief minute, he proved his talent. The performance was also filled with many surprises such as a short cover of John Coltrane’s “Love Supreme” and guest singers such as Carly Rae Jepson.
After the Blood Orange’s show that was full of energy ,I patiently waited for about two hours to see the last act of the day Brian Wilson. As most people know Brian Wilson is one of the founding members of the Beach Boys. This year marked the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds. In light of this, Wilson has been embarking on an anniversary tour playing the album from start to finish. The crowd was packed with many different people of many different ages. Some the same age as me born long after the album was released in 1966 and some who were the same age as me when it released. Despite the varying ages, everyone in the crowd had a deep appreciation for Pet Sounds and the rest of the Beach Boys music. When seventy four year old Brian Wilson entered the stage there was a thunderous applause from the audience. The show began with the first single off of Pet Sounds “Wouldn’t it be Nice”. Once it began, all the conversation within the crowd came to a halt to watch a living legend perform. Surprisingly, Joan and John Cusack came on stage to sing with Brian on “Sloop John B”. John and Joan are both Chicago natives and John played Wilson in the 2014 Film Love and Mercy.
After Wilson played Pet Sounds from start to finish, he played some classic Beach Boys songs like “Surfing USA” and “Barbara Ann.” Not only did me and audience get to listen to one of the best albums ever made we also got to listen to other classic Beach Boy songs.
Even though I was only there for one day of the festival, I ended up having an enjoyable time. Listening to new and emerging artists such as Kevin Morby to influential ones like Brian Wilson who made a lasting impact on music as a whole. Pitchfork 2016 was truly the best of new and old.
Peter Frampton once told the following story at a concert. A couple is heading down to the lobby of their hotel in an elevator. The man says, “Well, let’s go see if Frampton still has it.” Frampton, who is at the back of the elevator, unbeknownst to the couple, replies “I do!” It is a fair question, since he is now 66 years. However, he proved tonight that he still has as much energy as a teenager as he ran around the stage shredding on his guitar.
Early in the set, he played “Rebel, Rebel” by David Bowie. Frampton and Bowie were great friends who performed together often. This was a fantastic tribute that the entire audience loved. Later while he played “Baby, I Love Your Way”, the happy Frampton fans sang and danced to the well know lyrics “Oh baby I love your way, everyday. Wanna tell you I love your way, everyday. Wanna be with you night and day!” Watching the crowd at the Laid Back Festival delight in this refrain, proves this beautiful love song has survived the test of time without a scratch.
“This next song was written by Chris Cornell,” Frampton says as he launches into “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden. This song is played as an instrumental jam and Frampton plays it with the biggest smile on his face. It is clear he still gets great joy from just rocking out, especially with such an enthusiastic crowd.
To close out the set, he plays “Do You Feel Like We Do”. After the first few notes, everyone is already up on their feet cheering. In the middle of the song, he approaches the microphone with the talk box (aka voicebox) which provides his signature sound. Just walking towards it causes the audience to roar. He teases everyone by acting like he doesn’t know why everyone is so excited. When he finally does use the talk box, the sound is awesome. Everyone feels like he does, very happy! Frampton definitely still has it and he surely will for many years to come.
The Chicago Dancemakers Forum’s 2016 Lab Artist Awards Celebration takes place tonight at the Arts Club of Chicago. Upon entering, you see a woman lying on the stairs is visible. Someone asks her if she is alright. She responds, yes, she is a performer (Jessica Cornish – RDDI Chicago), and then continues to slowly fall with grace down the stairs. After you grab a cocktail upstairs, you then notice a group of three men sweeping. This is odd time to be cleaning up. But wait, where are the dust pans? It’s another performance piece by Jamal “Litebulb” Oliver and the Era (CDF 2015). They sweep everyone into a circle and perform a very interesting dance number with the brooms.
Next, the 2016 Lab Artist Award Recipients are honored. This year’s winners are Chicago-based dance artists Pranita Jain, Carole McCurdy, Onye Ozuzu and Catherine Sullivan. Each will each receive $15,000 and additional support for the research and creation of new works. See videos about them here.
For more information about the Chicago Dancemakers Forum, visit their website.
“I don’t want a reason anymore about God above, God above. I just want to melt away… where there’s no more you and me, no more they and we, just unity” sings Trevor Hall in his song, “Unity”. This is what his shows are all about, bringing people together and bridging their differences. He creates such a great mood of peace and love with blend of acoustic folk and reggae. When he plays the first three chords of “Lime Tree”, the crowd cheers. It’s one of his oldest songs. It’s so beautiful to listen to everyone sing along “It took a while for you to find me, but I was hiding in the lime tree. Above the city in the rain cloud, I poked a hole and watched it drain out”. It’s so well written.
Later on, he tells the long story about “Bowl of Light” from his latest album, KALA. It’s a “Behind the Music” moment, he says. He then starts a long tale about the significance of the Bowl of Light in Hawaiian culture. The goal is to create as much light as possible and avoid collecting stones in your bowl which block the light. He seeks to get approval from the natives to sing this song . While he sings the song to them, he bursts out into tears as the beauty of the situation hits him. Naturally, the natives give him their blessing. As he then sings the song, it gives you chills. It’s so peaceful.
Two original tracks from the show composed by Josh Schmidt. Listen while reading the review.
Between Riverside and Crazy is the story of “Pops” Washington, played by Eamonn Walker, who is currently starring as Chief Boden in NBC’s Chicago Fire. Eight years ago, Pops was shot by a white police officer. He survived but he is now mostly confined to his wheelchair and his apartment. A civil lawsuit against the city regarding the shooting is still pending. He is refusing to accept a settlement offer which includes a good sum of money and a non-disclosure agreement. His former partner and her fiancé are pressuring him to take the deal and it’s straining the relationships between all of them.
Pops takes in Oswald, an ex-con who needs a fatherly figure in his life. Oswald is very appreciative of everything Pops does for him. This relationship of mutual respect and compassion is in direct contrast to the relationship between Pops and his son, Junior. Pops loves Junior with “tough” love. These relationships become strained and are complicated by the dramatic events that unfold. At different times, they are friends to each other and at other times they are enemies.
The acting in this performance was fantastic. As the director, Yasen Peyankov, said, “The characters are so real that, at times you feel like, you shouldn’t be sitting there listening to their arguments.” The actors completely lose themselves in their roles. The set design is also fantastic and it’s an incredible moment when the second half of the set is revealed. The excellent musical score by Josh Schmidt sets the tone and mood. As you can hear from the two tracks, it’s a gritty, urban, and tense tone. However, this play also has a lighter side as exemplified by Pops singing along to Have you seen her? by the Chi-lites.
All in all this is a very impressive production that shouldn’t be missed! Get tickets now for Between Riverside and Crazy at Steppenwolf Theatre through August 21!
It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon and a perfect time to dance, with yourself. “I’d ask the world to dance, and I’d be dancing with myself!” sings Billy Idol at the Taste of Chicago. Everyone is on their feet jumping around in joy. Billy still has his punk flair, which was captured excellently in his performance in The Wedding Singer. He continues to prove it with “Rebel Yell”. “In the midnight hour she cried more, more, more! With a rebel yell she cried more, more, more!”
When Idol returns for the encore, he says “Thank you everyone for an awesome life!” Fans of all ages cheer. He then launches into “White Wedding”. “It’s a nice day to start again. It’s a nice day for a white wedding!” This song is so iconic. It’s incredible to see it performed live by the man himself. The Taste of Chicago has once again featured a world class performance, and they did without charging admission!
See the full setlist here.
One of Chicago’s most sought after summer festivals, The Taste of Chicago, hosted Shaky Graves and The Decemberists last Friday. Before the music even started, there was plenty of things to do beforehand. I arrived at Grand Park at least three hours before the show even started, and I was blown away by the size of the festival. The food tents from all over restaurants in Chicago spanned all throughout Grand Park. Each of them offering their own unique cuisine. With the almost endless selection of restaurants to choose from, I found my tickets to be disappearing quickly. I tried many different things such as rabbit and rattlesnake sausage and bacon fried in brown sugar. To my surprise, both were quite tasty.
After walking around the Taste and seeing what all the different tents had to offer I went over to the Petrillo Music Shell feeling happily full from all of the food I had eaten. We arrived in perfect timing right as Marty from XRT began introducing the first band. Shaky Graves is an Austin based band fronted by Alejandro Rose-Garcia who delivers his own twist on southern rock with his ability to play the guitar almost effortlessly as he sings amongst a crowd of thousands. Shaky Graves is usually know as being just a one man act, but at the Taste he was alongside a few other musicians to help elevate the show.
Once Shaky Graves left there was a thirty minute intermission between the two acts, and while I was standing there I thought to myself “Could The Decemberists top that?” Shaky Graves put on such a performance and it might just be the rare instance that opener stole the show from the headliner. Within a few songs my view began to shift as I began to listen to new and old songs that I recognized by them. It seemed me and thousand other people in the audience shared the same appreciation for the band when songs like “O Valencia!” came on I found it hard to hear Colin Meloy’s voice as the people surrounding me screamed O Valencia!
From starting the day with trying all sorts of different foods to ending it with a concert in Grand Park, a perfect summer night was made.
It may be raining, but that isn’t going to stop Elle King. “I was dumped once”, she says. “I’m never going to let happen again. At least I got this song out of it”. She then launches into “Good to Be A Man”. “Don’t have no conscience about my evil ways. Don’t ever feel bad for awful things I say”. Her banjo picking perfectly accompanies this very sarcastic tune about being male.
Her setlist included a lot of covers tonight. This is a sign she’ll probably start working on a new album soon to add to her debut, Love Stuff. “This is my favorite song”, she says as the band begins “Oh! Darling” by The Beatles. “When you told me you didn’t need me anymore, I nearly fell down and cried!” She sings with great emotion like the natural performer she is.
The crowd favorite of the night was “Ex’s & Oh’s”. “Ex’s and the oh, oh, oh’s they haunt me. Like gho-o-osts they want me, to make ’em all, all, all. They won’t let go”! sings everyone as they dance along. Elle has such a friendly and fun attitude. It’s a joy to watch her talk about her music and perform.
“It doesn’t get any better than this! I love the Midwest in the summer!” says Mayer Hawthorne at Mamby on the Beach. And he should know, being from Ann Arbor, Michigan. The weather is a perfect 75 degrees and sunny at Oakwood Beach during his set. The Chicago skyline is easily visible off to the right of the stage. Hawthorne’s soulful music fits in perfectly and he gets the crowd dancing with “The Valley”. “She’s gotta get out the valley. If she stays too long she’ll die! She’s gonna make it in Cali, gotta try! ” With the crowd dancing barefoot on the sand, it sure does feel a lot like Cali.
The dance party continues with “Designer Drug”. This song has such a great groove and a fantastically singable bridge. “It’s like you’re made inside a laboratory, just for me”. Everyone has a huge smile on their face!
The songs continue to match the scene. “Waterfront, sunshine, a little weed, a little red wine” begins “Crime”. “We just wanna party! Just wanna rock all night!” It’s the perfect for this summer tune. They also throw in a song by his other band, Tuxedo, called “Do It”. Pitbull released a fantastic version of this song as well.
Mayer Hawthorne will surely play Chicago many times again in his career that is doing very well. However, it will be hard to top this perfect scene on this weekend night in July!