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Hurray For The Riff Raff at Thalia Hall 4/28/2017

April 29, 2017 2 comments

As The Navigator tells the rough and tumble tale of early American life for Puerto Ricans, it made a lot of sense to showcase it at Thalia Hall. Nestled in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, home to a lot of the Hispanic culture in the city. Alynda Segarra and the latest incarnation of her backing band that make up Hurray For The Riff Raff really brought the album to life.

I was hoping for more early stuff-songs from Look Out Mama and Young Blood Blues, but I get that this album needs to be told as a whole so you have to play all the songs. A few people have mentioned trying to turn it into a stage play on Broadway. That’s an idea worth following through on, because the story is certainly an interesting one. Plus the songs are great. They did bring out a few oldies for me. Toward the end of the show they played “The Body Electric” and “Blue Ridge Mountain” from their previous album Small Town Heroes.

Segarra has really grown as a performer since I last saw her back in 2013. More a social activist now, she doesn’t shy away from speaking her mind. One song introduction included “This is a protest song…I want you to sing so loud Trump can hear you at Mar-a-Lago.” She also moved around a lot more, dancing to the beats of the street featured on The Navigator.

Singing under a banner reading “We’re All In This Together,” Segarra took time to relay the message that has been the driving force behind her entire career: be kind. Try to understand viewpoints other than your own and act with compassion. The audience was fully on board with this message, and you could feel the love and positivity in the room. At the end of the show a couple even got engaged!

It was a great way to end an amazing night of music. Here are some photos from the show:

 

Split Single at Schuba’s 4/22/2017

April 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Jason Narducy has been a well-respected name among musicians for the past 20 years. He remained pretty much under the radar until an appearance on Dave Grohl’s HBO series Sonic Highways in 2014. The latest version of his punk/rock/pop musical stylings is the solo project Split Single. The debut album featured Jon Wurster and Britt Daniel. We got some new tracks mixed in with songs from Fragmented World and Metal Frames, and a little comedy from the band’s domestic life.

Narducy let us know that the show almost didn’t happen after a small spat over correct dish loading procedure between he and his wife. We were also let in on the tale of his drummer having his scrotum punctured by the claws of his cat in a freak accident. A fun show to be sure.

Vérité at Concord Music Hall 4/20/2017

April 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Thursday night singer Vérité proved not only a talented singer/songwriter, but a consummate pro. When she lost her mic’s power she didn’t panic. Instead she found her way back to her keyboards where another mic was already set up and sang on that one until the techs fixed the issue.

Betty Who at Concord Music Hall 4/20/2017

April 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Betty Who put on a fun, energetic set at Concord Music Hall on Thursday, highlighting tracks from her new record The Valley.

Coast Modern at SubT 4/18/2017

April 18, 2017 Leave a comment

I didn’t know much about Coast Modern before they hit the stage at Subterranean for their slot on the Alt Nation tour with which they’re currently traveling. Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp turn their indie pop duo into a strong foursome for live shows, and they keep the people moving. They opened the show with about 45 minutes of material, including some new stuff that might come up on their first EP or LP (they’ve only released singles in the two years they’ve been making music together).

The mostly-under-21 crowd seemed to know every song, even the new stuff. That caught the attention of Coleman, who asked one of the girls up front if she was following them on tour ( I didn’t hear her answer, but someone next to me said they were probably going to catch them again in Milwaukee tomorrow night).

Sundara Karma at SubT 4/18/2017

April 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Earlier this year Sundara Karma put out a great record called Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect. It came out so early, in fact, that I keep forgetting it’s a 2017 release (which is why it isn’t in my top albums of the year list-I plan to rectify with the next update). There isn’t anything flashy about what they do, but they craft really strong songs within the typical rock band arrangement of guitar, bass, drum, and singer. The lads from Reading don’t add any whizbang pyrotechnics or crazy visuals during their live set, allowing the songs to speak for themselves.

This Chicago performance was part of a tour Alt Nation put together, featuring Sundara Karma, Coast Modern, and 888. While the crowd seemed to be there for Coast Modern, they definitely got down and danced with these Brits. Everyone seemed to know the words to their single “Flame,” which came earlier in the set than expected.

The Zombies at Thalia Hall 4/13/2017

April 15, 2017 Leave a comment

While music is a lasting art form, that doesn’t mean people will appreciate it. That’s why I’m always impressed when a band can go out on a huge tour based solely on the anniversary of a recording. Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds 50 tour was the first one I saw, and this week I got to see The Zombies do the same with Odessey & Oracle. The album has held up better than most, and a lot of fans (especially in the States) who never got to see it performed in the 60’s now get to check it off their bucket list. 

The band (featuring Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent, Chris White, Hugh Grundy, Tom Toomey, Jim Rodford, and Steve Rodford) opened with an hour of songs that are not on Odessey, and I honestly enjoyed it as much as the music everyone was there to hear. It’s easy to forget that both The Zombies and their offshoots after they split had a whole slew of hits starting with “She’s Not There.” Rod Argent introduced this tune (the first he ever wrote) by dedicating it to his mother who had sadly passed away earlier in the day. What could have turned the night into a somber affair was, instead, a beautiful tribute and a great performance of a classic.


Rod and Colin both did a great job relaying stories from the band’s past. My favorite was about their first and only experience working in the movies when they were featured in a film starring Sir Laurence Olivier.

After a short intermission the band returned to play Odessey & Oracle. I kid you not, they sound as good as ever. It was like a time machine was placed over Thalia Hall and we were all transported back to 1968 through the songs and great visuals that acted as their backdrop.


It was an absolutely fantastic evening of music, and if I get the chance to go again I most definitely would. There are a few dates left on the west coast, so get tickets while you can!

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