Archive

Posts Tagged ‘live music photography’

Hurray For The Riff Raff at Pritzker Pavilion 6/22/2017

Great show last night by one of my favorite acts. Hurray For The Riff Raff came back to Chicago after only a couple months and delivered another spectacular set of songs, mostly from The Navigator and Small Time Heroes.


Bent Knee at Schubas 6/12/2017

I was introduced to Bent Knee a couple weeks ago when I read about their new record, Land Animal, which comes out next week on Inside/Out. The title track was put out as the first single, and I was sure it was a cover at first because there was something familiar about it. The pace and timbre of the delivery from Courtney Swain was stuck in my head for a couple of days. I realize now that my mind was just playing tricks on me. Her voice does remind me of Hayley Mary from The Jezabels (particularly on “Noah’s Ark”), but the song is wholly original.

Going into the live show I didn’t really have any expectations. Bent Knee has been playing together for a long time now, so I knew they’d be tight, and I had some idea of what they sounded like on record but no clue what their concerts were like. Turns out they’re just as interested in having fun as the people in the audience.

The show was being taped by the people at Audiotree, who also own the venue. That limited where I could go to take pictures a bit because I didn’t want to get in the way of the guys filming up front. I moved around a bit to try to get some different angles, but there were enough people there for the show that it wasn’t always easy (I’m average height, but a lot of concert goers are much taller than myself).

The most animated member of the band, Ben Levin, was a joy to watch. He seemed both completely focused and freewheeling at the same time. He was all smiles and his energy just couldn’t be contained by the stage. That energy was felt throughout the audience, as the ground shook multiple times from people stomping and jumping right along with him.

I enjoyed what I heard from this group of Bostonians. Swaine’s vocals can feel overwhelming at times, but it’s that same raw power that gives the songs their emotional weight. The label “orchestral pop” does fit to a degree, but I’ve never liked it. Nor “chamber pop,” though I think that works better. Having a live violinist is almost always a good thing, and though I didn’t get any good pictures of him, Vince Welch working the knobs and synths adds a great element to the music.

Arkells at House Of Blues 6/9/2017

Arkells returned to House Of Blues on Friday night after opening for Frank Turner at the venue back in January. Frontman Max Kerman must have been taking notes during those gigs, because he utilized every square inch of the stage during their headlining set. And when he divided he needed even MORE space, he just jumped over the barricade and hung out with the crowd. They’re a fun bunch of guys, and their music lends itself to a night of fun and good feelings. This was my fourth time seeing them in two years, and I have left each show very satisfied.

With last year’s release of Morning Report I think Arkells turned a corner and stumbled onto the path to fully realizing their potential. Like most great bands, it took a while to get there. I think they’re headed toward much bigger things in the future.

The set list was a mix of new and old, reaching as far back as 2008’s Jackson Square for “Pullin Punches.” For newer fans who haven’t gone back to listen to the older albums, its good to pepper in some of that original stuff so they get a better idea of where the band came from.

One of the big highlights for me is watching Max mess with lead guitarist Mike DeAngelis. I don’t know them personally, but they seem to have a great relationship. Mike is a great guitar player and, I think, gets overlooked at times due to Max’s boundless energy and charisma.

The connection with the audience is really what it’s all about. Arkells do a great job of making everyone feel involved, naming the concert goers the “non-denominational choir” of whatever city they’re playing. They even asked a guy to come up and play guitar on a song-and he sounded pretty good!

Sorority Noise at Bottom Lounge 5/11/2017

Back in March Sorority Noise released You’re Not As _________ As You Think,” and it’s compelling combination of emo-punk riffs and message of self-worth and love have kept it in my top 20 records of 2017. I finally got to see them play live in Chicago tonight at Bottom Lounge.

There were crowdsurfers and singalongs, and not a whole lot of banter, but the music really spoke for itself. When they finally got to the end, lead singer Cameron Boucher talked about his battles with manic depression and the need for everyone to be understanding and support one another. It was a nice moment to reflect on the community bands help to create and how now, more than ever, we need to step up and not be jerks.

 

Valley Queen at Metro 5/7/2017

I got an email roughly 0.000003 seconds after listening to Valley Queen’s “Pulled By The Weather” asking if I’d be interested in checking out their show here in Chicago. I thought the song was really excellent, so I said yes. I checked out their EP, Destroyer, and found it an enjoyable listen. It’s a bit of soulful folk music, but when they hit the stage to play live, the guitars come to play and it turns into a full-on rock and roll show.

My initial reaction to the music was that it reminded me of Janis Joplin playing with Big Brother and the Holding Company. A couple songs later Courtney Barnett’s voice pops in a bit as well. It’s a good dynamic, marrying the older, classic sounds with something a little more contemporary. Natalie Carol’s voice can get up there with a range that is impressive to say the least. She can also shred, and does so at every opportunity.

The band seemed to be having a great time in front of the already pretty big crowd. Opening for Laura Marling, I wasn’t sure how the crowd would respond once Valley Queen started to get loud. Turns out they dug it. Lots of cheering after every song, and not the polite kind like I do when someone is trying really hard and it’s just not working. No, I imagine they converted a lot of new fans last night.

You can check out their stuff on Spotify, or you can head over to their Bandcamp page and buy their EP right now.

Ron Gallo at Thalia Hall 4/28/2017

When I saw the name Ron Gallo as the opener for Hurray For The Riff Raff, I assumed it would be a guy and an acoustic guitar playing some soft folk songs for half an hour before the main act came to the stage. That was, to put it mildly, an incorrect assumption. The three members of Ron Gallo came out and, after a brief explanation of who they are, ripped the stage apart. Ron Gallo’s frantic guitar work leads this garage/punk/blues band to all kinds of music sensations. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Check out this video from the show to give you an idea of their style.

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

April 29, 2017 3 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:

%d bloggers like this: