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Hiber at Martyr’s 5/20/2017

Saturday night capped a journey for Danny Surico that started a couple years ago when his band The Future Laureates decided to call it a day (at least for a while). Shortly thereafter, Hiber was formed and some music was recorded for an EP. That was over a year ago, and finally What You Wanted is available for all to hear. The band celebrated with a show at Martyr’s to introduce everyone to the new sounds.

If you’re familiar at all with Danny’s songwriting, a lot of the songs will have some familiar notes. The live show features songs both old and new, ranging from traditional folk to rock, pop, and blues. The songs on What You Wanted, however, lean a little more toward the Paul Simon songbook than anything else. During the show they even covered another big Paul Simon fan, Josh Ritter.

What I was most struck with during the show, having seen what I believe was their first live set last summer at Ribfest, was how much Danny has grown as a bandleader. With the help of producer/bassist Yoo Soo Kim, Danny has arranged his songs for ultimate impact.

You can hear the full EP right now at The Deli’s website.

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.

Molehill at SubT 5/2/2017

Tonight I went to see my friends in Molehill play an opening set at Subterranean. Mona was the headliner, but I got out of there early so I could grab dinner and be home in time to watch the end of the Celtics/Wizards game (and after that fourth quarter by Isaiah Thomas I think I made the right call).

Molehill were their usual awesome selves, playing some new songs from their singles/EP collection that’s in the process of being released. Rather than lug around a bulky DSLR like I usually do, I just brought a point and shoot camera with a wi-fi card. I edited all these photos on my phone. I also shot this video, which came out pretty good and really highlights the energy they bring even if it’s an opening slot.



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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:

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.

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