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The Big Takeover Issue #92

Kirstie Shanley

Weyes Blood -The Riviera Theater (Chicago) - March 11th, 2023

12 March 2023

On a stage filled with illuminated elegance, Weyes Blood emerged to dazzle a sold out crowd with the type of lovely folk songs that harken to a different sort of time. These tracks have a beautiful melancholic feeling with exceptional melodies carried by creator and lead singer Natalie Laura Mering, who gives the self assured sense that she finds singing more natural than talking. Adding to the rich ambiance, Mering danced around in a floor length ball gown with a glorious ease throughout the 80 minute set

The Smile -The Riviera Theater (Chicago) - December 1st, 2022

30 November 2022

Both the lyrics and the song structures on The Smile’s 2022 album A Light for Attracting Attention go places that, if they were bodies, would be strange contortionists. One might find yourself wondering if a chord progression can actually evolve like that the way you’d wonder if a knee can bend in a certain direction.

Alvvays -The Riviera Theater (Chicago) - October 14th, 2022

16 October 2022

It’s impossible to be unhappy while listening to Alvvays. There’s something so sincere and also buoyant about lead singer Molly Rankin’s vocals that reassure a human in their most melancholic of moments that everything is going to be alright. It’s not merely catchy pop songs she sings but lullabies to get you through your darkest days.

Idles -The Metro (Chicago) - July 28th, 2022

28 July 2022
What the audience heard was pure power as the band delivered songs from their thus far quite prolific four album career. At times, the rhythms can be as jarring as they are uncompromising but they always land in a way that might make one forget how well these songs are actually constructed and relish in the sum of their parts.

Pitchfork Music Festival: Highlights and Photos: Sunday, July 17, 2022 @ Union Park (Chicago, IL)

17 July 2022

It goes without saying that The Roots are an absolute legend and they proved on top of their game. It was especially wonderful to see Questlove play drums again as well as to have “Damon “Tuba Gooding Jr.Bryson playing sousaphone, adding another layer to their songs and live set that was super animated! Captain Kirk Douglas was also hamming it up on guitar as usual. It was a fantastic way to close out the weekend!

Pitchfork Music Festival: Highlights and Photos: Saturday, July 16, 2022 @ Union Park (Chicago, IL)

16 July 2022

People sometimes say that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that might be because of the complexity of all the layers upon layers of city built by human hands throughout its history. These are humans who bled and suffered yet still managed to create something that will stand the test of time and be a witness to what humans can actually achieve at their absolute height. The very same accomplishment can be applied to the songs by the band Low and it would be best if you experience their multifaceted layers as you would The Colosseum : in a state of perpetual awe.

Pitchfork Music Festival: Highlights and Photos: Friday, July 15, 2022 @ Union Park (Chicago, IL)

15 July 2022

The energy the chord progressions take on is incredible enough to write a dissertation on how feedback can evolve into something that feels a little dangerous and also a little healing at the same time. This time around seemed even more precious because, let’s be clear, in a pandemic like this touring isn’t easy. Yet, if there’s one thing to live through a pandemic for, it’s seeing Spiritualized play again.

Yumi Zouma - Lincoln Hall (Chicago) - April 20th, 2022

20 April 2022

It was no surprise the devoted audience knew all the song by heart, even when Present Tense was just released last month. Just about every song in their catalog could easily be a pleasing radio friendly hit. “Right Track / Wrong Man,” “Give it Hell,” and “In the Eyes of Our Love” are the kinds of songs that have the sort of light-hearted sensibility to elevate anyone out of a dark funk and came off especially well in concert.

Hana Vu - Schubas Tavern (Chicago,IL) - March 20, 2022

20 March 2022

The way the intensity was built up really brought to home the fact that Hana Vu is hopefully on the verge of what is to be a long an artistic career and is as genuine as they come.

Music Frozen Dancing - The Empty Bottle (Chicago) -February 26th, 2022

27 February 2022

There have been a few Music Frozen Dancing events when it is has been even unseasonably warm and the outside heat lamps didn’t even really need to be on. But, there’s always that Music Frozen Dancing day temperature the matches the February date perfectly. And, who would hold a festival outdoors in Chicago at the end of February anyway? Luckily, the same people who know the necessity of booking fantastic bands that bring the energy. You can’t get frostbite or die of hypothermia if you’re too busy dancing, right…..right?

The Weather Station - Lincoln Hall (Chicago) - February 25th, 2022

26 February 2022

Sometimes, it takes a single voice to evoke a mood. Slowly drifting across an audience of connected strangers and lingering in all the cracks between them. Then, suddenly a keyboard comes in and then a guitar, bass, and drums all connected by the grounding melodies of the vocals. In the sense of a shared experience, fans feel the intensity build in a way that strengthens the pieces overall. Yet, in the building is a strange sort of reckoning with the way the lullabies soothe.

Squirrel Flower - Schubas Tavern (Chicago) - February 20th, 2022

21 February 2022

While Williams dominated the stage throughout the set with a very lovely glam style and her luscious folk vocals, she also provided a safe space for the sold out audience to be in the moment enjoying the wonder of the songs.

Nada Surf - Thalia Hall (Chicago) - November 14, 2021

14 November 2021

No worries about Nada Surf’s ability to deliver the same kind of high quality live show that urges devoted fans to try to catch multiple tour stops. In fact, their over 2 hour set surely must have left the audience satiated and joyous.

Live Review and Photos: Sharon Van Etten @ Thalia Hall in Chicago 10/10/2014

12 October 2014

Van Etten has also grown better at projecting her voice to fill larger venues in a way that doesn’t seem forced but more emotionally in depth in a way that makes the songs greater than ever. When she thanks her audience for coming, it’s just as heartfelt.

Just For a Day: An Interview with Slowdive

28 July 2014

Neil Halstead: I would never write those exact songs at this point in my life. They are songs that come out of being 18 or 19 years old. It’s interesting how they still connect with many younger people. We’ve noticed that when we’ve been doing these shows there are some really young kids that are coming out and really loving the band and the records. We’re aware they are the same age as when we were first recording these tracks.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2014: Slowdive Sunday

21 July 2014

In a word, their hour long set was epic. We overuse that word in the human race just like we wear out words like amazing but nonetheless if you were hesitating even in the slightest about seeing them as they embark on their upcoming tour, think again. It could easily be the best show you’ve seen all year and one you’ll remember and cherish for decades to come. It will make any doubters a believer in the blissful power of shoegaze music.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2014: Saturday Highlights

20 July 2014

It is strange to be anything at all and still we’re all glad for the shared experience of hearing someone like Jeff Mangum who is not like anyone else we’ve ever known.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2014: Friday Highlights

19 July 2014

England’s Factory Floor three piece started out slow but pretty soon female lead singer Nik Colk was starting to dance to her own rhythms as the heightened sense of beats took over the crowd and made for an awesome beginning set for many people. Some fans were even so appreciative of the beats by live drummer Gabriel Gurnsey that they started crowdsurfing!

Pitchfork Preview 2014 Recommendations

13 July 2014

If there’s no other Pitchfork festival band that you check out the full set for, make it Slowdive and you won’t regret it!

Live Review and Photos: Elbow @ House of Blues in Chicago 5/19/2014

19 May 2014

Yes, the night has darkness on it’s side but Elbow makes it all the more brighter and worth living, even if we still end up on the losing side.

Austin Psych Festival 2014: Sunday (Day Three)

5 May 2014

Sunday proved to be another very exceptional day of gorgeous sunny weather and psychedelic bands that challenged the mind and explored both the outer reaches of the genre and the melodic harmonies that it could fulfill. Unlike the way many shows and some festivals are right now, Austin Psych Fest is filled with people who want to actively listen and learn and that makes all of the difference for the bands and the mood overall.

Austin Psych Festival 2014: Saturday (Day Two)

4 May 2014

It was another lovely day in Austin to experience all kinds of psychedelic music with influences from folk to drone to metal to pop to rock. The day seemed to be about people experiencing how far the genre could take them and enjoying both the onslaught of noise from the more aggressive bands to the relaxing sounds of music with a much different tone. Austin Psych Fest offered the whole spectrum of the genre for those with an adventurous spirit.

Austin Psych Festival 2014: Friday (Day One)

3 May 2014

It was clear from the lineup that the entire festival is chocked full of psychedelic wonder but the ultimate and constant pleasure of experiencing that all day long under the sunny Austin sky was remarkable.

An Interview with Jacco Gardner

29 October 2013

JACCO GARDNER: Everything that is beautiful is sad at the same time, just because it’s so beautiful. I think that’s what melancholy is. Even beautiful memories can make you feel really sad at the same time so it seems very natural to me to combine them.

An Interview with Frankie Rose

23 September 2013

I really liked collaborating but it became really clear that I just needed to put out something on my own for sure and have as my vision. It can be more difficult and bittersweet because there’s no one to bounce ideas off of and no shared responsibility. There’s only you and there’s high risk and high rewards but it’s my name on it and it’s mine for better or for worse.

An Interview With Loud City Songstress Julia Holter

12 August 2013

JULIA HOLTER: It’s usually pretty intuitive but it’s hard to know at one point when my brain is doing what. I change things depending on the song sometimes..there are certain things you have to do quickly like getting ideas out. You have to catch in real time what your brain is trying to get out and it’s hard to know how much of that is your thoughts and how much is actually something you are consciously figuring out

Pitchfork Music Festival 2013: Day Three (Sunday, July 20th)

22 July 2013

Though they are incredible on any sized stage, Yo La Tengo made the large one seem quite smaller by crowding together stage right/audience left which conveyed the truth of the band of how close knit they have become over the years both while recording albums and performing.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2013: Day Two (Saturday, July 19th)

21 July 2013

intellectuals rejoiced at the twee sounds of Belle and Sebastian with the many deep feeling and sometimes long winded lyrics arising from poets in their own right who read tons of books and relish in every moment of it. Theirs was almost a set where the fans made the experience even better than it would have been. It was almost a musical baptism dancing along to so many lost and found souls in the rain to some of our favorite songs with “I’m a Cuckoo,” “Piazza, New York Catcher,” “Stars of Track and Field,” “If You’re Feeling Sinister,” “The Boy With the Arab Strap,” “Judy and the Dream of Horses,” and the fantastic but very bittersweet encore “Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying.”

Pitchfork Music Festival 2013: Day One (Friday, July 19th)

20 July 2013

From the minute Bjork walked on to the stage, this reviewer actually started having heart palpitations as the bass was so loud it seemed to shake the very Earth. Also, the sense of anticipation in the air was so thick one could cut it like a delicious chocolate cake and eat it like a shared secret. Bjork was, in short, awe inspiring.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2013: Preview (Friday, July 19th-Sunday, July 21st)

2 July 2013

This year, Pitchfork Music Festival has arguably the best lineup it has ever had. For fans of a wide array of independent music, the festival boasts a variety of musical styles and genres to suit your fancy as well as some incredibly substantial headliners. The trend is such that many of the bands that play earlier on in the day end up playing the next year at Lollapalooza, so it behooves the music fan to get to the festival at the start of each day, which also might secure a good spot for experiencing the headlining band’s set of the night. It’s also clear that now perhaps more than ever, Pitchfork is making a concerted effort to represent creative women in music as well as men, which helps make the overall lineup for 2013 rather exquisite, not to mentioned well balanced.

Woodsist Day One@Fernwood (Big Sur, CA) Friday, July 30th, 2011

2 August 2011

An incredibly intimate and rare treat to see so many East Coast musicians amongst the West Coast mountains of Big Sur.

Timber Timbre with Marissa Nadler-Schubas Tavern (Chicago, IL)Thursday, July 21st, 2011

22 July 2011

Timber Timbre is a trio from Montréal, Canada but their sound seems to have emerged straight from the heart of Twin Peaks. Needless to say, their moody tracks don’t seem to fit along with those of any other bands hailing from their city and that’s perfectly fine because it makes their songs even more intriguing. Taylor Kirk establishes an ambiance which is both unnerving and charismatic. His vibrato delivery makes one think of Elvis, if Elvis was possessed by darker and much more interesting spirits.

Julianna Barwick

21 July 2011

“When I think of rhythm, I think of trains going over tracks and things like that. I also like the sounds in forests—whispering kinds of sounds and birds singing.”

Pitchfork Music Festival: Highlights and Photos: Saturday, July 16, 2011 @Union Park (Chicago, IL)

17 July 2011

Saturday’s offerings at Pfork included a wide range of eclectic styles from the more experimental but deeply enriching music of Julianna Barwick and woods to the dream pop of Wild Nothing, the angular rock of The Dismemberment Plan, the gothy synth pop of Cold Cave, the punk rock of OFF! the dj stylings of DJ Shadow, and the folk music of Fleet Foxes. It would be impossible not to love a couple of bands from that kind of lineup and it seems many people were able to see bands they hadn’t listened to before and found it an enjoyable experience.

Pitchfork Music Festival: Highlights and Photos: Friday, July 15, 2011 @Union Park (Chicago, IL)

16 July 2011

Day One at Pitchfork provided a rather eclectic lineup, offering a little something for everyone, including legends like Thurston Moore and Guided by Voices and relative newcomers like Tune-Yards and Ema. It was marvelous to witness both the creativity in the more experienced bands as well as the inventiveness of those newer to the scene. Much like the varied ages of the bands on stage, fans of all ages gathered to enjoy their favorite bands as well as be exposed to new music.

Pitchfork Preview and Recommendations: July 15-17, 2011 at Union Square Park (Chicago, IL)

5 July 2011

It’s that time of year again, Chicago. We’re all recovering from that epic BBQ holiday weekend wondering what we have to look forward to next…well, here it is!

Bill Callahan-Lincoln Hall (Chicago, IL)Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

4 July 2011

It’s possible there is no musician finer to see on the eve of Independence Day than Bill Callahan. Considering both his prolific nature and the distinctiveness of his voice, he recalls a stunning and vibrant modern Johnny Cash.

Sondre Lerche-Lincoln Hall (Chicago, IL)Sunday, June 19th, 2011

22 June 2011

One might not immediately expect the Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche to have a dynamic stage presence.

Art Brut-The Double Door (Chicago, IL)Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

18 June 2011

One can’t witness the charming spectacle of lead singer Eddie Argos without thinking of a reincarnated (though straight) version of Oscar Wilde.

Keren Ann-Lincoln Hall (Chicago, IL)Monday, June 13th. 2011

15 June 2011

Keren Ann is somewhat of an atypical chanteuse.

An Interview with Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls

25 April 2011

While I like a lot of experimental music, I really like the specific ways you can communicate through pop music that you can’t communicate with any other medium. I really like pure pop music. I feel most attracted to pop music made by experimental musicians just dabbling in pop music.

Low-Lincoln Hall (Chicago, IL)Thursday, April 21st. 2011

22 April 2011

Low sings many of their songs as if they have an anguish to share with their very willing fans. After 4 years of staying away from these parts, the audience at Lincoln Hall was more than eager to listen.

Sharon Van Etten-Lincoln Hall (Chicago, IL)-Saturday, April 9th. 2011

10 April 2011

Van Etten has the ability to carry a show on her own and has demonstrated this many times.

The Joy Formidable-Lincoln Hall (Chicago, IL)-Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

6 April 2011

The Joy Formidable may look to have a simple more bare bones set up compared to a great deal of indie bands today. The three piece is comprised only of drums, guitar, and bass and while some of their guitar pedals create a sense of spiraling near shoegaze effect for some of the songs, the structure seems first and foremost and a clear sense of a very accessible and strong sounding rock band emerges.