Andrew Scott Young Ensemble @ The Hideout 7/13/2017

 

You see a lot of things going to experimental shows, but string quartet is rarely one of them. Andrew Scott Young, consummate bass virtuoso, has assembled this group to perform his own compositions and they are admittedly is best experienced in the flesh. That’s when you really feel those vibrations agitating the air and worm through your body. But, honestly, this video still rules.

The ensemble can change around a bit, but this one includes Hanna Brock, Kimberly Sutton, and Ike Floor. ASY plays in Tiger Hatchery (supposedly working on a new album, potentially for ESP-Disk again) and has put in stints with Circuits de Yeux, Riley Walker, and Mines. Plus a bunch of other stuff.

The video was shot at by Erica Gamble at an entry in the Resonance Series organized by Ben Baker Billington and Sullivan Roger Davis.

Host

Olivia Block @ Rockefeller Chapel, 4/21/17

Olivia Block is hands down one of the best current composers to cut her teeth in the underground scene, and her recent space- and structure-oriented work over the past few years has been a really exciting channeling of her talents. This performance was incredible. OB filled this chapel on University of Chicago’s campus with sustained organ tones and pre-recorded drones, causes hundreds or little pockets of new resonances to take shape. Laying on the altar and blissing out gave you different music than sitting in the pews, or standing under an arch, and so on. Really special stuff.

Olivia Block keeps the release schedule pretty steady, and put out a self-titled album on Another Timbre later last year. OB’s 2015 cassette on NNA is especially choice, if you need a recommendation.

This video was shot by Erica Gamble at an event put together by LAMPO.

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Fran @ The Hideout, 5/30/2017

Jesus Christ Fran is good. For a while it seemed like the chokehold pop punk and the emo revival had on the underground rock scene would never relent, but it seems like things are starting to change. Fran’s songs are catchy and complex, a little strange, bringing to mind the side of the fork in the road of ’90s alt rock that didn’t lead to Creed. I’ve heard the Aimee Mann comparison a lot with Fran, but I’m hearing more Paula Cole. Oh man, and Maria Jacobson’s voice is wild. It had the entire Empty Bottle rapt during those register leaps at Fran’s EP release show.

Speaking of EP, the band’s debut on Lake Paradise is really good. Just five songs, all of them basically ear worms. Wow.

Not sure who shot this video or who set up the show.

Host

Potions @ Situations 2/18/2017

 

If ever their were a man who knows the definition of “groovin'” it’s Tom Owens. Potions sets will keep you wiggling forever and ever, like this dude’s whole existence revolves around booogying. I booked Potions for this show. It was his live set in many months and he kept insisting he was only going to play for 20 minutes. I said, alright, but you really could play for longer if you want to. He played for much longer than 20 minutes. It reminded me of the first time I saw Potions after moving to Chicago back in 2014, when he did seven separate encores.

Potions has some great tapes out on 100% Silk and Hausu Mountain, and DJs every now and again for the fantastic community radio station in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, Lumpen Radio. TO also fronted Distractions for a long while, a band that many Chicagoans still talk of glowingly. Pretty sure he also lived at Ball Hall?

This video was shot by Erica Gamble.

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A+E @ Peanut Gallery 8/10/2017

A+E had a real hot streak in 2017, making a strong case for Chicago’s most exciting act of the year. Consensus amongst those who have seen these two jam recently is that they have been passed Excepter’s baton whether Excepter knows it or not! In a year that saw Alex Beam and Erica Gamble (yes, the one who shoots all that good video and helps out with this site!) continue to perfect the blend of pseudo-techno industrial beats, Eurorack wormholing, and reverb moaning, this set from Peanut Gallery may be their finest.

Right around the end of last year, A+E recorded several hours of material, so hopefully get get a release or five out of them soon. In the mean time, be sure to check out their SoundCloud for some samples.

Video shot by Erica Gamble at a show organized with the help of Alex Beam.

–Host

RP Boo @ Elastic Arts 10/13/2017

Here’s another one from the Hurricane Maria benefit a couple of months back. Erica Mei Gamble filmed this one too. I’ve really never seen someone flip a switch and get an entire dance floor moving like RP Boo did. Literally every single person in the room was boogying, it was something else. Boo flipped “Funky Town” cementing the best vibe in the world.

This guy gets the credit for inventing footwork, but for my money RP Boo deserves a reputation as one of the most exact music-makers working today. If anyone understands the that music is a thing of joy, it’s Boo. His wife (whose name I forget and feel very bad about that) came out to blog about the event but I can’t find that blog post, most likely because I don’t remember her name.

Buuuu!

Host

Wiggle Room @ The Hideout, 6/17/2017

You read about that alien alloy in the NY Times? Maybe these two summoned it. Wiggle Room does this thing that sounds like scanning a transdimensional HAM radio, weaving between mindfreak ambient and groovin’ hints at techno. Apparently they have multiple days of raw material sitting around on the cassette tapes they use to jam, but have yet to put out any recordings. We’re waiting, Wiggle Room.

That said, they are plenty busy. The two are integral in the excellent Terry Radio web station, with Ulla (sometimes Ulla Oo, Ulla Anona, Ulla Straus) assuming the Terry Radio mama status. Ulla has two new releases out on Lillerne and Sequel. The other half of Wiggle Room, Samuel White, has just shifted monikers from No Pomo to Mintgreen and has a really good mix up with C-.

This was filmed by Erica Mei Gamble at the Resonance Series, organized by Ben Baker Billington and Sullivan Roger Davis.

Host

Blacker Face @ Elastic Arts, 10/13/2017

Ahhh Blackerface!! Force of freaking nature. Blacker Face is a lot of things at once: activist post-post-post-punk, a prog band, confrontational, good as hell performers. They’ve been going for a few years now, but have really started burning hot in the 2017, also known as the year of atomic dumpster fire. Seeing Blacker Face live leaves you good and sweaty, and likely chewing on a rant frontperson Jolene W/E gave about white people. Jolene is really good at railing against white people. Really really good at it.

This one was filmed by Erica Mei Gamble at a benefit for Hurricane Maria relief I put together with the help of Ben Baker Billington. The RP Boo set from this night is forthcoming, and maybe I’ll up the little talk from the Logan Square Neighborhood Association as well.

Host

Golden Donna @ Smart Bar, 9/16/2017

There haven’t been a whole lot of Golden Donna sets proper in the past year, with Madison, WI’s Joel Shanahan often opting for the Auscultation moniker. Those Auscultation sets, like ones that Erica filmed at Voice of Valley and last month at The Hideout, tend to be of the heady rager variety. This Golden Donna live PA at Smart Bar, on the other hand, is an emotionally heavy one. It starts off with some really sweet ambient house synth work, working eventually to a storm of sirens.

JS is one of the survivors of the Ghost Shop fire last year and it’s really been a pleasure to see him playing out, bringing his best. Like many of his unfortunate cohorts, JS has been dealing with a lot of aftermath, so be sure to download his most recent Golden Donna release Memory from Bandcamp in support. The live set from WSUM on that one is a gut punch, encapsulating the project’s oft-visited dream states. There’s also a running gofundme, for those so inclined to help directly.

Some quick editorializing: as an underground scene, it’s our job to show love to the people who survived Ghost Ship. We can show love by supporting the music they’re releasing to raise funds (such as 100% Silk’s recent compilation) and, even more importantly, by working to hold each other accountable and make sure this never happens again.

This video was filmed by Erica Mei Gamble.

–Host

Fastness @ The Compound, 2/5/2017

You have to hear the Fastness album that came out this year. Emme Williams wrote a batch of songs that’s like a Big Gulp full of all the sodas blended together (a “suicide” I believe?) but instead you’re sipping all of the human emotions. Fastness’s singular electric piano vocal jazz is a classic example of “they just don’t make it like they never used to, anymore.” In this host’s opinion, the two Chicago songwriters who should be putting out records on the biggest labels doing it are EW and Brett Koontz.

This may be the last performance Fastness has done with a full band, and it’s a real delight to hear the EW’s material get this exquisite jazzy treatment. The way EW uses her voice and piano as one instrument puts her performance front and center always, and that means she managed to make some real heavy hitters melt into the background here. In this video, she’s joined by Carlos Chavarria on sax (of ADT, Tarnation), John Daniel (computer ambient maven behind Forest Management) on drums, and Brian Sulpizio (aka Health & Beauty) on guitar. Beautiful performance from a fleeting combo. Really, check out that tape.

This video was shot by Erica Mei Gamble at a show organized by Emme Williams.

— Host