Monthly Archives: March 2009

Bloc Party Blows in the Windy City

(Video included) I had heard from other trusted music lovers and friends that Bloc Party put on a rock-solid show, and they blew me away in Grant Park at Lollapalooza in 2008, molding a perfect pre-game performance to the much anticipated set from Radiohead. So, when I heard Bloc Party was making their way to the Big Windy for the beginning of the Spring concert season, I jumped at the chance to hear them live again, on their own tour.

blocparty2The show was originally set to play at the Riviera but due to popular demand it was moved to the Aragon Ballroom, one of my favorite venues in Chicago, with it’s starry night flair and old-fashioned theme. They started things out with one of the big hits off their newest album which got the crowd screaming and singing right off the bat. Now, I started out liking Bloc Party from listening to their previous albums before they made a switch from their heavy guitar post-punk beginnings to a more electronic rock sound. I wasn’t a huge fan of the change and felt their new album didn’t meet the standards of those previous to it. So, I went into the evening hoping to hear some “oldies but goodies.”

As the show went on I found myself feeling something I have rarely felt at a rock show before – boredom. They failed to play much from their other albums and focused mostly on the new stuff. Along with this disappointment, I was having trouble hearing Kele Okereke’s distinct voice I love so much. I kept wondering if the speakers were too loud and overpowering for him to shine through. It turns out Bloc Party has cancelled their Ultra Festival performance in Miami, along with their Minneapolis and St. Louis shows due to Kele coming down with viral pharyngitis, an inflammation of the throat.

All and all, I came out of the Aragon that night feeling completely unimpressed with the performance. Don’t get me wrong, the band rocks, but the show was less than stellar in my book. I am glad I have fond memories of a phenomenal show from Lolla in ’08. That will stick in my brain but this show, unfortunately, will not. Hopefully, if I catch them again I can have a more enjoyable and satisfying experience along with a 100% healthy lead singer.

- Annie Utter

Annie, I couldn’t agree more.

Now, I’m not a big Bloc Party fan. But, I know a few songs and I heard they put on a great show so I decided it was worth a $28.50 ticket that swelled to $36 with Ticketmaster and city fees. It wasn’t.

The first thing I noticed during the show was noise. Lots and lots of noise. Russell Lissack, the young guitar player for Bloc Party, seems pretty talented, but it was hard to tell because everything seemed to blend together – from the bass, to the synthesizer to Okereke’s unique voice which, as noted, was dreadful. Beats were indiscernible and most songs devolved into a jumbled mess. And looking around, I was hardly alone. The American Eagle clad crowd was tepid, at best, and conversations could be heard taking place during and after songs.

It’s unfortunate that Okereke’s throat wouldn’t cooperate. And that was compounded by the Aragon. It’s an attractive venue, to be sure, but in my experience the acoustics are some of the worst in Chicago. I’d like to blame the Aragon for all of the sound problems, but I just don’t think that’s the case.

I walked away wondering about the attraction of Bloc Party. Then I remembered a few comments from a guy standing next to me. “I love the British, man. They could say [anything] and I would love it.” And that was follwed up with, “Black British guys are the shit! Know what I’m saying?”

Is there something to that? I don’t know. I do know that we Americans seem to have a fascination with the British accent. And ever since the British Invasion of The Beatles, we’ve come to believe that anything from across the pond must be good.

- Mike Phillips

Below is some video from the show, a performance of “Ion Square.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TokMo_-nVsc[/youtube]

Those Darlins Album Debut and Tour Dates

(Video included) Those Darlins, a rockabilly-punk-country female trio, has announced their self-titled debut album will release on July 7 with OH WOW DANG Records.

Sound Citizen caught Those Darlins when they opened for Dan Auerbach in Chicago. And the one thing that stood out immediately is that they are entertaining as hell. They’re also unbridled, shameless and very talented.

They just wrapped up a gig at South by Southwest and are now headed back out on the road. I highly recommend catching them live – you’ll be toe tapping with the music, laughing and possibly mildly offended with some of the lyrics. In a good way.

Check out their tour dates below, along with a live video of “Wild One” from their upcoming album.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0oZ38g_P7U[/youtube]

Apr 15 2009 8:30P
The Parlour at Southgate House Cincinnati/Newport, Ohio
Apr 16 2009 8:00P
The Vogue w/The Avett Brothers Indianapolis, Indiana
Apr 17 2009 8:00P
The High Dive Champaign, Illinois
Apr 18 2009 8:00P
The Hi-Tone Memphis, Tennessee
Apr 24 2009 8:00P
The White Water Tavern w/Glossary Little Rock, Arkansas
Apr 25 2009 8:00P
Smoke & Barrel Fayetteville, Arkansas
Jun 19 2009 7:00P
Border Bash: Downtown Bristol, in the middle of State Street. Bristol, Tennessee

2009 Lollapalooza Lineup Rumors

Let the rumors begin! The 2009 Lollapalooza lineup is starting to make its way onto the Web. Several credible sources have already reported some of the larger acts that will be making an appearance including, The Beastie Boys, Depeche Mode, Jane’s Addiction, The Killers and Kings of Leon all but officially confirmed.

Now to the rumor mill – it’s looking like Lou Reed will play a set, as well as Chicago’s own Neko Case and Andrew Bird. Tool is being thrown into the conversation also, along with The Decemberists, fresh of their new record Hazards of Love, which is looking like one of the early breakout albums of the year.

Then there’s a blog called Faronheit, who claims to have insider knowledge of other bands making the trip to Chicago including, Animal Collective, Band of Horses, Ben Harper, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, The Raveonettes, TV on the Radio, Vampire Weekend and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s among many others. If any of this is true, it’s looking like one of the best Lolla lineups in some time.

10 Twitter Tips for Musicians and Bands

One of the great things about Twitter is that it gives the feeling of being connected with hundreds, even thousands of people without ever actually meeting them. And if there’s one thing any fan wants, it’s to feel connected to their favorite bands. And as a band, you want your fans to feel close to you, but you clearly can’t meet them all.

If you don’t yet know about Twitter, at the bottom of this post is a short video showing how to get started and use it. It’s very easy to set up, and once you’re up and running, you can make updates (or ‘tweets’) in seconds. Suddenly you’re instantly connected with your fan base and you’ll find that they will go a long way in getting the word out about anything you want. You can even make quick updates from your phone via text message – perfect for when you’re touring.

Without further ado, and in no particular order are 10 tips to help you use Twitter, promote your band, and connect with fans like never before.

  1. Tweet a Song. When someone is following you on Twitter, they see your updates. So, if you tweet a link to a new song (or a live performance of a fan favorite) you might find that one of your followers “retweets” the post to their followers, who are not following you, and therefore did not see your tweet. Now those followers, who might not have known about your band, can hear your song. You might just make some new fans.
  2. Be Active. Your fans want to know what you’re up to – that’s why they’re fans. Update regularly – even if it’s just once a week or so. It goes a long way to making your fans feel connected. Not many bands are terribly active on Twitter, so it’s an excellent opportunity to dominate the space.
  3. Follow Fans Right Back. The only other thing more annoying than following a band that doesn’t update is seeing a band with 10,000 followers but only follow 3 people back. Go ahead and follow your fans, you have nothing to lose. What’s more, they will brag to their friends that their favorite band is following them, prompting even more followers.
  4. Get Personal. Don’t be afraid to add a little personality. Usually when I see tweets that say something like “I’m eating a cheeseburger, and it’s good,” I consider it a waste of my screen space. But something like that from a band (or any celebrity for that matter) takes on a different meaning. It humanizes the experience and gives some personal insight into a normally distant relationship between band and fan. Twitter is an excellent way to make people feel like they know you – take advantage of it.
  5. Update About Recent Performances. Your fans want to know about a show you just did. It’s not only a great way to stay in touch, but also to let followers know how much you enjoyed the crowd and their city. You know how when you mention a city’s name during a performance and everyone goes nuts? Same thing applies with Twitter.
  6. Announce Upcoming Tour Dates and Appearances. Recently announced tour dates have a way of spreading through Twitter (and consequently all over the Web) and give followers and fans a sense of urgency. Will you be featured on TV or radio soon? Tell ‘em.
  7. Give Away Some Tickets. Want to make friends fast? Consider giving away a pair of tickets to your followers. Start by announcing that you plan on giving away tickets soon. You’ll see a deluge of new followers. Then follow through by selecting a random follower(s) to receive free tickets to an upcoming show. Make sure to make a post after the fact, telling the rest of your followers that a winner was chosen and call out the winner with an “@” link, like this: Thanks everyone for the great response to our ticket giveaway! @TheMikePhillips is the winner!
  8. Give Away a Free Download. In the same way as giving away tickets, give followers a free song download every now and then. When a fan sees that you occasionally give away a free tune, they will tell their friends and you’ll end up with a quickly growing list of follwers.
  9. Run A Poll. Let’s say you have an upcoming gig in Chicago. Send out a tweet polling your followers, asking which song they would like to hear at your next concert. Take the one with the highest votes and jam it during the gig. Do this and you will get instant credibility with your fans. You’ll also get some media attention, guaranteed. PollDaddy has an excellent tool for polling Twitter users.
  10. Be Real. In the end, we’re talking about music – a very personal experience for everyone. Treat your followers like you would treat a friend, or a fan you just met in your local pub. Twitter lets you share your life and experiences with many, many people, all at once and from a “safe” distance. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it can make a big difference in how fans connect with you and your band.

Follow me on Twitter, at Twitter.com/SoundCitizen

UPDATE: We found another cool Twitter tool called Twaud.io. Check it out.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzSqp4o2Fyc[/youtube]

MTV Unlocks Videos Online

mtvvaultRemember the early days of MTV, when you watched music videos? When was the last time you saw the video for “Good Thing” by the Fine Young Cannibals?

Thanks to The MTV Vault and AT&T, you can see videos that have previously never been released online. Each day, The MTV Vault will release music videos, interviews and live performances to the public. There’s also an interactive trivia game where you answer questions to unlock more content. Don’t worry, even if you don’t know the answers, you get in eventually. And who doesn’t love some good trivia?

The videos range wildly – from the aforementioned “Good Thing” to John Lennon, All-American Rejects and an interview with Ozzy Osbourne about eating bats and doves. Nice.

Below is a sample of the trivia game.

vaulttrivia