The Black Keys just wrapped up a three-day Chicago set spanning New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, in what is becoming an annual tradition. For the second year in a row, we attended, this year the New Year’s Day show at Aragon Ballroom.
I must admit, I was worried when The Black Keys latest album, Brothers, was released. I selfishly (and privately) felt that they might destroy the best two-person sound this side of The White Stripes. And even after listening to the album several times over, I still needed to see how it would stack up live to be truly convinced that The Black Keys didn’t lose the magic. I thought the Keys couldn’t possibly get any better than they already were.
After ripping through some classics like 10 A.M. Automatic, Girl is on My Mind (and envisioning that jackass drawing a heart on a frozen window) and Stack Shot Billy, Nick Movshon (bass guitar) and Leon Michels (keyboards) joined Dan and Patrick on stage for some new classics; the likes of Next Girl, Howlin’ For You and Tighten Up. The songs had more power than I thought they would. They were polished but still carried the Keys’ trademark “dirtiness.” Thing is, after seeing it performed live, Brothers kicks ass. The Black Keys have managed to enhance their sound, not detract from it. It was just the first day of 2011, but I already know that this show will go down as one of the year’s best.
Some videos are posted below, of varying quality from The Black Keys on New Year’s Day. The sound is not the best, but I recommend watching the vid for “I Got Mine,” to get a feel for the atmosphere – at least the first minute. The last video is from New Year’s Eve. That awesome photo, by the way, from Joshua Mellin.
I’ll Be Your Man
10 A.M. Automatic
Everlasting Light (New Year’s Eve)
By Jocelyn Geboy
(Video included) Love at first sight — catching the eye of someone on a train or across the room at a party and being instantly smitten. Love at first listen — hearing a band for the first time and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I’ll be at their next show (and the next and the next), I’ll buy their next album and, even though I haven’t even heard the rest of the current one, that I’ll love it. Bands like Frisbie, Fanfarlo, Free Energy, and Freelance Whales (there’s got to be ones outside of the letter F, right?). Sure there is … Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.
So, it was with a true thrill that I saw the double bill of Freelance Whales and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros announced as a Lollapalooza aftershow several months ago. I knew it would be a hot ticket, but I endeavored to snap one up. I failed. As the day approached, I got a bad feeling that there would be tickets, but way out of my price range. A quick search of Craigslist revealed that not only were there NO sellers, but people were willing to pay $100 a ticket. Holy hot ticket. I held out hope that all the music karma I’ve put into the universe would come back to me — I’d get a ticket at the last moment on Craigslist or something. I was not disappointed.
I’d seen Freelance Whales before (they’ve been to Chicago at least three or four times in at least as many months) but I was starting to figure that my anticipation of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros was more than deserved. I didn’t know if they’d been here before, but I suspected this was more than Lolla after-show hype. This was going to be something. What exactly, I had no possible way of knowing.
Freelance Whales started things off on a crowded stage filled with all manners of drum, keyboard, harmonica, glockenspiel and guitar. The five-piece, who hail from Queens, bring an instant energy to the stage — dancing and hopping along with the music as they play. Their enthusiasm is contagious and it’s hard not to be caught up in it all. The music is filled with contradiction; it’s both organic and electronic, it’s orchestral and synthesized. They manage to channel The Decemberists, XTC and The Postal Service (Judah Dadone’s vocals often are reminiscent of Ben Gibbard). But with their five-piece harmonies coming in big and bold on so many of the songs, as well as their obvious talent for songcraft, I suspect that one day people will eventually say that other bands “sound like the Freelance Whales.”
However, the night was yet to reveal itself. As the Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros show started, I looked up and there were instantly 10 people on stage. I counted. I counted them again. And the leader of them all was Alex Ebert, otherwise known as Edward Sharpe. His beard and hair along with white suit instantly evoke a picture of Jesus Christ, and the way he came forward to the stage to let the crowd embrace him, laying hands on him with a wild fervor did nothing to disabuse me of that visual. As the band started up and I re-focused my eyes back on the tableau of the stage, I was struck by the new visual that struck me: Partridge Family. Manson Family.
The band started and the crowd went wild. They were hopelessly, completely, instantly taken with this band, this man. They were disciples. They would have done anything he asked. Perhaps they were just hungry for the live presence; Edward/Alex said that he thought they had only been to Chicago two times before he announced that he “wanted this to be a party, and it didn’t feel like a party” so he crossed over the stage and got into the middle of the crowd to sing. He was Devendra, he was Brian Jonestown (without the anger and the meltdowns), he was completely wonderfully riveting and mesmerizing and I, too, would have followed him anywhere.
There have been musicals made from Billy Joel songs, from ABBA songs, from Green Day songs. I thought to myself: I want to make a musical from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros songs*. There was always so much going on and so much to think about. Often, I had the sense that I was at a tent revival; the only things jarring me from that notion were the smells of pot and incense swirling around me at any given moment. Aurally, there were two drummers, two guitarists, a bassists, a keyboardist, a pianist, various percussionists and always “Edward” at the helm and sometimes joined on lead vocals by Jade Castrinos who had her own huge, commanding voice.
Even when they performed their most commercial song, “Janglin’” (it’s literally in a car commercial that’s played all the time), it didn’t feel over played. Instead, I believed them when they sang:
Well your wartime is Funny
Your guns don’t bother me
I said we’re out to prove the truth of
The man from Galilee
Well your laws are for Dummies, yes
Your institutions dead
I say we’re out to blow the trumpet
To wake you all from bed – from bed
It was so much — Neil Diamond, Elvis, Jim Morrison, Johnny Cash, the Mamas and the Papas. It was a gospel service, it was a hootenanny, it really was a big old party. I was completely surprised and thrilled and sold on whatever they weren’t selling. I didn’t ever want it to be over and I can’t wait for it to happen again.
*Apparently, they’re on it: According to WIkipedia, “On June 5, 2009, the band released “Desert Song”, a music video which is part 1 of a 12-part feature-length musical. Part 2, “Kisses Over Babylon” was released November 24, 2009 through Spinner.com.”
Editor’s Notes: Our thanks to Jocelyn Geboy for writing this piece for Sound Citizen. Another note — this was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, no joke. Those late-night discussions where you list your “top five of all time” … firmly planted. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros just make me freaking happy. And I like that.
Below are a few videos. I recommend watching all of them. The third video is an up-close view of Alex’s foray into the crowd during 40 Day Dream, the opening song of the set. Start that one at the 1:30 mark and keep watching … IT’S WORTH IT.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, “Home”
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, “Janglin”
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, “40 Day Dream” (start at 1:30)
Freelance Whales, “Hannah”
Welcome to another edition of Sound Citizen Radio. This week we celebrate three of our favorite Chicago music venues in The Hideout, Beat Kitchen and Lincoln Hall.
And GO BLACKHAWKS!
This week’s lineup:
Jonny Rumble, “BRZRKR”
June 25, Beat Kitchen, Chicago
Visqueen, “Jimmy vs. James”
May 31, The Hideout, Chicago
Gold Motel, “We’re on the Run”
June 11, Lincoln Hall
(VIDEO INCLUDED) Schuba’s is one of those venues where you can often see a band on their way to the top. The list is long and littered with famous bands that were just breaking out when they made their stop at Schuba’s and often, they never find their way back because they just get too popular for such a small (albeit storied) venue. Such is the case with Local Natives.
We were turned on to Local Natives about six months ago and, ever since, it’s been heavy in the rotation. They have these sweeping songs that, when you hear the first few notes, you can’t imagine that it’s going to end in well-choreographed chaos just a few minutes later. The hooks are quite simple but the way they are put together is anything but. These musicians are talented and shift with the utmost ease between epic songs and arrangements, stopping only to tune their guitars and occasionally switch instruments.
Then there are the harmonies. It’s really what makes Local Natives special. They somehow found talented musicians who also vocalize in perfect harmony. There can be as many as four of them singing together at once — it doens’t sound forced and it’s not overwhelming. I wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, I wouldn’t change a thing about this band or that night’s performance. It comes in easily as one of the best concerts of 2010.
You will notice in the video below some of the crowd reaction. It seemed that the crowd knew every loop and lyric to every song — no kidding. I even turned to one of the Citizens in attendance if they thought some of the crowd sing-alongs were being piped in. I don’t think so, but it was kind of stunning to hear such participation. You can get a sense of it with their performance of “Airplanes” in the video below. And if you want to hear even more of it, check out this performance of “Sun Hands.” The video is shaky, considering its producer was pretty excited at the time (understandably so). If you want to skip right to the chanting crowd, it’s starts at about the 3:30 mark.
Below the video are Local Natives’ remaining 2010 tour dates. You’ll notice a handful of sold out dates … jump on this tour when they hit your town.
|May 18 2010||8:00P||The Mill||Iowa City, IA|
|May 19 2010||8:00P||Mojo’s||Columbia, MO|
|May 21 2010||8:00P||SOLD OUT Larimer Lounge||Denver, CO|
|May 22 2010||8:00P||Kilby Court||Salt Lake City, UT|
|May 25 2010||8:00P||Empyrean||Spokane, WA|
|May 26 2010||8:00P||Neurolux||Boise, ID|
|May 27 2010||8:00P||Mississippi Studios||Portland, Oregon|
|May 28 2010||8:00P||The Venue||Vancouver, British Co, CA|
|May 30 2010||8:00P||Sasquatch!||Quincy, WA|
|Jun 2 2010||8:00P||SOLD OUT* Rickshaw Stop||San Francisco, CA|
|Jun 3 2010||8:00P||SOLD OUT Bottom of the Hill||San Francisco, CA|
|Jun 4 2010||8:00P||SOLD OUT Troubadour||Los Angeles, CA|
|Jun 5 2010||8:00P||SOLD OUT* Bootleg Theater||Los Angeles, CA|
|Jun 10 2010||8:00P||Bonnaroo||Manchester, TN|
|Jun 13 2010||2:00P||ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL||Isle Of Wight, UK|
|Jun 15 2010||8:00P||Shepherds Bush Empire||London, UK|
|Jun 17 2010||8:00P||Vera||Groningen, NL|
|Jun 18 2010||8:00P||Southside||Tuttlingen, DE|
|Jun 19 2010||8:00P||Hurricane||Scheebel, DE|
|Jun 23 2010||8:00P||Melweg||Amsterdam, NL|
|Jun 24 2010||8:00P||Glastonbury Old Queen’s Head||Glastonbury, GB|
|Jun 25 2010||2:00P||Glastonbury Festival||Glastonbury, UK|
|Jun 27 2010||2:00P||Solidays Festival||Paris, FR|
|Jun 29 2010||8:00P||Ravenna Hana Bi||Ravenna, IT|
|Jun 30 2010||8:00P||Ancona Mole Vanvitelliana||Ancona, IT|
|Jul 2 2010||8:00P||Beauregard Festival||Herouville Saint Clair, FR|
|Jul 4 2010||8:00P||Roskilde Festival||Roskilde, DK|
|Jul 11 2010||8:00P||Oxygen Festival||Punchestown Racecourse, IE|
|Jul 18 2010||3:00P||Pitchfork Festival||Chicago, Illinois, US|
|Aug 5 2010||8:00P||The Middle East||Boston, Massachuse, US|
|Aug 6 2010||8:00P||The First Unitarian Church Sanctuary||Philadelphia, PA|
|Aug 7 2010||2:00P||The Beach @ Governors Island||New York City, NY|
|Aug 11 2010||8:00P||Pantiero Festival||Cannes, FR|
|Aug 12 2010||8:00P||Haldern Festival||Haldern, DE|
|Aug 13 2010||8:00P||Way Out West Festival||Gothenburg, SE|
|Aug 14 2010||8:00P||Oya Festival||Oslo, NO|
You know those guys who play the saxophobne in the subway? Well, the other day we came across a talented underground musician and decided to investigate further to find out what other hidden gems are harmonizing beneath the streets. It turns out, those guys are all over the world; playing mandolins in the metro, electric guitars on the el, and tubas on the tube. (I made that last one up, but it’s probably true.)
In most parts of the world it’s called “busking,” defined by Wikipedia as “…the practice of performing in public places for tips and gratuities.” Some people might call it “annoying.” But in every case, it’s not wrong to simply call it music. And some of these subterranean musicians are immensely talented.
Since we couldn’t hop on a plane and start traversing the globe for our search, we were limited to YouTube — which actually turned out to be quite effective. What you find below are some of the finest examples of subway music, or busking from around the world. Some are in the stations, and some are on the trains themselves. They are all quite interesting.
Moscow, Russia. These gentlemen play classical music of the highest caliber. I’m not certian, but people are commenting that this is Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
Seoul, South Korea. This is an actual underground band, Los Andes. It’s music from the Andes, Chinchaysuyo. How cool would it be to see this on your way to work?
Paris, France. Paris is famous for musicians playing in the stations and on the trains themselves. This is Volare.
New York, United States. New York is truly a melting pot. This is Norteño music, from northern Mexico.
Chicago, United States. I’m proud to have these guys in Chicago. They capture the essence of this great city. Here’s It’s Alright.
London, England. This guy should be in a jazz hall. But then London commuters would be deprived. Here’s Sixteen Tons.
Prague, Czech Republic. Another underground band, of sorts. Incredibly elaborate — but I wouldn’t want to be commuting hungover with this…
Budapest, Hungary. Well known in the region, this is Club Era. Seriously this doesn’t look easy.
Stockholm, Sweden. These gents do it the old-fashioned way — simple harmonizing and no instruments. Starts at about the 25-second mark.
Montreal, Canada. I’ve never been there, but this guy seems entirely appropriate for Montreal.
There are surely plenty more out there. Do you have a favorite in your city? If so, we’d love to see them. Share a link below or, better yet, get out there and record them, and then let us know. We’ll post your locals in an upcoming Sound Citizen post!
In the mean time, here are three more that we didn’t want to leave out.
Budapest, Hungary. Playing glasses.
Tokyo, Japan. Only in Japan…
Philadelphia, United States. A little soul in Philly. Anthony Riley has a voice, and apparently a following.
New York, United States. Reggae in Union Square.
In 1994 I was in college. That’s the same year G. Love and Special Sauce released their self-titled album that went on to achieve gold status. The timing could not have been better – I was ready for a new sound, and that’s exactly what I got.
G. Love (Garrett Dutton III) has a style that infuses blues, some hip-hop and even occasional jazz riffs into one rolling, steady rhythm. It’s one of those sounds that sticks with you immediately – you could hear it once, then not again for years and still know exactly who it is within the first few seconds. It’s rare in music to come across an act that stands alone, but this is just such an example.
Post-college, I kept up with G. Love and Special Sauce through the releases of Coast to Coast Motel, Yeah, It’s That Easy, and Philadelphonic. Then, for whatever reason, I lost track. That’s until a few weeks ago, when I noticed they were kicking off a tour, right here in Chicago at House of Blues, one of the finest venues in town. And as if fate intervened, a friend and fellow Sound Citizen scooped up tickets to the show and extended an invite to me. So thanks, Brad. I owe you one.
The show was part of a charity event hosted by Chicago Cubs broadcasters (and performing musicians) Len Kasper and Bob Brenly. Charity, local Chicago celelbrities and G. Love … and it wasn’t sold out? Interesting and perplexing, but fine by me. The thing is, everyone there had a long history with G. Love and the Sauce. So the crowd was just right.
It was a laid back night, to be sure. And no doubt, the 5,000 pounds of pot in the air didn’t hurt. Seriously, it’s the most weed I’ve ever seen burned at any concert – and I’m talking more than shows like Phish at Red Rocks. Believe it.
Well, we had a great time. I’ve heard that G. Love either brings it, or leaves it back home. This night, he brought it full force. Or, at least as forceful as one of his shows can be. I was teleported back to Des Moines, Iowa, when kegs were still tapped at frat parties and flannel was still hanging on. While those things have faded with time, G. Love and Special Sauce are timeless – I’m glad I was reminded of this, and encourage you to do the same.
Below is some video from the show – a compilation and below that is a performance of “Cold Beverage.” Enjoy. Listed below the videos are G. Love’s 2010 tour dates.
|Feb 3 2010||8:00P||The Lyric Oxford||Oxford, Mississippi|
|Feb 4 2010||8:00P||House of Blues – New Orleans||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Feb 5 2010||8:00P||House of Blues – Dallas||Dallas, Texas|
|Feb 6 2010||8:00P||The Warehouse||Houston, Texas|
|Feb 9 2010||8:00P||Orpheum Theater||Flagstaff, Arizona|
|Feb 11 2010||8:00P||The Marquee||Tempe, Arizona|
|Feb 12 2010||8:00P||House of Blues – San Diego||San Diego, California|
|Feb 13 2010||8:00P||House of Blues – Hollywood||W. Hollywood, California|
|Feb 14 2010||8:00P||Downtown Brew||San Luis Obispo, California|
|Feb 17 2010||8:00P||Harlow’s||Sacramento, California|
|Feb 18 2010||8:00P||The Fillmore||San Francisco, California|
|Feb 19 2010||8:00P||The Catalyst||Santa Cruz, California|
|Feb 20 2010||8:00P||Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room||Lake Tahoe, Nevada|
|Feb 21 2010||8:00P||McNears Mystic Theatre||Petaluma, California|
|Feb 24 2010||8:00P||Humboldt Brews||Arcata, California|
|Feb 25 2010||8:00P||WOW Hall||Eugene, Oregon|
|Feb 26 2010||8:00P||Knitting Factory||Spokane, Washington|
|Feb 27 2010||8:00P||Knitting Factory||Boise, Idaho|
|Mar 5 2010||8:00P||Turner Hall||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|Mar 6 2010||8:00P||Barrymore Theatre||Madison, Wisconsin|
|Mar 7 2010||8:00P||First Avenue||Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Mar 10 2010||8:00P||House Of Blues – Cleveland||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Mar 11 2010||8:00P||Intersection||Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Mar 12 2010||8:00P||Madison Theatre||Covington, Kentucky|
|Mar 13 2010||8:00P||The Pageant||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Mar 16 2010||8:00P||Exit-In||Nashville, Tennessee|
|Mar 17 2010||8:00P||The Orange Peel||Asheville, North Carolina|
|Mar 18 2010||8:00P||Valarium||Knoxville, Tennessee|
|Mar 19 2010||8:00P||The Music Farm||Charleston, South Carolina|
|Mar 20 2010||8:00P||Amos’ Southend||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Mar 23 2010||8:00P||The Handlebar||Greenville, South Carolina|
|Mar 24 2010||8:00P||Freebird Live||Jacksonville, Florida|
|Mar 25 2010||8:00P||Culture Room||Fort Lauderdale, Florida|
|Mar 26 2010||8:00P||The Ritz||Ybor City, Florida|
|Mar 27 2010||8:00P||House Of Blues – FL||Lake Buena Vista, Florida|
|Mar 29 2010||8:00P||WorkPlay Theater||Birmingham, Alabama|
|Mar 31 2010||8:00P||George’s Majestic Lounge||Fayetteville, Arkansas|
|Apr 1 2010||8:00P||Revolution Music Hall||Little Rock, Arkansas|
|Apr 2 2010||8:00P||Cain’s Ballroom||Tulsa, Oklahoma|
|Apr 3 2010||8:00P||Antone’s||Austin, Texas|