Tag Archives: Chicago

New Music Review: The Heart Pills

the heart pillsHave you ever heard of tin can folk punk music? No? We didn’t either, until The Heart Pills came calling. Now we can say that we not only know all about it, but we like it. A lot.

The Heart Pills hail from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Which is curious because it’s not a place you might normally associate with folk or punk. Tin cans, maybe.

Nonetheless, they just released their debut album, “To Paul, From Dad 1951″ (named after an inscription on a found book about pirates, on a sailboat, as it were.) That’s kind of an interesting story. But not nearly as interesting as the music.

The punk comes through–in some of the more frenzied songs, and when the vocals start to shake. The folk’s job is to steady the entire album, sometimes overtly and other times deftly hidden. The tin can… that’s the unexpected; the sharp edges, sometimes creepy undertones, and the down-to-earth, unapologetic disposition of the lyrics.

The Heart Pills are different, and damn good. They are one of those bands you know will quickly graduate from the local bars to more prominent venues in music-hungry cities. In August, they arrive in Chicago. We recommend you check them out.

Below are a couple of songs from their new record, and a few upcoming tour dates below that.

Hear more of the album and see a couple of videos on The Heart Pills website.

July 12: House of Rock, Eau Claire, WI
July 26: Wilson Park, Menomonie, WI
August 16: The Reptile Palace, Oshkosh, WI
August 17: TBA, Milwaukee, WI
August 18: Ace Bar, Chicago, IL
August 23: Cause Spirits and Soundbar, Minneapolis, MN
August 24: The Red Carpet, St. Cloud, MN
August 25: Quinlans, Duluth, MN
August 30: Phoenix Park, Eau Claire, WI

The Shams Band: A July Residency at Schuba’s

With all its history of greatness, you’d figure it takes a pretty special band to book a month-long residency at Schuba’s. Local favorites The Shams Band have done just that, in support of their sophomore album, Cold City.

The festivities kicked off last night, with backing from Shovel & Rope and Jeremy David Miller, and continues next Monday, July 16.

The Shams Band, if you’re not hip to them, rock a sly mix of blues and rock, bluegrass and most important, Americana. And it works. Really well, in fact.

So go ahead and extend your weekend by a day and check them out, along with some other great bands, listed in the schedule below. (Get tickets here.)

Also check out the video below–their new single from Cold City, “I’m Not Sorry.”

Monday, July 9: w/ Shovels & Rope and Jeremy David Miller (Rambos)
Monday, July 16: w/ Derek Nelson & the Musicians and Elephant Gun
Monday, July 23: Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes and Young Jesus
Monday, July 30: Archie Powell & the Exports and Young Hines

[youtube]http://youtu.be/AfkU6zW55gw[/youtube]

Ticket Giveaway: Keane in Chicago, at The Vic

Keane is coming to Chicago, and you could see them for free! Fresh off their latest release, Strangeland, Keane will hit up The Vic on June 22. Earlier shows in the UK have been selling out, so it’s shaping up to be a good tour.

To enter to win your free pair of tickets, head over to our partners at Chicago’s weekly newsletter, Windy City Weekly, and sign up for the free email newsletter. That’s it!

Winners will be notified via email on Thursday, June 14.

Nab your copy of Strangeland on iTunes, and check out the video for Silenced by the Night, below. Good luck!

[youtube]http://youtu.be/5HrV_B0qrdY[/youtube]

Ticket Giveaway Time: The Avett Brothers!

We could hardly think of a better way to spend a fall evening than with The Avett Brothers, at Chicago’s Northerly Island.

So that’s where we’re headed, on Friday September 28. And you too, if you’re chosen as the lucky winner of two free tickets to see them!

To enter to win, visit our partners at Windy City Weekly (http://windycityweekly.com) and subscribe to receive the weekly newsletter. It’s free, and awesome. If you’re already a subscriber, you’re already entered.

The winner of the two free tickets to see The Avett Brothers at Chicago’s Northerly Island will be chosen in August, and you’ll be notified via email.

Good luck!

House of Blows

pickpocketTuesday night, we strolled into House of Blues–one of my favorite music venues in Chicago. The incense-laden air. The crazy shit on the walls. The soaring balconies. The intimate space. And, of course, the acoustics. We got there a little early to enjoy it all, and to get a good spot.

As I handed over my ticket, I grumbled about the “convenience” charge. Nine dollars–50 cents under half of the cost of the ticket itself. Not really “convenient” for me. We walked in and the crowd was sparse, and there was plenty of seating around the main floor. That’s convenient. We ordered $7 beers. Not so convenient. We picked a good spot, stage right, and found a couple of stools where we could perch for the evening. But there’s a sign taped to these stools. “See Security.”

“Hi. So what’s the story with these stools?”

“Oh hello. Tonight, we’re offering these seats for $20. Or, $30 for two seats.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No.”

“That’s for every seat in the building?”

“Yep.”

What the fuck?

To recap: I paid $18.50 per ticket. Plus, a $9 “convenience” charge for each ticket. For two tickets, that’s $55–$18 of which goes toward my convenience. But you know what’s not convenient? Paying more than the cost of the ticket… to sit down. In the venue you just paid to enter. Where, I’m buying one beer for the cost of a six-pack at the store. Now really, whose convenience am I paying for, exactly?

This is like paying to enter Wrigley field, only to discover that if you want to sit in your seat–the seat you just paid for–it’s going to cost you about the same amount as what’s printed on the ticket. Otherwise, you’re required to stand next to your seat for the next three hours.

I’ve always enjoyed you, House of Blues. I’ve always respected you, and I’ve never much minded your high-priced tickets and libations because you’ve always taken care of me. You’ve always made me feel welcome, and I’ve always left satisfied, sometimes even elated. I’ve always looked forward to coming to visit.

Now?

I feel nickel-and-dimed. I feel duped. You feel cheap. And you’ve cast a toxic black cloud that stinks up the place. Once, you were special. Now, you’re conniving. Greedy. And an all-around asshole.

You blew it.

Check out Chicago’s Mandy & the Bandits

It’s that time of the year–barbecues, beers, and a game of bags. And if you’re looking for a soundtrack to your splendid afternoon, check out Mandy & the Bandits.

This Chicago group is coming off their first tour of select Southern and Midwestern states, spreading the sounds from their latest release, When Darkness Glows. You’ll find some bluegrass and country, spots of jazz, and rock and roll; all accompanied with airy vocals and executed with purposefully loose precision.

Amanda Crumley pieced together Mandy & the Bandits, forming a talented crew of seven musicians, and two special guests including Nick Ascher, who provides an effortless pedal steel. For many bands, such a large group presents problems. Mandy & the Bandits, on the other hand, thrive.

When Darkness Glows showcases Mandy & the Bandits’ versatility, and deep commitment to their own style. Country can be a tough sell around here. But having already played some of Chicago’s best venues (Martyr’s, Uncommon Ground, Jerry’s), we expect Mandy & the Bandits to keep turning heads, and tapping toes.

Have a listen below to Heartless Man.