The Dead Seeds–Metal Rising in Chicago

You know what Chicago needs more of? Home-grown metal. Enter The Dead Seeds, and you can see them at House of Blues this Sunday, September 4.

Lead singer Daniel Huerta’s high pitch vocals immediately make you think of the golden era of rock/metal. Think Judas Priest. Carter Scofield knows how to rip it up on lead guitar, while Solomon Kimrey on bass and Griffin Shaw on drums round out a tight crew with big-game chops. This is a sound we’re very pleased to hear in town. And it this rate–they are young–they are going to go places far beyond the Windy City.

But if you’re thinking it’s all just noise, you’d be mistaken. There’s some interesting depth to The Dead Seeds that you can hear in their latest EP, Hereafter. In the title track, “Hereafter”, you can almost hear a little Clash with some of those catchy, riffy guitar licks. Then, “Firestorm” heads back into the metal territory we all crave.

Have a listen, below, or on The Dead Seeds bandcamp page. And get to House of Blues on Sunday. It’s a long weekend—you can headbang all night long.

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.”


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


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.


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.

Lollapalooza 2010 Aftershows: More Tough Choices

Lollapalooza has released the schedule of aftershows for 2010 — and just like Lollapalooza itself, there are several difficult choices to make. It’s shocking and unfortunate that each night, every show has a conflicting schedule. Wouldn’t it be nice to see one show, then head to another? Not going to happen.

Let’s start with Thursday, August 5:

Devo, with Dirty Projectors are at Congress Thetaer at 7:30

Slightly Stoopid with Collie Buddz are at House of Blues at 8.

The New Pornographers with The Dodos are at Metro at 8.

The Big Pink with Night Gallery are at Lincoln Hall at 8

Cymbals Eat Guitars with Young Galaxy are at Schuba’s at 8

Out of these, our choice is Slightly Stoopid with Collie Buddz. It’s a tough call over The New Pornographers and Cymbals Eat Guitars. But Slightly Stoopid is perfect summer music and House of Blues is a great downtown Chicago venue.

Friday, August 6:

MGMT is at House of Blues at 10.

Cut Copy with Dragonette is at Metro at 10.

The Walkmen with Warpaint is at Double Door at 10.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros with Freelance Whales at Lincoln Hall at 10.

Wild Beasts at Empty Bottle at 10.

Rogue Wave with Gamble House at Schubas at 10.

Lackluster, if you ask me. But we’ll go with Edward Sharpe and Freelance Whales. The two bands go well together, which should make for a good all-around experience and Lincoln Hall is one great venue.

Saturday, August 7:

The National with The Antlers at House of Blues at 10.

The Black Keys with The Morning Benders at Metro at 10.

Minus the Bear with Miniature Tigers at Double Door at 10.

Blitzen Trapper with Avi Buffalo at Lincoln Hall at 10.

The Soft Pack with Royal Bangs at Schuba’s at 10.

Wavves with Harlem at Empty Bottle at 10.

Gogol Bordello at Subterranean at 10.

Precision Guided Musicians featuring Hot Chip (live), Rusko, Steve Porter Ancient Astronauts and Perry Farrell at Congress Theater at 10. CANCELED

Far and away, Saturday features the most difficult choices. I’d be happy with The National, The Black Keys, Minus the Bear or The Soft Pack. I’ve seen The Black Keys several times, although not on the most recent album. I’ve seen The National at Pitchfork. I’ve seen Minus the Bear at The Riviera. All are impressive. The one I haven’t seen is The Soft Pack and they are one of our new favorite bands — so we’ll choose them by default. That is, unless we see them at Lolla. If so, it’s The Black Keys once again. Seriously, you can’t go wrong.

Sunday, August 8:

Phoenix with Toro Y Moi at House of Blues at 10.

Health with Chandeliers at Reggie’s Rock Club at 10.

Phoenix should be entertaining.

What do you think? Leave your comments below!

Click to buy Lollapalooza 2010 aftershow tickets.

Band of Horses, House of Blues, Chicago

(Video included) It might have been wet all day last Friday at Lollapalooza, but it didn’t rain on my Band of Horses aftershow parade. After drying out my shoes, changing my socks and having a drink on a friend’s couch, we headed to House of Blues – along with our ticket giveaway winner, Ms. Eva Swan.

First up was Cass McCombs. I knew nothing of him, but heard good things. So we settled on a spot near the bar on the left side of the stage, I grabbed a terrible piece of luke-warm pizza from the beer tub girl, and a can of beer. Immediately, I didn’t know what to make of McCombs. And I still don’t. It was a little hard to concentrate too – the crowd was awfully chatty and loud. So that was disappointing. From what I heard though, I liked it and McCombs deserves much more exploration. He’s unique.

Band of Horses finally took the stage somewhere around midnight. Again, the crowd was chatty. Must be something about Lollapalooza because the last time I saw them at the Metro, people were captivated. It was a great set anyway and they unveiled a new song from their upcoming album. That song leads off the video below. I don’t think I could be disappointed by BOH in any way. But I will say this – the crowd matters. The set at Lollapalooza was better. The crowd was into it and so was the band. (Read about Band of Horses at Lollapalooza)

Enjoy the video from House of Blues, and I also included a video from their Lolla set (courtesy of palmofyoureye), where Ben Bridwell spent the last couple songs in with the audience. Watch it.

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Tom Morello, The Nightwatchman and The Hold Steady

The House of Blues in Chicago hosted a Bud Light/Chicago Cubs charity event on Thursday 1/15/09, featuring Tom Morello The Nightwatchman and The Hold Steady. Last minute tickets came into play, so off we went, into the teeth of below-zero weather and widow-making wind chill.

First to hit the stage were Len Kasper and Bob Brenly, the television team for Chicago Cubs broadcasts, followed by Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who introduced his good friend and Libertyville native, Tom Morello.

morello2I was looking forward to seeing Morello, I was hooked the first time I heard him in the early Rage Against the Machine days. And I have never seen him live outside of that context.

So, out came Morello, he started riffing his trademark guitar style to “One Man Revolution” … then he opened his mouth.

Dude can’t sing. Like, at all.

The next song was “Whatever it Takes.” And that started out as a great jam, acoustic/electric and a solid, steady beat. Then he busted out a harmonica and it just sounded so out of place.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Tom Morello without an overdose of politics. In between just about every song was some sort of political rant. It culminated with The Nightwatchman rewriting one of rock’s great anthems with anti-Bush lyrics. Unfortunately it just didn’t work. Or as my companion put it, “I really don’t appreciate him *#&!-ing up ‘Dirty Deeds.'”

Morello The Nightwatchman and his band, The Freedom Fighter Orchestra wrapped it up with “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. An interesting choice for a send-off. Morello sang an originally banned chorus, coaxed the crowd into jumping up and down Rage-style to a folk song and chanting, “This land is your land, this land is my land, from the California, to the New York island …” It was spirited, I’ll give him that. And of course, he’s just an amazing guitarist. Nothing about that will ever change. But I feel like he was just trying to do too much. The entire set was an odd mix of pop, metal, folk – there was even a strange hip-hop element in there.

An interesting side note: Morello says that Rage Against the Machine are suing the Federal Government for using their songs to torture Guantanamo detainees.

Next up, The Hold Steady. This band is often described as “the world’s greatest bar band.” And I can understand that point of view. The Minneapolis natives have a serious following. From the first note, the band owned the stage – the crowd was clapping along, and singing every lyric. One of the first things that came to mind was how they reminded me of Cowboy Mouth.

It’s high energy, the songs are fast and in rapid-fire succession. And, like Morello, singer Craig Finn doesn’t have much of a voice. But it works with this band – the songs are more like musical stories rather than tunes, and the rough voice fits with the bar band atmosphere. And clearly they have something going, because it was a packed house – even on the coldest night in Chicago in decades.

I’m not terribly familiar with them – I’d tell you some songs they played, but I didn’t know any titles – but the impression I got was that they delivered everything a fan could want. I don’t know that I would go out of my way to see them again, but I wouldn’t turn it down either. If you were there last night, and feel like telling the readers more about the show, please leave a comment or contact me and I’ll post your review!

UPDATE: I found a true fan’s setlist and review.

The Hold Steady, “Sequestered in Memphis”


Sister Hazel Concert Review and Tour Dates

It was the promise of a pass to the Foundation Room and possible box seat that lured me to the House of Blues in Chicago for a Sister Hazel concert. I don’t know much of Sister Hazel, and I don’t claim to be a fan. But I’m a big fan of HOB and box seats, so I went. On the cab ride there, I asked my companion about Sister Hazel’s sound and “Hootie” came up in the conversation…

hazelIt was a cold, bitter night so it was with great joy that we walked into the warm, inviting Foundation Room, complete with burning incense and fuzzy upholstery. A couple cocktails later and we decided to check out the opening act, Pat McGee Band. I didn’t know this guy either. I paid slight attention, but what I heard was pretty good. Laid-back but fun. What did catch my attention were his repeated attempts to rally the crowd … “Get into it!” “Make some noise!” Pretty ballsy for simply a guy with a guitar. I can’t remember the last time I saw a mosh pit develop over a single acoustic guitar set.

So on to Sister Hazel. Like I said, I don’t really know their stuff. But what I heard was poppy, do-your-white-guy-dance music. A few songs into their set, I did start to recognize some songs. And if I remember correctly, they came straight from my college days.

Sister Hazel has some dedicated fans. Looking around the room, there were plenty of dancing folks, most of whom knew every song, and the majority of lyrics. And the crowd was fairly diverse, age-wise. There were forty- and fifty-somethings and twenty- and thirty-somethings reliving the days of CD jukeboxes and underage drinking.

I will say this – they sounded good. From the songs I didn’t know to their mass hit Change Your Mind the songs sounded like they came right off the radio or from some sweet floor speakers in the dorm room across the hall. And the crowd was pleased. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them again, but I had a good time. They clearly have talent, and if you’re a fan, they definitely won’t disappoint.

A few side notes:

  • hobbox2The House of Blues remains a top-flight venue. And if you have the chance, get to the Foundation Room. There was no recording or photography allowed, so I didnt’ get any video. But I did sneak a photo from the box.
  • Sister Hazel’s name comes from Sister Hazel Williams, an African-American woman who ran Sister Hazel’s Rescue Mission in their hometown of Gainesville, Florida.
  • Yes, several times I was reminded of Hootie – before he went country.

Sister Hazel’s remaining 2008 tour dates:

December, 31 2008 08:00 PM – Jannus Landing, St. Petersberg, FL
January, 8 2009 08:00 PM – House Of Blues, Dallas, TX
January, 9 2009 08:00 PM – House Of Blues, Houston, TX
January, 10 2009 08:00 PM – House Of Blues, New Orleans, LA
January, 17 2009 08:00 PM – Carnival Cruise – The Rock Boat, Nassau, Bahamas
February, 11 2009 08:00 PM – Varsity, Baton Rouge, LA
February, 12 2009 08:00 PM – Jupiter Bar and Grill, Tuscalossa, AL
February, 13 2009 08:00 PM – Ricks, Starkville, MS
February, 14 2009 08:00 PM – Georgia Theatre, Athens, GA
February, 18 2009 08:00 PM – Freebird, Jacksonville, FL
February, 19 2009 08:00 PM – Headliners, Columbia, SC
February, 20 2009 08:00 PM – Revolution, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
February, 21 2009 08:00 PM – House Of Blues, Orlando, FL