Chicagomuzik

I've got a whole city to hold down

March 19, 2004

Brit's got a boo-boo

Tonight's Britney Spears show at the Allstate Arena has been canceled. Seems Miz Spears hurt her knee performing some tricky gymnastics onstage in the Quad Cities last night.

Austin calling

The early returns from SXSW are rolling in. Here's Jim DeRogatis, who says the hot topics this year are indie labels, cultural conservatism ... and whatever pops out of Little Richard's mouth.

Meanwhile the home office last night received a call from Chicagomuzikblog roving reporter Lazlo Hollyfeld. Our intrepid correspondent imbibed on Wednesday night with the Hideout folks, then spent Thursday enjoying the 80-degree weather, free BBQ and gratis booze, and the erudite companionship of one Neal Pollack at the Schubas party (where the Unicorns canceled and the schedule got all goofed up, but nobody cared as long as there were plenty of those Jack-&-Cokes-in-a-can to go around).

Look for Lazlo's four-part SXSW diary, available here in daily installments starting Sunday.

Update: From the suburban Pioneer Press papers, here's Robert Loerzel on Little Richard, Chicago acts in Austin, and a whole lot more. (Comment: Um, dude got into the Rhymesayers showcase on Wednesday - and only stayed for Opus? Jeesh.)

Concertwatch

Empty Bottle: Eugene Chadbourne (April 19), 8th Annual Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music (April 21-24), Constantines (May 19), Mum (at Logan Square Auditorium, June 26).

Abbey Pub (most previously announced, but we've kinda been sleeping on 'em): Drive-By Truckers (April 1), Blonde Redhead (April 2-3), 16 Horsepower (April 7), Versus (April 10), Mason Jennings (April 16), Sebadoh (April 20), Savath and Savalas feat. Prefuse 73 (April 23), Evan Dando and Robbie Fulks (May 1), Peaches (at LSA, May 5), Ex-Girl (May 12), Clinic (May 14), RJD2 (May 19), French Kicks/On the Speakers (May 25), Eyedea & Abilities w/ Blueprint (May 26), Acid Mothers Temple w/ Wolf Eyes (May 28), Beulah (June 11-12).

March 18, 2004

Taking the show on the road

Wanna dig rockin' yapfest Sound Opinions live? Longing to peep its hosts in the pasty, bearded flesh? Your wish will be granted April 1 at the Apple Store, where DeRogatis and Kot will discuss "the sexiest voices in rock" and welcome one of our own hott songstresses, Kelly Hogan, to perform.

(If you just can't wait two weeks for some Kellyness, Hogan and her soul-jazz combo the Wooden Leg are currently presiding over Thursday nights at the Hideout. Tonight's lineup features Hogan-vox, Joel Paterson-guitar, Karl Siegfried-bass, Keefe Jackson-sax and Mike Reed-drums.)

When punks get old

Elvis Costello's latest disc, the Diana Krall-addled North, didn't put us to sleep. It was too unlistenable for that.

It seems that somebody liked it though, and in fact the somebodies reviewing EC's Tuesday gig at the Ford Center for our daily rags apparently liked it quite a bit. In the Sun-Times, Laura Emerick recaps “an alternately searing and tender semi-acoustic set, accompanied by longtime collaborator Steve Nieve,” while in the Trib, Josh Klein says “Costello and Nieve performed a good chunk of ‘North,’ breaking up Costello's song-cycle narrative of love lost and found into separate servings, book-ended by idiosyncratic selections drawn from the singer's vast catalog.”

March 17, 2004

Chicaghost town

Where the heck is everybody this week? In sexy Austin, Texas, for the annual South by Southwest music festival and industry conference. SXSW opens today and continues through Saturday.

Local acts scrapping in the showcase scrum include Alkaline Trio, Che Arthur, Atombombpocketknife, the Autumn Defense, Baseball Furies, Andrew Bird, Break the Silence, Caviar, Cheer-Accident, Diverse, Dollar Store, the Goldstars, Kill Hannah, Kill Memory Crash, Jon Langford’s Ship & Pilot (yeah that guy needs a new band name), the Last Vegas, the Lawrence Arms, Lying in States, Mahjongg, Manishevitz, Matador Down, the M’s, the Narrator, Nora O’Connor, the Opus, Palaxy Tracks, Pelican, Bobby Pharelle, Jonny Polonsky, the Ponys, the Race, the Redwalls, the Reputation, Silkworm, Sally Timms, Nick Tremulis, Troubled Hubble, Umphrey’s McGee, the Webb Brothers, Yakuza and Rachel Yamagata. (Whew.)

Also in attendance are gangs more Chicago musicians and industry folk of every stripe. Your club bookers and radio promoters. Your label mavens and merch girls and media carps. And everybody else.

Not to be outdone, Chicagomuzikblog is there too, in the guise of roving reporter Lazlo Hollyfeld. We’ll present Lazlo’s daily diary when he returns; look for the first installment sometime Sunday. (If he drunk-dials us with anything compelling in the meantime, we’ll post it here.)

Concertwatch

Schubas announces: Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players (April 9 - early), the M’s with the Reputation and Pilot to Gunner (April 9 - late), Phantom Planet (April 20), Jay Bennett (May 1), the Butchies (May 5), Okkervil River (May 8).

Jam announces: “The father of Chinese rock ‘n’ roll” Cui Jian (April 17, Park West), Bob Schneider (May 4, Double Door), Offspring (May 16, Aragon) and (uh) Phil Collins (September 8, United Center). Also, this Friday’s ‘Doors of the 21st Century’ show at the Auditorium Theatre has been cancelled. The area’s moneyed nostalgists weep.

Editorial note to the Jam update: Have we mentioned how crazy-excited we are for April 10 at the Park West? That lineup again is Blackalicious, DJ D-Sharp, DJ Shadow, the Gift of Gab, Joyo Verlarde, Latyrx, Lateef & the Chief, Lifesavas and Lyrics Born.

Progress is slow

We've taken issue with Trib hip-hop freelancer Matthew C. Lurie here with some regularity. Mostly we've questioned his apparent obsession with crowd demographics.

Well, maybe some little bird heard us. Or maybe it's just an instance of the proverbial blind squirrel finding the figurative nut. Either way we're pleased to point you to a Lurie piece that resembles music criticism more than census-taking. (The subject is Monday's Lyrics Born bill with Diverse at the Abbey.)

That's the good news. The bad news is that the review is all sorts of wordy and stilted. Even though one of Lurie's main points is that Diverse is too wordy and stilted.

Call us curmudgeonly bastards who should just let our discontents ride, but we can't shake the irony of a cat who tells an MC to tighten up in a sentence with six commas. Witness: "As was evident on Monday, he is able to attract some of the most exciting producers in hip-hop, from RJD2 to Kutmasta Kurt, to both produce and remix that, at times, one wonders if Diverse should focus more on breaking up his congested, Common-influenced flow."

(Memo to anyone about to post the usual be-glad-the-Trib-gives-space-to-indie-rap-at-all riff: We hear you. But if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.)

Yes we can!

March 15, 2004

Day off

There will be no updates to the Chicagomuzikblog on Tuesday, March 16.

Get out and vote!

Concertwatch

A third Will Oldham show has been added, this one April 16 at the Logan Square Auditorium. Tickets go on sale Tuesday, 3/16 at 10am. See the Empty Bottle page for further info.

Pop & politics

In today's Trib, Allison Stewart looks at the efforts of hip-hop and punk artists to involve their fans in the political process.

Chicagomuzikblog takes this moment to remind its home-state readers that primary ELECTION DAY is tomorrow, TUESDAY, MARCH 16. A-one, a-two, a-you know what to do.

Review the reviews

Trib
Greg Kot on Kid Rock

Sun-Times
Jeff Vrabel on Kid Rock

Bobby Reed on the Mavericks with BR549

Brian Orloff on Liz Phair

We have nothing to say about the first three of these pieces. On Phair, though, isn't it awfully presumptuous (or maybe just creepy) for a critic, especially a male one, to use newspaper column inches to tell a female performer what is or is not an acceptable way to display her sexuality? Granted, Phair makes sex, her body and her use of it the focus of the show. Consequently it is fair game for comment in a review. At the very least, though, Orloff's tone strikes us as uncomfortably paternalistic and dictatorial. He refers to "how Phair has exploited her sex appeal" as "troubling" and a "problem." Sex has been at least an important part of her act for every minute of the decade she's been around, but the crit-slaps didn't come until she shucked the demure-indie-chick-with-a-blue-streak persona. Now Orloff pines for the days when La Liz was "fumbling and charming" (in other words, when the guy could still be comfortably in control) and he slams her for treating her guitar as "an appendage ... to fondle" (as if decades of dudely axmen from Jimi Hendrix to Jackie White haven't stroked their throbbing egos with a six-string substitute).

Bottom line. The problem with Liz Phair today is not the sex or how she sells it. It's that all the window-dressing of her latest album - the ruthlessly, perfectly plastic production, the bombastic arrangements, and the showy sexiness - can't conceal weak songs with little to say.

What do you say?

(Note: If everyone is utterly sick of hearing or thinking about Liz Phair, please post about other gigs you saw over the weekend. It was a full one - we managed to see eight acts over three days - so there's a lot to talk about. And none of it was mentioned in the papers today, which is a shame.)