I've got a whole city to hold down

June 11, 2004


Posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld

New at Schubas: Ambulance Ltd (7/9), Ken Stringfellow (7/30), Paul K & the Weathermen (8/13).

June 10, 2004

Talking Sense

Common on Kanye, influences, beef and Badu, from (Warning: Not suitable for audiences offended by cliches, typos or softball questions.)

Guess who's in the news

June 09, 2004

Concerts For Kerry

Posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld

What do NYC, LA, Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Buffalo and Madison all have that Chicago doesn't?

The answer is they have all hosted and/or will be hosting Concerts For Kerry, with 100% of every ticket sold going to the campaign.

The quality of the acts varies, since it seems to be a DIY effort, but the pictures from the Tenacious D headlined one from LA on Sunday looks like a good time.

It would be nice to see a band or venue in this town decide to make the effort to coordinate one.

He blinded me with science

Man, wouldn't it be cool if somebody did a statistical analysis of the content of thousands of album reviews?

Okay, maybe not. But one Loren Jan Wilson thought so, and you can read the findings here. His subject? None other than Pitchfork. His academic institution? The University of Chicago, and we bet you're shocked.

A bit of Wilson's conclusions: "Pitchfork critics are 3.8 times more likely to use a meaningless value judgement [sic] word when they're describing something they don't like. The critics are much more likely to describe the music itself when they like it. ... When the Pitchfork reviewers write about a record they don't like, they're more likely to mention two things: 1. words referencing consumerism and business, and 2. words insulting the intelligence of the musicians or listeners."

June 08, 2004


New from Metro: The Hives with Sahara Hotnights and the Reigning Sound (7/26).

Update: New from Jam: The Delays (Martyrs, 7/21).

Rock Talk Alert

Tonight on Sound Opinions, DeRogatis and Kot's subject is the MC5. The show's spam says this subject was chosen "in honor of [the band's] reunion performance at the Metro this Friday" - though considering that 40% of the band members are dead, and that those 40% include the band's lead singer and guitarist, it's more than questionable to call this the MC5.

At any rate, Wayne Kramer will join the show by phone, so the hosts will have ample opportunity to grill him on this - you know how they hate old money-grubbing boomers, right? Right? Oh and that's not all - they'll get to ask Kramer the tough questions about his increasingly ugly brouhaha over the long-awaited documentary The MC5: A True Testimonial. (Peter Margasak's recent Reader cover story blew this controversy wide open, but it's not available online without paying - and we're nothing if not cheap - so here's Susan Whitall's account in the Detroit News.)

At least, they'll have the chance to ask those questions. Whether they will remains to be seen. The back-slapping tone of that spam isn't too promising.

Update: Here's Kot's recent Trib piece on the Five and related issues, mentioned in the comments below.

Punks not dead

There he is, peering from your staid Chicago Tribune in a faded black Stiff Little Fingers tee. Salutatorian at Gavit High in Hammond, IN, Ian Blackwood - "inspired by rock music" and "particularly influenced by groups such as the Clash" - wrote a brief commencement address decrying war and violence. The Gavit High principal told Blackwood to rewrite the speech as it "might offend veterans or people in the military." Blackwood refused and went to the press; faced with public scrutiny, the school board overruled the principal. Here's the Trib article on Blackwood, who is bound for Indiana University - and, we hope, his own college radio show - in the fall.

June 07, 2004

They're lovin' it

Here, Chicago's own Pitchfork jocks tracks from Chicago's own Mahjongg and Chicago's own Drag City's Joanna Newsom.

Oh, and don't click that Mahjongg link if you're already on John Ashcroft's baddie list.

Update: Plus props for the Chicago Underground Trio!

Bait and switch

Following up on our recent Dear Abbey/10 Things We Hate About the Abbey Pub screed, a tipster writes in to report: "After advertising $2.50 specials on Foster's all week for the Gourds show [last weekend], the Abbey Pub refused to honor the special, claiming it was 'their publicity people who listed it.' They were fucking assholes about it as well - I almost walked out before the show."

This sort of hamhandedness - and the negative word of mouth it spawns - can't help but have a harmful ripple effect on the venue's business. The tipster puts it this way: "Instead of seeing the 12-15 shows a year I'm interested in seeing [there], I go maybe 3 or 4 times - in large part because they are a bunch of pricks."

We gave the venue plenty of unsolicited advice in our previous column on the topic, but here's another point the Abbey would do well to bear in mind: Never stand between a bunch of burly, bearded dudes, their fans, and cheap beer.

Weighing in on Wilco

In advance of the band's Saturday 6/12 show at the Vic and 6/22 release of its new album, A Ghost Is Born, both local dailies splashed Wilco across the front page of their Sunday entertainment sections this past weekend.

The Sun-Times package included a long feature by Jim DeRogatis that draws on two interviews (one pre-rehab, one post-rehab) with Jeff Tweedy and also quotes John Stirratt, plus sidebars on Ghost and Tweedy's rehab experience.

Maybe the most interesting revelation in all of this is how Tweedy's perception of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot has evolved in the three years since that album's completion. With Ghost, he says, "I just wanted to make a record that was more passionate and more appealing than the way Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sounded to me over time. I stand by that record -- I really am proud of it -- but one of the things that changed about the world for me between Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and this record is that I don't think you can hide the passion anymore. I think there is a distance to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot ... ."

Greg Kot's spread in the Tribune also offered both a lengthy feature on the band (with Tweedy and Stirratt interviews) and a separate Q&A with Tweedy on his rehab.

Kot, as anyone reading this far knows, has written a biography of Tweedy, Learning How to Die (due in stores next Tuesday, 6/15). (See Chicagomuzikblog's book-related colloquy with Kot here - scroll down to April 21 entries.)

The initial version of that book barely mentioned Ghost, and was completed before the band's most recent lineup changes and Tweedy's rehab stint. Kot said in April that he'd since updated the book to cover the new album and the late-winter melodrama, but we've browsed the final version and just about everything new is in the Trib feature - in some cases word for word.

The most intriguing tidbit of that feature, or certainly the one destined to cause the most consternation among the Wilcolyte legions, comes from John Stirratt: "If it all ended, I think we've had a pretty good run," the veteran bassist says. "It's been a long run, longer than most bands. We're living on borrowed time in a way."

Update: Good god, enough already.