I've got a whole city to hold down

June 25, 2004

Word on the Streets

Reviews of the Streets, Wednesday at Metro:

Mike Skinner "was a clown who realized the joke wasn't on him but on the rigid expectations of his genre. The complexity of his narratives may have been too dense to translate very well onstage, but even when he blew off steam, it felt like a blast of fresh air." - Mark Guarino, Daily Herald

"Skinner, a fan who shared drinks with the audience from a brandy dispenser on the drum riser, didn't try to embody hip-hop but to celebrate it. His flow suggested an unfiltered stream-of-consciousness, a close cousin to the scheming, self-deprecating narrator in the British novel and movie Trainspotting." - Greg Kot, Tribune

"Skinner strode into Wednesday's Metro spotlight as the most successful English MC in recent memory -- which, granted, is a little like being the best cricketer in Des Moines." - Anders Smith Lindall, Sun-Times

June 24, 2004

Stephin Merritt Is Everywhere

Posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld

That's how the New City article on the Magnetic Fields begins, and I'm sure it'll seem like it after all the press I expect they'll garner before/during/after this weekend's 5 sold-out shows at Old Town School of Folk Music. Mark Guarino's piece is already up on the Daily Herald site as well.

I'll be missing out, as I will be a Cub fan amongst Sox fans in the upper deck of U.S. Cellular Field...doing my best to avoid any eye contact and confrontations.


Posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld

New from Jam: Sonic Youth (7/29 @ the Vic). Also Bob Dylan & Willie Nelson are touring together, but the closest it comes to Chicago is South Bend (8/22), Peoria (8/25) and Madison (8/27), since they'll only be playing minor league baseball stadiums. I guess Schaumburg, Gary and Kane County don't make the cut.

June 23, 2004

All you can eat

Chitown indie progenitors Shrimp Boat get the box-set treatment on the new Something Grand, a three-plus* disc package from Brooklyn boutique label Aum Fidelity boasting "51 tracks total - over 3 hours of previously unreleased music ... culled from well over 400 hours of unreleased tapes [including] 16-tracks made at Idful Music, 4-tracks made at their loft on Archer Avenue, live stage performances, and radio broadcasts."

Shrimp Boat, asyouknow, gave the world Sam Prekop and Eric Claridge (who with some other pals in turn gave us the Sea and Cake), Ian Schneller (who formed Falstaff and now makes some snazzy guitars), David Kroll (now a nifty painter), and Brad Wood (who's had his hand in more than his share of recognizable records).

*We say "three-plus" because while it's hyped as a three-disc box, the first 2,000 orders - which should be, well, all of them - will include a fourth disc too. All for the whopping sum of $40, postage included.

Blood on the floor

The big-ticket concert industry is "getting hammered" this summer, with the cancellation of Lollapalooza just the latest and splashiest symptom of a far greater malady. That's acording to a Jim DeRogatis piece in today's Sun-Times that quotes a local Clear Channel exec, Salon's media-biz muckraker Eric Boehlert, and an unnamed "former Chicago concert industry professional" (who predicts the utter downfall of shed shows as we know them - and for our taste, not a moment too soon).

Couple things:

One, this smart treatment of a fast-breaking news story is a fine example of what DeRogatis, a former investigative reporter, does best.

Two, we'd like to hear what somebody from Jam has to say about all this.


New at Double Door: Elefant (8/11), Jesse Malin w/ the Damnwells (8/14), High on Fire (8/18).

New from Jam: Paul Oakenfold (7/17, the Vic).

June 22, 2004


Posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld

So I'm sure you've all seen by now that Lollapalooza has cancelled all 2004 tour dates, as slow ticket sales meant the promoters faced losses in the millions.

Don't cry for Morrissey though, as word is he's quickly signed up to shill at the House of Blues as part of the American Express Blue Jam Sessions. His appearance will allegedly be on 7/17, with tickets on-sale this Sunday ($55 + service charges, and only available to American Express cardholders, at least initially).

And it seems to be a slow season overall for Tweeter Center, as they've recently lowered lawn tix to $15 for a host of shows. Of course, with the possible exception of the Curiosa show, it would take them paying me significantly more than $15 to get me out to Tinley Park.

Back in Black

Danny Black went from front and center with the heralded Blacks to all but off the map after the band's disintegration. He's bounced around with various lineups ever since, but has yet to get any recordings past the demo stage. It's too early to tell if this latest incarnation will have any staying power, but it should make for an excellent show: On Friday, 6/25, Danny will be joined by drummer James Emmenegger (the wildman Blacks timekeeper whose departure touched off that band's implosion) and bassist Laurie Stirratt (Blue Mountain) at the Hideout. The rock starts at 7:30 (after a 6:30 acoustic set from Danny hisself).

Your Wilco clipping service

So A Ghost Is Born is finally available for you to obtain, in exchange for money, at your local record store, if you still partake of such antiquarian practices.

With the release date, of course, comes an avalanche of interviews and reviews. Here's your handy guide:

Mark Guarino in the Daily Herald (Kot's Learning How to Die also reviewed)
NPR (scroll to bottom for audio link)
The Village Voice
New York Times
Boston Globe
Denver Post
The Washington Times (um, no, it's not written by Danny Davis)

Associated Press

Oh, and Greg Kot will be in the WBEZ studio for their Eight Forty-Eight program at 9:30 am CDT today. You can listen here - Kot has the distinct pleasure of following Jack Ryan to the microphone.

June 21, 2004

Leo lets 'em peek

Beginning around midnight Saturday and stretching into the tiny hours of Sunday morning, 100 in-the-know scenesters and various other fortunate souls at the Hideout got an early, live preview of Shake the Sheets, the forthcoming fourth album from agit-pop rocker Ted Leo and his thundering rhythm section the Pharmacists.

After a warm-up set by local pop quartet the Changes (whose gear Leo and the Pharmacists borrowed) and a typically raucous introduction from Hideout co-owner Tim Tuten (whose comments referencing the president subbed a middle name with the initials M.F. for the more conventional W.), the paint-peeling power trio played the 11 new Shake the Sheets songs start to finish, then closed with a few back-catalog chestnuts ("The Great Communicator," "Under the Hedge," etc.) and Leo's solo cover of the Pogues' "Dirty Old Town."

The stealthily organized Hideout gig followed a Leo/Pharmacists appearance at the Taste of Randolph Street festival. It was the third down-low Hideout show by a high-profile indie act in recent months, coming a week after the Handsome Family celebrated their wedding anniversary onstage as the Winnebago Skeletons and not long since the Frames commandeered the tiny back room while in town with Damien Rice.

Credit for lining up the secret show goes to talent buyer Chris Baroner of Metro and to Leo's Chicago-based booking agency, Flower. As Disc Jockey CB, Baroner was leading his regular Life During Wartime dance party at the Hideout on Saturday. (Click that link and check 'em out, if only as thanks for the above Ted photo: We borrowed it without asking.)

The secret was well-kept. With the show unmentioned on the club's web site and its e-mail list silent, word spread only through Randolph Street whispers. At the Hideout, confirmation finally came in the form of a hastily printed sign ("Life During Wartime presents the Changes and Ted Leo/Pharmacists") by the door. At midnight, a crowd had gathered there, but the club was full.

Among the lucky few inside were members of the Shins, who played sold-out gigs at the House of Blues on Friday and Saturday and spent the second day recording a soundtrack contribution at Brian Deck's Engine Studios.

The new Leo/Pharmacists disc was finished in early June and is set for October release on Lookout! Records.