I've got a whole city to hold down

March 25, 2005

Austin leftovers

It's been about a week now since South by Southwest, and the fatigue is slowly slipping from our bones. Give us a good weekend in front of six basketball games, plus a bag of jelly beans (that's the sum of our easter observance, though we almost bought that giant cross-shaped cake at Jewel just for being so wrong) and we'll be feeling much better.

We are, however, feeling good enough at this very moment to give you our official Chicagomuzik blog SXSW scorecard. In all, your boys Jack and Lazlo saw 106 sets by 101 acts hailing from 13 countries. As for Chicagoans, we saw the Zincs, David Singer and the M's.

Singer's set should have been recorded and shown to the front man of any band thinking about making the trip solo rather than with his crew. There is simply no way to have success as a guy-with-guitar act at SXSW - unless, of course, you are Mary Lou Lord and busking on Sixth.

Unluckily, solo acoustic is also the context in which we saw Jim Elkington of the Zincs. He played some band gigs in Austin as well, but we only caught a last-minute party slot, which was nice enough but not reflective of his new record on Thrill Jockey.

As for the M's, two words will suffice: "packed" and "fantastic." If things break right on the biz side, the record they're shopping might really turn some heads. The songs are there, they've found a real comfort level on the stage, and they're tighter every time we see them.

Finally, and before we forget, here's a pair of Austin articles by Mark Guarino (a general overview) and Bob Mehr (on the waxing fortunes of Champaign's the Living Blue).

The black spot

Remember in Treasure Island how there's nothing a pirate dreads more than the black spot? Like some guy walks up to you in a bar and hands you a slip of paper with a black spot on it? It means you're marked for death.

Anyway, that pretty much sums up the MP Shows track record lately. They're like the clubland personfication of the black spot.

First they ditched the Fireside for Logan Square Auditorium. The Fireside hasn't booked bands regularly since. Then MP Shows cancelled its grand plans for LSA, resurfacing with nightly bookings at the Bottom Lounge. And now, Time Out Chicago reports, the Bottom Lounge's days are numbered.

"The CTA is in the process of acquiring the property at 3206 North Wilton Street and plans to demolish the buildings on the property as part of the Brown Line renovation project," says Ibis Antongiorgi, a CTA spokeswoman.

The CTA has had the property in eminent domain since at least 2001, and has been planning on razing the structure to make way for renovations to the adjacent Belmont El station just as long. But after years of delays, the end is approaching for one of the city's last-remaining music venues that hosts all-ages shows ... .

"It's definitely going to happen," says one of the Bottom Lounge's owners, Brian Elmiger, of the club's demolition. "They are going to get the property no matter how much we scream and kick. I assume sometime this summer the CTA will acquire our property."

March 24, 2005

Get Out Your Megillah - It's That Time Of Year

Posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld

So y'all know that Purim starts tonight, right? Assuming you can't make it to northwestern Iran to properly celebrate at Esther's tomb, there is an event on Saturday at Subterranean (brought to you by the folks at KFAR Jewish Arts Center). Moshe Skier Band headline a 4 band lineup billed as the Hard Rockin' Hamentashen Purim Blowout.

If I make it, I'll be the guy dressed as Mordechai....

March 23, 2005

The smell of fear

Anybody else catching a whiff of desperation from over Pitchfork way?

First there's the information on the Intonation Festival site, where if you read between the lines you can tell the Pitchfork page-view numbers are both fishy (they say "Recent articles have cited the online magazine to have 115,000 daily visitors and over 2 million views per month" - in other words, THEY'RE not claiming those figs or vouching for them) and declining (elsewhere: "In 2004, Pitchfork reached its watershed of 1,000,000 unique visitors per month, and currently attracts more than 115,000 visitors per day").

Then there's the re-design, surely engineered to generate hype.

And there's the press offensive that drowned us all in Ryan Schreiber for two months.

And now the switch to a real-time news format, a transparent effort to get the indee kidz clickety-clacking through on the five minutes for breaking Weezer nooze.

Add it all up and it looks like they're dancing as fast as they can.

Pause. Blink. Blink.

Jon Brion in the studio with Kanye West? That's the word from the Fader.

As John Kerry said, Would that it were. (But use the ketchup anyway.)

March 22, 2005

King for a day

A world in which a multi-million-dollar, multi-state corporate concert promoter is an underdog hero is a weird world indeed. But that's exactly the world we're living in, as yesterday Chicago's homegrown Jam USA (parent of Jam Productions, Jam Sports and other concerns) prevailed over the communications/music megalith Clear Channel Communications in court - and won a cool $90 million in the process. The beef? Who gets to promote motocross races.

Anyway, don't expect to see Jam honchos Jerry Mickelson and Arnie Granat fronting fresh bling around the Old Town offices anytime soon (after all, endless appeals are likely pending) but we'd say a little Cristal-sippin' would mos def be in order. The decision is a crucial blow on behalf of the little guy - or, as an organ no less staid than the New York Times notes, Clear Channel's long-suffering competitors may finally sense "blood in the water."

Will all the Jay Bennett apologists...

... please shut up.

March 21, 2005

Texas takes

Your boys Jack and Lazlo are back from Austin, Texas, and the South by Southwest music festival/industry schmooze. We'll post some retrospective thoughts here as the haze recedes, but for now, let's check what the official types have to say.

Jim DeRogatis set the table with this piece Friday, covering the basics and reporting from the conference keynote. It featured words from Robert Plant and music by our own civic treasure Mavis Staples.

He follows up with a recap in today's Sun-Times. Locals mentioned: Redwalls, Jimmy Chamberlin Complex.

Greg Kot's overview in today's Trib offers his view of several of the week's buzz bands alongside some of his sleeper picks. Local props go to Pelican.

Update: SXSW is the focus of this week's Sound Opinions. Wanna bet they play M.I.A.? Find out Tuesday night at 10 pm on XRT.