For an artist with a globally-recognized ego issue, it is perhaps a positive thing that one of his albums is almost always underappreciated.
After ending his previous effort, Graduation, by proclaiming his “stadium status”, Kanye West strikes a more private tone by “taking off his cool” in his…
A few days ago, Lincoln Hall was buzzing with anticipation of Australia’s highly acclaimed psych-rock group, Tame Impala. The chatter of how “nobody has made music like this in years” filled the venue and came from the old and young that had gathered there. It was almost too much. During Yuck’s very strong opening performance, where pop melodies, catchy hooks and growling, grungy guitar mixed wonderfully, the band gave a shout-out to the Smith Westerns, calling them Chicago’s version of the Beatles. Instantly, a crowd member disagreed, calling Tame Impala Chicago’s Beatles. While that is likely an exaggeration, it definitely conveyed a message of how much this town has a crush on the Perth quartet. And they didn’t disappoint (for the record, Chicago was the only city in North America where Impala played twice).
As they calmly walked on stage, they looked an odd bunch. I counted no less than 20 bare toes between them as they imported an Aussie aura to town. They wasted no time in establishing their distinct mood and demonstrating their talent. As their hit “Solitude is Bliss” came on, drummer Jay Watson was tight and enthusiastic (as he was throughout the performance) and front-man Kevin Parker instantly set an intense atmosphere in the Hall. Finally, the special marriage of mood, substance, and songwriting Chicago had been waiting for had arrived.
With Tame Impala, the Beatles parallels are inescapable: the Höfner bass, Sgt. Peppers feel and Parker’s almost uncanny vocal resemblance to John Lennon. Following “Expectation”, the group entered a darker transition with clear echoes to “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. An audio-visual guitar solo followed where Parker sat on his knees watching a projector visually react to his instrument. Heavy indeed.
With songs like “Jeremy’s Storm” and “Lucidity”, the band displayed intensity, presence, and talent that doesn’t appear too often. Delayed guitar, a strong rhythm section and created a mood and enhanced the strong songwriting. They balanced catchy hooks with psychedelic breaks and had the crowd in awe – and this despite bassist Nick Albrook rarely having more than a foot of space between his seemingly glued together knees (he, puzzlingly, remained in pre-pee position most the show).
The crush on Tame Impala, it turns out, is mutual. The band played their first ever American show in Chicago and were charming as they told the crowd of their favorite haunts and attractions (a vending machine in a nearby hotel). Unfortunately though, this was not enough to improve the only negative of the show that evening, the crowd. Given the strong performance, presence and charisma of the Aussies, it was Chicago that seemed tame – pity for a band that definitely deserved a wilder welcome.
That aside, the show was a success. The band opted to replace the artificial encore institution with a long, thorough, and intense gig. This didn’t seem to bother anyone as most left Lincoln Hall with a smug look on their face. Whether it was to witness the beginning of this promising group’s career or to rock out like they did years ago, fans walked away from a show that managed, like few do, to live up to the hype.
Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.
Early evening in Chicago. I’m reading a textbook. A woman walks in. I recognize her from … ? After 10 seconds of looking for the Waldo in my head and I spot him. He’s flying a blue bird, Twitter. Yes, Twitter. V added me a couple weeks earlier, we once chatted about a mutual musical interests (Mount Kimbie & Gold Panda). Unlike me, she’s a 140-master and updates often so I’ve seen her goings-on for the past couple weeks. Sure enough, she writes she’s in that same cafe.
So, what now? Surely it’s odder to sit quietly and/or communicate with somebody who doesn’t know you’re 10 feet from them. Social media is, at least nominally, social. If she tweets about her thoughts and locations multiple times a day, she must be open to spontaneity. If anything, it’s creepier and voyeuristic not to say hello, right? Also, she runs a web site that’s cool and I wanted to hear about. So in the end, I follow my better-to-regret-doing-than-not-doing mantra and go to introduce myself.
She’s embarrassed despite my unthreatening advance (I wasn’t hitting on her). After the fact, she did what I knew her for, and typed:
Recognized via twitter while tweeting emo shit in the coffeeshop. #thatjusthappened
Unsurprisingly, she didn’t remember our web chats but that wasn’t the point. I explained that this was the less creepy of my options and thought I’d simply say hi. Apparently though, she shares that she’s stayed incognito in such situations before (read: I violated protocol).
So if you post your name, photo, thoughts and locations all while easily beginning dialogue with strangers online, an “IRL” sponto hello doesn’t fly. It seems awkward won, so I returned to my book after an odd goodbye and left the cafe soon after.
Doubly embarrassed, as the boy was very nice.
Ha. So my being friendly is more embarrassing? Somebody get me a copy of Book for Kids Who Can’t Tweet Good. Still, I’m trying to take positives from my odd pseudo-rejection.
On platforms like Twitter at least, social media is much more media than social, no matter how open and “friendly” users (who I thought were once people too) are. This comes as no surprise to most but I had some naïve idea that the divide between web and world is not so wide. If anything, I can rest comfortably in my wider world of webonymity. With that, I guess, see you later — in silence…
Hello tumblr. I am mirroring this elusive anti-season known as “Chicago Spring” and inadvertently teasing you. But rest assured, my love never waivers — only my goldfish-style attention span does.
Recent times have featured ignoring my academic duties with mixed success, enjoying Chicago, loving the radio show, typing on a website, discovering the shortcomings of social media, reviving my sub-par acting abilities, and a brief but much needed recharge return home.
In more clickable terms, I’ve started writing for the indie music website, The Heard Project. Check out my reviews of Pantha du Prince, and Mount Kimbie; as well as an interview with the French band, Jamaica. On a different note, check out my chat with Malice of Clipse for CY Magazine.
Connect @2lfr3d to have a conversation. In the meantime, I’ll be teased while waiting for summer. Wish me luck.
The Graveyard gets Groovy.
People hear “graveyard” and think bad thoughts. I hear graveyard and yap away. Such are the perks of midnight radio.
So without further ado, introducing… “Bare Breeze“ on Chicago’s WHPK 88.5 and iTunes. My buddy and I play a mix of musics we like with the hope that you will too. Download mp3 recordings here and book our faces here.
Whenever I told people I was moving to Chicago, the first reaction was almost always about the killer cold. I shrugged it off, how much worse could it be than Berlin? ”No, you don’t understand - your face hurts and you want to cry.”
Last winter in Technotown was both rough and tough, with my shoes not touching sidewalk for three months thanks to serious ice. I’m stuggling to see how it could get worse, (I’m sure I’ll find out very quickly). Before my face goes under attack, I’m gonna enjoy the first flurries of snow, get my snowball game up to scratch, and get cozy with some great winter tracks.
Meat Packing gets Musical
Two months into my Chi-time I found a damn good night of music and mischief to shake my tail feather to. Thanks to funk-infused tracks of Boston’s DJ duo, Soul Clap, I was able to boogie till the wee hours of the morning in Chicago’s old meat packing district and boy did it feel good. Friendly folk, no curfew, and a vibe that reminded me of Berlin badness - my hunch was true.
Another great experience at a Wolf + Lamb show (in addition to the fun had at Horst Krzbrg in Berlin a few months ago) just reemphasized the label’s signature marriage of soul and funk to beats and bytes in a way that gets me grinning and grooving like few other things can.
Sure it might be the middle of the week, but give your ears an early gift with these tasty tracks.