show review: Melt Banana, Torche, Hot Nerds at Empty Bottle (7-15-15)

150714 - Melt Banana - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – the 3 members of Melt Banana – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

Can the Japanese Noise-Grind Core group Melt Banana bring the metal intensity without a drummer?

150714 - Hot Nerds - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Hot Nerds – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

San Fran natives Hot Nerds opened the show, but we walked in 3/4 through their set.  They played a type of carnival punk with guitar/vocals, acoustic drums and a synthesizer with songs clocking in under 2 minutes.  The vocals had an effect that he didn’t turn off during the entire performance, even when he was talking to the crowd.  The drummer pounded away on the drums with a ferocious intensity found in metal/punk drummers.  The singer was self deprecating about the songs but the group seemed to enjoy themselves. The crowd seemed to be into it.

150714 - Torche - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Torche – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

Then Torche showed up.  This is when the place started to fill out a lot more and I had to weasel my way up. The music is heavy, but dude sings.  In the first song Steve was shredding a guitar solo with a leg up on the monitor, letting everyone know they weren’t going to sleep their way through the set.  He’d stick his tongue out and held the guitar up while acknowledging the first few rows of the crowd.  Their music is somewhat rowdy, but not enough that people would go nuts and throw each other around to any of their songs.  At least not on a Tuesday apparently. Or everyone there was older.  They played a good portion of tracks from their newest album, Restarter, but mixed in a good chunk from Harmonion.  Most of their songs are in the mid to uptempo range but the tune Minions really stuck out to me, and hearing it live was awesome.  I’m a fan of the more upbeat energetic songs and listening to this recorded seemed like the song would drag on, but seeing them perform it live gave me a new appreciation for it.  A crowd favorite was Letting Go,  but once they were Kicking in you could tell that was also one of the tunes that got the crowd hooked on the band. They played mostly straight through for their entire set, with just a few pauses to check the tuning, but even that was quick and they were appreciative that everyone was there to watch them, not see them tune, get a drink of water and dick around. Not sure if they played this song, but it’s one of my favorites.

150715 - Melt Banana Selfie - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Melt Banana Selfie – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

Melt Banana was a band I haven’t been able to truly appreciate until seeing them live.  I’ll listen to them on occasion but to see them live was a whole new experience.  Being a weak ass old man I figured I’d see about 20 minutes and just leave, but once they started playing She had such an amazing energy that she brought to the stage it was hard to tear myself apart.  As a drummer I’m of course saddened when a band uses a drum machine, although I can definitely understand the why behind it.  Heck Aaron and I moved forward as a 2 piece because we were done with guitar players for a short while.  That has passed.  But the drum machine was great, and to have actually seen someone perform what they had tracked would’ve made it that much better.  Aaron mentioned that he saw them with Dave Witte and I’m not sure if I would’ve been able to handle it if that happened.

150715 - Melt Banana - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Melt Banana – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

The movement of the singer Yasuko Onuki was electrifying, and the coordination between her and Ichirou Agata and the fluidity between songs made them playing with a drum machine and samples that much more impression.  Save for a few occasions they weren’t concerned with walking over to line up the computer to start a song, but instead would have synced arm swings and starts, as if they’ve played these songs thousands of times to perfect them.

show review: High Risk – Constellation (July 2 2015)

150702 - High Risk at Constellation: Photo by Drumnmike
150702 – High Risk at Constellation: Photo by Drumnmike

My main reason for attending this and thus staying was the Mark Guiliana drum clinic/after show.  I knew nothing of this group but I’m glad I stayed.  Remember when I mentioned that I have a hard time listening to newer jazz done with the instruments of old?  Well, this is something I can get down with and am excited to eat my words.  It was Mark Guiliana on acoustic drums, Dave Douglas on Trumpet, Shigeto on electronics and Jonathan Maron on Bass and keys.

I was obnoxiously annoyed right at the start, hearing the typical slow dramatic start that happens with most music, but that really is something I need to get over.  It lasted for a few minutes and got you adjusted to the group, and then they tore into it.  Although the songs were a jazz swing feel they weren’t your typical beat on the ride swing style jazz. The trumpet played melodies, but also veered on the edge of free jazz and drawn out sounds.  The electronics and the drums had a nice sync, complementing each other, but also having certain spots where they were allowed to breathe on their own and share their own voice.

150702-High Risk at Constellation: Photo by Drumnmike
150702-High Risk at Constellation: Photo by Drumnmike

There were multiple times throughout the set when Dave would step away from the stage and let the remaining members find their voice and play off of each other.  Most of the times this would end in a drum solo by Mark, and they were always interesting.  It was also cool to see Mark’s drum solos after he had explained his thinking and building into them ahead of time.  They would add to the song and slowly build instead of just trying to fit as many hits as possible into the space.

One of my favorite parts, aside from the drum solos, was when everyone except Shigeto left the stage and he was able to explore his sounds for a few minutes.  Another favorite thing about getting exposure to a group like this with independent musicians coming together for an album is the ability to be exposed to these new musicians, then diving into their catalog.  Having only heard of Mark, barely, I’m excited to dive deeper into his catalog. Reading up on Dave Douglas he’s recorded 40 albums as a band leader and got his start with Horace Silver.  That’s a dedicated dude.  Expect reviews in the future regarding the members projects. If more new wave does projects like this I’m excited to finally open up my mind and explore what else is being done with the genre. Please pardon my ignorance. (I’m open to suggestions)

Judging by Dave’s past experiences with bands this might be the only tour with this group of musicians so if you can find them playing live near you I’d highly recommend checking them out.

150702-High Risk at Constellation:Photo by Drumnmike
150702-High Risk at Constellation:Photo by Drumnmike

show review: Judah and the Lion – Pritzker Pavilion (7-9-15)

150709 Judah & the Lion - pritzker pavilion: photo by Drumnmike
150709 Judah & the Lion – pritzker pavilion: photo by Drumnmike

Today is Franny’s bday. Happy bday Franny.

After that Edward Sharpe show I was ready for some country or blue grass.  I brought my jug of red wine and bag of peanuts and was ready to finish them both in the hour and a half it took them to start and finish their set.  I had no idea that within 2 songs after introducing Twenty-somethings they were going to sing We built this city (with synchronized dancing and electro drums, then ignition (remix), then lose yourself.  Eventually they brought ‘shark attack’ onto the stage to freestyle rap with one of the members of their band.  Ken was calling for 99 problems but they never played it.

Although the band was a lot more loose, the crowd was a lot more subdued than the Snarky Puppy show.  This could’ve been due to the Taste of Chicago, or the fact they’re not as big as Snarky Puppy, but that’s #truth.

The band had great energy and for being a 6 piece they were having a blast hanging out and playing music together.  The music of country/blue grass/rap and cover songs were an interesting mix but it was clearly something they enjoyed doing.  The songs were something that they enjoyed listening to and thus playing as a band and that enjoyment transferred through with their songs.

Especially after listening to their recorded material they sound like a fairly chilled band, but the live show made them seem more like a pop or rock band that just so happened to have long hair, big beards and banjos.

150709 Judah & the Lion - pritzker pavilion: photo by Drumnmike
150709 Judah & the Lion – pritzker pavilion: photo by Drumnmike

alright i’m going.

show review:Four Star Brass Band – North Center (7-8-15)

150708-Four Star Brass Band - North Center:Photo By Drumnmike
150708-Four Star Brass Band – North Center:Photo By Drumnmike

Buy Four Star Brass Bandlisten here

Sometimes when you’re chilling at work and receive an email about a show that evening you get a little excited that maybe it’ll be super fun and you should probably go.  I met Kathryn after she finished her running session and she needed food.

We walked to the dead end street and the band was on stage, getting ready to play.  Surrounded by them in the dead end street were probably 50 kids, with about 1/3 as many parents. This was a very small neighborhood event, almost like a block party on a Tuesday, with kids running around like nuts popping balloons and hitting the great clips mascot with blow up bowling pins.  I had a brief glimpse into my future and my heart skipped a beat.

After making a comment about the insanity of the kids playing on the Divvy bikes at the nearby station Kathryn talked about not letting our kids do that, or keeping them in control.  I really hope she’s right.  Otherwise that’s what they call paper trading.

150708-Four Star Brass Band: Photo by Drumnmike
150708-Four Star Brass Band: Photo by Drumnmike

After getting her fed we moved from the curb to the seats. Since most folks were just hanging around trying to keep their kids from going nuts we somewhat had the seats to ourselves, although a girl walking a random dog (she didn’t own the thing) kept coming by us and so we pet it a few times, but mostly we were by ourselves.

The drizzle started but we were safely under a tree and so surprisingly we didn’t get wet.  We were commended by a local member of the community for sitting out there without an umbrella, but, really I got maybe 2 drips on my pants.  We didn’t melt.

150708-Four Star Brass Band: Photo by Drumnmike
150708-Four Star Brass Band: Photo by Drumnmike

They played some well known songs, My Girl, Chicago, and then played our wedding song, the Cissy Strut. My issue was that they called them the Funky Meters, but what’re you gonna do.  It’s cool to see some dudes bringing that song back. The music was a fun blend of New Orleans style jazz playing some known tunes.  The crowd was obviously a little mixed, but after spending an afternoon in the hot sun and hydrating all day I can see how this stuff can really throw down, and a good time could be had by all.  They had a nice swing and even though they were playing to a bunch of non-attentive kids adn their parents they were still having fun.  They cut it early so their instruments wouldn’t rust but maybe I’ll see them at Jeff fest.

Buy Four Star Brass Bandlisten here

150708-wet chairs: Photo by Drumnmike
150708-wet chairs: Photo by Drumnmike

show review: Rush Hour Concerts – Ravinia in Chicago (7-7-15)

150707-St James Cathedral, Ravinia Steans music Rush hour concert:Photo by Drumnmike
150707-St James Cathedral, Ravinia Steans music Rush hour concert:Photo by Drumnmike

One of the wonderful things about living in Chicago, especially in the summer (because let’s be real, that’s the only smart time to be living in Chicago) are the concerts that happen.  Started 6 years ago the Rush Hour concert series presents a free half hour concert starting at 5:45 pm CST every Tuesday from June – August. My Aunt and Uncle invited us but unfortunately had to bow out.  Kathryn & I still thought it’d be fun to attend.

I arrived shortly before 5 to a mixed crowd of folks standing outside the door.  Some were homeless and others looked like they were waiting for the concert.  After waiting til 5:05 I decided to go in and check out what was going on. There was a door lady greeting and directing people for the event. I told her that some people outside thought they weren’t opened yet so they didn’t know that they could come in.  She told me to tell them it was OK to come in since she couldn’t leave. I went outside to give the good news, then gave her the thumbs up when I came back in on my way to the lecture on the other side of the foyer.

The talk featured 2 musicians from the performance discussing the musical program they were attending for the summer (Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute), their plans for the future, etc.  Decent talk but I had to meet Kathryn.  I went back to the door lady and she mentioned “oh you know those people were waiting for the meal downstairs, and they just weren’t ready yet”.  oops.. I apologized, she told me it was no big deal, but now I know.

150707 - st james cathedral  - Piano Quartet:Photo by Drumnmike
150707 – st james cathedral – Piano Quartet:Photo by Drumnmike

The performance started promptly at 5:45 and was over just as soon as it started.  It featured members of Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, musicians who have or are finishing their bachelors degree and are continuing their musical studies. The Steans Music Institute is an intense summer program they attend and their rehearsals were outside of their regular training for the group. The quartet consisted of a violin, viola, cello and piano. They played 2 songs by Gabriel Faure (1845-1924), Piano Quartet No. 2 in G Minor, Op 45: I. Allegro molto moderato and II. Scherzo: Allergo molto. This was my first exposure to Faure but the songs were played beautifully and with ease, not giving off any impression they were new to this.

150707- St James Cathedral - Piano Quintet:Photo by Drumnmike
150707- St James Cathedral – Piano Quintet:Photo by Drumnmike

Next the quintet, consisting of 2 violins, viola, cello and piano played a piece  by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897): Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34 – I. Allegro Non Troppo. This song is stunning and leads to a gorgeous climactic ending with the piano and strings playing off each other. The song shifted between intense to dreamy and back to dramatic.

It was a lovely performance in a beautiful space and I hope we can attend more of these before the summer ends. Come say Hi if you make it out.

show review:Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros with Letts

150703-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros:Photo by Drumnmike
150703-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros:Photo by Drumnmike

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros
Although I can get down with this music when it’s on the radio or I’m at a bar, it’s typically not my thing.  I’m definitely not one of those guys the Onion talked about when it comes to popular music, but I’m just aware and typically don’t listen.  Going to this show was a last minute ordeal.  I mentioned to my Aunt & Uncle they were coming in town to help them out but they mentioned they already had tickets and we should go with them.  I mentioned it to the wife and she was interested so bam: we got tickets.

7-3-15 Letts at Thalia Hall:Photo by Drumnmike
7-3-15 Letts at Thalia Hall:Photo by Drumnmike

The first band, Letts, was the guitar player in ES and 4 other musicians from the band. The music was more subdued than the pop folk of ES, but the songs were interesting and cool.  They were somewhat somber and sounded like songs from a heavy, contemplative heart. Dude has a really great voice and he let it carry over the music, reminiscent of older style country and blue grass. They were a great intro group warming you up for what was about to happen next.

150703-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Thalia Hall: Photo by Drumnmike
150703-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Thalia Hall: Photo by Drumnmike

By the time Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros played I was rocked and ready for the performance.  We stood where we sat when we saw Ginger Baker. That must be our spot at Thalia Hall. As mentioned above I only really know about 2 Edward Sharpe songs, but the show was still a blast.  Being only a singer (I use that lightly) Alex had great stage presence and took advantage of the fact he wasn’t carrying around an instrument.  For being blue grass pop music there was a lot of playful energy from the crowd and the band with the majority of the audience dancing along to their songs, not just the hits.  Behind the band was a massive video screen that displayed psychedelic colors, split screen and kaleidoscope style views of the band as they were playing.  Considering the band had so much energy and there were so many members the video wasn’t entirely necessarily, but it added to the total immersive feeling of the event and made it that much more fun.

The band waited until the end to play their hit song Home, but the audience was there to be the band and weren’t just waiting to hear there radio songs.  Although when they finally did play it the place erupted.  As a neat touch during the breakdown of Home the band really took it down and Alex was letting people in the front of the stage have the microphone and would let them tell a little story.  It was a nice touch.

It could be easy to think of them as a 2 song band but their entire set was fun and the crowd was interested in what they were doing.  The singer Jade parted ways with the band but it wasn’t until we got home that we did some research about it. During the show I was a little distracted expecting her to come out and sing.

I did have a strange feeling like Alex was an Andrew WK type person, that there’s some type of over the top hippy persona. However reading his Wikipedia is interesting as he used the Edward Sharpe character as a reinvention of himself.  Overall I had a blast.  I wish I was able to buy the tickets at face value but even for what we had to pay they put on a great show.

And yes, I’m looking into a new camera.

showish review: Mark Guiliana drum clinic

7-2-15 mark guiliana at Constellation - Drum Clinic
7-2-15 mark guiliana at Constellation – Drum Clinic

buy Mark Guiliana music here | Listen here.

Don’t say Instagram doesn’t help bring people to the physical world.

I saw a post by Mark Guiliana stating he just landed in Chicago and was drinking Intelligentsia coffee and put 2 and 2 together.  Much to my surprise he was playing with one of his groups High Risk the 1st and 2nd of July at Constellation. He was also giving a free drum clinic on the 2nd before the show! Holy crap.  I set my sights on attending and I’m glad I did.

After a short drum solo because, as he stated ‘these beautiful drums are just in front of me’ Mark discussed how he goes about improvisation and how he practices. He tries to use improvisation to tell a story and fit in with the song, whether it be taking the last lick of a trumpet or bass melody and then trying to build that in to something.  His main goal is to tell a story and serve the song, instead of just banging around like crazy with as many licks as he can think of to throw in the space.

He then ‘simplified 4 years of practice into 20 seconds’ by taking a basic 5 count 16th note roll and playing them as quarter notes, eighth notes and triplets to show the same type of theme, but dissecting it and giving it a slightly different feel.  Mark then used an extremely simple acronym to discuss how to play the theme differently, but of course I forgot it.  The clinic started at 5 and I didn’t leave til 9:30, with a lot of downtime.  You get the idea.  I need to start writing things down as they happen.

Anyway the general idea were dynamic and spacing of the notes, with 16(?) different ways to play the 16th note version, and so on down for 8th and triplets.  Pausing for a 16th note and playing 3 hits, but switching between the rest on the 1, the e, the & and the a.  He then did this variation playing 2 hit and 1 hit combinations as well. After the 16th notes he moved onto the 8th notes and triplets, with the same general idea of different hit combinations and rest placement.

As can be seen with his playing his practice technique’s were very intelligent and very deliberate. For a brief time in college he tried to play only his style and if he felt he sounded too much like someone else he’d stop playing and would start over.  This type of dedication proves why he’s such an in demand and well respected drummer.

One of the main things I found interesting with his practicing was that he rarely spent 8 hours at a time practicing by himself.  He would be behind the drums for 8 hours but maybe only an hour was practicing by himself, and the rest of the time he was practicing with other musicians.  He was able to develop his chops in the group setting, learning to play with other musicians and how to serve the song instead of how to just do rudiments.  As I’m teaching my drum students rudiments from books they’re helpful to learn your chops, but it’s also extremely important to play as a musician, so that what you’re doing will complement what the song needs, instead of just wail.  I’m definitely guilty of being a gratuitous with my playing, but why else would you play metal than to just shred?

He took some questions from the audience then finished with a short drum solo.  He then ‘chilled’ in the main lobby for a half hour taking pictures and signing stuff for fans before he had to get ready for the performance.

And yes I had to get a picture.  Pardon the bad lighting but the one with good lighting I have a crazed stand still don’t move look in my face.

7-2-15 mark G & drumnmike - constellation:
7-2-15 mark G & Drumnmike – constellation:

album review: Save us From the Archon – Fear Eats the Soul

listen here.
What a pleasant surprise.  There I was enjoying myself at the SubT on Friday when I received an email that these guys (and 1 gal) released something new on bandcamp! I first heard about them when my last group Still Machine was offered to play a show with them.  I was looking up the different bands to see with whom we’d fit best and once I made it to them I listened to Thereafter all the way through, then again.

Since this is a review of the latest, I won’t talk about how in love I am with Thereafter.  I will say that even though my band didn’t play the show with them, I still dragged Aaron to the show with me and watched them play in front of 15 people, most of whom I don’t think were prepared for the onslaught of insanity they were witnessing.  That might have made it an even better show, because they still put intense focus onto their instruments and played like mad people. My only complaint was that they didn’t play Thereafter straight through, instead jumping around between releases.

But back to Fear Eats the Soul.  They clearly have a style.  You could put one of these songs in between their other release and it could be the same release.  In the last album they focused on the triplet to enter and exit their phrases.  Here seems to be doubles, but they do switch it up a bit.  If I had to pin them down I’d call it progressive punk, since they typically focus on speed.  One of my band mates replied that they’re ‘technical smilecore’.  Apt description.  I could only imagine trying to have a conversation with this group. It would probably jump from one topic to the next every few minutes, getting to the heart of the subject quickly before switching to the heart of something else.

The worst thing about this release is that it’s only 4 songs, running just under 15 minutes.  I’ve already listened to the whole release and I’ve typed only 350 words. The music is by no means lazy, just short.  They’ve packed a whole bunch of material into those 13 minutes, rarely repeating the same phrase twice or resting on a phrase for too long.  As per their previous releases they rely on delays and loops to bridge the gap between the songs, although surprisingly this one isn’t as fluid as the full length.  Speaking only of the drummer (because again that’s my thing) it sounds as though he’s gotten even better since the last release just over a year ago.  The speed at which he does fills on the toms, and incorporating toms and double bass are astounding.  I’m jealous.  The songs feel mostly like a constant solo, giving the impression of flying through the trees jumping from branch to branch while someone on the ground floor is chasing you, shooting up at you.  Sure you get a minute to catch your breathe, but not for long. I hope they come back to Chicago soon. (and now I’ve listened to it twice)

show review: SubT – Autonomy, RLYR, United Nations, Coliseium

Autonomy at SubT Chicago, June 26th 2015
Autonomy at SubT Chicago, June 26th 2015 (drum brother in back) – photo credit: Drumnmike

I only have a few drum brothers, but Chris Avgerin is one of them.  We first met around 2008/09 when my band arbogast (for the love of god there’s 2 different arbogast bands on Spoitfy.  We’re all lowercase letters and a LOT different than those foreign dudes) played with his group Blood of the Tyrant and Heaving Mass.  Throughout the years he’s supported me with my various projects and I’ve done the same with him.  When he couldn’t perform at 2 Brothers brewery with his band Belleisle I filled in on drums for him, learning 20 some indie pop songs within 2 weeks.  Drum brother.

Anywho, that’s how Aaron, bassist of aforementioned arbogast, CaSK, and now Marinoan reminded me Chris was playing Friday at the Subterranean.  We walked in during the first song of Autonomy’s set, and was surprised.  Every time I see Chris play he seems to be with a different style band. Whether it be heavy metal, mid tempo metal, speed metal, prog rock (although I’ve just heard them, haven’t seen them), how surprised could I actually have been seeing him play with an 80’s new wave goth punk band. The bass player switched between keys and bass, and the singer had self deprecating humor about his band.  “Stick around for the good bands” he joked.  Chris per usual tore it up, mostly in the mid tempo range but the dude is always solid, and always gives exactly what’s needed for the band.  Last show I saw him play was in Nequient which was the speed metal band, and he tore it up, exactly what the music needed.  On Friday he tore it up in the exact way the music needed.  Dude can play.

RLYR at SubT Chicago, June 26th 2015
RLYR at SubT Chicago, June 26th 2015 – photo credit: Drumnmike

Next was RLYR featuring members of Pelican, Russian Circles, Locrian and Bloodiest. This band took the feel of those groups and did their own thing, as a 3 piece. They’re not in a rush to get where they’re going, and they take you on a walk through the mud.  Getting stuck every couple feet with pine and random tree branches scraping your face.  It was my first time hearing them and I was not dissapoint.  During their 30 some minute set they played 4 songs max.  They were clearly epic.  It was instrumental, heavy, loud, and they did a great job doing it.

United Nations at SubT Chicago, June 26th 2015
United Nations at SubT Chicago, June 26th 2015- photo credit: Drumnmike

This band was also a first exposure for me, and they freaking ripped.  Especially right after the slow build of RLYR these guys were a great compliment to make you pay attention.  They had mostly shorter songs, but they jumped between death metal, technical metal and metal riffs.  As with most bands with a singer, he used the space between songs to talk and share his views of the world.  A few times when he sang I couldn’t put my finger on why he sounded so familiar, but drum brother Chris tipped me off to the fact they have rotating members, but Geoff Rickly, the singer from Thursday does the yelling in this group.  Pretty cool someone of that stature still tours small clubs with a power violence group.  Even more interesting was after they played, because of course I’m considerate of the people around me during shows, I read up on their Wikipedia page about their controversies. Of course having such a name as a band would lead to some issues that follow it, and the revolving yet not naming of members is quite an interesting way of moving forward as a band without getting in trouble.  Geoff makes a valid point stating that punk has gotten pretty safe and so continuing to tow the line between getting in trouble and not makes them that much more intriguing.  The music was extremely intense, if you’re into that sort of thing.  Which I am.

Colesium at SubT Chicago, June 26th 2015
Colesium at SubT Chicago, June 26th 2015 – photo credit: Drumnmike

Lastly was Colesium, touring in support of their new release Anxiety’s Kiss.  As Aaron put it, they were refreshing.  They weren’t over the top on anything, they didn’t pull back on anything, but they were straight forward mid tempo rock, with a tendency towards the heavy side.  arbogast was lucky enough to play with them back in 2013 when Aaron and I were trying to push on with a temporary guitarist, and it was cool to see them again without having to worry about loading out gear. The guys have some of the coolest merch, typically focusing on cats and skulls, a shirt I purchased when we played with them. I must also add that one of my favorite things about SubT is that the shows are typically played on the 2nd floor (I know right) and surrounding the floor is a general admission balcony, so if maybe too many people are in your way or you just want a different view of the show you can enjoy it from above.  Although the views may be better from above, I had to walk down 1/4 through their set because the sound is a lot better on the floor.  Twas a cool show with a good blend of rock and metal styles, but still a lot of black shirts.

Colesium at SubT Chicago, June 26th 2015
Colesium at SubT Chicago, June 26th 2015 – photo credit: Drumnmike

show review:Snarky Puppy – Pritzker Pavilion (Chicago – June 25th, 2015)

150626 - snarky puppy pritzker, dude in front
150626 – snarky puppy pritzker, dude in front: photo credit Drumnmike

No good conversation in Chicago starts without the weather, so I’ll address that first.

It’s been raining heavily lately, with tornado’s touching down earlier in the week just outside of the city.  Some solar storms headed our way and thus the weather has been nuts.  There was a major thunderstorm the previous night and the outlook for the the day of the show was not good, with the weather channel calling for rain just before the show started.  We arrived around 6:05 (I’m estimating) and found a seat about 20 feet back from the front of the lawn. We brought peanuts and red wine.  Obviously.  My love for peanuts will soon become apparent.

Shortly after we arrived it started to drizzle. The drizzle continued for 10 minutes, then it was done.  I was relieved to not be sitting in a lawn soaked to the bone, with wet peanuts.  The rain stayed away for the remainder of the night but as you can see down the post a nice fog moved in, engulfing the buildings in front of us.

At 6:30 they started the show and Third Coast Percussion played what must have been a Steve Reich song, as they played a monotonous, lovely mostly percussive piece for at least 45 minutes.  (in time I’ll get on my game with this review thing, I’m sharing my experiences) Members of Snarky Puppy joined them on stage, but as you can see by the above picture, I had a difficult time making anyone out, as this dude started the standing, then slowly throughout the song everyone from different walks of life chose to stand there.  Why get the front most spot if you’re going to stand?  But anyways.

Snarky Puppy came on and tore it up.  I first heard of them through a Drumeo video with their drummer, Larnell Lewis.  Shortly after watching this video during a conversation with a good friend he mentioned he’s been listening to them a lot lately.  Shortly after that one of my drum students mentioned he’d been listening to them, since they’re playing Millennium Park.  I tell ya, you need the young kids around always to help keep you in the loop.

After the first conversation I gave everything they have on spotify a listen.  It’s a jazz funk hip hop type of thing, with great musicians whom all have played and continue to play with some bigger names in the music BIZ.  Not that you can necessarily hear those influences straight up, but they’re sought after in their own accord. Thus combining them to form a type of supergroup, if you will, they really know what they’re doing.  Hearing them on recording is one thing, but to truly experience them in the live setting is a whole new experience.  Not just because it’s cool to realize that 20-somethings really enjoy this type of music, but experiencing it live gives a whole new type of movement to the music, which could otherwise be lost in a purely audio setting.  Don’t get me wrong, the music still swings on their releases, but experiencing it helps gives another appreciation for it.

150626 - snarky puppy pritzker, the fog engulfs the skyline: photo credit Drumnmike
150626 – snarky puppy pritzker, the fog engulfs the skyline: photo credit Drumnmike

They played around an hour and a half, coming back on for an encore (I think it was Lingus?) with 2 of the members wearing Blackhawks jersey’s.  The sets continued to be lively, with each member receiving their own time to solo.  Being a drummer watching Larnell and their percussionist tear it up on a few occasions were a site to behold.  I would’ve loved to see them the previous 2 nights at City Winery, and I could only imagine what type of energy would be happening in such a tight environment, but given the giant space and beauty that is the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago, they did an excellent job transforming their energy to the crowd.

150626 - Foggy Chicago Sky line photo credit Drumnmike
150626 – Foggy Chicago Sky line photo credit Drumnmike