show review: Mouth Captain, Cheer Accident, Guzzlemug – Empty Bottle (150809)

150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

Scrolling through my weekly Empty Bottle shows I saw that Cheer Accident was playing a $5 show.  These guys have been around since 1981.  When I was first exposed to them they it was through some epic 20 minute jazz rock track.  Little did I know that this was the not the same iteration of the band.

150808 Mouth Captain, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Mouth Captain, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

Mouth Captain opened the show and are 2 dudes playing lap guitar with a loop pedal and a drum set, and 1 dude doing video with a giant projector in between the the performers.  The videos fit very well with their music and their style is sort of a slow building, elongated mellow style.  My biggest gripe about this band was they used a grasshopper throughout the films but for some reason they didn’t have a shirt with a grasshopper on it. WTF? It was a fun stop motion character of a once alive grasshopper and would be the perfect cross merchandising tie in.  The music was cool. What’s probably always mentioned is the dudes have some affiliation with Blue Man Group and thus their musicianship reflects that.  They don’t play a lot of shows but if you do see them in the listings for a venue they’re worth checking out.

150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

This was the Cheer Accident we got on Saturday. It was 4 of them, 2 ‘origianl’ members and 1 gal and 1 guy all wearing track suits, sunglasses and playing keyboards.  There were sporadic times through the set when they’d sprockets and dance, or play trumpet, but it was mostly keys with drum machine.  The music sounded like the 80’s with vocals out of the 60’s.  Their harmonies were very nice and they hit a lot of great 2 part harmonies.  Halfway through the set I moved from the outer edge to the middle of the crowd and had a better time with the music, joke or not.  I think this was more of a performance art piece instead of being a truly musical thing but I don’t really know enough about them to understand what they joke about.  As an outsider watching this based on what I’ve heard previously that’s the unofficial conclusion I cam eup with.  At various quiet moments in the set the main dude spoke, then they all looked out at the crowd while pre-recorded ‘thank you’s’ would play. It was good times.

150808 Guzzlemug, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Guzzlemug, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

My previous band arbogast had the pleasure of playing with Guzzlemug at Burlington and Ultra Lounge 2 years ago.  When I first saw them their drummer was clean cut and was wearing a beret.  He chewed gum and was ripping through his set with the greatest of ease.  On Saturday he was channeling his inner Andrew WK wearing white with hair down to his shoulders.  The drum mix was quiet which is unusual for the Empty Bottle, which is unfortunate because he’s really good.  The mix would’ve made their set better because the drums, and I may be biased, provide some nice grooves to get you into the weirdness of their music.  If they’re not heard enough you can lose track of the timing and then the guitar and bass are just in sync.  It just provides a nice overall sound.  Guzzlemug is a progressive jazz rock style band, which can go off in out there directions.  They have 17 minute tracks and full releases with just 1 track. It’s a shame this was their last show but sometimes this is the way of progressive bands.  It’s hard for them to catch on but they still leave the world with their music, and hopefully in time it can be found again.  I’d highly recommend their last 2 releases (as those are the only ones I’ve listened to).

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show review: Jojo Mayer & Dave Weckl, Drumming All-Stars night 2 – Martyrs (150811)

150811 - Steve Smith & Benny Greb on the sidewalk in front of Martyrs: Photo by Drumnmike
150811 – Steve Smith & Benny Greb on the sidewalk in front of Martyrs – At one point we were just watching them through those guys’s phones and tablets: Photo by Drumnmike

We walked up to the venue at 8pm and the line was halfway down the block on one side and about 30 ft on the other.  Not being a fan of lines and assuming we wouldn’t get a table anyways we walked to the closest bar for a couple drinks.  After 20 min we walked back to Martyr’s only to find the line still there.  We waited for a little, then a random dude told me they’re doing sound check.  Fine.  We went back in line and waited for 5 minutes.  I suggested going to a different bar but wise Kathryn said we should stay “what if they let people in?” “it’ll take 15 minutes to get everyone in anyways, we won’t miss anything”.

Eventually I convinced her to walk to the bar and if something happens we’d come back.  We had just crossed the street when Benny Greb and Steve Smith walk outside with 2 snare drums and 2 sets of brushes.  Benny apologizes for the delay but said they were going to entertain us with a brushes only rendition to one of my favorite songs of all time “Salt Peanuts“.

We stood on the street leaning up against a car with Benny and Steve’s backs to us.  They tore it up and little did I know their quirky duets would be a running theme throughout the night.

Shortly after they let us into the club and we took our spots, just to the right of where we stood on Friday.

150811 - Jojo Mayer & crew at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Jojo Mayer & crew at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike

Jojo Mayer came out first with the group and played a mid tempo song, playing a fairly steady beat for the majority of the song before getting into ‘his style’ of playing, with a small solo.  His solo was crazy, not in the style of Weckl hitting all the drums but his smoothness, and even some of his ‘tricks’.  At one point he put his foot on the snare to dampen it while he was doing a 1 handed build roll.  He’s not an all or nothing drummer, but he has a nice groove and when he let’s loose he has some great chops.  One of the wildest things during his set was yes it’s a drum show and yes everyone wanted to watch him play drums, but Jojo jumped off the drums and let the singer Chrissi play while he sang Otis Redding’s  (Sitting On) The dock of the bay.

150811 - Jojo Mayer singing at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Jojo Mayer singing at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike

Sure I would’ve liked to see Jojo play that song or another song but he had a nice voice and it was pretty cool to see that.  She also wasn’t too bad herself on the kit.  It was totally unexpected.  When they finished she got back onto the microphone and said to make sure you get out of your comfort zone because that was where life begins.  They played another song which Jojo tore up. During his last song I was distracted from the 2 members standing 5 feet from us, Steve and Benny.  I had a hard time watching Jojo because I was thinking this might be my one time to shake their hands and I would’ve kicked myself for not having the guts to do it and regretting it when I got home.

150811 - Benny Greb & Steve Smith - Mr & Mrs Hi Hat: Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Benny Greb & Steve Smith – Mr & Mrs Hi Hat: Photato by Drumnmike

When Jojo got off the stage they took it.  Benny described a heart warming story seeing Steve at a clinic years ago where he performed Mr Hi Hat, a song by Max Roach.  Eventually Steve taught it to Benny and well, the 2 of them played it.  If you watch the video you’ll get an idea what it was like and watching the 2 of them do it was remarkable.  Their rendition was a lot longer than the video but it definitely didn’t feel like it.  They would alternate through some of the front and back sticking, then putting the sticks on their arm for 1 handed rolls, then off of their legs keeping the rhythm.  Steve was able to trip Benny up a few times on some of the stick ‘tricks’ but it was a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

150811 - Dave Weckl and crew - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Dave Weckl and crew – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

Then Dave Weckl was up.  He said a few words thanking everyone for the show/camp and then tore into the songs.  This man is nuts.  Being late to the party on this guy (as in this year) the song Got a Match? got me really into his drumming.  My biggest regret is that I didn’t have his music earlier in my life so I could have something absolutely insane to practice to and inspire me.  However the universe presents you with material when you’re ready so now must be the time that I can more fully appreciate it.  My best quote from Kathryn to explain how remarkable his playing is was when Dave was doing a solo and he was hitting all drums possible and she asked ‘where is the cowbell coming from?’.  Dude is just so nuts that he was able to keep time on every other quarter note with it while doing his solo.  Watching him perform was very inspiring.  His set was more jazz and rock, but he didn’t keep still and was at the top of his game.  His player made him a great closer for the 2 nights.

150811 - Benny Greb, Steve Smith & Ironing Board - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Benny Greb, Steve Smith & Ironing Board – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

Dave left the stage and Benny and Steve went back up with an ironing board.  Steve mentioned how one time in a hotel he went to another drummers room and they riffed on an ironing board together. Steve and Benny took the liberty of playing the ironing board with brushes, making the ironing board sound the best I’ve ever heard out of an ironing board. As they finished 2 folks put 2 glasses of red wine on the ironing board and they did a small cheers, hugged and left.

150811 - Dave Weckl & Bass player - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Dave Weckl & Bass player – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

Jojo and Dave went back on the stage for an amazing rendition of Superstition. Near the end of the song Jojo and Dave were soloing at the same riff that Mike Mangini was tearing up on Friday, and these guys did the same.  The sheer intensity coming from Dave’s set and Jojo’s grooves were amazing to watch together.

I was able to shake Jojo’s and Benny’s hand.  I saw that Steve finished his wine and thus offered to buy him another one.  Steve walked with me to the bar and he ordered the red wine.  I stood next to him for a few minutes and he played a drum roll with brushes on the bar counter.  Only now in my clear head were there questions I’d like to ask him as we waited for the wine to be given to us, but instead I just took a really low light selfie.

150811 - Steve Smith & DrumnMike selfie at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Steve Smith & DrumnMike selfie at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike

The entire event really was like a camp, with people getting together from different corners of the globe to teach 5 days of drumming. The performances were all fun with the drummers and band members hugging and shaking hands on stage as they would finish their sets.  It was a group of people who became new friends through their love of music.  Both nights of the show were great and for fear of choosing a favorite child I’m going to say I enjoyed them both, although secretly I have a favorite.

show review: Benny Greb, Steve Smith, Mike Mangini – Martyrs Chicago (150807)

150807 - Benny Greb - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 – Benny Greb – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

Out of all the Chicago venue’s that I’ve either played or watched a show this was the first time I was at Martyrs.  It’s a fairly small, or for higher selling point ‘intimate venue’, with tables and chairs setup in front of the stage for this show, with standing room surrounding the seating area.  There were actually 2 bars on each side of the place which made it very convenient.  There were 3 drum sets setup on stage and once Benny took the stage we moved to the other side of the venue to make sure he wasn’t blocked by the conveniently placed posts throughout the venue. There were maybe 20 women at the show, including the woman who sang.  Sadly I think they were just there with their boyfriends or husbands, like mine was.  There could be an opportunity to get more girls into drumming.

Benny Greb is mostly an educator in Germany, although he recently released the awesome album Moving Parts as a trio. After hearing that album I was pissed to find out he’s not a big touring dude so the chance to see/hear him at Martyrs as part of the drum night was awesome and dumb luck it happened so shortly after hearing about him.  The drummers chose the songs that they played with the bands for the evening.  Benny started with Remember the Time, then a song that I’ve never heard, something about putting your money into the gas tank, an amazing drum solo, I shot the Sherriff then Day Tripper. The drums are just a weird extension of this man and he just messes with odd timing on the slow and fast side and triplets walking around the fine line that is the steady beat.  His solo wasn’t just crazy rolls but a mix of awesome groove and then some crazy fills.  As I’m now listening to this song it’s not exactly what his solo was, but this gives you an idea how he solos. My biggest complaint is that he didn’t play longer.

150807 - Steve Smith Sticks - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 – Steve Smith sticks – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

As we were clapping for Benny Steve Smith walked up on stage and sat right next to the pole.  This was my view throughout the whole time he played as the venue was looking full at the other side. Steve’s position was funny when he’d play his right hand on the high hat and his left hand on the black snare just to the right of the pole.  I wish I would’ve gotten a picture of that.  Steve’s main credit for drumming is his early work with the band Journey from 1978 – 1985. Although that’s his most well known credit he’s really created a whole new life for himself with drumming since then as a session player, jazz player, educator, etc. Modern Drummer magazine voted him all around best drummer 5 years in a row.  Steve’s set consisted of jazz pieces, first a song with sticks, then with brushes,then back to sticks.  Eventually he picked up an African style drum and played with his hands on the drum and the set.  For his last song he started scatting into his microphone, mimicking drum fills and beats. Then he started playing set along to this.  This was insane.  His scatting was better than some playing that I’ve heard and I didn’t hear any word trip ups in what he was doing, and he was flying through it.  It was awesome.

150807 Mike Mangini - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 Mike Mangini – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

As we were clapping for Steve Mike Mangini took the stage.  He’s the current drummer for prog band Dream Theater and during 2002 – 2005 set 5 worlds fastest drummer records. He started smoothly leading into Stevie Wonders ‘Superstition’, followed by a brief guitar lick to lead into You don’t have to be rich.  He played Higher Learning with an extending ending including riffing back and forth between bass, keys and drums.  Through out his playing he mostly focused on his groove, which was more straight than swing and showcasing his double bass/fast hand fills.  At one point he was doing a single handed roll which was insanely fast while he accented over the toms with his right hand.  It was an awesome display.  As he was finishing up Steve and Benny were next to the stage and I had a feeling what would happen next.

150807 Greb, Mangini and Smith - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 Greb, Mangini and Smith – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

When the band finished their tune they walked to the side of the stage and Steve and Benny took place at their drum kits.  Steve started scatting again and all 3 drummers played along.  They each played a brief solo throughout the short performance and it was really cool to see the 3 distinct styles playing along to Steve’s voice.

When they finished their tune they started a simple rhythm on the snare drum, and Dave Weckl and Jojo Meyer walked onto the stage.  They setup in a line from right to left of Mike Mangini, Steve Smith, Dave Weckl, Benny Greb and Jojo Meyer each with a snare drum in front of them, and a sideways bass drum in between Jojo and Benny.  The band joined them briefly for a rendition of When the Saints go Marching in. Then the band stopped to let the drummer play off of each other starting with an 8 bar snare beat from Mike on down the line.  A few times Benny was caught up in the fun and missed his starting point but he quickly caught it and it was a humorous instance between everyone.

150807 Meyer, Greb, Weckly, Smith and Mangini - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 Meyer, Greb, Weckly, Smith and Mangini – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

It was awesome to watch the masters play off of each others style and see the fun the drum community can have with each other.  Each style is slightly different and each drummer brought their unique style to the snare drum.  I’m excited for the 2nd show on Tuesday!

I am sad that Benny didn’t come out of the back as I would’ve loved to shake his hand and get a selfie.  Such is life, it was still awesome.

show review: Deafheaven – Wicker Park Fest (150726)

150626 - Deafheaven, Wicker Park Fest: is a shitty pic better than no pic?:photo by drumnmike
150626 – Deafheaven, Wicker Park Fest: is a shitty pic better than no pic?:photo by drumnmike

“You don’t mix emo with black metal.  The Norwegians would kill you.” said one accented chap as I was following the massive herd towards the exit when they were finished.

To the purists he might be right, but considering the large group of people watching something like this on a Sunday night at 9pm the majority tends to think it’s good.

Since i’m writing about the show, I find myself in the latter.  I must admit when I first heard their stuff I was hooked.  I really like the shoegaze, spacey aspect of them and I also dig the fast black metal drumming.  I’m starting to fade on insanely aggressive metal screaming, but for the time being it works for me.

If you’re not familiar you can check their highly acclaimed album Sunbather (released in 2013).  You’re either into the black metal style or not.  Seeing them live gave me more appreciation for them, but mostly the drummer.  The guitarists had a fairly mid tempo to faster strumming, while the drummer was insane about 70% of the time playing extremely fast 32nd or 64th notes with his blast beats, then moving over to fills, essentially playing very fast fills for the duration of songs.

One of the 2 founding members and vocalist George kept the crowd interested with his energy while the string instruments mostly stood around jamming.  George would dance around, rally the crowd into applause and cheers, and provide theatrical movements to the builds and punctuation in the songs.  He’s no stranger to being on stage and his excitement showed.

As with most festival/outdoor shows when I’m blown away like I was I’m upset I didn’t get to attend their indoor performance at SubT the previous night.  Seeing their intensity in a small space would have been overwhelming but it could’ve been a heck of a show.

They do a nice interpretation of the black metal style with an affinity for other styles of music which can help break up some of the monotony of black metal.  Although the monotony can be half the fund of it, their style blending adds a unique touch to what they’re doing.

George teased and then on July 28th the band confirmed their new album New Bermuda will be released in October. Looking forward to it.

show review:Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion – Thalia Hall (6/14/15)

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Photo by Clayton Hauck

“So do you have a huge jazz boner right now?” Kathryn asked.
“No, it’s more of a historical boner”.

Ginger Baker played Thalia Hall with his Jazz Confusion on Sunday, June 14th and we were fortunate enough to get tickets.  The floor is typically standing room with balcony seating around the hall, they set out rows of chairs on the floor for first come first served.  We sat about 10 rows back. Within seconds we realized no one was sitting in these chairs because the AC unit was dripping onto the seats.  We slid our chairs back 2 feet back to get away from the dripping and had wonderful seats for the show.

150614- ginger baker - thalia hall:photo by drumnmike
150614- ginger baker – although every picture i took of him makes him look like a ghost. Probably pale skin/bright lights in action- thalia hall:photo by drumnmike

The lights dimmed and Ginger and the other 3 members walked onstage. His percussionist helped a slow moving Ginger onto the drum riser, catching him when he stumbled up the stairs.  The percussionist sat at a set of 2 bongos and 2 spiral thrash cymbals at a height reminiscent of John Stanier. At one point Kathryn asked who had the idea first.  I’ve taught her well.

Although Ginger is in his 70’s, he’s playing as if drumming is the one thing he can still do fluidly. When he spoke between songs he’d have trouble breathing every few words, but he would quickly jump into the next song as he was finishing his next sentence.  The band would follow along, typically starting with a saxophone melody, then bass solo, then percussionist and ginger solo, then the full band would come in to bash it into the end.

Midway through the set when Ginger was speaking to the crowd he remarked that he had just gotten out of the hospital 10 days ago, and was livid that Thalia hall had so many stairs as that was one of the things he couldn’t do.  Although after watching Beware of Mr Baker movie spending time in the hospital and then playing shortly after is something that he routinely does, hearing him speak about it now can make someone wonder how many more times he’ll be able to get away with it.

They played a 40 minute set, took a small break then got back on the stage within 10 minutes to play for another 30 minutes.  They walked off stage then the percussionist led a very African style chant of “gingah bakah” for one last song.

The most reflective point of the night was Ginger’s brief intro before the 2nd to last song ‘Why‘.  This was the one song with vocals and he asked the audience to join in the chorus.  It was a slight build and everyone was to yell ‘Why!’.  Before starting the song he referenced the fact that he’s lost everything in his life so many times, and upon reflecting he appeared to have remorse. It seemed to be very painful for him to see the path of destruction that he left behind him.  On our way home Kathryn was enthralled by him and looked up more about him on the internet.  One very positive mention was that he saw his son either the previously night or around that time, so he might be taken the song Why to heart and taking some steps to right some of his wrongs.

150614- ginger baker - thalia hall:photo by drumnmike
150614- Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion sign – Thalia hall:photo by drumnmike

show review: Marinoan, Bardus, Those Dirty Thieves (7-20-15)

150720 - those dirty thieves - grandbar:photo by Drumnmike
150720 – those dirty thieves – grandbar:photo by Drumnmike

In time I’ll get to the point where I’ll pitch my shows before I actually play them, but in time.

Those Dirty Thieves drew my attention before they even played with the drummer and his wonderful picture on his bass drum.  After talking with the drummer he showed me the wood burned design that he had on his bass drum, which was possibly almost cooler than the bass drum head!

150720 - those dirty thieves bass drum - grandbar:photo by Drumnmike
150720 – those dirty thieves bass drum – grandbar:photo by Drumnmike

When the band took the stage they tore it up.  Dudes play a thrash metal punk type of thing, with most of their songs in the faster, aggressive yelling style.  The singer had a good sense of humor, keeping the crowd engaged between songs.  They kept it quick in between without a lot of down time, key to keeping folks engaged in the live setting.

150720 - Bardus - Grandbar:Photo By Drumnmike
150720 – Bardus – Grandbar:Photo By Drumnmike

Bardus, some dudes out of Philadelphia, are doing a semi tour and found there way in Chicago with us.  Through the coincidence of it being a small world after all I received a text a few days ago saying my buddy Nate knew Ari, the bass player in this band.

When they kicked into their first song they were in the same heavy vein as Those Dirty Thieves, but there was an almost psychedelic groove to them, playing more mid tempo.  For a 3 piece they made a lot of noise and had a big sound.  Their drummer had an awesome Gretsch drum set with a 26″ (!!) bass drum.  Mine is a 22 so dude definitely had a massive kick.  They’re continuing their tour in Milwaukee tonight, Michigan then Ohio.

150720 - marinoan - grandbar: photo by drumnmike
150720 – marinoan – grandbar: photo by drumnmike

and then Marinoan played.  We played our soon to be released EP in it’s entirety. I’m sure I’ll be posting about that in the weeks/months to come…

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: 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