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
Advertisements

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.

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