M83, the French electro-pop act led by multi-instrumentalist Anthony Gonzalez, played to a capacity crowd at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall last week. The band’s latest release, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, has garnered heaps of hype since its release last month, and the crowd was buzzing in anticipation of hearing the tunes live. Though critical praise has been ample, mainstream success had, until recently, eluded the band. On this night, bathed in shades of pink and blue, M83 put on a show befitting its newfound indie-darling status. Photos by Wallo Villacorta.
Last week, avant-garde songstress Merrill Garbus and her band, Tune-Yards, made their second stop of the year in Chicago in support of their latest full-length, Whokill. Known for its use of looped drum and vocal patterns and ukelele in live performances, Tune-Yards creates a diverse whirlwind that spans from doo-wop to hip hop to folk. Photographer Elizabeth Gilmore snapped these shots of Garbus and company (in their signature face paint) at Lincoln Hall.
We’ve been talking about it for months, and it finally happened: Amon Tobin brought ISAM to Chicago. Named after Tobin’s latest album, the multimedia masterwork has been making the rounds (mostly in Europe) since June, but now audiences in the US are getting a taste of the immersive performance.
Amid a geometric configuration of cubes, upon which colorful, dynamic visuals were projected, Tobin worked from a laptop station. The music, composed primarily of manipulated, non-instrumental field recordings, paired with the projection mapping to create a mesmerizing synthesis of sound and light. You can read all about Tobin, his latest album, and the ISAM tour in our recent feature story. Design studio Leviathan has a full list of credits on its website, so you can see who was responsible for the killer visuals. Photographer Wallo Villacorta captured these images at the Congress.
With a new six-song EP, Nightlife, due out November 1, New York-based indie-pop duo Phantogram is currently on a US tour with Reptar and Exit Music. Save for a pair of singles earlier this year, Nightlife is the first release for the band since its debut, Eyelid Movies, in 2010. It reprises the same successful synth-pop formula, with Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel trading vocals over electronic beats and layers of bubbling, shoegaze-y trip-hop. Photographer Elizabeth Gilmore captured these shots of the band during its recent stop at Metro in Chicago.
[Chromatic, our 400-page exploration of musicians and color, is out now. Order here!]
In its recent sold-out return to Chicago, experimental trip-hop band Portishead proved that fans’ interest is at an all-time high, despite the release of just one studio album in the last 14 years. Third, which came out in 2008 to widespread critical acclaim, has buoyed the British group through myriad festival appearances and a curatorial/headlining role for two All Tomorrow’s Parties this year. On 11/14, the band will release a limited-edition two-track record entitled Chase the Tear via XL. All proceeds from the release will go to Amnesty International.
The group’s current tour is its first in North America in more than a decade. Playing in front of a massive projection screen on the sprawling Aragon stage, the members of Portishead (plus three additional musicians) were visually amplified, towering visages in black and white.
Descending once again upon the Windy City, Battles brought its three live members — drummer John Stanier, multi-instrumentalist Ian Williams, guitarist/bassist Dave Konopka — and a couple of digital friends. The trio was flanked by two tall projection screens, which allowed them to jam alongside video recordings of Gloss Drop guest vocalists Gary Numan, Kazu Makino, and Yamantaka Eye. As usual, the stage floor was packed with pedals, controllers, laptops, synths, and all other manner of loop-friendly gadgetry. Photographer Wallo Villacorta captured these images of the explosive performance at The Vic.
On September 22, reunited post-punk band Swans took to the stage at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago to perform tracks from its 2010 album, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky. The record, Swans’ first studio album in 14 years, sparked a year-long tour, which will be coming to an end on October 1 at All Tomorrow’s Parties in New Jersey.
Swans made a name for itself in the ’80s and ’90s with its intense live shows, and this particular date was no exception. At one point, front-man Michael Gira stomped a press photographer’s camera against a monitor, and followed that with a dirty gesture to another photographer. After the show, lap-steel guitarist Christoph Hahn personally apologized to the photographer, saying, “He gets that way with us sometimes…” Tellingly, Gira once said of his band name, “Swans are majestic, beautiful-looking creatures — with really ugly temperaments.”
–text by Mojdeh Stoakley
“Summer’s Last Stand,” better known as North Coast Music Festival, lived up to its self-given nickname this year, breaking a sizable inaugural attendance and raking in nearly 50,000 loyal fans for a sold-out sophomore year. Despite being slightly overshadowed by Chicago’s other popular summer music fests, North Coast surpassed them in diversity with a far-reaching lineup.
Heavy beats bumped Union Park for a straight three days, spun by dubstep producers SBTRKT and Rusko and electronic hypnotists STS9 and Bassnectar. Day performers Little Dragon and Of Montreal loosened crowds for each night’s main acts, including Wiz Khalifa and David Guetta, who were silhouetted by LED backdrops on both headlining stages. Other ALARM favorites on hand included Common, Gogol Bordello, Thievery Corporation, RJD2, and The Budos Band.
Chicago photographer Caleb Condit was present to document the good times. Check out the massive gallery below.
Formed in the early ’90s in Champaign, Illinois, emo-rock band Braid has been mostly out of commission for the past decade. Save a brief reunion tour in the summer of 2004, the band has been split up, with each member doing his own thing. Last year, Bob Nanna and Chris Broach were performing DJ sets together at Bar Deville in Chicago and decided to once again reunite the band. A new EP, Closer to Closed, was released on August 16 via Polyvinyl. Contributing photographer Elizabeth Gilmore was on hand for Braid’s first show in roughly seven years.
After completing a busy summer-festival circuit (SXSW, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Bilbao, in Spain), dance-punk band !!! brought its high-energy tunes to Chicago recently. Contributing photographer Elizabeth Gilmore was on hand at the Bottom Lounge to capture all of the sweaty action. The band chugged and churned through tracks from its 2010 album, Strange Weather, Isn’t It?, among other crowd favorites from its back catalog. According to !!!’s website, its members will be taking some time off from touring soon to work on a new album.
In August, neo-classical cello-rock band Rasputina took to Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park. The diverse audience, befitting a free summertime show, spread across the lawn and listened intently until triggered into laughter periodically by lead singer Melora Creager’s quaint, endearing banter between songs.
At one point in the band’s set, Creager explained what a song was actually about, declared that it was not a “popular” theme, and asked that the audience help her fabricate a new, more popular song. It was all in jest, but the audience ate it up and bellowed absurd topics, which the band fused to create an even more absurd introduction to the song. Later, right before plucking into “Secret Message,” Creager said, “I think, next, I will play one of our many science songs, this being the physics department of our [music].”
– Text by Mojdeh Stoakley / photos by Lauren Hermann.
Malian blues band Tinariwen kicked off its North American tour last night at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, playing tunes from its forthcoming album, Tassili (Anti-, 8/30/11). To record the new album, the band took to the Algerian desert with only acoustic guitars and percussion. Joining in the recording process were TV on the Radio members Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone and Nels Cline of Wilco and the Nels Cline Singers.
Though the band’s numbers can swell to upwards of 10 musicians, a more-than-capable quintet took to the stage in Chicago. Clad in traditional Malian tunics and turbans, the band worked the crowd into a fervor with equal parts uptempo, guitar-driven rock and plaintive African blues.