On the final weekend of the summer, Chicago’s Humboldt Park hosted the city’s eighth annual Riot Fest, the punk-, rock-, and hardcore-filled festival that has since branched to Brooklyn, Toronto, and Dallas. This year’s installment was special for more than its consolidated location in the park; it also boasted a brand-new carnival — featuring a Ferris wheel, funnel cake, and impossible-to-win prize games — to enjoy between sets.
Minus the Bear was one of those indie-rock bands that experienced “synth creep” as 1980s-style music came back into fashion over the past decade; its last two albums, Planet of Ice and Omni, increasingly utilized synthesizers at the expense of the mathy guitar rock for which the band was known. Its newest, Infinity Overload, is a step back towards its roots, with moments of quirkiness and energy that were largely missing from Ice and Omni.
Chicago’s Riot Fest and Carnival has announced a second wave of confirmed performers for its 2012 festival. Andrew WK, Minus the Bear, Hot Water Music, Pegboy, and many more have joined the likes of Rise Against, Iggy & The Stooges, Elvis Costello, GWAR, Reverend Horton Heat, Coheed and Cambria, and Dropkick Murphys for the festivities from Sept. 14-16.
Veteran prog-pop band Minus the Bear played a show at Chicago’s Vic theater recently with Cursive frontman Tim Kasher as main support. The Seattle-based headliner is touring on the strength of its 2010 album, Omni (Dangerbird, 5/4/10), while Kasher is playing tunes from his first solo album, The Game of Monogamy (Saddle Creek, 10/5/10). ALARM contributing photographer Elizabeth Gilmore was on hand to document the indie stalwarts’ performances.
The Thermals: “I Don’t Believe You” (Personal Life, KRS, 9/7/10)
We asked The Thermals, the Portland pop-punk power trio, to name a few of its favorite recent releases. The band’s drummer, Westin Glass, responded with a list of five records that ranges from radio-friendly pop to an independent artist that calls himself the “black Bob Dylan.” Whether or not you share Glass’ taste, you can appreciate his sentiment that some music exists to help you laugh and get laid.
This one may be hard to swallow for you indie-rock fans — but I assure you, it’s worth it. Definitely a “singles” record, with three mega smash hits on Top 40 radio. I first heard Jason DeRulo‘s track “Whatcha Say” blasting on the one working speaker in my friend’s car last year and immediately loved it. The digitally distressed Imogen Heap sample in that song makes for the most memorable hook of 2009.
I also love “Ridin’ Solo,” a great post-breakup, self-psych-up song. Jason DeRulo knows how to make a fucking hit — a bubble-gummy blast of ear sugar that will lighten your mood and get stuck in your head. Speaking of which, his track “In My Head” is stuck in my head right now.
Renowned singing teacher Susan M. Carr‘s technique for The Art of Screaming! was first developed in 1978 and has since been refined during the grunge music scene. Since then, Carr has worked with bands such as Minus the Bear, Mastodon, and Sunny Day Real Estate.
Our plans this weekend include local shows with the massive stoner metal of The Sword, the experimental jazz of the Umbrella Music Festival, and the raw alt-country of O’death.
And our friends in Austin have another great festival of their own, as the Fun Fun Fun Fest run on Saturday and Sunday.
CMJ in New York, Voodoo Experience in New Orleans, four great nights at Chicago’s Hideout, — this weekend is packed. Shudder to Think, Shining, Coliseum, Fucked Up, The Eternals, sBACH, Deacon John, and Pillars and Tongues are all among our recommendations to catch live.