Like Pioneers: Life on the trail

8 Nov

It’s been a few months since my last post…totally lame of me, I know. Don’t fret though,  just check out what I’ve been working on in the meantime–it’s  called Everyday Other Things. It is a collaborative effort based on an idea my boyfriend Erik Harms and I cooked up. It’s part photo blog, part literary experiment. Basically it’s a lot of neat people–such as yourself–collaborating together on something hopefully you will find interesting. If you like it and want to take part, shoot us an e-mail at

Back to this though; I saw a band last night that seemed made me want to jump back on the blog wagon. Speaking of wagon’s they’re called Like Pioneers, and if you are a fan of any of the recently departed Chicago bands that the Pioneers hail from (Bound Stems, Spiller Whale, Chin Up Chin Up,) you may be happy to know they have formed something of a Windy City super group.

Like Pioneers brings together the emotive, yet bubbly lyrical action of Bound Stems with the tenacious time signatures, and epic builds of drummer Matt Holland (Spiller Whale, Islands etc…) I took some video of them at a recent show at the Subterranean, these guys (and gal) sing with an honesty and brevity that will knock you on your ass. Despite dealing with some technical problems with the mix and a distinct lack of keyboards on more than one song, they played their hearts out and appeared to love every second of it. This band uses vocals so well. The three main vocalist’s voices join seamlessly, combining into one perfect instrument, which drives home almost every song on their first LP Piecemeal…have a listen.

Here are a couple of videos from the show:

“Ike”   The video does not do it justice.

Here’s a tune called “Crab Candy. ” It totally makes the album.


Bears of Blue River: Get domestic with Betty Homemaker

9 Sep

The Bears of Blue River have come a long way. Not only did they release their first full length album, Killer Bee Scare, and get it picked up by Fall Records, but now they have a video for Betty Homemaker, and it’s just about as charming as could be.

\”Betty Homemaker\” Di­rect­ed by Alex­is Rose

Devo and Dirty Projectors: De-Evolution at The Congress Theater

6 Aug

Considering they are some of the most innovative musical and cultural mavens of the past thirty years, I was honored to have the chance to see Devo live with the Dirty Projectors at the Congress Theater.  This quote taken from Devo’s bio pretty much sums it up;

“Of all the bands who came from the underground and actually made it in the mainstream, Devo is the most challenging and subversive of all.” -Kurt Cobain

I have to agree. What makes this fact even more incredible is the degree to which they have embedded themselves in the fabric of American culture over the past three decades. In fact, there is very little that has happened in the past thirty years that original Devo members, Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh, and Gerald and Bob Casale have not had their hands in.

Exhibit A.

A video of Mark Mothersbaugh talking about the first commercial he made for Hawaiian Punch. It’s delightful subliminal, I suggest you give it a view.

Or how about Devo’s 1984 Honda Scooter ad. Anyone see the Devo resemblance in Foo Fighters “I’ll Stick Around” directed by Gerald Casale?

Nobody does forward thinking like Devo. And now more than thirty years after the release of their groundbreaking album Are We Not Men, they have successfully proved their theory of de-evolution. All you had to do was look at the intensely mixed bag of attendees at the eighty-year-old Congress theater.

This text message sent at 10:24pm, slightly before Devo took the stage, pretty much sums it up:

Me: Weird crowd.

Erik: What’s it like?

Me: Teenagers and sleaze bags.

Erik: Sleazager Rock.

That isn’t to overlook the dorks, lord knows there were dorks there, but suprisingly there were a rather large number of bulging bicep bearing meatheads. But herein lies the beauty and brilliance of Devo; no one is excluded and we are all in it together.

With the help of cutting-edge artists and producers, such as Santigold and John King of the Dust Brothers, Devo has masterfully crafted a  triumvirate of, punk, techno, and grunge, on Something For Everyone, a satisfying album that truly lives up to its title.

The set list included a comprehensive amalgam of gems, both new and old, including, but not limited to such classics as: “Whip It” and “Girl U Want,” and some new favorites like, “Don’t Shoot (I’m A Man)” and “Please Baby Please.” Visually “What We Do” was one of the highlights of the show and an undeniably catchy stand out on the recent album. Also, as a long time Nine Inch Nails fan, it tickled me pink  to witness Josh Freese (of Nine Inch Nails notoriety) drumming his heart out to the band he learned to drum to.

And I didn’t get any shots of it, for fear of being plagued by nightmares for the rest of the month, but during the last song of their encore the audience was treated to what can only be described as the creepiest Devo incarnation in existence–Booji Boy (pronounced Boogie Boy)–or rather Mark Mothersbaugh in a large, rubber fat-kid mask singing  “Beautiful World” in unintelligible falsetto.

I can only imagine the de-evolution when Devo plays Lollapalooza. And with that I will leave you with this quote from Gerald Casale:

“We’re inspired by reality, because the world is so ridiculous and stupid. DE-EVOLUTION IS REAL.”

Budos Band, Caribou, Roam Free @ Pritzker Pavilion

11 Jul

Do you enjoy free music outdoors with the historic Chicago skyline as the backdrop? I thought so. Well you’re in luck because this is exactly what you’ll get at this coming Monday night’s Downtown Sounds series at Millenium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion. And who will be providing these wonderous free sounds in my ears you may ask? The answer is simple, Canadian live electronic music soundsmith, Caribou, and the Staten Island ten-piece instrumental soul ensemble, the Budos Band.

Here’s a video for Caribou’s Odessa:

And here’s a little taste of the Budos Band, with a song called Origin of Man:

I can’t think of two better reasons to pack a picnic, grab a blanket and spend the evening lounging around on a grassy lawn while luscious beats and eclectic grooves fill the air.

And in case all this isn’t enough musical awesomeness, you would be advised to check out Caribou’s super secret DJ set at Beauty Bar after the Pritzker gig.

Just remember, after this Monday there are only two more chances to catch the Downtown Sounds series, so don’t let the summer get the best of you.

Boulevard Bash: Logan Square’s Newest To Do

8 Jul

It’s no secret that Logan Square’s been on the up and up for a while now.  Just in case this wasn’t obvious, along comes Boulevard Bash, the Square’s newest street fest, to rival such notable neighborhood street festivals as Do Division and Wicker Park Fest. The Bash kicks off this weekend with a well-rounded musical showcase as well as local vendors and restaurants.

A few acts of interest:

Friday night:

Get your jukin’ shoes on and head to the main stage, because there you will find Chicago indie-hip-hop-all-stars Bin Laden Blowin’ Up. Recently named “Best New Musical Group” by the Chicago Reader, BBU is Girl Talk meets DJ Funk, by way of three very talented MC’s. Download their new album Fear of a Clear Channel Planet for free here.

Curious about the hype? Check out the video for “Chi Don’t Dance.” Don’t be surprised if you see some familiar locations.

BBU man followed by local rogue-country favorites The Waco Brothers.


If you can bypass brunch and get there early on Saturday, say around noon, Jon Langford with Man is Man is where it’s at. Man is Man is the recent work of Christina Meyer post Puerto Muerto and it’s as haunting as it is dreamy. It should be interesting to see what she and Bloodshot Records veteran Mr. Langford have cooked up.


Headlining Sunday night is Yourself and the Air. This Animal Collective-esque three-piece is not too be missed. But don’t listen to me, just watch this super-cool video for “Ride Bikes Around Town”

The Boulevard Bash runs from 6:00 p.m. Friday July 9th through Sunday July 11th and the proceeds from the 5$ donation entry fee will go to St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in support of a number of neighborhood programs and services they offer.

The Fireside Bowl: Rock and Roll Strikes Again

1 Jul

It was only a few years ago when Columbia College student Rebecca Ann Rakstad set out on an ambitious project to honor a once great Chicago musical institution, the Fireside Bowling Alley.  The Fireside Bowl Project opened as an installation at the Hokin Center Gallery and Annex on Columbia’s campus, but according to her blog, Rakstad hopes to eventually turn the project into a book and web archive.  The project focused on the glory years of shows at the alley from ’94-’04 by way of letterpress prints of memories, stories and historic ephemera. Check out Rakstad’s blog to take a stroll down memory lane, or take a peek at what it might have been like to have been a part of Chicago’s punk/indie scene at its apex.

If you weren’t there, here’s a video of Braid at the Fireside in the late 90’s:

Many Chicagoland natives will likely have extensive memories of the years when bands such as Braid, The Locust, Mates of State, and At the Drive In (just to name a few), graced the small stage tucked away in the corner of the grungy alley. This was a time and a place, something special and fleeting, something I myself was never a part of in its hay day. But wait, there is hope for latecomer’s to this scene as the infamous bowling alley will once again serve as a haven for good old-fashioned rock and roll.

At the Drive In @ the Fireside circa 1999, pre-Sparta/Mars Volta schism:

My first introduction to the Fireside as a music venue came by way of Warren Franklin, Bust!, The Please and Thank You’s, and headlined by Geronimo! Though I imagine the crowds used to be more impressive, it was a nice gathering and one sure to lead to greater attended shows in the future. The energy was fun and exciting, like the bands were doing something naughty, and in fact were not actually supposed to have dragged all of their equipment up on stage and rocked out with a backdrop of racks of colorful bowling balls behind them.

Photo of Geronimo! Courtesy of Tim Toomey

Photo of the Please and Thank You's courtesy of Tim Toomey

The formerly defunct venue features a weekly Punk Rock Monday as well as various  17+ shows featuring local and regional acts put on by House Call Entertainment. Check out the Fireside Bowl’s Facebook page to stay abreast of all the new, musical developments.

Glittermouse: Pioneers of Failure Rock

16 Jun

I wanted to catch up with this seven-strong, experimental power-pop tour de force before they took a brief hiatus from playing shows while guitarist Rob Vignisson spends the summer in Iceland.

I interviewed Glittermouse in the alley outside of Subterranean prior to their last gig of the summer. Amongst the rats, garbage, and North Avenue traffic, they dished about side projects, stage antics, and why their sound may be best described as ‘Failure Rock.’

The logistics of interviewing a seven-piece band in a Chicago alley presents certain challenges to the listener. Please note that Glittermouse frontman Michael Koester and bassist Jeremy Mumenthaler handled most of the questions.

Please give it a listen and you will hear three newly, if not roughly mixed songs from their upcoming EP.

You will find them in this order on the podcast, but only if you listen to it.

“Red Balloons”
“(They Have) Real Sugar (in Seattle)”
“Please not Pulsars”

*Please note. I am told these are rough mixes and should be listened to accordingly.

That being said, I hope you enjoy.

Also, big thanks to Yeti Aim Fire for hosting my pod casts.