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Basement + Nothing Play The Metro

One of the best parts about Summer approaching in Chicago is being able to go to a show when it's warm out. Yeah great, whatever it's warm out - everybody likes that. But think about it; how great is it to be able to hop off the train and walk down past Wrigley Field and walk right into the Metro which has its doors wide open, scan your ticket, and run right up the stairs to catch a band play? No giant coat to figure out what to do with, the temperature never changes until you jump into the sweaty pit. But what makes that entire experience better is when the bands you went up to catch are two that you've honeslty been wanting to check out, you just never have, and now you're so glad you finally did - and in the best way possible! This was my Basement and Nothing experience this past Friday the 24th.

Nothing opened for Basement. They're from current noise-rock hotbed, Philadelphia, and delivered behind a cool shade of blue lights or an anxious glow of orange a powerhouse set of shoegaze and hard rock that melded together to evoke the cathartic sounds of guitars turned up and reverbed to hell. In the same way this gave bands like Catherine Wheel and My Vitriol their charm and obsessive character, Nothing presents emotion not only in slow delivered vocals, but in the slab riffs amd trailes of distortion that sound like they're screaming out of a pink neon tube exploding with sound. The songs among their 8 song setlist included cuts like "Blue Line Baby" from last year's Dance on The Blacktop (Relapse Records) and "Vertigo Flowers" off of 2016's Tired of Tomorrow (Relapse Records). Nothing played loud and as soon as they were through, they were through, leaving the Metro stage quickly, making way for Basement. 

From Ipswich, England, formed in 2009, Basement stopped in Chicago as part of the tour for their latest release, last year's Beside Myself (Fueled By Ramen), the band's second release following a return from hiatus in 2014. Though the show was not sold out, the all ages crowd that packed infront of the stage proved that a sold out crowd means nothing compared to an audience of incredibly enthusiastic fans either dancing and shouting lyrics, falling all over one another in an enticing pit, surfing the enticing pit, or what I did to fully absorb the band that I'd only seen in passing at Michican's Audiotree Fest late last year. Noticing this pit, lead vocalist Andrew Fisher noted "I see a bit of movement here. I like it, feel free to have fun," later adding "this is my favorite show of the tour." The crowd did just that while the band played songs from their latest record, "Nothing Left," and "Be Here Now," songs played with a ferocious calm exuded from guitarists Ronan Crix and Alex Henery's confident presence while playing, seemingly for their own enjoyment, head banging and moving around to their songs, letting us join them. Fisher jumped and rocked back and forth while he cluthced the mic and rasped out the sing-alongable lyrics.

To me, this was the best kind of official introduction for both of these bands that I could have asked for. I'd seen their albums covers a few times and thought "oh yeah I know that name..." but never did anything about it until running right up the stairs into Nothing, and staying for Basement, very glad I did. 

 <-----Nothing's Dance on the Blacktop  Basement's Beside Myself --->

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Yann Tiersen Invokes an Environmentally Soaring Atmosphere at Thalia Hall

Yann Tiersen is a French musician and composer who now resides on a small island in the Celtic sea. His major breakout occurred when he created the soundtrack for the popular French film, Amélie. On May 18, 2019, he returned for his second two-hour show in a row at the magnificent Pilsen venue, Thalia Hall.

People were seated throughout the entire venue; many were dressed in gorgeous suits and dresses, speaking beautiful languages that I only wish I could understand. It was a picturesque atmosphere that was created not only by Thalia Hall’s stunningly rugged and fulfilling energy, but also by the people who calmly strode through the hall, excited to open their ears to world-like music that would soar through them all. 

The concert commenced after the room became dark and a spoken story began to echo through the hall. It was a story about traveling through the world and how one species’ actions will affect the next. No matter how small the interaction, the way we connect with each other and with those living things that are not so similar to us, will eventually come back in an impactful way. Aligning with the beautiful and thoughtful story, Yann Tiersen glided across stage and sat at his massive piano, effortlessly letting his fingers soar through heart-grabbing rhythms and melodies. 

The sounds that were created throughout the show were often calming, and one would find their breath slowing to a pace that may go undetected. Deep breaths of love and awe filled the hall as neighbor to neighbor we sat mouths ajar. Just when comfort set, moments of anticipation and tension began, and breath would stop. As this tension progressed, musical climaxes would erupt. Overflowing throughout the hall, absolute power and indescribable aural pleasure encompassed us all. 

Through Yann’s set, he invited more sounds to join him on stage. His set featured many pieces from his 2019 release, All. It was the first album to be created at Yann’s new home, called The Eskal, which features a studio, venue, and community center. The Eskal is located on Ushant, a small island in the Celtic sea, where Yann has lived for the past ten years. With Yann’s connection to nature and his surrounding environment, he incorporates live audio from places like the redwood forests of California, the Tempelhof airport in Berlin, and what seems like a playground where children are laughing and playing into his recordings and live performances. Yann would rotate between the many instruments on stage, whether it was his piano, keyboards, tubular bells, melodica, or violin. He also employed guest musicians to sing, play percussive instruments, or help with any other one of the arrays of instruments that were set on stage. While working together, his team created an absolutely stunning atmosphere. 

Visually, a screen sat high above the musicians’ heads. Throughout the set, environmental cinema would appear. The video would feature still or slow-moving camerawork that captured a calming sea, a bristling forest, or a rushing river through a valley. The screen was not employed for the entirety of his concert, let alone the majority. Instead, it was accompanied by a dazzling and calming light display. In addition, there were eight thin rods that stood upright and were dispersed equally throughout the stage. These rods would alter in color and would pulsate in rhythm to create an all-encompassing environment.

Following an absolutely gorgeous hour and a half set, Yann waved the crowd goodbye and exited the stage. Everyone in the hall rose from their seats and gave the most real encore I have ever been apart of. Loud cheers and applause echoed through the venue without waver until Yann emerged back on stage. He sat at the piano with total nonchalant composure as if he wasn’t putting on the greatest show I have ever seen at Thalia Hall. One last time, he began a musical progression as if adrift a calming sea, and then caught in a roaring storm.

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WLUW Chats with THE SOCIAL

THE SOCIAL is a Pop Alternative band consisting of members Thomas Horrock (Guitar), Alexander Rosca (Drums), and Keaton Stromberg (Vocals). To kick off the year, their debut single “Any Other Way” was released on January 1st. Since then, it has been a pretty busy year for them. Not only have they released other singles such as “Dancing on the Moon” and “Everything’s Alright,” but they supported Spencer Sutherland on his Sweater Shows tour throughout the month of February. As of now, we can expect more music to be released in the near future along with some shows. Calling all the way from Los Angeles, THE SOCIAL talked to me and Erin Marie to discuss Chicago, music, and food.

 

Did you have any favorite memories from the Chicago show?

Keaton: It was pretty crazy, we were driving from Minneapolis the night before the show, and the polar vortex was going on! 

Alexander: It was tough to go through it.

Keaton: Normally it’s a 6-hour drive but it took us close to 11 hours. After our soundcheck, we rolled up, put our stuff on stage, got ready, and went straight in and straight out. That was a crazy night

What are some of your favorite venues that you played so far?

Keaton: I really liked the one in Chicago! 

Alexander: Minneapolis at the 7th St. Entry.

Keaton: Yeah! That one was a really cool club. It had really low ceilings, it almost feels like you’re in a basement. That was really loud.

 

Are there any venues in Chicago that you would want to perform in?

Tommy: A good one is the Subterranean.

Keaton: Yeah I like that venue.

Alexander: It looks pretty cool!

 

For those who are not familiar, how did you guys meet and how did this band come to be?

Keaton: Alexander and I got together when I was looking for musicians to play with for my solo album that I released in 2017. I did a whole audition process, and so I came across Alexander. We started playing together and everything was really natural. It felt really good playing together and jamming out, so we thought ‘maybe we should start a band!’ We actually had to put out a craigslist ad looking for a guitar player, and Tommy showed up. It turned out that Alexander and Tommy played together in the past, so it was really cool how that happened and how everything fell together. 

Tommy: It was very intuitive. 

Keaton: We really didn’t plan on it being a band. It wasn’t like a grand scheme to put this together. We just kind of went with it.

Alexander: It’s something that we’re holding onto very tightly. It’s something very exciting for all of us when it’s something we all really believe in.

Tommy: We went on a trip to write the record, and it was pretty obvious when the sound of THE SOCIAL came alive. It was very different than anything we’ve worked on before. So, it all kind of happened and fell into our laps pretty much.

 

Who are some of the artists that you look up to for your sound?

Keaton: We have all our own individual influences, but then I think all three of us love alternative pop bands, like The 1975, WALK THE MOON, The Killers, Phoenix and Two Door Cinema Club. All three of us immediately clicked on this sound and we love these types of bands. We definitely draw a lot from them. 

 

If you’re at a music festival, like lollapalooza, rolling loud, etc., and if you were in charge of picking who gets to perform at these types of festivals, what would be your dream lineup?

Keaton: Well, I would definitely love to have us on there somewhere! I don’t know where that would be, but for me headlining would be The 1975.

Alexander: They’re a headline band!

Keaton: They are! They put on a killer show. They’re definitely reaching a massive audience right now, and their sound really reaches out. Past the alternative thing, they definitely have a pop radio sound.

Tommy: The Phoenix is on that. They reach out to a lot of people and they also have that super cool, unique sound.

 

How did you guys come up with the name the social for this band?

Keaton: When we knew we definitely wanted to start a band, we were going through different names and we had landed on ‘S’ names. We liked ‘The’ preceding with a name, like ‘The 1975’.

Tommy: And ‘The Killers’ or ‘The Strokes.’ 

Keaton: It is a very solid kind of name. We were going through ‘S’ names and we landed on ‘THE SOCIAL’ and at first we were like “okay, we’ll keep it in mind.” And we just kept coming back to it. We tried putting other words after ‘THE SOCIAL’ and before, but nothing felt as strong as ‘THE SOCIAL.’

Alexander: And it’s a kind of network for everybody and it’s very inclusive. We’re more than a band. We’re a community and literally socializing with other people.

 

 Keaton, you used to be in a band called emblem 3. I was really interested and excited to see that you were part of a new band. What was that transition like from the pop area to more of an alternative sound now?

Keaton: The whole band stopped being together for about 3 years now, and I was on a hiatus from music after I put out my solo record in 2017. I was lost and felt like I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Alexander and I got together and started jamming out and I thought “this is why I started doing music in the first place.” Playing and creating new music together and having fun with it; that was definitely something that was lost in my prior projects. Like I said before, it happened all naturally. It wasn’t like I planned to start a new band or anything. It’s also really important because it’s not just my band. It’s all of our band, and we all feel easily a part of it. That can be a weird thing sometimes when someone in the band has had some sort of success before. It’s really cool how we got together, and we were playing music as friends and creating for fun. It was the first time I felt that in a long time.

 

If you had any advice for upcoming musicians, what advice would you give them?

Tommy: Don’t stop ever! No matter what happens, keep going, and always be yourself. Some people have the mindset that they have to be something else. They have to be somebody else’s image of what you’re supposed to be. Do whatever you think is right.

Keaton: Going off of that, I feel like people look as failure as “oh I failed I should give up.” But the truth is, the only time you fail is when you give up. Like Tommy was just saying, as long as you never stop, you’ll make it one way or another. That’s really important.

If you could redesign the food pyramid and eat anything without any health consequences, what would it look like? 

Keaton: I would put ice cream on top 

Alexander: And let it all just go down! 

Keaton: Exactly! Let it all go down. 

Tommy: Yeah!

Keaton: I’m a big donuts and candy type of fan. 

Tommy: I’m going to make pizza the base of it. With ranch for sure.

Keaton: Okay there you go!

Tommy: Ranch on everything!

 

What would be the health food to avoid at all costs?

Alexander: Tomatoes.

Keaton: Yeah I’m really not a tomato guy.

Alexander: That would be off the pyramid. 

 

So, you don’t like ketchup?

Alexander: I don’t like ketchup either. 

 

So, the next time you guys are at the subterranean I’ll make sure to bring a bucket full of tomatoes for you guys.

Keaton: yeah that sounds awful! 

 

Any last words for your fans or anybody out there? Want to drop any social medias? 

Keaton: All of our social medias are @findthesocial. We love everyone! Keep looking forward to some new music.

Tommy: It’s definitely a big year for us. We’re going to be releasing [new music] and doing a lot more towards the end of the year.

Keaton: We’re doing a show here in LA on the 29th at the Moroccan Lounge, and we’re keeping our eyes open for new tour opportunities.

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Check out what's new rotation at WLUW!

Every week WLUW’s music staff picks the best new music releases to add to our rotation. Check out what we’ll be spinning this week and into the future!

  1. Alaskalaska - The Dots - Marathon Artists

  2. An Horse - Modern Air  - Lame-O

  3. Big Thief - UFOF - 4AD

  4. Body Type - EP1 + EP2 - Inertia Music

  5. Charly Bliss - Young Enough - Barsuk Records

  6. Combo Chimbita - Ahomale - ANTI-

  7. Craig Finn - I Need a New War - Partisan Records

  8. Dehd - Water - Fire Talk

  9. Esperanza Spalding - 12 Little Spells - Concord

  10. Greys - Age Hasn’t Spoiled You - Carpark Records

  11. MorMor - Some Place Else - Don’t Guess Inc.

  12. The Mystery Lights - Too Much Tension! - Wick Records

  13. NOTS - 3 - Goner Records

  14. Pile - Green and Gray - Exploding in Sound

  15. Protomartyr - No Passion All Technique - Domino

  16. Second Still - Violet Phase - Fabrika Records

 

ALASKALASKA - The Dots - Marathon Artists

Inventive South London-based indie-pop outfit ALASKALASKA drew in a lot of excited listeners with their self-titled EP, and they do not disappoint with their debut record The Dots. The Dots manages to have a bunch of overlaying instrumentation without feeling over-produced, and it’s a very refreshing record.

Listen:

 

An Horse - Modern Air - Lame-O

Ten years after the release of their debut, Australian alt-rock duo An Horse return with their third full-length Modern Air. Modern Air maintain the same grand sonic identity of their earlier work while feeling simultaneously edgier and more polished.

Listen:

 

Big Thief - U.F.O.F. - 4AD

Big Thief has always been Adrianne Lenker’s baby, but U.F.O.F., the project’s third full-length record, feels more than ever to be a group effort. Lenker’s bandmates, Buck Meek (guitar), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums), sound more cohesive than ever, resulting in the lushest Big Thief recording to date.

Listen:

 

Body Type - EP1 + EP2 - Inertia Music

Garage and surf rock quartet Body Type combine cascading guitar riffs, reverb-drenched mix, and singer Sophie McComish’s dreamy vocals. This week we’ve added their debut EP from last year and their new EP which just released, both of which are fun and breezy.

Listen: 

 

Charly Bliss - Young Enough - Barsuk Records

New York-based Indie-rock band Charly Bliss returns for their sophomore record Young Enough. The group infuse record with a ton of 90’s charm, resulting in a record full of emotional rock sing-alongs.

Listen:

 

Combo Chimbita - Ahomale - ANTI-

Combo Chimbita is comprised of first generation New Yorkers from Colombia, helmed by powerful singer Carolina Oliveros. Ahomale, their sophomore record, takes the Afro-Latinx psych-rock (what they call “Tropical Futurism”) of their first record and cranks it up to 11.

Listen: 

 

Craig Finn - I Need a New War - Partisan Records

Hold Steady singer Craig Finn returns for his fourth solo effort with I Need a New War. I Need a New War is a competent exercise in Americana songwriting, and Finn’s well-worn voice plugs perfectly into the formula.

Listen:

 

Dehd - Water - Fire Talk

Local Chicago punk trio Dehd started boiling up hype with their 2016 self-titled debut. Now they aim to once again lit up the local DIY scene with the release of their sophomore record Water. Check out their video for “Lucky” filmed in Chicago’s own Hideout Inn.

Listen: 

 

Esperanza Spalding - 12 Little Spells - Concord

Grammy-awarded singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding continues to push contemporary jazz into bolder directions with her latest full-length 12 Little Spells. The record is at times spacy and serene at at other times pulsing and groovy.

Listen:

 

Greys - Age Hasn’t Spoiled You - Carpark Records

On their latest full-length, Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, Toronto rock four piece Greys work in a lot of dark ambience and dissonance, creating a very distinct mood similar to that of Have a Nice Life’s music. They are some more mellow tracks too which balance out the tracklisting, making for a well-paced record.

Listen: 

 

MorMor - Some Place Else - Don’t Guess Inc

Following up on his debut EP from last year, Ontario singer-songwriter MorMor (Seth Nyquist) returns with his second EP, Some Place Else. MorMor proves himself able to tackle different genres in the same recording, playing with elements of Surf-rock, R&B, and even psychedelic, MorMor blends them all with such ease. All that we need now is a full-length record.

Listen:

 

The Mystery Lights - Too Much Tension! - Wick Records

California-based rock outfit The Mystery Lights follow up their 2016 self-titled debut with Too Much Tension!. Going for a nostalgic sound, the Too Much Tension! blends elements of classic rock, psychedelic, and krautrock.

Listen:

 

NOTS - 3 - Goner Records

On their aptly titled third record 3, self-described “weird punk” band NOTS, based in Memphis, sound as if they’re playing from inside a haunted cave. The mix sounds distant and ghostly, but the spirits haunting the instruments have a ton of attitude and skill!

Listen:

 

Pile - Green and Grey - Exploding in Sound

Pile seem to grow more aggressive with each subsequent record release. Pile’s seventh full-length Green and Grey follows in this trend, but it also proves they’ve become no less refined. Pile play the Subterranean at the end of this month on May 31st.

Listen: 

 

Protomartyr - No Passion All Technique - Domino

Detroit post-punk band Protomartyr revisit their often overlooked debut record No Passion All Technique 7 years after its original release with a crisp new reissue, including four previously unreleased tracks. No Passion All Technique continues to be one of the group’s most energetic records, and now it sounds brighter than ever.

Listen: 

 

Second Still - Violet Phase - Fabrika Records

LA dark wave outfit Second Still return for their second full-length with Violet Phase. Violet Phase goes from moody to groovy to dreamy while staying within the gothic framework the band constructs.

Listen:

 

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WLUW Covers Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta

Shaky Knees Music Festival invited WLUW's Mike Daly to hit the road this year to Central Park in Atlanta, Georgia to take on this year’s installment.

Shaky Knees was originally developed in 2013 to bring a premier indie music festival to the city of Atlanta. This year’s festival took place May 3rd-5th and brought Tame Impala, Beck, and Cage the Elephant to headline the fest.

Taking place within the beautiful Central Park in Atlanta, Georgia, I am hoping Shaky Knees has found their home for years to come. The layout was very refreshing compared to my midwestern festival experience with everything being wide open and accessible.

The festival was split into two main areas connected by Pine Street and Central Park Place, each having their own entrance to make getting to a certain stage as you enter painless. With Atlanta being nicknamed “Hotlanta” by many of the bands, there were loads of shaded areas with great views available for every stage. 

Shaky Knees consisted of 4 stages including Peachtree, Piedmont, Ponce De Leon, and Criminal Records. Each stage having their very own vibes based on the bands playing on them. Peachtree being the main stage with the infamous “Shaky Knees” signage and where all the headlining sets took place. Shaky Knees had everything: top notch sound, insane visual and lights production, lots of great viewing spots anywhere in the park.

Another thing that other festivals should take notes on was the use of temporary artificial grass around most of the stage. This kept the infamous dust clouds that generally happen when you have thousands of fans going crazy all weekend on unprotected grass.

Throughout the day, you could find the bigger crowds for acts like Grouplove, Foals, and Interpol at Peachtree. While the sub-headliners took place at Piedmont, such as Tears for Fears and Gary Clark Jr, both drawing deep crowds. Piedmont and Peachtree would alternate acts all weekend which helped prevent sound bleed and were a short walk from each other.

Walden @ Criminal Records stage Photo: Quasar Media

Criminal Records stage is named after a well-known record shop within Atlanta. This stage surrounded by loads of trees hosted some very intimate sets that included Natalie Prass, Duncan Fellows, and Deerhunter who closed out the stage on day 3. While the adjacent Ponce De Leon stage, which was a massive tent on top of a paved parking lot, hosted some of the rowdier acts like Black Lips and Oh Sees as well as indie darlings Japanese Breakfast and Calpurnia.

Photo: Sydney Gawlik

While flowing through the crowds at Shaky Knees, I noticed something that stuck out.

Amongst the positivity and the laid-back crowd were loads of Shaky Knees branded tattoos on people.

I was curious, as I haven’t seen a Pitchfork or Lollapalooza permanent tattoo on somebody just for the sheer love of the fest. I found out from somebody that came to the festival directly from a tattoo parlor that Shaky Knees offered free 3-day GA passes for life to anybody that would get a Shaky Knees tattoo.

This was the last year of the deal for anybody thinking about getting one for next year. I overheard Atlanta tattoo shops were absolutely flooded with people looking to lock in the free Shaky Knees passes. Pretty neat little incentive they had! What a way to get your brand out there!

Tame Impala Photo: Roho Foto

Tame Impala closed Shaky Knees 2019 with an experience unlike any other. New songs, new visuals, and more lasers and confetti than you can ever dream of. Kevin mentioned Shaky Knees 2015 was the first festival headline set they ever did and how special it was to be back. They delighted the crowds with half of the set being from Currents and the rest being from Lonerism, Innerspeaker, or the yet to be released or titled 4thalbum. The visuals were stunning and very trippy, one scene had Kevin shooting lasers from his eyes and another had his face morphed into having 5 eyes. A truly mind melting psychedelic experience that everyone should experience once in their lifetime.

Foals Photo: Roho Foto

 

Japanese Breakfast Photo: Quasar Media

Catch Japanese Breakfast in Chicago at Lollapalooza on Friday, August 2nd.

 

Curtis Harding Photo: Sydney Gawlik

 

Special thanks for having WLUW 88.7 FM attend Shaky Knees 2019!

 

 

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