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Pitchfork announces Midwinter Festival at Chicago Art Institute

           Anybody who’s experienced a Chicago winter knows that it can get pretty rough, and by mid-February, the days can just drag on. Pitchfork has announced the perfect way to pick yourself out of the gloom with the first ever Midwinter Music and Art Experience.


           Held in collaboration with The Art Institute of Chicago, on February 15-17 Chicago’s most iconic art museum will host a number of bands and artists performing original pre-recorded compositions, unearthed recordings, and soundscapes around their halls and venues for a one of a kind experience. Pitchfork Festival Director, Adam Krefman, has crafted the event to “[open] a dialogue between mediums...creating a unique cultural event” for patrons this Winter. As always, Pitchfork is bringing an ambitious and culturally insightful way to interact with the music community in Chicago.


Jacqueline Terrassa, of the Women’s Board Chair of Learning and DevePublig Engagement at the Art Institute believes that “Midwinter expands the possibilities of what audiences can experience in at an art museum,” and we do as well.


Picture this – you walk up the Art Institute steps in the falling snow and bone-chilling cold. Into the warmth, you enter and are greeted by the other-worldly sounds of Mary Lattimore’s harp melting away any midwinter slump. As you take in the priceless art pieces by legendary artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Monet, housed within the museum, you come across a heavenly sound emanating from the soundscape demonstration by iconic ambient duo Stars of The Lid. Taking in the sounds of Euphoria, you enter into the Rubloff Auditorium and experience the out of body free jazz from the enigma that is Kamasi Washington. Sounds pretty life changing right? We think so too.


Tickets are set to go on sale to the general public Friday, November 16th at 10am CT. A three-night weekend base ticket is priced at $127.50, and single night tickets will start at $50. The additional performances will cost an add-on fee of $15.


We predict this is going to be the best thing to happen to Chicago all winter (and sell out quickly). Explore some of the WLUW favorites that will perform and make this event such a phenomenal time below!


FRIDAY, February 15:


Sudan Archives – Based out of LA, Sudan Archives is the performance name of Brittney Parks, who released a 2018 WLUW favorite of 2018 – the Sink EP. Her sensual brand of modern RnB jumbles together the vibes of neon lights, smoke-filled clubs, eastern strings, sleek electronica, and just simply exudes cool and calm. You can catch her sure to be slick set in the Fullerton Hall.


Mount Eerie – One of the most moving albums to come out this year was Mount Eerie’s Now Only and it could bring tears to your eyes thinking of the emotional possibilities of a Mount Eerie set a setting such as the Art Institute. The album was put out following the death of Phil Elverum, the man behind the Mount Eerie moniker, so you know the art and music he creates comes from a real place, deep within him. True emotion is what you’ll experience at his set at Midwinter. Not one to be missed.


William Basinski – Classically trained composer William Basinski has carved out such a highly regarded name for himself over the years within the avant-garde and ambient music spheres. One reason for his legendary status is his work entitled The Disintegration Loops. Regarded by many as one of the most seminal musical works of the 21st Century, finally released in 2003, it is one of the most hauntingly beautiful, melancholy yet tranquil pieces of art. Its extended loops and its sound of decay can lull a listener into a trance or give them the headspace to go deep within their own minds. Basinski will perform his gorgeous work with the Chicago Philharmonic on Friday, as well as perform for a second time at Midwinter on Saturday. You will want to be there to experience one of the world’s best living composer perform one of his career’s finest works.



Slowdive – With the triumphant return of Slowdive that came with 2017’s self-titled album, the legendary British shoegaze band will continue to grace the world with the transcending dream pop that they make sound so effortlessly and surreal. It is so good to think that their reunion was not just a one-off event, they’re here and they’re sticking at Midwinter and if you’re already familiar with the magic that is Slowdive, you can imagine how transcendent experiencing their music in such a breathtaking location will be, and if you’ve yet to delve into their swirls of ecstasy, do yourself a favor and give them a listen, and then bring a few tissues to dry your eyes when you go see them at Midwinter.


SATURDAY, February 16:


Deerhunter – Deerhunter recently announced the 2019 release of their latest album Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? along with a string of tour dates and surprised a few who noticed that Chicago was not listed as a stop on that tour. Well, …now we know why! And WLUW is ecstatic to be able to once again catch the performance from the Georgia indie rock legends who have famously incorporated shoegaze, noise rock, indie and punk, and old-fashioned rock and roll into their sets sometimes accompanied by the eccentric antics of frontman Bradford Cox. This is such a quality band who know how to do it right and are not one to be missed at Midwinter


Serpentwithfeet – Josiah Wise is from Brooklyn and brings to Midwinter his brand of experimental electronic gospel and neo-soul. His voice has a unique and powerful quality and with the release of his debut full-length Soil this year, he has placed himself as a stand out within the music pantheon that is impossible to label. His music is art in itself and that makes Midwinter and the Art Institute the perfect setting to see him perform.


Kamasi Washington – Many people have credited Kamasi Washington for bringing jazz at least a little bit back into the collective music consciousness. He is a saxophonist and bandleader for his juggernaut free jazz experience who put out two highly acclaimed releases in 2018 – Heaven and Earth and The Choice and his live performances are known to be experienced both rooted in the wild and classic jazz of yesteryear, yet feel totally of its time, modern and engaging. Seeing him and experiencing him should be something on every music fan’s bucket list and at Midwinter you can do just that – experience something out of our world – the world and music of Kamasi Washington.


SUNDAY, February 17:


Oneohtrix Point Never –Brooklyn based producer and composer Daniel Lopatin, has already announced that he will bring his entire myRIAD ensemble to Chicago for this performance. He is not only renowned for his award-winning experimental ambient and hypnagogic pop works such as “Garden of Delete” but also has scored and created visual pieces for galleries and museums far and wide. Knowing him, there is a good chance he will create something new and spectacular for this show.


Joeey Purp – What would this lineup be without a hometown hero? Joeey Purp is a rapper from, you guessed it, Chicago! As one of the integral parts of SaveMoney, including Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa, he’s strong with a team but has recently ventured further out on his own sound with “QUARTERTHING”. The album scored a prestigious 8.3 scoring on Pitchforks review as well as a big red “Best New Music” sticker of recognition. His rapping has come to be loose and flowing, creative and concentrated on progress. He is bound to give a warm welcome to the fans and pieces at the Midwinter festival.


Smerz – Smerz is comprised of Catharine Stoltenberg and Henriette Motzfeldt who broke into the scene with 2017 EP “Okey,” following up with “Have Fun” on XL Recordings just a year later. Born in Norway and based in Denmark, the duo use elements of R&B, Chicago Footwork, and House music in their work which will be showcased just before Zola Jesus this winter. Other than making phenomenal music to bop to on your own or dance to in the club, Smerz reminds me of the casual-cool girls who you met in your senior year high school graphic design class. Someone who will exceed whatever limitations you put before them in the most graceful and normalized manner.


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A Q&A with Keys N Krates Keyboardist David Matisse

Keys N Krates formed in 2008, bringing live instrumental performances to the world of electronic music. Utilizing drums (), keyborad, and a turntable they have cultivated a unqie and fun sound that has stood the test of time. The trio will be headed to Chicago November 30th to perform at Bottom Lounge. In anticipation of the show, keyboardist David Matisse was able to answer a few of our questions before they hit the stage at the end of this month. 

Q. What/who influenced you to create music the way that you do – choosing the combination of drums, keyboards/synthesizer, and turntables?


A. There really wasn’t anyone influence. It was really natural the way we came together. Flo was a club DJ out in the city and I was a keyboard guy and artist doing gigs as well. Tune and I had already been playing together in other bands when we first started.  So it was all pretty organic. We started off just taking hip-hop samples of Dr. Dre and Tribe Called Quest and other iconic hip-hop acts. We would practice anywhere we could find room. Trying to figure out how to play along with the samples and then flipping them into something original that only we could play. We are huge fans of hip-hop so we wanted to make music rooted in that.


Q. You released your first debut full-length album, Cura, earlier this year. What is the meaning behind the album? Is this the start to the beginning of a new sound of Keys N Krates?


A. We were at a point where creatively we felt we had achieved everything we wanted to say at that point with the music we had made. We had done a lot with the sounds we were known for and weren’t interested in repeating the same sound again.  

We really took our time exploring new textures and ideas of where we wanted to take ourselves moving forward.  It’s still firmly rooted in Hip-hop but we sample ourselves a lot more now when we’re just jamming and we're exploring more analog sounds.

Cura means curiosity for us and we wanted to get back to that idea of being childlike in the energy of discovering new sounds and experiences


Q. You guys were here not too long ago in March at Concord Music Hall as part of the Cura World Tour, and now you will be back next month (November 30th to be exact), as the second stop on the “Closer we Get” tour presented by Silver Wrapper Productions at Bottom Lounge. What do you have planned this time around for Chicago fans?


A. We’ve been doing a lot of big stages over the years which is a lot of fun.  But there’s a certain intimacy you lose with the fans at that point. For this tour, we wanted to explore how it felt again when we used to play with the fans really close by you. In those small clubs or basement bars.  There’s an energy there that is really exciting and intense for both the fans and for us.


Q. What is the best part of making music for each of you?


A. There’s no one direct answer to that for any of us. Ultimately the process of collaborating together and having your ideas explored, collaborated on, and then released to the world to experience is so cool that we just keep wanting to do it over and over again.


Q. If you had all the money & recording resources in the world to record an album with one legendary artist, who would it be & why?


A. We’d record Gospel choirs and children’s choirs as well as huge string sections.

Tickets are still available for Keys N Krates 11/30 performance at Bottom Lounge HERE.


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Yellow Days returns to Chicago, selling out Lincoln Hall

On a cold and windy Monday, November 12th, Lincoln Hall hosted a sold-out but intimate performance by Yellow Days accompanied opener MorMor. Unfortunately, due to train traffic, I was only able to catch the last bit of MorMor’s set. His psych-pop style was getting the show off to a good start. He was a very humble presence on stage with dim lights but sang with a voice that warmed up the whole room.

Yellow Days started off his set with “The Way Things Change”, a song that was released as a single earlier this year. His iconic yipping noises were present in every song. Yellow Days did not stray from playing the hits. From “Gap in the Clouds” to “That Easy”, he was able to play a majority of his popular tunes. At one point, he stopped to give credit to his band, especially his bassist Hector Delicious with whom he wrote the newest track “What’s it All For?”. After this acknowledgment, he was evidently excited to play their new track (which had only dropped three days prior) live.

When Yellow Days decided to cover Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind”, the crowd was completely floored. His King Krule-like vocals used on this soulful classic was a beautiful mix of old and new. To end a peaceful yet fun-filled night, Yellow Days closed his show with “How Can I Love You?” (minus the quick cover for an encore). Overall, Lincoln Hall was the perfect place to host this show. It was intimate but still showed the real appreciation many Chicagoans have for Yellow Days’ works. Hopefully, we will be seeing much more from him in the near future.

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The Dodos at Schubas Tavern

WLUW Presents The Dodos at Lincoln Hall

On Sunday, November 11th, I took a rest from writing course papers to go see The Dodos at Lincoln Hall hosted by WLUW. I arrived just in time for Pool Holograph’s Wyatt Grant subbing in for Palehound as the opening act. While I was disappointed that I would not see Palehound perform, Grant’s impromptu solo set brought a dreamy lo-fi start to the night. Pool Holograph’s synth-centered songs surprisingly worked without the support of a band. photo courtesy of Consequence of Sound

The Dodos are a duo consisting of lead singer and guitarist Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber. This October, the pair broke their three-year-long silence with their seventh album Certainty Waves, although Long has released his own music during the break. Before they went on, I chatted with some local fans who were eager to see The Dodos since their last tour.  Overall, the setlist had a mix of previous albums with an arching weight on Certainty Waves. The new record differs from Carrier or Visiter because the melodies are more electronic-based compared to their previous emphasis on electric guitar. The shift in sound meant that I could pick out which songs were on the new album versus older hits.

Nonetheless, their discography fits together seamlessly as a cohesive set. The thing about bands like The Dodos is that their experience is noticeable, and they are skilled in putting on an excellent show. It is quite remarkable that Long and Kroeber can produce their powerful ballads in a band of two. The drums and the guitar satisfyingly contended against each other in “Competition,” named fittingly. The crowd was engaged and started to dance a bit to newer tracks like “If.” Long’s lyrical talent showed through in songs like “Center Of” and “Winter.” In the latter, I was struck by the unique lyrics: “I want a lover and a sister, but we know that’s not right.” I am still thinking that one over.

The Dodos have quite a range of genres under their belt, as I witnessed at the conclusion of the show. I thought that their new song “Ono Fashion” was an interesting fusion of rock and folk, with its soft vocals and contrasting metal guitar loop. The encore song, “Joe’s Waltz,” from their 2008 record, was performed with an air of country twang that stuck with me as they left the stage.

Overall, The Dodos returned to the spotlight with both new and familiar tracks that livened up my Sunday night. A band with seven albums that can find variety in their space in the industry is inspiring. Check out Certainty Waves if you want to jam to some seasoned players in the indie-experimental scene.


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Cupcakke at Thalia Hall

Red Bull Sound Select Presents: Cupcakke @ Thalia Hall

On any Saturday night at Thalia Hall, you expect a show to be going on, in addition, you expect a great show to be going on, and that’s what was delivered. The artist known as “Chicago’s most explicit rapper”, Cupcakke, headlined the vintage venue with support from DJ Funk and DJ King Marie. The 1,300-capacity venue filled up quickly, as the support DJs got the sold-out crowd up and dancing with excitement as we all waited for Cupcakke to take the stage. For those who don’t know, Cupcakke (Elizabeth Eden Harris), got her start in a church choir when she was a child. How she came to be the most explicit rapper Chicago has seen? I’m sure there’s a story there.

Having covered her show at Mamby earlier this year, there was a big difference from that performance to this one. For one, being at an inside venue with controlled sound made a huge difference. In addition, everyone at the show was here for Cupcakke, as opposed to festival goers who were just there to see someone on the bill. And the crowd was insanely fun to be a part of. Singing along to about every song performed, dancing, jumping around, and having a ton of fun would be an understatement of their interactions. Any chance to be a part of the crowd at a Cupcakke show is a must, even if you don’t really know much of her music.

Coming out on stage with one of her most popular tracks, “Vagina”, Cupcakke started the set off with an energetic vibe that would last for the entirety of the set. She just released her second record of 2018 the night before her Thalia Hall performance titled “Eden”, and I sure was surprised to see the crowd light up and singalong to objectively the best track on the album “Prenup”. Given the Latin flavor of the track, I thought it was fitting to have her close out her set with that track at the Pilsen venue. In fact, of the new songs she performed, it was really surprising of how many fans knew all the words to the new songs she performed. This left me to believe that Chicago has the best fans for Chicago artists.

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