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REACT & WLUW Presents: Mr. Carmack at Chop Shop & Ist Ward

Mr. Carmack at Chop Shop was unlike any concert I’ve been to before. Mr. Carmack’s ability to intricately string together genres and moods resulted in a beautiful concoction of jazzy contagious beats and synthy electronic goodness. The show seamlessly transitioned from one mood to another; the audience found themselves rapping to an electronic rendition of popular rap artist Tay-K’s “The Race” and later vibing to soulful rhythms accompanied by Mr. Carmack’s live trumpet and keyboard.

Mr. Carmack wasn’t the only musician on stage, as he brought along a friend who played strings throughout the set incorporating funky bass lines and rad guitar riffs into the show. The accompanying light show further immersed the audience into Mr. Carmack’s euphoric soundscape and served as the perfect visual for the show. Check out Mr. Carmack on his Original Sound tour and keep an eye out for the next time he stops in Chicago to experience his vast artistry and multi-faceted sound.

Photo & Show Re-cap by Priyanka Podjale

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A Hot & Heavy Dance Party with Kitty & Ricky Eat Acid

As I walked into the venue, the vibes were noticeably casual. The headliners, bounced around the venue, talking to local friends and fans while watching the opening act. Ricky Eat Acid moved swiftly through the crowd in a brown fur coat. But don't be fooled by the name, the former member of Teen Suicide's name is actually Sam Ray and he didn’t pull any punches this Thursday night at the Empty Bottle. 

Beginning his set with the opening songs from his album such as “f*cking to songs on radios”, he progressed into shimmering beats, melting into some tropical house that got the room pretty humid. Harsh noise abruptly marked the sets halfway point, waking one up the way it does after having fallen asleep on the couch as a child greeted by a staticky television break at one in the morning. From there, a cohesive wall of noise melted into a systematically broken video-game hacked just to the right meter. 

After a quick break, Kitty moved through the crowd and up to the stage where her husband Sam joined her. After solving some technical difficulties, Kitty popped things off with "2 Minutes" sending the crowd into a frenzy. As she continued playing songs from her long-anticipated studio album, Miami Garden Club, the dynamic of the crowd started to feel like the gathering of old friends listening to middle school dance songs in someone's basement. Kitty attested to this, stopping at one point to comment, "I love coming to Chicago because you all know my songs" before the crowd erupted into a chant to the opening lyrics of "Mass Text Booty Call". The highlight of the performance had to have been her spontaneous decision to perform the viral song that put her on the map, "Orions Belt", with help from an audience member. To end the 45-minute dance party, Kitty performed "Miss You", her most popular track to date. 

Kitty and Ricky Eat Acid can be found on Twitter at @kittyaveli & @rickyeatacid.


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TNK Fest with Diane Coffee, Ron Gallo + Yoko & the Oh No's

A trio of power played to a sold out Lincoln Hall on Friday, January 19th as part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival, a five-day event that presents rising indie acts from around the country to the city of Chicago in various venues around town. It ran from the 17th to the 21st and as part of one of the festivities, local band Yoko & The Oh No’s and Philadelphia’s Ron Gallo supported headliner Diane Coffee and each blasted the packed crowd with danceable riffs, raucous noise, and theatrical rock and roll.


First on the bill was Yoko & the Oh No’s, who happened to be playing their final show ever under that name. The band played a set of glamorous hard rock led by a fabulous frontman named Max Goldstein dressed in a retro, burlesque-style outfit. He belted out his deep and powerful voice backed by the crunchy and catchy tunes from one guitar player, a bass player and a drummer. He emitted, trendiness, viciousness, and true rock sex appeal, and the songs oozed cool that the crowd eagerly soaked up as the show was just beginning. It’s a shame to think that was Yoko & the Oh No’s final show – they played such a fiery set. But a glint of hope was caught at the end when the final song was introduced as “a new one that may or may not get released, who knows…the future and all.” Who knows, maybe we’ll hear from Max Goldstein and the band again!


Ron Gallo was up next and the crowd couldn’t have been more excited! The three-piece band is fronted by guitarist and namesake, Ron Gallo, who came out on stage with a shiny and slick red guitar in hand, wearing overalls and a beanie. After a stiff trumpet ditty rang out, played by Ron himself, announcing the start of the set, the group got to work and delivered sludgy guitar attacks on top of loud rock rhythms with thoughtfully delivered lyrics. The set included songs from their new EP, Really Nice Guys, which was only just released that day and a piece of poetry delivered by Ron behind a wall of heavy metallic droning after he jumped down into an ecstatic crowd. They were the loudest of the night and the crowd acted accordingly; there was a perpetual mosh pit, tampons were thrown on stage, and cheers and jeers howled from his fans.


Finally, the headliners took the stage. Diane Coffee, also known as Shaun Fleming and former drummer for the band Foxygen, delivered classic-style pop songs with big emotive choruses, soulful versus, and a distorted guitar here and there that would take the song on a fuzzed-out, spaced-out freak-out. The songs were powerful, catchy, romantic, psychedelic, or some combination of all four!


Diane had sparkles all around his eyes and was dressed in a messy suit with geometric patterns all over his pants - like a southern preacher who’d abandoned his congregation to start a space cult. His energetic eccentricities on stage complimented true talent. His guitar playing had solid rhythm and his solos had straightforward emotion. His vocal range was impressively extensive and between songs, he spouted rapidly delivered banter, all while two screens beside the stage played movies of blooming cactus flowers, spacey skies, or animated portrayals of Diane himself.


He had a backing band consisting of a guitarist, a drummer and bass player, and a keyboard player. But the most eye-catching members of the band were a trio of backup singers. Dressed like celestial goddesses in flowing turquoise robes with sparkling makeup and jewelry, they maintained constant Mona Lisa-esque expressions and brought a classy mysticism to the set with elegant dancing and vocals like a powerful chanting chorus. The crowd thinned over the course of the final set but those who stayed until the end turned the Lincoln Hall into a dancehall that had an atmosphere of romance and soulful jubilance all to the soundtrack of Diane Coffee.

The last night of Tomorrow Never Knows at the Lincoln Hall was a truly great show. Three solid sets performed by three fantastic bands, all at the top of their craft, and while Yoko & the Oh No’s might be no more, they were given an excellent send off and played a wildly good show. Ron Gallo rammed through the crowd like a rock and roll locomotive, and Diane Coffee played to all of our emotions with a psychedelic, soulful rock sound and endless energy and entertainment. With these groups already at a highpoint, we really can say that tomorrow never knows what they’ll bring us next. I, for one, am pretty excited to find out.

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No Redemption: Tchami & Malaa bring the U.S. tour to a close at Aragon Ballroom

Tchami x Malaa French Producer/DJs Tchami and Malaa made their return to Aragon Ballroom this past weekend, playing their second sold-out show at uptown's signature venue.

The two French house heavyweights played at the Aragon previously as support for DJ Snake’s Pardon My French Tour in April 2016, this time for a rather unconventional back-to-back set. Thousands of attendees came to jump to tracks like Malaa’s “Notorious” and Tchami’s remixes for Janet Jackson’s “Go Deep" and AlunaGeorge’s “You Know You Like It”. House music has an innate way of bringing a crowd together. Four-on-the-floor beats, although conventional and boring if dealt in the wrong fashion, seem to sync heart rates among show-goers. Everyone is always on the same page because the kick drum is beneficially predictable; it gives all people present a commonality, a pulse.

When Madeon and Porter Robinson brought their Shelter Tour to the Aragon, their live show featured exclusive live edits and mashups of each of their repertoires of original music as well as homogenized visuals; both artists played live instruments, triggered live samples, and sang simultaneously as a duo. Everything was rehearsed.

When I heard Tchami and Malaa would be doing something similar, I was interested to see how it would work. Visual aesthetic for electronic music artists is key to the live experience, and Tchami’s and Malaa’s respective aesthetics directly juxtaposed on stage was one of the more interesting things I’ve seen at a collaborative show between two different artists. The duo’s stage design was halved; Tchami’s decks atop a church altar stage right and Malaa’s setup stage left between two 55-gallon drums. Each artist was backed by a set of LED panels framed by respectively different scenes upstage from the decks. Tchami’s half of the stage was built to look like a white stone chapel, complete with a confession screen. Malaa’s half was complete with an industrial, dark gray paint job and graffiti. Each even had its own unique visuals firing off on the LEDs. But what especially struck me was the lack of practicality in the separate setups. Typically, for a back-to-back DJ set, the multiple DJs play on the same set of decks and a single mixer. Tchami and Malaa each had their own setup on separate tables with separate mixers. I spent half their set trying to figure out logistically how that setup was operating. Could they each hear each other’s cues? Were the two setups synced up to each other? Who was controlling the master volume? I’d beg the question whether they were faking their set, but it appeared as though the decks each DJ was using were functional. I don’t think they were miming a pre-recorded set. I would, however, love to find out how that live setup was operated between the two acts.

Although for the sake of visual aesthetic, it was entertaining to watch the back-and-forth between two very different looks, it seemed plainly impractical to have two separate sets of decks. Regardless, there is something to say for Tchami and Malaa and the brand of globally-recognized house music they’ve built. I look forward to what they do next.

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Iceland Airwaves Music Festival 2017: Coverage

The ice-cold wind touched my face as I stepped out of the airport. The sun had yet to rise and I had an hour to wait until I would head toward Reykjavik. I grabbed a cup of coffee, sat down, and waited. After waiting and scrolling aimlessly through my phone, we were on a shuttle toward to the city. Passing in and out of sleep, the sun ceased to rise and it was already 9:30 am. Arriving upon our hotel, our radio media group napped until we were ready for our first venture at 1:30 in the afternoon.

The radio group met with our jet-lagged eyes (slightly less open than normal) and made our way to Borg Brewery. We ate Icelandic cheese, meats, and tried around 15-20 Icelandic craft beers.  To top everything off, we finished our time at the brewery with the Icelandic schnapps, Brenevin. Everyone, except one colleague who chose to drink water, walked out feeling a bit buzzed to say the least.

We made our way over to a private dinner where we were blessed with the ‘Best Icelandic Chef of 2016.’ We were stuffed with 13 courses and wine pairings. Myself and the other radio personalities began to get to know each other more - exchanging laughs, stories, and knowledge about life, school, and travel.

The next day we made our way up to the northern city of Akureyi. Here in the small town of 18,000 people, I was captivated by the quaintness of the landscape, the  lifestyle, and the architecture.

I explored the city on foot, snapping pictures on my journey and enjoying deep breathes of the cleanest air I’ve breathed (or so it seemed). Some of the artists I saw in Akureyi were Mura Masa, GKR, Glowie, Milkywhale and more, those of which can be found here.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Milkywhale who had the most amazing bio I’ve ever read. You can check out my whole interview with them here.

"Milkywhale is a bowl of Skittles combined with eight double espressos, topped with the mania of receiving both a new puppy and a trampoline on Christmas morning. Imagine an aerobics instructor in a 1960’s quasi-futuristic space station jumpsuit, with a giant “M” in the background meant to hypnotize you — like Zoolander at the Mugatu compound. Or, if you’re old enough to remember, a Rainbow Brite doll from the 80’s come to life."

-The Reykjavik Grapevine

Other great artists that I interviewed consisted of Lord Pusswhip and GKR.

One thing that struck me about Icelandic culture and Icelandic people was their openness to other people and other cultures. Although there has been some controversy on the amount of tourists coming into Iceland, everyone was very inviting toward myself and the group that I was traveling with.

The synergy between the US, EU, and Iceland is growing to the point where cultures are blending and release amazing, quality music. The mayor of Reykevik said that in Iceland, “the alternative is the main stream in Iceland.” I believe this statement is a good sum up of Icelandic culture.

One of the most amazing experiences was seeing JFDR in a church. The crowd was silent when the two sisters were playing their music accompanied with a small orchestra. The artist that traveled the farthest to the festival was a New Zealand indie rock band called Fazerdaze.

One of the comments that I had gotten from locals in Iceland was that music is so popular because there is nothing else to do for entertainment. That’s another reason why I found many people who are musicians are in multiple acts.

The most interesting part about my trip was the Icelandic people. For example, I had the chance to meet one of the programmers of the Iceland Airwaves festival who had tattoos that read, “capitalism we have a problem” and “Is Jesus your friend?” which was tattooed on his outer forearm.

During our time in Akureyri, we were lucky enough to witness the first snowfall of the year.. After the first night I woke up, opened up my window, and saw a foot of snow that had fallen overnight. There was also some treacherous aspects of the first snow in Iceland. We had a member of our team slip, fall, and break her shoulder.  Along with her fall, I also witnessed a four-car pile up on the bottom of the huge hill.

Later that morning, we went to a geothermal pool, which was incredibly relaxing. Apparently, locals go to the geothermal pools that reek of volcanic sulfur up to four times a week. While in the geothermal hot spring, we were able to watch a hip-hop show by Emmsje Gauti. I saw Gauti literally 4 times that day– all in different venues. Gauti played at the hot springs, my hotel, a venue and a local radio station. Gauti began his set outside of the geothermal pool. He ending up taking off his large winter coat and crowd surfed on the people in the hot spring.

After 2 days in Akuryri, we went back to Reykavik. Once we got back, we went to a press party. To get to the party, we walked through a man-made glacier. It simulated a real glacier and was made from millions and millions of pounds of ice. Later that night, I fell asleep during Fleet Foxes’ set, who played really well but the combination of sitting down and having etheral and laid back music was not ideal for my lack of sleep.  

Reykavik got piles and piles of rain once we got back, which unfortunately impacted the turn out of the last night of events.

After running around for interviews, my Sunday night ended on a calmer note by watching and interviewing Lord Pusswhip. Overall, this was one of the most interesting concert experiences I’ve ever had. The people, the food and the music were out of this world. Icelandic culture is unique, growing, genuinely humbling and genuinely invited to foreigners.

To see more coverage on my trip to Iceland, check out my vlog:​ 

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