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Nutshell Concert Review: Animal Collective – Riviera Theater 10/17/13

IMG_1318Back last November, I expressed my large-scale excitement not only for Animal Collective’s most recent endeavor, Centipede Hz (thus the 97), but for the band as a whole. That being said, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone that I would make the multi-hundred mile drive back to my native Chicago to catch the delightfully weird quartet at the Riviera Theater. Despite making the opening of their set only by the skin of my teeth, and totally missing opening act Deradoorian due to the plight of public transportation, I was able to camp myself right in the middle of the general admission crowd for quite the night.

The most fascinating part of AnCo.’s performance is that there was never silence (excluding, of course, the break just before their return for an encore). The drones and loops that characterize the group’s songs echoed through the venue from beginning to end, creating a totally encapsulating environment. The set also was stricken with variety, bouncing back and forth between the force heard on Centipede Hz and the ambient sound established on songs like non-album track “What Would I Want? Sky”. The four piece also seemed to master the idea of anticipation, with slow fade ins and edits of the most identifiable aspects of songs (most notably, the introduction to Merriweather Post Pavilion track “My Girls”). Vocalist Avey Tare also did his best keeping the crowd looking alive, with frequent questions like “Are you guys still with us?” Believe me, from my view of the crowd, they never skipped a beat.

There’s one last thing that’s to be said about this show regarding when it actually happened. This gig was initially planned for last March, just following the release of Centipede Hz, but was rescheduled due to illness in the band. Take it as you will, but this concert gained a lot from being pushed so far away from the album release, and you are probably wondering why. My reasoning is that, as assumed, the beginning of this tour was full of setlists jam-packed with new material that had barely been toured on to that point. While this is the industry standard and is almost viewed as a given, a band that’s been around as long as Animal Collective has is bound to have at least a few really solid songs from the back catalog that concert-goers expect to hear. This set was able to cover that on all ends, spanning over three albums and an EP. With a set that consisted of half “old songs”, new and old fans were both able to leave satisfied.

I will admit that I ended up being one of those fans that jumped on the Animal Collective train after the release of Merriweather (there’s a reason it is hailed as their best album), but since 2009 I dove deep into the music of the indie kings. As a band that is often regarded as hit-or-miss with their live performances, I was pleasantly surprised. So kudos to Animal Collective, and I should note that they’re touring until December. So…get on that fans.

Animal Collective’s Riviera Setlist, 10/17/13:

  1. Amanita
  2. What Would I Want? Sky
  3. Wide Eyed
  4. Moonjock
  5. Lion in a Coma
  6. Today’s Supernatural
  7. Pulleys
  8. My Girls
  9. New Town Burnout
  10. Brother Sport

Encore:

  1. I Think I Can
  2. The Purple Bottle
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Nutshell Concert Review: The Postal Service – Lollapalooza 8/3/13

IMG_1112Back in 2003, Jimmy Tamborello and Ben Gibbard released an album full of dreamy, 8-bit synths, quick-tempo drum loops, and a 1980’s-like style of electro-indie rock that would create a trend in the music world for the next ten years (and counting). After grabbing Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley, three hit singles were produced from that album, and a dedicated following to boot. Then they just sort of stopped. After repeatedly shooting down rumors of a second album, the band finally announced it would be going on a 10-year anniversary tour for their debut (and only) album, Give Up. Luckily, one of Chicago’s biggest annual events swallowed up the opportunity, and booked The Postal Service for their last two shows. Ever. Pretty cool huh?

I will openly admit that this headlining performance was the reason that I dished out $200+ to hang out with 300,000 reckless crowd members in the sweltering heat for three days. Most of the time, when you build something like this up in your mind for as many months as I did, you will be disappointed. I can tell you point blank that this was not the case. As soon as the band’s headlining performance began, around the same time as festival behemoth Mumford and Sons took the stage across Grant Park, it marked the beginning of a pinnacle moment in my music-loving career. The 90-minute show allowed for an entire career-spanning setlist, going all the way from their hit “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” to the song that, as Gibbard said, “Started it all”, Dntel’s “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan”. The group even got to the new releases from this year’s re-release, along with a cover of Beat Happening’s “Our Secret”. The set seemed flawless from front to back, and the crowd seemed to be made up of exclusively die-hard fans of the band, singing along to every word.

The reason this show seemed to be so impactful was the way the final moments of the concert passed. Earlier in the show, frontman Ben Gibbard had pointed out the fact that the Lollapalooza performance was their second to last, with only a show at the local Metro Chicago the following night. It was surreal as an audience member, watching a band performing on stage as something they agreed to shut the door on for good in less than two days. What solidified all of it was seeing that the four people on stage, for a moment, also took it as surreal. As the final song ended and the band set up to take a bow, they stretched out the set closer “Brand New Colony” for what seemed like an extra song-length, repeating the final line over and over again: “Everything will change”. Then, almost hesitantly, they walked off stage for one of the last times. Less than 36 hours later, in the same city, it was all over.

The Postal Service is a band that I have the utmost respect for; one that was able to bridge a gap between musical styles and create something that has been admired and emulated for years. The fact that they did it all on one album that was made with the two core members barely stepping in the same room as each other makes it worth so much more. This is a show that I will remember for a very long time, if not forever. Here’s to wishing for a new album, and being thankful that we at least got a few new songs this year.

Here’s the setlist for The Postal Service’s Lollapalooza show, 8/3/13:

  1. The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
  2. We Will Become Silhouettes
  3. Sleeping In
  4. Turn Around
  5. Nothing Better
  6. Recycled Air
  7. Be Still My Heart
  8. Clark Gable
  9. Our Secret (Beat Happening Cover)
  10. This Place Is a Prison
  11. There’s Never Enough Time
  12. A Tattered Line of String
  13. Such Great Heights
  14. Natural Anthem

Encore

  1. (This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan (Dntel Cover)
  2. Brand New Colony

Nutshell Concert Review: Vampire Weekend – Lollapalooza 8/4/13

IMG_11891Way back in the day we did a report on a Vampire Weekend show at an outdoor music festival in Chicago. And here we are again, just over a year later, doing exactly the same thing. But there’s a reason why Vampire Weekend is our first ever repeat band in our concert reviews; it’s because they did this magical thing where they made the show different than the last. Why was it different? Well besides the 13 months of time, 20 degrees, one new album (including a smash hit song), and half of a colossal supporting tour, the atmosphere at a huge festival like Lollapalooza is much different than that of Pitchfork. What was astounding to me, however, is the group’s apparent awareness to that fact, and how well they were able to cater to it.

Among a powerful set mixing brand new tracks (a total of six coming off their most recent LP, Modern Vampires of the City) and some old classics, including “Mansard Roof” B-Side “Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)”, the band hit their stride and never looked back. As usual, they held a high regard for keeping the crowd involved, including frontman Ezra Koenig and drummer Chris Tomson participating in a fire fight with the audience with ammo consisting of mainly toilet paper rolls and beach balls. It speaks volumes to a crowd when a band looks like they are truly enjoying themselves on stage, and all members took that to heart while taking time in between songs to giggle and joke, most notably when trying to remember how to play 2010’s Contra hit “Horchata”. They even seemed to have fun with poking the bear that was the uncharacteristically restless crowd by doing things like begging them to dance to “A-Punk”, and then acting casual about the craziness of the audience. Even when a fan managed to run on stage during “Giving Up the Gun” before being quickly restrained by festival security, the band kept their cool and continued to play as if there was nothing out of the ordinary going on.

Like I said before; Vampire Weekend mixed it up and was truly great enough to prove the worth in continuing to buy tickets to see bands perform over and over again. This show was fantastic on all accounts, and I’m sure the many thousands of fans that surrounded me last Sunday can vouch for that. Vampire Weekend’s Lollapalooza set was one worth seeing, and here’s to hoping that they’ll be back again soon. Until then, they’re most recent LP Modern Vampires of the City is out now.

Here’s the setlist for Vampire Weekend’s Lollapalooza show, 8/4/13:

  1. Cousins
  2. White Sky
  3. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
  4. Diane Young
  5. Step
  6. Holiday
  7. Unbelievers
  8. Horchata
  9. Everlasting Arms
  10. A-Punk
  11. Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)
  12. Ya Hey
  13. Campus
  14. Oxford Comma
  15. Giving Up the Gun
  16. Hannah Hunt
  17. One (Blake’s Got a New Face)
  18. Walcott

Lollapalooza 2013 Recap

For those of you who missed this past weekend’s annual music festival in Grant Park, first off shame on you. But it’s fully understandable that there are many reasons to not be hitting up the notoriously crowded, hot, and usually storm-ridden Lollapalooza, and it is also understandable that if you did happen to miss it, you are curious about what you missed. Even for those that did land on the woodchip-covered park sometime this weekend, it sure is fun to reminisce. So here it is; the Nutshell Music Group Lollapalooza 3-Day Recap.

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Friday: The air was buzzing with yet another big-billed festival weekend upon us. There was a short drizzle early, and the day’s high temperature of 81 was the highest on schedule for the whole weekend. Things really were looking up with a solid set of headliners performing later in the evening, and a solid undercard to boot.

Friday’s Notable Moments:

  1. San Cisco starting off the day with a dance party except, you know, one that indie kids would go to.
  2. Father John Misty french kissing a stuffed unicorn.
  3. Bernard Sumner joining The Killers on stage to perform Joy Division’s “Shadowplay”.
  4. Thievery Corporation defining the word “groove”.

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Saturday: For many reasons, the second day of this year’s festival was very possibly the most exciting. One band was preparing for a comeback show (actually their second show back) after their bassist suffered a brain clot, and another took the stage for one of their final performances ever. On top of that, some of the biggest names in indie rock, hip-hop, and EDM all powered through electrifying sets to cap off day 2 of Lollapalooza.

Saturday’s Notable Moments:

  1. Pujol enjoying some candy thrown on stage by an audience member during their soundcheck.
  2. Matt & Kim repeatedly sampling, among many other rap classics, Ace Hood’s “Bugatti”. The band later suffered so many technical difficulties that “Daylight” had to be cut in mid-song, and they instead ended their set with “Cinders”, which they had admittedly not played in years.
  3. Ellie Goulding ending her hit “Lights” with a snippet of the Bassnectar remix.
  4. Two fans in wheel chairs crowd surfing during Kendrick Lamar’s set being helped over the front guardrail, and being allowed to watch the remainder of the show from the front of the stage.
  5. The Postal Service playing absolutely every song in their repertoire, and the crowd singing the last line of “Brand New Colony” over and over again as the band left the stage.
  6. Death Grips and Azealia Banks both separately cancelling Saturday night performances, resulting in Shaun White’s band Bad Things headlining on The Grove stage.

IMG_1173

Sunday: The same as always, the weekend seemed to be coming to a close much too quickly and the initial hype was slowly turning into sunburn, hangovers, and fatigue. The weather was a blessing with it actually becoming a bit cold by the end of the night, and that shot enough energy into the crowd to see some of the most successful musicians, both new and old, in their respective genres. The night ended on such a high (and tired) note that the only thing I could muster up for my personal Twitter account was “So. F*****g. Good.”

Sunday’s Notable Moments:

  1. Mario Cuomo of The Orwells taking off his pants at the tail end of the band’s set.
  2. Alex Trimble of Two Door Cinema Club keeping it classy, performing in a suit and drinking wine.
  3. Vampire Weekend not being able to get through their set without laughing at the crowd throwing toilet paper on stage or watching as a fan ran on stage (showing his bare butt) and was quickly restrained backstage.
  4. Phoenix putting on an absolute spectacle of a performance, including Thomas Mars making two trips over the guardrail and laying down for the group’s extra-long rendition of “Love Like a Sunset”.

Keep your eyes peeled for some concert reviews of a few of the Lollapalooza sets, along with another upcoming festival review next week!

Nutshell Concert Review: Wilco – Toyota Park 7/12/13

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy performing at Toyota Park, 7/12/13

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy performing at Toyota Park, 7/12/13

Friday night was a very important night in my long-spanning career of music fandom. The “Americanarama” tour featuring Bob Dylan (and his band), Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and The Richard Thompson Trio made it’s way through Bridgeview, IL, a town known for almost nothing besides the enormous soccer field/concert venue that is Toyota Park. Not only did I get to see some of the most respected and well-versed musicians in their respective generations, but I also asked myself the question of why I stopped writing about these amazing moments that have happened to me in my own little musical bubble. So…here we are.

The “Americanarama” tour is headlined by none other than Bob Dylan, who is a musical icon and has been for decades. This is no reason, however, to undersell the other three acts traveling with Dylan and his band. The hometown-favorite Wilco stepped on stage as the last act before Dylan himself took the stage. As the night cooled, the sun set, and the music veterans stepped on stage, a wall of energy swept through the audience. Following the high-octane performances of My Morning Jacket and Richard Thompson was going to be a tough task for the notoriously relaxing band, but the 6-piece had no issues keeping the crowd tuned in with a career-spanning setlist and a handful of guest appearances from both Thompson and MMJ. When the soft lighting went up on stage and the sky turned dark, the entire audience stayed on their feet, singing along, and applauding every time frontman Jeff Tweedy reminded us all how great it was to return home.

Throughout a setlist that had its fair share of surprises (including an impromptu jam session when Richard Thompson took the stage), many moments shone through in this exceptional performance. Whether it be Thompson’s vocals gracing a mid-set performance of the Wilco/Billy Bragg classic “California Stars”, the MMJ collaboration of Neil Young’s classic “Cinnamon Girl”, or the beautiful rendition of the Being There opening track, “Misunderstood”, this performance showed Wilco at their best. And kudos to Thompson, My Morning Jacket, and Bob Dylan as well for helping create one of the most epic concert lineups I’ve seen in a while. A pretty solid comeback topic for us, if you ask me.

Here’s Wilco’s full setlist from the show:

  1. At the Window, Sad and Lonely
  2. When the Roses Bloom Again
  3. What Light
  4. Misunderstood
  5. Poor Places
  6. Art of Almost
  7. Sloth (Fairport Convention cover, played with Richard Thompson)
  8. California Stars (played with Richard Thompson)
  9. That’s Not the Issue (played with Richard Thompson)
  10. Hummingbird
  11. Impossible Germany
  12. Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young cover, played with My Morning Jacket)
  13. Born Alone
  14. Dawned on Me

Lollapalooza 2013 Predictions: Episode IV

Can we all just agree it’s fair to skip the whole intro thing and just get to some more predictions? Alright, sounds like a plan. It’s only a few, but it’s still some new names to throw into the mix.

  • Alice in Chains – It hasn’t been uncommon for the festival to throw in a 90’s revival band here and there, and the spot for grunge bands seems to be having a comeback. With Alice in Chains expected to unveil a new album later this year and a lack of a Chicago tour date on their Spring tour, it’s always a possibility.
  • Yo La Tengo – Let’s face it, Fade is an awesome album. These guys have been doing it for a long time and it’s obvious that adding them to the bill will introduce a crowd of indie adults to the group of age-deprived festival goers.
  • The Flaming Lips – Wayne Coyne has had a goof-ball, go off the deep end sort of year, and with a collaboration album and another “normal” Flaming Lips album due out in April, the festival kings are sure to explode back into Chicago with open arms waiting for them (and whatever giant inflatable objects they’ll bring for this tour).

Lollapalooza 2013 Predictions (Pt. 3)

IMG_0083With a handful of solid new music coming out over the last few months, it’s only fitting that a few more artists get added to the discussion for Lollapalooza 2013’s lineup. Remember, as always, this is an open discussion so suggestions are welcome and encouraged. You can also check out Nutshell Music Group’s entire Lollapalooza speculation page here.

  • Band of Horses – There isn’t much to be said here besides the fact that, other than the release of Mirage Rock most likely being enough, the group hit the Chilean and Brazilian legs of Lollapalooza 2012 and also played a House of Blues set with the Lolla name on it, and haven’t seen the Grant Park side of things since 2009. At this point, Band of Horses is anything short of a shoe-in for this year’s festival.
  • Ra Ra Riot – Even though the album isn’t even released yet, the band has a large opportunity to hit festivals this summer in support of Beta Love. The quintet hasn’t been involved in anything Lollapalooza-wise since 2009, so the group seems to be due for a triumphant, mid-afternoon or evening return.
  • The Killers – This one I have just forgotten to put on here. Even with the mixed reviews received by Battle Born, The Killers have been side-stepping the Chicago leg of this festival for the past few years. Yet another group that hasn’t stepped into Grant Park since ’09, expect to see them as a headliner this year.
  • The Lumineers – When booking a summer festival, you can never go wrong with an indie-folk group to round out the afternoon. These guys have enough momentum from “Hey Ho” alone to guarantee them a spot at this year’s festival.
  • Queens of the Stone Age – With a new album in the works featuring Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl on the drums, QOTSA is going to be going on a colossal tour without a doubt. The band is hitting Brazil and Chile for Lollapalooza 2013, and there is no question that they would be welcomed with opened arms (and probably beers) in Grant Park this August.

Lollapalooza 2013 Predictions (Pt. 2)

IMG_0148After ten days of buzzing and a good string of contact following our last Lollapalooza prediction post, the second handful of bands has been compiled (some of which are based on your suggestions). As was the deal with the last post, comment, tweet @NSMusicGroup, or email us at nutshellmusicgroup@gmail.com if you have changes to be made or things to say. This is a debate, that is welcome and preferred. You can also check out the new Lollapalooza 2013 page for all of our lineup speculation and live updates. Most additions will be normally posted, but bands taken off the list will not. Happy guessing folks!

Here’s the next batch of bands I expect to see August 2-4 in Grant Park:

  • Youngblood Hawke – With the release of one of this year’s big indie anthems, YBH has become quite a force. With the power of iTunes hit “We Come Running” behind them and an almost guaranteed festival-filled Summer 2013, the five-piece may be hitting the stage with an early time slot.
  • Two Door Cinema Club – The band was already playing an evening slot in 2010 on one of the festival’s biggest stages, and the recent release of Beacon means they will not be strangers to festival goers this year. With tour dates in Chicago falling early this year, it would not be surprising to see the Irish indie pop group back again in August.
  • Mumford and Sons – Mumford and co. is going to be the festival hog this year. Everybody in the entire world wanted to book them after they released one hot album; with that total doubled and a handful of new singles like “Babel” and “I Will Wait” that are being shoved down the throats of alternative radio listeners, the group will be hitting almost every major festival this year. If not Lollapalooza, be expecting the modern folk lords rounding out the Pitchfork Music Festival on Sunday night.
  • Matt and Kim – The duo last hit the festival in 2009 in support of Sidewalks, and have recently been hitting the Midwest pretty hard with tour stops. With signs of that dying down after February, the band seems to have enough experience under their belt (plus an awesome new album in Lightning) to grab an evening slot at Lollapalooza this Summer.
  • Andrew Bird & Wilco – The pairing of these two is intentional because both have released new material somewhat recently (Bird with Break It Yourself and Hands of Glory EP, Wilco with The Whole Love) and they both hail from the Chicago area. However, with enough new music to share a headlining concert just outside of the city last Summer, neither band ended up hitting any popular Chicago-area festivals. At least one of these two could likely show up at Lollapalooza this year as one of those “I don’t know why they’re here this year, but that’s awesome that they are” kind of acts.

Lollapalooza 2013 Lineup Predictions

IMG_0049Even though we haven’t even broken into winter, there is already a typhoon of speculation about who will be making their rounds at music festivals in Summer 2013. Bonnaroo presale tickets came and went in three minutes, and we’ve already seen message boards and websites be riddled with alleged lineups. With Nutshell being based out of and somewhat centered around the Chicago area, I thought it would be a perfect outlet for my 3rd annual Lollapalooza lineup predictions. This will, for the first time, be live updating. Bands will be crossed out and added as time goes on, up until the midnight lineup release some time in April. That is, if the Chicago Tribune would stop leaking it at 10:30. Think of this as an open discussion. Your thoughts are all appreciated, but they will only be read, reviewed, and utilized for this list if they are posted in the comments section below. That being said, we want your input. If you think I’m wrong, tell me why.

Here’s my current lineup predictions for Lollapalooza 2013, set for August 2-4:

  • Animal Collective – The dukes of modern indie rock haven’t graced the Lollapalooza stages since 2009, and they already found themselves in a premiere Saturday night slot. With Centipede Hz now under their belts and no extensive touring schedule, you can expect them to be hitting one of Chicago’s many festivals. After 2009’s powerhouse performance, it would be foolish for both the band and the festival if they did not end up in a headliner’s position this Summer.
  • Wu-Tang Clan – Now before you argue, look at the facts. According to an interview with AV Club, Clan producer RZA said that he had been contacted by Bonnaroo and Coachella, and that there’s a chance Lollapalooza has also been in contact with him about a Wu-Tang festival run. With one album having its 20th anniversary and another new one in the works, why not play a few festivals?
  • Alabama Shakes & The Temper Trap – Among many of the acts that had to be cancelled or shuffled around during last year’s mud pit, these two groups got the short end of the stick. They both had solid late afternoon slots and the potential to draw large crowds, so it would not come as a major surprise to see their names back on the bill.
  • The Avett Brothers – Backed by this year’s release of The Carpenter, the American folk group has never played on Lollapalooza’s stage. They hit their Chicago dates early on the supporting tour for the album, and a group like this would surely thrive in an outdoor festival.
  • MGMT – The group hasn’t hit the festival since 2010, and with an R.E.M.-inspired new album in the works it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them return for a third time. With three albums and their debut EP all in the catalog, the psychedelic collective would be a comfortable fit in a 5 or 6 headliner spot.
  • Phoenix – The French indie pop group hasn’t had much to say since the conclusion of their last tour, and with only one Lollapalooza appearance (2010) to date, the mysterious new album that is apparently being hammered out, a last second American Summer tour announcement with a few festivals wouldn’t be the biggest of surprises.
  • Vampire Weekend – Even though the band made a stop at last year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, they have been on a somewhat hiatus when finishing out their new album. They already have an impressive new single that’s presumably from the record, and it isn’t uncommon to see the two Chicago festivals swap bands for consecutive festival seasons. Since 2009, bands that have hit stages at both festivals include Animal Collective, Neon Indian, Washed Out, and  tUnE-yArDs, so Vampire Weekend could very well be returning to Grant Park come August.

Again, your comments are welcome below. Tell us what you’re thinking; who do you think will be playing at Grant Park in August?

Watch “Lollapalooza 2012 The Mudventure” by Alderman Media

Check out this Lollapalooza best of video from the team over at Alderman Media. For more info, rush over to aldermanmedia.com

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