Back 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:
- What Would I Want? Sky
- Wide Eyed
- Lion in a Coma
- Today’s Supernatural
- My Girls
- New Town Burnout
- Brother Sport
- I Think I Can
- The Purple Bottle
It’s already been more than a year since the release of Gossamer, Passion Pit’s successful and satisfying sophomore LP. Since then, they have commanded both outdoor festivals and indoor venues with their live show, captivating audiences with their exciting, dance-worthy synth pop and impressive light shows. After missing the opportunity (twice) to see them in a local show, I decided it would be fitting to drive 7+ hours to Somerset, Wisconsin to watch the somewhat out of place cardigan and skinny jean wearing indie band play at a blooming EDM festival in the rural north. Yes, I acknowledge the fact that they will be performing at Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival in a couple of weeks, but the latter of the two options doesn’t also include awesome experiences like seeing STS9’s anger over a man pretending to be a part of their group, and seeing STRFKR perform their version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.
But I digress.
There’s a strange thing to be said about Passion Pit’s live performance: Passion Pit doesn’t quite sound like the “Passion Pit” you would expect to hear when putting on your iPod. This is not by any means a knock on the band; these guys are just very notable for doing things in studio that may be much more challenging to replicate live than one would assume. But the Passion Pit that you do see when they step on stage is still an amazing one. They exhibit a totally new form of power that you don’t really notice in their compressed and electronic dream world that goes through your headphones. But when you amplify that through giant speakers, and combine it with the force of a bass driven live drum kit, flashy lights, and frontman Michael Angelakos jumping around like a goofy little kid, it turns into a totally different listening experience.
With that in mind, it would be hard to imagine that Gossamer track “I’ll Be Alright” would be anything short of electrifying, and opening with that kind of energy can only give you momentum. They managed to keep it throughout the entire hour-long set, even after taking a break for the smooth and almost R&B-like “Constant Conversations”. Angelakos also seemed to be working at his prime, reminding the audience consistently that they were there to sing, dance, and have an all around good time.
Passion Pit was able to do an interesting and bold thing last weekend when they performed to a crowd that was there, ultimately, to see EDM. Although they don’t totally stray from the genre, they are a far cry from other Summerset acts like Flosstradamus and Minnesota. But they came out to brave the rage-sticks and ravers to put on one heck of a show, and for that I thank them. For those of you lucky enough to have Passion Pit hit your town before their tour ends, be sure to check them out.
And, my apologies for this one, but I slacked off this festival and didn’t take pictures or write down any setlists. Based on that, plus the surprising laziness of the whole internet world, I don’t have the official one for the show. But, if you were there and know what they played, comment it down below!
Way 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:
- White Sky
- Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
- Diane Young
- Everlasting Arms
- Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)
- Ya Hey
- Oxford Comma
- Giving Up the Gun
- Hannah Hunt
- One (Blake’s Got a New Face)
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:
- At the Window, Sad and Lonely
- When the Roses Bloom Again
- What Light
- Poor Places
- Art of Almost
- Sloth (Fairport Convention cover, played with Richard Thompson)
- California Stars (played with Richard Thompson)
- That’s Not the Issue (played with Richard Thompson)
- Impossible Germany
- Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young cover, played with My Morning Jacket)
- Born Alone
- Dawned on Me
Everyone here at Nutshell has been taking some time off in response to the holiday season being upon us, just as we hope you did the same. But before the streamers and fireworks get released and the beginning of a new work calendar is upon us, it’s only fitting that we put together a best of list for those of you that are new to the site (or are already nostalgic). So here are some fun facts about our last seven months as an official publication. But before we get the ball rolling, here’s to wishing you a wonderful 2013.
Nutshell Music Group is born!
With the June 14th review of Walk The Moon’s self-titled LP, Nutshell Music Group officially became a publication.
Album Rating: 89/100
Album Highlights: “Anna Sun”, “Shiver Shiver”, “I Can Lift A Car”
Nutshell: The Logo and The Twitter
On June 18th, we unveiled our new logo, created by John Spiller. Then three days later we officially hit social media, with our Twitter that you can follow @NSMusicGroup.
Nutshell’s First Concert
The site became so much more than an album review site on July 16th, with our first concert review being published on Vampire Weekend’s Pitchfork Performance.
Concert Rating: A
Concert Highlights: Opening with the one two punch of “Cousins” and “White Sky”, an untitled new song now known as “Unbelievers”.
On October 15th Nutshell Music Group officially announced the addition of our newest writer, Bianca Smith. Her first review was posted less than two weeks later.
Opening the Discussion
On December 1st, we started our first full-on discussion topic as we posted our first round of Lollapalooza 2013 lineup predictions. Since then, a large amount of responses have come in and we opened up our Lollapalooza 2013 page.
Bests, Worsts, and Other Notable Things
Highest Rated Album: Matt & Kim – Lightning
Album Rating: 98/100
Album Highlights: “Let’s Go”, “Now”, “I Said”
Highest Rated EP: Go Tell The Eskimo – Smoke Signals EP
Album Rating: 95/100
Album Highlights: “When The Lights Go Out”
Lowest Rated Album: Animal Kingdom – The Looking Away
Album Rating: 73/100
Album Highlights: “Get Away With It”, “Skipping Disc”
Top Viewed Post: Lollapalooza 2013 Lineup Predictions
Nutshell Music Group’s total geek-out favorite band of the year: Stepdad
This one deserves some explaining. This goes to the band that Nutshell Music Group feels is the band that was most enjoyable to deal with. After reviewing Wildlife Pop back in June and then their Beat Kitchen Concert in October, the group has always been fun to watch, listen to, and even talk to in small doses. So a big thank you goes out to the guys in Stepdad for giving us a memorable band to talk about time and time again.
There you have it folks! Have a great time ringing in the new year, and we will be back on schedule with normal reviews after 2013 begins.
Both bass and guitar play off each other’s strengths to form an unstoppable force of motivation for anyone who happens to listen. Active lyrics delivered with just the amount of angst to really hit home. Circa Survive has done it again, challenging their listeners to infuse art with issues, music with urgency.
Circa Survive released its fourth album on Aug. 28 with much anticipation that it did not disappoint. This album is definitely a figurative and literal journey for the band, being self-produced for the first time of its career. Circa also toured with progressive-alternative rock bands O’Brother, Balance And Composure and Touché Amore from Sept. 13 until Oct. 26, showing their extreme versatility both in musical outreach and performance bravado.
The Violent Waves tour stormed Chicago’s Vic Theatre on Oct. 20, a quaint venue for such powerful acts. O’Brother, natives of Atlanta, opened the gig with their captivatingly eerie tracks off of their latest album, Garden Window. Their set left the crowd with a bone-chilling enthusiasm that propelled the suspense of the headlining act a sort of ecstasy.
Following O’Brother were bands Balance And Composure and Touché Amore, upping the anticipation and driving the crowd, to put it simply, insane.
Touché Amore’s set was 20 songs too long, especially knowing that Circa Survive was so close… yet so far away. Although their stage presence was a force to be reckoned with, their set seemed to be composed of the same song set on repeat.
Circa Survive’s diversity within the tour was noble, but seemed to come up short. With Touché Amore off the stage, the static in the air grew thicker as the headlining band was preparing to put on a show that would leave its audience speechless.
Songs played off of “Juturna,” “On Letting Go”, and “Blue Sky Noise”, although extremely rich and layered, seemed to be in a state of stasis in comparison to their newest gift to the world of alternative music.
With Violent Wave’s opener, “Birth of the Economic Hitman,” and second track, “Sharp Practice,” the urgent concept of action is undeniable and finite. Front man Anthony Green stole the entire show, hands down. By the first song on the list, Green was in the crowd, making sure his enchanting energy was spread. A thrilling stage presence was met with incredible vocals and a full-bodied sound from the entire band.
Moments in “Living Together,” when Green would stop singing and the crowd would fill the words for him, when confetti rained down from each balcony, when you literally found yourself at one with the sound, in a trance- that was when it was clear that this tour and album was a wave of triumph for both fans and the band.
During the middle of Circa’s set, Green paused the show and had to walk off the stage. Between chants of, “We love you Anthony,” and “We want Circa!” It was announced that Anthony was ill and needed a few minutes to regain his bearings.
Finishing the show and even coming back out for an encore performance of, “Get Out,” Green showed a true passion for his work. Even apologizing to the audience, Green said, “I always have said never let the crowd know. If you’re tired, if you’re sick, never let it show. But I have to tell you guys tonight. And I’m sorry.”
Green found out later that night that he in fact had a broken rib and Circa decided to drop out of their show in Michigan the following day. Despite this upset, Circa’s performance at the Vic was nothing less than unforgettable.
Traditionally, the concept of “violent waves,” is alone, very particular for each listener. Explicitly admitting there are relationships like hurricanes, destructive careers and overly aggressive political stances shows immense growth in what Circa Survive is ultimately trying to explain- the power to move on to better times.
Circa Survive produces a true work of art, both out of the album and through the tracks, and at their shows. Picking up a copy of the self-produced 11-track piece is not only worth the buy, but also worth the many plays to come.
Here’s the setlist from Circa Survive’s Vic performance, 10/20/12:
- Act Appalled
- Birth of the Economic Hit Man
- In the Morning and Amazing…
- Sharp Practice
- We’re All Thieves
- Glass Arrows
- Living Together
- Through the Desert Alone
- In Fear and Faith
- The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is in the Dose
- Get Out
After spending the Summer traveling with the Vans Warped Tour, Nutshell favorite Stepdad went back to playing intimate shows, with the final stop being at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen. It was hard to budget spending a WHOLE 12 DOLLARS, but it got us up close and personal with the band, bantering with them as they set up on stage and exchanging high fives and hugs after the show. The venue was perfect to house the atmosphere of a Stepdad show, and there was an added bonus of the friendly weirdness of The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt! and the unbelievable quirkiness of Rich Aucoin to open up the show. Both acts provided a pleasant surprise, and being buried underneath tarps (twice) to dance and sing with the two rising artists well exceeded the expectations of the show on its own, and by the end of Aucoin’s set everyone had done their fair share of sweating and spastic jumping. But come 9:30, the heat and energy collaborated at the foot of the stage when the first hints of Stepdad’s “Treasure Hugs” blared through the speakers.
They powered through a ten song set that lasted about an hour, covering material from both the Ordinaire EP and Wildlife Pop. The stage presence was priceless, with frontman Ultramark shuffling around in gold tights and a purple and gold cape/hat combo that he told us was given to him just before the show. The set was loud and powerful, with all members of the band smashing buttons on a Novation Launchpad to recreate the band’s notable vocal loops, along with drummer Jeremy Malvin breaking pair after pair of drum sticks. The music was spot on with the band being chatty and engaging in the short gaps following songs. Between sips of the PBR’s on stage, the band openly spoke of things that usually concluded with Ultramark being called “sexy”. Both the crowd and the two supporting acts were thanked by Stepdad as the show and tour came to a close, and the set ended with Ryan McCarthy saying, “This is going to be our last song. If you can’t guess what it is, then you don’t know us very well.” The band then exploded into an entrancing rendition of “My Leather, My Fur, My Nails” while the crowd erupted into a frenzy of dancing and moshing as confetti rained upon them. They then wasted no time exiting the stage, only to go out and mingle with the many fans congregating at the merchandise table.
Stepdad was a band that instantly caught the attention of Nutshell back in June with the release of Wildlife Pop. They’ve been on our radar ever since, and to catch them at a live performance was an interesting experience to say the least. It’s impossible to say whether or not their Beat Kitchen set was their most impressive to date, but what is possible to say is that Stepdad ended their tour on a nearly perfect note. They get an A for this show, no questions asked. And the question has to be asked (very hopefully): does the touring hiatus mean a new album is to come?
Here’s the setlist from Stepdad’s Beat Kitchen set, 10/13/12:
- Treasure Hugs
- Magic Stones
- Must Land Running
- Wolf Slaying As A Hobby
- Pick and Choose
- Will I Ever Dance Again
- My Leather, My Fur, My Nails
To end the week following Lollapalooza that was full of nothing more than festival chatter and “Top Moments” lists, Nutshell wanted to put together two more concert reviews of the weekend, the first one being of The Head and The Heart. After putting together one of the most underrated albums of the past few years, the band has been playing shows with bands like Dr. Dog, Vampire Weekend, and Death Cab For Cutie, and they made their first stop at Grant Park’s annual festival on the opening day. The outcome was a magical, hour long evening performance that can easily be called one of the best sets of the weekend.
The set opened up with flawless performances of “Cats and Dogs” and “Coeur D’Alene”, which made everyone camping at the Sony Stage for M83 take notice. The 12-song set was brilliant, including fan favorites like “Lost in My Mind” and lesser known songs like “Gone” and “When I Fall Asleep”. The band was able to coast through their entire first album (and then some) and left everyone in that crowd impressed.
The Head and The Heart was not one of the big name bands to play Lollapalooza this year, nor were they billed very high on the initial lineup list. They threw all of that out the window when they played last Friday and proved to everyone that they were ready to be a household name. They played a perfect set and kept everyone there and interested until the very end, and gained a handful of new fans in the process. The Head and The Heart’s Lollapalooza set gets an A with Nutshell Music Group, along with a guarantee that the festival will be bringing them back within the next few years. After a performance like this, Perry Farrell (and any other promoter for that matter) needs to stay on top of these guys.
Here’s The Head and The Heart’s setlist at Lollapalooza on 8/3/12:
- Cats and Dogs
- Coeur D’Alene
- Honey Come Home
- Heaven Go Easy On Me
- Lost in My Mind
- Winter Song
- When I Fall Asleep
- Sounds Like Hallelujah
- Down in the Valley
- Rivers and Roads
There’s definitely a handful of stories that will continue to be retold from this past weekend’s annual Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park in Chicago. Black Sabbath reunited, Saturday was cancelled in the mid-afternoon only to be reinstated later, and so on. A story that deserves to be told is the one about that one band that reopened the Google Play Stage on Saturday. What band? The answer is fun., who has had nothing short of a spectacular year. They’ve been all over festivals, put together one of the best songs of the year (along with an impressive album to back it up), and are now up for two MTV VMA’s. This was an important show for many people to check out, and it wasn’t even the slightest bit disappointing.
Being told to leave Grant Park was a nightmare, and everyone was glued to their phones (Twitter in particular) to find out when they were allowed back in. Bands were shuffled around and cancelled due to the weather, but fun. was reassuring by letting followers know they were still on, now at 6:30. Sure enough, frontman Nate Ruess and company burst onto the stage for an incredibly overpowering rendition of “One Foot”, and ensured that “a little bit of rain” wouldn’t stop the band. I also feel like it’s important to mention Ruess’s shoes. They were great shoes.
The band played a seven song set (short but sweet) that relied heavily on material from Some Nights, including a heart-warming rendition of “Carry On”. They also paid homage to their debut album with electrifying performances of “Walking the Dog” and “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used to Be)”. The crowd screamed out every word with the band, including the auto-tuned high notes heard on the studio recording of set closer “Some Nights”.
fun.’s 45 minute set at Lollapalooza was one of the top highlights of the entire weekend for Nutshell Music Group, and the only complaint from this end was that it was just way too short. But even with the lack of material from Aim and Ignite, fun.’s Lollapalooza set gets an A. Expect to be hearing about them again soon, they’ll be back in Chicago for a show at the Riviera on November 15th, and maybe with a few VMA’s under their belts. Voting is under way now, so you could check out all of the categories and vote for fun. here, and then tune in to watch on September 6th.
Here’s the setlist for fun.’s Lollapalooza show, 8/4/12:
- One Foot
- Walking the Dog
- Carry On
- At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used to Be)
- Why Am I the One
- We Are Young
- Some Nights
After spending the last few weeks off, Nutshell decided to make a comeback with our first ever concert review. We chose one that would be easy to talk about, and that those of you in the Chicago area may have already heard about.
Vampire Weekend entered this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park backed up with only two performances this year (Pitchfork was the third, and is the final scheduled performance for them to date). Festival performances also seemed light years away for the quartet, with frontman Ezra Koenig saying it had been “a looooong time since [they’ve] played festivals” after they stepped onto the Green Stage on Sunday night. And how could they start the set with anything other than two-minute, fast paced Contra track “Cousins” to get the crowd amped up. The band fired through a 16-song set that was capped off with a 4-song encore. Heavily filled with songs from VW’s self-titled debut (the only track from Vampire Weekend that wasn’t featured was “Bryn”), the band looked in top shape, especially considering they’ve barely been on stage this year. The set hit all ends of Vampire Weekend’s spectrum, and it even included the heart-warming “I Think Ur a Contra” and created an amazing atmosphere to finish the show under the night sky. Koenig also promised to fans that after last night’s show, the band was on their way to finish their third studio album, with an untitled new track being played in the middle of the set. The encore was a 4-song backtrack to Vampire Weekend, with all four songs being oldies but goodies.
Vampire Weekend’s Pitchfork set was a solid jumping-off point for Nutshell Concert Reviews, with a great crowd and a set that used the vast majority of the band’s repertoire. The band (keyboardist and guitarist Rostam Batmanglij in particular) got everybody in the audience involved, being sure to keep them on top of all of the “oh”s, “ah”s, and “chah”s needed to make the songs sound spot on. This concert is given an A by Nutshell Music Group. And yes, it was worth braving the sun and 90+ degree heat to see this show up close.
Here’s the setlist for Vampire Weekend’s Pitchfork show, 7/15/12:
- White Sky
- Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
- California English
- I Stand Corrected
- I Think Ur a Contra
- Untitled New Song
- Diplomat’s Son
- Oxford Comma
- Giving Up the Gun
- One (Blake’s Got a New Face)
- Mansard Roof
- The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance