Live Music

Mt. Trashmore
Clown Ethics Recordings

Chicago math rockers T’bone make complex grooves for the kids who just barely passed Algebra II. Mt. Trashmore tracks tend to fall into one of two categories: pulsating jams with fairly conventional structures and completely or largely instrumental exercises punctuated with bellowed non-sequiturs.  The trio–Ed Bornstein on drums, Pat McPartland on guitar, and Leland Meiners on bass–pack a lot of ideas into a song, time signature and key changes abound, but they went for the populist jugular on the lyrics. (more…)


(Photo: John C. Schlotfelt)

Iowa City’s premier punk outfit, Supersonic Piss, has itself a serious slab of shellac about to drop. The dirtiest quartet that the city has to offer is about to scramble some brains and blast through some ear drums with their debut full-length Umbilical Noose–out soon on Rotted Tooth Records. (more…)

I took this one, okay.

Iowa City ambient duo, Cocoon, has a few dates scattered across the Midwest in the coming weeks including a set tomorrow night at Panchos Bar, here in Chicago.
Since I last blogged about Ian MacMillian and Zach “Avery” Dowling (a/k/a Goldwater Marmalaid), they’ve finally played more shows than Cocoon has releases. And they have a few with Zodiac and Hugs Unlimited over the next few days. If you’re in the Midwest, all the shows are pretty inexpensive, so if you’re feeling like getting some fine Iowa ambiant, this should be your jam. (more…)

Illustration by Johnnie Cluney of Daytrotter

Chicago’s Pillars and Tongues just saw their sophomore session with the fine folks at Daytrotter hit the Internet. P&T are a unique trio, traversing terain as diverse and folk, drone, and acoustic balladry without breaking a sweat. And they’re pretty much perfectly suited to Daytrotter’s (still) acoustic and rustic(ish) vibe.
This latest session from Pillars and Tongues is a convincing argument for seeing them live. Though their recorded material is wonderful, the way this trio fills a room with sound or embraces the silent edges of a space is haunting. That expansiveness and meditative wonder is fully intact on this session.
Do yourself a favor and experience it here.


I just got my mitts on the second album from bass saxophone extraordinaire, Colin StetsonNew History Warfare Vol. II: Judges, his sophomore slab, comes out on Constellation Records on February 22nd and is already in contention for my tops of 2011 (it probably would have made my top 10 of last year without much trouble). Stetson has been, for the past decade, the go-to for experimental and indie greats when they’re craving the scronkiest or sweetest sax sounds this side of Albert Ayler; Stetson’s wrap sheet is a collaborator’s wet dream: Tom Waits, Arcade Fire, David Byrne, and TV on the Radio, just to name a few. (more…)

I generally have a philosophical objection to reviewing live music, especially if it’s an act on the road, bouncing to another market the next night (I’m apt to break through this objection if I’m getting my name on the list or a free ticket for my words the next day). However, I consider this more of a public service. This won’t be a recounting of what you missed out on (a big reason I don’t do show reviews), no, this is a call to action: next time Black Milk (born Curtis Cross) is in your town, you should score a ticket. (more…)

I think it will be a bit longer before I regularly do show previews, but I figure I can preview a sweet show and introduce some people to this amazing project called Giant System Chicago.
GSC has been posting one video a week for the last few months (up to 21 as of today with Tiger Bones). The videos are immaculately shot in deep, wide angles with warm but highly contrasting lighting, their mini masterpieces worthy of some of the biggest musicians out there. Basically if GSC is taping you, you’re sitting on your first Fuse-ready pile of tape.
The sessions are all over the place, from the eccentric dance kookiness of J + J + J to the Sunn 0))) meets tie-dyed jams of Killer Moon and the of-kilter funk of Icy Demons to the ambient, noise collages of White/Light. You could do worse than to spend a few days picking through their archives. If the jam ain’t your scene, the camera work should be.
Well, Giant System Chicago and Empty Bottle have gotten together, probably after one too many PBR’s and conceived a beautiful baby show. The bill features four of Chicago’s finest up and coming acts with four distinctive sounds. It’s a nice cross section of GSC alumns and a good representation of the diversity of my new stomping grounds.

This is where I’ll be Friday night.

Below I have posted the four sessions from Friday’s performers: (more…)