Cass McCombs opened his set at a sold-out Empty Bottle Friday with the chugging new song Big Wheel and he ended with his somber 2011 classic County Line. The songs between, picked from his seven albums over a decade, highlighted McCombs consistently good songwriting and unique take on Americana.
Saying little more than thank you to the crowd for the applause, McCombs spent almost no time between songs, playing an efficient set that included some mini jams. If you’re a fan of his music, I highly recommend checking out his live show. He may not be much of a conversationalist on stage but he delivers a great performance.
Arbouretum opened the show with a fine set of heavy folk. The video below is taken from a California show performed by McCombs last month. The Empty Bottle gig featured the same glimmering backdrop.
Cass McCombs’ sprawling recent release Big Wheel and Others is the latest in a line of excellent and intriguing albums from the enigmatic singer-songwriter. Boasting 19 songs, Big Wheel also has the distinction of being by far the longest album McCombs released. On Friday, you can catch him at the Empty Bottle. Judging from his recent set lists, McCombs is going back years, drawing from all his albums and usually playing no more than three or four new songs in a night. This intimate setting should be a perfect venue.
If you’re going to the Men-Fuzz show at Logan Square Auditorium Friday, go early for openers Purling Hiss and CCR Headcleaner. San Francisco-based CCR brings the heavy, psychedelic and slightly scuzzy muck on the band’s debut Lace the Earth With Arms Wide Open. CCR, the first band, will definitely get the crowd warmed up. The show is presented by Empty Bottle.
Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Dirty Beaches, makes dark, desolate and sometimes sinister-sounding music that could be the soundtrack for a party thrown at the underbelly of some mythical urban hellscape. And I mean that in the best possible way. The Taiwanese-born Canadian made a really good “double” album Drifters/Love is the Devil this year. With eight songs on each album, Drifters is the collection of brooding post-punk songs, while Love is the Devil features mostly instrumental and largely ambient sounds. I prefer Drifters but am intrigued how Hungtai sews the approaches together in a single live set. Dirty Beaches plays Empty Bottle Thursday.
Opening for Dirty Beaches is Sisu, a band led by Dum Dum Girls drummer Sandy Vu. While far more conventional than Dirty Beaches, Sisu is a neat mix of electronic and rock. The spirit of Sisu’s new album, Blood Tears, reminds me a little of Frankie Rose, a former member of Dum Dum Girls. I’ve lost track of the number of side projects or new bands started by either a past member of Dum Dum Girls or Vivian Girls but I also can’t think of one that I’ve disliked.
Ell V Gore gets the party started Thursday night.
Here’s a new video for Star Crawl, a song off the soon to be released Crystal Stilts’ album Nature Noir. I’ve been listening to this album and there’s reason to be excited. It’s set for release September 17.
These guys hit the Empty Bottle October 10.
Not only is Lollapalooza sold out but so are most of the official after shows. Empty Bottle says it will sell a limited number of tickets at the door for its shows. That means you could potentially still see Wavves Sunday night.
The Bottle also released a limited number of tickets online, though I expect these will go fast. Anyway, Wavves at Empty Bottle would be better than an entire day at Lolla.
This year has been an exciting one for indie female artists. Two of my top albums of 2013 are Waxahatchee’s Cerulean Salt and Savages‘ Silence Yourself. (More on the top list later.) I’m also looking forward to Tristen’s new album, Caves.
Here’s a chance to catch a couple of other exciting new artists on the same night. Torres and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper play Empty Bottle Thursday. Torres is promoting her self-titled debut. Lady Lamb is touring her new release, Ripely Pine. This should be a good show.
Here’s a good bet for a Sunday night. Three bands for three bucks at the Empty Bottle. Tex and the Girls headline but go early to see opener Hospital Ships from Lawrence, Kansas. Seamless Crack also plays. Hospital Ships’ new album, Destruction in Yr Soul, is released Tuesday.
Do Divison is one of the best summer street fests in Chicago for music. That’s because the two stages of the blocks-long festival are curated by either the Empty Bottle or the folks who book Subterranean. A little competition goes a long way.
Let’s take this Saturday night, for example. The Subterranean stage features headliner Tilly and the Wall, a band that would vastly improve most of the street fests in Chicago. But I’ve got to go with Ariel Pink on the Empty Bottle-curated stage. How could I resist? Ariel Pink also is playing a sold-out show at the bottle later that evening.
Of course, that’s not all. Chicago’s awesome Disappears plays one headline slot Friday night. On Sunday, there’s only one stage but it features the always fun Jeff the Brotherhood headlining.
A cool, fun band at the Bottle for free? Seems like a no brainer.
Also check out the band’s excellent new album, You’re Nothing.
Garage rocker Ty Segall treated his fans to three albums last year. Last month, two early Segall albums were reissued, including the self-titled release from his surf-punk band Traditional Fools. The second reissue, Reverse Shark Attack, is Segall’s release with longtime bandmate Mikal Cronin. Segall has come a long way as an artist since those earlier recordings but I still enjoy listening to these raw tracks. If you’re a Segall completist, you’ll want to pick up the reissues.
I Wear Black is the first song on Reverse Shark Attack. The video above was shot at Permanent Records in Chicago.
“Where we surf, there’s always waves.” This Traditional Fools video gives you a good idea what the band sounded like. The song, Street Surfin’, is not on the recently reissued album.
Looking for a good psychedelic jam Saturday night? You can’t beat Six Organs of Admittance at Empty Bottle. Six Organs is Ben Chasny, who is touring his most recent album, Ascent. The album is a diversion from last year’s mostly acoustic release, Asleep on the Floodplain. For Ascent, Chasny brought in his former band mates from Comets on Fire to make a much more rocking offering.
Just when I think the indie girl group genre has run its course, a group like Grass Widow proves me wrong. It’s not an entirely new formula but it’s done well. Check out the band’s album Internal Logic, released earlier this year. Grass Widow plays Empty Bottle Thursday.
Check out this video for Drift Away from Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow. The former duo once known as Reading Rainbow is now a four-piece band and plans to release a new album, Yeah Right, in January. The band is also opening for A Place to Bury Strangers at Empty Bottle next month.
Here’s a good way to beat a case of the Mondays. Head to Empty Bottle for the experimental sounds of Blues Control, which opens for Ponytail’s guitarist Dustin Wong Monday night. Wong is promoting his second solo album, Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads. Blues Control recently released Valley Tangents.
And it’s free!
There’s been a lot of buzz in the U.K. about Alt-J, an indie band that mixes rock, R&B, dubstep, folk and (you name it) other genres on its intriguing debut An Awesome Wave. That chatter around Alt-J has increased since late May when the band’s album was released in Europe. And I suspect there will be quite a bit of talk in the U.S. about these guys once An Awesome Wave is released here September 18. The album is really fresh and original. The buzz is well deserved.
If you act fast, you may be able to snag a ticket for the band’s Empty Bottle performance Sunday (a small number were just released to the sold-out show). The gig is actually Chairlift’s Lollapalooza after-show. Alt-J opens.
By the way, the name refers to the triangle created on a Mac when you press the alt and J keys.
Check out more Alt-J videos after the jump.
What a great show featuring two of Chicago’s best: Radar Eyes opens for Disappears at the Empty Bottle Friday. Both bands made very cool, highly recommended albums this year. Disappears will be playing after it headlines at the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival at 9 p.m.
It’s not like Ty Segall has been recording yacht rock for the past few years but, man, does he bring it on his latest album, Slaughterhouse. The songs are harder, faster and all-around more intense. Officially, it’s a release by the Ty Segall Band (he recorded it with the guys he takes on tour). I’ve lost track of how many records he’s made, but the prolific one just announced another solo album, Twins, to be released in October. That would be the third album by Segall this year. He also released Hair, a (recommended) collaboration with White Fence.
If you like Segall’s manic garage rock, Chicago is the place to be over the next few days. He and Japandroids will be at Lincoln Hall for the WBEZ show Sound Opinions on Thursday. Segall headlines a sold-out show at Empty Bottle Saturday night and he plays Pitchfork Music Festival Sunday afternoon. If you’re going to Pitchfork Sunday, don’t miss this one. Segall is unbelievable live.
From last year’s Goodbye Bread:
Also see New music: Ty Segall and White Fence
West Fest is one of a handful of Chicago neighborhood festivals that books very good bands. The main stage, curated by Empty Bottle, features Saturday headliner Black Lips and opener Man or Astro-Man. Mates of State headline Sunday with Crooked Fingers opening. Click here for the full lineup.
You can catch three of the bands at Empty Bottle this weekend: Black Lips play Friday, Man or Astro-Man plays Saturday and Mates of State headlines a late show Sunday. Mates of State is promoting its album Mountaintops, released last fall. Crooked Fingers released Breaks in the Armor last year, while Black Lips put out Arabia Mountain. Man or Astro-Man is in the midst of a two-year reunion tour.