Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CHIRP playlist (3/27/11)

I almost did a Chicago sports team theme last night, but after the Blackhawks lost I gave up on that feel-good idea. Instead I played a lot of new music, and especially enjoyed Thao & Mirah. Their harmonies were made for each other. Oh, come to Rodan this Friday after 10pm. I'm DJing until 2am.

12:03AM Fleet Foxes The Plains / Bitter Dancer from Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

12:11AM Sufjan Stevens The Black Hawk War from Come On Feel the Illinoise (Asthmatic Kitty)

12:12AM Bat For Lashes Daniel from Two Suns (Astralwerks)

12:18AM Toro Y Moi Blessa from Causers Of This (Carpark)

12:20AM Panda Bear Afterburner from Tomboy (Paw Tracks)

12:27AM Brian Wilson Surf's Up from Smile (Nonesuch)

12:31AM Peter Bjorn & John Second Chance from Gimme Some (Star Time)

12:37AM Explosions In the Sky Be Comfortable, Creature from Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (Temporary Residence Ltd.)

12:45AM Broken Social Scene Stars And Sons from You Forgot it in People (Arts & Crafts)

12:51AM Pinetop Seven Flushed With Sun & Passion from Pinetop Seven (Atavistic)

12:54AM Sloan Follow the Leader from The Double Cross (Yep Roc)

12:56AM JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound How To Stop Loving Someone Who's Stopped Loving You from Beat of Our Own Drum (self-released)

1:01AM Ornette Coleman Kaleidoscope from This Is Our Music (Atlantic)

1:07AM Radiohead Lucky from OK Computer (Capitol)

1:13AM The Replacements Within Your Reach from Hootenanny (Twin/Tone)

1:17AM The Singleman Affair Do You Feel from Silhouettes at Dawn (Cardboard Sangria)

1:25AM Clinic Harmony from Walking With Thee (Domino)

1:28AM Gorillaz Shy-town from The Fall (Virgin)

1:32AM Town and Country Spicer from Decoration Day (Thrill Jockey)

1:36AM The Beatles I Want To Tell You from Revolver (Capitol)

1:38AM Cass McCombs The Lonely Doll from WIT'S END (Domino)

1:44AM Thao & Mirah Hallelujah from Thao & Mirah (Kill Rock Stars)

1:49AM Brown Recluse Statue Garden from Evening Tapestry (Slumberland)

1:53AM Buddy Holly It Doesn't Matter Anymore from Greatest Hits (MCA)

1:55AM Kisses Bermuda from The Heart Of The Nightlife (This is Music)

2:00AM Boris Ano Onna No Onryou from Akuma No Uta (Diwphalanx)

2:06AM Jawbox Tongues from Novelty (Dischord)

2:10AM Nerves Die Tonight from New Animal (Thrill Jockey)

2:14AM The Handsome Family Hunter Green from Last Days Of Wonder (Carrot Top)

2:19AM Death Cab for Cutie You Are A Tourist from Codes and Keys (Atlantic)

2:24AM Atmosphere Something So from The Family Sign (Rhymesayers)

2:27AM Katy B Why You Always Here from On a Mission (Columbia)

2:33AM Phantogram Mouthful Of Diamonds from Eyelid Movies (Barsuk)

2:38AM The Antlers Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out from Burst Apart (Frenchkiss)

2:42AM Implodes Meadowlands from Black Earth (kranky)

2:47AM Tom Waits 16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought-Six from Swordfishtrombones (Island)

2:53AM Small Brown Bike As We Go from Fell & Found (No Idea)

2:56AM The American Analog Set Born On The Cusp from Set Free (Arts & Crafts)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Is This Partying?

Leading up to Easter, I endured three straight nights of DJing on all three sides of Chicago. First was Simone's on the south side. This was Wednesday, at a bar I've never been to but have heard nice things about. It's located on 18th street, on the other side of the railroad tracks near Halsted. Just east of these tracks is an apartment above a little Mexican grocery store where I lived at least three different times throughout college. It was a place where a lot of kids crashed for a night/week/month, either on a couch or floor. I always brought my own air mattress, so I was living it up.

Simone's didn't yet exist when I was living in Pilsen, but the neighborhood has seen a bit of gentrification since Simone's and other places like it came in. It's a pretty spacious place, more of a restaurant than a bar. My DJ booth was in the middle of everything, up a small flight of stairs in a space-agey cage. Pinball machines made for wall decorations. 80s' movies played on the TVs. But everybody remained seated throughout the night. There wasn't a dance floor, so it was a fun, low-pressure night for this rookie DJ.

One thing I learned during this gig trilogy is the value of a friendly staff. The waitresses, bartenders and management at Simone's were all very cool. They gave me 10 drink tickets. Obviously not all for myself, but for any friends I invited over. Only a few of my buddies showed up, but we couldn't even get through all of those tickets. All said, I'd be happy to go south again for another set at Simone's.

Thursday started out huge. I woke up to a call from Chipotle, letting me know that my business card had been picked out of their fishbowl, meaning I had won 10 free burritos. I took this as incentive to get people to come out to my gig for the evening. Whoever showed up to my gig that night would get one of the free burritos. I was scheduled to spin in the bar area of the Bottom Lounge, and planned to arrive a little early to watch the Bulls game on their TVs. Sounds exciting, right? It all went according to plan, I had my burritos and Bulls at Bottom Lounge, but then the Bottom Lounge staff came into play.

I don't know if these people want to maintain their punk cred or what, but most of them were remarkably rude and unpleasant. So even if they asked me back, nah. I won't DJ there ever again. In spite of all the good things that happened on this day, I left the west side feeling pretty cranky. I actually don't even want to go to the Bottom Lounge for a show if I can help it now. I mean, who's still trying to be punk? Wrong century, kids.

But the best experience was Friday in Wicker Park. I was booked at Rodan for 10pm to 2am, moved ahead from a week later. Literally five minutes before I went on, the manager asked me aside. There was a mix up. Apparently, every 4th Friday of the month at Rodan is reserved for the Soul-Glo guys. So there was a double booking. I suggested just going for an hour, and then returning a week later for my full set. She and the Soul-Glo DJs agreed to this, and Rodan paid me better for that one hour than any other gig I've had so far.

The staff were apologetic, professional and courteous all night, and I cannot wait to go back there this Friday (4/29) to work with those good people again. If I could get anything regular anywhere, Rodan wins by a mile. So if you need to get out this weekend, come to the north side's crotch and we'll hang out at Rodan. If people start dancing, we might even be able to call it a party.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

CHIRP Playlist (4/20/11)

Tonight I'm DJing in Pilsen at Simone's on 18th. Tomorrow I'm going to watch the Bulls game at Bottom Lounge, then DJ in the bar while Appleseed Cast plays further in. Then Friday I'm DJing Rodan in the crotch of Wicker Park. I'd encourage you dear readers to come out, but we've had the most depressing weather this week, so I'll understand if you just want to stay in and watch Twin Peaks on Netflix Instant. But I had my usual CHIRP shift last night too, fresh off tabling the Delorean show at Lincoln Hall. For some reason, the songs are all out of order, but here's what I played:

5:22AM Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears Black Snake from Scandalous (Lost Highway)

3:00AM The Blow A Night Full of Open Eyes from Concussive Caress, Or, Casey Caught Her Mom Singing (K)

2:58AM Silkworm Tonight We're Meat from Blueblood (Touch and Go)

2:58AM BOAT Bite My Lips from Dress Like Your Idols (Magic Marker)

2:58AM The Feelies So Far from Here Before (Bar/None)

2:44AM The Rolling Stones Country Honk from Let It Bleed (Decca)

2:37AM Chad VanGaalen Blonde Hash from Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

2:33AM tUnE-yArDs Gangsta from whokill (4AD)

2:32AM Salva I'll Be Your Friend from Complex Housing (Friends of Friends)

2:24AM Zavala Primor from The Dark Time Sunshine Vessel Instrumentals (Fake Four Inc.)

2:17AM Prefuse 73 The Only Repeat from The Only She Chapters (Warp)

2:11AM Love The Red Telephone from Forever Changes (Elektra)

2:11AM Thom Yorke Cymbal Rush from The Eraser (XL)

2:11AM High Places The Longest Shadows from High Places vs. Mankind (Thrill Jockey)

1:56AM Broken Bells The High Road from Broken Bells (Columbia)

1:48AM Aqueduct Hardcore Days & Softcore Night from I Sold Gold (Barsuk)

1:41AM Jackie-O Motherfucker Dedication from Earth Sound System (Fire)

1:38AM This is Cinema Shine Whole from unreleased (Whistler)

1:38AM Luscious Jackson Mood Swing from Fever In Fever Out (Grand Royal)

1:38AM TV On the Radio You from Nine Types of Light (Interscope)

1:23AM The Smiths The Headmaster Ritual from Meat Is Murder (Sire)

1:23AM Black Kids Hurricane Jane from Partie Traumatic (Columbia)

1:23AM John Fahey The Yellow Princess from The Essential John Fahey (Vanguard)

1:23AM Hauschka Ping from Salon des Amateurs (FatCat)

1:23AM Tortoise Cornpone Brunch Watt Remix (Mike Watt 'Cornpone Brunch' remix) from A Lazarus Taxon (Thrill Jockey)

12:59AM A Silver Mt. Zion Broken Chords Can Sing a Little from He Has Left Us Alone, But Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms... (Constellation)

12:48AM The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Too Tough from Belong (Slumberland)

12:43AM Delorean Seasun from Ayrton Senna EP (Mushroom Pillow)

12:35AM Dengue Fever Thank You Goodbye from Cannibal Courtship (Concord)

12:35AM Daedelus Sew, Darn, Mend from Bespoke (Ninja Tune)

12:29AM Colorlist City Life (Gamal Trio Rmx) from Photographs (Off!)

12:22AM Architecture in Helsinki Denial Style from Moment Bends (Co-op)

12:15AM Curtis Mayfield Little Child Runnin' Wild from Superfly (Curtom)

12:06AM Tristeza Opiate Slopes from Dream Signals In Full Circles (Tiger Style)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dancing at the Festival of Faith and Music

When you decide to be a DJ, a lot of things happen at once. First, you can no longer play a song solely for your self. You turn what used to be personal enjoyment into a grueling job, accepting money in exchange for a less dignified taste in music. It's humbling work for a music-lover, but work that may alternately indulge the ego and increase self-confidence. Of all the people in the bar, there is only one person playing the music. You. Girls flirt with you for no other reason than to hear an Usher song. They touch your arm, and you say "yes." Endorphins run wild. It's hard to fall asleep the night after a good party. But you keep the party on. You keep them thirsty.

DJs need alcohol. That is, we need people to buy drinks from the bar. Two reasons we need people to drink: dancing, and a higher payout at the end of the night. At least for rookie DJs, for most of our gigs we are paid according to a percentage of the bar sales. This is why your annoying DJ friends are always asking you to come out to their gigs on Thursday nights. They are promoters as much as they are taste-makers. And sometimes they're not even taste-makers, they just take requests for a few hours and act cool behind a laptop.

I had the opportunity to DJ at Calvin College's Festival of Faith and Music last week. I had the last slot on the schedule. After shows by Matisyahu, My Brightest Diamond, The Civil Wars and Jon Foreman, Dylan Peterson DJed on Saturday night.

On my drive up to Grand Rapids, I wondered, "what kind of kids are going to come out for this? A Saturday night, on campus, without alcohol... Am I going to bomb?" Up until this point, I had only DJed in places where the alcohol was the selling point, and not the DJ. People had fun at my gigs because they were buzzed. How will the people of "faith" react to my set?

My set started quietly, with some remixes of HEALTH by Little Loud. Only a few kids were in the space, dancing probably out of pity, or boredom. But about 15 minutes after I started a stampede of people charged in with balloons, party hats and foam glasses. They were dancing before they even knew what song was on, so I quickly threw on Gettin' Jiggy With It to see how they'd handle it. These kids moved every inch on their bodies. There wasn't even a pivot foot on the floor. It was insanity.

And this went on for two straight hours. Past midnight. On a Saturday night. On the campus of a Christian college.

It reminded me of an interview I did with Ratatat a few years prior. They played a show at Calvin College, and told me that the kids there were crazier than any other city in the country. They guessed that the kids must have been drinking paint thinner or something, because they never saw anything like it.

I thought the same thing last week. There was no way these kids could be dancing as hard as they were without some foreign substance inspiring their movement.

But this week I've been thinking about it, and it's starting to make sense. Even though it's liberal compared to other Christian universities, Calvin is still a Bible college. A lot of restraint is encouraged at this school, under a guise of "personal discernment." This was the school that less than a year ago, cancelled a New Pornographers concert on campus for the sole reason that the band's name wasn't savory. This school is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the only real cultural attraction in the town is Rob Bell's Mars Hill church.

These kids are champagne trapped under a thumb, and I popped the cork last weekend. In Chicago where we drink every other night, there's no pressure to dance. But at Calvin College, you might hold yourself back for months until a fleeting moment actually gives you a chance to release some energy. It was a blast to be able to play music for these kids who didn't need anything other than their own excitement in order to go crazy.

However, I noticed that when they haven't had anything to drink, the girls don't flirt as hard with me. And while that's not as great for the old self-confidence, at least they dance.

Because, ultimately, being a DJ is just being a part of the crowd. If the mob demands Black Eyed Peas, they will get Black Eyed Peas. And the DJ will get retarded with them. It's a communal experience, moving around to rhythms. There's no time for taste when we're dancing. No time for discernment. It's just about movement. So whether I'm at a Christian college in Michigan or a gay bar in Chicago, we're all just having some fun.

So drink up, or not.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

CHIRP Playlist (4/13/11)

I played tracks from upcoming Fleet Foxes, Times New Viking and Battles. 2011 is doing it right with the new music. And more "Welcomes" shows around town this year too. I'll be tabling at the "CHIRP Welcomes Delorean" show on Tuesday at Lincoln Hall, come say hi and get your mind blown out the back of your skull by Delorean's live show. We're so lucky that they're already back for another tour. Don't miss this one.

12:02AM Holy Ghost! Jam for Jerry from Holy Ghost! (DFA)

12:07AM Menomena Strongest Man In the World from I Am the Fun Blame Monster (FILMguererro)

12:15AM Fleet Foxes Montezuma from Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

12:18AM Maritime Apple of My Irony from Human Hearts (Dangerbird)

12:21AM The Kinks David Watts from Something Else By the Kinks (Reprise)

12:25AM HEALTH USA Boys from ::DISCO2 (Lovepump United)

12:29AM Wagon Christ Toomorrow from Toomorrow (Ninja Tune)

12:33AM Kanye West So Apalled from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam)

12:41AM The Vandermark 5 Vehicle (For Magnus Broo) from The Color Of Memory (Atavistic)

12:51AM Kurt Vile In My Time from Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

12:54AM Gypsyblood My R.K.O. is M.I.A. from Cold in the Guestway (Sargent House)

1:01AM LCD Soundsystem Losing My Edge from LCD Soundsystem (DFA)

1:08AM Run-D.M.C. It's Like That from Ultimate Run-D.M.C. (Arista)

1:15AM Liars Sailing To Byzantium* from Liars (Mute)

1:19AM Vee Dee Stray People from Vee Dee (BLVD)

1:26AM Nightlands 300 Clouds from Forget the Mantra (Secretly Canadian)

1:31AM Quintron Face Down in the Gutter from Sucre Du Sauvage (Goner)

1:34AM Times New Viking Ever Falling In Love from Dancer Equired (Merge)

1:37AM Voxtrot The Start of Something from Raised By Wolves (Cult Hero)

1:42AM Jonny Candyfloss from Jonny (Merge)

1:45AM Rival Schools Wring It Out from Pedals (Photo Finish)

1:50AM Black Devil Disco Club Stay Insane (featuring Yacht) from Circus (Lo)

1:54AM Gayngs The Last Prom On Earth from Relayted (Jagjaguwar)

2:02AM The Sea and Cake Leeora from The Biz (Thrill Jockey)

2:06AM William Fitzsimmons Farewell Angelina from Subterranean Homesick Blues: A Tribute to Bob Dylan's 'Bringing It All Back Home' (Reimagine)

2:13AM Kings Of Convenience Renegade from Declaration Of Dependence (Astralwerks)

2:17AM Keren Ann 101 from 101 (EMI)

2:23AM Orchestre Poly-Rythmo Pardon from Cotonou Club (Strut)

2:28AM Tom Zé Solvador, Bahia De Caymmi from Estudando A Bossa: Nordeste Plaza (Luaka Bop)

2:31AM The World/Inferno Friendship Society The Mighty Raritan from The Anarchy and the Ecstasy (Chunksaah)

2:35AM Battles Futura from Glass Drop (Warp)

2:42AM Bloodiest Obituary from Descent (Relapse)

2:48AM Del the Funky Homosapien Raw from Golden Era (The Council)

2:52AM Prince Kiss from Parade (Warner Bros.)

2:55AM Anathallo Bells from Canopy Glow (Anticon)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

You Missed Out: Cut Copy

(published by Heave Media)

In spite of their venue, Cut Copy almost made the acoustics in the Riviera sound adequate last night. Dan Whitford's baritone sounded just as rich live as it does on record, every synth and guitar was working in perfect harmony, and the beats were unnaturally tight. It probably wasn't unlike the first time people heard Joy Division. But on this night, Cut Copy were doing their best New Order impersonation. The sound was huge, and it got warm as hell in there.

The crowd had its hands up from the front to the back, and they were all dancing too. Even up in the balcony, dancing. I even saw one girl pull a security guard over to dance with her. Not sure if that was a distraction for her friends to get backstage or what, but still, it was fun to see even the stereotypically stoic tough guy getting down to some synth pop.

When Whitford made predictions between songs like "things are about to get crazy in here," he turned out to be right every time. Lights and Music was the craziest song of the night, in a meta-ironic sort of way (lights and music certainly were on all of our minds...). Whitford sang with his arms and hands stretching all around, which got hyper-meta-ironic when he got to the chorus of Hearts of Fire ("I reach out to you tonight"). It was a feel-good show from start to finish, but Take Me Over, one of the highlights of their 2011 album, Zonoscope, was the feel-good song of night.

A neat little gimmick was the plain white door set up in the center of the stage. It was lined with LED lights, and a few songs into the set the door suddenly became a backdrop for vivid and surreal projections. The most common images were white clouds on blue skies, a sight Chicagoans are tired of dreaming of. But even though it was another damp, cold and cloudy night, spring seemed closer than ever inside the Riviera. The sights and sounds of Cut Copy helped thaw us out a bit.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

CHIRP Playlist (4/6/11)

New music from Hauschka, Low and TV on the Radio this week, and I'll probably play something from the new Fleet Foxes next week. There is some good stuff coming out right now, and I will play all of it on CHIRP. Oh, and even though I won't be there (I'm DJing at Calvin College's Festival of Faith and Music this weekend), the CHIRP Record Fair is this Saturday and Sunday. Go to it.

12:02AM Low Especially Me from C'mon (Sub Pop)

12:07AM Simon & Garfunkel Leaves That Are Green from Sounds of Silence (Columbia)

12:10AM Soft Speaker Breaking Bones from Conditions (self-released)

12:15AM TV On the Radio Second Song from Nine Types of Light (Interscope)

12:19AM Joan As Police Woman Run For Love from The Deep Field (PIAS)

12:26AM Nick Drake Cello Song from Five Leaves Left (Island)

12:30AM Crystal Stilts Invisible City from In Love with Oblivion (Slumberland)

12:36AM The Mekons Ghosts Of American Astronauts from So Good It Hurts (Twin/Tone)

12:42AM The Raveonettes War in Heaven from Raven in the Grave (Vice)

12:45AM Cut Copy Out There On The Ice from In Ghost Colours (Modular)

12:51AM Wire Reuters from Pink Flag (EMI)

12:54AM The People's Temple The Surf from Sons Of Stone (HoZac)

12:58AM The Cave Singers At The Cut from Welcome Joy (Matador)

1:02AM Magnolia Electric Co. Hold On Magnolia from The Magnolia Electric Co. (Secretly Canadian)

1:10AM Wilco Impossible Germany from Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)

1:18AM Four Tet Parks from Pause (Domino)

1:23AM Cold Cave Icons of Summer from Cherish the Light Years (Matador)

1:30AM Canasta Firenze from We Were Set Up (Broken Middle C)

1:34AM The Head and the Heart Rivers And Roads from The Head and the Heart (Sub Pop)

1:44AM Ha Ha Tonka Death of a Decade from Death of a Decade (Bloodshot)

1:44AM The Jam Music for the Last Couple from Sound Affects (Polydor)

1:50AM The Kills Satellite from Blood Pressures (Domino)

1:54AM O'Death Ourselves from Outside (Ernest Jenning)

1:57AM Neil Young Don't Let It Bring You Down from After The Goldrush (Reprise)

2:02AM The Album Leaf Vermillion from One Day I'll Be on Time (Tiger Style)

2:08AM Kraftwerk Computer Love from The Mix (Kling Klang)

2:16AM Beastie Boys Hold It Now, Hit It from Licensed To Ill (Def Jam)

2:19AM The Electric Sometimes from Life Is Moving (OGS)

2:25AM Plastic Crimewave Sound Caged Fire Theme from Flashing Open (Eclipse/Rocket)

2:32AM Vivian Girls I Heard You Say from Share the Joy (Polyvinyl)

2:36AM Hauschka Taxitaxi from Salon des Amateurs (FatCat)

2:41AM Sroeng Santi Dub Fai Kui Gun from Thai? Dai!: The Heavier Side of the Luk Thung Underground (Finders Keepers)

2:45AM Six Organs Of Admittance Hold but Let Go from Asleep on the Floodplain (Drag City)

2:51AM Adventure Rio from Lesser Known (Carpark)

2:56AM David Bowie It's No Game (Part 1) from Scary Monsters (RCA)