Friday, June 28, 2013

You Missed Out: Twin Peaks

The Chicago Reader's annual "Best Of" party happened at Smart Bar and Metro tonight. I was there, but only because of my wife, Jaclyn. She received an invite in her work email at the Lincoln Park Zoo. I was her +1. This was the first time I've ever been her +1 at the Metro. I can't even count how many times she's been mine over the past 10 years, so I guess this was a special night.

It was weird to see my usual friends and colleagues throughout the evening, because most of them were meeting my wife for the first time. "Wow! I've been wondering if you were real!" marveled Kim, someone I figured I'd see there. We talked about her new job at the Huffington Post, then she introduced us to Leor Galil. He was nice, made a lot of eye contact. Jaclyn kept up with the music journalists, swapping stories about the Hanson brothers and bands that sing about pizza.

It's all about pizza.

After the party at Smart Bar, we all went up to the Metro to check out Chicago's latest buzz band, Twin Peaks. I don't think any of the guys in this band are over 21, so none of them were able to drink the free Shiner Bocks before their set. But they didn't need to. These boys are as energetic a live band I've seen in years. I want them to play with Magic Milk, immediately. At one point during the show, a little mosh pit broke out at the front of the stage. Brady leaned over to me (a lot of my friends and colleagues were there, ok?) to tell me, "that's The Orwells!" "Wha?" "The kids that started the mosh pit, it was The Orwells!" Another Chicago band of kids under 21. Apparently they share such a strong underage-rocker bond with Twin Peaks that they'll mosh at their show by themselves. Why does this city care so much about teenage garage-rockers this year? I don't know. But who cares, because it makes me want to eat pizza.

After Twin Peaks' set, I watched the singer of Todayshits walk to the back of the venue. Todayshits has this awesome song about Tombstone pizza.

I told Jaclyn that we should get Bacci's. We saw Kim again on our way out, mentioned that we wanted pizza. Kim said, "I always want pizza." Jaclyn remembered that Wampire projected a spinning pizza throughout their entire set when we saw them open for Foxygen at Lincoln Hall.

Once outside the Metro, we walked past the Twin Peaks boys. They were hanging out with their friends under the marquee, exactly where they should be. As we continued down the sidewalk towards Addison, we noticed Wrigley Field. We've been going to concerts at the Metro since we were teenagers, and we both noted that we never cared to ever look up at Wrigley Field when we were on our way to a Metro show. The venue is less than a block away from Wrigley, but we never cared about the Cubs. We cared about Chevelle and Alkaline Trio. We were always looking at the west side of Clark, never the east.

We skipped under the red line up to the entrance of Bacci's. The sign was still above the door, but the lights inside were off. We walked around the corner and found another slice place, but it wasn't as good. I told Jaclyn, "Yknow, this was a fun night... But I don't understand why the Reader didn't invite me." My wife laughed at my conceit. I decided then that I would write a blog post about being her +1.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Don't Miss Out: Eleanor Friedberger

I always wondered which sibling was the weird one, Eleanor or Matthew Friedberger. During the Fiery Furnaces days, I always figured it was Eleanor. She had that voice. Nobody sounds like Eleanor Friedberger. And I don't mean just other female vocalists, I mean nobody, period. I loved the Fiery Furnaces for that. That androgynous delivery of hers complimented their kooky experimental pop like Captain Beefheart is complimented by his Magic Band. So she had to be the weird one, right?

Now that I've heard a couple solo records from both siblings, it appears that Eleanor has pulled a fast one on me. I wouldn't be surprised to hear her solo stuff playing in a Starbucks. It's starkly different that her work in The Fiery Furnaces, unquestionably more accessible and pop-oriented. I'm surprised, but thrilled. These are her Leslie Feist days, and I think it's the best thing that could have happened to her.

She still has her unique voice, but her new material lets her focus on songwriting as a craft, rather than attempting musical expression as an abstract art. Her 2013, Personal Record, is loaded with delightfully clever wordplay, so much that she even found herself tongue-tied at her in-store appearance at Reckless this afternoon. She only played about seven songs, but she stammered to a halt in half of them, forgetting the order and rhyme of her own lyrics. With a red-faced Bob Dylan on the shelf behind her, matching her outfit perfectly, he looked like he was thinking, "come on, Eleanor, you can do it." Her lyrics are the sort you want to steal for a facebook status update, but you never do out of respect for her. One of my favorite lines from the new album is, "You've given me everything I ever wanted. I want to be scared, and I want to be haunted." I literally stood up and cheered when I heard that.

And this is why I opted for the acoustic set this afternoon instead of the full band show tonight at the Empty Bottle. I would definitely encourage anyone to go to the show of course, but Eleanor Friedberger is a songwriter now, not an art-rock star. Her stripped down songs easily engage a crowd with just her voice and her guitar. But I'm sure it's breathtaking to hear what she can build around her songs when she has a capable band behind her. Catch her while she's still playing the Empty Bottle, because it could only be a matter of time before she's headlining Ravinia.