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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Learning to like Death Cab for Cutie, one song at a time

Posted By on 04.29.15 at 12:00 PM

Death Cab for Cutie
  • Courtesy of Atlantic Records
  • Death Cab for Cutie
When it comes to Ben Gibbard projects I gravitate toward the Postal Service, in part because for one reason or another Death Cab for Cutie never really did it for me. I certainly understand the group's appeal—mannered, cozy indie rock that's bookish enough to be "smart" but not intellectual in a way that could get in the way of mass acceptance. As I moved from high school to college in the mid-aughts and The O.C. took hold of many folks my age, so too did Death Cab, the little band that could, and did, become a bigger band with Billboard-sized numbers. And yet I never quite got hooked, at least until a couple weeks ago.

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Here's the Downtown Sound lineup for 2015

Posted By on 04.29.15 at 11:28 AM

San Fermin
  • Denny Renshaw
  • San Fermin
This morning the city released the lineup for the 2015 season of Downtown Sound, the free concert series that happens at Pritzker Pavilion. In the past Downtown Sound was just one of several series focused on different styles, but this year everything—apart from the annual Made in Chicago jazz series—has been folded into the Downtown Sound rubric. Instead of only Monday night shows, the series will take place on Thursdays as well. There are some exciting pairings, such as the season opener featuring the arty pop ensemble San Fermin and the innovative new-music group So Percussion. There are some great international offerings, including Nigerian juju legend King Sunny Ade, reggae vets Mighty Diamonds, and the killer old-school cumbia project organized by Quantic's Will Holland called Ondatrópica. Rock shows like Poi Dog Pondering and Matthew Sweet seem less inspired, geared more toward Ravinia-style nostalgia than the more forward-looking bookings in years past. There are a fair number of locals featured, including bassist Matt Ulery, In Tall Buildings, Glass Lux, Birds of Chicago, Andrew Belle, and Third Coast Percussion, the latter of whom are pulling together a slew of contemporary classical folks to perform Terry Riley's classic In C. All shows start at 6:30 PM, unless otherwise noted. The full lineup is below.

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Did you read about Lake Michigan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the White Sox?

Posted By on 04.29.15 at 11:22 AM

Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesnt have time for your shit
  • Nikki Kahn/Getty Images
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn't have time for your shit.
Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, alarm, amuse, or inspire us.

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Lost Lake's Paul McGee talks about what came before the mixology revival

Posted By on 04.29.15 at 08:00 AM

A couple of months back I interviewed Paul McGee, now of Lost Lake, for the Reader's bar issue—he was one of six prominent mixologists we asked to name a favorite drink. We disposed of the assignment at hand in a couple of minutes, so I took the opportunity to ask him a question that's long been on my mind. The cocktail revival was like a lot of food movements have been—all about improving quality by getting rid of crappy shortcuts that had invaded the P&L sheets of bars all over America. No more bottles and packets of industrial-grade mixers; it was about making great cocktails by having good ingredients, squeezing your own juices, making your own bitters, and so on. My question was: Did Chicago have any great old-school places that had never made that deal with the efficiency devil in the first place? Was there some old time bar where they predated doing it badly and had kept up doing it right all these years?

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Getting blacked out on the Blackout Fest gig poster

Posted By on 04.29.15 at 07:00 AM

ARTIST: Ryan Duggan
SHOW: The Blackout Fest at Empty Bottle on Fri 5/15 and Sat 5/16

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What the hell is Newcity doing in Brazil?

Posted By on 04.28.15 at 04:00 PM

A couple of years ago, Brian Hieggelke, the editor and publisher of Newcity, traveled to Brazil with his friend Ted Fishman, who was speaking at a summit on globalization. While he was there, Hieggelke realized a few things:

First, there's a vibrant art culture in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, full of artists who are eager to talk about their work and also eager to sell it. Second, there are lots of tourists in both cities who speak English, though not necessarily Portuguese. Third, there was nothing to connect these English-speaking tourists with this vibrant art culture.

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Is nerd culture even a thing anymore? Scenes from C2E2 2015

Posted By on 04.28.15 at 03:30 PM

Dressing like a Stormtrooper is basically socially acceptable at this point.
  • Ryan Smith
  • Dressing like a Stormtrooper is basically socially acceptable at this point.
One of the costume-clad conventioneers who'd packed into a room at the McCormick Center for a Q&A with actor Jason Momoa stood at a microphone to ask a probing, Inside the Actors Studio-style question. He wanted to know about the psychological impact his now-deceased Khal Drogo character had on the Queen of Dragons on HBO's Game of Thrones.

Momoa shrugged off the request to psychoanalyze his fictional wife: "I don't know what you want from me. You saw the goddamn show.”

It was a rare moment of no-bullshit honesty at C2E2, an annual convention that often feels like a three-day interactive commercial for the nerd-industrial complex, which has taken over pop culture in recent years. The audiences sitting in on panels on diversity in comics and science fiction in libraries were dwarfed by the hordes waiting to get a sneak peak at a new M. Night Shyamalan-produced television show or hear actors chat about how awesome it was to be in the Hobbit movies. Then the various Hollywood types take turns sitting in roped-off booths as convention-goers wait in line and pay various fees for a brief and awkward meeting, plus an autograph or picture. "Autographs $30, selfies with Finn $20" read the sign for the line to meet Finn Jones, an actor with a minor part on Game of Thrones.

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N.i.c.o.l.e. and Gel Set have united on a quest to make shadowy dance jams

Posted By on 04.28.15 at 12:30 PM

God Vol. 1
  • Courtesy of Nicole Ginelli
  • God Vol. 1
Yesterday local synth musicians Nicole Ginelli (aka N.i.c.o.l.e.) and Laura Callier (aka Gel Set) released their first song as God Vol. 1, "Second House." The shadowy electronic track ripples with a strong house vibe, which blends with the duo's throwback R&B vision. Ginelli says "Second House" gravitates around "'relations' with a wealthy suitor," and the minimal, sultry vocals echo the mysteriousness of the circumstances of the two characters involved. The tune is sinewy and cool, and I hope it heralds more things to come from God Vol. 1.

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British producer Lone brings gauzy, electrifying beats to Smart Bar

Posted By on 04.28.15 at 12:00 PM

  • Mary Stamm-Clarke
  • Lone

In a "Guest List" feature he did for Pitchfork last year, British electronic producer Lone, aka Matt Cutler, described the lo-fi artist Nite Jewel's work as, "perfect music for that weird time between awake and being in a dream." That's also a pretty good description of Lone's music. Though his music is more propulsive and energetic than Nite Jewel's it's nevertheless the kind of material you'd bust out at dawn, when dancers and rave kids are at the peak of blissful exhaustion. Equipped with a deep knowledge of rave music and its history, Lone's albums provide his signature take on various genres of dance music: throwback Chicago house, 90s hip-hop, electro, and Detroit techno beats topped off by textbook-IDM keyboard sounds like bells and ghostly keyboards. Last year's Reality Testing turned the tempo down a notch, aiming for the kind of head-nodding boom-bap of J Dilla and DJ Premier and recalling broken beat, the jazz-fusion-inspired downtempo electronic music that was fashionable in the early-to-mid aughts. On Thursday Lone stops by Smart Bar; check out today's 12 O'Clock Track, "2 Is 8," a highlight from Reality Testing, below.

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Did you read about Baltimore, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Lesnie?

Posted By on 04.28.15 at 11:22 AM

RIP Andrew Lesnie
  • Mike Nelson/Getty Images
  • RIP Andrew Lesnie
Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, alarm, amuse, or inspire us.

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