Alexis Taylor's intimate performance at The Empty Bottle

Alicia Maciel | Thursday, June 14, 2018

"I came because I love Hot Chip" was only one of the phrases overheard from the anticipated crowd. As more people trickled in as the night passed by, Alexis Taylor headlined a synth-filled night at The Empty Bottle. 

In the heart of Chicago's Ukrainian Village, The Empty Bottle's known for hosting some of the best underground acts and sticking true to their motto "music friendly dancing". Adding Alexis Taylor, along with opening act Annie Hart, to their artist history only enriches the venue's fantastic history. Following a solo career focusing on introspection, the singer/songwriter showcased his creativity in new ways.

Alexis kept loyal Hot Chip fans on their toes by performing '90s dance tracks like "Beautiful Thing" and the sultry, smooth HC track "White Wine & Fried Chicken". Infusing affectionate tones into his clear vocals, Alexis Taylor's electropop project highlights themes of nostalgia and identity all while challenging his dynamics.  

Incorporating energetic samples and instrumentals that resonated with the audience, more and more attendees approached the stage and swayed along to the rhythm. With 5 albums under his belt, the most recent being Beautiful Thing this year via Domino RecordsAlexis Taylor continues to emotionally impact any listener by showcasing vulnerability at its finest. Shaping the album around the title track, Tim Goldsworthy (co-founder of Mo Wax and DFA Recordings, member of UNKLE and LCD Soundsystem) joined Alexis to produce Beautiful Thing. Honing in on a realm of artists for inspiration, the two worked side by side to bring the intimate tracks to a new level.

With haunting vocals telling the story of one's creative and personal journey, Alexis Taylor's tracks hit different heart strings - easily resonating with anyone, anywhere. 

Stay updated with Alexis Taylor by checking out the video for "Beautiful Thing" below along with upcoming tour dates and links.

Written by Alicia Maciel (IG, Twitter: @eraseher_), a fan of hugs and the surfer emoji.

Real Friends' Composure exclusive listening

Kelley Sloot | Friday, June 15, 2018

I remember listening to Real Friends on my pink iPod Nano while waiting for the school bus when I was a freshman in high school. I was 14 years old and my mental health was probably at one of the lowest times it’s ever been in. At the time, I don’t think I had ever related to music as much as I did when I would listen to Put Yourself Back Together

Thinking back and remembering what ran through my head, "holy shit, everything that I’m feeling right now has been put into a song and this is it". It’s been years since then and thankfully my mental health has improved with the help of medication as well as my own self-care. But when I didn’t have the courage to seek professional help, Real Friends made me feel a little less lonely and I’m not sure if I will ever be able to explain how grateful I am for that.

This week, I was lucky enough to attend an exclusive album listening party for their new album, Composure, coming out on July 13th. The boys were all in attendance and fans got a first look at the album cover as well as the pleasure of listening to the entire album in full before it’s released to the public. While the album was blasting over the speakers in the screen-printing warehouse, everyone was able to talk one-on-one with the band members and enjoy cupcakes and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Their new song, "From the Outside", has already been released to the public with a colorful music video that only scratches the surface of the impressive instrumentals and lyrics included in Composure. The whole album delivers an extremely full sound and pairs it with the emotional and relatable lyrics that Real Friends is known for. Although I don’t want to give too much away because there is a bit of pleasure that comes with the suspense of waiting for the full record release, I will say that both new and old fans alike will not be disappointed with this one.

Check out the latest Real Friends music video for "From The Outside" below and stay updated with their links right under. 

Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify 

Composure will be released on July 13th, 2018.

Written by Kelley Sloot (IG, Twitter @kelleysloot).

Rainbow Kitten Surprise @ The Metro

Sabrina Miresse | April 21, 2018

This concert reassured me of two things: the bassist in a band is always the weirdest member and thankfully there are still musicians making catchy tunes that have personality and are truly original.

Musicians these days often rap to the same beat and are caught trying to create radio hits, resulting in a Coldplay situation that the majority of people eat up. With Rainbow Kitten Surprise, I'm listening to their music, reading who they claim as their inspirations, and I'm not coming up with a simple answer as to who they take after or how they craft their songs. 

I can tell one thing: this genre-less band listens to just as much, if not more, hip-hop as they do pop and rock music. This musical diversity plays a role in the execution of their performances and genuineness of their records. 

The five Boone, North Carolina natives of Rainbow Kitten Surprise were joined by southern rock band CAAMP for the April 21 Chicago show at The Metro.

It was a smart move by The Metro to have ceiling fans blowing on the crowd all night, because the sold-out show had a crowd packed with music lovers trying to dance through the night.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise opened the show with the first two tracks from their latest album, “How to: Friend, Love, Freefall.” Following the two songs, “Pacific Love” and “Mission to Mars," was the popular “Cocaine Jesus” from the band’s 2015 sophomore album “RKS.”

The band was clearly happy to be in Chicago, “We’ve been looking forward to this for a while,” lead Sam Melo said to the crowd.

Melo showcased his hip-hop flare in “Fever Pitch” and his seductive dance moves in “Lady Lie” during the Metro performance.

The very fitting closing song “Goodnight Chicago” wooed the crowd as the performance rolled into 11 p.m.

There’s refreshing originality in this band’s tunes. Over the course of the five years Rainbow Kitten Surprise has been releasing music, their sound has stayed unique and each album is clearly recorded with tremendous emotion and personal care.

Sam Melo playing keys and Charlie Holt on bass. Photo by Kelley Sloot.

Sam Melo playing keys and Charlie Holt on bass. Photo by Kelley Sloot.

Son Lux @ Lincoln Hall

Sabrina Miresse | March 29, 2018

The quietest rock band I’ve ever seen.

The early Son Lux concert started at 7 p.m. with openers Hanna and Sinkane. The three boys of Son Lux—Ryan Lott, Rafiq Bhatia and Ian Chang—hit the stage promptly at 8:30 p.m. with an intro so soft, you could hear the bartenders in the back of Lincoln Hall shaking drinks.

It was silent in the crowd for a couple minutes, and I mean dead silent. There were no voices over the muffled sound wave the band had been sending out into the crowd. Quiet anticipation feels weird—especially at a concert. There was no clapping or woos from the audience, no side conversations able to be heard near me, and all I could make of that is pure anticipation.

Dreamy blue lights radiated around the room making the Lincoln Hall feel like the inside of a fish bowl. An abrupt ambient shift in the opening song startled me a couple minutes in, bringing my attention back towards the stage. 

That ambient shift is what allowed me to recognize the song as “The Fool You Need. A track off the band’s latest album “Brighter Wounds,” which was released this year. Bass drum carried the song all the way through, with additional edited layers, allowing it to be the perfect combination of notable Flume influence with the typical abruptness in sound changes and dreamy vocals of Son Lux.

Following this track was a tune from the band’s 2013 “Lanterns” album. “Easy” is Son Lux’s most commercially successful song. The song was noticeably less impressive live than on the record. During the live performance, it sadly lacked substance and clean shifts.

However, the third song of the night, “Surrounded,” another track from the band’s latest album shows the matured sound and style of the group as a whole. This song had clean, fluid shifts and sudden pauses that kept the crowd's attention. 

At the end of "Surrounded," drummer Ian Chang got a chance to show his skills with a very long drum solo that wooed the crowd.

Even a couple songs in, the crowd was still crazy polite and attentive. “It’s rare to feel like everyone in the room is listening,” said Lott, who noticed the respectful quiet throughout the room.

In Son Lux, each band member brings an equally powerful aspect to the band’s live performance as a whole. These three extremely talented musicians bring completely different elements to stage and make their individual strengths work together through the band's dreamy compositions.

Photo from Chromatic PR

Photo from Chromatic PR

LAUV @ Lincoln Hall

Evan Hazlett | February 16, 2018

On Friday, I had the opportunity to attend and photograph Lauv’s sold out show at
Lincoln Hall. This show was especially special to Lauv as he was nearing the end of his North
American tour and was also special me as I got to attend it with a very good friend of mine
named Ashley, touring colleges in the Chicago area. Her last night in the Windy City
was spent dancing along to Lauv’s melodic vibes. If that isn’t a perfect ending for a trip to
Chicago, I’m not sure what is.

If I’m being honest, I was not super familiar with Lauv’s music before this show. I knew
some of his unpopular songs, and a few of his more popular ones such as “I Like Me Better” and “A Different Way” which Lauv recorded with none other than DJ Snake. I had not heard of
Jeremy Zucker, the opener on this tour but after this show - I definitely will be streaming Jeremy and Lauv’s song a lot more often.

The overall show was exceptional, starting with Jeremy Zucker’s opening. One quick
thing I noticed is his strong resemblance to Blackbear. I was not surprised when Jeremy shared
with the audience that he was going to play the original of a song he wrote that Blackbear
released titled “Make Daddy Proud.” I’ve jammed to this song so many times and it was
awesome to see where it originated from. I love seeing this type of music progression.
The most important thing to me at every show I go to is the audience/performer
interaction. Lauv not only gave a spectacular performance but truly connected with the audience.

I think his tour name “I met you when I was 18” personally connects with myself and many other 18 year olds in the audience. Throughout the show, he would stop to describe the meaning of many of the songs he sung which I think adds a new level to them. The one comment he made that got the most attention from the audience was his statement about falling in love. He said that falling in love is full of ups and down and is truly confusing as hell. This statement is something that we can all relate to and the audience’s cheers led me to believe they agree.

Something special and I haven’t seen done at a show before is something Lauv refers to
as "Blue Thoughts". Basically, at every show there is a box and Lauv encourages attendees to write anything on their mind, anything at all and throw it in a box. He then takes these notes and a photo with the crowd and saves them as a memory. This is a truly creative way to really connect and embrace with fans. I commend his for this and it was a wonderful sight to see so many excited fans tossing their notes in.

I am looking forward to seeing Lauv again February 22, as he will be performing for DePaul students at their annual free concert named Polarpalooza. Students can
reserve their tickets HERE. I highly recommend DePaul students to catch this show, and non-
DePaul students to catch Lauv next time he comes around.

Kweku Collins, Whitney @ Thalia Hall

Sabrina Miresse | February 13, 2018

Concerts are for anyone and everyone. Especially around a holiday like Valentine’s Day. What better way to enjoy the holiday of love (or to spite the drag of a corporate holiday) than with a concert?

I waited, standing lightly in my New Balances, in the very rustic Thalia Hall for Kweku Collins to hit the stage and start the night off. People around me came in groups, with their significant others, and even alone to catch the Valentine’s event.

Lots of love was brought to Thalia Hall during night one of the three-night Whitney Valentine’s Day special. A local rapper, Kweku Collins and a local indie-rock band Whitney carried the night out with passion in the city they call home.

The Evanston-born rapper opened the three-night Valentine’s Day Whitney special on Feb. 13.

The crowd was very calm and despite the venue being sold out, Thalia Hall felt spacious. I overheard whispers of Whitney’s “melancholic music” and how it made people feel something.

Before Whitney brought their melancholic music to the stage, Collins brought his unique indie-rap music to Thalia Hall.

The young rapper, producer, and songwriter released his first album in 2015 just after graduating high school. He’s released an album every year since. The most recent being the 2017 “Grey.”

Collins took the stage at about 8:30 p.m. The rapper seemed excited and honored to be opening for Chicago band Whitney for their three-night special.

Walking on stage, it was hard to get a grasp on his style. Collins was wearing a white tie-dye t-shirt with a black suede flannel and straight black leather pants pulled over a mid-calf wide ankle boot—his outfit was the only criticism I had of the night.

Aside from this minor quirk, he was very charismatic and soulful on the stage, even when doing his awkward stage banter. At one point in the show it included asking the audience for some lip balm—to which the fans replied with multiple Chap Sticks being thrown at the stage.

“I feel like there’s lots of couples and shit,” Collins said to the crowd before playing his love themed songs such as the popular “Lonely Lullabies” off his 2015 debut album “Say It Here, While It’s Safe.”

The quirky and very entertaining performance from Collins was passionate and powerful. The kind of performance that gives you that tickle feeling in your chest and forces you to break a soft smile.

Before leaving the stage and introducing Whitney, Collins told the crowd to have a happy Valentine’s Day.

“Love yourself tomorrow if you love anybody,” Collins hoped for the crowd.

About a half hour later, Whitney hit the stage. The band promptly let the crowd know that the set was going to be a long one. Not only were they ready to play three nights, but the band had an 18-song set prepared for night one. A set so long that the band wrote in a five-minute break after song 10.

Sipping red wine, the band was casual and not overly interactive with the crowd while on stage. The guys opened with some of their most popular tracks: “Dave’s Song,” and “No Matter Where We Go” from their 2016 debut album “Light Upon the Lake.”

A few songs in, I decided that I had hopped on Chicago’s Whitney bandwagon. The hype over Whitney here in Chicago was always something that drew me further away from the band. However, after watching just a few songs of their intimate performance, I started to feel the hype.

Whitney is intricate. In the way that even the casual music listener can tell the band works extremely hard to get every riff and melody completely spot on.  I love the cohesiveness about their band.

Their style is the product of decades of music genres being pulled together to create a genre of indie rock music that differs from the many indie bands out there.

When watching their performance, I can’t help but think, these guys are going places.

The music from all the musicians that night made me carelessly and unknowingly smile. All eyes forward, feet tapping, hips gently moving back and forth, everyone in the concert hall in unity through music. Vibrations from sound and movement moved upwards in my spine, and a complex love for music met with the soulful rapping of Collins and Whitney’s finely tuned set made for a sensational night.

Photo by Bridges / Closed Sessions

Photo by Bridges / Closed Sessions