LPX and RAC, 10/13/2017, Metro Chicago Review

Chae Wohn | October 2017

With her vibrant, firetruck-red hair and equally crimson jumpsuit, LPX sang her heart out before RAC and his touring crew took the stage at the Metro earlier this month. Lizzy Paplinger put indie duo MS MR on hold to pursue LPX, a solo project where, as she told Billboard, she felt she had the freedom to be bolder. And bolder she was. Unlike the slower, tamer hits of MS MR, like “Hurricane” and “Bones,” Paplinger’s powerful vocals ripped through the intimate space of Metro. LPX is all about empowerment and living unapologetically. She and her bandmates bounced all over the stage in their matching suits. At one point, Paplinger mixed cocktails for her guitarist’s birthday. The most memorable bit of her performance was her popular new song with DJ What So Not, “Better”. Paplinger recognizes her own worth in the song, denouncing her ex-lover’s refusal to do the same. Overall, LPX is a project to keep an eye on; its sheer force and confidence are highly infectious.

André Allen Anjos, known as Remix Artist Collective (RAC), performed with his wife, who goes by the name Pink Feathers, Speak vocalist Troupe Gammage, and artist Karl Kling. RAC established himself by remixing indie tracks, like Foster the People’s "Houdini" and the Shins’ “Sleeping Lessons,” back in 2012. He’s got quite a wide variety of projects under his name, remixing many indie artists, releasing his own full-length albums, and even creating an original soundtrack for sci-fi Steam game Master Spy in 2015. RAC produced “Strangers”  in 2013 and “Ego” two years later. “Ego” is packed full of features from loved indie rock artists. K.Flay’s raspy vocals make “Heartbreak Summer”, while Rivers Cuomo of Weezer graces the upbeat “I Still Wanna Know”.

That night, RAC performed a live set as the final night of his Ego Tour, with primary vocals done by Troupe Gammage, alternating with Pink Feathers and Karl Kling. There was a good mix of tracks played, including classics like “Hollywood” and “Cheap Sunglasses,” but of course, most tracks were off “Ego.” The surprise came towards the end of the night when a familiar track began playing. RAC brought to life his version of “Say My Name” by Odesza, which was nominated for a “Best Remix” Grammy award in 2016 (and for good reason). RAC's guitars added another level of depth to the song that translated beautifully live, and I’m glad I got to witness this meshing of two of my favorite artists.


RAC concluded the night by playing “Let Go,” featuring the lovely Pink Feathers. As I've listened over the years, I’ve noticed that RAC has remained remarkably fresh. I still listen to many of his tracks on a weekly basis. His style has solidified into hopeful, bright pop anthems, with splashes of synths, nostalgia and heartache here and there. My first love will always his “Houdini” remix, and I’m impressed with the way RAC has made a name for himself from the very beginning. I have no doubt that his next album will be fully representative of his previous successes.



Magic City Hippies @ Lincoln Hall Review

Chae Wohn | October 1, 2017

Self-proclaimed indie funk band Magic City Hippies has always oozed a blithe, sun-drenched attitude. Beginning as Robby Hunter Band, they released an album under the title "Magic City Hippies" in 2013 and changed the band's name after its release. As Magic City Hippies, the band debuted the “Hippie Castle EP” in 2015. Fanfare became a popular indie favorite that has remained in my mind after all these years with its unique, radio-style intro and mysterious, hazy allure. Since then, Magic City Hippies released singles “Heart Wants” and “Hush” in 2016.

The night's opener, Lovejoy, was a band from Chicago that stole my heart instantly. Vocalist and guitarist Duncan Lee has a smooth, bold voice with slightly rough edges that works well for their sound of psych rock. Trumpet player and equally powerful vocalist Kris Hansen added jazz into the mix. With summer-centric songs like "Sandcastle Isle" and "Wait by the Water,” how could they not be a perfect complement to Magic City Hippies? Their cover of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” is something I’ll treasure for a long, long time. It was a stunning homage to Bowie packed with verve, and they made their mark as one of my favorite show openers.

Magic City Hippies picked up the pace again with a cover of "Somebody to Love Me" by Mark Ronson, a song they seem to enjoy covering quite often and do so fantastically. They played most of their songs under Robby Hunter Band, like Corazón and BUST. Something that amazes me about Magic City Hippies is their ability to create a musical environment that fosters both an indie funk and R&B sound. Robby Hunter occasionally raps or speaks in the middle of his songs, particularly “Never Say No,” which is a prime example of their indie-R&B style.

Magic City Hippies decided to save the reckless adventure, Hippie Castle EP, for last. I almost wish they didn’t play “Limestone,” because I knew how hard it’d hit me. This track is an emotional punch in the gut compared to the happy-go-lucky tracks on the Hippie Castle EP and Magic City Hippies album. “Limestone" pours out the pains of loving something temporary, and loving someone, or yourself, with destructive tendencies.

But it’s back to shotgunning a beer and jumping into the pool. Magic City Hippies kicks off an aggressive version of “Fanfare” that electrified me even more than the first time I heard the studio version of the song. They chose to conclude the night with the fan favorite, and the room buzzed with joy when they played the familiar radio sample intro. “Fanfare” will always hold a special place in my heart. The first time I heard it, I couldn’t believe how easily it took me to Miami. Magic City Hippies themselves explained it the best way possible on the song’s RapGenius page:

"The song begins as you are driving in your car, switching radio stations- until you find the alluring, triumphant, 'Fanfare' that welcomes you into the world of the “Hippie Castle”. You are instantly transported to our hidden bungalow, nestled amongst a lush jungle of diverse flora and fauna. Where women lay sun bathing along the edge of the pool, and the keg blasts the golden soda of the summer, into our mouthes, and random thrift store cups, and glasses.[…] This is the spirit of the times.” 

While their songs generally sound playful, Magic City Hippies' lyrics are surprisingly insightful. "The only thing in life you’re owning is this little moment inside a sphere,” BRNT reminds its listeners. And they’re right. I exited into the fall night air walking on clouds, and it took me the walk home to realize I may not be in laying in a pool somewhere in Miami, but I’m in whatever life I get to call mine. This show couldn't have been a more perfect remedy for regrets and a reminder to forgive yourself and let go of the things that plague you, even if it's not quite summertime.