JR JR’s Electric Energy at the HOB Chicago

Last Thursday night at the House of Blues, JR JR took over the stage and I was so ecstatic to see them play.  As soon as I got inside and started making my way towards the crowd I couldn’t help but notice the amazing light set up and clean sound that was coming off the stage. I was immediately drawn into JR JR’s electronic/indie set due to their upbeat vibe which was fun and surprisingly creepy cool towards the end.  They played songs off their self-titled album and introduced fans to some newer songs they have been working on.  Halfway through their set they took the time to send their condolences out to the victims of the Las Vegas shooting and shared a few uplifting words with us.  Don’t sleep on these guys; I was very impressed by their set and I’m looking forward to listening to some new music!

Photos and review by Brian Fuentes


Ketch-ing-up with Fleet Foxes

Please excuse the absurd title, but those at The Chicago Theatre Wednesday night knew there was a lot of Ketchup trash talking and adoration happening throughout the set. After a long 6 years hearing nothing from Fleet Foxes, I was ecstatic to see that they were rejoining the music scene with their most recent release Crack-Up. Before their hiatus, I had not seen them live, so I was excited to see that they would be spending two nights in Chicago to support the album.

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This Old Dog puts on an Unforgettable Show

Prior to his headlining set Saturday night at Lollapalooza, Mac DeMarco played Concord Music Hall to a group of DeMarco diehards. If those in the crowd had been at Lolla all day, I never would have guessed it based on their energy. Fueled by Jameson whiskey, DeMarco took the stage at midnight and treated fans to smooth, summery jams and had the crowd roaring with laughter between songs. DeMarco commented on the amount of booty shorts he saw around town despite the colder weather, recounted his memories of playing at The Empty Bottle, and had the crowd screaming as he talked about eating Chicago dogs, beef  sandwiches, and deep dish pizza. DeMarco and the guys played a number of tracks off the newest album, This Old Dog, whose lyrics fans already knew by heart and had no reservations belting out. With every new song during the set, the crowd roared in approval and helped DeMarco out by singing along and snapping to the beat. Throughout the night, DeMarco lost pieces of his clothing. Upon returning from the most supportive crowd surfing experience I have ever witnessed, DeMarco was down to a t-shirt and shorts, and had mysteriously also lost his socks during his adventure out into the crowd. The night was unforgettable to those who were lucky enough to be there. DeMarco’s new material sounded great live, we got a cover of Weezer’s “Undone,” and we were able to enjoy DeMarco’s quirky and chill personality in a small venue. Can’t wait for him to come back to Chicago!

Ghost’s Popestar Tour

Papa Emeritus III and his nameless ghouls put on an abbreviated version of their ritual last week at Tinley Park as the opening act for Iron Maiden.

For those who have not seen Ghost before, I can only imagine what must have been going through their head. Papa Emeritus III plays the role of the demonic Pope, dressed in full regalia, but with inverted crosses and his face painted like a skull. The other band members play in identical black outfits (minus the one symbol that identifies them) and face masks. Despite the satanic messages their songs may preach, their heavy music is surprisingly poppy.

The majority of Thursday night’s setlist came from their 2015 album, Meliora, and only one from their most recent EP, Popestar. The remainder of their 8-song setlist was split evenly between their first two albums. Ghost’s set was overflowing with power and kept the attention of everyone at the venue, even those who originally went for Iron Maiden. My only issue with their performance was that the set was too short and didn’t contain enough songs from their first album, Opus Eponymous. Considering set time is not determined by them, I can’t hold it against them…I will just consider their show at Tinley Park to be a teaser for the next time they come through on their own tour.

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Gang of Youths plays Chicago for the first time

Gang of Youths’ introduction to the Australian music scene came in 2015 with the release of their debut album The Positions and 2016’s EP Let Me Be Clear. Although they were the new kids on the block, their popularity spread like wildfire and they quickly became one of Australia’s best live acts. Gang of Youths played at Schubas Monday night, and I almost immediately shamed myself for not having heard their music before. Like someone seeing colors for the first time, I was transfixed by their effortless stage presence, connection to the crowd, and their well-defined sound.

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Lewis Del Mar @ Thalia Hall

Lewis Del Mar is an experimental pop/rock duo from Rockaway Beach, NYC consisting of two best friends — singer/guitarist Danny Miller and drummer/producer Max Harwood. The two played an amazing set at Thalia Hall with the help of their friends/band mates. They band first started getting recognized when they released their single Loud(y). Shortly after, they released their EP which was followed by their self-titled album. They had a lot to bring on stage, and they executed it perfectly. I couldn’t believe my ears when the band started out their set with the fist song Such Small Scenes. The audience and I felt a rush of euphoria and exhilaration when the bass of the song hit followed up by the sound of blissful guitar playing. We later couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw Anna Wise join Lewis Del Mar on stage to cover Kanye’s song Runaway. At that point, everybody lost it and has a kick-ass time singing along. Don’t miss out–give these guys a listen. I promise you won’t regret it!

Review and photos by Brian Fuentes