WBEZ | Althea Legaspi http://www.wbez.org/tags/althea-legaspi Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Reality TV: A shortcut to the American Dream? http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/reality-tv-shortcut-american-dream-103497 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Jesse-0348-Edit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F65257026&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false&amp;color=ff7700" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Tales of rags to riches have a history in television--but the last decade created a whole new stage for young people wanting to show off their talents.<br /><br />Every year, tens of thousands of Americans try out for talent-related reality shows. In March, <em>The Voice</em> drew more than 6,000 hopefuls to Chicago auditions alone. And for these people, it&rsquo;s changing the idea of the American Dream.</p><p>Take <a href="http://www.jessecampbell.com/" target="_blank">Jesse Campbell</a>, for example. He&rsquo;s a preacher&rsquo;s son who grew up in modest Maywood, Illinois. But earlier this year he stepped into the national spotlight when he made it to the finals of <em>The Voice</em>. Though the NBC hit was not his first go at talent-based reality TV. In fact, he&rsquo;s tried out for a few shows.</p><p>The first was <em>America&rsquo;s Got Talent</em>. He was rejected but knew there were plenty of other shows and so he kept trying.</p><p>&ldquo;I stood out there, all day, all night at those auditions. And now I see why they call them the cattle call,&rdquo; Campbell recalled.</p><p>In one audition, Campbell says he hadn&rsquo;t even reach the second note of his song when one of the judges made him stop.</p><p>&ldquo;And the judge said, &lsquo;Very very nice, but no,&#39;&quot; Campbell recalled, &quot;So, I went about my business, and said, &#39;well I (still) believe this is a platform for me. Maybe the judge was just having a bad day.&rdquo;</p><p>So, Campbell saved up his money up and flew to another city to audition. That time, he didn&rsquo;t even make it past the first round.</p><p>He kept trying, though, because his chances at making it any other way were slim.</p><p><strong>Searching for fame and fortune</strong></p><p>Campbell&rsquo;s road to success has been a bumpy one, to say the least. After performing in churches, he signed on to Capitol Records and moved to Los Angeles where he met his wife--but the happiness was short-lived.<br /><br />&ldquo;The career did not take off as I hoped, and therefore the wife did,&rdquo; Campbell said.</p><p>One person who didn&#39;t taken off, though was his three-year-old daughter.</p><p>In 2003, Campbell hit rock bottom: He and his daughter ended up living in their car; they parked it in a 24-hour grocery market in Santa Monica, California.</p><p>&ldquo;Because it was open 24 hours a day, I figured people would probably think I was coming out or waiting for someone,&rdquo; Campbell reasoned, &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s where we slept for two nights.&rdquo;</p><p>Campbell wondered what he was doing, putting his daughter&#39;s safety and comfort at stake. He realized he could reach out to friends and family for help.</p><p>Campbell&rsquo;s family and pastor gave him money to get by and offered him a place to stay--but work was sporadic. He performed in churches, waited tables, did some landscaping and sang on the streets of Santa Monica. All the while, Campbell didn&rsquo;t give up on his childhood dreams: to have a modest home for his children.</p><p>He auditioned for <em>The Voice&rsquo;s</em> first season and didn&rsquo;t make the cut. But when he tried out again for the second season which aired earlier this year, <em>The Voice</em> said &quot;yes.&quot;<br /><br />&ldquo;I looked over and saw my daughter, her eyes lit just so brightly and she was just so happy because she was just there with me as I sang on the street, not even a year ago. And now here she is watching daddy on television,&rdquo; Campbell said.</p><p><strong>A Shortcut to the American Dream?&nbsp;</strong></p><p>These shows have made an impact on the American Dream for some young people. Sociologist Karen Sternheimer wrote a book called <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Celebrity-Culture-American-Dream-Mobility/dp/0415886791" target="_blank"><em>Celebrity Culture and The American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility</em></a>. She says the glut of reality television during this recession has produced a new jackpot.</p><p>She says that when the more traditional ways of having economic success or even economic stability seem impossible, there&rsquo;s always the fantasy of the overnight success. She points to the lottery and reality shows, and even posting videos on YouTube as examples of how people think they can strike it rich, quickly.</p><p>&ldquo;I think in recent years, these examples have been kind of like a last hope when people have trouble finding a job. Reality shows have really proliferated in recent years and there are more people who we might believe those people we see on television are just like us. And so in a strange way it seems like there are more opportunities,&rdquo; Sternheimer explained.</p><p>And in fact, the Internet has created stars even without the help of television. Think of Justin Bieber who was discovered on YouTube: He&rsquo;s the son of a single mom and he earned $108 million dollars in just the past two years. But his experience is a fluke.</p><p>Because most times, the amount of money and time invested by reality TV contestants doesn&rsquo;t pay off.&nbsp;</p><p>Sternheimer said research shows people on reality shows make an average of $1,500 a stint.</p><p>Sternheimer says the Internet and reality TV create the perception that we&rsquo;re closer to celebrities and becoming a star seems more within reach. Some of the more popular reality shows like <em>American Idol</em>, <em>The Real World</em> and <em>Bad Girls Club</em> limit participants over the age of 30. That means young people are especially vulnerable in some cases.</p><p>Sometimes, television shows these young people engaging in unprofessional behavior like drinking heavily or using drugs and that would have serious job consequences in the future.</p><p>Campbell&rsquo;s journey thus far has not brought him to riches from rags just yet. But he&rsquo;s hopeful.</p><p>&ldquo;These shows have great potential to bring about economic mobility, because it&rsquo;s the exposure and what you do with it, it&rsquo;s up to you. It has really made a big difference in my life simply because I can now do more than before because more people are aware of what it is that I have to offer, Campbell said.</p><p>Campbell&rsquo;s main income comes from live performances right now. He&rsquo;s investing those earnings into the album he&rsquo;s currently making, while shopping it around. He&rsquo;s also trying to get into commercial singing. And since he once before fell on his way up the economic ladder, he emphasizes education, hard work and perseverance for his daughter, Soraya.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="315" id="nbc-video-widget" scrolling="no" src="http://www.nbc.com/assets/video/widget/widget.html?vid=1383126" width="560"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 30 Oct 2012 05:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/reality-tv-shortcut-american-dream-103497 Hits from the music world in 2011 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-21/hits-music-world-2011-95019 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-19/shocking shaking.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>With hundreds, if not thousands of records released each year, finding fresh tunes can be a tough task. Luckily, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> grabbed two people who have their fingers on pulse to distill it down for you.<span style="font-style: italic;"> </span><em>Radio M</em> host Tony Sarabia always has his ear to the best sounds from around the globe-either new, or, newly dug up.&nbsp; And music journalist Althea Legaspi soaks up rock, pop and hip hop like a sponge. They recently sat down with <em>Eight Forty Eight’s</em> Alison Cuddy to talk about their favorites from 2011.</p></p> Wed, 21 Dec 2011 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-21/hits-music-world-2011-95019 15 years of music and block parties at The Hideout http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-22/15-years-music-and-block-parties-hideout-92316 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-22/hideout people.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://hideoutchicago.com/" target="_blank">The Hideout</a> may hide in the midst of an industrial park, but it's teeming with Chicago music history. On Saturday, Sept. 24, the music venue and bar celebrates its 15<sup>th</sup> anniversary under its current owners. Once again they’ll be holding their popular Block Party. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> music reporter Althea Legaspi met up with co-owners Tim and Katie Tuten, who shared their memories and why they thought their little bar is a giant gem for Chicago.</p><p>Hideout’s 15th Block Party runs Saturday just outside the venue at 1354 West Wabansia in Chicago.</p><p><em>Music Button: Andrew Bird, "Two Way Action" from the album The Swimming Hour (Rykodisc/Rhino)</em></p><p>Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy hilariously covered The Black Eyed Peas, “I Got a Feeling,” at a recent book release party at the Hideout. It was for Dan Sinker, the man behind the fake Rahm Emanuel Twitter feed that was made into a book: Not your standard event; not your standard venue. Whether a wedding or an unexpected music performance like Tweedy’s, patrons get it at the Hideout.</p><p>The club sits off the beaten path. It’s easy to miss, tucked between factories and a fleet of city trucks. You won’t find a sign outside, either. That’s part of its charm. Inside you might stumble on an intimate, surprising performance: a Sun Ra tribute featuring Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Jon Brion in a rare Chicago club performance and The New Pornographers first Chicago show. Legends like Honeyboy Edwards and Fred Anderson celebrated their final birthdays there. It’s also where artists have booked their very first show.</p><p>Jon Langford plays with various bands like Mekons and Waco Brothers. He said he gets excited seeing it through other artists’ eyes.</p><p>“I took Robin Hitchcock in there one night and he just stood. He just stood. Stood in the front bar and looked into the room with the fairy lights and he was kinda visibly moved by what a crazy little environment the Hideout is,” Langford said.</p><p>And that inclusive, casual “everybody’s welcome” feeling had roots at Hideout long before husband and wife Tim and Katie Tuten, with brothers Mike and Jim Hinchsliff, bought the place in October of 1996.</p><p>“My father was a regular here and he did business with a company across the street, International Steele and he would never tell me where the bar was located,” Katie explained. “And it was great when I walked into the bar and there was eight guys and sitting here and two of which were my fathers friends and they were like, ‘Oh no! She found us,’” she remembered.</p><p>The Hideout stayed on their radar.</p><p>“We’d come to the bar to Hideout probably a couple times a year and we would say to the owners, ‘You should do this or you should do that.’ And then the husband passed away and the wife approached us and said, ‘Well do you want to buy the bar? If so you know it’s available,” Katie said. “And we thought, ‘Gosh, we don’t know anything about this.’ But we loved the place and we wanted it to remain a local watering hole for the factories and the workers in the area,” she continued.</p><p>The building itself holds a lot of history. The front part of the balloon-frame house was built in 1890 and was once called a squatter’s house. The back part of the Hideout was built in the ‘50s. When Katie and Tim began working on it, Katie said they unearthed great relics from Chicago’s past.</p><p>“There was a phone, a secret phone behind the bar. Supposedly there was $500 hidden somewhere in the Hideout. So they had gone to the track one day, and had a good winning and they stashed it somewhere, we never did find the money,” Katie said.</p><p>“We found a lot of old sheet music and old photographs.” Tim added, “The 26 raffle cards.”</p><p>“Oh yeah, there used to be something in city of Chicago called the 26 Girls,” Katie explained.</p><p>“And basically in those days women didn’t go to taverns, so you’d have one or two foxy looking women who would roll dice and the men would I guess bet against them…” “single women,” Tim said.</p><p>“Yes, single women,” Katie said. “And so you’d roll dice against them and if you won you’d win drink tickets, so we found all those old drink tickets, so that was pretty cool.”</p><p>Hideout was not known for live music before Katie and Tim took over. But they were music fans and initially they brought bands in to play the front of the bar. Tim said the current performance space, in the back, evolved in time.</p><p>“There was no stage, it was a flat floor. Robbie Fulks played that summer of 1997 at three in the afternoon and he did a benefit for a girl that was riding to MN for an AIDS ride. And then he told other people too, then Honeyboy played that fall, we still didn’t have a stage,” Tim said. “We built an 8 x8 foot riser that we just had floating back there. We didn’t have a sound system, bands had to bring their own equipment. And then basically musicians would come, they’d play on our floor and say, ‘You should make a stage, I can show you how to do that,’” he remembered.</p><p>And from there it was a community affair. Artists and club friends from Fitzgeralds in Berwyn and the former Lounge Ax in Chicago’s Lincoln Park pitched in with advice and helped get the space ready for music. After a couple of years, the room was complete. Word of mouth among bands helped bolster the booking in the early days.</p><p>Nat Ward’s been working at Hideout for 13 years and said the environment is what attracts loyalty from staff, bands and patrons alike.<br> “It’s kinda home, after a while the Hideout – it’s about bar, it’s about rock and it’s about drinking, but it’s really about these are my weird, screwed-up bar family,” Ward said.</p><p>Katie and Tim work full-time jobs outside Hideout. Katie works in the non-profit sector, and Tim is in D.C. working with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Often their day jobs intersect with events at Hideout, including this weekend’s annual Block Party.</p><p>This year’s Block Party benefits Rock for Kids, Literacy Works, and Drummond and Oscar Mayer Elementary schools. And of course you can catch some of the acts that made Hideout what it is today. Artists like Mavis Staples, Andrew Bird, Jon Langford, Booker T. Jones,&nbsp; The Eternals, Chances Dances and many more.</p><p>In recent times, the city saw an explosion of new venues and bars. And the Tuten’s admitted the competition has affected business. But Katie said, though they have evolved organically, the Hideout transcends trends and that’s what makes them vital.</p><p>“It is defined by the people who come here. As my father always reminded me, ‘You don’t own the bar, we do. One beer at a time.’ And I think we’re very cognizant of that,” Katie said. “And I think that we’re just kind of the keepers of the house, and the community itself will define who we are and what we’ll become.”</p><p>Hideout Block Party takes place on Saturday, September 24.</p><p><strong>Music featured (in order of appearance)</strong></p><p>Jeff Tweedy live during Dan Sinker’s fake @mayoremanuel book release party, cover of Black Eyed Peas, “I Gotta Feeling”<br> Jon Langford, “Last Count” featuring Burlington Welsh Male Chorus, from the release Skull Orchard Revisited (Bloodshot)</p><p>Booker T. Jones, “Walking Papers” from the release The Road From Memphis (Anti-/Epitaph)</p><p>Mavis Staples “Eyes on the Prize” from the release Live: Hope at the Hideout (Anti-)</p><p>The Eternals “Can You See The Fires” from the release Approaching the Energy Field (Addenda/Submarine)</p><p>Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire “Two Way Action” from the release The Swimming Hour (Rykodisc)<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 22 Sep 2011 13:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-22/15-years-music-and-block-parties-hideout-92316 Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Day Three, August 7, 2011 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-08-08/lollapalooza-grant-park-day-three-august-7-2011-90236 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-08/AP110807052276.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-08/Foo.jpg" title="Foo Fighters (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)"></p><p>As Lolla 2011 wrapped up its final sold-out day in Grant Park, the festival seemed even more crowded. Perhaps many of the gate crashers ­who <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/6938158-421/beefed-up-fencing-fails-to-stop-lollapalooza-crashers.html">reportedly formed flash mobs</a> to await opportunities to jump fences (as this <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DC7k8KSvgQ">YouTube video</a> revealed) ­made it through and remained. While this year's crashers appeared more organized and determined, last year I witnessed a good 100 random kids scale a north side fence, bringing it down with them, before blending into the crowd in the field. Other times, a few at a time would jump over. Some were snagged and sent packing. Still, even if a few hundred made it over the barricades, it seemed like a few thousand more than the reported 90,000 folks that comprised each day’s capacity: It was increasingly harder to get around the park as the day wore on.</p><p>Yet, neither the early stifling heat, nor the potent smell of manure wafting through the field, nor two serious downpours drove fans away from the Lolla experience. And it&nbsp;was an experience my dedicated rain-soaked team (<em>Sound Opinions</em> production assistant Annie Minoff and photographer/writer Aaron Pylinski) and I set out to bring you day three.</p><p>12:50 p.m. Titus Andronicus ripped into what had to be the most geographically specific set of the festival. From that filched Springsteen line in opener “A More Perfect Union,” to references to the Fung Wah Chinatown bus and “senior year in Mahwah,” the indie punk band wore its New Jersey roots on its sleeve. Lead singer Patrick Stickles led the sweat-soaked audience in a cathartic chorus of “You will always be a loser, and that’s OK.”&nbsp;<em>-AM</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-08/JoyFormidable.jpg" title="The Joy Formidable (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)"></p><p>1:06 p.m. Welsh band The Joy Formidable met the heat with equally blazing passion; amazing considering they opened for Foo Fighters’ late-night show at Metro on Saturday. But Ritzy Bryan doesn’t strike me as someone who needs much sleep, and her intensity was contagious. This is the fifth time I’ve seen them, but it was obvious by set's end that they’d won over any newbies in a respectably-sized crowd. The sing-along opening “ah ahs” of “Austere,” the lush, fuzzed-out “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade” and “Cradle” were highlights. But when “Whirring” culminated in Bryan’s wielding her guitar against an amp and later whacking a giant gong with it and bassist Rhydian Dafyyd dropped to his knees it could only be described as "slaying."</p><p>1:41 p.m. Back-to-back strong female artists? Yes, please. Imelda May released music before this, but it was her 2010 Grammy appearance with Jeff Beck that brought her into the limelight. It was much deserved. The Irish-bred May had pipes that betrayed her petite frame, spanning bluesy, jazzy numbers along with rockabilly, which matched her retro look.</p><p>2:32 p.m. Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses mined roadhouse country-tinged blues, that by 2:50 p.m. had turned into a sprawling all-out jam. He may be most known for his work with T-Bone Burnett on the&nbsp;Crazy Heart&nbsp;movie (their “The Weary Kind” track won an Oscar and a Golden Globe), but his rough-hewn vocals matched his road-weary, booze-soaked tales stood on their own merit.</p><p>2:45 p.m. London’s Noah &amp; The Whale sent the right “indie” cues: suits in eighty-five degree heat? Check. Violinist? Check. Band name based on much-beloved Baumbach film,&nbsp;<em>The Squid and the Whale</em>? Check. But what’s most important – the music - was unremarkable.&nbsp;<em>-AM</em></p><p>3:25 p.m. The Pains of Being Pure of Heart felt as innocent as their name implies in comparison to Bingham’s hard-knocks swagger, with songs such as the romantic “Come Saturday” and their splendidly catchy “Young Adult Fiction."</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-08/CoolKids.jpg" title="The Cool Kids (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)"></p><p>3:25 p.m. Chicago’s resident Cool Kids, Antoine "Sir Michael Rocks" Reed and Evan "Chuck Inglish" Ingersoll had the Perry’s crowd bumping to summer jams like “Get Right” and “Swimsuits.”&nbsp;When Fish Ride Bicycles collaborators Tennille and Mayer Hawthorne guested. Suddenly at 3:50 p.m. the music cut out, bringing the party to an abrupt conclusion amidst audience boos. -<em>AM</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-08/TheCars.jpg" title="The Cars (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)" width="500" height="405"></p><p>3:59 p.m. The Cars hit the stage one minute early and drew a massive crowd. They also drew Dave Grohl and his kids along with Kevin Costner (wha?) and Graham Elliott to the side stage to watch. And while classic summer jams, like “Let the Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “You Might Think” got the crowd moving, and “Just What I Needed” drew spontaneous clap-alongs, Ric Ocasek remained as cool, collected and unmoved as he was at their recent Riv performance. “Let’s Go” gets a tremendous response, despite a couple trip ups onstage. They sounded great, despite looking disinterested.</p><p>4:45 p.m. “Growing up in Rock Island, [Illinois], I had to fight for my identity,” recalled Lissie (Elizabeth Maurus) by way of introduction to a set of songs about family, friends and staying positive. Her country-tinged voice was strong and compelling, but the songs, though sincere, felt a bit clichéd. Probably not a great sign that the standout number was an (admittedly terrific) cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit Of Happiness.”&nbsp;-<em>AM</em></p><p>5:50 p.m. My intention of heading to Best Coast’s stage was derailed (as was Portugal The Man’s set) when a torrential downpour commenced. Stranded partly beneath a tree and a bit of tent, I could hear what sounded like elated screams every time the rain came down harder on the south side of the field. Electronic music drifted from Perry’s stage/tent, but it wasn’t close enough to get to in the rain/lightning.</p><p>5:50 p.m. The heavens opened just as L.A.’s Best Coast took the stage. The irony wasn’t lost on frontwoman Bethany Consentino. “You can tell your grandkids you were at Lollapalooza 2011 and heard a band that sings about the sun play in the rain,” she quipped. The band’s harder-edged take on ‘60s Beach Boys pop galvanized a soaking crowd. Still, one could wish for more lyrical variation on songs like “Boyfriend” and “I Want To.”&nbsp;<em>–AM</em></p><p>6:35 p.m. Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley and Nas didn’t catch Lolla’s sopping wet crowds in a particularly high-minded mood (to wit, the mud wrestling pit that opened up at the back of the field). That was a problem given they were performing songs off their record,&nbsp;<em>Distant Relatives,</em>&nbsp;the main themes of which – poverty, the African Diaspora – didn’t exactly lend themselves to partying.&nbsp;<em>–AM</em></p><p>6:35 p.m. Arctic Monkeys give an abbreviated but spirited set, which included “Flourescent Adolescent,” “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” and a giant rainbow during “Brianstorm.” Way to turn lemons into lemonade, lads.</p><p>7:46 p.m. Explosions in the Sky, indeed. While they didn’t sound quite as ominous as their name implied when I walked by to a more atmospheric and contemplative song, they were a precursor for what was to come.</p><p>8:40 p.m. If any artist benefited from Lollapalooza’s second torrential rain shower, it was Toronto’s producer Deadmau5. Subtlety and nuance weren’t going to work here. We needed a thumping dance beat to make us forget how soaked we were. Deadmau5 - who played atop a pedestal tricked out with lights and lasers wearing his trademark mouse head – delivered.&nbsp;<em>-AM</em></p><p>8:00 p.m. If a band could conjure rain in a way that enhances their set, the Foo Fighters managed to do so. As if orchestrating when the second major downpour would hit, “My Hero” received buoyant cheers with every guitar downstroke and every time the threatening sky gave way for heavier rain almost in unison. “I don’t give a f--k that it’s raining,” shrieked Grohl, eliciting louder cheers. Along with other staples, like “The Pretender,” “Monkey Wrench” and “Learn to Fly,” the Foos played songs from their recent&nbsp;Wasting Light&nbsp;release as well, including the searing “Bridge Burning” and “Rope.” Drummer extraordinaire Taylor Hawkins gave a shoutout to Perry Farrell and Jane’s Addiction, later Grohl jumped into the audience for a long turn. It was a very rock ‘n’ roll way end to the night and Lollapalooza 2011.</p></p> Mon, 08 Aug 2011 06:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-08-08/lollapalooza-grant-park-day-three-august-7-2011-90236 Lollapalooza, Grant Park, day two August 6, 2011 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-08-07/lollapalooza-grant-park-day-two-august-6-2011-90224 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-07/Eminem.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-07/Eminem.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 375px;" title="Eminem (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)"></p><p>It was a much muddier scene at Lollapalooza 2011’s second day in Grant Park. It felt more crowded, with some serious audience bottlenecks on the South side of Grant Park during the latter half of the day. Joined once again by <em>Sound Opinions</em> production assistant Annie Minoff and photographer/writer Aaron Pylinski, we navigated the puddles and tackled day two.</p><p>2:01 p.m. Chico Trujillo’s Latin rhythms were a festive way to wander into day two at Lollapalooza, with some hip-swaying Cumbia music. Come 2:20 p.m. Friendly Fires’ singer Ed McFarlane furthered the fiesta vibe, sporting a Hawaiian shirt. The English lads teased us with “Jump in the Pool,” a rhythmic, cowbell-tipped song that sounded refreshing, and also what we all wished we could do in the growing humidity.</p><p>2:30 p.m. Maps and Atlases played to an enthusiastic hometown crowd across the street from alma mater Columbia College (“I saw you five years ago!” somebody yells). Yeah, they went to art school, but I’m not convinced this band deserves the dubious “math rock” label. This stuff’s way too danceable. <em>– AM</em></p><p>2:33 p.m. At the first of two appearances (the second was onstage with Eminem during “I Need a Doctor”), Skylar Grey’s set was pretty packed for a relatively new artist. Of course, having written Em and Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie,” which earned her two Grammy noms as well as songs for Lupe Fiasco and Rihanna, among others, certainly helped the draw. The dark “Beautiful Nightmare” with its military rhythms suggested she has an affinity for the gothier side, despite some of her less-intriguing poppier songs.</p><p>3:15 p.m. Atlanta’s Black Lips played against a deceptively innocent banner of spray painted flowers. But no one who’d read about the band’s much-publicized stage antics was fooled. Not to be outdone by Le Butcherettes’ drummer yesterday, Joe Bradley projectile vomits halfway through the band’s second blues-rock number. The two halves of a smashed guitar are hurled into the audience. Ian Saint Pé and Cole Alexander make out. <em>-AM</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-07/MeyerHawthorne.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 507px;" title="Mayer Hawthorne (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)"></p><p>3:35 p.m. No puking at Mayor Hawthorne, but there were a couple cover songs, including Snoop Dogg and Pharrell William’s “Beautiful” and Hall &amp; Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” blended into his own “Dreams.” In fact, even his own soulful, Motown-tinged tunes sounded like covers, albeit solid, technically-proficient ones, but they could use a new take on the style.&nbsp;</p><p>4:35 p.m. Toronto’s Death From Above 1979 played ear-pounding synths and drums to an ever-widening mosh pit. Drummer and vocalist Sebastien Grainger jumped off the stage to jam with the band’s ASL interpreter: “You looked so lonely over there. I wanted to hang with you.”<em>-AM</em></p><p>5:01 p.m. Though they may have been the legacy act for this year’s Lolla bill, Big Audio Dynamite’s funk, dance-punked, sample-laden stew sounded far from dated. Here’s to “The Bottom Line,” “Rush” and “C’mon Every Beatbox” forever remaining dance club staples, and Mick Jones keeping his political dedications.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-07/stump_resized.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 334px;" title="Patrick Stump (WBEZ/Annie Minoff)"></p><p>5:10 p.m. North Suburbs native Patrick Stump appeared before Lolla crowds in a white suit with impressive shoulder pads – just one of many visual cues that this was not going to be another Fall Out Boy gig. Stump was playing material from his R&amp;B-inflected pop record, <em>Soul Punk</em>. The genre-bending left at least one fan confused: “So, is this supposed to be R&amp;B or like a punk boy band or what?”<em>–AM</em></p><p>5:45 p.m. Deftones frontman Chino Moreno is a master of dynamics. One moment his voice was a haunting whisper - then he’s screaming into the mic. Frank Delgado’s atmospheric keyboards hold it all together.<em>–AM</em></p><p>5:56 p.m. Local Natives harmonies + Graham Elliott lobster corndog + Gage/Henri’s shrimp sandwich = Sheer. Bliss.</p><p>6:36 p.m. In 2006 Cee-Lo and Gnarls Barkley wore tennis outfits. In 2008 they looked preppy-clean. In 2011 Cee-Lo and his female backing band looked like something of the future, if it were dipped in a little S&amp;M (the ladies were scantily clad) and guys all wore black shoulder pads adorned with chains and gigantic spikes. While the future was the look, the sounds looked back, from a Violent Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone” cover, to turntable spins spanning Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, and Depeche Mode. But his freaky take on Billy Idol’s “Flesh for Fantasy” (“This song turns me on,” he said) indicated he’s better off sticking with the stuff he does best, call me "Crazy."</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-07/LykkeLi.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 408px;" title="Lykke Li (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)"></p><p>7:16 p.m. Sweden’s Lykke Li purveyed her songs of crushing out, heartbreak, and lust to a dance-crazy crowd, but most of her ballads, such as “I Know Places,” fair better in an intimate setting.&nbsp; Still, she and her band added more fire to songs like “I’m Good, I’m Gone” and “Dance Dance Dance,” which both featured extended outros. Her material may not all translate as well in the festival setting yet, but it came close.</p><p>7:30 p.m. Atmosphere MC Slug (Sean Daley) has ideas about audience orchestration. He instructs us to wave our arms, clap our hands and pump our fists. “I want to see some asses wiggling!” he yelled. Raps like “Sunshine,” about riding your bike on a sunny day, will prove an interesting counterpoint to the Eminem show set to unfold across the field<em>–AM</em></p><p>8:19 p.m. MC Slug’s got the crowd pumped during the revved-up stage-wide sing-along “Trying to Find a Balance” to the point that at 8:27 the crowd was chanting “One more song” to no avail.</p><p>8:30 p.m. No fireworks or Coldplay-style laser display for Louisville’s My Morning Jacket. The band kept it simple, eschewing their more experimental material for arena-ready roots rock. Discrete songs give way to long jams as Jim James and Carl Broemel play dueling guitars. “I’m Amazed” lends the set a country flavor.<em>-AM</em></p><p>8:30 p.m. The bar was set low for me before Eminem’s performance, given several respected, musically-inclined friends told me he was terrible live. Perhaps having such low expectations contributed to the fact that I was pleasantly surprised, or perhaps they all caught him while he was still strung out. Regardless, as a Detroit-area native, I was excited to see him for the first time. It wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t disappointed. A parade of guests joined Eminem throughout his set, among them Royce Da 5’9”, Bruno Mars and Skylar Grey. He joked about relapsing, swigging from a bottle of clear liquid – and while there were some vocal issues where they needed more volume, such as during “Stan,” where the vocal tracks were less evident – he remained sober and on point. He performed recent hits, including “Love The Way You Lie” and “Not Afraid,” but it was his early material (“The Way I Am,” “Kill You” and medleys of “My Name Is,” “The Real Slim Shady” and “Without Me”) that made a case for the greatest rapper alive title he’s elicited from some listeners.</p></p> Sun, 07 Aug 2011 07:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-08-07/lollapalooza-grant-park-day-two-august-6-2011-90224 Lollapalooza, Grant Park, day one August 5, 2011 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-08-06/lollapalooza-grant-park-day-one-august-5-2011-90210 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-06/Muse copy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-06/Muse copy.jpg" title="Muse (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)" height="375" width="500"></p><p>Celebrating its 20<sup>th</sup> anniversary (give or take the years in between when the once traveling fest ceased existence), Lollapalooza returned to Grant Park for its seventh year in Chicago. It marked its largest attendance, with 270,000 fans expected over the weekend. Despite the larger crowds, the bottlenecks experienced in years past were less apparent on Friday, the first of three sold-out dates. The maneuverable pedestrian way of Columbus Drive helped clear the constant rush hour around Buckingham Fountain.</p><p>Another noticeable difference was the expansion/locale of the Perry’s stage; the tented area was larger than any dance tent I’ve seen at a festival. It’s also grown beyond the festival confines with numerous official and unofficial Lolla aftershows at local venues, the W and Hard Rock Hotel. The latter hosts an air-conditioned lounge where free massages, facials, tattoos, booze, food, swag and artists entice VIPs and performers.</p><p>But the main draw is, of course, the fest itself. With more than 130 acts appearing across eight stages through the weekend, I set out with my intrepid team: <em>Sound Opinions</em> production assistant Annie Minoff and photographer/writer Aaron Pylinski.</p><p>1 p.m. With a band name like Tennis, you might expect to see a kind of exchange between players. Not so much with husband and wife Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore, who shimmied behind her keyboards, letting out smoky “wah ah oh ohs” and “sha la las” (“She’s so hot!” exclaimed the guy next to me). The couple perused tunes from their debut album, <em>Cape Dory</em>, a musical recounting of their seven-month sailing trip down the east coast, but I got more of a beachy retro-surfer vibe. <em>-AM</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-06/TheNakedandFamous.JPG" title="The Naked and Famous (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)" height="350" width="500"></p><p>1:30 p.m. New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous drew a large crowd for an early slot. Singers Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers’ female/male vocal interplay and round robins, coupled with zippy synths and beats and a whole lotta energy, elicited an all-out dance party in the field by the time they closed with their infectious single, “Young Blood.”</p><p>2:17 p.m. The first unitard sighting came courtesy of Reptar keyboardist William Kennedy. Their sound at first recalled Vampire Weekend, but later with some dual drumming action, it got more cosmic, when the song “Blastoff” hit an electro swirl, jammier groove.</p><p>2:35 p.m. Delta Spirit’s took us on a roadtrip through the American south, and encouraged more handclapping from an audience who they apparently felt wasn’t quite “on the bus.” “C’mon Chicago!” singer Matthew Vasquez yelled. He dedicated a song to “anyone who has had to do construction for a living. Drywall is a beautiful thing.”<em> -AM</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-06/FosterthePeople.JPG" title="Foster the People (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)" height="387" width="500"></p><p>3:02 p.m. By the time Foster the People hit the stage on the South side of the park, it was almost headliner crowded. It also marked the first cover song I caught, Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.” Of course the band saved their one hit for near the end, but the crowd was pumped from the beginning, crowd surfing through some otherwise relaxed pop before “Pumped Up Kicks” arrived.</p><p>3:30 p.m. Mexican punk band Le Butcherettes took to the Google+ stage, slaying the crowd with their indelible garage sound.&nbsp; They played their hit song, “Dress Off’ as front woman Teri Gender Bender crooned and crowd-surfed. The set was so intense that drummer Gabe Serbian vomited into the photo pit. <em>-AP</em></p><p>4:00 p.m. London’s White Lies is a band with one theme. Well, maybe two: love and death. “Let’s go home together and die at the same time,” singer Harry McVeigh sang. “You’ve got blood on your hands, I don’t know its mine.” Tinny background keyboards played up the eerie morbidity. <em>-AM</em></p><p>4:12 p.m. Chicago’s Smith Westerns wrapped up their set with the one-two punch of “Weekend” and “Dye the World.” Their sing-along, harmonized pop seemed overly sweet when contrasted to the naughtier, sexier vibe of The Kills, who launched their set at 4:29 p.m. Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince turned up the sizzle with Mosshart’s gritty, sexy growl meeting Hince’s more subdued delivery. They revved, rocked and rolled us into the early evening.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-06/Kills1.JPG" title="The Kills (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)" height="375" width="500"></p><p>5:10 p.m. Two Door Cinema Club singer Alex Trimble took the stage visibly flushed. “Ginger people aren’t supposed to be in this kind of heat,” he joked. The Northern Irish band’s pop was precise and danceable, if predictable. But Trimble’s vocals weren’t quite making it to the back of this significant crowd. I couldn't help thinking he might have done better if he took off that stylish but undoubtedly stifling sports jacket. <em>-AM</em></p><p>5:35 p.m. Pete Wentz’s new project, Black Cards, wasn’t quite what I expected. Three young gals danced, with one singing some pedestrian, dance-styled pop, while Wentz spent time behind a DJ setup or up front thanking fans and his mom. He told the crowd, “I just wanna have fun,” and explained, “this song’s about getting trashed and hanging out.” He stage dove. He threw toilet paper rolls into the audience. Fun, maybe? Funny (intentional or not), for sure.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-06/BlackCards.JPG" style="width: 500px; height: 360px;" title="Black Cards (WBEZ/Aaron Pylinski)"></p><p>7:00 p.m. Strolling by Perry’s stage, Skrillex has a crowd overflowing way outside the tent. I wonder if that’ll be the scene where there might be some issues over the weekend. I hear an ambulance siren, but there doesn’t appear to be any problems at the moment.</p><p>7:00 p.m. Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst interrupted a solid rock n’ roll set to play the breathtaking acoustic folk song, “Landlocked Blues.” It made me realize how few political songs I’ve heard at the festival so far. “And the whole world must watch the sad comic display/If you’re still free start running away/’Cause we’re coming for you!” he sang. By turns muted and ferocious, he had the audience inthralled. He closed out the performance by descending from the stage to hug members of the crowd (and stage security). <em>-AM</em></p><p>8:17 p.m. Muse hit the stage flanked by honeycombed LED screens and illuminated by vibrant, colorful lighting. Their dramatic musical turns were met with perfectly timed fireworks that serve to augment the already thunderous rhythms onstage. Amid crowd faves, like mega-hit “Uprising,” they inject a Hendrix-styled rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Meanwhile, over on the other side of the park…</p><p>8:30 p.m. Coldplay entered to the strains of cheesy orchestral music. Fireworks crackled overhead. They’re 15 minutes late.&nbsp;They went with a colors theme: Multicolored lazers beam out from the stage as the band launches into old faves like “In My Place” and “Yellow.” With a title like that the stage lighting designs itself. <em>-AM</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 06 Aug 2011 06:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-08-06/lollapalooza-grant-park-day-one-august-5-2011-90210 Music brings business and money to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-03/music-brings-business-and-money-chicago-90048 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-03/4884965126_a4409ca243_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In recent years, Chicago became home to some high-profile music festivals. One obvious benefit for music lovers is exposure to a wide variety of bands in the space of a few days. But beyond the cultural cache, music reporter Althea Legaspi looked at whether festivals benefit the local economy.</p><p><a href="http://www.lollapalooza.com/" target="_blank">Lollapalooza</a> begins Aug. 5 in Grant Park. For more on Lollapalooza's relationship with the city, check out <a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/" target="_blank"><em>Sound Opinions</em></a> co-host and music blogger Jim DeRogatis' blog <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis" target="_blank">Pop N Stuff</a>.</p></p> Wed, 03 Aug 2011 15:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-03/music-brings-business-and-money-chicago-90048 Chicago boutique agencies help craft a stellar line-up for Pitchfork http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-12/chicago-boutique-agencies-help-craft-stellar-line-pitchfork-89014 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-12/Pitchfork.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Album sales are down, and parts of the touring industry have slumped but there’s a segment of the live music world that’s thriving. Music festival culture is growing in the states, with early sellouts at Bonnaroo and Coachella. <a href="http://www.pitchforkmusicfestival.com/" target="_blank">Pitchfork Music Festival</a> sold out of its three-day passes in a week. But what many may not know is Chicago boutique agencies represent a lot of what you see onstage. Music reporter Althea Legaspi met with those who shape the lineup at Pitchfork Music Festival to get the scoop.</p><p>From the mundane: “One of the things I feel like I see on every rider I’ve ever seen is just clean socks,” <a href="http://pitchfork.com/" target="_blank">Pitchfork</a> Media President Chris Kaskie said.</p><p>To the particular: “It seemed such a cliché but was true, is that Yoko Ono needed an exactly white couch for her dressing room. It had to be white,” Pitchfork Music Festival’s Mike Reed added.</p><p>To the outrageous: “Major Lazer has a ballerina on their rider,” explained <a href="http://www.windishagency.com/" target="_blank">Windish Agency</a> booking agent Sam Hunt.</p><p>Those are just a few requests they’ve seen on artists’ riders. As for other goings on backstage?<strong> “</strong>There’s free ice cream backstage,” Windish Agency President, Tom Windish said. Windish Agency’s one of a handful of influential boutique booking agencies located in Chicago.<strong> </strong></p><p><strong>“</strong>We represent the artists and we negotiate how much they get paid to play a live show, and we negotiate where they’re going to play, which venue, how much the ticket’s are going to be, what other artists are going to be on the bill,” he explained. “And if they’re playing at a festival, we’ll sometimes negotiate which stage they’re on or what time they play.”</p><p>Windish Agency represents 500 bands, 18 of them are playing this year’s festival, including headliner Animal Collective and newer acts like Zola Jesus and Twin Shadow. Chicago-based <a href="http://billions.com/" target="_blank">Billions Corporation</a> represents Neko Case and Destroyer, and Chicago’s Red Ryder Entertainment has also had artists like Sharon Van Etten play in the past.</p><p>Unlike major agencies who also represent actors and the like, boutique agencies focus solely on musicians.<strong> </strong></p><p><strong>“</strong>There happen to be a lot of boutique agencies here, there’s like six or seven or something,” Windish said.</p><p>He relocated to Chicago 15 years ago because of the music community, the affordable rent and cost of doing business.</p><p>“And in Los Angeles, for instance, there’s only a couple agencies that are not the major agencies that are out there. It’s strange that there are so many here, but it’s pretty cool,” he explained.</p><p>Reed said it’s mutually beneficial having several boutique agencies in Pitchfork’s hometown: It’s not just a business relationship; there’s a sense of pride and a strong rapport.</p><p>“Here there’s also a really great thing for industry people where it’s like people are coming in and all also get to be hosts in a certain way and so there’s a little bit of a shared value in the festival because it’s from here, business is from here on various levels from here presented from a business from here and right in the smack dab of your home,” Reed explained. “And so I think there’s a little bit more of a community aspect and a hosting aspect that really helps, too the event,” he continued.</p><p><a href="http://www.flowerbooking.com/" target="_blank">Flower Booking</a> represents more than 100 artists like Baths and recently reunited The Dismemberment Plan who both perform this year. Flower agent Jay Moss said it’s essential for artists to play festivals like Pitchfork.<strong> </strong></p><p><strong>“</strong>You start to reach a much wider audience and you get to play in front of people that there’s a good chance they haven’t heard you before, they might not have heard even of your name before. And ultimately in trying to grow a band, you try and make new fans,” Moss said. “Additionally, with playing Pitchfork, it’s grown and it has such a cool factor to it because you have Pitchfork behind it and they build such an eclectic lineup.”</p><p>Popularity might drive some music festivals. But Pitchfork prides itself on being different.</p><p><strong>“</strong>Given the fact that we have an editorial entity in Pitchfork, most every band that we have on our bill we’re proactively asking and picking to play the festival,” Kaskie said. “Versus it being in some cases a reverse scenario where there isn’t really - I mean obviously we have limitations from a numbers standpoint – but you know some fests that have larger capacity or have an interest of covering more broadly all of the music that exists in the world, aren’t necessarily as selective,” he finished.</p><p>Pitchfork Music Festival’s lineup crafting starts shortly after the last festival ends.</p><p>“In the programming of the event that makes it really unique because of the online magazine, like it’s ability to be able to know and on certain levels forecast and to know things that are developing is better than any other event,” Reed said, “because usually events like this, like a festival, they sort of program what was maybe the most popular at the end of the year, whereas what we’re doing is about what’s happening at the moment, or what the editorial folks may be thinking is going to be big for the upcoming year.”</p><p>EMA and Yuck are newer artists Pitchfork added later to this year’s bill. Hunt says the exposure for emerging acts is invaluable. Like when his artist Dan Deacon played in 2007.</p><p>“He had literally played basements and house parties at that point. And this show was part of a tour, and it was a tour where maybe a couple hundred would go . . . And at [Pitchfork] there was 7500 people there watching him . . . and candidly he got so much more money than he’d ever gotten in his life – he was used to getting maybe $100,” Hunt said. “And I think that’s probably the case for a number of bands every year where the Pitchfork people and Mike Reed choose them from relative unknown status or anonymity and give them a platform that doesn’t compare to anything they’ve had before, which is kind of the coolest part of this festival,” he concluded.</p><p>Playing live has become integral to how a band as a business makes money, and the exposure they get playing fests such as Pitchfork Music festival and having a reputable booking agent has become increasingly more important. So while the public sees a band grow, like Fleet Foxes who played a day slot at Pitchfork in 2008 and now headline the fest this year, Kaskie said this side of the behind-the-scenes industry follows suit.</p><p>“As they grow and expand, like that information and just how good our festival is expands with them,” Kaskie explained.</p><p>Pitchfork Music Festival takes place this weekend (July 15-17) in Union Park.</p><p><strong>Music featured (in order of appearance)</strong></p><p>Animal Collective, “My Girls,” from the release Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)</p><p>Zola Jesus, “Sea Talk,” from the release Conatus (Sacred Bones)</p><p>Twin Shadow, “At My Heels,” from the release Forget (Terrible Records)</p><p>The Dismemberment Plan, “The City,” from the release Emergency &amp; I (DeSoto)</p><p>Baths, “Aminals,” from the release Cerulean (Anticon)</p><p>James Blake, “Limit to Your Love,” from the release James Blake (Universal Republic)</p><p>EMA, “Milkman,” from the release Past Life Martyred Saints (Souterrain Transmissions)</p><p>Yuck, “Georgia,” from the release Yuck (Fat Possum)</p><p>Dan Deacon, "Snookered," from the release Bromst (Carpark Records)</p><p>Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues,” from the release Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop Records)</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 12 Jul 2011 13:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-12/chicago-boutique-agencies-help-craft-stellar-line-pitchfork-89014 Urge Overkill: Re-saturation http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-18/urge-overkill-re-saturation-86693 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-18/UrgeOverkill_Mia Torres.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://urgeoverkill.com/" target="_blank">Urge Overkill</a> was in overdrive in the mid-nineties. But just when they were about to hit serious music heights the Chicago band imploded. Now they’re back. So how did it happen, and what’s different the second time round? For WBEZ, Althea Legaspi has the story of their return.<br> &nbsp;</p><p>“To have every rock cliché in the book befall the band, you know I mean it’s always money, ego, drugs, what have you, they’re all clichés. Really, it’s in the job description – you just don’t read that fine print when you sign up,” says Urge Overkill’s Nash Kato. What the band unwittingly signed up for in the early-‘90s was the crest of a Chicago music wave. In 1993 they released their major label debut, <em>Saturation</em>. That album, along with breakout albums by Liz Phair and Smashing Pumpkins, put Chicago on the burgeoning alternative rock map. Shortly beforehand, Urge Overkill was opening for Nirvana. Their tongue-in-cheek rock star pomp, penchant for wearing flamboyant suits, and medallions irked some people. “God knows when we picked up guitars the idea of us doing it as careers was a ridiculous dream and it was, we sort of made a joke of it,” explains Roeser. “That was our joke, that we were gonna make it big. It wasn’t really a realistic aim.”</p><p>But they took off. Their song, “Sister Havana,” made the radio waves, and their cover of the Neil Diamond song “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” became a classic off the <em>Pulp Fiction</em> soundtrack. Legend has it Tarantino found it in a cut-out bin while in Amsterdam. Kato says it was a surprise because it’s a song from their first EP. “I think our reaction at the time, wasn’t it, ‘Are you sure that he wants our version? He must mean Neil’s version?’ [They said] ‘No, no. He’s quite sure he wants your, you know, $5 version.’”</p><p>With the added name recognition, their next album <em>Exit the Dragon</em>, should have been a hit. But by industry standards, the album bombed. “<em>Saturation</em> was sort of consciously and almost kind of tongue and cheek was a commercial sound, it was kind of slick and sunny,” says Roeser. “And by the time we were recording our next record we were not getting a long very well and that’s reflected in the grooves. And it’s a sort of disjointed dark record.”</p><p>Still, the guys say Geffen offered to put out one more record. But the group was suffering from ego and drug issues and by then the band’s relationship was beyond repair. “Towards the end we could not literally, literally we could not be in the same room,” explains Kato. “<em>Dragon</em> was recorded in two separate studios, under one roof, you know that’s how, that’s how ugly the divorce had gotten.”</p><p>Kato and Roeser parted ways. And the once close friends didn’t speak for 6 years. But in 2003, a friend urged them to reunite. With a new lineup that includes Bonn Quast and Hadji Hodgkiss, Urge Overkill played a handful of dates in 2004. But the band says they soon found their old chemistry. “Sometimes we experiment with putting different parts together and sometimes the most unlikely combinations end up being the most interesting songs,” adds Roeser. “Like Nash will have a part, I’ll have a part and we think they’re completely different songs, but we put them together and something else happens that’s more interesting than one person’s idea of the song would have been.”</p><p>They recorded more than 30 songs and toured. But 7 years passed, and they had yet to put out any new material. It once again took another friend to get Urge Overkill to finally release the album <em>Rock &amp; Roll Submarine</em>. Roeser says what resulted is true to their origins. And ironically, Kato says it’s new members Quast and Hodgkiss who reminded them of their sound. “I can’t imagine having pulled this one off without their input on what is Urge and what’s not.”</p><p>It’s taken many many years and some positive outside forces, but they feel they’re the wiser for that. “We were out of our collective tree back then and I mean, it’s great we got a couple great records out of that experience, but I can’t imagine reentering that dragon so to speak,” adds Kato. “Certainly our focus is more clear and deliberate. But what hasn’t changed is that we always, from day one we always made music for ourselves, we made music that we wanted to hear that we didn’t feel was out there and the fact that anyone else thinks or digs it as much as you do is, you know, of course gravy. We’re still making music we want to hear and we’re very fortunate and never take it for granted that other people concur.”</p><p>And for all the time it took to literally get Urge Overkill back together, Roeser believes the worst is behind them. “That whole process of putting together our first recording after years off is your walking on egg shells, what do we sound like now, or can I still do this? But we really went through two or three records worth of doing that already and now we look back at this material that a lot of it is coming along really well,” explains Roeser. “I’d be pretty surprised if we didn’t put a record out really soon. This was the hard one and the really difficult work is over. We’re confident that we’re back in form and we haven’t changed too much and we like that.”</p><p>The record release show for Urge Overkill’s<em> Rock and Roll Submarine</em> is on Friday, May 20, at <a href="http://www.bottomlounge.com/shows/urge-overkill" target="_blank">Bottom Lounge </a>on Lake St.</p><p><br> <strong>SONGS FEATURED IN THE STORY:</strong><br> “Sister Havana”<br> “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”<br> “The Break”<br> “Rock &amp; Roll Submarine”<br> “Mason Dixon”<br> “Valiant”<br> “Effigy”</p></p> Wed, 18 May 2011 13:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-18/urge-overkill-re-saturation-86693 Material Issue overthrows the world of pop: 20 years later http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-21/material-issue-overthrows-world-pop-20-years-later-85489 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-21/Material_issue_promo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Saturday, members of Material Issue celebrate the 20th anniversary of their hit debut album, <em>International Pop Overthrow</em>. It was reissued this month, with nine bonus tracks, including cover songs of Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy,” which features guitars by Naked Raygun/Pegboy’s John Haggerty, a live rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” and Sweet’s “Blockbuster.” Material Issue’s Mike Zelenko and Ted Ansani share insight behind IPO and what brings them together to perform it live for the first time in more than a decade.</p><p>Material Issue drummer Mike Zelenko recalls his first encounter with singer Jim Elison: “Jim called me on July 4th, actually, and he’s like ‘what are you doing right now?’”&nbsp; Ellison called after seeing a band wanted at that Zelenko placed in Illinois Entertainer.&nbsp; Zelenko says Ellison continued “’well, if you want to make it big, you better get to Addison, Illinois, like right away!’&nbsp; So, I’m (saying) ‘OK, Great,’ and I asked my dad if I could borrow his van.&nbsp; He had a Chevy van.&nbsp; And so I drive out to Addison. And Jim comes out, and I walk out of that van and he’s not even looking at me.&nbsp; He’s looking at the van!&nbsp; He’s going like, ‘This guy’s got a van, he’s a drummer, he’s got a van.’&nbsp; It took me a year to realize, right away he’s thinking: ‘We’re going on the road.’ He starts showing me these tunes in his bedroom, and first thing I thought was, ‘God he’s an awful guitar player and he sings really loud and over the top, but these songs are really great!’<br> <br> Ellison had already recruited bassist Ted Ansani.&nbsp; Ansani says they met while attending Columbia College.&nbsp; 'He was so, not arrogant, just confident.' Ansani says. 'And that’s probably why he sang so loud, was he had this confidence all the time, he was like ‘I’ve got the plan.&nbsp; All you have to do is show up and I’ll make it happen.’”</p><p>The band’s lineup was secured, and Material Issue were off and running. They played countless shows around town and on the road, sometimes to only a handful of folks. But Ansani says Ellison was ambitious and had a clear vision for where they were headed. “Jim thought every song was basically the next hit. So he was very excited about playing.&nbsp; (He’d say) ‘Oh we’re going to do this one, and this next one’s our new single.’&nbsp; And when we did get a little radio airplay, that’s when we started noticing that the crowds started really filling in at clubs.”&nbsp; They had self-released an EP and 7-inch single, and with college radio and WXRT playing their songs, major labels began tuning in. Zelenko says they planned to also self-release their debut album, International Pop Overthrow, But then major label Mercury Records came knocking.&nbsp; Says Zelenko, “the great thing about International Pop Overthrow is that most of that record, except for maybe two songs, was financed and recorded by us before we had a deal.”</p><p>In 1991, Mercury released International Pop Overthrow and Material Issue went from traveling in a van to a fancy tour bus, and from a homegrown story to press conferences and many radio interviews. This garnered a fast-growing fanbase. They also scored their first big hit with “Valerie Loves Me.” It went to number 3 on the Modern Rock Billboard chart in April 1991.&nbsp; Zelenko recalls how the guitar hook developed.&nbsp; “Two in the morning, three in the morning, we had it tracked, we had the drums right, we have the bass right, and Jim was trying to do his guitar overdubs, and he’s trying to do this guitar part.&nbsp; And if you know the song, it’s (imitates guitar: “waah waah waah”) and I was like ‘well kinda like “John I’m only Dancing”’ by David Bowie. So when I said that, he did that, he did that (imitates guitar: “waah waah waah” again) And we’re like ‘Wow, that’s cool, let’s keep that.’ So we kinda stole from David Bowie on that one.</p><p>The song “Diane” also made the Billboard charts, and more than 300,000 copies of IPO were sold. The seminal power pop album got the deluxe treatment this month. It has been remastered and re-released with original and cover song bonus tracks.</p><p>Ansani says one never-before-released song, “The Girl With the Saddest Eyes” was hard to recall initially: “Jim had about six or seven songs that were ‘The Girl with the…’ ‘The Girl With the Biggest Feet,’ ‘The Girl With the Biggest Nose,’ ‘The Girl With the Longest Hair,’ ‘The Girl With the Prettiest Smile” and ‘The Girl With the Nicest Eyes,’ or whatever.&nbsp; And so it sounded very much like a ‘Jim’ song, and once we heard it, we realized ‘oh yeah, yeah, yeah, OK.’”</p><p>The band released three more studio albums before splitting up with their label, Mercury. Material Issue, who spent a decade on the road on an upward trajectory, now had a year of somewhat idle time. Zelenko says it was a sea change for everyone, but particularly for Ellison.&nbsp; Zelenko says, “I don’t know.&nbsp; I mean, I have my thoughts on it, and you know that was a big adjustment for us, and I think it was a big adjustment for Jim. And, being the writer and being the sort of focal point, I think he took it really personally.”&nbsp; And with Ellison being the backbone of the band with a decade-long focus centered on Material Issue, Ansani says Ellison may have felt a little lost.&nbsp; “When we didn’t have the label anymore, I don’t think Jim really knew what to do next. He was writing songs, but he was going in a couple different directions.&nbsp; He was playing with a couple different guys once in a while. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.</p><p>And then in 1996, at the age of 32, Ellison committed suicide. Ansani says the idle time was detrimental.&nbsp; “And we were still doing shows once in a while – we were doing maybe one or two a month – but it wasn’t like we were as busy as we had been.&nbsp; It wasn’t really healthy for him because he wasn’t sure what to focus on at that time. The tragic and unexpected loss of Ellison, and their time with Material Issue, significantly shaped Ansani and Zelenko. They were teens when they formed, and grew into adulthood together. Both Ansani and Zelenko actively play and perform separately in various projects; though it’s not their full-time careers. Recently they began rehearsing IPO songs to honor their 20th anniversary with a performance. It’s the first time they’ve played the music together in fifteen years.&nbsp; Zelenko says revisiting the past has been poignant: “As years go by I can – you know – you deal with it in different ways.&nbsp; But it’s hard to move on without a bitter taste in your mouth and you go like ‘well, Jimmy man, why couldn’t you have hung on?’&nbsp; You know whenever a situation like suicide – I’ve never had to deal with it before, this is the only time ever in my life I’ve had to deal with it – it’s really, when it comes from that perspective it’s tough ‘cause you’re just like, well was there something more I could’ve done to help him.”</p><p>But after two decades passing and now with the IPO reissue, Ansani says it’s a good time to celebrate the music. He says “for me personally, I’m at a point where it’s not all about remorse anymore.&nbsp; I’m not sad anymore, you know. And I think with this reissue and getting together, it’s time to kinda move on and celebrate – not celebrate in a crazy party way or anything like that, but it’s time for us to let people who didn’t have the opportunity, let them hear what we were able to accomplish and there’s no reason that we should you know be afraid to.”</p><p>The surviving members of Material Issue will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album. They’ll perform <em>International Pop Overthrow</em> in its entirety with longtime friend Phil Angotti at International Pop Overthrow festival on Saturday at <a href="http://www.abbeypub.com/" target="_blank">Abbey Pub</a>. Though named after their debut album, the traveling power pop festival is not associated with the band.</p><p>Full disclosure – Universal Music Company tapped Althea Legaspi to write the liner notes for the re-issue of <em>International Pop Overthrow.</em></p><p><strong>Songs featured: Artist, “song,” album</strong></p><p>Material Issue, “Chance of a Lifetime,” International Pop Overthrow: 20th Anniversary Edition<br> Material Issue, “There Was a Few,” International Pop Overthrow: 20th Anniversary Edition<br> Material Issue, “This Far Before,” International Pop Overthrow: 20th Anniversary Edition<br> Material Issue, “Renee Remains the Same,” International Pop Overthrow: 20th Anniversary Edition<br> Material Issue, “Valerie Loves Me,” International Pop Overthrow: 20th Anniversary Edition<br> David Bowie, “John, I’m Only Dancing,” Changesonebowie<br> Material Issue, “Diane,” International Pop Overthrow: 20th Anniversary Edition<br> Material Issue, “Trouble,” International Pop Overthrow: 20th Anniversary Edition<br> Material Issue, “Very First Lie,” International Pop Overthrow: 20th Anniversary Edition<br> Material Issue, “A Very Good Idea,” International Pop Overthrow: 20th Anniversary Edition<br> Material Issue, “Crazy,” International Pop Overthrow: 20th Anniversary Edition</p></p> Thu, 21 Apr 2011 14:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-21/material-issue-overthrows-world-pop-20-years-later-85489