Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hipster Runoff gets some real competition.

Hipster Runoff gets some real competition.

I've been buried with work this week, so perhaps you should amuse yourself with my new favorite site in the whole wide world ... Look At This Fucking Hipster.

This is a good one to start with.

Now move along.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stana, and other anagrams.

Stana, and other anagrams.

I saw Flight Of The Conchords last night and took some pictures. If you get a chance to see them on this tour DO IT.

It's hilarious stuff.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So long, trusty steed.

So long, trusty steed.

I sold my car last night. It was sad, since I really loved that little Jetta, but the fiscal reality of keeping her was just too daunting. Between $1,000+ in parking tickets due to expired registration, and the money it would take to get the car to pass an emissions test, it was just no longer feasible to keep the car. I was going to donate it, but Photogal offered to try and sell it for me ... and within hours of listing it online we had a buyer. So now I have a little extra money so I FINALLY start a savings account and start building up a safety cushion, and Photogal made a rather nice commission for her effort (and for so kindly storing my car off the street over the last few months ... I really appreciated that!).

So I am officially without a car. It's not like I've driven her in months, but it's still a slightly hollowed out feeling. And it was pretty depressing to hurriedly clear everything out off her last night in the pouring rain. It was like some break-up scene from a late-'80s romantic dramedy, complete with water streaming off my scalp into the trunk for maximum dramatic effect.

At the same time it's liberating. We sold the car to someone who is going to give it as a gift to someone and he got it at a good enough price that even if he wanted to make every necessary repair to the car it'd still be a deal for him. So I think everyone came out of the deal ahead.

So, if you see a black VW Jetta driving around Chicago or Indiana with a circular Blur decal in the rear window ... well, it's not me driving her around anymore. But be nice to her new owner!

Monday, April 27, 2009

On the road again!

On the road again!

Due to an incredibly early work day, I have nothing of note to share. Well, actually I do but I simply don't have time to write right now!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Free music? Who doesn't like FREE?!

Free music? Who doesn't like FREE?!

Hey, remember Wolfmother? No? Well, they were a kick-ass Aussie power-trio that sort of broke up but not really. By that I mean the lead singer kept the name and has reformed with a new line-up under the moniker. They offered a download of a new track -- which sounds reassuringly exactly like old Wolfmother -- a while ago if you signed up for their mailing list. Today they released the same track online, only now you don't have to trade your email address for the music. Get it now! And if you like it, the band is asking fans to show their appreciation for the gratis offering by donating to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

MP3: Wolfmother "Back Round"

Pretty sweet, huh? Also in free this week, I wrote up a piece about I Fight Dragons and their free EP. I recommend getting that too. It's surprisingly awesome.

O.K. Enjoy the rest of your Friday!



Busiest. Week. Plus. Of. The. Year.

It kicked off Wednesday with the Ultra Sonic Edukators / French Kicks show* at Schubas. Last night saw us hitting the LaSalle Power Company opening party before heading to Metro to catch, and shoot pictures of, Peter, Bjorn And John and Chairlift. Tonight I'm catching Cage The Elephant at SubT before bouncing over to Darkroom to see the always awesome Lasers And Fast And Shit.** Saturday The Riverboat Gamblers, one of my favorite bands to see live no matter what that jerk-face lead singer of Farewell Captain has to say about them,*** comes to Bottom Lounge. I am also hoping to hang out with an old friend I haven't seen in ages that night so I expect the festivities to stretch in to the wee hours of the morning.

Take a deep breath. Sunday is a day of rest. Monday looks light too.

Then we REALLY ramp things up with the Flight Of The Conchords show Tuesday, The Thermals at Bottom Lounge Wednesday, Facebook Olympics AND Chicagoist writers' Happy Hour Thursday, I DJ Friday, and we have three shows and a party all day and night next Saturday.

Why oh why did they have to outlaw Sparks?!

*U.S.E. has dropped the mid-era Blur sound in favor of self-titled / 13-era Blur. And French Kicks were just plain boring.

**Whose t-shirt I was wearing at Schubas Wednesday night to the apparent delight of the waitress working that evening. She is apparently a fan. Apparently.

***He says The RBs depend too much on Iggy Pop antics and I say I don't care when I'm that engaged in the live show.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

An addendum to today's earlier post.

An addendum to today's earlier post.

I just came across these Tweets from last night's French Kicks show:
U.S.E. has moved on to Blur self-titled/13 territory and French Kicks are just as blah as I remembered. Pleasant crowd though.
about 12 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Must remember to shut the fuck up and stop ruining bands for newer fans. My perspective in those situations is worthless.
about 11 hours ago from TwitterBerry

In support of previous Tweet RT @shellster129 This show makes me happy.
about 11 hours ago from TwitterBerry
Sweartagod kids, I am NOT always Debbie Downer!

Record Store Day redux.

Record Store Day redux.

Man, I wish I had a tape recorder last night since it was at about midnight that I lucidly strung together all of my objections about record store day and succinctly summed up the problems, and extreme dangers, of sentimentalizing the experience. I know one point I made had to do with the "holiday" being cheerled by older music writers like me that remember a dead experience and new music writers that feel cheated by missing out on "the early days." Something like that. I also kinda wish GalPal had written up her thoughts immediately after our record store adventures last Saturday, since her notes carried some of the hopelessness of the whole endeavor as far as appealing to anyone under the age of 30 (and, honestly, the core target for Record Store Day should be anyone under 22 since they're the ones who most need reeducation* when it comes to how they acquire music.

I got really worked up about all of this last night and really wish I had taken notes while ranting! I think I'm upset by the idea of a trumped up holiday and I'm saddened at how much the way people experience music has changed. Once upon a time you needed record stores and The Trouser Press Guide and xeroxed fanzines and mixtapes and college radio and a whole bunch of other things*** in order to form your musical education.

Now it's all just piped in to your monitor. Is that bad?

Honestly? At this point? I really don't know anymore.

*I'm using that word totally tongue in cheek. Times change. Aside from the lack of a sustainable business model I see nothing wrong** with how people acquire music now.

**O.K., I could go on for hours about things I find "wrong" with how people acquire music now, but Record Store Day isn't going to address any of those issues.

***Seriously, an interest in music literally used to mean hours upon hours of self education through any number of arcane sources that were often next to impossible to hunt down.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One of the benefits of living with me.

One of the benefits of living with me.

Sometimes I get messages like this:
@shellster129:I feel like I just moved into a record store. AND ITS AWESOME
In that record store (a.k.a. the extra bedroom) one would find CDs by such bands as The French Kicks and Ultra Sonic Edukators (U.S.E.), two bands playing at Schubas tonight. The last time I saw The French Kicks was at Southpaw in Brooklyn (is that joint even still around?) and I remember thinking they weren't as good since Nick Stumpf stopped simultaneously singing and playing drums and decided to just be the frontman. It's been a while though so maybe I'll enjoy them. Openers U.S.E. are always a great time, a sort of cross between the numbers of The Happy Mondays and the harder edged Britpop of mid-period Blur, so I'm definitively looking forward to them.

FUN FACT: The show is part of the Amplify New Music Series, which is pretty funny since the French Kicks have been playing out for about a decade, and U.S.E. ain't exactly new to the scene.

French Kicks photo by Oliver J. Lopena:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wherein Record Store Day forces me to confront that which I never wanted to admit...

Wherein Record Store Day forces me to confront that which I never wanted to admit; or, how I learned to stop hoping and accept a once good friend's irrelevance.

WARNING: The following is a partially emotional argument. It's why it's appearing here and not on Chicagoist or donewaiting. It's just my view, and my response to Record Store Day. So take it as such.

The record store, the one I grew up with, is dead. I spent decades hanging around dusty vinyl bins, then scouring used tapes and CDs, and I went nearly bankrupt at a couple of points buying imported albums and singles. I love music in its physical form. I'm reasonably certain I have been physically addicted to it for the majority of my sentient life. I cherish what the record store stood for and the guidance even the snobbiest, snottiest clerks tossed my way. From the early days of stalking mall record stores in the early '80s because I knew of no other outlet to the smoked-out dude at Hip Cat Records selling me Pink Floyd cassette bootlegs to the wise staff at Quaker Goes Deaf to the underpaid experts at Reckless Records. Hell, my very first albums -- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band and the Ace Frehly KISS / solo picture disc -- were bought at a Mexican flea market in the Texas Valley when I was a wee tyke ... so I've hunted out music wherever it may lay.

Record Store Day is supposed to remind us of the importance of record stores. Only, record stores really are not important any more. Once they really were the primary reopsitories of advice and arcane knowledge, but now that function os delivered everywhere anhd anywhere by millions of music themed blogs, many of which burrow into their own arcance corners of sub-genres collecting information and offering advice to any and all music lovers.

Even the one hook that Record Store Day had to offer, the promise of exclusive vinyl and CD offerings, failed to convey the power of actually hunting out and buying those things. If the items in question weren't already sold-out they were overpriced and marked up by greedy outlets, andd if you didn't get them all the "exclusives" were on offer via eBay or craigslist within a few hours. This in itself was certainly expected, but it did nothing to dispel the buying habits of the average consumer who knows they need never actually hunt anything down since it can always be found online.*

Hell, MP3s of ALL the exclusives are already posted FOR FREE all over the interwebs.

Sentimentality will not save record stores. My negative views on last weekend's event has earned me a fair amount of vitriolic email, and I know that's because I'm hitting a nerve with people that -- like I one did -- hold out all hope that "the kids" will finally get why record stores are important. But, they're not. Not anymore. While I'm happy to hear that this year's event was more popular than the previous year's, and that many record stores sold massive amounts of merchandise, I think it's foolish to hold that up as some sort of victory since the sales number are certain to drop right back in the sub-basement until next year's event.

Record Store Day ain't gonna save the indies. Moving their sales online, offering immediate MP3 downloads alongside physical merchandise whilst you wait for it to ship to your door, engaging consumers in a way they find meaningful ONLINE ... these are tactics will save the indie record store or at least stave off their demise. But getting folks out one day a year to chase down a handful of vinyl ... that's not gonna do it.

*For the record, I'd like to point out that I DID chase down a number of these exclusives, and bought them for the sheer joy of owning the physical versions, but would never expect anyone under the age of 30 to actually chase these items down as I did since it wasn't until the fifth store that I found what I was looking for. Some off this was poor planning on the retailers part (how stores located in Chicago didn't have enough of the new Wilco DVD still confounds me, unless it was an issue of availability, but that seems far fetched) and part of it was just plain shady (like the store that pre-sold all of its swag to "regulars" thus defeating the idea of egalitarianism the day should've promoted).

I did end up getting everything I set out to purchase that day, but even that personal victory wasn't enough to convince that Record Store Day itself was able to follow though on any of its implied promises.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The City of Angels has concrete wings and a heavenly glow.

The City of Angels has concrete wings and a heavenly glow.

Granted, I've only seen a portion of Los Angeles, driven through Hollywood and the near freeways and then Arcadia, and must admit this initial impressions are just that, impressions, but the remarkable thing about this segment of California, one of the youngest parts of our nation, is just how old it looks and how much it leaves the impression of a grouping on architecture sunk into the viscous flow of an ever expanding sea of concrete that's all held together tenuously by bailing wire, duct tape and car exhaust. The roads are disintegrating and the buildings appear to have been dragged from Mexico up through an especially briny mix of salt water and smog. There's a air of the resignedly ancient that stuccoes the exteriors around me and the long flat stretches of low lying buildings are broken so very rarely by the shock of an honest-to-god skyscraper* providing a rude eruption.

And here is the striking thing; no one here seems to notice this. Even my travel companion / colleague who is an ex-resident of L.A. and surrounding areas seem surprised by my take on our surroundings. And I think I know why. Even before landing I was entranced by what I saw framed in miniature far below. Mountains surrounding valleys next to huge lakes bordering vast desert with all of this snaking along the shoreline of the pounding Pacific Ocean. Stepping off the plane with the smells of palm trees carried to deep cranial cavities untouched since childhood and ferried by a sun-kissed breeze I immediately felt the pull of the West Coast. I could see myself relocating there. In an instant it was all clear: I would rent a small house, preferably in the hills, and I would take morning strolls and enjoy shows at The Hollywood Bowl, and sight celebrities working at In-N-Out Burger while scoffing at the visiting East Coasters who, could you believe it, still smoked.

You can surf and hike and climb mountains and sit in your car while people deliver food to you and sit in you car while people pass by in the HOV lanes** and there is LITERALLY a gym every block or so that people park in massive parking structures before accessing and I still have no actual experience with the night life but I imagine it to be both decadent and extremely self-conscious since that would be the logical extension of pretty much the way the area just instinctively feels deep down when you allow your eyes to close and you feel the thrumming of the millions around you slowly cracking the sidewalk beneath your feet.

You can cross the street at any crosswalk, no matter what the light signal, and drivers have to stop.

I think people move to the L.A. area because it truly is a place of splintered personality and multiple impressions, some cataloged above, and all of which, no matter how incongruous, are absolute truths in their own way. I think I need to visit here again to more fully catalog my impressions, and I suspect that's how it begins. The rational part of me knows I would never want to move here, never want to leave Chicago (at least not for Los Angeles, California (at least I can't actually fathom that, but then again who knows, things change)) but as someone very near and dear to me said yesterday, "The first time I visited there I spent the next six months trying to figure out if there was any way I could move there."

Previously such a statement about the West Coast, specifically L.A, would have confounded me deeply, but now I understand.***

*And by skyscraper I mean any building over eight stories.

**Which and yes I know stands for High Occupancy Vehicle (i.e. more than one person) lane but instead took to calling the Jay-Z lane after his statement:
Allow me to re-introduce myself, my name is HOV
H to the O-V. I used to move snowflakes by the O.Z.,
I guess even back then you could call me
C-E-O of the R-O-C, HOV
***I feel the need in full disclosure to admit that seeing the Hollywood sign both from the air and from our lumbering rented SUV provided a deep thrill I was not expecting and that deep unexpected thrill helped me realize what a primal pull this place must, well, in fact does, exert.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hitting it well.

Hitting it well.


Rudy and I are DJing at The Continental tomorrow (Saturday) from midnight until 5 a.m. Come by and see me! I've been out of town all week! Don't you want to see me again? Of course you do!


Know your meme, baby.

Holy Fuck!

Holy Fuck!

No, really, Holy Fuck. The band. They're hitting Chicago on May 30 and crash landing at The Empty Bottle. In order to celebrate their return to the road they're offering up this little unreleased gem.

MP3: Holy Fuck "Jungle"

Great Northern's "Houses" is a grand building crafted from a sublime promise.

Great Northern's "Houses" is a grand building crafted from a sublime promise.

Really, the title of the post says it all. Listen for yourself and understand its truth.

MP3: Great Northern "Houses"

Photo of Great Northern by Dana Patrick

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Allowing people to read full posts in RSS feeds...

Allowing people to read full posts in RSS feeds...

Consider this a PSA for the week. I know lots of people truncate posts in the hopes of driving traffic to their site. This thinking is outdated and lame. Readers are what count, and you want eyes on your content, at least you do if you're writing in hopes of engaging an audience, right? SO ENABLE YOUR FULL POSTS TO BE READ ... m'kay?

O.K., I also realize some of you aren't aware your posts are truncated, or you just don't know what the settings are to allow the full feed (I came across this realization when a colleague (who is VERY internet savvy). Below is how you do it in blogger, but I imagine it's similar across other CMS platforms:

dashboard > settings > site feed > allow blog feeds > full

And to all the rest of you, you can read MY full feeds by subscribing here!

Subscribe now!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009



Yesterday was, literally, a 24+ hour workday. I'm in Surry, BC. And now I think I need some breakfast before work today. And some COFFEE.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm up!

I'm up!

Catching a 5:45 a.m. flight is FUN! Wheeee! (Or that's just the coffee talking.) I'll be in the air off and on a total of 13+ hours today. On the downside, um, I get nervous when flying (but have read enough to know that's irrational). On the upside, maybe I'll decimate that backlog of New Yorkers on my reading pile and make a serious dent in 2666!

Monday, April 13, 2009

On the road again...

On the road again...

I'm doing a lot of business traveling this week so that means you (a) may get more out of me as I feverishly write to distract myself from the amount of time I'll be in the air or (b) I'll never have internet access and you'll hear from me sporadically! Which will it be?

The only way to find out is by checking the site religiously on a daily basis! (Or subscribing to its RSS feed.)

Coming soon: Photos from Marcus' 30th birthday complete with my custom screamo version of "Sweet Caroline" with personalized lyrics all about the birthday boy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Man about town.

Man about town.

Hey there! How's it going? Good? Excellent. Hey, happy Good Friday! This lapsed Catholic / former Catholic School student / former altar boy totally forgot that Good Friday was today. Do I get out of work today at noon? No? I don't? Dang. Oh well, it's gonna be a busy day so let's look back at some of my online contributions that have appeared elsewhere over the past week.
Aaaaaand, that's it. See, this isn't the only site suffering a mild drought due to the 9-to-5 drawing on all my creative juices at the moment!

Plans for the weekend? Karaoke at Hidden Cove tomorrow night to celebrate a certain E-in-C's 30th birthday. I plan on finding out if a man can puke and sing Toto's "Roseanna" at the same time.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

An apology, and a map.

An apology, and a map.

Seriously, things are crazy right now. I know you read everywhere that people's lives are crazy and you're all like, "Well, my life is pretty nutso too so whaddya talking about?" but in my case things have seriously exploded. It's an excellent kind of crazy, but I'm pouring so much into my 9-to-5 right now all extracurricular writing has dwindled to a trickle.

I promise I will make up for it soon. I just needed to recalibrate my engines to balance out the creative fuel so that when is rushes full bore into one engine it doesn't suck everything out of the other.

Until that point, take in this map of Chicago's neighborhoods that, while pretty, is basically bullshit. To quoth its source, Olivia, "Pretty, but I’m calling BS on “Lathrop Homes.” What in the world is that? I love how every time you see one of these Chicago maps, there is a brand new neighborhood. And where is Noble Square? University Village? Greektown?"

As usual, click the pic for the biggie-size view.

Oh yes, also, Hey Champ was really on their game last night, completely, in my humble estimation, blowing away The Bloody Beetroots.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I know it's lame to just post a flyer, especially when it's for a show I didn't book or nothin', but it should be a good time nonetheless...

I know it's lame to just post a flyer, especially when it's for a show I didn't book or nothin', but it should be a good time nonetheless and you should go (but run for the doors and cover your ears if you see a certain label head anywhere near the venue)!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

No one ever dies on Google.

No one ever dies on Google.

At one of my old companies, one phrase we would repeat to clients over and over again was that "Google never forgets." I know, it seems so simple it hardly bears repeating, but at the time most businesses still didn't quite get the importance of managing their online presence beyond maintaining a web site. It's a testament to how quickly things have advanced in just the past five years that the phrase is taken as scripture now.

Today I discovered that not only does Google never forget, it never lets you die either! I have a daily Google Web Alert triggered by my last name and it came back today informing me that my dad was still living in Palatine and was currently 64!

Which isn't quite so.

Oh well, I'd like to thank Google for providing me an alternate reality where that is true...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Ting Tings were fun fun.

Ting Tings were fun fun.

I got A LOT of great shots at last night's Ting Tings show at Metro. I was hoping to have them up to day but I don't think I'm going to get them up until tomorrow. It blows my mind that it was a year ago they were playing The Mansion to a sparse crows and now they're selling out Metro to a jubilant crowd. If you have a chance to catch them on tour the show is a helluva lot of fun.

Here's a taste.

And here's a pretty girl with some dork.

Friday, April 03, 2009

One month hiatus.

One month hiatus.

No, you can start breathing again, I'm not taking a month off from here, I'm coming back from a month off of DJing! I needed the breather to allow the music library to get all plump with ripened new tracks and I am dying to drench the soundsystem at Old Oak Tap with all this new music tonight. As usual I have a few surprise guests lined up to drop in some sets as well.

And did I mention the food there is great?

And they have like a jillion different beers?

See you tonight!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Travis Bickle: Mall Cop

Travis Bickle: Mall Cop

Based on the commercials running on TV right now, a lot of people are going to be incredibly shocked by what kind of movie Observe And Report actually is. It is not a agoofy slapstick comedy. It is not a chronicling of the misadventures about a bunch of mall rent-a-cops. It's is not a Judd Apatow-esque dude comedy.

We saw an advance screening of the film last night and what it is is a dark, eye popping, stunning, at times belly laugh funny, at times nail digging in the armrest disturbing, and extremely accomplished film, especially when it comes to making its point and attaining its goals. I've heard some compare the film to Taxi Driver, and in that escalation of delusion add its consequences when the unhinged come in contact with reality's walls the comparison is fairly accurate.*

Seth Rogan's performance is a stand-out, as a bi-polar security guard of astonishing competence in moments of conflict even as he slips deeper into darker recesses. Ray Liotta comes in a close second turning in a nuanced play on his own history of playing hair-trigger tempered figures. Also look out for Michael Pena's turn-on-dime characheter and and Azis Ansari (familiar to Stereogum readers) and the funniest sequence involving the phrase "fuck you" I think I've ever seen.

This is one the best movies I've seen in quite a while so leave your preconception -- and the kids -- at home and check it out.

Also, Fight Club was forever associated with The Pixies' "Where is My Mind" ... until now. Trust me, whenever you hear that song after seeing Observe And Report it'll trigger a whole new set of imagery for you...

*Though, truthfully, the film is a lot funnier than Taxi Driver. Mostly.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009



I'm guessing -- due to the fact that both Schifeling (a.k.a. Little Jim to the far right (your right) of this photo and I (in the electric blue suit (that I still own)/ both have short hair -- this must be right around 1996?

Also pictured are Evil Steve and Andy, FYI.