Television Show Review


The Metro, Chicago, IL

May 8th, 2014

Television Live Show Review

Anytime I go to see a legacy act (which I now define as any band touring 15 years since the end of their heyday), I am often grading on a curve. It’s not fair to have expectations for the act to match what they were in their more nimble, youthful days, but at the same time, what’s the point in paying the often pricey legacy ticket prices if you don’t think the show will wow or amuse you in some way. Due to these low expectations, I have often found myself pleasantly surprised and in some cases (like Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and Neil Young), flat out amazed. Some stars’ star power transcend age and time.

I went and caught Television, the legendary CBGB’s punk band that isn’t actually a punk band at all, at the Metro, which was their first time in Chicago in 22 years, and their first tour in six years. The band is actually set to release their fourth album in 37 years, but is still leaning mostly on their landmark debut, Marquee Moon.

The current form of Television is three of its four members from its debut, the brains, guitar, and voice behind the operation, Tom Verlaine, bassist Fred Smith (who replaced Richard Hell before they signed their first record deal), and drummer Billy Ficca. Guitarist Jimmy Rip also toured with the band, and was arguably the best live performer in the band, even if he looks more like a crazy mix between Nick Nolte and Tom Waits’ than a member of a classic art punk band. All the other members beyond Rip appeared to be just barely keeping the songs together, playing pretty stiff and rusty. Verlaine, specifically hasn’t aged well, and while his guitar skills haven’t faded much, his voice certainly has, and it removed some of the power and weirdness out of the songs.

Verlaine’s decline is all the more stark when compared to his CBGB’s counterpart David Byrne, who has managed to age like a raspberry lambic, getting funkier and more flavorful over the years. Byrne’s voice also still sounds incredible live and probably 90% of where it once was, where Verlaine’s strange warble is more like 40% of what it once was. Verlaine was still impressive on guitar, as the dual lead guitar tradeoffs that Television coined still sounded as fresh today as they ever were.  It was amazing to hear Television perform these classic songs and key in the memory bank on all the band’s that channel their sound, from the Strokes, to Pavement, to Parquet Courts.

Even if the band lacked that perfect live sound, it would have been great to see the band put a little more sweat into it.  Television just appeared a little passive and like they were going through the motions. It was great to see songs like “Marquee Moon”, “Friction”, and “Venus” brought to life, but this wasn’t a full-blooded life by any means. The songs sound more dynamic on record than they do now live, which is never a good sign.

So while I certainly graded on a curve with Television, I certainly hoped Verlaine and company would bring a little more energy and focus than what they showed at the Metro. I still love Television, but in terms of legacy acts worth seeing, your money is better spent elsewhere.




St. Vincent Show Review

St. Vincent

April 5th, 2014

Riviera Theatre, Chicago, IL

St. Vincent Chicago Show Review

With each album, St. Vincent aka Annie Clark has further cemented herself as an artist worth paying attention to. Her latest self-titled album sounds like nobody but herself and each album has gotten increasingly artful. Thanks to the Riviera Theatre, Jam Productions, and the wonderful world that is Twitter, I landed two free tickets to see her as she strolled through Chicago. While her latest tour is no doubt her most carefully crafted and choreographed solo show to date, what really makes her latest show interesting is Clark turning into a bonafide guitar god.
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St. Vincent Album Review

St. Vincent
St. Vincent

St_Vincent_album art

Two weeks ago, Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) released her fourth studio album. I think it is worth noting as well, that this is her first solo album to be released after her collaboration album with David Byrne, Love This Giant. I say that it is worth mentioning because it is quite apparent that her work with David Byrne, and possibly the current friendship that they have taken up after the fact, has clearly had a large impact on her music. So what do you get when you take one of the better female singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists of the current generation, and slap on a nice new coat of influence from one of the better/quirkier musicians to ever grace the presence of popular music? You essentially get what was already a fully developed musician in untried territory. Stepping outside her own comfort zones, and becoming better in ways that weren’t exactly necessary, but incredibly enjoyable for her fans, old and new. You also get one of the best albums that St. Vincent has released to date.
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St. Vincent Double Song Review

St. Vincent

“Birth in Reverse” / “Digital Witness”

St. Vincent Double Song Review

Over the last five years, Texas guitaress  Annie Clark aka St. Vincent has had as dynamic of a stretch as any artist. In 2009, she released her beautiful and eerie sophomore album Actor, followed in 2011 by Strange Mercy, my favorite album of that year, and a creative guitar pop masterpiece. In 2012, St. Vincent was not only our favorite live performer of the year, but she hooked up with another one of our favorites, the Talking Heads’ David Byrne, for the wonderfully funky Love This Giant which also landed on our best albums of 2012. After a year of touring a beautifully synchronized and horn-laden show with David Byrne in 2013, St. Vincent is due in 2014 to release her fifth album, a self-titled release that appears to be taking some notes from her time with David Byrne.   So like I did in 2012 with the first two singles off Love This Giant, here is a double-song review of the first two singles off her upcoming self-titled album, “Birth in Reverse” and “Digital Witness”.
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How Music Works Review

David Byrne

How Music Works

how music works david byrne book review

The great Talking Heads front man David Byrne wrote the generically titled How Music Works late last year, but the book is anything but generic. Byrne has never released a auto-biography about himself or the band, but he coyly uses this book and the various subjects in the book to essentially give huge glimpses of his personal story. The title makes it sound like it may describe how music works from a physiological or neurological standpoint, but that’s obviously not Byrne’s expertise. His expertise however, as a 40-year music industry expert is to discuss all the external factors that affect the music that is made – including the venue, the recording process, technology, the trends, and much more.
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Top Ten Thursday: Best Live Acts of 2012

St. Vincent Best Live Act of 2012

Our best of the year coverage continues with our favorite rockers of the road, highlighting the ten best live shows we saw this year. This year LxL was able to get out to Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and the Pitchfork music festival, which many shows on this list stem from. So without further ado, here are our ten favorite live acts of the year.
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Talking Heads (Cover Band) Show Review

This Must Be The Band


Vic Theater

Chicago, IL

Talking Heads tribute band, This Must Be The Band show review at the Vic Theater

Sometimes the universe just has its way.

Fellow LxLer Todd came to visit me in Chicago this past Saturday, and we had no clue what to do that night. So we took to the internets, and found that This Must Be The Band, a Talking Heads cover band, was playing at the Vic Theater that night. Unfortunately, we discovered the show was sold out, but just as we were about to give up, “This Must Be The Place”, the Talking Heads classic, came on the speakers in the restaurant we were in. This told us that we were meant to go to this show, even if we would have to scalp tickets. So we land at the Vic that night, and scalped tickets were going for ridiculous rates. One scalper said $80, which is hilarious considering Todd said he saw the Rolling Stones for less than that, and this is just a cover band. But through Todd’s smoozing of the venue employees, we actually got into the show for free. It was fate after all.
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