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Entries in Live Review (36)

Thursday
Feb232017

Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience @ United Center

Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience feat. Ramin Djawadi
Where: United Center
When: February 22nd, 2017
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

Heavy on atmosphere and overloaded with theatrics, TV and film composer Ramin Djawadi brought the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience to the United Center in Chicago last night and it did not disappoint.  In full disclosure, your ever-so-honest reviewer has only seen one episode of the show and that single episode is the pilot.  In spite of that, the music of the show has always been a point of interest even for those who aren’t religious viewers of the HBO hit.  It’s medieval, it’s dark, and it’s also as richly layered as, say, a Nine Inch Nails album – only with organic instruments instead of electronics.  As I am a sucker for a big production, it seemed unquestionable that this would be something that had to be seen with my own two eyes.

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Friday
Aug052016

Bloc Party @ House of Blues

Bloc Party
Where: House of Blues
When: July 30th, 2016
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Justin Tucker

Lollapalooza is an interesting time in Chicago. Each year in the summer heat, one of rock’s biggest festivals descends upon the city and becomes the center of the music world for a few days. Some Chicagoans prefer to stay in all weekend, desperately avoiding the traffic and commotion. Others, along with the many folks in from out of town, dive head first into the festivities.

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Tuesday
Mar152016

Carly Rae Jepsen @ Metro

Carly Rae Jepsen
Where: Metro
When: March 12th, 2016
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

In full disclosure, it begs mentioning that I am a HUGE Carly Rae Jepsen fan.  Especially after the earth-shattering album she dropped last year in the form of E•MO•TION, she’d managed to convert even her most passionate detractors into brand spankin’ new superfans.  Sure, I dug “Call Me Maybe” when it came out and I did lose my mind over “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” for a little while, but I never identified as a fan until last year.  E•MO•TION is the quintessential pop ALBUM.  Yes, that was in all caps intentionally because it’s important that everyone recognize what CRJ has accomplished here – she’s unleashed a modern day Bad or CrazySexyCool or Private Dancer or True Blue…you get the point.  The album is more legendary and game-changing than any sales figure or chart performance would ever suggest.  When you pair up the best sounds of the 80s and early 90s courtesy of a stellar production team with some impermeable songwriting, put all of that through the Carly Rae Jepsen hit-machine, and you’re bound to have a future classic on your hands.  While I would love to gush about E•MO•TION, we’re here to talk about her quite sold out Metro show.  But this lot had to be said because in all honesty, Carly could’ve sat on a milk crate and beatboxed her nearly 20 song set and I still would be giving the show a perfect rating coupled with a glowing review.  Judging by the audience’s reaction, though, the 5/5 rating is quite well deserved.

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Monday
Mar072016

Jack Garratt w/Kacy Hill @ Lincoln Hall

Jack Garratt w/Kacy Hill
Where: Lincoln Hall
When: March 6th, 2016
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

It’s ironic that soon-to-be-superstar Jack Garratt would cover a Justin Timberlake cut during his sold out Chicago date at Lincoln Hall.  Not just because he has a voice that rivals JT in the best of ways, but mostly because if anyone in this day and age can lay claim to the Throne of Prince, my money would be on Garratt before anyone else.  Sure, Timberlake has that voice, the moves, and the attitude – but Garratt runs the show in the artistry department.  Throughout his 10 song set, Jack performed quite literally everything we heard.  The kick drum to his beats are triggered by a foot pedal he stomps the life out of, the remainder of the percussive elements are played with one hand while the other hand is either playing the melodies on a synth or recording a guitar loop – even regurgitating this now is making my head spin.  Watching Jack perform is quite certainly a mesmerizing experience on many levels and here’s why…

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Wednesday
Feb172016

TRANSVIOLET @ Metro

Transviolet
Where: Metro
When: February 16th, 2016
Grade: 3.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

Crappy weather and a late Tuesday night set didn’t make for an ideal evening to head out to a show for a lot of Chicagoans, it seems.  Performing to a room of less than 100 people, NYxLA’s Transviolet had no trouble filling the empty space in the room with their fresh take on the booming electronic pop genre.  Since the general public has only heard a handful of songs from the young group, they loaded up their set with new songs that we’re sure to hear on their forthcoming debut album.  Although the band sounded great and Sarah McTaggart’s vocals were absolutely blissful, I was overcome with one burning question…

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Monday
Jan042016

REACTION NYE w/Purity Ring & Skrillex

Reaction NYE w/Purity Ring & Skrillex
Where: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
When: December 31st, 2015
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

To ring in the New Year, it seemed apt to go hard or go home – the latter of which is what I normally choose to do every year.  Of all the events happening around Chicago, React Presents’ Reaction NYE event seemed the most appealing.  With a diverse lineup teeming with great artists like Purity Ring, Skrillex, and Chicago’s own Autograf, it made sense to check out what was happening in Rosemont on this special evening.  When held up against the other options Chicagoans had for NYE plans, this certainly ended up as the place to be to bring in 2016.

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Tuesday
Dec012015

HEALTH @ Lincoln Hall

HEALTH w/Pictureplane
Where: Lincoln Hall
When: November 28th, 2015
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

I’ve always had a passing interest in HEALTH – their music is polarizing to say the least.  Either you can appreciate the organized noise and the slightly comforting abrasive electronics they inject into their music, or you just consider it to be hot garbage.  For those in the latter category, now may be the time for you to rediscover the LA band.  Their new album, Death Magic, is the reason I made it a point to check out the guys at Lincoln Hall.  It’s far removed from their previous work, sounding more like a band who would sound at home on labels like Digital Hardcore or even Wax Trax!.  There are hooks, the production is clean as a whistle, and although there are still blasts of noise a la the old days, the record is largely based on electronic sounds rather than organic instruments (although Benjamin Jared Miller’s drums are still quite prevalent).  I just bought the album the day before the show and decided that I had to hear how this all translated onstage and thankfully, the results were scintillating.

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Monday
Sep282015

Ride @ Riviera Theatre

Ride
Where: Riviera Theatre
When: September 25th, 2015
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

Once in a great while, you’ll stumble upon a lineup for a live show where the opener is just as enrapturing as the headliner.  Last night, The Besnard Lakes churned out a raucous set of their unique brand of psyched out dream-pop.  I’d heard the band a few times in the last several years, but I had no idea what to expect from their live show and it was a pleasant surprise.  If you haven’t seen or heard this band and you like artists like Ride, My Bloody Valentine, and even the Cocteau Twins and Sonic Youth, you’ll find a lot to appreciate in their catalog.  One song, “Albatross,” really hit me though – once their LED lighting setup kicked into full gear paired with billowing clouds of fog while they unleashed a torrent of comfortable noise, I felt like the band had somehow elevated my state of consciousness.  That or someone spiked my water with LSD.  Whatever the case, I can’t wait for another chance to see this band here in Chicago.  But of course, we were all there for the almighty Ride – and damn, did they deliver one of the most solid live sets I’ve ever witnessed.

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Thursday
Jun252015

U2 @ United Center

U2
Where: United Center
When: June 24th, 2015
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

If there is one lesson learned walking away from U2’s opening of a five night stint at the United Center this evening, it’s that U2 is more than just Bono (and his signature sunglasses). Like many monumental rock bands of the last several decades, the frontman often becomes the band to a lot of people.  Until tonight, I was one of those people.  After witnessing U2 perform to an arena the size of the United Center, however, the way the band functions as a unit while still managing to make every person feel like they have a front row seat, is really a sight to behold.  Before this evening, I was more of an old school U2 fan — I grew up with their first few albums and, of course, The Joshua Tree made a huge impact on the music aficionado in me upon its release — but the Innocence + Experience show was immersive and captivating enough to inspire me to really dig into their last ten years’ worth of material.

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Sunday
Jun142015

Rush @ United Center

Rush
Where: United Center
When: June 12th, 2015
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

Defying the odds and shattering wrongful expectations that a band like Rush shouldn’t be filling up arenas like the United Center, the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Famers delivered an electrifying set to celebrate their 40th year as a band with Neil Peart behind the kit.  There are quite clearly two divisions of Rush fans: those who like their radio hits such as “Tom Sawyer,” “Fly By Night,” and “Closer to the Heart” and those who appreciate their AOR format (Album Oriented Rock).  Rush’s R40 tour caters more to the latter, but there’s no doubt that all fans left the building feeling satisfied.  As someone who’s loved this band for 25 of those 40 years, I’d never seen Rush onstage and I’m still putting pieces of my brain back together from how hard this show absolutely blew my mind.

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