• 2015: Rock

    Posted 02/04/2016 by cal

    It almost seems like an insult to relegate a band to this boring umbrella genre, but I'm not splitting up prog and indie and psych and whatever else you might want to use to distinguish your favorite band. If it's dominant instrument is an electric guitar and it's not metal, for the purpose of this exercise, it's rock.

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  • The Best Shows I Saw In 2014

    Posted 12/23/2014 by cal

    In an effort to impress upon people who need these things explained the ultimate meaningless of the numbers involved in these lists I like to write, there is a tie for number one this year. The shows were so completely different and earth-shattering that I couldn't possibly choose. BUT THEN NUMBER TWO SHOULD REALLY BE NUMBER THREE. Are you happy now?

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  • The You-Phoria Guide To Festivals: 2012

    Posted 03/16/2012 by cal

    Festivals: they’re not for the jaded, infirm or impatient, and now that they’re everywhere all the time, it’s pretty hip to dismiss them as tiresome and unwieldy, and those criticisms are certainly true. You either have to be one of those folks who delights in the festival atmosphere and sense of community, or you have to be willing to sacrifice comfort for the sake of hours and hours of music, sweet music. If you’re one of these types or think you might be, you owe it to yourself to check out the phenomenon, ‘cause if you’re anything like me you could wind up making some of your favorite memories ever at these things. Read on for a rundown on the most notable parties of spring/summer 2012. (Note: We’re Milwaukeeans here at You-Phoria, so adjust travel considerations accordingly.)

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  • My Favorite Shows Of 2011

    Posted 12/23/2011 by cal

    If I have any perennial list-readers here, most of them probably sighed preemptively as they imagined what would top my list this year, and they’re all correct: U2 (really impossible to choose between the two shows I saw), Phish (night one at UIC being the best of the seven), Secret Chiefs 3 at the Empty Bottle, Animal Collective at Pitchfork, and Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field. Oops, ya got me: I have favorite bands. I know music critics aren't supposed to reveal those, but there's no sense keeping it a secret. But rather than blather on about them yet again, it’s probably more productive for me to mention the top ten non-my-favorite-band shows of the year. So here goes. (To keep it interesting, I’m going to gloss over other obvious big names (Wilco, Pearl Jam, Primus, STS9), since they’ve all been covered plenty.)

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  • Wilco: Riverside Theater, 12/9/11

    Posted 12/13/2011 by cal

    How was the Wilco show last Friday, everyone’s wondering? It was really, really good. But you knew that already, right? Pretty rare that the band plays a less-than-great show these days. In its aftermath, I’ve been pondering what the hell to write about it that would be different from what I’ve written about the other times I've seen Wilco. In fact, what was different about it? Yeah, they played a bunch of songs from The Whole Love, obviously, but that can’t be it. The real question is: was it better or worse than the other Wilco shows I’ve seen?

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  • Wilco: THE WHOLE LOVE

    Posted 11/07/2011 by cal

    It’s a hard road, becoming an experimental rock band: once you go there, you can never go back. You try, you make an unpretentiously catchy pop record, and critics and fans will desert you. “Not strange enough!” they’ll cry. So, ever since Wilco made Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and its follow-up, A Ghost Is Born, which featured a ten-minute noise barrage that most people at the time decried as impenetrable and pointless, the band has farmed increasingly familiar, folky, radio-friendly territory, orchestrating its own critical downslide. The gutsiest thing Wilco could’ve done in 2011 is release another slick album of ballads and shimmering pop-rockers. Instead, Jeff Tweedy and company took the safe route with The Whole Love and got a little bit weird again.

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  • Top Ten Non-Phish Shows Of 2010

    Posted 01/20/2011 by cal

    This is the way it’s got to be for now.  If you read this blog with any regularity you’re probably sick of getting Phished to death anyway, but no other band puts on as good a show these days.  So I’ll skip writing about seven of the eight Phish shows I went to in 2010 (but for anyone interested, 10/16 was the best show I saw in 2010) and point out some of the other amazing nights of the year.  In narrowing down this list, it became clear that 2010 has to be my new best year ever; some truly mind-blowing shows didn’t even make the cut.

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  • 2000-2009: The Decade In Music

    Posted 04/15/2010 by cal

    No: singling out twenty or so albums as the pinnacle moments from a decade is totally not absurd at all. I based these lists on a nebulous calculation of awesomeness times influence, but since I can’t control the listening habits of the world, sometimes pure awesomeness was enough. The stickler in me really wanted a nice round number for each list, but I came to the decision that only 36 albums really stack up as potential all-time classics for me. If you’re still craving more music-snob sarcasm after reading these lists, feel free to point out any oversights…

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  • Wilco: Overture Center, 2.20.10

    Posted 04/15/2010 by cal

    Wilco fans need to wake the heck up. You’re at a rock and roll show, so get out of yer chair and dance. Some people claim it was the venue, and I’m sure the Overture Center’s stuffy ambiance was partially to blame. It’s a sterile modern hall, haphazardly upscale, good sound but not much personality, more suited for the symphony than a rock concert, as the designers clearly intended. But I didn’t see any signs that said REMAIN IN YOUR SEAT AT ALL TIMES, and unless there was oppressive security on the balcony levels that I wasn’t aware of, nobody was stopping you from dancing except self-policing uptight, lazy attendees. Whatever the case, I learned my lesson: never go see a show at the OC expecting to dance unless you can get floor seats. Or is it just that the average Wilco fan gets old at a younger age?

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  • The Best Records Of 2009

    Posted 04/14/2010 by cal

    It was kind of a shaky year in most respects, but musically, the 00s went out with a bang. Few (if any) records from ’08 will hold their value as long as the best of ’09. A lot of huge debuts this year bode well for a bright decade to come as well. Before we dive headfirst into it, let's take another look back at 2009. (note: album links should take you to some actual music)

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  • The Best Shows I Saw In 2009

    Posted 04/14/2010 by cal

    I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a better year of live music than 2009. 2001 and 2003 were pretty much neck and neck before, but they were both missing one key ingredient: a revitalized Phish. I wish I could’ve squeezed Radiohead in there somehow, but aside from that, it was as if all my favorite live acts conspired to keep my mind blown for most of the year. And since most (if not all) of them will be touring again in the coming months, ’09 may not even hold the crown for long…but we’ll see. My rule for this list, as always, is only one show per artist; otherwise, there might have only been three bands on it.

    (note: links in the headings are to my original reviews of these shows, where possible)

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  • Wilco review @ JamBase

    Posted 10/26/2009 by cal

    I've really been missing the boat on Wilco. A guy I worked with at Edwardo's Pizza introduced me to the band ten years ago and I've only marginally paid attention since then. Only in the past few weeks have I realized that the first Wilco album I ever heard, Summerteeth, is becoming one of my favorite albums ever. So, if you want to read my thoughts on the UIC Pavilion show a week ago, go here.

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  • The Best Shows Of 2008

    Posted 02/04/2009 by cal

    When I started brainstorming this list, I was thinking "who the heck did I even see this year besides SC3?" As it turns out, as I've perused the archives, that's due to the dominant awesomeness of SC3 and NOT the lack of good shows this year. I had a brutal time trying to decide what meant more to me than what else, but here's how it all shook out…

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