• Roger Waters: THE WALL, United Center 9.23.10

    Posted 09/28/2010 by cal

    “In The Flesh?”  There is no better way to open a rock concert.  I hadn’t listened to The Wall in quite some time, so it hit me like a ton of stark white concrete blocks.  As it built to its bombastic climax, it wasn’t the blistering pyrotechnics that blew my mind so much as the heightened awareness of what we were all about to experience, all that anticipation bottled in three ominous minutes of proto-doom metal, the onset of an experience you almost need to have to get a grasp of where modern music came from.  The madness of Roger Waters may be tempered by decades of adulation, but the enduring relevance of the songs can’t be dampened; they’re about our world, today just as much as any previous day.


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  • Phish: Blossom Music Center, 6.12.10

    Posted 06/15/2010 by cal

    After Toyota Park, we ended up in a vehicle with a madman who nearly got us killed, flying down Chicago side streets at 70 mph.  As we approached our friend’s condo, knuckles painfully white, pulses racing, “Instant Karma!” came on the radio.  Our chauffeur cranked it and I couldn’t do anything but sing at the top of my lungs and marvel at the irony; clearly the guy had no clue what this song is about, and I didn’t envy him the implications of its title.  For three minutes, I surrendered to the insanity of the moment (“Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead”??????) and dwelt in faith that we’d get out of this journey alive.

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  • Phish: Toyota Park, 6.11.10

    Posted 06/14/2010 by cal

    Conventional wisdom dictates that the tour opener features a rusty Phish, under-rehearsed and unadventurous.  Many fans boggled at the choice of venue, a nondescript soccer stadium in a blah not-even suburb of Chicago, where Phish had played a contentious, hit-or-miss show on a Tuesday last August.  So the crowd trickled in for what was sure to be a songy hodgepodge of a first set; if 2009 was any indicator, the boys just aren’t up for much jamming until after setbreak.

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  • Holy Fuck: Mad Planet, 6.2.10

    Posted 06/08/2010 by cal

    Imagine how many rinky-dink bands nestled in suburbia have named themselves using the fabulous f-word.  Hell, I know of at least a couple bands from the Milwaukee area alone with f-bomb monikers.  So eventually, in a day and age when foul language can’t keep a good band down any more, a Holy Fuck was bound to get national.  Luckily for music lovers everywhere, it was this one.

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  • Hurricane Bells/Deep Dark Woods/Mark Waldoch: Cactus Club, 5.15.10

    Posted 05/17/2010 by cal

    Muzzleofbees.com & trueendeavors.com present...” said the Cactus Club website.  Way to represent: I’d say the crowd maxed out at maybe fifteen people, pretty sad for a Saturday night.  Maybe these two website "presenters" are the equivalent of celebrity executive producers?  I didn’t even mind paying ten bucks to get in, I felt so bad for the bands.

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  • Public Image Ltd.: Pabst Theater, 4.30.10

    Posted 05/03/2010 by cal

    “Don’t blame me if you don’t like it”, said John Lydon, a couple songs into PiL’s powerful set Friday night.  “These songs actually mean something to me.”  You could justifiably denounce his reunion tours with the Sex Pistols as shameless money-grabs; he freely admitted it at the time, and it’s doubtful that songs like “Holidays In The Sun” or “E.M.I.” have much meaning for him these days.  But PiL was always the more personal project for the erstwhile Johnny Rotten, and it showed tonight.


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  • Yeasayer: Majestic Theatre, 4.28.10

    Posted 04/30/2010 by cal

    Are we getting to a point in popular music where maintaining a definable identity is equivalent to stagnation?  Constant reinvention seems to be the order of the day in indie rock, but the type of transformation between Yeasayer’s 2007 debut All Hour Cymbals and this year’s Odd Blood is on the caterpillar/butterfly order.  That’s not to say the new Yeasayer is a more beautiful creature, just virtually unrecognizable.  But thinking back, the metamorphosis should’ve been evident to me from the 2008 fall tour; Yeasayer had already progressed beyond its freak-folk phase.  Still, it was far from synth-pop…


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  • UMBowl 2010

    Posted 04/28/2010 by cal

    A truncated version of this review will appear on JamBase at some point.  Here I present a detailed review of the inaugural event, which deserves to be recognized as a milestone in Umphrey's McGee's ongoing quest to make its audience an integral part of the creative process of its live shows.

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  • Monotonix: Bay View American Legion Hall, 4.20.10

    Posted 04/27/2010 by cal

    By all accounts, missing Monotonix when they come through town is a bad idea. I’ll say one thing: missing this particular show would’ve been--particularly due to three local bands that also played, not a stinker among ‘em.

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  • Hammered at The Monkey Bar, 4.17.10

    Posted 04/27/2010 by cal

    SPOILER ALERT: Hammered is the name of the band, not my state of consciousness.

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  • Atoms For Peace: Aragon Ballroom, 04.10.10

    Posted 04/15/2010 by cal

    A supergroup by definition, Atoms For Peace features a couple of major 90s icons who seem largely impervious to the rules of pop music, which clearly state that they should both be totally irrelevant dinosaurs by this point. But as almost anyone will attest, Thom Yorke is still one of the most vital and influential musicians in the world, and Flea's other band is still putting out albums that end up in top-ten lists. That doesn't necessarily mean they can coexist in the same band, however...

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  • Jaill/Strange Boys/Sugar Stems @ Cactus Club, 04.01.10

    Posted 04/15/2010 by cal

    Nothing like getting out to see a couple of local buzz bands at the venerable Cactus Club. I do not miss the hole-in-the-wall ambiance of the unremodeled joint at all. This is Milwaukee, and we needed a bunch of good beers on tap in our premier rock club. Besides, even more reliably than before, you can walk in here on damn near any Friday or Saturday (in this case, Thursday) and expect to hear why the Brew City scene is blowing up these days. Tonight's bonus: a kick-ass group out of Texas that I'd never even heard of.

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  • Stoned Tepid Pile of Shit

    Posted 04/15/2010 by cal

    What did I expect, right? Once again, I was suckered into forking over greenbacks to the worst venue in the United States. Go figure: the night before the ill-fated Eagles Ballroom show, Weiland stumbles right off the stage in Iowa and breaks his heel. That's one way for a junkie to get his hands on some drugs. Just conjecture, but whether he was hopped up on painkillers or not, the dude was hammered. I can't be certain he was entirely to blame for the multitude of mistakes, but despite some really great moments, the whole experience left a sour taste in my mouth, and it wasn't just the eight-dollar MGDs.

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  • The Big Pink/A Place To Bury Strangers @ Turner Hall Ballroom

    Posted 04/15/2010 by cal

    I love Turner Hall, but I was dismayed to find no Rehorst Citrus & Honey flavored Vodka behind the bar. At the one music venue that carries it, and at a relatively decent price, I've gotten into the habit of treating myself. Oh, well, the standard gin and vodka are as good as any on the market, so I can't really justify a complaint.

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  • Daylight: Saved

    Posted 04/15/2010 by cal

    Outside of a bona fide music festival, pretty tough to top the eclectic stew of music I was treated to last night. Maidens>Phantom Family Halo>My Disco>Young Widows>Future Rock. Pant, pant. It definitely left me with that festy-exhausted but immensely happy and satisfied feeling.

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