Live Fix Radio Episode 41: Live Music Fashion On Stage and Beyond

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On this episode of Live Fix Radio we’re continuing our exploration of live music fashion and chatting with special guests Brittany Abeijon, editor in chief of The Facets Magazine, and JP Chookaszian, Urban Offering as we traverse through the exciting and controversial topic of what fans wear (and shouldn’t wear) when we go to concerts.

Not only do they dish out some crafty concert fashion tips and dapper insights, Brittany and JP both share excellent stories about how Woodstock, Sigur Ros, Jimi Hendrix, Sufjan Stevens, Ray Charles and Lady Gaga have all influenced and inspired their sense of style and personal creativity. Rock on and thanks for listening!

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Show Notes

News and other cool stuff we talked about:

 

Music featured during the show:

  • Sigur Ros – “Inni
  • Lady Gaga – “Born This Way”
  • Of Monsters and Men – “Your Bones (live at Park West in Chicago)”
  • Sufjan Stevens – “Christmas Unicorn (live at metro in Chicago)

 

Got a thought on this show or an awesome idea for a future episode of Live Fix Radio? Drop a comment below or share your feedback and concert stories with us on Twitter @livefixmediaFacebook , Google Plus, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341.

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Concert Preview: Lounge Ax Reunion Celebration

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Continuing our exploration of live rock history in Chicago, here’s news via the Chicago Tribune about a retrospective party celebrating the Lounge Ax, one of the Windy City’s central hubs and greatest venues for indie-rock in 90’s.

As Greg Kot reports:

The co-owners of the club, Sue Miller Tweedy and Julia Adams, will host the Lounge Ax Retrospective at saki, 3716 W. Fullerton, a Logan Square record store, gallery and performance space. They’ll pack it with memorabilia including posters and some of the countless photo-booth snapshots of rock bands that played the club during its heyday, including Pavement, Wilco, Shellac, Tortoise, Smog, the Sea & Cake and Yo La Tengo. A party is planned at 7 p.m. Aug. 10 and several bands will perform at 4 p.m. Aug. 11.

Sounds like a great time to celebrate and share stories. And if you had the pleasure of seeing a show there back in the day, let us know more about your Lounge Ax experience and we’ll share your stories on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

Until then, check out these Live Fix Experiments that explore bands and concert moments related to Loung Ax reunion bash and other cool stuff about Chicago live music history:

 

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Grouplove and First Concert Experiences

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During this episode of Live Fix Radio, we’re continuing our exploration of the wonders of our first concert experiences. Listen in as Matt, who won our Bears/Packers wager, shares how Grouplove filled his cup and left him tongue-tied during his first show at Metro.

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Show Notes:

Segment one: News and other cool stuff you should know about:

News: 

Link love, experiments and more goodies

 

Segment two (21:44): Interview with Matt: his first concert ever, comparing live music to baseball and what would he ask other Grouplove fans.

Segment three (34:10): Grouplove’s tattoos, what (and why) we remember from our first concerts. 

Music played during the show
  • Grouplove “Lovely Cup”
  • Grouplove – “Tongue Tied” Live at Metro (credit: thanks for the video snap shot!)
  • Grouplove – “Colours” Live at Metro

What Are Your First Live Concert Experiences?

What do you remember the most about those shows? The people, the venue, the music?

Share your concert experiences and thoughts about this podcast in the comments below, on Twitter @livefixmedia, on Facebook, Google Plus, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341, and we’ll include them in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Concert Review: Lots Of Lovin’ Going On During Grouplove Gig At Metro

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grouplove metro chicago bw

Yes, Grouplove has passed the live music test. And I have to give a special thanks to my cousin Matt for winning our Metro/Bears/Packers bet and wisely selecting to see Grouplove as his first concert at Metro.

Ever since Matt picked the show I’d been digging Grouplove’s tunes on their debut release Never Trust a Happy Song, a unique and clever mix of upbeat indie-pop, rock, folk and groovy songwriting with some Beach Boys Pet Sounds melodies and rhythms tossed in.

And in the days leading up to the show my curiosity grew and a whole bunch of questions started bouncing around in my head.

I wondered how they would transfer the energy of the songs to the stage.

I wondered how the fans would embrace the band live at this very early stage in their career.

Would the band’s chemistry be developed enough to captivate and amaze?

Would fans get emotional?

Would it be the same as the Gayngs and Ra Ra Riot show?

Well, Grouplove certainly brought the goods.

And fans did spread the love and feel-good vibes on many levels.

And with the sold out Metro just about ready to burst, the quintet charged through their set with reckless abandon.

grouplove metro chicago fan hugging and loving

During the show I saw many fans like the ones above hugging and lovin’ on each other in many creative ways.

Some were arm-locked, while other fans were locking other body parts during the whimsical surging anthem “Itchin’ on a Photograph,” the summertime gem “Naked Kids” and especially the encore crowd-pleaser “Colours.”

Experiencing all of this for over an hour made it hard to believe that Grouplove had been together for barely a year.

And the band wasn’t shy about their lack of live show inexperience either. They declared graciously several times that this was their largest headline crowd to date.

It was a most joyous and beautiful blur.

 

grouplove chicago metro matt and chris

 

And to top it all off I had the honor and pleasure to share the show with my cousin Matt who, I found out before the show, had not only never been to a Metro show, but had never been to a rock concert ever. Double bonus!

This was truly a scared moment, my friends.

And as I mentioned before we’re going to explore and share more as we talk with Matt about his first concert experience on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

Until then, we’d love to hear what you thought of the Grouplove show, so go ahead and post your comments and thoughts below and we’ll include your experiences in the episode.

In case you’re wondering I took these shots with my Droid X2 and originally shared them via Instagram as part of our ongoing mobile experimenting. Follow me on Instagram by searching for “livefixchris.” I’d love to see what kinda of concert magic your capturing with your smartphone too.

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Concert Preview: Getting Ready For Grouplove and Matt’s First Show at Metro

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It’s taken a while but we’re excited to share the news that our Bears vs Packers: Who Will Win A Free Show At Metro will continue next weekend as my cousin Matt and I head out to see Grouplove in Chicago.

To recap, I bet Matt a free show at Metro that the Bears would win and head to the Super Bowl 2011. Well, as you know the Bears lost and the Packers went on to win the Big Game.

And after a long and very careful decision process Matt has chosen to see Grouplove for his very first show at Metro. So will this adventure be like our other first time at Metro adventure?

Who knows? But either way we’ll certainly share all the details on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

Until then, check out the video of Grouplove’s single “Colours,” and this live set from their recent visit on Letterman, both of which have got me thinking about what their live show will be like as a sold out crowd gathers to celebrate Matt’s first Metro gig.

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Concert Review: Did You Feel What The Eye Saw?

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The exploration in to the community of groove and dance culture continued at Lincoln Hall Saturday night.

In the wake of this sold out show, it’s obvious that Chicago DJ trio Midnight Conspiracy is aiming to innovate the live dance music experience as they stimulate the senses by blurring the lines between house, dubstep and performance art.

This show wasn’t just another excuse to party with the hometown fans. But it was a night to experiment with our emotions, senses and feelings.

Surprised By Revelations

Midnight Conspiracy was in experimental mode as they tested out their new Eye Live Laser Lightshow, a 16-ft LED custom DJ booth in the shape of their Eye Of Providence logo.

And it was an experiment that proved to reveal more about dance culture than I expected.

The Eye was certainly a visual spectaule to behold as it stood high above the crowd blinking in sync with the venue-vibrating electro-rhtyms of rock and bass and casting out beams of light that splashed psychedelic and ravish patterns on the walls and fans faces.

The show began with an ominous voice warning of the manipulation of our minds by the powers that be. But fans didn’t seem to be to interested in being warned about cultural mind control. And once the beat dropped it was obvious that we all just wanted to rock and shake our booties to oblivion.

From there the DJs catapulted us in to a visual and sonic feast filled with eye and ear candy so sweet and delicious that fans pushed their bodies up against the speakers and rubbed their backs and hips against each other making it hard to figure out where one fan ended and the other began.

Speaking of fans, before the show got rolling, I had a most interesting conversation with one fan outside as we waited in line braving the frigid single-digit temps and icy wind that howled down Lincoln Ave.

A Crazy Flood Story

“Did you know that [Lincoln Hall] flooded the last time Midnight Conspiracy played here?” He told me with a wild smile and big wide eyes of awesome anticipation. “The foundation split open and water started pouring out and we all had to leave. It was crazy! And I’m super excited about seeing them again tonight.”

I was amazed to hear the fan’s story. And after a quick Google search afterwards to see if it was true I didn’t find any other account of the story. That said, I don’t know if that fan’s story was true, but nonetheless I’m sure the awesomeness that fan experience during that show was setting the stage for another unforgettable Midnight Conspiracy show tonight. Kinda like these fans.

UPDATE 2/6/12:

I received this video below from the band that documents the flooding. Thanks guys. And if you have any other stories or info about this night please send it along.

How Has Clubland Culture Changed?

As the music pulsated all around me and I got lost in the groove, I thought back to our previous experiment of club culture and wondered what Frank Owen would have thought of this show from a fan perspective.

And since Chicago has a rich history of house music, I wondered what Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy and other house music innovators would think of this EYE experience.

And considering our exploration in Ecstasy use and dance music culture, I wondered what sort of impact drugs and other substances were having on these fans and the band. Would the show have been as “amazing and memorable” without  this particular show compared to others throughout house music history.

And since this show was all about “The Eye,” I gazed deep in to the center of the massive structure wondering about the dynamic flow between the band and the fans.

 

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Did You See What Eye Saw?

I say this because what was interesting about The Eye was that it presented a profound perspective on two different vantage points.

From one point the band was looking out at the crowd through The Eye, and from the other the fans were looking back at the band through The Eye.

And the last thing that struck me was that in the midst of this visual and sensual exchange I realized what made this show so powerful was that The Eye served as a visual reminder of our collective and subconscious emotional experience.

Yes, the more I thought about The Eye the more I realized that it was a physical representation of the sensual and emotional connection between the fans and the band.

This is fascinating to think about because at most concerts you don’t always have a tangible and physical reminder of the communal connection that makes the show thrive and groove.

And as I think about the concerts I’ve gone to and how this communal connection is celebrated, it’s usually the dance music concerts that have a powerful, almost tribal symbol like the EYE , onstage that fans can focus their attention on during the show.

Sure, some bands have a screen playing in the background or pyrotechnics, but are those show spectacles the same as a massive structure like The EYE, or like one of my favorite symbols, the Daft Punk robot pyramid that was at Lollapalooza 2007?

And I’m sure the promise of this type of strong tribal and communal connection is what made the Midnight Conspiracy show sought after by fans, a show that many fans were willing to wait outside for over an hour in the freezing cold.

And I believe it’s not just the opportunity to escape, but it’s mostly life-changing communal experience that has made live dance music so popular in the mainstream in recent years.

I believe at our core we, as humans, desire to be connected to each other. And live music, whether it’s in a dance club like this, or a rock show, is one of our favorite ways to connect to each other. But is rock music truly delivering the same communal and life-changing experience?

Are Our Live Show Expectations Changing?

I’ll wrap this post up by asking you this.

Is dance music more popular than rock music today because live dance music is giving fans a more satisfying and communal experience than a live rock show?

Are fans coming to shows will different communal expectations than they have in the past?

Are artists like Tiesto aware of this change in the fan experience? And are they working to make fan active participants instead of Looky-Loos?

Which artists do you think are delivering the best communal experience for fans?

 

The Eye will be tested out again at Metro on February 17th. And the “official” debut of the Eye Live Laser Lightshow will be on March 2nd at the Congress Theater with Zeds Dead, Dillon Francis, and AarabMuzik. Until then, you can check out tunes on the Midnight Conspiracy Soundcloud and Facebook page.

Were you there?

We talked to a lot of fans during the show and we’d love to hear what you thought of The Eye. Go ahead and let us know what you experienced and how you think clubland culture and live dance music is being evolved today.

Share your concert experiences and thoughts in the comments below, on Twitter @livefixmedia, on Facebook, Google Plus, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341, and we’ll include them in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

Check out more of Colleen photos here.

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How Did Janelle Monae Influence, Inspire President Obama During Chicago Show?

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We already know that President Obama loves live music and knows how to weave it into the fabric of his presidency. And now we know a little bit more after hearing him express his thoughts about experiencing Janelle Monae live during a recent visit to Chicago to raise support for the 2012 campaign.

The video is short but Mr. Obama’s comments do give us a little bit of insight into how Monae’s live show moved him and even influenced foreign leaders during a recent state dinner. And I wonder if he felt the same way during the Motown show?

But the fun wasn’t only had by the President himself, because the inspiration seems to be following in both directions.

Here’s what Monae had to say about the show:

“I was deeply honored to be invited by the President to perform at the rally in Chicago at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It was an amazing feeling to be amongst so many people, young and old, black, white, red, disabled, all united, eager to help support a man who has ended the war in Iraq, gotten rid of “don’t ask don’t tell”- allowing anyone to serve this country regardless of who you love, made sure women were not paid less than men merely because they are women, doubled pell grants, given 2.5 million young people health insurance, and has created a law that recognizes that crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race or disability aren’t just any crime- they’re hate crimes that deserve justice. These are all things he said he’d do before he was elected and did them. There are more important accomplishments that can be added to this list. I strongly believe our nation should continue upon this path, bringing justice to all and change where needed. President Obama remains the candidate of hope and change, and he will continue to move our country forward, bringing even more change if re-elected.”

It’s interesting to think about how the inspiration and influence flows both ways, from artist to fan and vice versa.

We’ll be diving deeper to discover more details about Monae’s live performance and her own emotional experience. And I’m really curious to explore this, especially after I saw her last year at SXSW 2011, a show that turned out to be one of my favorite shows of 2011.

All this said, as you know, we’ve been on a mission to explore how shows like these and all of President Obama’s live music experiences have influenced his political and presidential decisions these last three years.

And in the near future we’ll be sharing “a special interview” with President Obama for our Live Fix community since we’d like to know how the live music experience will inspire and empower the upcoming campaign.

What’s Your Vote?

How do you think live music influences President Obama? What role has the live concert experience played in helping our presidents shape our country’s past, present and future?

Let us what you think and share your own concert experiences in the comments below, on Twitter @livefixmedia, on Facebook or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341, and we’ll include them in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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What They Do Before The Show: Wilco, Mavis Staples, Nick Lowe Jam Backstage

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I’ve always wondered what artists do backstage to warm up and get in the mood before a show. And my chats with Saul Williams, Ant of Atmosphere and Secret Machines all gave me a fantastic look in to the psychological, behavioral and emotional baselines of an artist before they perform.

And because of those experiences I began to experiment with the concept of a BAAD show. And see how Broken Social Scene does this too.

All this said, I love the above backstage video via Paste of Wilco, Mavis Staples and Nick Lowe, warming up backstage before their recent December show in Chicago at the Civic Opera House.

Watching the clip I thought about our amazing experience seeing Mavis Staples at the Hideout Block Party and the fact that Wilco is still one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.

How ’bout you?

What do you think of this backstage clip? Were you at the Civic Opera House or any of the other Wilco shows in December? Does watching this video change or enhance your concert experience?

Share your concert experiences and thoughts in the comments below, on Twitter @livefixmedia, on Facebook or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341, and we’ll include them in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Old Town School Of Folk Music To Celebrate 55 Years With New Music Venue, Expansion

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old town school of folk music 55 years

Remember our Gate of Horn exploration? Well, shortly after that post we were honored when Frank Hamilton, one of the founders of The Old Town School of Folk Music and who was a part of the early folk scene in Chicago, dropped by to share his personal experience at the historic venue:

I was there. House Musician for the Gate for about a year. Played with Gibson, Mapes, behind Bud and Travis, Brother John Sellers, Alan Mills and John Carignan, Barbara Dane and others.
Grossman wanted to team me up as Odetta’s accompanist but I declined. Just as well. Bruce Langhorne did a great job. Gibson, Mapes and I were a folk trio there for a while before Hamilton Camp teamed up with Bob.

We’re excited to continue our exploration by sharing news via Chicago Tribune about the Old Town School School of Folk Music celebrating 55 years with a new music venue and expansion of it’s current Chicago home.

Next month, Old Town will open its fourth facility across from the school’s main buildings on the 4500 block of North Lincoln Avenue. The new 27,000-square-foot, $16 million, three-story facility and 150-capacity concert hall is scheduled to open Jan. 9, kicking off a 55-day series of events celebrating Old Town’s 55th anniversary.

You can get more info about the celebration here, a list of concerts here, and a special collection of live archives here.

We’re also pumped about the news because Colleen will be starting her guitar lessons there in January too. And we hope to have Hamilton on a future episode of Live Fix Radio to talk about his live experiences at Gate of Horn and the new venue and expansion.

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K. Flay’s Triumphant Homecoming, Exploring Subterranean’s Brothel Backstory

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During this episode of Live Fix Radio, we explore the music of rapper, singer-songwriter and Chicago-native Katherine Flaherty (aka K.Flay). We first discovered K. Flay’s cunning blend of hip hop, pop, rock and humorous rhymes back in March at SXSW. We caught up with Flaherty before her show at Subterranean to talk about her Black Friday guilt, the emotional connection with her fans, what she’s learned since SXSW and the silly things she says while onstage.

During the show we also share how we discovered the curious backstory of Subterranean, the venue where K.Flay played. It’s a show packed with tons of great stuff like live post-show fan interviews and news about free live downloads and more as you’ll see in the show notes and links below.

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Show Notes:

Music from the podcast

News and links

Step Up To The Mic

What do you think about K.Flay’s mad rhymes and crazy songwriting skills? Got a question about Subt’s shady history? Want to know more about something we talked about during the show?

We invite you to share your concert experiences and thoughts about this podcast in the comments below, so they can be included in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Concert Preview: Fishbone Debuts New Film in Chicago, Ready To Rock Bottom Lounge

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Editorial note: The following is a guest post from our friend and Live Fix contributor Moira McCormick who recently saw the new Fishbone documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone and caught a gig by the band in L.A. And here’s a preview of what awaits Fishbone-heads as the film debuts in Chicago and Fishbone plays live tomorrow night, Dec. 10, at the Bottom Lounge.

 

LOS ANGELES—“Fish-bone is RED HOT! (clap-clap) Fish-bone is RED HOT! (clap-clap) Fish-bone is RED HOT! (clap-clap)”…

The revved-up chant beloved of those who love Fishbone is bouncing off the walls of the Bootleg Theater in downtown L.A. – Fishbone’s hometown – where the durable funk-punk-ska-soul-metal-pop band has just finished a warp-fueled set on this balmy late-October eve, their trademark anarchic energy undiminished after 30-plus years (and counting.)

Fishbone will, of course, retake the stage of this 1930s warehouse-turned-arts-center for a raucous encore – their shoulda-been-a-huge-hit “Sunless Saturday” – before the packed room resounds once again with, “Fish-bone is RED HOT! (clap-clap) Fish-bone is RED HOT! (clap-clap)”…

A couple hours earlier at the Bootleg, the chant was ringing out on a movie screen in the opening moments of “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone,” a new documentary (premiering in Chicago tonight for a one-week run at the  Gene Siskel Film Center.) The L.A. screening of “Everyday Sunshine,” – an inventive and absorbing chronicle of the band’s multifaceted history – was followed first by a Q & A with filmmakers Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler, along with Fishbone founding members Norwood Fisher and Angelo Moore; and then by the intimate live set.

The appropriately-surnamed actor Laurence Fishburne narrates Fishbone’s tale, a blend of archival live footage and interviews, animation, home videos, TV news clips, music videos – and testimonials featuring many of Fishbone’s more commercially successful followers, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, and Primus.

In tracing the band’s inception in South Central Los Angeles through their present-day incarnation, the narrative continually emphasizes Fishbone’s utter uniqueness. “It wasn’t rock, it wasn’t metal, it wasn’t hip-hop, it wasn’t funk – it was just some different shit,” states rapper Ice-T, who later stresses, “There was no ‘pre-Fishbone.’” At a time when the term “alternative rock” had come to mean “jangly white-boy guitar-pop bands”, Fishbone were the true alt-rockers.

“Everyday Sunshine” limns the historical context of the band’s formation, first by citing the 1940’s migration of Southern black folk fleeing the racism there for sun-soaked Los Angeles – only to become “confined to the flat, hot grid of South Central, Watts, and Compton, a legacy of segregation maintained by the LAPD.”

Then, mandatory busing in 1979 aiming to integrate the L.A. school system brought South Central kids to the overwhelmingly white schools of the San Fernando Valley, riling up bigoted white parents (depicted brandishing hate-filled signs sickeningly reminiscent of decades-earlier protests) – and bringing together bassist Norwood Fisher and singer-saxophonist-unrestrained id Angelo Moore.

Moore was a rarity at Woodland Hills’ Hale Junior High – a black student whose family actually lived in Woodland Hills – and he eagerly sought the companionship of Fisher, the South Central street kid who “scared the shit out of everyone,” as founding member Chris Dowd (keyboards, trombone, and vocals) puts it.

They bonded over mutual love of funk, in particular Parliament-Funkadelic bassist (and force of nature) Bootsy Collins, and one day Moore asked Fisher if he could join the fledgling band that the bassist and his brother, drummer Phillip “Fish” Fisher, had recently formed.

Fisher’s response was to yank a pomegranate (Moore insists it was a persimmon) off a nearby tree and smash it into Moore’s face before acceding to his request – the memory of which leading the present-day Fisher to marvel, “He asked me to be in my band – Angelo, one of the greatest front-men of all time!”

Next to join were guitarist Kendall Jones and the aforementioned Chris Dowd, who themselves had bonded over their mutual feelings toward punk: they loved it “as much as kids in the Valley,” according to Dowd. “We became each other’s musical allies.”

“Going to some of the punk-rock gigs, and bein’ in the mosh pit, was a really good reason to go berserk,” says Moore, who sported a Mohawk at the time. “You’re mad about the racism out here in the Valley, you the only black family out here, you got people every once in a while drivin’ by, callin’ you a nigger…that kind of shit gets to you every once in a while, man. When I got hip to slam-dancin’? Oh, I was all up in the mosh pit. Tryin’ to expel them demons.”

The film tracks Fishbone’s odyssey crashing the milk-white Los Angeles punk scene, blowing headliners off the stage before headlining themselves, becoming the hottest band in L.A. – and being snapped up by mighty major label Columbia Records while still in their teens. Fishbone’s self-titled debut, an EP that includes band classics like “Party at Ground Zero” and “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” (more on that one later), was released in 1985, when they were barely out of high school.

What “Everyday Sunshine” doesn’t touch on at this point is the story behind the band’s name, which was related to me by Norwood Fisher and Chris Dowd backstage after their first Chicago appearance(at premier showcase club Metro) – “a characteristically bacchanalian set” (as I noted later in the Fishbone profile I did for Creem magazine, in which I wrote that they sounded like “Funkadelic meets the Specials at Frank Zappa’s house and they all go to a Black Flag concert where Judas Priest is the warm-up act.”)

Anyway, the origin of the band name, according to Fisher, came from an episode of the ’70s sitcom “Good Times” (a fifth-season installment called “Requiem for a Wino.”) “What’s that guy who played Benson named?” Fisher queried, and Dowd and I chorused, “Robert Guillaume.”

“Yeah,” affirmed Fisher. “Robert Guillaume did an episode where he played this wino named Fishbone. He faked his own death and went to his own funeral as his widow.

“He would never lift his veil, and then somebody lifted his veil and they saw it was him; everybody got all pissed off and started giving him shit, and so he was like, ‘When I was dead, everybody loved me – why won’t you love me now that I’m alive?’ and everybody started giving him more shit. Finally he got through to them, and he said, ‘Why don’t you tell me you love me?’, and then everybody started singing this song: ‘Fishbone, we love you, we love, you, Fishbone!’ And we said, what better name for a band?”

“You shoulda heard the other ones we made up,” put in Dowd.

Back to “Everyday Sunshine,” in which a present-day Dowd explains how the escalating L.A. gang violence of the mid-’80s, fueled by crack cocaine and essentially ignored by law enforcement, helped shape Fishbone’s exuberant, extravagant, socially conscious eclecticism.

“You grow up black in a neighborhood where you see people get shot and the police don’t show up, you look at the world in a different way,” says Dowd. “I think we stylistically went so many different places because we want to unify everybody.”

And along with critical hosannas, Fishbone did enjoy a taste of mass popularity, scoring several MTV hits, and landing an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” in 1991 – just before the release of their third Columbia album, “The Reality of my Surroundings.”

That LP – the only Fishbone release ever to crack the top 50 on Billboard’s album chart – spawned the feel-good, soul-deep song that became the documentary’s title, along with the marauding “Sunless Saturday,” which spawned a Spike Lee-directed music video.)

Fishbone also appeared at Lollapalooza in 1993, the same year guitarist Kendall Jones fell deeply under the influence of a religious cult led by his uber-Christian father – leading to “Everyday Sunshine”’s gripping illustrated sequence of the band’s attempted rescue of Jones, and Fisher’s subsequent trial on felony kidnapping charges.)

But Fishbone never achieved the next-big-thing status that so many believed – knew – was rightfully theirs.

As Primus bassist Les Claypool states near the beginning of “Everyday Sunshine,” “They should’ve been the band that went way beyond any of us that were influenced by them.”

Post-Kendall-crackup, the docu follows Fishbone’s continued attrition, as trumpeter-vocalist “Dirty Walt” Kibby quits, and then Fish – with founding members Fisher and Moore as the only original members left standing. “Norwood and I,” Moore reflects, as he’s driving along one of L.A.’s innumerable freeways, “are kinda like a married couple that wanta be divorced for a minute…but we can’t because we’re fuckin’ married.”

Angelo, for his part, is shown discovering a theremin while Fishbone is holed up in a recording studio with producer Dallas Austin, and becoming so enraptured with its ’50s-sci-fi weirdness that he makes it part of an electronic alter ego, Dr. Maddvibe.

This brings him into frequent conflict with the rest of Fishbone, particularly his till-death-do-us-part bassist bandmate. “I don’t want to be in a band with Dr. Maddvibe — I want to be in a band with fuckin’ Angelo,” gripes Fisher at one point. “I’m forced to be in a band with Dr. Maddvibe. Who I don’t want to be in a band with!” But Fishbone survives, despite the continued existence of Dr. Maddvibe.

The more commercially successful Fishbone followers interviewed in “Everyday Sunshine” have their own theories on why Fishbone never made it really big, as so many had predicted; what they boil down to are things like “too black for white people, too white for black people,” and so forth.

But what comes through most indelibly during the course of the film is simply that the band was just too good for its own good, given the prevailingly unadventurous and prejudiced tastes of the average rock fan. No Doubt’s Adrian Young observes, “If it’s not simple enough for the masses to grab onto, it’s too much for people to handle, musically.”

Living Colour’s guitarist extraordinaire Vernon Reid points out an unfortunate paradox. “Fishbone was such an incredible live experience: as good as the records are, nothing comes close to seeing Fishbone live” – which limited their ability to make a record a hit. And as original producer David Kahne delicately notes, “The system didn’t work for them like it did for other bands.” (Translation: if Fishbone had been white, the system would have worked just fine.)

But Fishbone has persisted and grown over the decades, personally as well as musically. “Everyday Sunshine” sports delightful footage of Angelo Moore Heely-skating, sax-duetting, trampolining and more, with his adored young daughter Cheyenne; and includes close-up sequences of Norwood Fisher commanding a surfboard.

Says the mono-dreadlocked bassist, “I had a very ghettoized mentality that surfing was some white-boy shit…ohhh, I’m glad I got past that one. Snowboarding and surfing are two of the most incredible joys of my life.”

The band has recently released a new seven-song EP/album, “Crazy Glue,” on the independent label DC-Jam, and they’re now touring with their current lineup: original members Fisher, Moore, and Kibby, along with John Steward (Fishbone’s drummer since 1999), guitarist Rocky George and keyboardist-vocalist Dre Gipson (both having joined in 2004), and new trombone player Jay Armant. And as evidenced by their blowtorch-hot set in L.A. last month, they are as jaw-dropping as ever live (Moore, by the way, must have an aging painting of his voice up in his attic.)

At L.A.’s post-screening Q&A session, an audience member – who says he’d first seen Fishbone when he was in high school – queries bluntly and admiringly, “How can you be standing here?” To which Fisher replies, “We came up believing in punk rock, believing in funk – George Clinton is still being George Clinton; the people I admire stayed on their road,” and Moore puts in, “I tried selling out a couple times, but it didn’t work; shit just stayed the same. You just might as well be yourself, anyway.”

Fisher adds, “If we played oldies, we could do the fair circuit. [We chose] the harder road, but we’re still trying the write the story for the next 20 years. I hope.”
And as Angelo Moore philosophically observes in “Everyday Sunshine,” “When Fishbone still plays, that’s a prayer answered right there. May not be exactly the way I wanted, but it’s there…Who said anything’s gonna be easy, anyway?”

Fishbone were in the news just a few weeks ago, when nitwit Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann was a guest on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” House band the Roots played the ditsily mendacious Rep. Bachmann to her seat with a wickedly brilliant musical choice: a lyric-less snippet of “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.”

She, of course, was oblivious, though subsequently there was something of an uproar. Norwood Fisher addressed the flap with the following official statement: “Although I may not be a Michelle Bachmann fan, I wish her no harm. In my opinion, you better be able to take a joke when you run for political office…Political satire comes in many forms; I’m honored that something my band wrote as teenagers can be applied to the political process in the new millennium.”

 

Special thanks to Moira for giving us the Fishbone scoop and you get a full listing of Everyday Sunshine screenings here.

Show Info:

Bottom Lounge
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2011 – 9:00PM
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
18 & Over, valid ID required for entry.

What’s Your Fishbone Story?

Have you seen Fishbone live? Got thoughts on the new roc doc? Let us know what you think and we’ll share your story during a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Concert Review: Is Touring Fatigue Getting To Theophilus London?

Theophilus london chicago remix lab
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Theophilus london chicago remix lab

 

A good time was had by all during the RE:MIX LAB as Theophilus London and Hollywood Holt laid down some righteous beats and fresh rhymes at the River Arts Center.

Without a doubt, the glory of the groove flowed through the venue as fans danced and rocked oblivion to London’s new songs — an intoxicating mix of soul, post-punk, funk and hip hop — and Holt’s rockin’ blend of classic house and rap tracks.

Something He Said…

But there was something that London kept saying that made me think about the connection between live performance, fatigue and artistic creativity.

At several points during the show, London kept saying that he was tired because he had been on tour for 38 straight weeks. Since this was the first time that I had seen London live, because we didn’t get to catch his set during SXSW 2011, I don’t have anything to compare this show with.

Nonetheless, I still wondered how his fatigue was impacting the show. Did it make the show better or worse?

During the show I thought back to my college baseball playing days and I remember a chat I had made with a fellow teammate who firmly believed that he played better on less sleep because it allowed him to be relaxed and play more naturally and fluidly.

But Can The Same Be True For Live Performance?

Can lack of sleep and physical and mental fatigue be an asset to an artist who struggles with stage anxiety? Possibly.

What I do know is that London’s expressed fatigue didn’t take away from this show at all. And when he mentioned it I felt more emotionally connected to his performance and actually empathized with him.

And judging by the reaction to the fans in the front row, I imagine they would say the same too.

Of course, London isn’t the only, or the first artist, to struggle with tour fatigue, or express it on stage during the show.

There Are Others Too

Lady Gaga, Adele, Kings of Leon, and many other artists have cancelled shows and entire tours because of the exhaustig demands of being on the road.

So does constant touring have a negative impact on an artists creativity? And does that physical and mental fallout pave the path for a lackluster show and creative burnout?

According to this excellent article from the 99 Percent, there is a direct connection between rest, creativity and drug use:

For example science journalist Jonah Lehrer, says

“The relaxation phase is crucial. That’s why so many insights happen during warm showers. … One of the surprising lessons of this research is that trying to force an insight can actually prevent the insight.”

and Brian Eno says:

There’s no point in saying, ‘I don’t have an idea today, so I’ll just smoke some drugs.’ You should stay alert for the moment when a number of things are just ready to collide with one another… The reason to keep working is almost to build a certain mental tone, like people talk about body tone. You have to move quickly when the time comes, and the time might come very infrequently – once or twice a year, or even less.

 

Clearly both of these thoughts and many other great insights in the article are completely at odds with the grinding schedule of touring and the rock star lifestyle.

What’s An Artist Like London to Do?

In order to spread his music staying on the road is a must.  But I wonder…

Are young artists like him who are building up their touring muscles more likely to be victims of touring fatigue than older artists?

Does the extreme emotional outpouring and demands from fans at shows somehow contribute to artist fatigue?

Chime In and Explore With Us

We’re going to continue this exploration on a future episode of Live Fix Radio and in the meantime here’s a video from the London show and a bunch of links I found that can help educate us on things like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), sleep and creativity and other artist who’ve struggled with or overcome touring fatigue. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Check out more of Colleen’s photos here.
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Concert Preview: K. Flay Can Rap Better Than Your Honor Roll Student

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We like girls who can rap, especially those who are from Chicago and graduated from Stanford.

That’s why tomorrow night we’re heading out to Subterranean to re-explore the live show of Chicago-native Katherine Flaherty (aka K.Flay). Colleen and I first discovered K. Flay’s cunning blend of hip hop, pop, rock and humorous rhymes back in March at SXSW. Out of the myriad blur of bands we saw at SXSW, her show was one of my favorites, so I had to dive deeper into her creative back story to discover what inspired her to start rapping and making beats.

As Jessica Hopper writes in her Chicago Tribune interview, K. Flay’s start was a personal and academic challenge:

The idea of rapping came out of a bit of academic discourse that Flaherty had with fellow students. “Some friends and I were having a discussion about voice, what makes a performer’s voice ‘authentic.’ I started thinking about how I could write to a certain formula, using my own background, being, demographically, who I am. Have my own authentic voice,” she says. “It was fun. At first it was more just like a tongue-twisting challenge. I was writing more, like, punch lines and things to make my friends laugh. Just doing stuff to be clever.”

All this said, we’re excited to see how her live performance has evolved over the last 8 months and I’m equally curious to see what’s in store with her new album Eyes Shut that’s due in 2012.

And as we continue our exploration into How Women Experience Live Music, we’ll also be chatting with K. Flay before the show about her sociology studying days at Stanford, growing up in Chicago and what she’s learned the most about connecting with a live audience since SXSW.

Our interview will be shared in future episode of Live Fix Radio, so if you have a question for K.Flay, post it below and we’ll be sure to ask it during our chat.

Check out K.Flay’s latest Official Beastie Boys remix and other clever tunes on her blog.

Show Info:

Subterranean
DOORS @ 9:00 PM | SHOW @ 9:30 PM | 17 & OVER
TICKETS: $10.00

2011 Tour Dates:
* with Grieves

Fri Nov 25 Chicago @ SubTerranean
Sat Nov 26 Pittsburgh @ Stage AE *
Mon Nov 28 Buffalo, NY @ Xtreme Wheelz *
Tue Nov 29 Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Lounge *
Thu Dec 1 New York, NY @ Studio at Webster Hall *
Fri Dec 2 Northampton, MA @ Pearl Street *
Sat Dec 3 Pawtucket, RI @ The Met *
Sun Dec 4 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s *
Mon Dec 5 Boston, MA @ Middle East Downstairs *
Tue Dec 6 Hartford, CT @ Arch Street *
Wed Dec 7 Boston, MA @ Northeastern *
Thu Dec 8 Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel *
Fri Dec 9 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 *
Sat Dec 10 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade *
Sun Dec 11 Orlando, FL @ The Social *
Wed Dec 14 Dallas, TX @ House of Blues Cambridge *
Thu Dec 15 Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Jr *

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Support the Future of Live Music at the Rock For Kids Benefit Auction

rock for kids benefit auction
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rock for kids benefit auction

 

As we told you before, we’re big fans of non-profit organization Rock for Kids because they do a fantastic job of helping kids learn how to play music and experience the life-changing thrill of performing live.

That said, RFK is a great cause and we wanted to pass along info about their 23rd Annual Rock N Roll Benefit Auction so you can help support their mission and get some sweet swag and concert tickets in the process.

Benefit tickets include: 

  • Admission to Live and Silent Auction
  • Reception and Buffet from 6PM – 7PM
  • Musical Performance by Rock For Kids students

When: Friday, December 02, 2011 6:00 PM

Where: Park West – 322 W Armitage

Ticket info: Your last chance to purchase $50 discounted early bird tickets ends on Monday, November 28th. After Monday the tickets go up to $75.

Here’s that very impressive list of auction items I mentioned:

Rock For Kids:

  • Two Tickets to the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles
  • Two Round Trip Southwest Tickets
  • One night at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles
  • Two official After-Party Tickets
  • Two passes to an exclusive CBS Radio Pre-Party (last year Mumford & Sons played this party)

THE WHOLE WILCO: CHICAGO WORLD TOUR 2011

Two Tickets to each of Wilco’s very sold out December Chicago concerts. Note: These tickets are non-transferable – this package is meant for a true fan!

Dates and Venues:
12/12 : Civic Opera 7:30pm w/ guest Nick Lowe
12/13 : The Riviera 8:00pm w/ guest Eleventh Dream Day
12/15 : The Vic 8:00pm w/ guest Jon Langford and Skull Orchard
12/16 : The Metro 8:00pm w/ guest The Paulina Hollers
12/18 : Lincoln Hall 8:00 pm w/ guest Fred Armisen

METRO VIP CONCERT OF THE MONTH

  • Tickets for you and a guest to one show a month at the Metro in 2012
  • VIP Seating for each of these shows
  • This package isn’t available anywhere but through the Rock For Kids auction
  • The Metro’s 30th anniversary – starting in July 2012 – is bound to mean a ton of amazing bands! You don’t want to miss this.

XRT ROCK & ROLL X-CURSION

  • 2 Guest Passes to all four days of Bonnaroo 2012, June 7-10 in Manchester, TN
  • 4 Nights of Prime Camping accommodations at Bonnaroo
  • Access to premium seating and viewing areas at each stage
  • Discounted Food and Drinks in the Backstage Guest Lounge and Restaurant
  • Please note: ground transportation not included.

THREE FLOYDS ULTIMATE DARK LORD DAY ADVENTURE

  • 2 hard-to-get tickets to Dark Lord Day – exact date TBD. (In 2011 it was in April)
  • 2 guaranteed large bottles of Dark Lord Stout (only available at the brewery one day per year, legendary status amongst beer connoisseurs)
  • 2 Dark Lord Day t-shirts
  • Limo ride for two to and from brewery in Munster, IN
  • LINCOLN HALL – VIP PASS

What more is there to say? This laminate will grant access to you and a guest for any concert at Lincoln Hall that your heart desires for the rest of your life! Never miss a Lincoln Hall concert again!

As well as great VIP experiences from:

The Autobahn Country Club
The Chicago Cubs
FEW Spirits
Million Dollar Quartet
Pitchfork Music Festival
and more…

 

These are fantastic items that any live music fan living in Chicago would love to have. And you can get more info on how to get tickets to the benefit event or bid online here.

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