Riot Fest 2018 - Chicago - Day 1
Riot Fest 2018 - Chicago - Day 1
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Riot Fest 2018 - Chicago - Day 1

For the longest time, the arrival of Riot Fest seemed to also coincide with the unwelcome onset of chilly, rain-drenched September weather to the city of Chicago. But for the 2nd year in a row now, the festival was blessed (or cursed depending on your disposition for late summer heat) with three gorgeously toasty days of pure blue Chicago skies and wall-to-wall sunshine.

Texacaliago
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ILL - Wharf Chambers, Leeds
ILL - Wharf Chambers, Leeds
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

ILL - Wharf Chambers, Leeds

ILL might just be the perfect band for 2018. The Manchester bands eclectic mix of post-punk fire, politics and surreal humour providing the ideal soundtrack to Brexit, Trump and the feeling that we’re just one ill thought out Tweet away from further chaos. Just put the phone down Donald. But that’s enough apocalyptic talk for one day, it’s Friday and Wharf Chambers has a whole night of amazing acts lined-up for us.

Andy Brown
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Moon River Festival - Chattanooga, Tennessee - Day 2
Moon River Festival - Chattanooga, Tennessee - Day 2
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Moon River Festival - Chattanooga, Tennessee - Day 2

After a great if not a little hot Saturday full of music, it looked for sure that Sunday was going to be a washout.  With yet another chance to catch one of our favorite non-stop touring acts on Sunday, The Avett Brothers, there were a lot of long faces scanning our weather apps late Saturday and predicting doom.  A wide forward slash of a front was sweeping West to East across the middle U.S. with Chattanooga dead in its sights. 

Mark Moody
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Moon River Festival - Chattanooga,  Tennessee - Day 1
Moon River Festival - Chattanooga, Tennessee - Day 1
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Moon River Festival - Chattanooga, Tennessee - Day 1

Previously Memphis-based Moon River Festival, relocated to Chattanooga this year to the roomier but down-home feel of Coolidge Park on the banks of the Tennessee River.  Similar to its younger Southern cousin the High Water Festival, taking place over two days and on two alternating stages Moon River also focuses on Americana, folk, and soul music.  Fitting its rockier locale, the music maybe tended a bit more to the mountain music of its Appalachian neighbors, but allowing for many variations in style and some music fully off that grid. 

Mark Moody
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Screaming Females - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Screaming Females - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Screaming Females - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Guitarist and chief screamer Marissa Paternoster and bassist Mike ‘King Mike’ Abbate were already playing music together back in high school. When Paternoster made the move to New Brunswick for University, they joined forces with drummer Jarrett Dougherty and a legend was born. Remember that band you were in back in high school? Remember how the band split up? Now imagine, in some cool alternate universe, that you stuck together. You stuck together and became New Jersey’s Screaming Females.

Andy Brown
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St Vincent - 02 Academy, Leeds
St Vincent - 02 Academy, Leeds
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

St. Vincent - O2 Academy, Leeds

Nothing like a little Masseduction on an otherwise quiet Tuesday night. Playing the O2 in Leeds as one of only 3 UK headline shows, tonight’s St Vincent gig feels like something of an event before Annie Clark has even played a note. A lot has changed since she first appeared with 2007’s Marry Me LP, Clark’s music transforming and evolving with every new release. Last year’s Masseduction may just be her boldest statement yet; a day-glow apocalypse of suitably seductive, dangerously danceable future-pop.

Andy Brown
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Father John Misty - Uptown Theater, Kansas City
Father John Misty - Uptown Theater, Kansas City
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Father John Misty - Uptown Theater, Kansas City

The last time I saw a performance from Josh Tillman was in 2009 when he was still the drummer for Fleet Foxes. They played a drizzly Friday afternoon set at Lollapalooza in Chicago, and while a great set it was, his presence was minimal. So, it came as quite the shock Friday night to see him return to Kansas City after only a year since his last show here (at the KC Crossroads) and performing like a god. And by god, I mean, he acted like he was a god.

Tim Sentz
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Dream Nails - Wharf Chambers, Leeds
Dream Nails - Wharf Chambers, Leeds
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Dream Nails - Wharf Chambers, Leeds

Punk means different things to different people yet if anger, activism and energy are still important then London-based, self-described ‘feminist punk witches’ Dream Nails might just be the best punk band we’ve had in quite some time. I first saw them supporting the fantastic Cherry Glazerr at the Brudenell last year, an impossibly fun and genuinely inspired set it was too. A whole year later and I’m finally getting to see them play again, this time at DIY venue par excellence Wharf Chambers.

Andy Brown
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Earthless - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Earthless - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Earthless - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

It’s Tuesday night and if things have seemed a little quiet around here recently then that’s all about to change with the arrival of Earthless. The San Diego three-piece released their latest opus, Black Heaven, back in March and they’re now hitting the road to bring their blissfully uncompromising take on psychedelic rock to venues across Europe. With my earplugs cautiously placed inside my pocket, I head down to The Brudenell Social Club to start my summer with a good, old-fashioned sonic shakedown.

Andy Brown
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Toots and the Maytals - Thalia Hall, Chicago
Toots and the Maytals - Thalia Hall, Chicago
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Toots and the Maytals - Thalia Hall, Chicago

Toots and the Maytals have been around a long time. As one the first purveyors of reggae/ska music (their 1968 tune “Do the Reggay” was actually the first song to use the word itself), their influence and lasting legacy on music really can’t be overstated.

Texacaliago
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Aimee Mann / This Is The Kit - Jay Pritzker Pavilion - Chicago
Aimee Mann / This Is The Kit - Jay Pritzker Pavilion - Chicago
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Aimee Mann / This Is The Kit - Jay Pritzker Pavilion - Chicago

Over on Waveland Avenue, the Foo Fighters were carpet bombing Wrigley Field.  The more genteel of us were subject to a much more delicate dismantling at the hands of Kate Stables (aka This Is The Kit) and Aimee Mann at Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Chicago’s Millennium Park.  In most instances and most cities, the offer of a free concert in the park would be grounds for a polite decline.  Add to that it was a Monday night and there must be better things to do. 

Mark Moody
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Micky P Kerr - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Micky P Kerr - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Micky P Kerr - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

A musician appearing on TV can give the illusion of overnight success. You write a few songs, put in a brief appearance on a national TV talent show and – bam! – you’re sipping champagne with Ant and Dec. Sounds relatively quick and easy, right? Micky P Kerr made it to the final of this year’s Britain’s Got Talent but those three appearances are far from the full story.

Andy Brown
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