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September 2009 Archives

Chicago's Scotland Yard Gospel Choir injured in van accident

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The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir at a happier moment, posing for their press photo.

Heading out on tour to celebrate the release of their new Bloodshot Records album "...And the Horse You Rode In On," the members of Chicago's celebrated ork-pop band the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir were hospitalized Thursday afternoon after sustaining serious injuries when their van flipped over and rolled five to eight times on I-65 in Indiana en route to a show in Cincinnati, according to news reports and a brief statement from Bloodshot.

The Tribune-owned Chicago Breaking News Center is reporting:

All six members of the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir band suffered head injuries and other trauma in the accident and have been hospitalized.

Indiana state police said a preliminary investigation showed the band's 1999 Chevrolet van was southbound in the left lane when a tire failed on the rear passenger side, causing the van to roll over multiple times on the grassy median. ...

According to [Indiana State Police Sgt. Ann] Wojas:
--Mark Yoshizumi of Chicago was airlifted to Advocate Christ Hospital Medical Center in Oak Lawn with leg and internal injuries, along with major head trauma.
--Eliezer Santana Jr., 32, of Chicago, who was driving, was taken to Jasper County Hospital with a concussion and minor bleeding.
--Alison Hinderliter, 42, of Chicago was taken to Jasper County Hospital with a head injury.
--Ethan Adelsman, 32, of Chicago was taken to Jasper County Hospital with a head injury.
--Elia Einhorn, 29, of Chicago was taken to Jasper County Hospital with a head injury.
--Mary Ralph, 28, of Chicago was taken to Jasper County Hospital with head trauma and a shoulder injury.

One lane of southbound I-65 was closed for about an hour for removal of the injured and crash investigation...

As of Friday morning at 10:30, Bloodshot publicist Marah Eakin was reporting: "Alison, Jay and Ethan were all released from the hospital [Thursday] with cuts, bruises, maybe some broken bones. Elia and Mary were held overnight. Elia has a big cut on his head and required a bunch of stitches, and Mary (we think) broke her pelvis. Mark got airlifted last night to Chicago, and had some surgery last night." Mark Yoshizumi remains in serious condition at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn.

UPDATE, 1:20 p.m.: Bloodshot Records has released the following statement:

One of the members of the Bloodshot family, The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, was in a terrible van accident yesterday in Indiana, on their way to a show in Cincinnati in support of their new record.

Without getting into too much detail, the van blew a tire and then rolled several times, eventually coming to a rest upside down on the median. The band was transported to the Jasper County Hospital in Rensselaer, IN.

Alison Hinderliter, Jay Santana, and Ethan Adelsman were all released from the hospital last night with minor injuries. Elia Einhorn was held overnight with injuries to his head and neck, and is expected to be released tomorrow. Mary Ralph has a broken pelvis and collarbone, and will probably be moved to a hospital closer to home. Mark Yoshizumi was airlifted to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn last night with injuries to his head, back, and neck. He is in serious condition, but making progress. Our thoughts go out to all our friends in the band, and their families, friends, and significant others.

All of the band's gear was destroyed, and the van was totaled. As anyone involved with music knows, a lot of musicians don't have health insurance, copious amounts of income, or time to spare off work. This accident - apart from being medically and personally horrible - is also going to be expensive. We here are doing what we can to help them, but if anyone else would like to help out, there are three ways to donate and support The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir in this time of need.

1. Sign in to PayPal and send donation to:
2. Send this email link to friends/contacts:
3. Click on the button in this news story:

That last link - the news story - will be constantly updated with more information on who's in and out of the hospital, what's going on, and what the band has to say. If you're looking for information on the accident - for press or for personal reasons - check there before you ask us. We'll just direct you there, most likely. We are not sure about the band's October tour dates, and we'll keep everyone updated.

If you direly need anything else, you can ask, but again - CHECK THAT WEBSITE FIRST. Recent live photos of the band are available here for press use:

Thanks everyone for your kind words and thoughts, and please be safe out there.

More developments as they become available.

Looking ahead to Riot Fest 2009

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In its fifth year, Riot Fest, Chicago's multi-band, multi-date, multi-venue celebration of the punk underground past, present and future, is incontrovertibly one of the premier gatherings of its kind in the U.S., if not the world. But founding promoter Michael Petryshyn hardly has slacked off on his efforts to present a broad sampling of the best of the many variations of sounds that fall under the broad "punk" moniker.

In fact, Riot Fest 2009, which begins Wednesday, Oct. 7, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 11, arguably is the strongest overall lineup the fest has yet presented, with everything from old-school hardcore to new-fangled emo-punk, melodic pop-punk to abrasive noise-punk, and grungy streetpunk to goofy indie-punk well represented.

As in the past, ground zero is the charmingly seedy Congress Theatre. But this year, gigs also are taking place at Metro, Subterranean, Beat Kitchen and the Liars Club.

A look at some of the key acts listed by venue follows the jump.


"You a mom and pop; I'm a corporation," Mariah Carey sings on "Obsessed," the groovy ode to a stalker that's been released as the first single from her 12th album. Ostensibly a dis of Eminem, who's been taking shots at her on his last few discs, it's actually an apt statement for her entire career, which is more often lauded in terms of sales--160 million albums sold worldwide, the best-selling female performer of the '90s, recipient of an $80 million mega-deal with Virgin Records that was the biggest record contract ever, etc.--than artistic accomplishments. Now we can add the crass marketing of her new disc, which finds the CD packaged with a 34-page insert crafted with Elle magazine featuring ads from upscale fashion, champagne, jewelry and tourism brands.

"The idea was really simple thinking: 'We sell millions of records, so you should advertise with us,'" said Antonio "L.A." Reid, chairman of Carey's current label, Island/Def Jam. In other words, the star with the infamous five-octave range essentially is a commodity, so why not use her to sell other products besides her recordings?

Carey's boosters in the media (Elle included, of course) and the legions of self-professed "lambs" who comprise her fan base are hailing "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" as a return to her R&B roots and a move away from the transparent and base attempts to score street cred and appeal to the teeny-boppers with a more hip-hop-oriented sound on "The Emancipation of Mimi" (her 2005 comeback after a series of flops and a much-publicized personal meltdown early in the new millennium) and "E=MC2" (her last release in 2008). This is true to a point: Working with producers the Dream and Tricky Stewart, the once again happily married Mrs. Nick Cannon delivers an overall smoother sound this time, much heavier on brash ballads and genteel slow jams than dance-floor groovers, with the first single a notable exception.

But to consider this a great R&B record requires one to think of the likes of her favorites Jodeci as the pinnacle of the genre, because the fussy, soulless, airless vibe that dominates the album doesn't have much to do with true R&B greats from Aretha Franklin to Erykah Badu. Carey's former and present chart rival Whitney Houston actually comes closer to tapping that storied vein on her latest.

Though the 39-year-old Carey boasts of distinguishing herself from other divas by being the driving force behind writing her own songs--unlike Houston--that isn't necessarily something to be proud of, given the predominance of saccharine melodies and clichéd true-romance lyrics. "We would walk in the park every Saturday/Brand new, all in love, kissing time away/You was all up on me, it was plain to see/That I was your girl," she coos in "Candy Bling." Yet even that dreck is better than her choice in covers here: a version of the hoary FM-rock radio staple "I Want to Know What Love Is" that strips away almost everything but piano and vocals but still manages to sound more bombastic, phony and over-produced than the Foreigner original.

Through it all, as usual, Carey over-sings at every opportunity, needlessly trilling up and down the scales as if we needed one more reminder of why she's the favorite virtuoso of the "American Idol" crowd substituting skill for soul. Eminem isn't right about much, but he's spot on when it comes to dismissing this butterfly.


Throughout rock history, one of the rarest entities is the supergroup that succeeds at being more than the sum of its celebrated parts, and it doesn't help that this one--comprised of Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of emo heroes Bright Eyes, M. Ward of M. Ward and She & Him and Yim Yames (a.k.a. Jim James) of My Morning Jacket--has one of the goofiest names of any of them, reportedly bestowed upon the hipster heroes by a roadie.

The casual spontaneity that may have characterized these musicians' original hootenanny-like collaborations in 2004 is replaced by necessity with a more formal, hence joyless approach on their first studio album. Yet while there are scattered moments of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-style cohesion--with Ward in the role of Neil Young, contributing the strongest songs made even better by the others' vocal contributions--these are far outnumbered by weaker toss-offs (with Oberst's "Man Named Truth" standing as the nadir) which gain nothing from the assembled star power.

Faced with a song that pretentious and abysmal, you'd think one of Oberst's fellow songwriters would have suggested canning the tune. But if the monsters stayed mum about the more lackluster fare presented for this disc because they were over-awed by one another's talents, they've given us few reasons to be similarly impressed.

Demo2DeRo: Yawn

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The influence of Vampire Weekend with its blend of African guitars and polyrhythms and indie-pop vocals is apparent throughout the five tracks on the self-titled debut EP by the Wicker Park quartet Yawn. But what the group lacks in originality it more than makes up for with sheer joyful exuberance on songs such as "Toys" and "Empress," streaming on the Web at And the group does put its own unique stamp on the "Graceland"-derived grooves with more cascading percussion and burbling synthesizers.

Formed by Adam, Daniel, Jorge and Sam--no surnames for this unassuming foursome--the band claims to have been making music together since the members all were in their late teens. A fresh-faced enthusiasm permeates their current output--the four describe themselves as "now grown but not quite matured... playing with toys and bringing joy to the masses"--and it promises a lack of pretension and abundance of good cheer in their live shows. They next take the stage at 9 p.m. on Halloween night, Oct. 31, at Snack Manor in Ravenswood; visit their Web site for more info.


Throughout a summer concert season that clearly has been one of the toughest it's ever faced, the Chicago office of giant national concert promoters Live Nation has flooded the market with a flurry of discounted promotional offers designed to put butts in the seats at its outdoor venues in Tinley Park and East Troy, Wisc., and on Northerly Island. These have ranged from "no-ticket-fee Wednesdays," a rather noble effort (if ironic, considering the pending merger with Ticketmaster) to "free lawn seats with the purchase of a $5 foot-long subway," a rather ridiculous offering.

Now, Live Nation is taking its act inside--to the House of Blues, the only indoor venue it owns in this area. "For a limited time only," music lovers who buy something called "The Live Nation Club Passport" for $49.99 through can see any and every show at the House of Blues, providing the gig is not already sold-out.

Upcoming shows that qualify include Hanson, Mason Jennings, Saving Abel, Foreigner, Mavis Staples and the Blind Boys of Alabama, Badfish, Cavo, Shwayze, Enanitos Verdes, Children of Bodom, Ghostface Killah, Yonder Mountain String Band, Skinny Puppy, Keb'Mo', Stryper, Revolting Cocks, Bassnectar, Relient K, Honor Society and Rakim. (And I have to admit, the idea of overlap between the Hanson, Skinny Puppy and Rakim crowds truly is amusing.)

More details in the press release, which follows the jump.

Major bummer: Ida Maria cancels Metro gig

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Contrary to my column in the Sun-Times today -- posted on this blog earlier -- Ida Maria will not perform at Metro Saturday night, according to promoters Jam Productions.

The Norwegian punk-rocker was headlining the Perez Hilton Tour, a rather pathetic hypefest pegged to the oddly-coiffed, gutter-minded Internet gossip's alleged ability to pick "hot new pop acts," and according to Idolator, which usually has very good insight into these sorts of things, Ida Maria was disgusted by poor attendance at the Boston show, had a mini-meltdown onstage and then pulled out of the tour. (Read all about it -- and see the video -- here.)

If the singer and songwriter proved anything onstage at Lollapalooza here last month, it's that she is not a woman to be trifled with, so I wouldn't expect she'd take much crap from Perez or anyone else. The truly dreadful Natalie Portman's Shaved Head has been tapped to replace Ida Maria on the Hilton bill, and it will appear with Ladyhawke, Semi Precious Weapons and Sliimy tomorrow night [Saturday] at 7:30 p.m.

If no one wants to buy your music anymore... give it away!

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That's one way to look at the new plan by Billy Corgan to distribute the Smashing Pumpkins' latest album. The other, of course, is that he just wants to share the gift of joyful tunes with the world.

The press release about the new album by the Pumpkins In Name Only follows the jump (because really, the stuff about the Tarot is too good to paraphrase).


Much of the attention focused to date on the ninth studio album by Pearl Jam, a.k.a. the last grunge band still filling arenas, has fixated on the means of release: The Seattle group has broken with the major-label system that's nurtured it since its 1991 breakthrough "Ten," opting instead to self-release the disc through its own Web Site and an exclusive deal with a major retail chain. The rest of the advance buzz has held that this is the group's "happy" album lyrically and snappiest disc musically since... well, pretty much ever. (Pearl Jam vocalist, Evanston homeboy and sometimes tortured soul Eddie Vedder has said the cause of his newly upbeat mood is the election of President Obama: "I've tried, over the years, to be hopeful in the lyrics, and I think that's going to be easier now," he told Rolling Stone.)

Neither of those quick takes tells the whole story. Pearl Jam is in bed with Target, true, but it broke ground by insisting that indie mom-and-pop retailers still be allowed to sell the album, too. And while the band's old alternative-era producer Brendan O'Brien (returning to the fold for the first time since "Yield" in 1998) does oversee a number of quick-moving, good-time rockers--the opening trio of "Gonna See My Friend," "Got Some" and "The Fixer" among them--there are almost as many stripped-down Vedder ballads, including "Just Breathe," "Speed of Sound" and "The End" and his only slightly more up-tempo "Unthought Known," all unimaginable without the quiet detour he made in 2007 when crafting his solo contributions for the soundtrack of "Into the Wild."

This is to say, for better and for worse, there aren't any surprises here: We've heard Pearl Jam in speed-freak mode before ("Spin the Black Circle," say) and we've heard Vedder strumming and crooning 'round the campfire. Pearl Jam hasn't sold out, but neither has it bravely reinvented itself; it essentially has given us more of the same--some strong, some filler, but nothing mind-blowing. If the group is capable of a daring late-career reinvention a la U2 circa "Achtung Baby," reinvigorating both the group and its fans at the outset of the third decade of its career, it certainly would be welcome in this corner. But "Backspacer" is more backward- than forward-looking.

Demo2DeRo: Color Radio

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Celebrating the recent release of an EP entitled "Be Safe, Beware," the Chicago quartet Color Radio has been turning heads with a sophisticated sound that belies the band's young age: It only came into its own in late 2008, when Jonathan and Tohm Ifergan, two brothers who relocated from Mexico City, joined forces with Matt Thomas and Joel Chasco. The four are dedicated to exploring a subtle, nuanced, introspective and alternately uplifting and haunting sound that evokes national indie acts such as the Appleseed Cast and the Album Leaf as well as Chicago underground heroes such as the Aluminum Group, and songs like "Newest News" and the title track prove they're worthy of being considered in that kind of company.

Following its recent record release show at the Empty Bottle, the band will perform next at Columbia College's Hokin Annex on Oct. and at the Cubby Bear on Oct. 29. You can find more information and sample the group's sounds on the Web at

Jim Carroll, R.I.P.

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The crush of recent events has delayed my marking the recent death at age 60 of rock 'n' roll poet Jim Carroll--though I don't have a lot to add to the most eloquent of the obituaries, including the one that ran in The New York TImes, which found the artist being lauded by luminaries and peer such as Patti Smith.

Though he'll probably be best remembered in the music world for "People Who Died," the breakout track from his debut album "Catholic Boy" (1980), all of his recordings have some very strong moments--it's a short but potent discography--and his novelistic memoir The Basketball Diaries is one of my favorites in the form, as well as deserving a place beside Hubert Selby's Last Exit to Brooklyn on any tally of the most harrowing accounts of life on the streets of New York.

Plus, talk about points for cool, his supposedly is the voice talking about 'ludes and ordering a double shot of Pernod at the Velvet Underground's last ever show in its original incarnation, as captured on the album "Live at Max's Kansas City."

Leo DiCaprio never really did him justice, but then few could.

Presidential hometown smackdown: Kanye's a 'jackass'

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Several faithful readers have written to ask why I have yet to comment on hometown hero Kanye West's latest obnoxious outburst at MTV's Video Music Awards Sunday night. (The producer and rapper derailed the acceptance speech by Taylor Swift to assert his critical opinion that Beyonce's video was much better and more deserving of the Best Female Video prize. Thank you, Mr. West.)

Wrote Brian Husar: "Jim, you know I respect you, but why when your hero Kanye West makes an ass of himself as he did last night you never report it (there was nothing out of you and ["Sound Opinions" co-host and Tribune rock critic Greg] Kot about his fiasco at last year's Bonnaroo fest either), but if Bono did what he did last night you would probably delight in reporting it."

Well, Brian, in part, 'Ye's tirades have become so commonplace that they're not even news anymore (or at least they bore me silly); in part, I'd rather write about his music than his antics, and in part, the VMAs have become so dreadfully dull -- on top of being rigged from the beginning -- that I no longer even waste digital space for them on the DVR. Plus, I had nothing to add to the gossip columnists' thorough examination of the issue -- though I am inclined to side with the handful of bloggers who suggested that the whole thing was rigged by MTV for cheap headlines (a la the butt-in-Eminem's-face stunt at the network's movie awards earlier this year), with West going along because it got him publicity (he seems unable to distinguish between good and bad press) and nicely set up his appearance on the debut of Jay Leno's new show (oh, those crocodile tears!).

If the outburst wasn't rigged, you also could argue that West is pretty unique in injecting the rare moment of spontaneous emotion into the most staged of events.

Ultimately, though, I could never be as eloquent on this incident as our Commander in Chief, fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama, as reported by last night:

ABC News reporter Terry Moran caused quite a commotion tonight on Twitter after writing the following: "Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a 'jackass' for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT'S presidential."

The irony here is that the President made that comment during an off-the-record portion of the interview with the reporter, which means the TV talking head broke the number-one rule of journalistic ethics and is an even bigger jackass than Kanye. Politico again:

An ABC spokesperson explains to POLITICO what happened: In the process of reporting on remarks by President Obama that were made during a CNBC interview, ABC News employees prematurely tweeted a portion of those remarks that turned out to be from an off-the-record portion of the interview. This was done before our editorial process had been completed. That was wrong. We apologize to the White House and CNBC and are taking steps to ensure that it will not happen again.

A CNBC spokesperson declined comment.

The White House had no immediate comment.

Audio is on TMZ

On one level, it's sad to see two Chicago greats going at it like this in public; on another, hey, it's part of the great hip-hop tradition of public beefs. And since West certainly needed SOMEONE to tell him that the petulant loser act was getting old, who better than our nation's top executive to really drive the point home?

Kanye, I'm sure you're regretting the whole thing right about now. But I have the perfect way for you to get back in Obama's good graces and redeem yourself before taking that promised sabbatical and obviously much-needed vacation. We need one quick mix-tape track from you ... it should, of course, be called "You Lie," and it needs to be dedicated to Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina.


U2 at Soldier Field

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Touring in support of its first two albums in the new millennium, the unadventurous U2-by-the-numbers "All That You Can't Leave Behind" (2000) and "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" (2004), Bono and the boys were in danger of becoming their generation's Rolling Stones--a rote if occasionally rousing arena act more devoted to selling tickets than to breaking new musical ground.

Released last February, "No Line on the Horizon," the Dublin band's 12th studio album, came as a welcome surprise: Though they didn't always succeed, the musicians at least took chances again, veering from that familiar U2 bombast to deliver their most creative disc since "Achtung Baby" (1991). Unfortunately, the new album also has been the slowest selling of their career, with U.S. sales yet to reach platinum status of a million sold--a fact that can be attributed to no one buying CDs anymore, or to fans being turned off by the group's experimentation.

Eighteen years ago, "Achtung Baby" inspired the Zoo TV Tour, a multi-media sensory assault that stands as the most inventive arena jaunt I've witnessed. The question looming over Soldier Field Saturday night as U2 launched the North American leg of its 360° Tour at the first of two concerts in Chicago was whether the band would uphold the creative spirit of the new album, matching or topping Zoo TV, or play it safe in an attempt to reconnect with conservative fans and please its new partner, giant national concert promoter Live Nation.

The answer, as is often the case with this band, was that it tried to do it all and please everyone. Though it avoided the most ambient and atmospheric of the new tracks crafted with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, the group did play a hefty chunk of "No Line on the Horizon," including the strong show opener "Breathe," the hypnotizing "Unknown Caller" and the soaring "Magnificent," which really was.

But in place of the disorienting buzz of Zoo TV, U2 gave us the empty spectacle of the multi-million-dollar stage fans have come to call "the Claw," a ludicrous, fog-belching, crab-like mega-structure that primarily succeeds in dwarfing the musicians onstage, recalling David Bowie's equally silly Glass Spider Tour and making recent Stones stages seem modest in comparison. (U2 really ought to talk to the Flaming Lips, who've been building a more impressive UFO stage out of supplies found at Home Depot at a cost of a few thousand bucks.)

Zoo TV wasn't the superior experience only because of technology, though. The early '90s were the only period in U2's three-decades-plus career when the band dared to laugh at itself, with Bono trading his messiah complex for irony and the Macphisto alter-ego, and the group suggesting that maybe, just maybe, its desire to save the world was a bit pompous and self-aggrandizing.

Alas, the crusaders were back Saturday, linking "Sunday Bloody Sunday" to Iranian pro-democracy demonstrators, turning "Walk On" into an act of solidarity with Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese politician under house arrest, and trotting out Archbishop Desmond Tutu on video to make a plea to end poverty and cure AIDS.

Um, Bono, old chum, many activists cite corporate globalization as the prime culprit responsible for some of the ills just cited. Care to explain how that jibes with you and the band wholeheartedly endorsing Live Nation's controversial mega-merger with Ticketmaster? On second thought, maybe there was some irony on Saturday.

In between the bounty of new tunes, the band trotted out the expected crowd-pleasers--"Beautiful Day," "Pride (In the Name of Love)," "Where the Streets Have No Name"--though some of these were truncated or delivered medley-style with awkward bits of covers ("Blackbird," "Stand By Me," "Oliver's Army"), with choppy and unsatisfying results.

As always, the deft rhythm section of drummer Larry Mullen Jr. and bassist Adam Clayton did their best to keep things moving, and the Edge was a deceptively simple one-man orchestra. Meanwhile, Bono posed and preened, emoted and yowled, flogging every millimeter of charisma he possesses. But as someone who's seen the group on nearly every tour since it first came to the U.S., I never found what I was looking for--that perfect mix of genuine passion and stadium-rock showmanship.

This band just may not be capable of it anymore--which means it may have become the Rolling Stones after all.

After the jump: Bono's Chicago shout-outs, four words about openers Snow Patrol, U2's set list and a point of comparison.

Chatting with Ida Maria

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Although she was confined to one of the smaller stages, Norwegian singer and songwriter Ida Maria Børli Sivertsen--Ida Maria for short--was one of the biggest presences at last month's Lollapalooza, rivaling Iggy Pop's appearance a few years back for brilliantly controlled chaos.

Fronting her tight guitar, bass and drums quartet, Ida Maria rolled on the floor, dropped to her knees and doused herself with water throughout a set that built to a climax with the raucous but melodic European hits "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" and "Oh My God" from her 2008 debut "Fortress Round My Heart." The she took things even higher with, appropriately enough, a cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by Iggy and the Stooges.

I spoke to Ida Maria from her current home in Stockholm, Sweden, as she and the band prepared to make their second visit to Chicago next weekend.


These dueling press releases tell the whole story. (Me, I agree with Grohl and Novoselic. And shame on you, Courtney!)

ACTIVISION, GROHL AND NOVOSELIC RESPOND TO GUITAR HERO ALLEGATIONS Activision is responding to queries regarding the usage of Kurt Cobain's likeness in Guitar Hero 5 with the following statement "Guitar Hero secured the necessary licensing rights from the Cobain estate in a written agreement signed by Courtney Love to use Kurt Cobain's likeness as a fully playable character in Guitar Hero® 5."

Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, the two surviving members of Nirvana, have no say whatsoever in the usage of Kurt Cobain's likeness.


KRIST NOVOSELIC, DAVE GROHL STATEMENT RE: NIRVANA, GUITAR HERO AND LIKENESS OF KURT COBAIN This is a statement regarding Nirvana, Guitar Hero and the likeness of the late Kurt Cobain.

We want people to know that we are dismayed and very disappointed in the way a facsimile of Kurt is used in the Guitar Hero game. The name and likeness of Kurt Cobain are the sole property of his estate - we have no control whatsoever in that area.

While we were aware of Kurt's image being used with two Nirvana songs, we didn't know players have the ability to unlock the character. This feature allows the character to be used with any kind of song the player wants. We urge Activision to do the right thing in "re-locking" Kurt's character so that this won't continue in the future.

It's hard to watch an image of Kurt pantomiming other artists' music alongside cartoon characters. Kurt Cobain wrote songs that hold a lot of meaning to people all over the world. We feel he deserves better.

-- Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl

Not much info for concertgoers heading to U2 this weekend

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In response to numerous emails from readers about how the general admission system will work when U2 performs at Soldier Field Saturday and Sunday for the start of its North American tour, I asked the local office of national concert promoters Live Nation about the details so fans can be better prepared when they arrive at the venue. Their response:

Doors -- 5:00 pm; [openers] Snow Patrol -- 7:00 pm. This is all the info the tour is releasing.

Oh, well; we'll find out when we get there. Thanks, Bono!

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