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What is it about music and food that goes so well together? From IFC's 'Dinner With The Band' to Blue 13's rock 'n' roll dinners to Graham Elliot Bowles' Lollapalooza catering, the two arts have become increasingly intertwined in recent years. Whatever the reason, we've got no complaints about these multi-sensual pairings.

Next on the list: Eat to the Beat, a Sound Opinions-inspired dinner at Blackbird on May 27. The multi-course meal (no menu yet) created by chefs Paul Kahan (Blackbird) and Mindy Segal (Hot Chocolate), with wine pairings from Lush Wine and Spirits, will feature dishes inspired by the Chicago Public Radio show featuring Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot. Both critics will be in attendance, and you can be there too, for $175 (a portion of proceeds supports Chicago Public Radio). Visit the website to reserve a spot.

3733309417_75104df0e9.jpgDoom does his thing at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Sun-Times photo by Oscar Lopez.

"I've made so many friends today, it's awesome!"

It wasn't too surprising to hear this exclamation from a festival-goer as he headed out of Union Park on Saturday night, following the final notes of The National's headlining set at Day 2 of the Pitchfork Music Festival. Friendliness is (mostly) the standard in Union Park, and you're never lacking for conversation starters, whether they're fashion- or music-related. We caught several people bonding under the porous cover of the trees during Yeasayer's rainy afternoon set - and only one moment of conflict, during the Black Lips' closing performance on the Balance stage. Say what you will about hipsters (and everyone does), but they sure make it easy on security.

Music-wise, Jim DeRogatis has things mostly covered in his Day 2 recap; we'll echo his thoughts on the highlights of the day: Yeasayer was sublime, offering a perfect mix of percussion and acoustic jams to get the crowd through the occasional bouts of precipitation. And Doom's set was solid, as the feathered camo suit-wearing rapper tore through a set of songs from all his alter-egos, including King Geedorah ("The Fine Print") and Viktor Vaughn ("Rhymes Like Dimes"), plus plenty of songs off the now-classic "Madvillainy" collaboration with Madlib (including "All Caps") and his later release with Danger Mouse ("Benzie Box"). After all we'd heard about his lackluster performances in the past, we were pleasantly surprised - even though we were across the field for much of it (and so weren't able to tell if he was lip-synching, as the Tribune's Greg Kot claims), waiting for Beirut to hit the stage.

We'll respectfully disagree with DeRo's comments on this one, which we felt was a success -- though it could be a bit hard for a casual fan to differentiate one horn-laden ballad from the next, Zach Condon and his bandmates (and especially the drummer, with his near-constant goofy grin) were fun to watch, offering solid versions of "Elephant Gun," "Postcards From Italy" and "Mimizan" (the set opener, off the recent charity compilation "Dark Was the Night," put together by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National). We kind of liked the ukulele, too -- though we could've done without all the French Condon spoke in between songs.

In any case, we were ready for a shot of energy after the show, so we skipped past the sizable crowds heading to see The National. Lead singer Matt Berninger's low rumble is great, but the band's often sleepy sound wasn't what we needed at that moment. The Black Lips' garage rock (with many more '60s pop and doo-wop influences than we remember from their record) turned out to be just what we needed. The show was not quite as crazy as we'd been led to believe (save for the guitar-smashing after the first song), and the sound could've been a little louder, but these guys have some seriously catchy songs ("Short Fuse," "Cold Hands") that make you want to bop around, if not crowd-surf, which a few people in front were doing. It was enough to convince you, as the band suggested mid-set, that Pitchfork may have underrated their last album with a 7.4.

We managed to make it back to the Aluminum stage for the final songs of The National's performance, which, by all accounts, was one of the strongest shows of the weekend. As we lay in the grass, serenaded by the brass horns of "Fake Empire," we reflected on an enjoyable day of sights and sounds. And as the extended encore faded out, we got up, brushed off, and went to meet some friends.

For more takes on Day 2 at Pitchfork, check out these links:

Time Out Chicago reviews Disappears, The Dutchess and The Duke and Plants & Animals.

Greg Kot's informative running diary gives some love to Yeasayer and makes Doom look bad.

Lots of good stuff on the Chicago Public Radio blog, including a caption contest, full-frontal belly possibly NSFW videos.

NewCity runs down the day, from early afternoon sets from Cymbals Eat Guitars and Antlers to evening fun from Wavves and Lindstrom.

Metromix dug Matt & Kim and the Black Lips.

Windy Citizen gives The National a good review, and examines the cost of a day at the fest.


Time Out Chicago

Venus Zine

Robert Loerzel

3731423840_f0eb438aa3.jpgThe Jesus Lizard's David Yow gets crazy at Pitchfork. Photo: Oscar Lopez, for the Sun-Times

Four bands down, 36 to go. The first night of Pitchfork Music Festival 2009 saw cool weather and even a bit of rain, but that didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the hundreds who stood in the long will-call line to gain entrance. In fact, lines were a theme of this night -- just ask anyone who tried to get a beer.

As for the music? It's pretty clear that hometown rockers The Jesus Lizard took the title of most exciting act last night -- not that there was much competition, says Jim DeRogatis in his Day 1 recap. We'll defer to the master on Tortoise (boring) and agree that Yo La Tengo was good if predictable. Despite much anticipation, Built to Spill's set never really gelled for us - the band tended to stick to its longer, jammier tunes ("Conventional Wisdom," "Kicked It In The Sun") which, while technically impressive, failed to keep the energy levels very high. The biggest cheers in our general area came for the poppier selections -- "Big Dipper," "Carry the Zero," "You Were Right" -- but those were few and far between. Maybe we're just bitter that our "Write the Night" choices were clearly ignored, but there was definitely something missing from this set. In any case, it was fun to see lead singer Doug Martsch's constant, Muppet-esque head-bobbing. The guy really has a unique delivery.

But don't just listen to us - here's what other folks had to say about Day 1 of Pitchfork:

Time Out Chicago can't believe that Built to Spill didn't play "Car."

Culture Bully says BTS saved its set with the last song - but couldn't live up to the energy of David Yow and co..

Greg Kot gives props to The Jesus Lizard.

Chicago Public Radio one-upped Ira Glass.

Windy Citizen boards the Jesus Lizard bandwagon and gives an update on its Hipster Bingo (too easy, say the crowds).

NewCity talks about David Yow's off-color jokes.

Venus Zine says it was a great night for an "Autumn Sweater."

Metromix says the guys in Tortoise seemed like they would've preferred a night in the studio.

Paste discusses how "Write the Night" was just a passing phrase.



Time Out Chicago

Venus Zine

Robert Loerzel


If you can't make it to the Pitchfork Music Festival this weekend, but you still want to know the news from the summer's biggest independent music event, you're in luck. We'll be linking to some of the best local coverage of the fest (as well as contributing some of our own) throughout the weekend, so come on back.

To get us started, here are a few links to check out:

Official Pitchfork Music Festival webcast

Official Pitchfork guide

Centerstage's music festival survival guide

Where to eat near Union Park

Schedule picks, hour by hour

And of course, check out the festival preview from our own Jim DeRogatis, who'll be reporting from the fest through Sunday.

Know of a blog or Twitter feed that'll be covering the fest? Let everyone know about it in the comments.

Club Hopping, May 8-14

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The beguiling African performer is not only a mesmerizing singer but also a dancer and drummer whose shows have a burning intensity and joy. Her original songs address social and political issues in Africa, including the struggles of women, the exploitation of children and the impact of violence on the family. At 7 p.m. Sunday at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. Tickets, $16-$20. Call (773) 728-6000; — Mary Houlihan

More shows after the jump ...

A new Wilco song? Well, sort of.

It's been a good Friday for Chicago music lovers. Let us count the ways:

  1. A few choice names were added to the Pitchfork Music Festival lineup. Beirut, MF Doom and DJ/Rupture are among the additions.
  2. The full schedule for the always fun Do Division Street Fest was released. Flosstradamus, Menomena and Centerstage favorites J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound made it on the bill.
  3. Jeff Tweedy announced that Wilco is offering a free download of their version of Woody Guthrie's "Jolly Banker" on its Web site. More Wilco is always a good thing! (via Chicagoist)

The only proper way to finish off the day is with some live music. Get on it!

Truth in band names?

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That's a girl singing, OK? With two guys. But the band is called Screaming Females. Get it? Got it? Read DeRo's story here before the show ...

Club Hopping, April 24-30

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Arguably the most underground, cultish and heroic of all of rock's underground cult heroes, influential gender-bending British art/industrial noise-rockers Throbbing Gristle will play their first-ever shows in Chicago this weekend as part of a short, select and ultra-rare U.S. tour. The band will perform four sets at Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, at 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday (both sold out) and 7 and 10 p.m. Sunday (tickets remain for $20-$50). Call (773) 276-3600; -- Jim DeRogatis

More club shows after the jump ...

Club Hopping, April 3-9

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Over the course of four albums, from "604" (2001) through "Velocifero" (2008), the Liverpool electronic-pop quartet has shown considerable stylistic range and a consistently unerring ear for great hooks. They remain cult favorites, but favorites popular enough to headline two shows at Metro, 3730 N. Clark, with the Faint, Telepathe and Figo at 8:30 tonight and 6 p.m. Saturday. Tickets, $25. Call (773) 549-0203; -- Jim DeRogatis

More club shows after the jump ...

Kanye & Common take Chicago hip-hop to Texas

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Last weekend's South by Southwest music festival down in Austin, Texas — the spring break of the music industry — was a blast, and you can read all about it on Jim DeRogatis' blog (and read and read and read). One of the crowning moments was this performance by Chicago's own hip-hop icon Kanye West ... which turned into a performance by Chicago's other hip-hop icon, Common ... which then included a visit by Erykah Badu who, literally, let her hair down ...

Club Hopping, March 13-19

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All good things come to an end, but some end before their time. Even in Blackouts, Chicago's premier acoustic punk band and the post-Screeching Weasel combo led by John "Jughead" Pierson, will play its last public show after what he calls "seven years of struggle and the most amazing life-changing times" Friday at Reggie's Rock Club, 2109 S. State, after opening sets by Glittermouse, Highball and Let Me Run starting at 6 p.m. Tickets, $7. Call (312) 949-0121; -- Jim DeRogatis

More club shows after the jump ...

It's a beautiful day ... for massive hype

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Yep, U2 came. U2 sat. U2 talked. Big whoop.

3 Things We Love About ... Chicago's rock 'n' roll high

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By Jim DeRogatis
Pop Music Critic

The Chicago Public Schools’ alumni Web site recently posted a long list of some of the city schools’ most famous musical graduates and their signature songs. Here are my own favorites from that list.

1. “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, Wendell Phillips High School: An unforgettable, optimistic anthem during the Civil Rights movement, the enduring message of this song and the power of Cooke’s unrivaled vocal delivery proved they’d lost nothing with the passage of time as the tune was heard again and again the wake of President Obama’s election and inauguration (though the same could be said of “I’ll Take You There” by the Staples Singers, graduates of Parker High School, and a close second for this slot!).

2. “Bo Diddley” by Bo Diddley, Willard and Foster elementary schools: Simply put, without the rhythm that the former Ellas Otha Bates borrowed from Africa and infused with the energy of the streets of Chicago and the tempo of the passing “el” trains, there would be no rock ’n’ roll.

3. “Hey Mama” by Kanye West, Vanderpoel Elementary School: Unequalled on the current hip-hop scene as a producer crafting tracks with undeniable grooves and unbelievably catchy melodies, in time, West’s biggest contribution to the rap world may prove to be the fearlessness with which he’s expresses his emotions, as he does in this song, a moving tribute to his mother, Donda, whom Kanye was never “too cool” to say he loved.

Have a look at the list, then tell us your favorite three songs by Chicago school alumni!

Club Hopping, Feb. 27-March 5

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This Chicago-based Mexican-American band is the vision of brothers Jorge and Angel Ledezma and vocalist Lupe Martinez. The trio was interested in creating a sound that took inspiration from, and paid homage to, their Mexican heritage. The band’s sound is influenced by Brazilian Tropicalia, Motown, German Krautrock, traditional Mexican trio music and the symphonic pop sound of the ’60s. Also on the bill: Tirra Lirra, the Singleman Affair, A Lull. At 8 p.m. Saturday at Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake. Tickets, $5 in advance, $8 at the door. Call (312) 666-6775; — Mary Houlihan

Club Hopping, Feb. 13-19

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What Material Issue was to the alternative-rock explosion in the U.S. in the early ’90s, the Godfathers were to Brit Pop in the U.K.: The band arrived on the scene just a bit too early to benefit from all that would follow, though a strong argument can be made that its 1988 album “Birth, School, Work, Death” is at least as good as anything Oasis has ever given us. The group is now in the midst of an extremely finite reunion tour, and it performs its only U.S. gig Saturday night at Metro, 3730 N. Clark, after opening sets by Javelinas and the Norwood Park All-Stars starting at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 the day of the show; call (773) 549-4140;
— Jim DeRogatis

Club Hopping, Feb. 6-12

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Whether you consider her the next great Swedish pop act since Peter Bjorn and John (whose Bjorn Yttling produced her acclaimed debut, "Youth Novels") or that country's answer to Bjork, Lykke Li is well worth a listen, and you can catch her live now as the indie buzz builds when she performs at Metro, 3730 N. Clark, after openers Wildbirds & Peacedrums, at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets, $18. Call (773) 549-0203; -- Jim DeRogatis

More shows after the jump ...

Animal Collective last night at Metro

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YouTube's already got video of last night's Animal Collective show at Metro (and don't you love how people still sometimes refer to it as Cabaret Metro?).

Jim DeRogatis' review of the show has been posted for a while here, complete with photo gallery.

More good stuff at Metro this weekend: the Most Dangerous Race tonight (hey, look, we posted video for this show, too!) and some serious wordplay tomorrow night in the Windy City Story Slam All-City Championships.

Club Hopping Jan. 23-29

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The shows we love in Chicago clubs this weekend ...


The Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter currently makes a living playing on the street for tips and selling her homemade CDs, of which she's sold more than 40,000 copies. Her folk-pop songs and crystalline vocals deserve a bigger audience. Daphne Willis opens at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Morse Theater, 1328 Morse. Tickets, $15. Call (773) 654-5100. -- Mary Houlihan

More after the jump ...

It's a Flaming Lips Xmas — on 'Mars' or on Amazon

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On even another related note — it’s a stretch: DeRo wrote the biography of the band — the Flaming Lips’ much-ballyhooed but rarely screened feature film, “Christmas on Mars,” is already for sale online. Start your Christmas shopping early. The film finally shows up on the big screen here Dec. 5-6 at the Music Box.

Jim DeRogatis speaks!

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The Sun-Times’ pop music critic, Jim DeRogatis, is always willing to speak to aspiring, young journalists — just like his hero, rock’s uber-critic Lester Bangs, spoke with him shortly before he died. One such aspiring, young journalist, Dominique Minor, spent a few hours talking music and journalism with DeRo earlier in the year, and she just posted the Q&A on her blog, Frustrated Music Journalist. Read the whole shebang here.

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