The American Museum of Natural History seems an unlikely venue for a music concert (despite having attended a Moby listening party there) but it has regularly stepped as host to One Step Beyond events. When I heard that 2009’s indie darlings Animal Collective would be doing a DJ set there, along with an unannounced “special guest”, I did not know what to expect except that I wanted in.
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It may have taken almost four decades, but metal veterans Anvil are finally seeing that persistence and unconditional love really do pay off. Stepping on stage to chants of “Anvil! Anvil!” from the packed Phoenix Concert Theatre, it was obvious from the look on front man Steve “Lips” Kudrow’s face he was feeling some much deserved vindication for never giving up on the dream. The three-piece—consisting of the aforementioned Kudrow, Robb Reiner on drums, and Glenn Five on bass—has transitioned from obscurity to success story since the release of last year’s much raved about documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil”, a raw, honest and often moving look at the band’s decades of struggles, failures, and constant heartbreaks suffered while chasing their dream of making it big. (That the film wasn’t a mock-rockumentary despite Reiner’s conspicuous name only added to the intrigue).
Holiday wishes were granted to Chicago music fans with a series of uniquely intimate performances by Andrew Bird. The multi-instrumentalist troubadour played a series of four sold-out shows appropriately entitled “Gezellingheid”, a Dutch word loosely translated to “coziness” and referring to a warm, affable, harmonious atmosphere. The aim was to construct a solo-symphonic experience primarily featuring Bird’s compositions for violin, in which the audience would be both “lifted and comforted as we head into another cold and dark winter”.
As sweet and understated as Jens Lekman is, he has managed build up quite the audience of devotees. Playing three sold out shows from New Years Eve to January 2nd at the Empty Bottle couldn’t have been easier for the Swedish folk musician. In addition to this brief residency he also added a solo show at The Viaduct Theater as a Sunday matinee that, in turn, sold out just as quickly. The fans were clearly waiting for Lekman with baited breath.
December in Chicago is typically nothing short of frigid, full of blistery winds and unpredictable weather patterns. For me the long winter months lead to hibernation, longing for warm sunny days filled with ample outdoor activities, and endless concert opportunities. On Saturday December 12th my longing paid off in the form of the second annual Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival (CBB) at the city’s historic Congress Theater.