Reviews

The Sadies + Jenny Lewis: 5 June 2009 - Chicago

Photos: Rory O'Connor

Watching the Sadies live is like bearing witness to a tornado, a sort of freak of nature that pays no mind to its surroundings in forging a path.

Jenny Lewis

The Sadies and Jenny Lewis

City: Chicago
Venue: Park West
Date: 2009-06-05

The Sadies seemed a curious fit in their opening slot for Jenny Lewis at the Park West in Chicago. Their authentic brand of country and western seems more suitable for a barroom than the sleek confines of the Park West and it also seemed an odd choice to precede the pop coated, watered down country stylings of Jenny Lewis, not that any of this had an effect on the performance. Watching the Sadies live is like bearing witness to a tornado, a sort of freak of nature that pays no mind to its surroundings in forging a path. Regardless of your predisposition to their style of music, they will force you to take note of their musical ability.

The Toronto quintet is fronted by the brothers Good -- Dallas and Travis -- who both sing while trading lead and rhythm guitar. The band whipped through their set only pausing between songs long enough to thank everyone from the headliner to the venue staff, proving that not only are they one of the best dressed bands out there, but also one of the politest. During the set the band summoned Byrds-like vocals and country psychedelia on the tracks like “Why be so Curious?” and “Anna Leigh”, while Dallas Good dug deep for some baritone vocals on “Stories Often Told”. But make no mistake, these vocal tracks merely add a pleasant change of pace to what the Sadies do best, and that is their instrumental pieces.

Like a good pistol-whipping, it is within tracks such as “Introduction” and “Northumberland West“ where the Sadies really grab an audience’s attention. Some of their instrumentals only clock in at about two minutes or less but they blaze from the guitar play between the two brothers. The highlight of the evening was “Ridge Runner Reel”, a track that is quintessential Sadies. The instrumental consists of the band repeating the same few measures of music a few times over while picking up speed each time until it becomes a full on sprint for the last go through.

While the whole set only ran about 40 minutes, the band managed to cover a lot of ground in that time. The Sadies musical niche appeared to alienate some of the headliner’s younger fans, but it was still near impossible to walk away without a respect for what it is that they do.

Jenny Lewis followed as the headliner for the evening and played to a sold out crowd who adored her every move. To be fair, she does pack quite a bit of charm in her live performance. While I have never been completely sold on her polished pop forays into country and “white soul”, the live performance did add an extra layer to the music. One of her backing musicians, Farmer Dan, who actually opened the evening with his band, helped to add some real kick with his lap steel guitar.

The set opened with “Silver Lining”, a song actually recorded by her band Rilo Kiley on its last release, but the majority of her show consisted of material from her two solo albums Rabbit Fur Coat and the recently released Acid Tongue. She rolled out some audience favorites like “The Charging Sky” and “You Are What You Love” early on in the set and did introduce two new songs later in the set, including one during the encore.

Dressed in jeans, a Jenny Lewis T-shirt, and boots the whole show had the look and feel of an Austin City Limits airing from the late ‘70’s/early ‘80’s, with Jenny in the role of a young Linda Ronstadt or Dusty Springfield. She bubbled on stage with an exuberance that was not expected. Ultimately, she appeared to be enjoying herself to such an extent that she allowed no other option for her fans but to follow her lead.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image