Sunday, April 14, 2019

Molly Nilsson

 There is a lot to work backwards from 20/20. I wanted to take home what I saw her play, what I saw her dance to. The bubble I live in, the Bauhaus black tinted glasses has me thinking how goth and casual dark she is.  While stumbling through a YouTube hole after hearing Lebanon Hanover, enter Molly Nilsson with I Hope You Die.  She has a cold casual delivery in her voice. There's a sincerity to it.  It's Vulcan, romantic, dark electronic dance.  The lyrics of that track are sweet, believable and clever.  I'm the hooligan of your heart...that's fucking funny.
  She is one of those discoveries that end up playing Empty Bottle soon after learning of them.  So remote in the beginning. Far enough away that, I don't have to think about the money I gotta save to see her yet. Next video after Zanias....1995. Then Ugly Girl. Part of what gets my interest in a song is how urgent does it feel. Urgency can be felt regardless of pace. With Molly Nilsson pace is mostly mid-tempo casual, with some uptempo surprises like Mountain Time.  The video for it was fascinating in that it could have been any Quinceniera ranging from close relatives and spiraling out from there. It felt authentic, right down to the faces of the attendees. She could have used all the pretty people from the novellas, but you can't tell those mother fuckers from a common American sitcom. So the video for it was nice, it felt like into she sneaked into a real moment....she would really stick out like a radio active gringa in the quince. She would silence everyone into respect if she can dance to cumbia, old school mambo or anything from Hector That thread just took off on me.
  Just as I was comfortable with her mid-tempo pace, she jets forward with Mountain Time and from The Travels Dear Life. I notice all music she has out already, going as far back as 2010. Eventually my interests steers me towards other bands. Ms Molly has a great catalogue of music to OD on, I gotta take my time on her. So I did not hardcore research into 20/20 going into this concert.
  This Wednesday I was finally able to go. The universe was bringing her again. Can't turn that down.  I was half wanting a few of the same goth crowd as with Be Forest the night before. I mean she is fucking goth candy.  The Be Forest show had an identifiable half goth/shoegaze crowd. This Molly Nilsson had what appeared to be a normal cool Empty Bottle crowd. It did not matter either way. I like to paint a picture when writing down this moment, and the audience is a tremendous tell on all levels. You miss that and that is a blind spot in the moment...well if you give a shit.
  Three shows in a row does ....seem to ask the question what festival are you celebrating in your German Expressionist fevered mind. Ellis on Monday, Be Forest on Tuesday, Molly Nilsson on Wednesday. What the fuck! So back to this....she was fun to watch. Ms Molly was dancing. These pictures suggest a cold indifferent dancer, but she was smiling. I wanted to take home what she had this enthusiasm for.

One person that was impressive enough that I took home his CD Choose Life was Apostille. Weirdly resonant electronic one-man act. This was truly a surprise. I was into it. And then Ms Molly played. The crowd was heavy for her and seemed to know her music, and would react to certain songs and that fed back to her.  Her enthusiasm slightly more unguarded. This was my first show of Ms Molly.  I knew she came to Empty Bottle before and I just assumed most of the audience were music snobs that have seen her before, and I'm just starting in this school in the middle of the semester out of nowhere with braces that can barely hold back these horse teeth. It feels differently when you know you are seeing an artist well into the middle of their performing life, catching their tour.  You are seeing a polished, seasoned artist.  It's like starting Star Wars from Empire....well, alright, not the right metaphor. 20/20 is the latest and her work and her back catalogue goes back as far as 2010.  I need to take my time with her music, but I am glad I went and took something home. I took more pictures than this, I am saving them to post with thoughts on 20/20.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Esben And The Witch/No Dog,The Jungle

     When you count the years by how old your nieces are then or who had an accident that year, that's  when events start taking on the weight of those years, that's when time feels long.  2011 feels like a long time when I first saw them.  I would see them again at Empy Bottle for their next album Wash the Sins Not Only the Face. Their music is stirring.  Lights the fire in the blood. It helped in holding myself together, and stronger. Have you seen the video for Marching Song? Its fucking rage inducing! Rachel Davies is a troubadour that induces you into steeling yourself for the fight. Both those shows were so intense and I barely had enough for their CDs.  Time passes. I don't see them a third time. I don't know if they toured Chicago again but I did not see them.  The music I got from them take on roots.....Despair, Yellow Wood, Deathwaltz.  Different fucking roller coasters, all of them.  When I look them up again it was two songs that hooked me all over again, The Jungle, and No Dog. While Marching Song simmers and burns to it's climax, No Dog rages from the very beginning. When it slows down, only then calmly at first but that calm is brief and a spark in a cloud of kindling leads to a full blown guitar, bass and drum rage and it is fabulous! And they can hold you by a tense thread when they slow down. I overindulged and bought from them online on white fucking vinyl Live At Roadburn.

  The Jungle is over 13 minutes long.  It was a fucking wonder I listened at all. Normally, I'll give up 13 minutes easy if it's Nooran Sisters, or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, sure.....yes I actually do listen to them. So, even as you are capable of a long listen, do you even want to. Will your attention trail off in 3 minutes with 10 more to go? They retain a a razor sharp tension at all times like a trapeze wire. It keeps you in the moment hanging on to her words. I was hooked on The Jungle and then I read the a second time!
  It has a beginning, middle and final boss....just like in the fucking video games. It's like an overture in classical music for me. It has that kind of storied impact. It has that structure for me. Overtures tell you what's to come, like dramatic trailers.  It reaches a peak and the descent downwards is fast and that has pulses and steps in this descending sprint. It's like you're in a car with no brakes going downhill. This is why this song can hold your attention for all that time.  There are pulses of speed within the ascending first and descending second hmm movement.  Dividing this into two parts, the jungle is both ravaged pristine innocent wilderness and merciless, living, collective eating machine that just about eats you alive until the savage in you fights and chops a way out.  There are many levels to see this. In the beginning I could not  help but to see this as a metaphorical colonizer chopping a path through this sweet innocent forest....."....cleave I will split the tender stems of virgin trees"....then the jungle starts fighting back nearly devouring the one in the jungle....that person fights and chops it's way out!  So the jungle in this song is ravaged yes but not without it's teeth. And only when the jungle within the girl fighting back, roaring back, does she get out.  The jungle can be a metaphor for the world in general....and not the New World.  Any way....The what a fucking awesome track! All 13 minutes!

  So just like that, I am a fan all over again.  Some of their song are long, but give them that time and you will come out feeling empowered, perhaps.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Be Forest /Lightfoils

  Hearing some of these tracks truly bring tears to my eyes they are so fucking beautiful.....I'll be ok.  This show was a fucking mission. I bought my ticket early. A lot was riding on this show.  Hmm, I can say that about every show I see. But Lightfoils was on this one! Be Forest is from Italy.  Earthbeat was released in 2014 and that is what sold me to them. They played Empty Bottle where they played Airwaves. The sound was clean. The memory is distant enough for it to be enshrined by my German Expressionist archivist mind. It was my first time seeing HIDE as well. It was an interesting bill.
 I was so happy to see Lightfoils support the Chicago end of this 2019 Be Forest tour.  They got a new LP, ChambersThis Time Is Up comes out confident and sunny with an urgent pace. The drummer John with a fire lit under him, that means everyone is feeling it. It wakes everyone up like it's their first Red Bull ever! I like how the drums brings that illusion of stumbling downhill in a drug infused stupor.  The guitars too, have this twang to them that further sells it. Then right in the middle, a wave of chill hits from around the corner.  It washes over as you walk it off. Summer Nights starts off without a care in the world, then picks up. It was a real blessed thrill to see these two bands in the same night.
  I arrived on time to catch some of the opening act I think they were called Blue Unit and they were great as well. I was riding a good feeling that took the edge of the shyness away.  I said hi  to a combination of goth and shoegaze friends. It was friends from two scenes... What is the difference? Hmm, goth friends and I dress in black deliberately, nearly fucking always. In the shoegaze scene, music did not take on a fashion to distinguish itself.  So as I drifted about I genuinely saw friends from different ends of a continuum. Vantablack on one end and fade into come-as-you-is on the other. I feel like I must paint a detailed....baroque....well. I wanna remember this for who observed it with me. This show was before a moment anticipated from afar now in past tense. I want to remember more of this than Coleridge did Kubla Khan. The memory not being a dream is grounded in fact. It happened, I was there with other friends. Details fade, smeared over time. So let us make this dye darker still. Philly I think was the DJ for the night. Yeah I remember him playing Walking Bicycles in between the bands. He played from them their newest song.

 By now, I have already heard songs from Chambers. Its comfort music at this point, but its not taking their presence for granted. The familiarity needs to sustain itself and so I go see them even if I have seen them already. With Be Forest it was the one show, the CD, then YouTube videos. The....familiarity is met differently. The biggest difference being with Be Forest it may only be this one other time to see them....actually see them. Italy seems to be a long fucking way after all. I've been all over Earthbeat and I'm barely listening to more of the first LP Cold beyond Florence. Perhaps it was laziness, but I did not look up Knocturne before going to Empty Bottle. Tech just spoiled us so fucking much that we can dismiss it.  I could have YouTubed it.....but I could not be bothered. So whatever was going to hit me, it was going to be a deer in the headlights type. I just trusted that it was going to be the best. And fucking hell was it ever.
  Bengala has the crisp deep rolling drums with the bass and spacey guitar. Costanza's chill breathy voice calmly telling us ....mercy and decline, that is all we will find. That is bleak.  The whole album is full of these phrases that hit you with the impact of stepping into a mine field. Gemini compresses into a few minutes the dramatic atmosphere of Wuthering Heights into a rolling avalanche.  Atto I an instrumental seems to me to have whispers of the songs to come.  It's sweetened darkness with a pensive beginning.  For me its a tell that the drums are going to be raw, or at least different when the drummer is standing.  I am not coming from this Kubla Khan without souvenirs, the intangible and fucking merch. The better for me to remember. I can't believe I almost did not buy the shirt. It's a medium that actually I like how it  There has got to be a reason I am willing to hold onto relics that take up space, wear it even. The music is cool, bouncy aggressive and still thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Eve Black /Into The Nothing

  I must not have paid that much attention to this song after I downloaded the whole Into The Nothing EP.  Eve Black opened with Dancing With The Green Faire and it hit me as if it was a new song. It did not register as something I've heard before.  I made a note to ask Rani if that first song was new and lo and behold I already had it downloaded! This show was at Livewire Lounge, this dive bar way up on Milwaukee Ave past Belmont. I was trying to avoid calling it a dive bar, but yeah. The washrooms lean on the nasty side.
  It is profoundly therapeutic to have these small gigs to go. It is self-exploration.  These artists, they create the work that kind of holds us up. Individual songs on the EP are carving their space in memory, and some wait for the moment for it to feel like the first time.  And each song that hits when it does, renews the whole album for me. The shirt too is so beautiful, and understated, plain. So Green Faire is I was told is about absinthe.  I remember going to Whitby I would hear a lot about absinthe and all the history with it.  By the time you try it, you already have had so much better over the years. It's a cassette without the download code. Anyway, that is not about the song. When I see Rani, I cannot help but see the continuum of performances from the one Girl Detective show I saw through her Dream House days and now in Eve Black. If I mention bands that are at least 10 years old and beyond in comparison I think it is because they got some dark staying power. Mephisto Waltz, Changelings, The Shroud....Swarf. These bands were our contemporaries. Or at least......No longer were we appreciating from our high school years but well into our adult years. Those are the bands that come to mind when I think of Eve Black.  
  Marci and I are friends with the band. It's so unique to have this with the music you listen to. When it's small, support carries a different meaning. Some things are magnified as they are small, because you as a fan are small as well. There is uniqueness that comes with small. It's not saying you lose it by the time you are supporting fucking Mode on their North American leg of a world tour.  Fuck...where did I park the car again?, we walk in just before they set up. There is this sloppy drunk couple stumbling about.  I know it's a dive bar, but let's not get taken by that. They must have gone into them nasty bathrooms twice to have sex  like they was in Shameless. It was amazing they were not kicked out. They were mostly behind me but you could not truly ignore them.  At first it seemed as if it was the guy held it together for both of them. By the time Eve Black was on that was not the case. Anyway. The pictures I got were all on my ipod and I am having trouble uploading them on my aging mac. So here are some pictures from the one show at Martyrs I think. I really had to hall ass to this Martyrs show.  It was after seeing Fauvely somewhere else and then Eve Black.  I really liked how great the band sounded live.  Songs that I did not notice before, they put right in front and made me a fan all over again. It did not just happen with Green Faire. It's three dimensions once you have a live drummer....Hi Rick!! Yeah, I believe I was dancing to this. It was a good time after the show as well.  Going to these events is a necessary thing to do, or all these negative news cycles combined with one's own negative ruminations can take over the space and time you give them. I think it's important to recognize the Emily Dickinson's early, in their lifetime and not all late about it. In recognizing something you help it survive. We see ourselves in this music and so these mirrors must continue. The culture we collect with our time and memory we seek to archive and continue it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


  This I saw almost last minute at Empty Bottle on a Free Monday 4 February. Sometimes I look the Empty Bottle website. I did this half-ass search, not really wanting to find something to go, but kind of knowing I may find something that will sting if I miss it.  Oh look, Fran is playing. So I go. I saw her last I think a year ago at East Room with Staring Problem. She even remembered me when I walked over to buy the Fran shirt. I'm jumping ahead.  Claude was playing last. Fran was cool without effort, kinda under the radar sweetened cool.  The song that got me into her is Desert Wanderer.  Yeah, put that one in for Audrey from Twin Peaks to dance to. Her voice reminds me of Karen Carpenter/Aimee Mann. Yeah, I think Fran is kind of Twin Peaks cool.  And while we are at it. So is Ms Claude. She sold me when I heard Screen. Her voice is velvety chalk sidewalk art. I gotta get off my ass and shower.
  Off I go. As the process of me getting ready continues. The laziness wears off and now I really want to see this.  I search the memories now to connect this story. The casual pace that compelled me to see this was from deeper with more authority. Some things are gonna hit later. Your appreciation will be light at first but it will deepen. Desert Wanderer from Fran got me because I stayed still long enough while waiting for Staring Problem. And now Fran got me to stay and now I like Claude. The Fran Goes South tour was kicked off at Empty Bottle. I wonder how the stages look like as she plays Desert Wanderer. Songs like that can capture moments without apparent effort beyond just being cool. Hmm... I can have this same curiosity with every band I see....yeah I do.  Claude, then let's say...when she's playing Enactor, Screen.  Someone put that on YouTube.
  Claude had enthusiastic fans there at Empty Bottle. One girl I think wore the long sleeve white shirt. The artwork on it was nice.  Enactor is the 6 track EP released on cassette with a download code via Just For You Records from Indianapolis. Claude is Claudia Ferme....from Chicago. I had to space that out. You try saying that fast. Anyway this is ethereal dream pop similar to Fauvely's Watch Me Overcomplicate This. Only Claude does not seem sad so much as numb and distant. I'm just enactor she breathes. There is a fascinating video for it.  Claude has this gothic casual tai chi dance style, and it's not just because she wears black in parts of the video.  Her moves can be included if not partly take the piss out of Angela Benedict's how to dance like a 90's goth. How she dances triggers memories of going to pre Covenant/VNV Nocturna and Neo.  The dance styles varied so widely because the pace was mid tempo mostly. Regular goths betrayed movements unique to them. Anyway, damn....this tangent made me forget where I parked the car. I'm just taking the scenic route in saying I like how Ms Claude dances. Anyway, I'm glad I caught the show. Claude without effort made me a fan.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Walking Bicycles

  The Walking Bicycles discography that I have is greatly treasured. I feel very privileged to have it down and swirling about in my head. They play relatively rare. It gives time for one to explore more deeply the music that is out now.  The time you would spend listening to what is new from them instead is spent longer on their present work.  Every show I see is a mission accomplished and forever remembered.  I hear it in the right moment, its empowering. There is a reason why the word "punk" is always in their description.  It is music for underdogs by those who lived as such. There is this park near where I live they got these elliptical machines. On the ipod they randomly played and I worked out to the entire To Him That Wills The Way LP. Other tracks find their way into daily mental soundtrack or randomly on the ipod. There is this .....maturity that stretches into their earliest works.

  Perhaps it's the 70's inspired artwork that came with the two newest releases, but there is that cool dark 70's vibe....the way movies now like to portray them.   70's noir...John Wick's muscle car .......driving to Walgreens to pick up mom's meds.  Damn, I need to stop mercilessly drowning my own metaphors in the bathtub like that.  It was a bubble. No 70's muscle car all in Bauhaus black....puuf! Just me in mum's van picking up her meds listening to Walking Bicycles along the way. I am rabidly getting into Fat Cat and ESP. These last few gigs I saw they were playing more and more of their new music. Hellz yeah I was into it.  It is perhaps ESP that I recall telling Julius in some long winded way how awesome it is. I throw that word a lot but I mean it always.  ESP was a further refinement, smooth and still intense.  And I know this is just subjective speculation, I hear traces of GO? in this one song. (I tried to look for the upside down question mark on my keyboard, really I did.)The path that was suggested in GO? is bulldozed, plowed and paved in ESP. It's refined, smooth and still powerful. Its a path finally taken and owned. Fat Cat reminds me of To Him That Wills.  I place it comfortably among my favorites of the band.  And these impressions so crudely expressed are but placeholders. Early chances at reaching wider audiences they turned down. And I can see why. They were not for those audiences. Theirs is for an older wiser.....cooler crowd even back then. An innate maturity comes with their punk. They have been tested by the hardest times. Defiance from a place of experience is scarier, tougher. There is a reason why my mind drifts to playing their music. In all scenarios it's light in the dark with the burn power of a laser, a burning simmering ember with a promise to burn it all down. I cam down from that elliptical machine feeling like that forward burning wick, but I was going to shower first.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Zanias/ Into The All

  Cold Wave seems to be on goth's foggy grey border.   Its hard to find sometimes. The GPS often fucks up and leads me well into Industrial country and I gotta ask for directions.  The Hideout audience when hosting Zanias, Fee Lion, and Visceral Anatomy did not look all that different from Burlington the night after for Cruz de Navajas.  These labels are elusive as magnetic north. Goth is like a shot gun blast that scares the wildlife away like the tiniest whisper of a camera click taking your soul instead of your picture.  Y'all need to relax. Sometimes you use such a term as a way to not use the g word. So we define around it.  I'm comfortable calling Alison Lewis/ Zanias  cold wave.   Dark, electronic and detached, longing for homes that are far far away......Australia, Berlin, Malaysia specifically.  Just pondering the miles between those names is intimidating.  Even during my travels to Whitby Gothic Weekend, the worry for home was a potent wire not to cross. The pigeons would remind me of the pet dove I left behind.  There is an awareness of the distance and a longing for human contact.  The first time seeing her in the first band Linea Aspera I can remember feeling so remote from the music of this artist, feeling like I'm seeing a star as close as this telescope....ehm...YouTube video can get me. There was so much work this artist put out.  Since Linea Aspera all her projects were each bands I would listen to separately forever, and still so remote.  The relationship with the music started with wonder, and built into it is this vast distance that you are aware. This is someone I may never see live.
  Let me go to this specific Tuesday night at Danny's in Wicker Park. I go with Marci. I believe Grun Wasser played that night. There was a long line to get in, but eventually we did. After the front room, all the back rooms seem intimate. Your natural inclination is to follow the hallway until the end. There are rooms on each side of the hallway, its almost like a private home and some eccentric fuck  has this party at his place. Anyway, so we go all the way to where the hallway leads and the very last end was everyone I saw the Friday before at Hideout.  Zanias, Fee Lion, Visceral Anatomy. That train that was so far over the horizon that I was longing for it.... I forgot that I was standing right in the middle of the tracks. I was suddenly the third grader in the teachers lounge....I was awestruck by a fucking bullet train.  This is so Frank Lloyd wrong!  This is either so fucking far and away that you want to see it, or a fly in their soup/windshield, depending on which metaphor.  My own social awkwardness kicked in.  I was wearing my newly bought Zanias shirt that I got from her  previous tour. I did not want her to see me with it and think I wanted undue attention. This twisted shyness just fucking grips you like its Carrie's mom screaming "They are all gonna laugh at you!" The music suddenly is so close, like I'm a fly doin' the backstroke in their soup.  I was just feeling that way, and was looking for a graceful quick exit before I feel too awkward. But you know, its nice to see her stay longer in Chicago.
  If you are already a fan of her, then  Aletheia and Idoru.... you just become a fan of her and everything that lead up to those songs. Its like stumbling into Unity Temple after walking out of a gas station designed by the same guy.  You recognized what little that you got to know was the tip to this beautiful ice berg palace.  So this will sweep up the first time fan as well. I see beautifully the delicate intangible tether that leads from Linea Aspera to the newest Into The All. What does it mean to mention Frank Llloyd Wright and his fucking filling station? It means even that was a palace. It means nothing was small or insignificant. Everything he built was grand, big or small.  I can see the consistent continuum with Zanias. I am into it all. So I treasure my small collection of her work like a collector of ancient and rare books.  Alison Lewis has been busy since at least 2011 with Linea Aspera. Dark, sleek and cold. She credits Dead Can Dance, Coil as a major influences, observing closely how  Lisa Gerrard sings. I think having produced her music within a span of less than and within a decade it can define that decade. It can be what we are nostalgic for in 20 or 30 years, and it can be what inspires another girl studying science to be a musician.