Lincoln Hall was packed to capacity in anticipation of IDLES’ return to Chicago on September 14. The British punk band joined American post-punk opener Bambara at the sold-out venue for a high-energy explosion of glorious sing-along punk rock. As the band took the stage for their opener “Colossus” (also the first track off their new album Joy as an Act of Resistance), lead vocalist Joe Talbot paced the stage with sheer determination and focus. The anticipation swelled as the performance built, with the band continuing to layer instrumentation atop instrumentation until the entire song kicked into full gear. The full band joined in on vocals with various chants and melodies while the crowd was hooked on every word, singing and shouting along. The rest of the evening largely followed suit, as the positive energy remained in high gear while IDLES kept the crowd engaged through audience participation — including the celebration of one concertgoer’s birthday. BY JON BUKIEWICZ
by Adam Hacker
photo by James O’Mara
Without exaggeration, Elvis Costello is easily one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century. Pub rock’s greatest acolyte has influenced countless musicians and were it not for his backing band Clover, we might not have been blessed by bands like Toto, The Doobie Brothers, and Huey Lewis & the News. (It gives me great joy to imagine Costello singing “Power of Love” or “Jesus Is Just Alright.”) While his Buddy Holly-inspired look seems to be over-the-top and at times makes him look like Rivers Cuomo’s dad, his stage presence feels seismic as an undeniable forefather of modern rock ‘n’ roll. Attaching any genre to Costello is reductive at this point as his career spans punk, country, power-pop, and occasionally even reggae. It’s truly a feat that he is only listed at number 80 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “Top 100 Greatest Songwriters” when his singing is one of his less appreciated traits. God bless Elvis Costello.
by Adam Hacker
photo by Joshua Black Wilkins
Whenever the term “noise rock” is used to describe a band, it is almost always used as a backhanded compliment. There are plenty of bands who fill the gaps in their songwriting with abrasive feedback that hopefully distracts from the fact that they don’t really know what the fuck they’re doing. The Jesus Lizard is a completely different story. Duane Denison is a shredding guitar god but when I say shred, I don’t mean sweep-picking arpeggios or 8-finger tapping. What Denison does with a guitar is like putting glass in a wood-chipper, but in a more euphoric way. Even though David Yow is a legendarily wild frontman, The Jesus Lizard will always be mostly remembered for their sky-high guitar antics. Their longtime producer Steve Albini clearly felt similarly, as the vocals are pushed almost behind the guitars. Even if the band has calmed down in recent years, they’re still guaranteed to put on a mind-bending show.
by Adam Hacker
photo by Emma Tillman
Josh Tillman spent eight years making earnest solo material before morphing into the mythic presence that is Father John Misty. Even though his stint with Fleet Foxes should have elevated his profile, he still felt like he needed a change. As he noted on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, he noticed that the audience enjoyed his inter-song banter more than his actual music and finally after taking mushrooms in the woods by himself, he found the new direction he was looking for. With the new semi-psychedelic persona of Father John Misty, Tillman was still able to dress like a preacher from the 1850s while writing confessional songs about romance. However, this time his music ranges with a sharpness that blew apart the self-consciousness of his earlier work. Father John Misty is inarguably one of the greatest examples of an artist reinventing themselves this decade, and reminds us all that sometimes you just need to let loose.