Live Review: Two Sets of Eyes/ Gazebo Effect @ Tonic Room (11/13)

Monday nights in the middle of November are often dreary, but thanks to performances from Two Sets of Eyes and Gazebo Effect on Monday, November 13 at Tonic Room, this particular night was more than just tragic cold and rain.

The night kicked off with the progressive rock trio, Two Sets of Eyes. Having had their first performance only a month ago, it’s evident the band is new to playing live shows together as the three took some time before falling into the groove of the show. While the band may be young, the musicians are well-seasoned artists with a great sense of musicianship over their respective instruments. They ran through songs from their upcoming self-titled debut (out November 25). The vocals on a few of the songs were rough, but most of the pieces where instrumental heavy, creating dynamic arcs with guitars and synth. A standout tune was “Sunshine, You’re Standing in My Sunlight”; an eerie and almost psychedelic instrumental piece that builds around an ear-bending synth melody.

It’s rare to find a band with a kickass guitarist who understands the art of soloing. What’s even rarer is finding three such guitarists on a single stage as part of the same band. Each guitarist from the nights’ second band, Gazebo Effect, shared lead duties and did an amazing job coloring the songs with intricate riffs throughout. Not only did the band exhibit amazing guitar lines, the rhythm section, as well as the vocals, were superb. The band played the songs from the 2017 EP Turtle Rock, with a standout piece being “Laraway Drive” as it encompasses everything the band does right from killer guitar riffs, steady rhythms and catchy choruses. Aside from providing a rich sound, Gazebo Effect’s stage presence exhibit passion and energy without overdoing it.

Two Sets of Eye’s next performance will be on Saturday, November 25 at Quenchers Saloon.

Gazebo Effect’s next performance will be on Friday, January 26 at Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Live Review: The Million Reasons/ The Shades @ Township (11/2)

Sometimes the best shows in Chicago are the ones played during the week in the back rooms of small bistros and bars. This was precisely the case on Thursday, November 2nd as a small touring act opened for two local bands at Township located in the heart of Logan Square.

The night started off great with a solid performance from The Hacky Turtles of Grand Rapids, Michigan opening for The Shades of Chicago. The local pop trio shined as always with their beautifully arranged 3-part harmonies and catchy tunes. They treated the audience to a few covers including their creatively original approach to Chance The Rapper’s “Sunday Candy” while also highlighting songs from their recently released record Miles Made of Inches. 

Headlining their first show The Million Reason took the stage last. The 4-piece rock band took full advantage of their space, utilizing every inch of the stage from the back corner to the right side runway. The second the first note sounded, the jittery crew bounced about in true rockstar fashion, breaking guitar strings and all. Standout pieces included “Hooked” opening with its catchy guitar riff before leading into Scott Nadeau’s grungy vocals singing “You’ve got me hooked/ with just one look,” and “Earlybird” with it’s driving rhythm section and a touch of southern rock twang. As The Million Reasons closed out their set, the crowd cheered for an encore. Nadeau announced the band had already played through all their originals so they opted for a rendition of Wolfmother’s “Joker and the Theft”, ending the night with the same energy and enthusiasm in which they started.

Live Review: Xoe Wise Band/Panic Priest @ Emporium (10/26)

Emporium Arcade Bar in Wicker Park kicked off the Halloween weekend with two solid musical performances on Thursday, October 26. The night included sets from Chicago’s Xoe Wise Band and Panic Priest, both embracing the energy of the holiday with their individual dark takes on pop music.

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Live Review: Broken Cycles, Dig Engine, Tougher Than You Thought (6/15) @ Elbo Room

A collection of primarily Chicago-based bands gathered on Thursday, June 15 at Elbo Room for a night covering a wide spectrum of rock from alternative to pop punk and metal. The concert featured performances by Broken Cycles, Dig Engine, Tougher Than You Thought and the Moline-based metal band Within the Grey.

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Live Review: Golden Boys/ Genome/ Bifunkal (8/3) @ Emporium Arcade Bar

Wander the streets of Chicago on any given night and it’s never hard to find inspiring live music, especially sounds falling along the spectrum of funk, jazz and blues. This past Wednesday, August 3rd was no exception as three Chicago-based bands took the stage for an exhilarating night of funk at Emporium Arcade Bar in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

The night’s festivities opened with Bifunkal, a two-piece group made up of drummer Hershyl Edwards and guitarist/vocalist Jesse Cryderman. The two played a solid mix of lyrical and instrumental tunes. While the vocals were decent, it was Cryderman’s catchy guitar riffs along with the impressive vox bass lines from Edwards that stole the set. For only two musicians, the band was able to project a full sound which was later emphasized by accompanying brass during a handful of tunes.

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Live Review: Engine Summer (3/24) @ Quencher’s Saloon

Sometime soon, you’ll be scrolling through Listen Live and Local’s Upcoming Shows page, and you’ll see Engine Summer is gracing the stage somewhere in Chicago that night. When this happens, I strongly advise you to put on your shoes, squad up with your best buds and head to the show.

I know that sometimes recruiting your friends to see unfamiliar bands can be a little nerve-racking. “What if I make them come pay money for this show and they don’t like it?” Oh man, I can feel the anxiety building right now. But I assure you Engine Summer is a safe bet. Even the most casual music fans in your group will get hooked by the band’s catchy riffs, high energy and character. As for the music lovers you’ll bring with you, they’ll be enamored by how a three-piece can create such a unique sound.

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Live Review: Doug Shotwell & The Right Hand Band/ Sweet Mary/ Walsher Clemons (2/12) @ Martyrs’

One of the best things about the Chicago music scene is it isn’t dominated by a single genre. On any given night one can hear the soulful groan of a blues band, the twang of an Americana banjo or the pulse of a hi-hat in a modern jazz tune. And sometimes, one can even hear all those things on the same stage. This was the case (though a different representation of genres) on Friday, February 12th at Martyrs’; a night featuring three local bands with three different sounds.

The night started with some progressive folk rock provided by Doug Shotwell & The Right Hand Band. While Shotwell is a Virginia native his “right hand” men are mainly made up of Chicago jazz, blues and rock musicians. Together the group crafted a sound rooted in soul with smooth slide guitar lines and a constant steady push from the rhythm section. On the surface, the songs felt simple, giving them a laid back, easy-to-listen-to vibe. But underneath there were layers of complexity which helped differentiate the songs from one another. It also helped keep the music from sounding too run-of-the-mill or twangy.

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