ChicagoVerseUniteD: Chicago Scene Salvation

New CVU Podcast Album: SXSW 2011!


This week on the ChicagoVerseUniteD audio podcast: CVU: The SXSW 2011 Album, featuring eleven interviews recorded live on location at this year’s SXSW music festival. Host Jaime Black checks in with members of My Gold Mask, Netherfriends, Scattered Trees, White Mystery, Loyal Divide, Empires, and California Wives, plus Scott Lucas of Scott Lucas and the Married Men, Virgil Solis and DJ RTC of Ruby Hornet, and Martin Atkins of Tour:Smart! Find each interview as an individual podcast below, or download the entire collection as an album at the Dynasty Podcasts Bandcamp page!

CVU: The SXSW 2011 Album Intro

CVU56 – Ruby Hornet @ SXSW
Virgil Solis and DJ RTC of Chicago hip hop site Ruby Hornet talk about their new hip hop compilation, Closed Sessions: ATX, recorded last year at SXSW 2010.

CVU57 – My Gold Mask @ SXSW
Gretta Rochelle and Jack Armondo check in on the eve of SXSW music, talk about the influence of weather on their music, and preview what’s next for My Gold Mask.

CVU58 – Netherfriends @ SXSW
Netherfriends mastermind Shawn Rosenblatt discusses his 50 Songs 50 States project and recording in a gas station bathroom, in addition to revealing why bands need to spend less time practicing and performing for their friends.

CVU59 – Secret Colours @ SXSW
Following a performance at the Do512 headquarters, the members of Secret Colours discuss being invited to perform as official talent at this year’s SXSW.

CVU60 – Scattered Trees @ SXSW
The members of Scattered Trees talk about their forthcoming record Sympathy, set to drop on April 5th, as well as critical and geek response to the Star Wars themed video for “Love And Leave.”

CVU61 – White Mystery @ SXSW
Alex and Francis White of White Mystery talk about the magic of SXSW and being on tour, plus describe the gritty sound of their forthcoming Blood And Venom album, which will see release on April 20th.

CVU62 – Martin Atkins @ SXSW
Martin Atkins, of the Tour:Smart movement, discusses his experiences at both SXSW interactive and SXSW music, as well as why bands need digital savvy members in their ranks.

CVU63 – Loyal Divide @ SXSW
The members of Loyal Divide delve into the status of their long finished debut album Bodice Ripper, new music after that record drops, and ideal returns on playing SXSW.

CVU64 – Empires @ SXSW
Ryan Luciani and Max Steger of Empires reveal details about the Rolling Stone cover contest the band is participating in, including the level of disbelief at what winning would entail.

CVU65 – California Wives @ SXSW
The members of California Wives share on the origins of their new song “Tokyo,” hint at appearances at Chicago summer festivals, and explain why the band didn’t just come up out of nowhere.
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CVU66 – Scott Lucas @ SXSW
Scott Lucas, of Local H and Scott Lucas And The Married Men, shares his thoughts on making a timely statement with the next Local H record, as well as the extreme difficulty of carrying amps across 6th Street while dressed in a suit.

CVU: The SXSW 2011 Album Outro

SXSW Live Review: Kanye West & Friends @ Seaholm Power

Kanye West
Seaholm Power, Austin, TX
Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kanye West
No one man should have all that power plant.

As a festival, SXSW is no stranger to secret or delayed announcement shows from big name acts. Foo Fighters performed a hush-hush concert at Stubbs this year, for example. But such an event seems commonplace next to the fantastic announcement that Kanye West would be performing at a decommissioned power plant at the conclusion of this year’s festival. Not surprisingly, Mr. West had to one up the entire week’s worth of music, with an event featuring a night of both once in a lifetime performances and unbelievably amateur hour execution.

Starting Off & Getting In

When word went out that The Louis Vuitton Don would be closing out SXSW 2011 at Seaholm Power, a once functional power plant, the question of how to gain entry become at the forefront of conversation. A production of the VEVO music video company, the event was obviously going to be in high demand. To handle announcements and the distrubtion of information, the company launched the Yo VEVO! Twitter account, which soon kicked off a text-for-entry campaign that during its course brought about no shortage of confusion and frustration. The service specialized in delivering a series of “Text now for entry!” type messages only to follow up seconds later with taunting texts essentially declaring “Too slow! Locked out!” Also revealed was entry for the first thousand SXSW badge-holders. With the text winners notified and the badge holder hopefuls aware of the numbers game, determined attempted attendees began lining up hours in advance of, if not the night before, the big event.

The Day Of

The majority of of the day Saturday, little instruction or information came to those standing in line. Some were told their text confirmations granted them a plus one, others were told otherwise. Most guessed-at information came via hired event security, as opposed to official VEVO staff or representatives. By late evening, the ever-growing line was restless and still almost entirely in the dark about the official count of who would gain entry and how. Around 11 p.m., instruction came to line up for entry, but no one on the official side seemed sure how to actually handle letting the assembly inside the property gates. Hired hands carried gate pieces back and forth in a meaningless busy work exercises, while perplexed and stressed looking suits and higher ups huddled up for a meeting visible from the line, as the clock ticked down towards the supposed 11:59 event start time. When one event official possibly suffering from a strained voice tried addressing the crowd and stating that he didn’t spend four months of his life on the event not to let people in, it came as a pitying admittance before an increasingly tense and restless crowd. To the would-be attendees credit, no riot broke out, though the stress in the air was palpable. Finally, organizers began the entry process, initially and amazingly checking each phone for confirmation texts, in perhaps the slowest and most non-efficient method possible for mass admittance. Meanwhile, a portion of the barrier was lifted to allow those with badges in, in no paticular order, as organizers ignoring the line all day had allowed it to morph into what can best be described as a civil but on edge collective more than any sort of single file separations. Those who made it inside then graduated to another group of separate lines, for VIPs, text winners, and badge holders, respectively. To the right of the line, behind a chain link fence, confused wanderers continuously reached the gated grounds and tried hopping over onto venue grounds. As this journalist entered the gates, I asked a worker at the badges line how the event was proceeding so far. Without ever meeting my gaze, she continuously scanned the area around her before simply whispering, “Chaos.”

But What About Inside?

As a venue, Seaholm Power is unique and massive. It’s essentially a long and wide hallway with a stage at the back and stories-high ceilings, not unlike a hanger. On one side of the building are the remnants of its days as a working power plant, all staircases and piping, like an industrial themed nightclub, but with the actual history behind it. Just before 1 a.m., as those allowed in made their way towards the front of the venue, the event official who earlier addressed the crowd outside took to the stage to deliver a lengthy string of thanks to those who made the event possible like some sort of misguided acceptance speech before oddly reiterating that the event cost him four months of his life. Throughout the statements, the official’s mic continually cut out. It wouldn’t be the last technical error of the night.

I Fantasized About This Back In Chicago

At 2:30 a.m., following opening performances from Mos Def and Kid Cudi, Kanye West took the stage, kicking off his set with “Dark Fantasy.” It proved a fitting selection, as much of the evening’s set would stem from the Chicago rapper’s late 2010 effort My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. What made Saturday night’s set unique, in addition to the venue, was that West was joined by a grouping of his Twisted Fantasy collaborators, including, but not limited to, Pusha T, John Legend, and even Jay-Z. The impressive guest roster helped lock in that this actually was an important show, whereas so many other hyped showcases are regular sets that just happen to take place during SXSW. It also allowed West to deliver many of Twisted Fantasy‘s better and more cameo-laden cuts in ways closer or nearly identical to their recorded incarnations.

Throughout the late night event, blocks of songs were often grouped together around the evening’s various guests. John Legend’s soulful croon both aided “Christian Dior Denim Flow” and enhanced “Blame Game,” with his chorus vocals and keys boosting the latter before West delivered the track’s spoken interlude awash in violet light. Similarly emotive was Twisted Fantasy‘s epic offering “Runaway,” which featured Pusha T coming out to deliver his verse in advance of the song’s choruses becoming increasingly vulnerable and vocoded. Though West’s words became consistently more distorted as the song went on, the pained message expressed was unmistakably decipherable.

Significantly harder were West’s collaborations with none other than Shawn Carter, aka Jay-Z. The pair joined forces for a searing version of their recent collaborative single “H.A.M.” that proved to be nothing short of a slaughter. It also set the tone for the mentor and protégé teaming up for the vicious version of “Monster,” with HOV ripping into his contributions to the track. By comparison, Jay contributing to Fantasy track ”So Appalled” felt less essential, though performances of the rapper’s solo cuts “Public Service Announcement” and the especially celebrated “Big Pimpin’” more than made up for it.

The evening’s most remarkable performances would end up coming later in the set. One such instance was Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon passionately delivering digitized soul to “Lost In The World,” as beat-heavy breakdowns played out behind his and West’s vocals. Easily the most transcendent moment of the event, however, came in a full marching band joining West onstage for Fantasy standout “All Of The Lights.” Adding a tremendous live instrumentation element and emphasizing the song’s inherent power and emotion, the additional musicians elevated an already exceptional track to nothing less than an awe-inspiring live performance.

Outside of special guest collaborations and cameos, it was clear that the evening belonged to Kanye West. From smiling before “Gorgeous” to writhing on the edge of the stage and screaming at the crowd to put their hands up over the machine gun beat of “Hell Of A Life,” West’s moods and mannerisms were at the forefront of the evening’s selections. The Chicago MC even hammed for fan cameras off to the side of the stage during the otherwise mean and sneering “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” Between breaks in his set, West alternated outfits, switching from a black shades and leather jacket dominated look to all red attire and back again.

The show encountered a few bumps throughout, like the artist needing to restart “Gorgeous,” and tracks playing over each other at the start of recent hit “Power,” prompting the rapper to leave the stage for a moment before returning to deliver the hard hitting single. Yet despite production flubs at such a high profile event, West remained in high spirits throughout the set, playing to the crowd and devoting the entirety of his energy to his performance. It was a testament to not letting the obstacles of the event-and there were many-get in the way of fully embracing an evening of legitimately rare live collaborations and impassioned performances. In a night where the show’s organizers did their best to come off across as amateurs, Kanye West reaffirmed that he’s anything but.

-Jaime Black

This Week @ CVU: 03/22/11

Posted in CVU Cover Story 03/11,SXSW,SXSW 2011,SXSW: The Chicagoverse Connection by Jaime Black on March 21st, 2011

Coming up this week at CVU:

-A live review of Kanye West‘s Saturday night show at this past weekend’s SXSW.
-The CVU SXSW Scorecard, featuring stats about local acts at this year’s edition of the festival.
-Eleven new CVU podcasts, recorded live at SXSW 2011, featuring interviews with Scott Lucas, White Mystery, Empires, Secret Colours, and more!

Watch for all of that here as CVU’s SXSW coverage rolls on all month long!

SXSW 2011 – The CVU Feed: Part IV!

From the ChiVerseUniteD Twitter account, covering Chicago acts, events, and industry at SXSW:

Ummm…and HOV just joined ‘Ye for “H.A.M.” Madness.
ChicagoVerseUniteD Kanye belts it out on “Runaway.”

Kanye just started into “Power” and the WRONG TRACK started over it! Show is a little bumpy!!
ChicagoVerseUniteD John Legend on keys for “The Blame Game.” it’s Kanye West all star night.

All of the @Vevo lights; The view of the power plant Kanye plays at tonight, from the line. ->

Sounds like “Hell Of A Life” is being soundchecked.

A school bus just rolled past the power plant gates. Rumor abound that a high school band will join ‘Ye. Maybe “All Of The Lights”?

Truly surprised at how short the line us for Kanye right now. Less than 100 people!!

The power plant Kanye’s playing tonight. -> The line so far. -> #Chi@SX

This little guy is chilling on A Lull’s drums during the set. Clearly he is to be feared.

A Lull winning the crowd over huge with “Show Me Some Love.” <- The view from side-stage.

Percussion attack from A Lull @ Bat Bar right now. Awesome turn out, HUGE sound. Playing “Mammals” now. KILLER tune!!

Announcing: SXSW: The Chicagoverse Connection 2011 Part II!

Posted in CVU Cover Story 03/11,SXSW,SXSW 2011,SXSW: The Chicagoverse Connection by Jaime Black on March 15th, 2011

All this month, ChicagoVerseUniteD will be running SXSW content related to Chicago artists, venues, press, and events. With SX Music underway, site content now switches to live coverage of Chicago artists/venues/parties at this year’s SXSW. Watch this site for news, audio, video, and interviews, as well as the CVU and Dynasty Podcasts Twitter accounts for updates as they happen!

SXSW 2011 – The Chicagoverse Connection: In Tall Buildings!

For this month’s ChicagoVerseUniteD cover story, every day in March will feature SXSW coverage relating to a Chicago artist, label, venue, website, or event. Today: In Tall Buildings!

In Tall Buildings
(Photo via Elise Bergman)

Chicago’s In Tall Buildings, the full band venture headed up by local musician Erik Hall, have been making big moves in recent months, including kicking off the Sustainable Sound series at Metroplaying a set for JBTV, a spot on the Tomorrow Never Knows festival, and more. Which might explain why the emerging act is official showcase talent at this year’s SXSW. Find the group’s upcoming dates for Austin and Chicago below, directly following a download link to the aptly-titled “Warm Rock,” one half of In Tall Buildings’ upcoming Record Store Day release, set to drop on April 16th.

In Tall Buildings – “Warm Rock”

In Tall Buildings @ SXSW
03/16 @ Maggie Mae’s
03/17 - JBTV’s SXCHI Music Festival @ The Trophy Room
03/19 @ Speakeasy
In Tall Buildings In Chicago
04/16 @ Saki (In-store)
04/19 @ Lincoln Hall

SXSW 2011 – The Chicagoverse Connection/Come To The Show: Tonight, Saturday March 12th @ Bottom Lounge/Local 101 Audio Archive: California Wives!

For this month’s ChicagoVerseUniteD cover story, every day in March will feature SXSW coverage relating to a Chicago artist, label, venue, website, or event. Today: California Wives!

California Wives
(Photo via Laura Gray)

Starting 2011 with a Daytrotter Session and a slot on this year’s Tomorrow Never Knows festival, California Wives have seen its profile increase exponentially in the last few months. Which might be part of the reason why new wave-framed group is headlining tonight at the Bottom Lounge. The show serves as a send-off to the act’s impressive slew of forthcoming SXSW dates. Find those below, followed by this past weekend’s Local 101 interview with the band’s Joe O’Connor, as well as a download of the group’s ambient new single “Tokyo.”

03/17 – Schuba’s Unofficial SXSW Day Party @ Yard Dog (12:15 PM)
03/17 – Township Records SXSW Day Party @ Teddy’s (2:30 PM)
03/17 – Official Showcase @ Buffalo Billiards (8:00 PM)
03/18 – Yelp! Unofficial SXSW Day Party @ Betsy’s Bar/District 301 (Connected) (2:45 PM)
03/18 – BMI “Acoustic” Set @Cedar Door (4:30 PM)
03/19 – Bottom Lounge Unofficial @ Long Branch Inn (1:35 PM)

California Wives – “Tokyo”

SXSW 2011 – The Chicagoverse Connection/Come To The Show: Tonight, Friday March 11th @Beat Kitchen/Local 101 Audio Archive: Suns!

Posted in CVU Cover Story 03/11,Suns,SXSW,SXSW 2011,SXSW: The Chicagoverse Connection by Jaime Black on March 11th, 2011

For this month’s ChicagoVerseUniteD cover story, every day in March will feature SXSW coverage relating to a Chicago artist, label, venue, website, or event. Today: Suns!


With SXSW 2011′s music showcases looming mere days away, it can seem like the Chicago music focus has shifted significantly to Austin, TX. Yet for epic chamber rock outfit Suns, the hometown agenda is still front and center. The group recently played a set for JBTV, and is set to headline tonight at the Beat Kitchen. Stream this past Sunday night’s Local 101 interview with Suns’ Mike Russell in advance of that event, and find the group’s SXSW dates in the flyer below.


SXSW 2011 – The Chicagoverse Connection & Local 101 Audio Archive: Maps & Atlases!

For this month’s ChicagoVerseUniteD cover story, every day in March will preview a different local artist’s plans for SXSW. Today: Maps & Atlases!

Maps & Atlases
(Photo via Josh Goleman)

Maps & Atlases are off to a good start in 2011, between this month’s just-released Living Decorations EP and the band’s currently-running remix competition. The prog-leaning pop group is even set to headline Lincoln Hall tomorrow night, Friday, March 11th, with Light Pollution and Gypsyblood out in support. That show, in turn, will serve as a precursor to Maps & Atlases’ activities in Austin, TX next week, as official Chicago ambassadors at this year’s SXSW.

Find the group’s SXSW dates in the flyer below, immediately following this past weekend’s Local 101 interview with the band’s Erin Elders and the act’s “Living Decorations” video.

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SXSW 2011 – The Chicagoverse Connection: Rockie Fresh!

For this month’s ChicagoVerseUniteD cover story, every day in March will feature SXSW coverage relating to a Chicago artist, label, venue, website, or event. Today: Rockie Fresh!!

Rockie Fresh

Rockie Fresh’s rising profile is no secret to Chicago, given the rapper’s steady presence across local music sites and specialty radio. So naturally, in the interest of branching out, it recently became time to venture out of state.

Earlier this year, Fresh hit the West Coast to begin work on a new project, featuring production from The Cartoonz, among other high profile producers. Watch the first installment of the artist’s recently launched Life On The Otherside video series, featuring a glimpse at the rapper’s collaboration with Casey Veggies, as well as his first encounter with In-N-Out Burger, below.

More recently, fresh off a support slot at this past weekend’s Chip Tha Ripper show at Lincoln Hall, Rockie Fresh embarked on his Otherside Tour, behind the late 2010 mixtape of the same name. Find the rapper’s SXSW dates in the flyer below, or catch him April 3rd and 4th opening for Patrick Stump at Schuba’s (if you’re lucky enough to hold tickets to either sold out show, that is).

RF Tour