Brandi Carlile – Bottom Lounge – Chicago 6/15/2018

I had the pleasure to attend another WXRT Studio-X Concert.  This one starred Belinda Carlile and her band.  I wasn’t that familiar with her but can now say I’m a fan.  She will be performing again July 11th at the Pritzker Pavillion here in Chicago.  I’ll be there.

Studio-X shows are performed at a secret location for a small group of fans.  In most cases the performer has another performance scheduled in a much larger venue later that evening.Brandi Carlile - Bottom Lounge - Chicago 6/15/2018

New Pornographers – Studio X – The Subterranean Bar

The New Pornographers performed at the Subterranean Bar, 2011 W. North Avenue, Chicago this afternoon. It was another intimate setting before tonight’s show at The Riviera thanks to WXRT and Studio X.

The band’s first four albums each placed in the top 40 on The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop year-end poll of hundreds of music reviewers. From 2000 to 2006, either a New Pornographers’ album or a solo album from one of the band’s members ranked in the top 40 on the list each year. The band’s sixth album, Brill Bruisers, was released on August 26, 2014.

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Jason Bugg at Kingston Mines

Jason Bugg performed a short but really nice set this afternoon at Kingston Mines in Chicago. My friend Lin just turned me on to him because we’re both Bob Dylan fans and there’s certainly a hint of Dylan in the way he writes and sings.

Jason just released his second album and proves that not all nineteen year old artists are trying to sound like Justin Bieber.

Thanks to WXRT for hosting another small and private show for some lucky listeners.

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Portugal. The Man – Live at Kingston Mines

I remember a time not long ago, when I knew just about every band with a major recording contract.  Now I look in the back of Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of iTunes Top 10, and might recognize 60% of the artists.  If I look at the College Radio Station’s Top 10 list I won’t recognize any.  That is why I shouldn’t have been surprised to not be familiar with the band Portugal. The Man.  They’ve put out 6 studio albums since 2006 and they’re great.  How did I miss that?

That all changed when I got passes to see them at another free WXRT Studio X show at Kingston Mines yesterday.  I’ve spent the past week trying to catch up by listening to their last 3 CDs.  The show was excellent and they played longer than had been previously scheduled which was really generous of the band.  The members are John Gourley, Zachary Carothers, Kyle O’Quin and Kane Ritchotte.  Founding members John and Zachary formed the band in 2005 in Wasilla, Alaska which is where they grew up.

Kingston Mines is one of Chicago’s oldest, largest and most infamous blues joints. It attracts locals, tourists, blues legends, and celebrities alike who come for the blues that is played continuously, alternating between two stages, deep into the heart of the night (4/5am). Because of its level of talent, Kingston Mines has also attracted such visitors as Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Robert Plant, and Stevie Ray Vaughan (allegedly the night before his plane went down), as well as celebrities like the Blues Brothers, John Candy, Vince Vaughan, Patrick Swayze, Harrison Ford, and Nicholas Cage.

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Cage The Elephant – Live

Last night, Cage The Elephant played The Elbo Room in Chicago.  Free ticket winners were treated to an intimate concert compliments of Chicago’s best radio station, WXRT.  It was part of their continuing series of free shows called “Studio-X”

Cage The Elephant members are from Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Their first album was released in 2008 to much success.  The band earned the top spot in Rolling Stone’s “Readers Poll: The Best New Artist of 2011”.  Their song “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” has made WXRT’s “Listener’s Poll Top Ten Songs of the Year” for two years in a row.

On a photographic technical note – The lights in the Elbo Room are great in the background but are really dim on the artists themselves.  I was reminded of the days when I used to shoot shows in other clubs with similar lighting using film.  It’s pretty near impossible to get a good shot under those conditions using ASA 400 or even 1600 film.  With today’s digital cameras, it’s 100 times easier to get good concert photography.  Between the instant feedback on the LCD and the high ISOs, how can you miss?  For these shots I used a Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105 f4 lens and ISO 20,000.

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