Concert Review: Dua Lipa, November 26, Aragon Ballroom

Posted on by halley in Concerts | Leave a comment


Any woman who chooses the tongue-stick-out as her cover look is going to be memorable, right? Far from hiding her personality, her ambition, her talent, her strengths or her tongue, Dua Lipa lets it all hang out in the best of ways. The uber-talented English-Albanian wonderwoman proved herself strong as ever in her awesome performance at Aragon Ballroom on Sunday. Dua graced the Chicago venue as part of her “Self-Titled Tour” (again – love how she owns her own fame and talent) and gave the audience the show they were hoping for. And WHAT an audience. You know you’re in good company when you have men in bathrobes, women in “If you’re under him/You’re not getting over him” T-shirts, and more men in bathrobes (most also wearing high heels) out for an epic Sunday Funday with their favorite diva.

First (and very importantly for the 30+ crowd like yours truly), Dua was extremely punctual. Love it. The woman sent her three bandmates out on stage to rev up the crowd with headbanging … intro music … a life-size screen of her … and BAM: the woman herself. Dua took the stage at 8:30 sharp and didn’t waste a moment from that second on. She dominated the scene in fabulous yellow wide-leg pants and a super sexy top, complemented (of course) with her signature amazing Pantene-ProV-commercial-quality hair. Her hips hypnotized, her twirls titillated, and her voice thrilled. Dua’s pipes are amazing live – to the point that I heard scandalized members of her fan base wonder aloud if she was lip syncing … only to be hastily and angrily hushed by bystanders.

Second, her banter to song ratio was great. A woman of few words, she gave Chicago the shout out it was craving, urged the audience to sing along, but otherwise kept the focus on the music. I have loved this artist for a long time just for her big hit, “New Rules”, but she really blew me out of the water with her range and diversity. She hit the crowd with a great selection of tracks, my new favorites being “Hotter Than Hell,” “Dreams,” and “Garden.” Although she’s been compared to other sultry-voiced female artists (think Sia, P!nk, Charli XCX) Dua really brings something unique to the table that you can only see live. Bottom line: Go see her. Like now. This woman is going places fast – you’d better catch her before she’s too big for intimate, memorable shows like this one.

Concert Review: Pale Waves, November 16, Baby G

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

A post shared by Ricky Lam (@panicmanual) on

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a new buzz band on the cusp of stardom. Now a grizzled veteran, I tend to stick to more known music factors, much to my own distaste. But you know, as you get older you really want to be efficient with your time and sometimes taking a chance on a new band is a risk you don’t want to take. Something about the charming singles that UK band Pale Waves put out struck a chord and so here I was, Thursday night at the Baby G.

With three hit singles (maybe … I don’t know what constitutes a hit these days) released this year, Pale Waves have become popular enough to do a stateside tour. The enthusiastic crowd at the tiny confines of the Baby G further strengthened the notion that it was a worthwhile trip. The group has an interesting aesthetic. Visually, they are clearly inspired by the ’80s goth look with heavy eyeshadow, dark lipstick and generally dark clothes. In contrast, their music was comprised of mostly sunny, effortless pop. So read what you will into that.

For a relatively new band, the group sounded pretty polished live. Lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie really only has two moves on stage, the first one involving her tilting her head 45 degrees sideways while the other is an arm thing similar to what the Backstreet Boys did in their video for Backstreets Back:


I guess in time, she will develop more moves. One criticism you can make about the show is that the band’s songs all are … kind of very similar. When you hear them on Spotify or whatever, you usually just hear one of them at a time so it isn’t overtly obvious. However in the context of a 45 minute set, the string of songs put together start to blend. Whether or not Pale Waves makes it to the next level might very well hinge on their ability to diversify. With hits like “Television Romance” and “New Years Eve” already out there, it’s clear they can write catchy, fun pop songs. I guess the question is … what else can they do? I guess We’ll find out in time.

The Lost Art Of Liner Notes: Duane Eddy – The Biggest Twang Of Them All (1966, Reprise Records)

Posted on by Paul in Albums, Classic Albums | Leave a comment


While the liner notes for Duane Eddy`s Lee Hazlewood-produced album The Biggest Twang of Them All manage to compare Eddy and his sound to both Willy Mays and a car fender, it’s hard not to notice the apparent innuendo barely hidden in the title’s reference to Eddy’s “big twang.” Was this all just a coincidence? It’s hard to think it could have been, especially when you take into consideration the other references in the liner notes to “early labor pains” and to twang just being “an impotent label for the life inside his virile sound.” Are … are they suggesting that Duane Eddy’s music can make you pregnant with its definitely-not-impotent “virile sound?” Was his guitar some sort of magical conduit for his superhuman virility? Read the notes and decide for yourself:

It’s a sound that’s bigger than that of the Columbia Calliope Co. in flagrant assembly. It’s the sound of Duane Eddy, the handsome, soft-spoken young gentleman from around Phoenix way. Duane hit the big league of music a few years back with a thing called Twang. The word sounds like a cross between a late stage of motor knock and early labor pains. But the word’s just an impotent label for the life inside his virile sound. An elemental, raw, unrefined musical sound. One electronically built into Duane’s guitar. One that comes out with a walk-into-a-solid-wall impact.

It’s a sound that’s as American as a ’40 Ford fender.

It’s a sound that’s sold nearly 12,000,000 records, and spread the excitingness of Eddy around the world. Imitators have come, but went. For some reason, the Twang is 100% Eddy’s. Like Willy Mays, nobody does it half as well.

It`s a sound that makes this album a muscular monster in its field. Backed by two drummers, four more guitars, organ, piano, bass, saxes, and that`s just the beginning, Duane goes unafraid at the kind of tunes that normally are one person songs. Like “Ballad of the Green Berets,” which becomes a twang-bang march under Duane`s banner. Like “Monday, Monday,” which was “The Mamas and Papas,” and now has the wild newness of Duane Eddy.  And on and on.

It’s a sound that’s alive and kicky. It’s today. Ask any 12,000,000, they’ll tell you. Duane Eddy’s the biggest twang of them all.

Song Of The Day: Chris Hillman – Wildflowers

Posted on by Paul in Song of the Day | Leave a comment


During his time in The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers and several other bands, Chris Hillman pretty much invented the folk rock and country rock sounds, thus cementing his place in music history.

That history continues with his latest release Bidin’ My Time, out on Rounder Records. Produced by the late Tom Petty, the album finds Hillman revisiting some old Byrds tracks (“Bells Of Rhymney” and “She Don’t Care About Time”) as well as contributing his own version of Petty’s “Wildflowers” which naturally adds a touch of bluegrass to the arrangement. Check it out below: