Category: EBP

Bottle Recap: TV On The Radio @ 312 Block Party 9.21

“Shit is fuckin’ weird right now. Be nice to people you know, be nice to people you don’t know…Lance that boil, pop that zit. Here’s another song.”

Lead vocalist Tunde Adebimpe expressed these sentiments and similar ones through his quips between songs and overall performance, and the rest of the band backed him up throughout their set that closed out the first day of Goose Island’s 312 Block Party. The show had a perfect balance of being about the turmoil going on right now and simply dancing away that negativity, the music cathartic and enjoyable in nature.

Photo by Danny O'Donnell, @Do312

What makes TV On The Radio special is their extreme eclecticism—they’re primarily a rock band, yes, but they pull from many sub-genres (including but not limited to punk and synth) as well as a multitude of other styles and traditions. And they do this with an energy that boils and melts it all together into a fine hodge-podge of sounds, in the studio—and as exemplified by their September 21 show—on the stage.

In all honesty, I was a bit nervous to hear how they would sound live—their records are so well-produced, countless layers interacting but never getting in the way of each other, pristine vocal tracks and their harmonies shining. Throughout the concert, there were great moments where each musician’s zeal was supremely prominent—a trombone and guitar rhythmically spitting back and forth, subtly and minimally used vocal effects resulting in controlled feedback atop everything else before being buried, unrelenting drums holding it all together.

Photo by Danny O'Donnell, @Do312

A high point in the show came after the aforementioned quote, with the moving chorus of “Trouble,” from 2014’s Seeds. Adebimpe—and the many fans singing along—belted out “‘Everything’s gonna be okay’ / Oh, I keep telling myself / ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ / Oh, you keep telling yourself” and following its introduction, the song that preceded recent events had a new meaning, one that evoked both a longing acceptance and bitter sarcasm, depending on how you heard and processed it. In a time when it seems every artist has to acknowledge the current climate, TV On The Radio navigated that well, not disregarding the immense power music has to deal with heavy subjects in abstract ways, nor the ability it has to—at the very least—help masses put their worries somewhere else and just dance and sing.

*A review by Izzy Yellen

Posted October 9th, 2018

Categories Blog, EBP

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Beyond The Gate feat. Grouper, Mute Duo Ensemble, & Hilary Woods 9.23

It’s not often you get to see a well-programmed concert at a cemetery on the Fall Equinox. And under the Harvest Moon. But Empty Bottle Presents’ Beyond The Gate was exactly that.

Photo by Danny O'Donnell, @312

Right off the bat, the setting was beautiful—blue lights illuminating the building behind, branches and handmade lit-up orbs adorning the stage, blankets and chairs packed into the lawn with bundled up fans.

Photo by Danny O'Donnell, @312

Once the crowd and the sun’s light settled, Hilary Woods began, twangy guitar accompanying her wispy but resonant voice. The atmosphere she created, especially in the cemetery, was reminiscent of Angelo Badalamenti’s music for Twin Peaks—thick, muddy voicings on a keyboard and 50s-sounding guitar (she switched between the two) created structured songs that still allowed there to be an atmospheric, open quality.

Photo by Danny O'Donnell, @312

Mute Duo is Sam Wagster on pedal steel and Skyler Rowe on drums/percussion, but for this special concert, they were the Mute Duo Ensemble, joined by six others. An instrumental group (aside from wordless vocals from Bottle staple Bruce “Hesh” Lamont, who also played tenor sax), the collection of musicians played without breaks, going from unified drones to solos to prickly durations of time that had the many voices peeking out of the combined voice with their idiosyncrasies.

Photo by Danny O'Donnell, @312

Grouper was—in terms of the whole bill—a synthesis of her openers, bringing together chaos and stark songwriting. The fact that it was just a sole musician (Liz Harris) didn’t stop there from being layers and layers of sound enveloping the audience. Grouper’s outside music surrounded and comforted me, the powerful moments—emotionally and sonically—making the near silent moments even more silent, and the silent moments making the powerful even more powerful. The dynamic and emotional range of her performance was flooring, and this was only accentuated by its setting.

While the space and her interaction with it was an instrument itself, it would not have functioned as such without the sources—her elaborate but well-controlled setup of piano, guitar, affected vocals, and samples, all through a mixer she intently controlled. Melting and shifting together, these different instruments often took on similar forms in context of her larger work.

Hilary Woods, Mute Duo Ensemble, and Grouper evoked an unsettling creepiness at their concert space without forcing it at all, their music finding a home at Bohemian National Cemetery and, ultimately, being more moving thanks to the environment. I’m already excited to hear more bands find a home for their music at the cemetery next year.

*A review by Izzy Yellen

Music, Frozen, Dancing 2017: Recap!

We did it again, y’all. On Saturday, March 4th, we once again joined forces with our cronies at Goose Island and threw a block party on the frigid streets of the Ukrainian Village. To our delight, bout 2,000 well-behaved (subject to opinion) humans (plus a couple dogs and other mammals) came to party with us. In case you missed out, short recap below with pictures to boot!

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Levitation Chicago 2016 :: Empty Bottle Presents

This past weekend of  LEVITATION CHICAGO at Thalia Hall was quite the time! Spring is upon us and we find ourselves on the other side of a killer three days of music at LEVITATION CHICAGO music festival.  Let's dive on in to revisit how great of a time we had music-friendly-dancing (and drinking LAGUNITAS beer)all over Thalia Hall. [Pictures by Allison Taich ] Read More »

Fresh Streams: Cian Nugent, Idiot Glee

Two Fresh Streams segments in one month?! You better be grateful. Welcome to January streams round TWO. We are making sure to keep you in check with your emotions while also giving you the opportunity to be saturated in nostalgia with these upcoming releases. Read More »

Posted January 28th, 2016

Categories EBP, News

RECAP: ‘Beyond The Gate’ @ Bohemian National Cemetery (9.10.15)

On September 10th, 2015 we returned to the Bohemian National Cemetery on the northwest side of Chicago for the fourth installment of the Beyond The Gate series, which Empty Bottle Presents produces alongside J.R. ROBINSON, leader of Chicago doom collective WREKMEISTER HARMONIES. For this end of summer concert, EARTH, DISAPPEARS and HOLY SONS performed on stage and ROBINSON kept the tone in place with cryptic vinyl selections before and in-between bands. It was a thrill to host such this line-up in such a gorgeous and haunting setting, especially since the skies were clear after a long (and stressful) day of rain. We are incredibly thankful and excited that all of the artists  were as into the idea of performing in this setting as we are. Read More »

Posted September 17th, 2015

Categories EBP, News

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Empty Exchange: RYLEY WALKER (3.30.15 @ Chopin)

The new album by Ryley Walker, Primrose Green, out Tuesday on Dead Oceans, ebbs and flows effortlessly in all the right ways. It's an album that's easy to lose yourself in, one that helps you travel through time as it streams through your speakers. As a newcomer to the music of Ryley Walker, I was instantly captivated by his unique blend of jazz and folk. Learning that he had his hands involved in the noise and punk scene as a precursor to his current sound came as no surprise. His acoustic influences, paired with an affinity for improvisation make for an album that builds into a wonderful sonic landscape that is well beyond his 25 years and his songs have found their way on my playlist more times than I'd like to admit.

If you've have the pleasure to see him IRL ("in real life" grandpa!) you know that Walker's live  show is like a graceful, audio-enigma. No two shows are the same and you often times leave having bore witness to a genesis of new songs, songs in progress, and favorites that have been re-worked, stretching and expanding beautifully before your very ears. Walker plays alongside a rotating cast of some of the most talented Chicago jazz musicians, a collection of friends and colleagues developed over years of involvement in the underground Chicago music scene. From the first recordings to the photos on the covers, everything is Chicago-centric, showcasing the beauty of a city that collaborates and grows together.

I was fortunate enough to exchange some quick words with Ryley the day after his Chopin Theatre record release (and the day of his solo show at Permanent Records). When talking with Walker his intentions are unspoken but clear, and he intends on continuing to make music he likes, with people he likes. Lucky for us, the product of these collaborations continue to be damn good.

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Posted April 1st, 2015

Categories EBP, Empty Exchange, This Week

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Photos Gallery: ‘Cold Moon’ @ Bohemian National Cemetery on 12.6.14

On Saturday, December 6th, we returned to Bohemian National Cemetery for Cold Moon, December's full moon that summons the beginning of the winter. For this performance, we ventured into BNC's Cathedral, where we presented three outstanding performances by Chicago's WREKMEISTER HARMONIES, RYLEY WALKER and CIRCUIT DES YEUX. The show was sold out by 8:15pm, just before we started, and the artists were joined by Brownshoesonly, everyone's favorite multi-talented projectionist. Rob Sevier of Numero Group came through once again to set the sonic tone of the evening, playing some brain-melting records throughout the event. Consequence of Sound was there to catch the mystical concert, and at the end of their review the writer "wondered whether the whole event had been some sort of ancient rite, the incantation on the steps of some final initiation. Only time will tell... until the next full moon anyway." Read More »

Posted December 9th, 2014

Categories EBP, News, This Week

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Hoops Dreamed: A look back at the first ever HOOP DREAMS CHARITY BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

This past Sunday, October 12th, rather than staying home and drinking Sambuca all day, we joined forces with Jimmy Whispers to host the first ever HOOP DREAMS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT. The tournament (and music fest) was located at 1834 W Chicago Ave and it was created to raise funds for CeaseFire, the Illinois branch of the Cure Violence Organization, which operates in 6 cities throughout the state – Chicago, Maywood, Rockford, East St. Louis, Springfield, and North Chicago/Waukegan. Read More »

Posted October 16th, 2014

Categories EBP, Festival, News

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Wrekmeister Harmonies @ Bohemian National Cemetery – Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

This week we're hosting a show at Bohemian National Cemetery and it's also the night of a Supermoon. It’s going to be perfect. Literally, we could not imagine hosting an evening such as this – experimental melancholy and searing ensemble performances – in a better location. And you know what? We think you'd be into this sort of thing. Come spend your Saturday in Bohemian National Cemetery, as Wrekmeister Harmonies and a renowned roster of collaborators serenade you into darkness. The performance will take place near the Mausoleum (not among the graves  – we aren’t monsters!) at the south-east corner of Pulaski and Bryn Mawr. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and WREKMEISTER HARMONIES set will begin at 9:30, one hour after sunset. This is a one-of-a-kind event that is not to be missed! "Reflective drones grow and decay, forming waves of overlapping sound that evolve into a gigantic roar of distorted guitar. Searing, disembodied howls and pummeling drums signal a shift from mournful to harrowing as Robinson and his ensemble lurch forward into the abyss." [Thrill Jockey] Tickets available here Wrekmeister Harmonies - You've Always Meant So Much to Me from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo. Read More »
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