Concert-wise, 2018 ended with a shriek while 2019 started with a jolly howl.
On Dec. 29, local entrepreneurs and life partners Alyssa Welch and Dan Jarvis threw a season-ending showcase for their label, Midwest Action, at Schubas and this, surprisingly, became one of the wildest shows this reviewer had seen all year. First up was Eric Wallgren, who fed his acoustic pop through a computer, turning his gentle songs into arch art rock with loads of buzz, loops, and feedback to spare. Then, vocalist Andy Ryan led psychedelic rockers Diagonal through a set of brain-twisting rockers that mesmerized and enchanted the SRO crowd.
The surprise of the showcase was scruffy funk mob Brbra Bush ( which included eight vocalists, three guitarists, and one saxophone player ), who tore through a set of highly amusing selections like "Hunnie Gotta Heinie" and "This is the Wrong Towel." After all the mayhem, it seemed like a letdown for Kevin and Hell to finish the show but they rose to the occasion with brio. Lead vocalist and guitarist Kevin infused his heady mash up of old school jazz and winsome pop with tongue firmly in cheek and a spontaneous spirit which found him dancing into the audience. If the show was a major hit, Welch and Jarvis topped it just after the new year by announcing their engagement
On Dec. 31, veteran rocker Robert Pollard and his band, Guided by Voices, blew the roof off of The Bottom Lounge with a celebratory show designed to please longtime fans. The band, which has released 100 singles and full-lengths during its roughly 28-year life span ( excluding the years when it was on hiatus ) played in front of a packed house of fans from all over the Midwest ( one man came from Kentucky for the show ) who had met during previous shows. Samples from the latest full-length, Space Gun, upcoming releases Street Party and Zeppelin Over China ( all three on Scat Records ) as well as older favorites like "Cut Out Witch," "See My Field" and "King Flute" had the near sold-out crowd on its feet the entire evening.
Heads up: Tickets are still available for Elton John's farewell tour ( he plays at the Allstate Arena on Feb. 15-16 ) and Panic! at the Disco's second leg of its world tour ( they hit the Allstate Arena on Feb. 4 ) as well as out rocker Mike Maimone ( of Mutts ) for a single release show at Lincoln Hall on Feb. 8.