Ben Folds: Live in South Bend (Concert Review)

By: Jen “Coble” Hopper

Saturday night, Ben Folds joined the South Bend Symphony Orchestra in celebrating the City’s 150th anniversary with a concert well-suited to fans of both classical and pop music.

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Kaiser Chiefs: Live at Chicago House of Blues, 4/19/12

Guest Post By: Marisa Ruiz & Tracy Graham of Lost in Concert

Pair song after song of crowd-rousing rock with the flabbergasting antics of Ricky Wilson and you’ve got a one-two punk-infused theoretical punch that you won’t soon forget. Kaiser Chiefs is a band that can boost you right out of your seat and deliver you to the doorstep of live music rapture from the very first song. This is a band that needed no time to warm up the crowd for what was a highly entertaining set at the House of Blues Chicago.

The five English lads took a bite out of 1980’s pop culture when they walked out on stage to a reworked sample from the Dire Straits hit song, “Money for Nothing.” The lyrics “I want my…” were stretched out and repeated before taking full shape into “I want my MTV” as the band casually rolled on stage and took their instruments. I pretended for a moment that the crowd would change the chant into “I want my Kaiser Chiefs” but there was no time for that, as the band had already jumped straight away into playful track “Na Na Na Na Naa.” Frontman Wilson commenced his energetic shimmy across the stage, tambourine in hand, eccentric moxie at full force.

I may actually have pages of notes strictly about what the man did with his mic stand throughout the set. Simply put, Wilson straight up made that mic stand his bitch. In fact, he did so many things I’d never seen done with a mic stand before that he inspired me to name some of his moves. First was “The Scarface”: He tossed and twirled it in the air like a baton, caught it and pretended it was a machine gun – all within four seconds flat – before slamming it back in place. “The Rocky Balboa”: Perhaps channeling a boxing legend, he threw jabs at the mic stand with hunched posture and great concentration. And lastly, “The Missy Elliot” wherein Wilson laid it down, flipped it and reversed it. Yup. All that.

Really, though, the kooky mic stand spectacle was just the co-star to the real thing on spotlight: the music. “Ruby,” “I Predict A Riot,” “Every Day I Love You Less,” “Oh My God,” “The Angry Mob.” It was like a playlist of one sing-along worthy song after another; and the crowd was fully enthralled from the very first one. In a display of very high crowd interaction for a weeknight show, there was chanting, clapping and hopping around for every track. The gents of Kaiser Chiefs also played songs from their new album, Start the Revolution Without Me, including popular single “On The Run.” For the duration of one song, the pace shifted from high energy anthems to a slower, more poignant groove. The lights dimmed as a purple hue was cast on the stage and Wilson delivered the words from new track “Starts With Nothing.” With reflective lyrics such as “You start with nothing and you leave with nothing,” the song helps mark the evolution of a band that formed nearly a decade ago. Not every song needs to start a riot – and it was cool to see they can flip that switch off and back on.

The biggest draw, however, to the appeal of seeing this band live is the frontman’s spontaneity. Sure, you could rock Kaiser Chiefs tunes on your iPod any day, but how often will you have the chance to see Wilson mount a giant speaker and remark that the “bass is doing amazing things to [his] testicles”? Right – never. Unless you go their live show, of course. He also somehow managed to climb off the stage, over more giant speakers with his microphone, and launch himself onto the side bar counter where he then chugged a beer produced by the bartender upon his unexpected arrival. Always a jokester, he spoke into his mic with his unmistakable British accent. “Sorry to those of you in the balcony who can’t see me, but I’m fully naked right now – and I’m told it’s a glorious sight!” Hit songs, assaults on mic stands AND laughs? Talk about getting your money’s worth.

Toward the end of the set, Wilson let out an excited yell and shouted, “Chicago! You’re my kind of town!” We feel the same about you, Ricky Wilson. You and your mad talented band mates are always welcome in our city. We might even have some extra mic stands on hand for you next time.

Buy Kaiser Chiefs Music @ Amazon

Kaiser Chiefs Official Site

All Photographs ©2012 Tracy Graham

My Chemical Romance: Live in Milwaukee, 8/23/11

Muruch’s Mid-West reviewer/photographer Jen “Coble” Hopper‘s love of My Chemical Romance knows no bounds. After her four-part series on MCR’s Mid-West Tour last April, Coble still asked to cover the band’s set in Milwaukee Tuesday night. My Chemical Romance performed at Marcus Amphitheater as co-headliners of the Honda Civic Tour with Blink182. You can read Coble’s thoughts about the concert and see her photographs below…

My Chemical Romance, co-headliners of the Honda Civic Tour, rocked the stage at the Marcus Amphitheater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the band’s energetic set was met with poor sound as well as an undersold and lackluster crowd.

The band delivered an outstanding performance and a refreshed setlist that included many well-loved tunes that haven’t been performed in recent tours.

The setlist included:
“Na Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)”
“Vampire Money”
“Planetary (Go!)”
“Welcome To The Black Parade”
“I’m Not Okay”
“Famous Last Words”

Throughout the set, lead singer Gerard Way attempted to charm and energize the audience with his antics such as crawling across the stage, making suggestive gestures with a microphone and practically begging the crowd to start a mosh pit.

Also of note, guitarist Ray Toro’s stage energy was a welcome return to this show after a broken foot left him relatively stationary for their last tour. He and guitarist Frank Iero anchor each side of the stage with endless whirling and headbanging throughout the show.

“Cancer” was a curious end to this set, as it is a serious ballad sung only with piano accompaniment. As is typical, the crowd responded best to singles from the popular album, Welcome To The Black Parade, but “Cancer” was lost on Milwaukee’s audience.

The disappointing crowd and the poor audio were challenges My Chemical Romance met head on and did their best to overcome. Last tour’s headlining performance at the Rave was met by a much more enthusiastic crowd, so I suspect that co-headliners Blink182 (as well as higher ticket prices) may have been a factor for the crowd present at this show. Because really, what’s not to love about a modern punk rock band with giant, confetti-filled balloons?

Buy MCR Music @ Amazon

Buy Photos @ JLHopper Photography

My Chemical Romance Official Site