SASAMI at Sleeping Village

January 7, 2020

SASAMI at Sleeping Village on July 20, 2019. SASAMI is one of my favorite new discoveries of this year. This show was the second time I’ve seen her perform live since her solo debut album came out in March of 2019. And being that this is the second time I’ve seen her, I’ve already written about her once, though my appreciation for her music only grows. More and more I’m struck by the emotional depth of her lyrics and also the emotional nuance in the delivery during a live performance ....

The National at Revival Food Hall in the National Building

December 17, 2019

The National at Revival Food Hall inside of the National Building on June 28, 2019. The National have been a part of the soundtrack to my life since I first heard their album Alligator in 2006. (Although it was released in 2005.) For a very superficial glimpse at how meaningful they are to me, Spotify data says that they are my top artist of this decade. This love of The National is not unique unto myself....

MoneyBall: A Benefit for Free Write Arts & Literacy

December 15, 2019

Roy Kinsey performing for Free Write Arts & Literacy's MoneyBall at Chicago Art Department on June 22, 2019. E'mon Lauren performing for Free Write Arts & Literacy's MoneyBall at Chicago Art Department on June 22, 2019. ...

Wye Oak and Julien Baker at House of Vans

December 15, 2019

Wye Oak at House of Vans on June 19, 2019. A giant event space and marketing tool for the apparel company Vans, House of Vans regularly hosts free concerts to promote their brand. These concerts are publicized as “house parties” to reinforce the idea that the brand is young, fun, cool. I went to this particular one to see Wye Oak, to support my friend who was DJing between sets, and to get acquainted with Julien Baker’s music....

Radio Shaq and Tart at The Burlington

December 14, 2019

Radio Shaq at The Burlington on June 17, 2019. Radio Shaq at The Burlington on June 17, 2019. Radio Shaq at The Burlington on June 17, 2019. Tart at The Burlington on June 17, 2019. Tart at The Burlington on June 17, 2019. ...

Little Simz at Lincoln Hall

December 12, 2019

Little Simz at Lincoln Hall on June 11, 2019. This was probably one of the best shows I saw this year. Chicago was lucky enough to be the first stop on the Little Simz GREY Area tour. There is so much radiant joy and classic hip-hop swagger in a Little Simz performance. (On the first track off of GREY Area she boasts, “I’m Jay-Z on a bad day, Shakespeare on my worst days....

Soultree EP Release at HVAC Pub

December 12, 2019

Soultree at HVAC Pub on May 30, 2019. Soultree at HVAC Pub on May 30, 2019. Soultree at HVAC Pub on May 30, 2019. ...

Protomartyr with Melkbelly at Logan Square Auditorium

December 12, 2019

Protomartyr at Logan Square Auditorium on May 16, 2019. Probably best described as post-punk, Protomartyr’s music grapples with all the anxieties that come with being a human adult in the 21st century. Touring on a re-release of their debut album, the band played a good mix of songs from their entire discography. On stage, lead singer Joe Casey looks like your sloppy drunk uncle, storing back-up beers in the pockets of his suit jacket while the rest of the band looks like typical disheveled rockers....

Lou Tides at the Empty Bottle

November 12, 2019

Lou Tides at the Empty Bottle on May 15, 2019. Originally, TEEN was supposed to play this show at the Empty Bottle but ended up having to cancel the tour. Fortunately though, Teeny from TEEN still pulled through and performed her solo material under the name Lou Tides. She played to only about fifteen people that night, but Teeny still put on one of the more mesmerizing performances I’ve seen this year....

TR/ST at Lincoln Hall

November 4, 2019

TR/ST at Lincoln Hall on May 10, 2019. TR/ST is maybe best described as hedonistic, dark synth-pop backed by industrial beats. Robert Alfons’ vocals are expansive, ranging from low tones that come deep within his throat to high nasal notes. Released in two parts, TR/ST’s latest album Destroyer takes on a slower, more introspective feel than the previous albums. While the album doesn’t necessarily deliver the same raw energy of that TR/ST has become known for, TR/ST’s live performance does not lack in the type of exuberant fervor that invites you to let go and dance....

My Brightest Diamond with Tunde Olaniran at Lincoln Hall

October 2, 2019

Tunde Olaniran at Lincoln Hall on May 9, 2019. Even before his set started, Tunde Olaniran set forth intentions for his performance with two large banners that read “Be Brave, Be Kind, Be Vulnerable”. A queer musician and activist from Flint, Michigan, Tunde’s music radiates big-hearted energy and elevates alternative narratives. Tunde Olaniran at Lincoln Hall on May 9, 2019. “We’re gonna be kind to each other tonight....

Iceage at Lincoln Hall

October 1, 2019

Iceage at Lincoln Hall on May 7, 2019. Touring on their 2018 album, Beyondless, Iceage is a punk band from Denmark. Their songs have eclectic, dark arrangements that often draw comparisons to Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. During the show, the band’s frontman exuded the swagger of edge-y but elegant rock and roll. ...

MorMor with Duendita at Sleeping Village

October 1, 2019

MorMor at Sleeping Village on April 26, 2019. Both artists are hard to categorize, but the common thread was the chill vibes permeated the evening’s performances. A low, pleasant chirping of birds accompanied Duendita’s deep and emotive vocals throughout her set. While during MorMor set, he spoke softly into the microphone to introduce his dreampop-y, shoegaze-y guitar lines, and sweet melodies tinged with melancholy. MorMor’s setlist: Whatever Comes to Mind...

SuperKnova and Bethany Thomas at Comfort Station

June 23, 2019

SuperKnova at Comfort Station on April 25, 2019. SuperKnova is a Chicago-based transgender artist who creates Queer Pop, a guitar-based sound that incorporates electronic drums, driving synths, and virtuosic solos. They write about identity, sex, queerness and the struggle of being your authentic self. Bethany Thomas at Comfort Station on April 25, 2019. Bethany Thomas is a Chicago based singer and actor, who’s been seen at Second City, Chicago Shakespeare, the Goodman, the Lyric, Court Theater, The Paper Machete, The Hideout, The Fly Honey Show, and Steppenwolf’s 1700 Stage....

SASAMI with Sen Morimoto at Schubas Tavern

June 16, 2019

SASAMI at Schubas Tavern on April 23, 2019. Formerly a keyboard player for the band Cherry Glazerr, Sasami Ashworth released a debut solo album this past March. Her music is shoegaze-y and hypnotic, with vocals reminiscent of Trish Keenan of Broadcast. Sasami has a pretty quirky personality, and is comfortable with it. Honestly, she’s a little bit of a dick, but mostly only if you’re a white dude....

Aldous Harding at the Empty Bottle

May 21, 2019

Aldous Harding at the Empty Bottle on April 14, 2019. Aldous Harding is a curious bird. During her performance, she stared into the audience with wide unblinking eyes. Almost smiling but not quite, Harding was equally as intriguing as she was confusing. Awkward and tense, her performance did nothing to shed light on her cryptic lyricism and what goes on inside of her head. Setlist: Designer Zoo Eyes...

Mitski with Jay Som at The Sylvee

May 15, 2019

Mitski at The Sylvee on April 3, 2019. Mitski’s Be the Cowboy Spring Tour, in which Jay Som provided opening support, did not stop in Chicago. So, yes. I did drive to Madison, WI in the middle of the work week just to see her on this tour. And yes, more than a month later, I’m still reeling. It’s also been a long time since I’ve traveled outside of the city with the purpose of catching a band play, and it made me nostalgic for the period of my life in Florida when I would take road trips with friends to see shows....

Haley Heynderickx at the Hungry Brain

May 8, 2019

Tenderness is the first word that comes to mind when I think of the music of Haley Heynderickx. With delicate melodies and an intricate finger picking style, Haley falls in the tradition of folk singer-songwriters. Her show at the Hungry Brain was an intimate solo set, just her and her guitar. Soft-spoken and unassuming, listening to Haley perform her music is like having a conversation with a dear old friend. Haley Heynderickx at the Hungry Brain on March 30, 2019 This one felt difficult to reflect on and write about....

Teen with Akenya at the Hideout

April 27, 2019

TEEN at the Hideout on March 27, 2019. If you didn’t already know, I love the band TEEN. The core of TEEN is comprised of the Lieberson sisters – Teeny, Lizzie, and Katherine. The first time I saw them perform live, they opened for the band Phantogram at the Riviera Theatre in 2014. I left the show feeling more excited about TEEN than I felt about the headlining band....

La Luz at Sleeping Village

April 11, 2019

La Luz at Sleeping Village on March 22, 2019. Badasses. La Luz is the epitome of a fun-loving, badass rock ‘n’ roll band. Playing music influenced by 60s psychedelic surf rock with perfect four-part girl group harmonies, each member of the band is extremely skilled on their respective instruments. Collectively they’ve honed an undeniably disarming stage presence, taking short little breaks for stage banter that make you feel like you’re a friend of the band sitting in on a practice session....

Molly Nilsson at the Empty Bottle

April 8, 2019

Molly Nilsson at the Empty Bottle on March 20, 2019 Molly Nilsson knows that things these days are pretty bleak. Her synth-pop songs deal with the anxiety of existing in the world today. At the same time, Molly’s lyrics also embrace hope, desire, and love. For me, her songs evoke a sense of angsty 80’s heartbreak. It is music that is fully aware of longing and loneliness, of all encompassing-sadness, of the impossibility that things will get better....

Dont Be Scurred X The Backyard Series

March 31, 2019

Get yourself a couple of hype people like Ano Banks and Zoe Nyman. Something that’s been on my mind constantly, especially in the last couple years, is the idea of community and the ways in which we lift each other up. Zoe, Ano, and the Backyard Series are doing some lovely things to provide space for artists, writers, and musicians to share their work and to be heard. From February 22, 2019 to March 2, 2019, the Hairpin Arts Center in Logan Square hosted “Don’t Be Scurred: Pathways to Liberation”, an exhibition of Afro-futurist exploration....

The Suffers at Lincoln Hall

March 26, 2019

Do you want a sandwich? The ethos of The Suffers is summed up in this question. While fundamentally this is a question of satiating a physical hunger, The Suffers are a band that asks this question knowing it is a question of a deeper kind of nourishment and care. In their live performances, the band exudes this energy of love and consideration that radiates out to the audience. I was lucky enough to be at their show at Lincoln Hall on February 16, 2019 with a few people who I love dearly....

Boy Harsher at the Empty Bottle

March 25, 2019

Boy Harsher at the Empty Bottle on February 10, 2019. Boy Harsher knows how to set a mood. The darkwave synth duo has a knack for immersing listeners in a cryptic world that evokes a complex mix of emotions and indulges in escapism. A minimalist set-up, Jae Matthews provides lyrics and vocals while Gus Muller creates spellbinding rhythms and sounds. On the second night of their sold out engagement at the Empty Bottle, the anticipation for their set was palpable as a fog machine covered the stage in a thick haze tinted by blue and red led stage lights....

Anika at the Empty Bottle

March 20, 2019

On January 22, 2019, I saw the British-German musician Anika perform at the Empty Bottle. Under the moniker Anika, Annika Henderson hasn’t produced any new music since 2010, and yet she can still fill a room in the middle of a Chicago winter on a cold and damp Tuesday night. Anika’s self-titled album from 2010 is comprised mostly of cover songs. Covering a song is a precarious thing. Unless you can breathe new life into a song, it’s cover is often superfluous at best, or intolerable to listen to at worst....

Photos From the Philippines

February 13, 2019

I couldn’t quite figure out how I wanted to share some of my favorite photos that I took while I was in the Philippines, and I’m also trying to figure out how to write a hugo shortcode so that I can include responsive slideshows within a post. So for now, here is a separate post with some of the images from my trip that I love the most. My cousin and her daughters at the front of a bangka boat....

Origins (A Visit to the Philippines)

February 13, 2019

View from the rooftop of Cortess Printing, Davao City, Philippines. The pink building on the right is the high school my mom attended. In December 2018, I spent the first two weeks of the month in my mom’s hometown, Davao City, Philippines. It’s taken me a long to write about it because I’ve been having trouble putting all of my thoughts and feelings down into words. Since I returned stateside, friends have asked me about the trip and it’s been difficult to answer with all the complexity of emotions attached to it....

Some Notes on Building a Website

January 30, 2019

Building a website is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time. Increasingly, a personal website seems like a useful thing to have, especially if you do things in creative spaces. I’ve had this domain name for a couple of years now, but didn’t do anything with it. Part of the reason for dragging my feet in developing a website is that I wasn’t really sure what I wanted it to be or what I wanted out of it....

Hi. I'm Nicole.

January 29, 2019

I also go by Nikki. Currently based in Chicago, I dabble in music and art. The purpose of this website is to thoughtfully document the things I make, do, see, and hear. This website’s domain name comes from the combination of the acryonym for “No Big Deal” and the initials of my name “N. T. G.” As is, the world we live in is very stressful and anxiety-inducing, but as someone who easily falls into their own head, and often mulls over all of the “what if’s” on both a micro and macro level, I’m particularly predisposed to worry....