Wednesday, April 03

04-03-2024 Both Sides Now: A CHIRP Vinyl Listening Bar

Audiotree Presents:
7:30PM Doors | 7:30PM Show

Each month, one of CHIRP Radio’s tastemaker DJs curates a selection of vinyl specially designed to make your ears happy. This month’s installment is curated by DJ Joanna BZ:

Both Sides Now: Don’t Give In to the Gloom

How does a conscious artist address current and looming crises in their work without being preachy, pedantic, pandering, or pessimistic? These artists knew how by (mostly) not finger-pointing and above-all holding themselves accountable, giving a sense of ease to the music: we’re all in this together and can then surmise — we’ll get out together.

Curtis Mayfield – Curtis (1970)
Being damned to hell never felt so enchanting, as on the opening track “Don’t Worry (If There’s a hell below we’re all gonna go)” on Curtis Mayfield’s solo debut Curtis. Lyrics, delivered with his gentle high tenor and falsetto, expressed Mayfield’s anger that percolated throughout the Civil Rights era and upbringing in Chicago’s Cabrini Green. He situates damnation alongside calls for unity, positivity, swoony love and romance, and celebration of Black pride. God bless Miss Black America. Amen.

Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair (1985)
The album title is a reference to the movie Sybill which is about a woman diagnosed with multiple personality disorder. The title character feels safe in the “big chair” of her therapist’s office where she sorts through her trauma. The band’s name itself conjures healing and catharsis. And the album opener, “Shout,” is a nod to primal scream therapy developed by Arthur Janov (and made popular by John & Yoko in 1970). Aside from being a beautifully composed, produced, and orchestrated album, it’s also a political one. Through synth-pop and guitar-rock sheen, this record acknowledges the anger and fear from living in a violent world, but through sing-along chants of “la la la la la la, la la la la la”s and lyrics like, “holding hands while the walls come tumbling down, when they do I’ll be right behind you.” Maybe we’ll be OK after all.

Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising (2019)
Weyes Blood/Natalie Mering apparently used to watch the movie Titanic a lot. This isn’t speculation, it’s written in her Bandcamp page. She also wrote that it’s “symbolic that the Titanic crashed into an iceberg and now that iceberg is melting.” Yowch. Listening to this record is kind of like being on the Titanic (the movie imagery of it anyway): a string quartet plays a beautifully haunting “Nearer My God to Thee” while the passengers scramble to save their lives, as bit by bit the ocean swallows the ship. Topics range from the chaos of a changing climate to the chaos of romance and intimacy to the chaos of modern technology. Mering paints an ethereal and gauzy world where she comes into her own and wants everyone to know, “…I hope you can smile during the apocalypse.” Maybe a tall order, but if I’m listening to this record, I will likely oblige.

Noname – Sundial (2023)
In this record, the Chicago artist, activist, performance poet, and lyrical gymnast (Noname, nee Fatima Warner) calls everyone to task, including herself. Much like her predecessor Curtis Mayfield, she herself is implicated in the “hell below.” She calls out Superbowl performers (by name) for participating in the “war machine” and then castigates her own decision to give in (“…fell in line…”) by performing at Coachella. She’s critical of American culture, which feels even more pointed when we know she’s such a strong activist herself (Noname Book Club, for example). I admittedly need a lyrics sheet and repeated listens to catch the poetic images. But it’s easy to see that Noname is fed up, and she too is right here, self-interrogating, as we ought to do too

Step into a realm where the music takes center stage and vinyl records reign supreme. Introducing Both Sides Now: A CHIRP Vinyl Listening Bar — a monthly oasis for music aficionados and introverts alike. Nestled in the cozy upstairs room of Schubas Tavern, this unique event happens every first Wednesday of the month. Our vinyl listening bar, inspired by the captivating tradition popularized in post-World War II Japan, celebrates the pure joy of listening. Embracing the ethos of listening bars around the world, we prioritize the sublime experience of vinyl, brought to life through stellar sound systems. Experience your favorite albums played front to back in full high fidelity, while enjoying drink and food offerings from Schubas Tied House. Let the DJs from CHIRP Radio 107.1FM curate the sonic journey each month as you savor the symphony. “Both Sides Now” is your sanctuary, an introvert’s dream where the focus is on the music, not loud conversations or bustling dance floors. Join us and immerse yourself in the world of vinyl, one needle drop at a time.

This show is at Schubas

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3159 N Southport Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 525-2508

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