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Live Review: I Fight Dragons @ the Metro

Music nerds and gamers alike flocked to the Metro Saturday night, to watch fellow music nerds and gamers, I Fight Dragons. I was initially reeled in by the local sextet when I heard their holiday tune on XRT: a steady Nintendo track behind them, IFD wished listeners a merry Christmas, superhero-style. My curiosity led me to Metro, where there was no mistaking who was in the NES-inspired band: each member was sporting a superhero t-shirt; Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Captain America, The Flash, and the Green Lantern each live on in the IFD lineup.

The band was joined on stage by TVs, each playing old-school video games. Cool. Even cooler were the band members (somehow, someway) playing Nintendo controllers along with the songs. As far as the band's incorporation of NES tones and samples, I basically heard what I was expecting to; however, not being as familiar with their sound otherwise, I learned IFD is a solid, energetic power-pop band, through-and-through. They hardily delivered song after song, playing up to the crowd, and genuinely enjoying their stage-show, gimmicky it may be.

Their crowd--equally peppy--was thrilled when the band broke into "I Fight Ganon" (The Zelda Theme)"; waves of childhood nostalgia encompassed the crowd, and for a moment, it was 1986 again. They continued with tracks including "Money," and "No One Likes Superman Anymore" (both from their Cool Is Just a Number EP, released earlier this year), and they surprised me with a welcome cover of the Beatles' "And Your Bird Can Sing."

Ultimately, I found IFD's nerd-rock press to be a double-edged sword of sorts; their gamer-meets-pop-rock draw was what initially caught my eye, but after 4 or 5 songs, the shtick lost some of its appeal. Stripped of its gamer disposition, I Fight Dragons remains a solid power-pop group. They are still a relatively new band, surely continuing to finesse their identity and overall sound. For those interested in music sans camp, you might want to sit this one out, as it'd be overkill; but for those interested in combining their love for pop music and video games, congratulations, you've met your match. - Neph Basedow


Top 15 Chicago Songs of the Year: No. 15

Over the next two weeks we are going to count down our favorite Chicago tracks of 2009. We would love to get your feedback and find out what your favorites are. Feel free to leave your picks in the comments section. Number 15 is Scotland Yard Gospel Choir “And The Horse You Rode in on” from the Bloodshot records album of the same title released this past September.


Last Minute Plans: Sissy Mena Free Show

I know it is cold out there but perhaps you are looking for a reason to update your foursquare account. If you are may I suggest a free show at the Double Door that will feature four quality Chicago bands? The starts at 8:00pm and will feature Sissy Mena, California Wives, Future Ghosts, and Satellite 66. It will be a night of fun, load music, and who knows maybe a drink or two.


Concert Review: Loyal Divide at The Empty Bottle 12/10/2009

There is something in the air when it comes to Chicago band, Loyal Divide, as is evidenced by the near sub-zero temperatures that haunt their gigs. Thursday night was the 3rd time in 2009 that I have witnessed the band perform on a single-digit evening with only their most dedicated fans out to support them and their electro-rock oeuvre.

Playing at the Empty Bottle on the December 10th with Flights, Alpha Centauri, and Color Radio, Loyal Divide headlined an evening of synthesizers, epic keys, and raised voices. The size of the crowd hardly fitting the budding bands' large sounds.

'09 has been a big year for Loyal Divide. Beyond making the rounds of Chicago's garage band venues, they opened for Chromeo at The Congress Theatre, filmed a music video, began recording their first full-length album. and booked SXSW 2010. Their continued development is no surprise as there is no lack of ingenuity amongst their ranks. The Empty Bottle found them testing new material on their audience with tunes like, "Ancestor," "Originoto," and "Baladron" that venture out of the band's typically brooding sound and into slightly sunnier territory. One cannot help but give Loyal Divide kudos for continuing to push themselves to evolve past work weighed down by outside influence.

However, despite their deserved success, on Thursday night, Loyal Divide was missing a sharpness characteristic of earlier performances. The new songs played sounded fresh, but tried and true work from their 2008 EP, Labrador, skimped on the intensity that has drawn listeners in the past. The screams in "Vision Vision" weren't as painful, and the roiling beats of "Labrador" weren't as dance inspiring as one has come to expect.

Thursday's set could have stood for more of co-frontman Chris Sadek's falsetto vocals and quirky fervor, leaving cohort Adam Johnson to fiddle with the gadgets he attended to and perhaps work on smoothing transitions between songs. Where the flow of the concert was interrupted with incongruous and goofy samples of valley girls, Loyal Divide would have been better served with work on gracefully fusing one song to the next, keeping the audience in the world of their music.

But if experimenting with new material was the bent of this performance at the Empty Bottle, Loyal Divide picked the right night. Supported by a mostly familiar crowd who appreciated their work, it was the appropriate moment to test new elements of the act. Though one expects a little more than from a group with such talent, this show was no deterrent.

Check out Loyal Divide at The Felix Culpa album release party at The Metro on January 23rd at 6:30pm. – Erin Keane


Infernal Devices meet PGDM

Brooklyn’s Infernal Devices have brought their club beats to the Pretty Good Dance Moves track “Leave Me Alone”. The track again feature Bjorn Yttling and Angelina Lucero. The original track is taken from the duo’s self-titled full-length debut which has yet to surface.


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