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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.


Nature’s Over

A new video from Bird Names has surfaced. “Nature’s Over” is the first track from the 2009 release on Upset the Rhythm, Sings The Browns. The band will be spending the month of January touring Europe.


Anni Rossi Christmas EP

Well if the Moneypenny mixtape did not get you in the holiday spirit maybe the gift of a free Christmas ep from Anni Rossi (4AD) will do the trick. All you have to do is go to her website and sign up for her fan club and she will send you her Christmas song ep. Anni had an incredible, and as a thank you to everyone who has supported her this year, including big tours with Camera Obscura, Noah and the Whale, Mason Jennings, and more, she wants to offer everyone a nice little early holiday gift. Here is a sample of what you will find, "Silver Bells" (mp3). Go check it out, and have yourself a merry little Christmas.


Cardboard Sangria @ Schubas

The Schubas residency is a high honor and this month that honor goes to the local label Cardboard Sangria. Formed nine years ago, Cardboard Sangria has been dedicated to producing and promoting for nine years now. With local bands like Darling, The Singleman Affair, The Part V, and The Tiger Trio the label has built a reputation for supporting the local band, and sticking by them. The label is slowly growing and currently only releasing a few titles a year, but they clearly have figured out a formula that will take them much father in the years to come. If you need a taste of the label check out their free 2009 mixtape.

The remaining residency dates at Schubas are December 14th (TONIGHT!) with Darling and The Nothingheads, Dec. 21st with The Singleman Affair and Jeff Harms, and Dec. 28th with Rock Falls and Roommate. Stop by Schubas and support some great bands and a growing local label.


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