Tag Archives: blackout

HoZac Blackout 2013 Recap: Looking for the Magic


Games (Brooklyn, NY), HoZac Blackout 2013 | Empty Bottle, Chicago

HoZac Records, the untamed Windy City label, dipped under the radar yet again to pull together both new and legendary acts for this year’s four-day blowout at the Empty Bottle in Chicago (the one exception was perhaps power popmeister Dwight Twilley, whose songs “I’m on Fire” and “Girls” cracked the Top 20 in 1975 and 1984). I managed to catch 18 of the 19 bands (sorry, Population!) and was delighted by the following (in chronological order):

  • Winter Bear (Milwaukee, WI): Refreshing jangly pop featuring Erin Dorbin (formerly of the Cave Weddings). Limited-edition cassettes are currently available on Etsy; debut HoZac 7″ is out in June.
  • Buck Biloxi & the Fucks (New Orleans, LA): Primitive punk à la early Misfits (or the Spits)
  • Unnatural Axe (Boston, MA): No doubt riled up about the alleged Christian group that was keen to shut down their performance (see the Huffington Post report), this Killed By Death outfit cranked out classics like “The Creeper,” “3 Chord Rock,” and “Summertime.” At one point, singer/guitarist Richie was so caught up shredding his sunburst Les Paul Gibson that he took a nasty backwards tumble off the stage. We feared the worst, but he bounded back on stage after a few minutes to continue playing, but not before he threw his guitar in my direction. Its headstock struck my lens, which in turn smashed part of my camera into my face (my brow bone still hurts and is swollen more than a week later!), but that was nothing compared to the blood oozing down Richie’s face. They polished off their set with the Plasmatics’ “Butcher Baby.”
  • Wizzard Sleeve (Mobile, AL) with Quintron on drums: Sinister electropunk
  • The Sueves (Chicago, IL): The only garage punk band to play the fest!
  • Games (Brooklyn, NY): Catchy power pop featuring Jeremy Thompson (ex-Busy Signals, Carbonas)
  • Pezband (Oak Park, IL): Technically proficient power popthey were fun even though they didn’t do “Baby It’s Cold Outside”
  • Dwight Twilley (Tulsa, OK): Master showman in a white suit; “Looking for the Magic” (originally performed with Tom Petty and the late Phil Seymour) was the encore

Incidentally, I somehow had energy for a Saturday afternoon show (Jook, Fake Surfers, Mac Blackout Band) at the Mutiny, and then another (The Beets, Wrong Words, Pink Films) at the Night Light in Oakland after I returned to the Bay Area, which brought my final band total to 22 that week. I’ll admit that capturing that many bands while getting smacked in the face by a guitar and being drenched in PBR and assorted bodily fluids requires a special blend of endurance and masochism, but there was a lot of magic to be had. Here are some of my favorite songs I heard during the course of those seven days (press the “play” arrow below if you’d like to start the soundtrack for this photo essay), followed by a smattering of snaps from the Blackout. Thanks, HoZac!

hozac blackout 2013

The 2013 line-up (May 1619)

the sleaze

The Sleaze (Minneapolis, MN)

negative scanner

Negative Scanner (Chicago, IL)

mike rep & tommy jay

Tommy Jay & Mike Rep (Columbus, OH)

mike rep-tommy jay-todd

Mike Rep, Tommy Jay & HoZac’s Todd Novak

dustin mertz and tommyjay

Tommy Jay, proud owner of Dustin Mertz’s Iggy Pop piece

winter bear

Winter Bear (Milwaukee, WI)

winter bear portrait

Erin Dorbin of Winter Bear with limited-edition cassettes

buck biloxi & the fucks

Buck Biloxi & the Fucks (New Orleans, LA)

buck biloxi & the fucks portrait

Buck Biloxi & the Fucks (New Orleans, LA)


Make-Overs (Pretoria, South Africa)


Make-Overs (Pretoria, South Africa)

make-overs portrait

Make-Overs (Pretoria, South Africa)

eat skull

Eat Skull (Portland, OR)


Tyvek (Detroit, MI)

tyvek portrait

Tyvek (Detroit, MI)

unnatural axe1

Unnatural Axe (Boston, MA), pre-tumble

unnatural axe2

Unnatural Axe (Boston, MA), post-tumble

unnatural axe3

Unnatural Axe (Boston, MA)

unnatural axe portrait

Unnatural Axe (Boston, MA)


Verma (Chicago, IL)


Verma (Chicago, IL)

verma portrait

Verma (Chicago, IL)

fnu ronnies

FNU Ronnies

cop city/chill pillars

Cop City/Chill Pillars (Orlando, FL)

cop city/chill pillars portrait

Cop City/Chill Pillars (Orlando, FL)

wizzard sleeve1

Wizzard Sleeve (Mobile, AL) with Quintron

wizzard sleeve2

Wizzard Sleeve (Mobile, AL)

wizzard sleeve portrait

Wizzard Sleeve (Mobile, AL) with Quintron


Chrome (San Francisco)

helios creed meets wizzard sleeve

Wizzard Sleeve meets Chrome’s Helios Creed

the sueves

The Sueves (Chicago, IL)

the sueves portrait

The Sueves (Chicago, IL)


Games (Brooklyn, NY)


Games (Brooklyn, NY)

games portrait

Games (Brooklyn, NY)


Pezband (Oak Park, IL)


Pezband (Oak Park, IL)

pezband portrait

Pezband (Oak Park, IL)

dwight twilley1

Dwight Twilley (Tulsa, OK)

dwight twilley2

Dwight Twilley (Tulsa, OK)

dwight twilley3

Dwight Twilley (Tulsa, OK)

dwight twilley4

Dwight Twilley (Tulsa, OK)

dwight twilley with fans

Dwight Twilley fans passing the dust


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Filed under music, photography, wish you were hear

HoZac Blackout 2012: Photo Recap

human eye

Human Eye | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 500

Rather than try to describe the ear-splitting glory that was the 2012 HoZac Blackout, here’s a smattering of the thousand-plus photos I took last month (how time flies—yikes!). For a more in-depth look, check out the 100-pic gallery here. You can also view provocative band portraits from that weekend in my previous blog post. I shot video (of questionable quality) for most of the bands, too. If any are halfway decent, I’ll (hopefully!) post them sometime in the next six months.


Cemetery | Canon 5D, 17mm, .3 sec, f6.3, ISO 500

mentally ill

Mentally Ill | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/5 sec, f8, ISO 500

screaming yellow zonkers

Screaming Yellow Zonkers | Canon 5D, 17mm, .3 sec, f8, ISO 640


Cozy | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 800


Plateaus | Canon 5D, 17mm, .3 sec, f8, ISO 800


Video | Canon 5D, 17mm, .4 sec, f8, ISO 800

davila 666

Davila 666 | Canon 5D, 40mm, 1/6 sec, f6.3, ISO 800

Video smackdown

Video smackdown | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/5 sec, f6.3, ISO 800

white mystery

White Mystery | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/5 sec, f6.3, ISO 800


The Barreracudas | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/6 sec, f8, ISO 1000


Ketamines | Canon 5D, 28mm, 1/6 sec, f8, ISO 1000

pleasure leftists

Pleasure Leftists | Canon 5D, 29mm, 1/5 sec, f8, ISO 1000


Teledrome | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/6 sec, f8, ISO 800

fungi girls

Fungi Girls | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/6 sec, f6.3, ISO 800


Homostupids | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/5 sec, f6.3, ISO 800

crowd goes crazy during homostupids

Crowd goes crazy for Homostupids | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/5 sec, f6.3, ISO 800

gentleman jesse

Gentleman Jesse & His Men | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/6 sec, f8, ISO 800

redd kross

Redd Kross | Canon 5D, 38mm, 1/5 sec, f8, ISO 1000; 17mm, .3 sec, f8, ISO 1000

redd kross

Redd Kross | Canon 5D, 17mm, .4 sec, f8, ISO 1000

redd kross

Redd Kross | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/6 sec, f8, ISO 1000


Medication | Canon 5D, 23mm, 1/4 sec, f6.3, ISO 800

bare mutants

Bare Mutants | Canon 5D, 33mm, 1/25 sec, f4, ISO 1600

estrogen highs

Estrogen Highs | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 1000

human eye

Human Eye | Canon 5D, 40mm, 1/5 sec, f8, ISO 800

roky erickson

Roky Erickson | Canon 5D, 40mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 800

roky erickson

Roky Erickson | Olympus PEN EP2, 25mm, 1/60 sec, f1.4, ISO 1250

todd + timmy vulgar

Todd + Timmy Vulgar | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/10 sec, f8, ISO 500


Filed under music, photography

The Many Faces of HoZac Records: Blackout 2012 edition

gentleman jesse and his men

Gentleman Jesse & His Men (Atlanta, GA) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/13 sec, f8, ISO 500

The mere thought of sifting through the thousand-plus underexposed / overexposed / blurry / out-of-focus shots I snapped at the HoZac Blackout two weekends ago was so overwhelming that I decided to ease myself into the abyss with the band portraits I took that weekend. Unfortunately, due to varying degrees of senility, tardiness, hunger, and/or exhaustion, I failed to capture all the bands that played. (Steven/Redd Kross, if you’re reading this, sorry I had to bail! Will you take a raincheck?)

In any case, here are the portraits I managed to wrangle over the course of those four days, starting with the opening-night art show and concluding with the legendary Roky Erickson (a wholly unexpected development, I might add). Incidentally, I displayed a bunch of prints at the art show but forgot to take a self-portrait that night. I also forgot about taking portraits by the time Cemetery and Mentally Ill played. I suppose if this mental lapse had to happen anywhere, what better place than at the Blackout.

In the next few weeks I’ll be posting photos of the actual performances as well as a revealing interview with the latest teen-pop sensation out of Minneapolis, Cozy. Stay tuned!

marieke mcclendon

Marieke McClendon, artist | Canon 5D, 40mm, 1/320 sec, f4, ISO 200

luke chappelle

Luke Chappelle, artist | Canon 5D, 40mm, 1/320 sec, f8, ISO 200

darius hurley

Darius Hurley, artist/Criminal IQ Records mastermind | Canon 5D, 40mm, 1/320 sec, f8, ISO 200

colin smith

Colin Smith, photographer | Canon 5D, 40mm, 1/320 sec, f8, ISO 200

christopher ilth

Christopher Ilth, artist | Canon 5D, 40mm, 1/40 sec, f4, ISO 1250

joey potts

Joey Potts, artist | Canon 5D, 40mm, 1/40 sec, f4, ISO 1250

tiger lily photo exhibit

Tiger Lily photo exhibit | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/50 sec, f4, ISO 1250

tiger lily photo exhibit

Tiger Lily photo exhibit | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/50 sec, f4, ISO 1250

hozac trifecta

HoZac trifecta (Canderson, Todd, Brett) | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/50 sec, f4, ISO 400


Cozy (Minneapolis, MN) | Canon 5D, 17mm, 1/13 sec, f8, ISO 640


The Plateaus (San Diego, CA) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/8 sec, f8, ISO 640


Video (Denton, TX) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/8 sec, f8, ISO 500

spider fever

Spider Fever (San Diego, CA) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/5 sec, f8, ISO 400

davila 666

Davila 666 (Puerto Rico) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 640

white mystery

White Mystery (Chicago, IL) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/13 sec, f6.3, ISO 400


The Barreracudas (Atlanta, GA) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/13 sec, f8, ISO 800


The Ketamines (Alberta, Canada) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/6 sec, f8, ISO 500

pleasure leftists

Pleasure Leftists (Cleveland, OH) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/8 sec, f6.3, ISO 800


Teledrome (Calgary, Canada) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/8 sec, f8, ISO 500

fungi girls

Fungi Girls (Cleburne, TX) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/6 sec, f6.3, ISO 500

gentleman jesse and his men

Gentleman Jesse & His Men (Atlanta, GA) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/13 sec, f8, ISO 500


Medication (New Milford, CT)  | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/4 sec, f6.3, ISO 640

bare mutants

Bare Mutants (Chicago, IL) | Canon 5D, 15mm, .3 sec, f8, ISO 800

estrogen highs

Estrogen Highs (New Haven, CT) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 800

human eye

Human Eye (Detroit, MI) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 500

roky erickson's band 2012

Roky Erickson’s band (Austin, TX) | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 500

roky erickson meets human eye

Roky Erickson meets Human Eye | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 500


Filed under music, photography

Let’s Get Zooed Out

Sonny Vincent & the Bad Reactions | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 500

The Testors, featuring Sonny Vincent, first blitzed my brain with the 2003 Swami Records release Testors: Complete Recordings 1976–79. I was instantly hooked on “You Don’t Break My Heart,” “Let’s Get Zooed Out,” “Sick on Yesterday,” “Bad Attitude,” and their other catchy, raw punk gems. A year later, Sonny performed at the Horizontal Action Blackout in Chicago with members of Rocket from the Crypt as his backing band. Unfortunately, I missed that show as well as several other national appearances throughout the years, including the 2011 Atlanta Mess-Around.

When I recently learned that Sonny would be playing in Chicago with the Bad Reactions a week after this year’s installment of the HoZac Blackout (May 17–20), I resigned myself to the fact that I’d never see him live. But fate threw me a bone in the guise of a friend’s baby shower in San Diego that turned out to be pretty miraculous.

Certainly, it was wonderful hanging out with my oldest friend and eating my weight in tacos and decadent chocolate cake. But Sonny and the Bad Reactions also played at the Soda Bar that weekend. In addition, my first nephew emerged a week early, about an hour after the final chord of “Phantom” rang out and a mere four miles away from the venue.

It’s funny to think that I’ll forever remember April 28, 2012, as my nephew’s first birthday, my best friend’s baby shower, and the night I shot Sonny Vincent with my fisheye lens. Crazy.

Anyway, Sonny and the Bad Reactions (Josh of Ex-Humans/Carbonas, Jon of Beat Beat Beat, and Luis of Sorrows) tore into a slew of Testors classics and a couple of new numbers. Sonny’s voice hasn’t changed a bit and the songs were spot on—I was totally blown away. I also liked the opening band, the Widows, and their fist-pumping garage punk that reminded me of Radio Birdman.

Here are a couple of shots from the show. You can see more here, or catch them on their current tour, which ends May 28 at the Burlington in Chicago. (Speaking of the Blackout, I’ll be showing some photography at the art show/opening party on May 17 at the Volcano Room. Stop by and say hi! And in case I don’t get a chance to squeal about the upcoming Blackout, Redd Kross, or Roky Erickson, you can look back on last year’s misadventures here.)

Sonny Vincent & the Bad Reactions | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 500

Sonny Vincent & the Bad Reactions | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/2 sec, f8, ISO 500

Sonny Vincent & the Bad Reactions | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/2 sec, f8, ISO 500

Sonny Vincent & the Bad Reactions | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/2 sec, f8, ISO 500

Sonny Vincent & the Bad Reactions | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/2 sec, f8, ISO 500

Sonny Vincent & the Bad Reactions | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/5 sec, f8, ISO 800

The Widows | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/4 sec, f8, ISO 500

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Filed under music, photography

Gettin’ Stuffed in Chicago Redux

Tortuga torta, Cafe con Leche | Canon 5D, 80mm, 1/100, f4, ISO 800

In tribute to the Nervous Eaters’ song “Get Stuffed” (see video below), I resolved to eat as much as I could while in Chicago for the HoZac Blackout music festival over Memorial Day weekend. No, the song isn’t about stuffing oneself in a gastronomical sense, but doing so is certainly the preferred alternative.

Unfortunately, I forgot I have trouble reaching my stomach’s maximum capacity whenever I travel. I can’t recall one single trip in which I had to unbutton my pants, waddle out of a restaurant clutching my belly in pain, or fall into a deep stupor shortly after a meal. Not even in Italy, where pizza comes in one size (12″?) and is meant to be consumed by one person—before continuing with the rest of the meal, which likely includes pasta, meat/seafood, salad, and dessert. And not even at Fresc Co in Seville, Spain, a branch of the all-you-can-eat buffet chain that seemed to be one of the few Spanish eateries that offers fresh vegetables and fruits that aren’t fried, deep-fried, or drowned in oil.

Oh wait! One time in NYC, after the Radio Heartbeat Power Pop Fest, I had two lunches two hours apart—one vegan lunch special at Sacred Chow, followed by $16 worth of sushi rolls and sashimi at Noodle Cafe Zen, one of those half-price sushi joints on St. Mark’s Place. I really didn’t need that second meal, but the goading and gusto of my visiting Italian friends created a moment of unexpected gluttony that I apparently remember with fondness.

Other than that, I seem to have a mental and physical block against gorging in destinations other than my home turf, which is not a bad thing. The last things I need are gastrointestinal discomfort and ill-fitting pants getting in the way of my rabid sightseeing or, in this case, hours of standing in front of deafening speakers with no indoor plumbing in sight.

So I failed my mission to stuff my face to the fullest this weekend (see rundown below), but did manage to eat well regardless. Thank you, Chicago! May I eat your deliciousness again soon!


[NOT PICTURED] 1:00pm: San Francisco Soup Company at SFOLarge Southwestern corn chowder in sourdough bread bowl. I ate all the soup (highly recommended if you’re looking for relatively cheap but filling airport food) and saved the dense, chewy bread bowl for the flight. Good thing, toonot only was our plane late, we sat on the tarmac for at least an hour before taking off.

[NOT PICTURED] 11:30am: Big Star4 fried tilapia tacos topped with a smoky, addictive chipotle mayo, 1 spicy ejote (green beans) taco. I meant to eat only one fish taco but it was too good to stop at one. As for the green bean taco, the texture of a green bean just doesn’t work well.


11:30am: Yuca Cafe—2 poached eggs on challah bread with home fries (sausages went to M), a dish called “Rocky Mountains” on the menu. I ordinarily associate this food term with bull testicles, but if it means I don’t have to agonize over ordering something sweet or savory, I’m all for it. By transferring the eggs onto the potatoes and smothering the challah (flavored with cinnamon and vanilla and lightly fried) with pure maple syrup, I essentially had two breakfasts. OMG, can you hear me drooling all over again?

"Rocky Mountains," Yuca Cafe | Canon 5D, 105mm, 1/40, f4, ISO 1250

[NOT PICTURED] 1:00pm: Bake—1 chocolate chip banana cookie, 1 pretzel chocolate chip cookie. They were exquisite but too melty to be photographed.

[NOT PICTURED] 11:30pm: El Cid3 grilled fish tacos, rice, beans, and 1,000 chips. The tacos here were a letdown after Big Star.

[NOT PICTURED] 12:15am: Longman & Eagle—Small plate of decadent beef fat fries that killed my craving for any more food. And then my moist pineapple upside-down cake with boozy cherries and toasted coconut arrived. It was flavorful but I was glad everyone wanted a bite.


12:00pm: Cafe Con Leche (Wicker Park)—Baskets of freshly made chips and salsa; huevos montados (poached eggs over thick sopes, or corn husk shells) with two kinds of salsa and black beans. It was satisfying but not mind-blowing. Perhaps I should’ve gotten a tostonillo instead, a sandwich that substitutes bread with fried plantains.

Chips & salsa, Cafe Con Leche | Canon 5D, 105mm, 1/50, f4, ISO 640

Huevos montados, Cafe Con Leche | Canon 5D, 105mm, 1/100, f4, ISO 800

(This was the day we checked into Longman & Eagle. Check out their see-through shower; the frosted-glass toilet is right next to it.)

Room, Longman & Eagle | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/50, f4, ISO 1000

7:00pm: New Wave Coffee—Vegan chocolate cupcake, simple, moist, delectable. I can’t believe I didn’t get more over the weekend.

Vegan chocolate cupcake, New Wave Coffee | Canon 5D, 105mm, 1/80, f5.6, ISO 100

1:55am: Longman & Eagle—Small bowl of mixed nuts.

After hours at Longman & Eagle | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/25, f4, ISO 1250


1:00pm: Longman & Eagle—”Market scramble of roasted Nichols Farm peppers, Werp Farms arugula, foraged mushrooms, and housemade fromage blanc” served over a croissant with home fries. Tasty! Since I didn’t have dinner the night before and knew that I’d probably skip dinner again, I also ordered Bananas Foster french toast with banana pudding, bourbon caramel sauce, and goat cheese semifreddo. I liked it, but the french toast could’ve been soaked longer for a more custardy texture.

Scramble over croissant, Longman & Eagle | Canon 5D, 70mm, 1/40, f4, ISO 1250

Bananas Foster french toast, Longman & Eagle | Canon 5D, 82mm, 1/40, f4, ISO 1250

12:00am: Rockin’ Horse—Veggie burger and too salty cajun fries. Thanks to Jason Morgan (of East Bay Grease, who have a single titled “Just Head”) for buying.

Burgers & fries, Rockin' Horse | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/8, f6.3, ISO 800


[NOT PICTURED] 3:00pm: Zen Noodles & Sushi (delivery)—Cambodian fried rice. I love plain ol’ Chinese fried rice, but adding basil pushes it to another taste dimension.

8:00pm: Boiler Room—Hummus with the best grilled flat bread ever (dense, chewy, almost like focaccia); too-tangy salad with pieces of grilled focaccia. It also has Jameson soft-serve ice cream, which 1 out of 4 people in our party liked. The bathrooms are like mini CTA trains!

Hummus and grilled flat bread, Boiler Room | Canon 60D, 50mm, 1/6, f1.8, ISO 1600


1:00pm: Handlebar—Vegan biscuits with seitan sausage gravy and poached eggs. It was really toothsome but almost had too much gravy. M and I split  the hot, gooey fried pies: one filled with PB&J and the other with blueberries. They reminded me of being at a county fair.

Vegan biscuits with seitan sausage gravy and poached eggs, Handlebar | Canon 5D, 105mm, 1/50, f4, ISO 800

Fried pies and ice cream, Handlebar | Canon 5D, 93mm, 1/50, f4, ISO 800


Filed under food, photography, travel

HoZac Blackout: Part 2

Nones | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/8, f8, ISO 800

Continued from Part 1.

Since dinner the night before consisted of a small bowl of mixed nuts (thanks, Jim!) at 2am, I kicked off Blackout day 2 with a starchy double breakfast at Longman & Eagle and a vegan chocolate cupcake from New Wave Coffee. (This, and all the meals I had over Memorial Day weekend, is the subject of another post.) Amazingly, my usual food coma never set in and I was fully awake for all the festivities. From what I remember:

1. The Nones (pronounced “nuns”) took the stage at around 4pm—saxy, shambolic fun.

2. Outer Minds, who made one of my Top 7 singles of 2010, belted out haunting harmonies reminiscent of the Mamas and the Papas. C and I shot some footage that may or may not appear in their upcoming video.

3. Although they didn’t play right after each other, Radar Eyes, People’s Temple, and Idle Times generated a blur of distortion and head-banging. 

4. Heavy Times were way punker than their HoZac single led me to believe they are. It was not an unpleasant surprise, though I was baffled that they’d play “Ice Age” but not “No Plans,” the A side of the same single.

5. Reading Rainbow, now a three piece, delivered a sweet, engaging set. I had a hard time shooting them so you’ll have to deal with a portrait of them instead of a live shot.

6. Puffy Areolas assembled themselves on the floor and, assisted by Christmas Woods (of ET Habit and Mickey), whipped up a sonic maelstrom that sucked in everyone within earshot. Christmas, in his final performance of the weekend, literally fired up his saxophone at one point, while my friend Alejandro (the one who took the bus to Chicago from San Francisco), Ross of the Brides, and at least a dozen other audience members groped and fondled the singer’s guitar.

7. Back on stage, Timmy’s Organism delivered cosmic convulsions of the highest order yet managed to keep it clean (i.e., no squid parts or neon paint).

8. Close to midnight, hunger finally started worming its way into my every thought. Somehow I made it through a few Tutu & the Pirates‘ songs (these self-proclaimed toilet punkers were so good C had to drag me away) before hightailing it to the Rocking Horse a few doors down for burgers, fries, and a surly waitress. We inhaled our food but missed all but two songs of Nobunny‘s set. Chicago apparently loves Nobunny—so much so that a good portion of the crowd, intoxicated by the warm and fuzzies, left in a daze and forgot to come back for the Nervous Eaters, who hit the stage at around 2am. Partly expecting them to play the ’80s versions of their classics, I was thrilled that they stuck to the no-nonsense punk sound that they launched their career with. Songs like “You Smell Like Fish,” “I’m a Degenerate,” “Loretta,” and “Just Head” incited a near-riot on the floor. I was excited to see “Get Stuffed” on the playlist…and thoroughly disappointed that they skipped it when their set got cut short. Gah!

Here are some photos to remember Blackout 2011 by. For a more expansive look, click here. I also put up separate galleries for Puffy Areolas, Timmy’s Organism, and Tutu & the Pirates because, well, I just couldn’t bear to kill these babies anymore.

Welcome back, Blackout! Hope to see you again next year!

Outer Minds | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/20, f8, ISO 800

Radar Eyes | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/30, f8, ISO 800

Heavy Times | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/25, f8, ISO 800

People's Temple | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/25, f8, ISO 800

Reading Rainbow | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/8, f8, ISO 800

Idle Times | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/5, f8, ISO 800

Puffy Areolas | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/5, f8, ISO 800

Christmas Woods and his flaming sax | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/15, f8, ISO 800

Timmy's Organism | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/8, f8, ISO 800

Tutu & the Pirates | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/10, f8, ISO 800

Nobunny | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/10, f8, ISO 800

Nervous Eaters | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/10, f8, ISO 800


Filed under music, photography

HoZac Blackout: Part 1

Squish and "Clive Jones" perform "Rabies Is a Killer" | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/6, f7.1, ISO 400

When I first set foot in the crumbling warehouse-like space that the folks from the Empty Bottle would transform into the Velvet Perineum, site of this year’s Blackout, my brain reeled back to all the punk shows in squats I attended in my wide-eyed youth. Back then, I had no fear of scabies, rabies, hepatitis, arthritis, deafness, sciatica; I was resilient and invincible, eager to make up for all the live shows I was deprived of in my teens. But with age comes a craving—nay, need—for creature comforts, and I’ll admit the Velvet Perineum’s indoor portapotties, concrete floors scarred with foot-deep crevices, generators, and lack of seating filled me with some dread.

Yes, I am a wuss. I am not my friend Alejandro, who arrived in Chicago from San Francisco via a harrowing two-day bus ride and walked 3.5 miles each way (he was on a really tight budget) to his room in a hostel by the lake and still managed to spend as much time at the front of the stage as I did.

Luckily, the only real bummer (if it can even be called that) was the four-foot-high stage–great for watching bands but lousy for taking photos. The sound was great, the crowd was friendly, and the space was…well…spacious. I daresay this two-day festival was physically more comfortable than the last two Blackouts at the Empty Bottle, although it was definitely weird leaving the venue without a hairful of beer, the sweat of strangers on my clothes, and a crop of colorful contusions.

As for the music, I appreciated that the line-up was composed mostly of bands on HoZac’s roster. I only wish the Flips and Myelin Sheaths could’ve made it.

Some highlights from Night 1 (in order of appearance):

1. Christmas Woods (of Mickey and ET Habit), dressed as Clive Jones of Agony Bag, performing “Rabies Is a Killer” with Squish

2. Mickey’s trashy, glammy, glittery swagger

3. The Happy Thoughts’ charming lo-fi pop gems, even though they didn’t play “Happy Thoughts” (note that they’re no longer “Eric and”)

4. TV Ghost’s electric mayhem

5. K-Holes skronky sax

6. The Brides’ goofy banter in between blasts of rock’n’roll adrenaline

7. The Spits’ Ronald Reagan masks and trademark flaming drums (but right before they go on, Christmas Woods scuttles like Spiderman on the skylight above the stage)

Here’s a smattering of images from the evening’s offerings. For a more expansive look, click here.

Mickey | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/6, f6.3, ISO 400

The Happy Thoughts | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/5, f6.3, ISO 500

TV Ghost | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/4, f8, ISO 800

K-Holes | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/4, f8, ISO 800

The Brides | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/6, f8, ISO 800

The Spits | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/6, f8, ISO 800

(Despite the drunken frenzy that erupted at the front of the stage during the last two bands, the portapotties were in shockingly good shape at the end of the evening—no vomit, no wayward turds, no upended stalls. I doubt a real bathroom would’ve fared so well.)

Portapotties | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/30, f4, ISO 1250

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