My photos from the 2016 Pitchfork Music Festival are featured on the A.V. Club website. Here are some additional pictures from Day 2, July 16. (Click here for photos from Day 1, and here for photos from Day 3.)
What a stark contrast it was on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at the Empty Bottle. On the one hand, the Australian rock band Royal Headache sounded fantastic as it ripped through one catchy song after another, including many from the fine new album, High, which comes out Friday. On the other hand, the group’s lead singer, who goes by the name Shogun, kept making self-deprecating comments, as if the concert were a disaster. “We used to be good,” he muttered at one point. Maybe it was just an act. Shogun’s vocals are a key part of what makes Royal Headache so good — I detect a bit of Robert Pollard in what he’s doing — and he spent the whole show pacing across the stage with manic energy. (Much as he did when I saw Royal Headache at the Burlington in 2012.)
This presented quite a challenge when it came to photographing Royal Headache on the Empty Bottle’s dimly lit stage, but I did what I could. It felt a bit like trying to capture a blurry, grainy image of a wild animal racing across a dark alley.
Royal Headache’s riveting show came at the end of a night filled with cool garage rock, including fun opening sets by Daylight Robbery, Storm Clouds and Sheer Mag.
Last Thursday (June 7) was my first visit to the music room that Logan Square’s Burlington bar added a while ago. It’s small room with mostly unadorned brick walls. It feels a bit like an actual garage. Perfect for some loud punk rock played by musicians in sweat-drenched T-shirts.
And that’s just what I saw — a great triple bill, including Chicago’s own Football, the ungainly named OBN III’s from Austin, Texas, and Royal Headache from Australia. As I was taking photographs, I think I nearly got kicked in the head by the guys in Football. (No offense taken.) Then the OBN III’s frontman reached out to touch my head. (I wasn’t the only audience member he stared at with alarming intensity as the band slammed out some rough and rugged riffs.) Royal Headache’s frontman worked out his nervous energy by pacing back and forth across the stage, while the bassist stood with his back to the crowd. The members of the band looked oddly disconnected from one another, but the loud, pounding songs connected.