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Interpol
with special guest: The Stills
Riviera Theatre
Chicago, IL
September 19, 2003

Why I'll Still Go to Chicago, Even Though I Hate the Illinois Department of Transportation
by: bill aicher

I have a rule when it comes to concerts: If I have to drive more than two hours to see a show, it had better be to see a band I want to see.

I also have a second rule: I'm from Madison, WI (in case you didn't know) and if I'm going to drive all the way into Chicago, through Friday night rush hour stop-and-go-so-much-it-takes-two-hours-to-go-five-miles traffic, it had better be to see a truly amazing show. I've been suckered in by big names too many times in the past to see shows that were at best, sub-par, and this is why toward the last minutes before departure for the Interpol / Stills show I was more than a bit hesitant.

Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Interpol. Turn on the Bright Lights is one of my favorite discs of the past few years and it has been in my car CD rotation for about the last six months straight. Then again, the only have one full-length release out ... so forgive me if I'm a bit cautious. After all, I've heard all the big songs countless times and they really don't sound like they'd put on a live show that much different from their album.

As for The Stills, they're the band I actually went to review. I'll be honest - my main reason for requesting passes for this show was to see Interpol, even though I played it off as otherwise.

But now I couldnt' have been happier to see The Stills perform. As of now, The Stills have only released one four-song EP, Rememberese, which is really only three songs since the last song is just a remix of the first. It isn't all that mind-blowing, as this Canadian group tended to sound just a bit too much like all the other bands getting mucho hype lately - The Strokes, Mooney Suzuki, and even a bit of Interpol. But then again, the first song on the EP, "Still In Love Song" did have a little something more.. Depeche Mode(?) to it.

Regardless, let's just say their EP didn't blow me away, but it intrigued me nonetheless. Their live show, on the other hand, didn't blow me away either ... but was still rather impressive. For a band who is relatively unknown to more mainstream music fans, The Stills did an absolutely wonderful job capturing the attention fo the room. As with their EP, the more dancey, poppish fare tended to succeed more than their more straightforward rock work, but it all sounded quite excellent. Up until now I've been curious as to where the hype for this foursome had been coming from (other than the label), but after seeing their tight live performance, I can't help but be excited to pick up a copy of their upcoming album, Logic Will Break Your Heart, out October 21 of this year.

As for the Interpol show... as expected, they sounded absolutely fantastic - very true to their album. Then again, they sounded quite a bit like their album, giving one a bit to question as to the point of seeing them perform live. The answer to that question, my friends, is to witness the tremendous amount of energy they put into their live performances.

Given the relative simplicity of their song constructions (sonically), it could be quite easy for the songs from Turn on the Bright Lights and their earlier EPs (yes, they played some older stuff, as well as some unreleased ones) to fall apart during a live performance. Thankfully, the band has a tremendous amount of self-confidence, and pride in their music, which led to their live performance being one of the best-sounding ones I've witnessed in quite some time.

But what I found to be the most interesting aspect of the night was the crowd. Little did I know that Interpol had, over their relatively short major-label life, grown to have such a tremendous following. Playing to a sold-out show at Chicago's Riviera Theatre, promoting an album that has relatively little radio or MTV Video support, is no small feat. Having a sold-out crowd cheer and applaud at the start of every song you play from your debut album, when its this personal of music, is simply awe-inspring.

As for Illinois... I'd rather not ever have to drive through their absolutely God-awful traffic ever again - much less pay tolls to do so. But you and I both know I will.

Oh shit, that reminds me... that R.E.M. and Sparklehorse show at the United Center is in ten hours. I'd better get going now, you know... to beat the traffic.
26-Sep-2003 9:30 AM

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