Show Type – JBTV Taping
Main Attraction – Mother Mother
“If you start out depressed, everything’s a pleasant surprise”
-Lloyd Dobler (Say Anything)
I’ll be honest, this was a show that I went to mainly because I had a hole in my “see live music once a week” schedule that this filled in nicely. Before the show I loaded them up on Spotify and was very pleasantly surprised. Songs like Hay Loft, Bit By Bit and Happy have made it into my regular Spotify rotation. On the plus side, since I wasn’t a seasoned fan, the emphasis of soon to be released material didn’t detract from my enjoyment—they’re a great band! On interesting thing for this show (Note: this is not a knock) was that despite having attended a lot of tapings at JBTV, this was the first one that seemed like a TV show as the band stopped several times to get things right. At a real concert, this would be a no-no, but in this environment it adds to the intimacy because the band can talk to the audience without any amplification—it almost feels likes friend jamming in your living room. One other thing of note for this show was it was the first time I had seen a formal “meet-n-greet” type thing after the taping was over where the band stands in a reception line and fans walk through for pictures and handshakes. Again, not a knock, just different—for example Max from the Arkells just came out to hang with those gathered. I get that it’s a business and I wish them all the best. Another swell bunch of Canucks (I feel I can say this since half of my family lives in the Great White North).
Would You See Them Again? Rating: Sure, keeping an eye out!
Venue Notes*: JBTV is definitely a Chicago institution. They have been hosting and breaking new bands for more than 30 years. Unless you know it’s there, you’ll never find it. The only outward marking of its existence is a name and logo on the buzzer of a non-descript door along Grand Avenue in downtown Chicago. Once you find it and are granted access to the fourth floor space you are in for a treat. Upon entry you’ll find memorabilia (gold record plaques, signed posters, setlists…) from the 100’s of acts that have graced the stage early in their careers including notables like Green Day, Pearl Jam, Radiohead and the Smashing Pumpkins.
The soundstage/performance space is intimate and provides just about the best acoustics you will experience in any live venue. Performances tend to be short (4-10 songs/30-45 minutes) but the experience is like seeing the band play in your living room. Best of all, since this is TV studio, everything will be recorded in high-def so you don’t need to worry about capturing shakey-cam footage on your smartphone to remember the experience.
And did I mention every performance is free? If you either live or plan on being in Chicago, keep an eye on JBTV Music and RSVP for an upcoming show (and check out the vast archive past performances). Be ready for the show start a bit late as load-in and soundcheck can run over. Don’t worry, it’ll be worth the wait!
*Editors Note: Since this is my second stop at JBTV on my Year of Living Musically Odyssey, venue notes are a repeat from my Robbie Fulks post.