Oh to be young, talented, British, and infinitely cool – the sibling trio Kitty, Daisy, & Lewis deliver on so many levels. With a dynamic sound that channels blues, swing, R&B, jazz, Hawaiian, rock, and country, they seize the exuberance of another era. If you’re interested in sparking some fire in your step and some snap in your shimmy, jam to their sophomore album Smoking in Heaven.
Read the rest of my review and get MP3s at Indieball.
After five quiet years without touring, Fiona Apple took the Lincoln Hall stage this week without a word and “Fast as You Can” she was back. The announcement of her mini-tour caused frenzy among fans, who assaulted the venue’s servers in unprecedented numbers, crashing the site in many cases and causing an outrage among the incensed and ticketless. Few situations send my heart rate into such a palpitated state as the purchasing of prized concert tickets, but I made damn sure I would see Fiona. A second show was added to the tour’s Chicago stop only, and those of us lucky enough to see the songstress can attest her live concert was as captivating as ever.
The powerful performance included classics like “Sleep to Dream” and “On the Bound,” closing with “Criminal.” Just as alluring were three new songs Fiona debuted from her upcoming album due out this June, “Anything We Want,” “Valentine,” and “Every Single Night.” The audience shouted its admiration between songs and Fiona came out of her reverie to smile in thanks. She infused the show with her brand of whimsy, breaking into the occasional jig and featuring an old kitchen pipe as a percussion piece.
Fiona’s reflective and recalcitrant music shaped my adolescence while my classmates memorized boy band dance moves. If you had asked me my favorite poems in junior high, I would have named Fiona’s When the Pawn… and Prufrock, budding lit major that I was. I imagine more than one high school relationship argument was fueled by overexposure to her lyrical indignation on a given day. The first time I saw Fiona Apple live involved driving five hours across Ohio (including a stop to pick up my cousin, a fellow Fiona-phile) and ending up back on campus just in time to hand in a final exam. That show was the most passionate, eloquent, and spellbinding performance I had ever seen, and more than one audience member was moved to tears.
Her performance this week at Lincoln Hall was just as enthralling. Fiona does not just sing; it’s an entirely visceral enterprise as if the crowd is privy to a physical and emotional internal journey she’s experiencing number by number. While her vocals range from her characteristic sultry growl to heart-shattering highs and belts of bravado, the singer swirls and paces onstage. Fiona is perhaps most emotive when commanding the piano keys, framed by the glow of a few red church votives. Otherwise her hands wring, tug at her skirt, flutter through the air, or clutch the microphone with white knuckles, as when crooning “”I just want to feel everything, so I’m gonna try to be still.”
Fiona Apple gives all of herself when performing; rendering fans all the hungrier for the rare times she shares her unrivaled talent onstage. Connecting with some of her old songs that are such a part of me and revisiting them with new insight was all the more poignant. No matter the absence, Fiona Apple’s power, honesty, and grace are always resonant, always craved as long as she is willing to share them – the mark of a truly extraordinary machine.
Chicago is in the midst of Chef Week, and if you haven’t had the chance to dig in there’s still room to make a rezzie through this Friday, March 23. I’ve just barely had time to digest last month’s Chicago Restaurant Week, but here are my four favorite bites.
Drinks at Chicago q
Chicago q may have had the week’s best menu. Yet while the hominy, smoked corn and black bean salad and slab of St. Louis baby back were as mouth-watering as expected, it was a cocktail that ultimately won me over. Fusing rye, lemon, OJ, and cinnamon-infused simple syrup, the Orange Blossom Martini offers a spicy, citrusy way to enjoy whiskey that’s all-together too drinkable.
Apps at Bistrot Margot
Old Town’s Bistrot Margot is a mainstay of all classique French fare with charming décor and très generous portions. Simmered in garlic and butter, the satisfyingly briny escargot had me snatching every crumb off the table to soak it up even after the snails were inhaled.
Main at Blackbird
There’s no wrong way to do Blackbird, but the special five-course Restaurant Week tasting menu ($65 rather than the standard $33 or $44) seemed most fitting for my first visit. Choosing a favorite course at Paul Kahn’s gastronomic powerhouse is like choosing the most flavorful movement of an eloquent symphony (or mashup in a dubstep remix if that’s your thing). If you insist, I’ll favor the pekin duck breast. The savory fowl was aged for a week and its slight saltiness rounded out with fuyu persimmon, red wine braised radishes, black beans and sesame.
Dessert at Tapas Valencia
Tapas Valencia may have had somewhat nontraditional tapas service, but in addition to four-course menu the dessert was accompanied with a complimentary glass of cava. After devouring everything set in front of us, the decadent dessert platter of warm chocolate cake, cheesecake, almond pound cake with pear, strawberries, and ice cream drizzled in caramel seemed daunting. Thankfully we had that cava to wash it down.
For Further Exploration
Chicago Restaurant Week 2011 Recap
Posted in 4 favorite things, chicago, eating, events, exploring, gold coast, ohio city, south loop, west loop
Tagged bistrot margot, blackbird, chicago chef week, chicago q, chicago restaurant week, eating, events, gold coast, old town, south loop, tapas valencia, west loop