Bailiff, Live Session #97

by Shirk on December 15, 2011

I’ve been following the growth of Bailiff for a few years now.  After hearing the band at Lincoln Hall back in January of 2010 I was eager to get them in for a HearYa session.  After speaking with the band, I learned that they probably weren’t ready for a session at the time, but were about to begin work on their first full-length album.  We decided to spend an evening cutting a demo together and it was at this point that I learned what an ambitious process the making of Red Balloon would be.

I specifically remember Josh asking me to make sure that his guitar NEVER sounded like it was plugged into a Marshall amp.  And Ren wanted to make his snare sound like it was recorded with a crappy little iPod microphone attachment while keeping the kick drum sounding thick and warm, like it was recorded to 2” tape.  I did a lot of head scratching that evening and ultimately was not offered the job of producing/engineering the final recordings that would become Red Balloon. However, that one-night-sonic-chase did teach me some new techniques as well as solidify my respect for the creative team that is Bailiff.

Fast forward about a year and I run into Josh at a wedding in Chicago and he tells me the album is done and hands me a copy of Red Balloon from his car.  I put it on at the studio the first chance I get and a smile immediately graced my face.   These guys had some fun making this record.  The sound is thick, crunchy and aggressive, sometimes obliterating the drums with heavy compression and giving them a larger-than-life, but still organic texture.

I’ll assume the guitars are free of any Marshall amplification, but I can’t swear to that.  If I had to place my bets I’d say that they used Josh’s mid-60’s Blackface Fender Super Reverb featuring a more wire-y tone that emphasizes Josh’s unique melodic sense. The bass is fuzzy and thick when needed and gets out of the way when it’s not.  Songs like Crickets, In The Reverie and Everyday Fire demonstrate a more drone-like eastern influence.  While other songs like When I Leave You Will Stay and Little By Little exemplify the blues foundation that Bailiff grew from.  But rather than try to categorize their music, I’m just going to say that what Bailiff does best is make music that is unique.  They just don’t sound like anyone that I can think of and that is what makes them special.

Bailiff has evolved through a rotating cast of members, but principal songwriters Josh Siegel (Vocals/ Guitar) and Ren Mathew (Drums/Backing Vocals) remain the foundation of the group.  At the time of this release, Bailiff is wrapping up their 2011 tour that featured its final stops at The Mohawk in Austin, TX and the Blue Note Lounge in Oklahoma City, OK tonight.  2012 promises to be a busy year for Bailiff so check them out as they make their way around the country.

Scheduling this session was a long time in the making, and now almost two years after we first discussed the idea, I’m very excited to share with you what I feel is one of Chicago’s best up and coming bands.

Bailiff Band Introduction

Exclusive: Bailiff – Emptied Out (Videos: YouTube | Vimeo)

Exclusive: Bailiff – Red Balloon (Videos: YouTube | Vimeo)

Exclusive: Bailiff – Eventually (Videos: YouTube | Vimeo)

Exclusive: Bailiff – Everyday Fire (Videos: YouTube | Vimeo)

Download the Bailiff Live Session as a zip file.

Video: Bailiff – Eventually

Video: Bailiff – Emptied Out


White Denim have another new video for the tune “Street Joy.” Apparently, they have dug up some footage from my prom in 1988 when I rocked a purple cumberbund/bowtie and a mullet. Oddly, I didn’t get any loving that night.

Anywho, D is one of the finer albums you will hear in 2011. The boys from Austin will be at Schubas for a sold out show on Thursday of this week. I’m thinking about dusting off the old tux for the occasion. If you’d like to get a pair of free tickets to join me, email us with your full name at

Video: White Denim – Street Joy


May Shows We Recommend in Chicago & Atlanta

by That Guy on May 1, 2011

It hit 59 degrees yesterday in Chicago (which is 5 degrees below normal), but the sun was out so people were out in droves acting like they were on spring break in Jamaica. There were sleeveless shirts at Big Star. Rich d-bags were driving around with their tops down. I think I even saw my neighbor getting those cornrow braids with the multi-colored beads that white people like to get on spring break. So, with the promise of May truly being warm, I’m expecting a great month. Here are the best rock shows we see coming up. Let us know what we missed.


John Vanderslice – Lincoln Hall – 5/2

Tame Impala – Lincoln Hall – 5/3

Of Montreal –  The Vic – 5/5

Ted Leo – Schubas – 5/5

The Felice Brothers – Lincoln Hall – 5/6

Neil Young – Chicago Theatre – 5/6-7

Surfer Blood – Bottom Lounge – 5/7

Cory Chisel & The Wandering Songs – Double Door – 5/7

David Vandervelde – Schubas – 5/7

Peter Bjorn & John – Lincoln Hall – 5/7

tUnE-YarDs / Prussia – Lincoln Hall – 5/10

Jessica Lea Mayfield – Schubas – 5/14

The Devil Makes Three – Beat Kitchen – 5/15

Elvis Costello – Chicago Theatre – 5/15

Paul Simon – The Vic – 5/16-17

Radio Moscow – Double Door – 5/17

The Twilight Singers / Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s – Metro – 5/17

Joe Purdy – Lincoln Hall – 5/18

The Wilderness of Manitoba – Beauty Bar – 5/19

Ben Sollee – Schubas – 5/21

Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Millennium Park – 5/23

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Lincoln Hall – 5/26

Mother Hips – Schubas – 5/26

Justin Townes Earle – Pritzker Pavilion – 5/30

Friendly Fires – Lincoln Hall – 5/31


The Decemberists / Justin Townes Earle – Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre – 5/2

Sleigh Bells – Center Stage – 5/2

Pinback – The Masquerade – 5/4

The Twilight Singers / Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s – The Masquerade – 5/5

Twin Tigers – The Drunken Unicorn – 5/7

Phosphorescent – The EARL – 5/8

The Love Language – The EARL – 5/11

Dax Riggs – The EARL – 5/12

Brett Dennen / Dawes – Variety Playhouse – 5/13

Fleet Foxes / The Cave Singers – The Tabernacle – 5/14

The Flaming Lips – The Tabernacle – 5/19-20

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. / Generationals – The EARL – 5/20

Of Montreal – The Buckhead Theatre – 5/20

Okkervil River / Titus Andronicus / Future Islands – 5/31 – The Variety Playhouse


The Love Language at Schubas [Concert Review]

by That Guy on March 7, 2011

Sellout. It’s been a big topic of discussion lately on HearYa about bands like The Black Keys, but last night it took on a different meaning. The Love Language took the stage to a sold-out audience at Schubas along with Telekenesis. The wife and I had a burger at Pint in Wicker Park, a quick beer at Estelle’s, and then made our way up to Schubas in time to say hi to the band before they took the stage. (Side note: they’re easily one of the most personable bands I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with.)

The Love Language recorded a second live session at Shirk Music & Sound earlier in the day (find their first HearYa Live Session here), so they were good and warmed up by the time they hit the stage. I’ve seen The Love Language play quite a few shows over the last few years, but I’ve got to say their performance last night at Schubas was the best I’ve seen them. The songs were tight, Stuart’s voice not only sounded great but so was his stage presence, drummer Jordan McLamb was playing with some serious authority, new bassist Nick seems to be a great addition, Missy brings so much fun and energy, and BJ Burton has added some real juice to the live songs.

They cranked through a set with barely a pause between most songs, and looked like they were having a great time. Stuart knocked back a shot on-stage early in the set, new bassist Nick was smiling ear-to-ear for 90% of the show, and drummer Jordan was hitting the drums so hard he literally shredded one of his cymbals.

There were a couple other highlights during the show. The first was a great version of “Manteo” with the entire band singing the first few bars a capella before ripping into it for the rest of the song. The other was more of an inside joke between BJ and Stuart. Earlier in the day at the HearYa session, BJ was joking about how he was slightly ‘over-served’ during one of their recent shows. He couldn’t figure out how to tune his guitar in the middle of the set, which led to him kicking Stu on stage as hard as he could for no reason. The two joked about it at Shirk’s studio, and in the middle of the set last night Stu tried to get BJ back. They looked like a couple of rams up there plowing into each other during Blue Angel. It was indicative of the entire set – just great energy on stage and a great vibe overall. The most fun I’ve had at a show in a while.

Aside from a great show, Shirk captured some really cool live tracks in the studio earlier in the day – I can’t wait for everyone to hear them. Stuart did a solo acoustic version of “Brittany’s Back” that had a cool Bruce Springsteen Nebraska-ish vibe to it.

The Love Language – Heart To Tell

The Love Language – Lalita

In the meantime, here’s a fan video of “Lalita” from the Schubas show.


Get a pair of tickets to The Moondoggies @ Schubas tomomrrow + Prize Pack [Chicago Giveaway]

November 9, 2010

The Moondoggies are finally making their way to Chicago and we have a pair of tickets to give away. The show is tomorrow night at Schubas. If you want them, email your first and last name to The winner will also receive The Moondoggies latest album, Tidelands, and a three-pack of Field Notes memo […]

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September Shows We Recommend in Chicago

September 7, 2009

Did Chicago leave it all on the field in August with all the great live shows at and around Lollapalooza? ‚ August will certainly be tough to beat, but September actually looks like a pretty decent month.‚ Here’s what we like¦anything to add? The shows with a “!” could be weird. ! The Psychedelic Furs – Vic […]

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Awesome August Shows We Recommend in Chicago

August 3, 2009

This month reminds me of the late great Billy Mays because the word “August” sounds so much like “Awesome Auger.” August also signifies the beginning/end of summer in Chicago all in the same month, so it’s even more important you get out and enjoy the rock show this month while the weather is good. Enter […]

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July Shows We Recommend in Chicago

June 30, 2009

July is a heckuva month to see live music in Chicago. With Festival Season in full swing, there’s a great show to see every weekend – and almost every night. Of course, Pitchfork Music Festival is in the middle of the month with an exceptional lineup, but there’s plenty more to tickle your fancy the […]

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Shows We Recommend in Chicago [February]

January 29, 2009

Some readers (Vanessa) have asked several times for Chicago concert recommendations. I’ll try to squeeze one of these out at the end of each month for our Chi-town readers (even though I’m in California). For those going to Blitzen Trapper, get there early enough to catch Alela Diane and tell me all about it. I’m […]

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HearYa Live Session 39: Musikanto [introducing HD video]

January 28, 2009

We’ve got some Chicago love for you this week. We had upstart Mike Musikanto and his badass band in the studio a couple weeks ago on a freezing cold night. It was the kind of night that made you want to punch Mother Nature right in the base of the neck with the side of […]

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