Monthly Archives: May 2023

Review: Maksim – The Collection US Tour at Arie Crown Theater (May 25, 2023)

On stage, Maksim sits at the piano facing directly to the right. The audience on the left half has a great view of him and the keys of the piano. Those on the right side can’t see his hands or the keys. All they can see is his head bobbing. So, definitely sit on the left side if possible.

Early in the set, he plays “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. Many bands have covered this song including The Offspring, ELO, The Who, and Deep Purple. Maksim’s version is great and fits in well with these others.

Next up is “Clocks” by Coldplay. He converted the vocals into piano notes and it sounds great. This a great song choice as Coldplay is the #3 most tracked artist on Songkick.

Afterward he plays “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. This is another great crowd pleaser that displays his crossover appeal. He plays the piano with such great passion.

In the middle of the concert, Maksim leaves the stage and the band plays three songs without him. It’s a good idea to showcase the band like this, but three straight songs seemed like a bit much.

Later on he plays “Nutcracker Fantasy”. It’s a bit odd to hear this outside of the Christmas season, but it still sounds great.

“The Flight of the Bumble Bee” displays his lightening quick piano playing skill fantastically. It was a great choice to have near the end of this great night of music.

Cost of a ticket: $140 (Main Floor Rear)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

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Quinn Delaney


Excellent! Phantom Planet at Metro (May 22, 2023)

Before they take the stage, a video plays with an introduction by Jason Schwartzman, who was the drummer from the band’s start in 1994 to 2003. During the show, they have many videos play in between songs from the producers and also from famous fans such as Darren Criss. The Schwartzman videos are great, but they should probably cut the rest.

Towards the end of the set, they play the very catchy “Lonely Day” from 2002’s album, The Guest. They are playing the entire album to celebrate it’s 20th year anniversary. “Even though the sun is shining down on me / And I should feel about as happy as can be / I just got here and I already want to leave / It was going to be a lonely lonely lonely lonely day”. It’s such a beautiful song about loneliness. In tonight’s performance, it sounds grittier than on the album.

Jason Schwartzman appears again on screen again. He has placed camera directly above a mini keyboard. He proceeds to play the iconic introduction to “California” and then the band jumps in while the video continues. “We’ve been on the run / Driving in the sun / Looking out for number one / California here we come / Right back where we started from”. Wow, this is such an amazing scene as the entire crowd sings along. This song has amassed over 132 streams on Spotify and it sounds even better live.  

Surprisingly, “California” wasn’t the last song of the night. It wasn’t even the last song of the set! In the seven song encore / second set, they play “Do the Panic” from the 2008 album Raise The Dead. “Bop bop bop / Bop bop sha-doo-bee-doo”. More bands should use silly lyrics like this. This is such a fun song and a key part of a great night of music.

Cost of a ticket: $40

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney

A Night to Remember! Natalie Merchant at The Chicago Theatre (May 19, 2023)

Natalie Merchant began her musical career with the 10,000 Maniacs. In 1993, she left the band due to a lack of creative control. 10,000 Maniacs are still touring today. They last played in Chicago at the City Winery in February 2022. See the setlist here.

At tonight’s show, Natalie asks who is in love in the audience. Some people cheer and raise their hands. She says the next song is for the lovers. She goes on to sing “The Worst Thing”. “So you’re in love, that’s so good for you. Live it up girl ’cause it never lasts long.” The audience laughs after this line because at first it seemed like it was going to be a joyful love song.

To end the first set, she sings “Wonder” from her 1995 debut solo album, Tigerlily. “To know I must be one of the wonders, God’s own creation / And as far as you see, you can offer me no explanation.” This song has stood the test of time and still sounds great today. Natalie’s voice also still sounds excellent as she twirls across the stage.

To close the second set, they play “Kind & Generous” from her 1998 album, Ophelia. This is her most popular song on Spotify with over 44 million streams. It ends with a big singalong. “Oh, I want to thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you / I want to thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you”. The crowd continues singing this on their way to their cars.

To end the night, they play “These Are Days” from the 1992 10,000 Maniacs album, Our Time in Eden. “These are days you’ll remember / When May is rushing over you with desire.” This surely will be a day in May to remember.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $105 (Orchestra Side)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

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Quinn Delaney

Exceptional! See it Twice! The Whistleblower at Theater Wit (Through June 17, 2023)

Eli is a television writer attending a meeting with his agent and a Hollywood producer. He pitches the idea of a TV writer who writes about characters who fail to examine themselves. Two examples are a doctor who heals others but can’t heal himself and a lawyer who seeks justice for others, but not herself. After many rejections, the TV writer character figures out he needs to go on a journey of self discovery before he can write about these characters. The producer decides he loves the idea and that he wants Eli to write it. But just then, Eli realizes that, in fact, he needs to stop writing and go on a journey of self-reflection himself.

Photos by Charles Osgood

Itamar Moses (The Band’s Visit) has written a hilarious play very reminiscent of the great Office Space film. In both, the main characters discover they don’t like the path they are on and that they need to make big changes. Also, all the people around them think they are crazy for trying to make these changes. And lastly, both of them are very smart and funny.

Ben Faigus (Workaholics) is outstanding as Eli on this road of introspection. The audience truly connects with him. Michael Kostroff (The Wire) is so funny as the hard-to-please producer and as Eli’s father trying to become a filmmaker. William Anthony Sebastion Rose II is hilarious as the old best friend and agent. Julia Alvarez is stellar as the girlfriend and best friend’s wife. Rae Gray (Domesticated) is exceptional as the secretary, Eli’s sister, and his ex-girlfriend. RJW Mays (True West) is great as the mother trying to help too much. Lastly, Andrew Jessop (Clue) is so funny as the Big Lebowski-like character living on a boat.

Cost of a ticket: $36

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value

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Get tickets now for The Whistleblower through June 17th!

Quinn Delaney

Hilarious and Fun! Saint Sebastian Players Presents It’s Only A Play at St. Bonaventure (Through May 21, 2023)

It’s Only a Play originally opened off-off-Broadway in 1982. It was revived in 1986 off-Broadway. In 2014, it had its Broadway debut with a rewrite by Terrence McNally to bring it into the current day. The scene is an opening night party at the producer’s penthouse in Manhattan. The cast and staff are anxiously waiting for the reviews to come in.

Terrence McNally (Anastasia) has written a hilarious and timely play. All the references to the current Broadway productions and Broadway stars are very well done. It’s a true ensemble piece where every actor has a chance to shine.

Layke Fowler is perfect in the role of the coat boy, a newcomer to the city eager to be an actor.  Sean Michael Barrett (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) is so funny as James Wicker, the former theatre actor who now has a hit TV show and is best friends with the playwright. Melinda “MJ” Deamon (The Shady Lady, Born Yesterday) is stellar as Virginia Noyes, a former Broadway star making her return. Nat Kier (Born Yesterday) is so funny and eccentric as the director who is tired of good reviews. Valerie Gerlock (Boeing Boeing, The Real Inspector Hound) is great as the new producer. Danne W. Taylor is superb as the theatre critic. He delivers some of the best lines of the night. Joshua Paul Wright (Boeing Boeing, The Shady Lady) is outstanding as the playwright. He is so likeable and funny and a true staple of SSP.

Cost of a ticket: $30

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value

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Get tickets now for It’s Only A Play through May 21st!

Quinn Delaney

Full of Adventure and Laughs! Porchlight Music Theatre Presents Earnest Shackleton Loves Me at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts (Through June 1, 2023)

Kat is a middle aged music composer and a new mother living in Brooklyn. She creates art installations that only a few hundred people ever see and also does soundtracks for video games. Her boyfriend is touring the country in a Journey cover band. She isn’t sure if he will return, so she creates a video for an online dating site, Cupid’s Leftovers. She gets messages from many explorers including Ernest Shackleton, who set out to cross the Antarctic from ocean to ocean in 1914. He loves her music and he draws her into his adventure to the end of the world.

This is a modern romantic comedy musical with a true story historical element. The book is by Joe DiPietro, music by Brendan Milburn, lyrics by Val Vigoda, and orchestrations & additional music by Ryan O’Connell. It is hilarious, adventurous, and the music is fantastic as well. They also use real video footage from Shackleton’s journey.

Elisa Carlson (Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story) is very impressive as Kat. She is on stage for the entire production and she sings while playing electric violin, drums, and keyboards. Andrew Mueller (Jesus Christ Superstar) is hilarious as Ernest Shackleton. He has a great adventurer’s voice and truly sells the character.

See the full program here.

Cost of a ticket: $63 (House Level)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

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Get tickets now for Earnest Shackleton Loves Me through June 1st!

Quinn Delaney

Impressive! Jam Presents Brit Floyd at The Chicago Theatre (May 5, 2023)

Brit Floyd is full of impressive musicians that play a lengthy three hour show. Damian Darlington, the musical director, is excellent on vocals and all the guitars he plays including a slide guitar. Ryan Saranich is an outstanding multi-instrumentalist on saxophone (especially on “Us and Them”), percussion, guitars, bass, and keyboards. Eva Avila is exceptional on vocals. She receives a well deserved standing ovation after “The Great Gig in the Sky”. The rest of the band is solid and includes Ian Cattell (Vocals, Bass), Edo Scordo (Guitars, Vocals), Matt Riddle (Keyboards, Synths, Hammond, Vocals), Arran Ahmun (Drums, Percussions), Randy Cooke (Drums, Percussions), Genevieve Little (Backing Vocals), Jesse Lee Houllier (Backing Vocals), and Chess Galea (Backing Vocals).

During “Comfortably Numb”, they put on a bit of theatre. A man comes out and slumps on a comfortable chair in front of a TV. Ian Cattell puts on a doctor’s coat and examines the man. Afterwards, he gives him some drugs with a giant needle that brings him to life for a moment. It’s a cool little scene that brings the song to life.

The best lyrics of the night are during “Another Brick in the Wall”. Everyone sings along: “We don’t need no education / We don’t need no thought control / No dark sarcasm in the classroom / Teacher, leave them kids alone”.

They also have very impressive lights and lasers along with a video screen displaying graphics throughout the show. Put all together it creates a very impressive production that is one of the best tribute shows in the world.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $30 (Balcony) to $110 (Middle Front)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It (Balcony Seats)

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Quinn Delaney

Highly Infectious Energy! The Interrupters with Laura Jane Grace at the House of Blues Chicago (April 30, 2023)

The Interrupters kick things off at lightening speed with “Take Back The Power”. “Are you a leader or will you follow? Are a fighter or will you cower? It’s our time to take back the power!” The band brings a highly infectious energy that instantly spreads through the packed sold out crowd at the House of Blues.

This tour is in support of their latest album, 2022’s In The Wild. They play “Raised By Wolves” from this album early on. “You left a child out in the wild, and I was raised by wolves. I was raised by wolves, woo!” The “woo” sounds like a wolf howl which is so fun to sing.  

Late in the set, the lead guitarist, Kevin Bivona, tells a story about their early career. In 2014, shortly after their self titled debut album was released, Laura Jane Grace was playing a surprise show in Orange County. On Twitter, she asked who should open at this show. The Interrupters responded that they should. Laura responded, great, be there at 430! They returned the favor tonight having Laura open for them.

The band infuses a lot of different musical genres to their sound including punk, ska, and rock. “Kiss The Ground” showcases their reggae chops.

Kevin says the band loves Chicago. He goes on to name all the places they have played including Riot Fest in 2013 and Wrigley Field opening for Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer on August 15, 2021.

All their songs are so much fun to sing along to. On “She Got Arrested”, everyone sings along. “She got arrested / For shooting down her man / US. Marshals /Caught her outside of Spokane / She said, “I’d do it again / Do it again / Do it again, I’d do it again!”

The lead singer, Aimee Interrupter, is absolutely fantastic. She gives off Gwen Stefani vibes. It won’t be surprising if they reach No Doubt levels of success.

See the full setlist here

Cost of a ticket: $50

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney