Author Archives: Quinn Delaney

Heavy Rock! Lespecial at The Point Chicago (July 28, 2021)

Lespecial is a heavy rock band that plays mostly instrumental songs. They blend in short riffs of other bands like Rage Against the Machine and Tool into their original songs. They also cover Primus and Slipnot this night. The influence of Incubus can be heard in their music as well. They skillfully blend all these artists into their own style.

Their full musical ability is put on display as they play through their originals such as “The Vessel”, “Repeater”, and “Egg Time”. The audience was fully engaged and dancing along for the entirety of their set. This band has a bright future ahead of them.

Cost of a ticket: $20
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

An Excellent Evening! The Box Tops at City Winery Chicago (July 21, 2021)

The Box Tops had a very short existence, lasting only from 1967 to 1970. However, during that time they created some great hits. The original bassist and guitarist, Billy Cunningham and Gary Talley front this current incarnation of the band. Alex Chilton was the original lead singer, who later fronted Big Star.

Throughout the night, the band members told stories about the songs. It was a half concert half history lesson experience as they mentioned all the legendary musicians they worked with throughout their careers. The list included Aretha Franklin, Elvis, Bob Dylan, and so many more.

They opened with “Cry Like a Baby” which made it all the way up to number two on the pop charts. They joked about it not quite making it to number one.

Later on they played “I’m Your Puppet”, which was first recorded by James & Bobby Purify. This is such a fun little song that puts a smile on everyone’s face.

For their penultimate song, they played their biggest hit, “The Letter”. It spent 4 weeks at number one on the Billboard charts. It’s such a great track, and also so quick. It clocks in at just 1 minute and 52 seconds.

Lastly, they closed with “Rock Me Baby” by BB King as one of a number of tributes to Memphis, their home town. It was a great finale to a night full of excellent music.


Rocking in the Mountains! State 38 at Purgatory Summer Brew Fest (July 10, 2021)

Located in the rugged San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado, Purgatory Resort is only 25 miles north of historic downtown Durango. Carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, Purgatory provides stunning views of a high alpine landscape. Purgatory Resort’s base is more than 8,000 feet above sea level, and the summit is nearly 11,000 feet.  As people arrived for the Summer Fest they were greeted by a bustling summer scene of hikers, mountain bikers, and other people enjoying the Inferno Mountain Coaster and an Alpine Slide.

State 38 appeared to be right at home performing at the Purgatory Summer Brew Fest.  Surrounded by mountains, endless sunshine, and happy beer drinkers, the band opened their set with a beautiful bluesy rendition of The Grateful Dead’s “Deep Elem Blues.”  Later, Nancy Young’s soulful voice was highlighted in the band’s rendition of “Anyhow“ (Tedeschi Trucks Band).  This eclectic band continued to entertain with an upbeat tune titled, “So Right,” an original song written by guitarist Eric Johnson.  Jim North’s gravelly vocals performing Big Boss Man added to the diverse first set.  Throughout the afternoon, State 38 masterly covered songs from The Grateful Dead, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones and Talking Heads enhancing the mood of a beautiful summer afternoon in the mountains.  Ahhh, summer!


Multi-Genre: Midwest Hype at The Point (July 9, 2021)

It’s 11:30pm on Friday night at Wicker Park’s newest venue, The Point. Chicago Loud 9 aka Cloud 9 very successfully warmed up the crowd and now Midwest Hype takes the stage. They’ll need to keep the energy high and that’s exactly what they do. It’s their first Chicago show post pandemic and they are ready to rock.

The band mixes so many genres together. Reggae, rock, funk, and hip-hop are all represented. In this way, they draw comparisons to 311, who also blend many of these musical styles. The set is a continuous groove that keeps the audience dancing late into the night.

The lead singer/guitarist is George Matthew. The rhythm section is Max Kepler on drums and Nate Miller on bass. On keys is Kevin Krizmanich. The horn section is Ben Morrisey on sax and Scott Whitford on trumpet. Justin “Ideal” Diehl is the emcee.

Quinn Delaney

Excellent! Fitz and the Tantrums at McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (July 2, 2021)

Welcome to the McGrath Amphitheatre in central Iowa. This venue is located along the Cedar River with downtown Cedar Rapids as a backdrop. With the temperature at 75 degrees this evening, everyone is excited for one of the first post pandemic shows of the year. “Shout out to the guy who gets free concerts all summer!” says Fitz. He is speaking to the man on his balcony in a building across the street from the amphitheater. That is a great spot to have!

Fitz and the Tantrums did tour last year. In Chicago, they played a drive in show at the Lakeshore Drive In. Social distancing was in effect again at tonight’s show with every other row being left empty and empty seats between groups.

Late in the show, they announce that they will play a song for their long time fans that have been following them for the past 12 years they have been on the road. They launch into “Moneygrabber” from their debut album, Pickin’ up the Pieces. It’s such a catchy song that put them on the radar early on.

At one point, Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick calls attention to a young girl in the front row. He asks how old she is. She responds that she is 7. “Wow,” he says, “that t-shirt that you are wearing is older than you!”

After much applause at the end of their set, they return for an encore. To start, they play “Handclap”, a truly groovy song that gets everyone dancing and clapping along.

All night long, Fitz and Noelle Scaggs sing together exceptionally with great energy. James King is outstanding with his numerous saxophone sandals. The rythym section is solid with Jeremy Ruzumna on keys, Joseph Karnes on bass, and John Wicks on percussion.

Catch Fitz and the Tantrums on tour now!

Quinn Delaney

Excellent Folk and Rock Blend! Smooth Hound Smith at The Point (June 3, 2021)

Live music has finally returned to indoor venues in Chicago. Tonight, Smooth Hound Smith is playing at the brand new venue in Wicker Park, The Point. It is in the space formerly known as The Flat Iron. Like it’s predecessor, The Point is a late night bar staying open till 4am most nights. The setup is a bar at the front by the window with another section in the back comprising of a bar and stage. A ticket is required for entry to the back area. Tickets are currently available as 2 or 4 person pods.

Smooth Hound Smith takes the stage at 7pm and the audience quiets down to pay full attention. For most, this is the first indoor concert they have seen since the pandemic began. The band is fronted by husband-and-wife duo Zack Smith and Caitlin Doyle-Smith. Their blend of folk and rock immediately wins over the audience who begin to stomp and clap along. Caitlin lets the crowd know that this is only their third show since the shutdown and that they are so happy to be back. This is very evident in their energy and enthusiasm on stage.

In a tribute to Curtis Mayfield, who was born on this day in 1942 in Chicago,  they play “People Get Ready”. It’s their first time playing it live, and it sounds great.

While they now live in Nashville, Zack and Caitlin are originally from California, Santa Monica and Fresno to be exact. “California Sway” is a tribute to their home state It has a beautiful grooving sound that captures the West Coast feel.

Throughout the show, the married couple have good banter and put on a great show. They will surely be back again!

Cost of a ticket: $20 (per person)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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


Live Theatre Returns! The Yellow Rose Theater Presents Gigi’s Party at Athenaeum Theatre (Through April 25th, 2021)

It’s 2058 and advances in technology allow humans to live to be 170 years old. But is life worth living this long? This is the question that Gigi asks herself. She is in an unhappy marriage. She is having an affair that doesn’t excite her. Her job bores her. With nothing to look forward to, she decides to throw a D-Party, which means one final party before she ends her life.

This play is an exploration of the effect of science creating a longer life span, while at the same time the fall of religion. Without religion, can people still find a purpose in life?

The entire cast is excellent. Joseph Zaki (Playwright) is great as the father with a much different perspective on the situation than the others. Katherine Wttermann is solid as Gigi, a woman lost in life. Thomas Tong is superb as Zak, who is proud of his accomplishments in medical technology and wishes to get everything he can out of life. Stephanie Sullivan is good as Zak’s wife, who barely tolerates his antics. Joe Bushell is excellent as Zak’s friend who has many opposing views but still maintains the friendship. Sam Sage is interesting as Gigi’s husband, who pleads with her not to end things. Lastly, Madeline Diego and Sophie Vitello are great as the friends whom Zak tries to pick up in the bar.

It is fantastic to be getting back to in person entertainment. The theatre on the second floor at Athenaeum Theatre is usually jam packed with seats, so the socially distanced seating creats a more comfortable environment. With temperature checks at the door and the cast being fully vaccinated, it was a very safe experience.

Cost of a ticket: $32

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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

Get tickets now for Gigi’s Party!

Quinn Delaney

Fantastic! Queens of Rock at Mosaic On The Strip in Las Vegas (Open Run)

Elyzabeth Diaga is fantastic in this show. She does a great job transforming her voice to match the artist that she is imitating. Here are a few examples.

“You Oughta Know” – Alanis Morissette – 1995

This is not an easy song to cover. Diaga truly impresses with this one.

“The Best” – Tina Turner – 1991

This song was recently featured in Schitt’s Creek in a very romantic moment. This song absolutely still holds up.

“Zombie” – The Cranberries – 1994

Elyzabeth also has a few costume changes throughout the show and the one for Zombie is spot on. It’s also great when she enters the stage later on wearing rolling skates!

The Mosaic On The Strip is a medium sized theatre with plenty of room to space out the tables six feet apart from each other. Patrons are allowed to remove their masks while seated.  

Get tickets now for Queens of Rock!


A Fresh Experience! Orlando Ballet Presents Uncorked at Harriet’s Orlando Ballet Center (February 23, 2021)

Uncorked is a behind the scenes look at the creation of a ballet. Six dancers are divided into two groups of three. The first group of three is instructed how to enter the stage by the first choreographer. One of the dancers enters earlier than he wanted, so he tells him to get back. Instead of just erasing this mistake, he decides to keep the false entrance as part of the piece, giving it a comedic beginning. Continuing on, move by move, he instructs them how to do a dance he is making up on the spot. It’s very impressive how quickly the professional dancers pick it up and then are able to recreate it. After the first group completes about a minute’s worth of the piece, the second group of three takes the stage and does the exact same dance that they just watched. This is quite a feat to recreate it on spot like that.

Next, a second choreographer comes on stage and creates the second part of the piece. After creating the piece, they decide to switch from live piano playing to, “No More I Love You’s” by Annie Lennox. The dancers easily adapt and adjust to match the tempo of the song. It’s a fantastic display of their skill.

Finally, a third choreographer comes on to the create the last minute. During this entire process, everyone is wearing masks except the choreographer who removes theirs so they can be heard clearly. Unlike in theatre, or in an opera, when the performers wear masks, it doesn’t take much away from the performance. The focus is more on their body than on their like face.

Also being showcased tonight was the brand new Orlando Ballet Center, which opened in January of 2020. It’s modern, sleek, and the open style allowed for plenty of social distancing.

Overall, it was a very fresh experience that all fans of dance should experience. It adds an appreciation to the final work that is created.

Cost of a ticket: $30

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value

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

Get tickets now for The Robert Hill Collection taking place between March 18th and March 28th!

Quinn Delaney

Superb! Opera Orlando and Thompson Street Opera Company Present Death of Ivan Ilych at the Orlando Museum of Art (Through February 21, 2021)

Ivan Ilych is dead. His family is grieving at the funeral wondering what caused his death. Jump back in time and the family is eating dinner together. From there the relationships are explored and Ivan grapples with his impending end.

John Young composed the music as a response to his own near fatal battle with cancer. It’s a very timely piece now as we all are thinking about life and death during a pandemic.

Opera is a powerful medium, especially in the intimate setting of the Grand Gallery Hall at the Orlando Museum of Art. The forceful singing is much more emotional up close than from afar at the Lyric Opera.

The wearing of masks was varied in this production. The actors were allowed to remove their masks if they felt comfortable doing so. It definitely made it easier to hear them if they did so. Interestingly, the oboe player wore a face shield.

The cast is excellent. Sean Christopher Stork is moving as Ivan Ilych. Adriana V. Nieves is a powerful force as Praskovya, his wife. Jurrien Mejeur is very good as their child. Brent Doucette is solid as the friend and servant. Stephen Mumbert is an impressive presence as the doctor. Lastly, Jose-Manuel Lopez shines as the priest.

Catch Death of Ivan Ilych in Chicago, currently scheduled for September 2021.

Get tickets now for Opera Orlando’s Carmen on April 1st and 3rd.

Quinn Delaney