HIP-HOP | Vic Spencer goes in on Odd Future
Advance copies of Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin were hard to come by, and his label, XL Recordings, managed to keep it from leaking until just days before its release date—but it seems like every music critic alive wrote about Tyler and Odd Future before the album hit shelves, irresistibly drawn to OF’s polarizing combination of excellent music and repulsive lyrics. As far as actually rapping over a beat from Goblin before it hit shelves, though, local MC Vic Spencer is surely among a very few.
Spencer, a member of Naledge-led collective the Brainiac Society, says he’s been listening to Tyler and Odd Future since 2008’s Odd Future Tape. Like many OF fans, he downloaded Goblin when it leaked May 5; he released “Asshole” as a free download the next day. Lifting another rapper’s backing track is a time-honored mix-tape tradition, but it rarely happens so fast. Spencer insists he’s not trying to piggyback on Odd Future’s hype: “I always like to rap over weird beats,” he says. And it is indeed a weird beat, from the outro to “Tron Cat”: dinky drum machine run through a flanger, wobbly synth, and little else. His performance, lighter and more nimble than Tyler’s, suits it fine.
“Asshole” is among the songs Spencer is considering for a 30-track mix tape called Vic Greenthumbs that he plans to release on September 23, his 30th birthday. In case Tyler or his label are curious, Spencer says, he did buy Goblin on CD once it came out. —Miles Raymer
VENUES | Jeanine O’Toole leaves the Hideout
Jeanine O’Toole has a public face as a singer for the 1900s (and more recently Bare Mutants), but for two and a half years she’s also been booking shows for the Hideout. She’s decided to move on, though—Friday is her last day, and at press time she wasn’t sure who would replace her. She plans to dedicate more time to performing and writing while deciding what her next day job might be.
During her tenure, O’Toole expanded the Hideout’s already wonderfully quirky community—alt-country and indie-rock bands, hipster dance parties and left-wing blue-collar raconteurs—to let an even wider variety of artists join the party. Many of the bands who played March’s SXSW Sendoff—Mickey and Radar Eyes, for instance—would be likely to cite Black Flag as an influence, not Pavement or Hank Williams.
“I felt really good about everyone who played,” O’Toole says. “I had a sense that the bands were really a part of the Hideout community.”
But O’Toole is proud of more than just introducing dirty rock ‘n’ roll to the Hideout. “I would say that the Chances Dances queer dance party was something I wanted to see happening,” she says. “One of my goals was to welcome the queer community to the Hideout, and it’s going strong and I’m glad to be a part of it. I wanted to bring a bit more stand-up comedy. People Under the Stares is back up and running. That’s the thing I’ve been talking about since I first started there. It’s good to be outside of the norm of bands playing every night.”
Booking the Hideout involves fielding what O’Toole estimates to be 200-300 e-mails per day, talking dates with bands and their representatives (“playing calendar Jenga,” as she puts it), publicizing shows, supervising load-ins and otherwise keeping each night on track, and paying the artists when it’s all over. This kind of work is usually a thankless task, but if anyone in Chicago music deserves a heartfelt thank-you—and I’m not just saying this because she’s booked bands I like and supported projects I’ve been part of—Jeanine O’Toole does. —Brian Costello
EXPERIMENTAL | My Silence borrows Sharon Van Etten, Scissor Girls hit DVD
Improvising trio My Silence has performed only sporadically since drummer Mike Reed formed the group a couple years ago with bass clarinetist Jason Stein and analog electronicist Nick Butcher. Their debut album, It Only Happens at Night (482 Music), comes out July 5 and features a surprising guest: New York-based indie-folk chanteuse Sharon Van Etten, who’s old friends with Butcher. My Silence made their improvisations more songlike with editing and overdubbing, then invited Van Etten to add wordless vocal melodies, both written by Reed and improvised. Reed further edited the results, and the final product is jagged, beautifully lyrical, and rich in texture, with the band’s odd sonic palette—knotty bass clarinet snorts, free drumming, primitive sampling and keyboard—entirely uncompromised. It Only Happens at Night will be released on vinyl, though the package includes a CD.
Seven years ago former Scissor Girls guitarist Kelly Kuvo made 30 copies of a DVD compiling nearly two hours of video of the group. Formed in 1991 by singer and bassist Azita Youssefi, guitarist Sue Anne Zollinger, and drummer Heather Melowic, the Scissor Girls were one of the best bands in the largely invented Chicago “now wave” scene; Kuvo replaced Zollinger in 1994 and remained with the trio until it broke up in 1996. Most of SG DVD (Savage Land), which is now getting a formal release, is raw live footage shot at defunct venues like Lounge Ax, Czar Bar, and the Hub Theater, and it’d be generous to call the camera work amateurish; as such, it’s not an ideal introduction to the band, but the maniacal energy of their wild, wiry postpunk cuts through. Also included are a Chic-a-Go-Go appearance (with a young girl sitting in for Melowic, hitting a snare drum with a plastic bone), a hilarious 1995 TV profile from Ben Loves Chicago, and some wigged-out videos Kuvo made under the name SG Research. —Peter Margasak