VIDEO: The Rest, “Over the Hill”

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Saturday 31 October 2009 at 11:33 am

VIDEO: The Clean, “All Those Notes”

From the band’s latest album, Mr. Pop, on Merge Records [buy].

(Thanks to Travis for the head’s up.)

Edited to add: They apparently did a video for “In The Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul” too. I had no idea. Check it out:

Posted under Babystew Home,Videos by Steve on Thursday 29 October 2009 at 5:28 pm

VIDEO: Sea Wolf, “Wicked Blood”

From the band’s new album, White Water, White Bloom [buy], out now on Dangerbird Records.

Posted under Babystew Home,Videos by Steve on Thursday 29 October 2009 at 4:19 pm

MP3: beat radio, “sleepwalking”

beat radio, “sleepwalking”

I’m a bit late to beat radio. The Long Island-based band has been around for a number of years now, and in that time has garnered the attention of several of the more respected NYC-area blogs (Pop Tarts, Product Shop, etc.).

Despite having heard the name, though, I didn’t actually hear their music until receiving “sleepwalking” in my Soundcloud DropBox a couple of weeks ago. And I’ve pretty much been listening to it on a daily basis since.

The song comes from the band’s latest album, safe inside the sound, which is available for free 192 kbps download here. You can stream the album, or purchase a higher-res copy of the album, at the band’s BandCamp page.

I actually just got around to downloading the album this morning, and am just finishing my first run-through. And it’s damn good. Reminds me a lot of Throw Me The Statue so far. Definitely recommended.

Posted under Babystew Home,MP3s by Steve on Thursday 29 October 2009 at 12:02 pm

More Lincoln Hall Malcontent

Looks like I’m not the only one noticing that Lincoln Hall has some serious design flaws.

Take a look at the comments to Greg Kot’s review of the Farrar/Gibbard show from Monday night. Lots and lots of unhappy people who got stuck in the very situation I thought might arise – people getting forced upstairs when the floor reached capacity, but not being able to see a thing because you can’t see anything from upstairs unless you’re along the railing.

I’m starting to get the sense that Lincoln Hall should be selling 300 tickets to their shows instead of 500. (And, yes, I’m fully aware this would be disastrous for their bottom line.)

Thanks to Matt for pointing the article and comments out to me.

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Wednesday 28 October 2009 at 4:14 pm

Initial (Far Too Lengthy) Thoughts on Lincoln Hall

So if you’ve been paying attention to my Twitter feed at all over the past couple of days, you’ll likely have noticed that I’ve spent the last two evenings at Chicago’s newest music venue, Lincoln Hall. And you’ll also have noticed that I had a number of small complaints about the club.

Well, I wanted to do a quick post [ed.: yeah, it didn’t end being “quick” at all – sorry] here on the blog to reassess some of my concerns, provide some updates that I’ve gotten from the Lincoln Hall folks themselves, and to make one thing very clear in case I hadn’t already – this is a very, very good club, and nearly a great one.

Before we get there, though, a bit of background.  For those unfamiliar, Lincoln Hall is the new venue from Chris and Mike Schuba, the owners of Schuba’s, one of the most respected, popular clubs in Chicago.  The new venue has a capacity of about 500 people, and fills a pretty big gap in the Chicago scene – the vast majority of Chicago’s rock clubs (that I’ve been to, at least) have capacities of about 200-300 (Schubas, Empty Bottle, etc.), 1,000-1,500 (Metro, Vic), or 2,500+ (Riviera, Aragon).  The only other true mid-size club I can think of is the Double Door, and, to be honest, I haven’t heard good things about it, though I haven’t personally been there yet.*

So in a lot of ways, Lincoln Hall seems to fill the same role for Chicago in 2009 as Bowery Ballroom did for New York in 1997 – it adds a high quality, mid-sized “showcase” room to a big music city that doesn’t have one. And the comparisons to the Bowery don’t end there – in many ways, Lincoln Hall is a newer, fancier version of the Bowery, with the same general layout (just without the staircase connecting the floor and the upstairs), the same great acoustics, and the same great booking.  In fact, there were several times over the last couple of nights that I almost thought I was standing in the New York rather than Chicago. (Alternatively, for those of you in DC, it’s also fair to think of Lincoln Hall as a 60% smaller version of the 9:30 Club.)

But for all of the club’s good aspects, a few negatives have definitely stood out over the last couple of nights. Most of the problems stem from the fact that, despite being an approximately 500-person club, the official capacity for the main downstairs floor is just 169 people.  I don’t know how strictly they enforce this, but they do have employees at both entrances to the floor who have hand-counters keeping track of how many people are on the floor.  So, theoretically, nearly 2/3 of the venue’s capacity has to stand upstairs rather than downstairs.  That in and of itself isn’t a problem, but it leads to a few pretty serious issues:

First, there’s the bathroom problem – unfortunately, there are no bathrooms on the main floor.  So if you’re on the floor, you actually need to leave and go to the front restaurant area to use the bathroom.  Again, not a big deal, but what happens at a sold-out show where the floor hits capacity while you’re in the bathroom?  Conceivably, you could get locked out, away from your friends, and be forced to go upstairs for the remainder of the show.

This then leads to a second, bigger problem – as of now, I just don’t see the upstairs area accommodating 300+ people.  There might be plenty of standing room for that number (although I’m not sure about that), but the only people upstairs who are actually going to SEE the stage are those people along or near the railing.  And, unfortunately, the past couple of nights it’s been very, very hard to get a spot near the railing.

First there’s the fact that about 30% of the upstairs railing area is reserved for VIP (standard, I know, but stay with me).  Then there’s the fact that the venue has had a security guard standing in the dead-center portion of the railing each night, taking up valuable space where patrons should be able to stand.  And, on top of that, there’s the fact that the venue has a bunch of bar stools sitting upstairs, and that people were pulling them over to sit on next to the railing – again, taking up more space than necessary, and depriving other patrons of valuable standing room.

When you add it all up, I’d say that only about 40-50% of the upstairs railing was actually accessible to normal, standing patrons the last couple of nights.  And, honestly, that’s just not going to accommodate 300+ people.

Moving away from the upstairs/downstairs issue, there are a few other small issues that kinda bugged me:

– The beers they sell are too small. They sell beer for $5, which seems cheap for this type of club, but they serve them in what seem to be 10 ounce cups. Maybe they’re 12 ounces, I dunno. But they feel like kiddie cups. I’d rather spend $7 on a full-size beer than have to leave my spot multiple times to get small cups of beer.

– They seem to allow people to bring in drinks in glass from the restaurant area. You don’t see many clubs that allow people to have glass on the floor, and there’s a reason for that. Hopefully this was just a lapse by the guy at the door. Glass on the floor is a bad idea. As is, to be honest, wait service on the floor. Too many people moving about and knocking into people. I saw a wait person lose an entire tray of beer on the floor last night. That woulda been real ugly if glass had been involved.

– They don’t have enough trash cans. On Sunday night I spent about 5 minutes looking around for a trash can for my 10 ounce beer cup, eventually asking a security guard who graciously took the cup for me since there wasn’t a trash can in view. I finally discovered a very small trash can along the left-hand side of the floor last night, though I honestly don’t know why they wouldn’t have one near the doors separating the club from the restaurant. They’re essentially asking patrons just to throw them on the floor.

– It’s not easy to find the person who gives out drink wristbands. The venue actually has two separate entrances from the street – one is for patrons with last names from A-M, and the other is for patrons with last names from N-Z and guest list folks (all tickets are will call). Apparently the A-M door has someone giving out wristbands outside the club — the N-Z door does not. So if you have a last name falling between N and Z, you actually have to wait in two lines – one line outside to get your wristband, and then a separate line at a different entrance to get into the club. Silly.

– Finally, I’d love to see them find a way to move the speakers that are currently sitting at the corners of the stage. They’re about 5-6 feet tall and effectively block the view of anyone standing off to the side of the stage up front. Two DC clubs (9:30 Club and Rock and Roll Hotel) recently fixed their own version of this problem, and hopefully it’s something on Lincoln Hall’s radar. It doesn’t affect a huge swath of the floor, but it does effectively take a couple hundred square feet of floor space out of play, ensuring that the rest of the floor is just a bit more crowded than it needs to be.

So, yeah, that’s a lot of nitpicking. But, despite the length of this post, the fact remains that the bulk of these issues really are small in the grand scheme of things. The venue is beautiful, the sound is excellent, and the two shows I’ve seen there have been great experiences. I just think that a few small changes could take Lincoln Hall from a very good club to a world-class one.

Oh, and it should be noted that the Lincoln Halls folks seem to be completely devoted to making the club a better place. In response to my tweets on the subject, they actually reached out and told me that they’re actively working on a couple of these issues. Apparently the security person along the railing is a temporary fix until they can build a “roof” for the soundboard area at the back of the floor to ensure that no one spills a drink from along the railing onto the electronics. Also, while they’re still trying to figure out when it’s appropriate to let people pull stools alongside the railing, they’re going to definitely stop letting people do it during sold out shows. So that’s good, and a good sign of how serious they are about making this a great venue.

* apparently Subterranean has a capacity of about 400, but it really doesn’t feel like it. It’s a good venue, but I’d be more likely to call it a small club than a mid-sized club. Oh, and I have no idea how big Bottom Lounge is, and haven’t been there yet.

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Tuesday 27 October 2009 at 9:47 pm

Jay Farrar/Ben Gibbard @ Lincoln Hall [10/26/09]

This time I mean it — pics now, discussion tomorrow.





Posted under Babystew Home,Concert Photos by Steve on Monday 26 October 2009 at 11:27 pm

Ted Leo @ Lincoln Hall [10/25/09]

Pics now, discussion tomorrow.





Posted under Babystew Home,Concert Photos by Steve on Sunday 25 October 2009 at 11:51 pm

This Week In Chicago

Another solid week of shows coming up in Chicago this week. Sadly, though, most of the best shows are bunched up at the start of the week, meaning there aren’t too many interesting shows I can take my younger brother to when he’s in town this weekend. I’m sure we’ll find something to do, though – this ain’t DC. (Snap!)

As always, my picks in bold.

Sunday, 10/25
Beat Kitchen (early – 12pm): Shana Sings (special Halloween show)
Beat Kitchen (7pm): The Emergency Room, The Sidekicks, Mike Park
Double Door: Girl Activity, The Ropes, Halfwaynorth, Fifth Story
Empty Bottle: Six Finger Satellite, Chinese Stars, Sensitive Hearts
Hideout: Little Shop of Horrors
Lincoln Hall: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Jai-Alai Savant
Metro: The Raveonettes, The Black Angels, Violent Soho

Reggie’s Rock Club: Chuck Ragan, Jim Ward, Austin & Bob Lucas, Haywood Yards, Audra Mae
Ronny’s: Giants, Beware of Safety, An Aesthetic Anaesthetic, Into It. Over It.
Schubas: Hawksley Workman, Jenn Grant
Subterranean: Ben Keeler and the 500 Club, The O’ My’s, Modern Conversation, Hey Rabbit

Monday, 10/26
Beat Kitchen: Pat McCurdy
Bottom Lounge: Atlas Sound, Broadcast, The Selmanaires
Double Door: A Place to Bury Strangers, Dead Confederate, All The Saints
Empty Bottle: Dysrhythmia, Lord Mantis, STATS
House of Blues: Brand New Heavies
Lincoln Hall: Jar Farrar & Ben Gibbard, John Roderick (of the Long Winters)
Park West: Ingrid Michaelson
Schubas: Choir of Young Believers, MoMo, Chris Bathgate
Subterranean: The Egg, Mos Scocious

Tuesday, 10/27
Abbey Pub: Sound of Urchin
Double Door: Saul Williams, Hollywood Holt, Krak Attack
Empty Bottle: Tim Kinsella, Postcards, 1894, Ian Hatcher
Hideout: Blue Line Riders, more
House of Blues (5:30pm): The Gaslight Anthem, Murder by Death, The Loved Ones
Lincoln Hall: Neon Indian, Smith Westerns, Prairie Cartel, Midnight Conspiracy

Reggie’s Rock Club: Moustachette The Movie, Danger Is My Middle Name, Counterpunch, Coventry
Schubas: Still Flyin’, Magical Beautiful, We Were Lovers

Wednesday, 10/28
Abbey Pub: The Handsome Devilz
Beat Kitchen: Death Before Dishonor, Steel Nation, Run With The Hunted, Doomhammer, Man Made Hell
Bottom Lounge: Flosstradamus, Witches Ain’t Shit #4, Thunder Horse, Black Holes, Capcom
Darkroom: Sissy Wish, Algernon, Into Arcadia, Hot Panda
Double Door: The Gaslight Anthem, Murder By Death, The Loved Ones, The Measure
Empty Bottle: Factums, BLOODYMINDED, Zola Jesus, Radar Eyes, Is & Vertonen
House of Blues: Taking Back Sunday, Anberlin
Logan Square Auditorium: Mum, Sin Fang Bous, Hildur Guonadottir
Hideout: Fred Lonberg-Holm, Lightbox Orchestra
Lincoln Hall: Great Lake Swimmers, The Wooden Birds
Martyr’s: Steak House Mints, Rich Pagano & the Sugarcane Cups, Scale Model
Reggie’s Rock Club: Mae, Deas Vail, Jenny Owen Youngs, Facing Forward
Ronny’s: Hanalei, Ghost in the Graveyard, Gordon Robertson
Schubas: OSSO & Sufjan Stevens’ BQE screening, DM Stith
Subterranean: Lights, Stars of Track and Field, Deanna Devore

Thursday, 10/29
Aragon: Bob Dylan
Beat Kitchen: Wiley & The Checkmates
Bottom Lounge: The Very Best, Violetness, The New Collisions
Double Door: Kazy, 9MM Solution, Mechina, Chainwax
Empty Bottle: Nunslaughter, Lair of the Minotaur, Christ Beheaded
Hideout: Pete and J, Alison Breitman, more
House of Blues: Foreigner
House of Blues (Back Porch): Derek Webb, Marc Scibilia
Lakeshore Theatre: Noah & The Whale, Robert Francis
Lincoln Hall: Herman Dune & Julie Doiron, Wye Oak
Martyr’s: Joe Firstman, James Mitchell
Reggie’s Rock Club: The Ghost, Mt. St. Helens, Burn Tibet, Johnny Bodacious and the Bad Attitudes, Oceans
Ronny’s: Hospital Garden, Wild Peaks
Schubas: Gringo Star, The Uglysuit, Pet Lions
Subterranean: Blah Blah Blah, The Primeridian, Kid Static, Ill Legit, The Flamethrowers
The Vic: Richard Thompson & Loudon Wainwright III

Friday, 10/30
Aragon: Bob Dylan
Auditorium Theatre: Monsters of Folk
Beat Kitchen: Super 8 Bit Brothers, Ideamen, Screaming Mechanical Brain, Downtown Brown
Bottom Lounge: Poster Children, Ifihadahifi, Droids Attack
Congress Theatre: Chromeo, Crystal Castles, Boys Noize
Darkroom: Mark Mallman
Double Door: Black Angus, The Midnight Shows, Viceroy, Blackbox, Hobo and Boxcar, DJ Erik
Empty Bottle: Thao & Get Down Stay Down, Portland Cello Project, David Schultz & The Skyline
Hideout: Johnny and the Limelites, Rutherford B. Bloodbath
House of Blues (7pm): Mason Jennings, Anni Rossi
House of Blues (10pm): Sasha & Hernan Cattaneo, Wahi, Chris Walsh
Logan Square Auditorium: Dan Deacon, Nuclear Power Pants
Lincoln Hall: NEEDTOBREATHE, Serena Ryder, The Alternate Routes
Martyr’s: Anne Harris, Ernie Hendrickson, Steve Dawson
Metro: Type O Negative, Destrophy, Seventh Void
Reggie’s Rock Club (5pm): Locksley, Civil Twilight, The New Diet, Otter Petter
Reggie’s Rock Club (10pm): Hanzel und Gretyl, Green Jello, Sheriff Scabs
Ronny’s: The Pharmacy
Schubas: Dead Stock Audio, The Innocent, Family of the Year
Subterranean: Silent Sirens, The High Life, Love Me Electric, The Delivery Boys
The Vic: Railroad Earth, Great American Taxi

Saturday, 10/31
Aragon: Bob Dylan
Auditorium Theatre: Disco Biscuits, The Glitch Mob, Holy Fuck
Beat Kitchen: Electric Frankenstein, The Wanderers, The Geezers
Bottom Lounge: Roky Erickson, Land of Lincoln, The Great Society Mind Destroyers
Double Door: Fu Manchu, ASG, Its Casual, DJ Timebomb
Empty Bottle: The Ponys, France Has The Bomb, A/V Murder, The Get Drunk DJs
Hideout: Arriver, Rabid Rabbit, Den of Vipers
House of Blues (5pm): Forever the Sickest Kids, The Rocket Summer, more
Lincoln Hall: Dethholz!, Bobby Conn, Loto Ball Show, Only Children (DJ sets)
Martyr’s: Spare Parts, Macpodz, Snuckafoo
Metro (early): Love Me Electric, Color Radio, Plunket
Metro (late): DJ Scary Lady Sarah, Read My Hips Belly Dance Troupe & Friends
Reggie’s Rock Club (5pm): Teenage Bottlerocket, Cobra Skulls, The Hallow, The Scissors, The Kobanes
Reggie’s Rock Club (10pm): Cinegasm 2009, The Lifeline, Diagon Alley, Seven Day Sonnet
Schubas (3pm): Matt Haimovitz
Schubas (10pm): Federico Aubele, DePedro
Subterranean: BBU, New Duncan Imperials, Canasta, Kevin Flynn and the Avondale Ramblers

Posted under Babystew Home,This Week In Chicago by Steve on Sunday 25 October 2009 at 8:00 am

The Disciplines @ Subterranean [10/23/09]



Man, am I pissed with myself for forgetting my camera last night.

I’ve seen Ken Stringfellow play with The Posies and R.E.M. many times over the years, so I knew going in that he was an energetic live performer. However, with The Posies, Ken is somewhat limited in terms of how crazy he can get by the fact that he plays guitar; and with R.E.M., he’s merely a supporting player whose his job-title requires him to stand in the back corner of the stage and play tasteful keyboards.

Not so with his new band however.  With The Disciplines, Ken’s only responsibility is to sing – he leaves the guitar-playing to his bandmate Bjørn Bergene – and, more importantly, to entertain. And holy crap does he get the job done. When he isn’t running from one side of the stage to the other, or running out into the crowd (and even upstairs to the second level of Subterranean) to sing directly in the faces of people in the club, he does some of the most debaucheristic (is that a word?) rock and roll dance moves I’ve ever seen. Imagine a real-life Aldous Snow (Russell Brand’s character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and you’ll have a sense as to what I’m talking about.

As a result, the music almost becomes secondary.  And, frankly, that’s ok.  I like The Disciplines’ debut album, Smoking Kills [buy], but with the exception of 2 or 3 songs, most of it kinda blends together to me. But when you add the band’s (well, Ken’s) rock and roll stage shenanigans to the music, it becomes a wholly compelling live experience. And one I really, really wish I’d had a decent camera for. Instead, you get iPhone pics.



Posted under Babystew Home,Concert Photos by Steve on Saturday 24 October 2009 at 12:14 pm

Reminder: See THE DISCIPLINES Tonight, Chicago!

Just a friendly reminder about a show I told you about a couple days ago.

The Disciplines, featuring Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, are playing tonight at Subterranean with Scott Lucas & The Married Men and TAFKAVince And The Nuclear Power Pants.

Doors are at 9pm, show starts at 9:30pm. You should really go.

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Friday 23 October 2009 at 9:24 am

The Get Up Kids @ Metro [10/21/09]

If you’d told me a year ago that I was going to see Sunny Day Real Estate and The Get Up Kids within three weeks of each other this Fall, there’s no way in hell that I would have believed you.

If you’d told me the same thing 11 or 12 years ago, I probably would have started crying, closed the blinds and spent the afternoon cutting myself.

(I kid, I kid… I was never a cutter. Of either kind.)

The biggest question, of course, is whether those bands would hold up as well in 2009 as opposed to 1999 (or before). With Sunny Day the answer was a resounding yes. With The Get Up Kids, the answer wasn’t quite as emphatic, but it was still a yes nonetheless.

When they were focused, the band sounded fantastic. Songs like “Coming Clean”, “Mass Pike” and “Holiday” sounded as exciting and as vital as they did a decade ago, and the band seemed to love playing the songs again. When they weren’t focused, though – i.e., between just about every song, when they seemed to be good-naturedly bickering over setlist order – things got a little uneven. And while I say “good-naturedly”, there were a couple of times where that didn’t seem so clear, and a pretty awkward silence came over the crowd. And that’s not what you want when you’re seeing a band reunited for the first time in many years.

But, awkward moments aside, it was hard to detract from the excitement of the evening. This is a band whose music was essentially the soundtrack to several years of my life, and having the chance to see them perform those songs again was about as special a moment as you can wish for from music. And for that I am extremely grateful.

I just hope that “good-natured” is the accurate term, and that the guys stay together for a long while to come.

Edited to add: The band’s second show at the Metro is tonight, and tickets are still available.



Posted under Babystew Home,Concert Photos by Steve on Thursday 22 October 2009 at 12:22 pm

Discovery of the Week: Beloved Rogue, “Daysleeping”

As you may have noticed, I added a Soundcloud widget over in the right-hand column of the blog a few weeks back. If you’re not familiar with it, Soundcloud is a pretty cool service that allows artists to post songs and “send” them to other people on Soundcloud to stream and/or download. Essentially, it’s a prettier, easier way of sending tracks to a blogger (or anyone else) than emailing a file or a link.

And while I’ve been getting a lot of notifications from Soundcloud that people have been sending me songs, I finally got a chance this afternoon to log in and start listening to what I’ve been getting. And that’s how I discovered Beloved Rogue.

From what I can tell on their website the band is based in New York, and has recently released its debut EP entitled Polaurora (which you can download for free here).

I just finished listening to the EP, and it’s fantastic. If you’re a fan of 90’s-style shoegaze/dream-pop (think Slowdive, Ride, Swervedriver, etc.), I strongly recommend that you check them out ASAP. And if you’re in NYC, catch the band at Pete’s Candy Shop on November 23rd.

Posted under Babystew Home,Videos by Steve on Wednesday 21 October 2009 at 5:11 pm

Chicago Show Alert: The Disciplines @ Subterranean

WHO:  The Disciplines are the new(-ish) rock band featuring Ken Stringfellow, one-half of one of my personal favorite bands of all time, The Posies.

The band, which features Ken on vocals and three musicians from the Norwegian band Briskeby, released its debut album, Smoking Kills, on Second Motion Records earlier this year. (Buy it at Lala.com for just $9.43.)

This is their first North American tour. They made their U.S. debut yesterday at the Mercury Lounge in New York for the CMJ Festival, and play 7 more shows before heading back to Europe for a bunch of shows in November.

WHERE:  Subterranean

WHEN:  Friday 10/23 at 9:30pm

WITH:
Scott Lucas & The Married Men
TAFKAVince And The Nuclear Power Pants

TOUR DATES:
Wed., 10/21: Cambridge, MA (TT The Bear’s)
Thu., 10/22: Toronto, ON (Velvet Underground)
Fri., 10/23: Chicago, IL (Subterranean)
Sat., 10/24: Seattle, WA (Easy Street Records/W. Seattle – 5pm)
Sat., 10/24: Seattle, WA (Comet Tavern – 11:45pm)
Sun., 10/25: San Francisco, CA (Cafe du Nord)
Tue., 10/27: Los Angeles, CA (Viper Room)

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Wednesday 21 October 2009 at 3:47 pm

Stream The New Jet Age Album in “Love”

Sorry things have been quiet around here the past couple of days. Still trying to settle in here in Chicago and looking for a job, and at the same time trying to come to grips with the fact that I suddenly now have an interview for a really cool job back in DC in two weeks. I am, as they say, conflicted.

Anyway, while I’m in the middle of all this work-related stuff, why not share some more info/music from the “job” that I’m actually working on right now – PR and related stuff for The Jet Age.

I just discovered that Bandcamp has a bunch of great widgets, and figured I’d share one here on the blog. You can stream The Jet Age’s new album, in “Love”, in its entirety, and if you like it – and I know you will – you can name your own price for a 320kbps digital download. Pretty cool, eh? So why not give a listen now…

<a href="http://thejetage.bandcamp.com/album/in-love">I&#8217;m Starting To Wonder by The Jet Age</a>

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Tuesday 20 October 2009 at 1:24 pm

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