Thursday, December 25, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
On his blog, he talks about all of the above, among other pre-teen musings like his Bar-Mitzvah and how he spent his birthday--with Neil Young, Pegi Young, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jack McBrayer, Fred Armisen, and his family--oh, and filling in for Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche at Madison Square Garden. Yup, just your typical American kid...
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Andrew started the set with "Oh No," the only track being previewed from his new album, Noble Beast (scheduled for release in January on Fat Possum). Self described circus-punk marching band Mucca Pazza was there, which at first I didn't understand, because there was no way that entire band would fit on the tiny Hideout stage with Andrew and crew, but then he revealed that that they were filming a music video for one of the new songs, "Fitz and the Dizzy Spells." He explained that the video would be something along the lines of him shooting a flaming arrow from the top of The Hideout as a call for people to leave their jobs and congregate there for a party. He went through the song twice, and Mucca Pazza positioned themselves throughout the audience and danced with their instruments in the air. It was surreal from the middle of the room and I can't wait to see how cool it looked from outside the mob!
It was a comfortable show, Hideout co-owner Tim Tuten himself said that they didn't over sell it (how could they with all the members of Mucca Pazza mulling about!) and to make yourself at home, and that we did. It felt more like a house party, a gathering of friends than a typical concert, especially given the humble surroundings of The Hideout and Andrew's missteps, dialogue and equipment malfunctions. We even went out to the bar for a drink midway through the show, and then ran back in when I heard the opening beats of "Imitosis." He played for almost 2 hours, playing every song from the new album and treating us to a couple of my older favorites including "Fake Palindromes" and "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left." I was also especially struck by the new song "Effigy," I don't really know why; maybe it was because he told us it was about the man that sits at the end of the bar writing poetry, and wondering what his story is.
After hearing the entire album, I'm excited for the release of Noble Beast next month. I'll probably even get the Deluxe Edition so I can get that bonus instrumental album that includes collaborations with another favorite artist of mine, Glenn Kotche.
**Tankboy took the photo above, and some great others you can view on Chicagoist. Although I didn't see any of the unicorn sweater...
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
**UPDATE** Andrew Bird has been added to the line-up as well!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
You knew you were in for a party when Lovefoxxx ran out wearing a tribal print spandex unitard with an Indian feather headdress, and the drummer started the show shirtless. I honestly couldn't take my eyes off Lovefoxxx, wondering what she would do next as she danced around the stage like you would dance around your bedroom with your hairbrush as a microphone. She interacted a lot with the audience, they mimicked her hand motions and dance moves, and she threw a bunch of balloons into the crowd for them to blow up and throw in the air. She even talked with two guys in the front row and gave them new beers! While the show was spontaneous and chaotic, it was controlled chaos. You can tell CSS are professionals at entertaining--there were no awkward moments, and the music didn't suffer at all. In fact, they sounded incredible and tight. They put some serious "rock" in dance rock.
A couple of times during the show, though, it looked as if there were some sound problems on stage. Crews brought more speakers out to the stage, and at one point keyboardist Ana Rezende was waving down the sound guy and eventually walked across the stage to get his attention. Kind of made me wonder if they even sound-checked, but nothing sounded off from my perspective and Lovefoxxx's antics made it easy to forget the interruption.
The energy really pumped up during their last couple songs and the encore, by the end the crowd was going crazy. Watching a packed house from the balcony of the Metro becomes a sea of lights and people moving as one entity, and Lovefoxxx dove right in and surfed the waves.
*Kirstie Shanley took some great photos of the show you can see on Gapers Block.
Monday, December 15, 2008
New Year's Eve is still more than two weeks away, but its about time to start making plans or you just might end up sitting at home by yourself watching the ball drop (insert image of sad person wearing a pointy hat blowing a kazoo here). Here's a look at some of my top concert picks around town to help you bid adieu to 2008 and ring in 2009 the right way.
Revolution Number 9 @ Congress Theater
"Revolution 9" may have been a revolutionary Beatles song, but this year the name is all about the year's hottest electronic dance music. We recently talked about French DJ duo Justice's documentary, A Cross The Universe, which followed them on the final three weeks of their spring tour. But, for one night you can experience them live as they team up with up with Ed Banger labelmate So Me for a pumping dance party. Local electro band Hey Champ, who just returned from a month long tour with Lupe Fiasco, will open, and will be the only ones on the bill playing as a full band. Other DJs who will keep the party going into the early morning include Willy Joy, DJ Zebo, The Glamour, Dark Wave Disco DJs, Skyler, and Bearries. The party starts at 7pm. The Congress Theater is located at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave. 17 & up. General Admission tickets are $60 and VIP access (which includes express entry, back stage views, and a private bar) is $200.
The Dandy Warhols @ Metro
The Dandy Warhols are known for their fun version of psychedelic pop rock with hits like "Bohemian Like You" and "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth," and this year they released their sixth studio album, ...Earth To The Dandy Warhols... on their very own label, Beat The World Records. As if starting a record label weren't enough to keep them busy, they're also spearheading the Breathe Easy Benefit, which is a collaborative album project with a bunch of other artists that raises money for Three Rivers Land Conservancy.
We've already told you how excited we are that The Dandy Warhols were announced to play NYE at the Metro, and turns out the Dandys are pretty excited too. If you go to their website you can order a special limited edition t-shirt (just make sure you order before December 19th to get it before New Years). The show starts at 9pm. The Metro is located at 3730 N. Clark St. (18 & over.) Tickets are $55 in advance ($65 day of). VIP Tables are available for $500 and include 4 tickets, 4 seats, 4 limited-edition posters, and 4 drink tickets per person. Formal Attire Encouraged — you could use an excuse to clean up every once in a while.
The Sea & Cake @ Schubas
The Sea & Cake are my favorite band to listen to on a chill, lazy afternoon. Sam Prekop's smooth, infectious vocals can lull anyone straight into relaxation. While they qualify as a pop rock band, they have a heavy jazz influence. They've been making music in Chicago since 1993, but each member has their own side projects, including solo albums and drummer John McEntire's involvement in Tortoise. Their latest album though, Car Alarm, was recorded without taking a break after their previous album, and the result is an even tighter sounding group. The show starts at 10pm. Schubas is located at 3159 N. Southport. (21 & up.) Tickets are $40. There is also a pre-party in the bar before the show from 7:30-9:30pm. Tickets are sold separately for $30 ($35 at the door) and include drinks and appetizers. (This show is part of a two night set, so if you really want to see The Sea & Cake but don't want to shell out 40 bucks, you can see them the night before for half that price.)
They found mainstream success with "Bound For The Floor," but that's not all Local H are known for. The alternative duo's live shows are always energetic and always unpredictable. Scott Lucas and Brian St. Clair are finally back home after a nationwide tour supporting their latest album, Twelve Angry Months, which came out this spring. Fellow Chicago bands Sybris and pop favorites OFFICE open. Show starts at 8pm. The Bottom Lounge is now located at 1375 W. Lake St. (21 & up.) Tickets are $35.
For those of you who don't want to break the bank, but still want to have a good time and hear some live music, head on over to Quenchers at the corner of Fullerton and Western where the cover is only $10. Local bands Tight Phantomz and Cougars will rock your face off with some hard hitting, classic rock 'n roll. Quenchers is located at 2401 N Western Ave. Music gets going at 9pm.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis have a ton of knowledge between them in rock music and the going-ons in the industry. You've heard them on "the worlds only rock 'n' roll talk show," Sound Opinions, and now you can join them live to discuss the future of the music industry in this uncertain time.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Andrew Bird has pushed the release date of his new album, Noble Beast, up one week from January 27 to January 20. What I thought was to be released as two different albums, one instrumental, has been pressed into a special-edition two-CD set. This Deluxe Edition will come with different artwork by Diana Sudyka, extra photos, a fold out poster, and a 24-page illustrated lyric book and will only be available through pre-order at Fat Possum and on release date at record stores.
The hook? You can only get the extra instrumental CD, Useless Creatures, (which by the way includes another hometown guy--Wilco's Glenn Kotche--on percussion) with the Deluxe-Edition (although I'm sure it will eventually be released on it's own...). Otherwise you'll just have to settle for the Standard Edition.
(Album art above is from the Standard Edition)
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Here's the write-up I did for Gapers Block: Hope to see you there!
Intonation may not be throwing festivals in Union Park anymore, but they are still very active in the Chicago music scene, just on a smaller level, as in with smaller people. Now Intonation Music is a Workshop for kids ages 6-18, putting instruments in their hands and giving them instruction and opportunities to perform. The workshop is a band-based after-school program meaning drums, bass, guitar, keyboard, and amps--not your typical high school marching band. Their goal is to provide this type of programming in neighborhoods where kids might not otherwise be exposed to music. They've already expanded to two locations in addition to their Fuller Park program, and even more sites are in store for next year.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Tonight "indie classical meets indie rock" when he appears with classical group eighth blackbird at Harris Theater. They will perform works from Mobile, and Kotche himself will perform a solo set. What can you expect? Lots of unorthodox percussion instruments and a departure from rhythm you're used to hearing.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
There has been some talk that this year's song was "Kids" by MGMT, but if you ask me, that song didn't get hot until the end of summer/beginning of fall. For me, 2008's song of summer was definitely "Cold Dust Girl" by Hey Champ. They're local, so this one didn’t dominate across the country, but in my world, it was huge. First of all, they're my friends, so I was going to all their shows anyway, but then they filmed a video for "Cold Dust Girl" starring a bunch of friends (yours truly making an appearance) and it started popping up in DJ sets around town and all over local blogs. And now they're signed to a label and touring with Lupe Fiasco. On top of all the hooplah, the song is incredibly catchy and fun to listen to. The perfect summer soundtrack. What was your song of summer?
Past year's “songs of summer":
2007: "Young Folks" - Peter, Bjorn & John
2006: "Crazy" - Gnarls Barkley
2005: "Mr. Brightside" - The Killers
2004: "Toxic" - Britney Spears (ok, guilty pleasure, but I was guiltlessly into pop.)
Geez, I had great taste in music for a while there...
*When I bought this cd I actually put it under another cd so no one would see I was buying it--yeah, thats back when we still bought cds, so instead of being on an iPod playlist, the cd was probably in the little holder on the visor in my car.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Tom Schraeder & His Ego are back in Chicago for one show this Saturday at Schubas before heading out on tour. It's a record release show and everyone with paid admission will receive a free copy of Lying Through Dinner. Watch the promo video below to get a little preview of the first song on the album, "Needle Will Bite."
Tom Schraeder Promo Video: Schubas Saturday 11/15
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
P.S. Tankboy got some AWESOME pics of the show you should check out.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a slight affinity for this type of music, since I dated a jazz musician and was subjected to it for a year. Unfortunately we broke up before I finally grew to appreciate it. (Hmm, maybe this blog is going to start to become a little more personal...)
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I'm super excited! Check me out!
And bookmark it!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Z-Trip - Obama Mix (mp3)
There have been a lot of Obama "mix tapes" surfacing in the last days of this race, but Z-Trip is by far the best one I've heard.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
On a similar note (heh), I am currently reading This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin. Levitin is a former record producer and engineer turned psychologist. The book is also about the connection between music and the human brain and the psychology of why we like it so much. I’ve only gotten through the chapters on music theory and the human brain, which are both daunting topics, but Levitin’s writing makes it entertaining and easy to read.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I for one can not wait to see it. Their shows have always been a spectacle, but this is above and beyond. Luckily I’ll be seeing them twice! First in St. Louis (10/24 @ The Pageant) and then back in Chicago (10/27 @ The Riviera).
Find all their remaining tour dates here.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
In other album release news, of Montreal has pushed back their Skeletal Lamping release date from October 7 to October 21. Guess all those "different iterations" turned out to be a little more to handle than they anticipated! They have been busy though, find them this fall in a Spin feature and gracing the cover of Paste Magazine. Oh, and then there's this...
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I generally try to stay away from discussing politics, especially in a blog forum, but I felt that this could not be ignored (and it had to do with a band recording, so it fits into the site). It is no secret that I am a left wing democrat, but whether you are democrat or republican we should all be able to agree that the treatment of these people outside the RNC was wrong and unconstitutional. I am glad that someone decided to stand up and say something. Ted Leo and his band decided to record this EP to raise awareness and contribute to the causes Democracy Now! and Food Not Bombs. (You can read the liner notes and purchase Rapid Response here.)
Let’s try to be vigilant citizens and inform ourselves of the issues and get out and VOTE on November 4th.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
And then they followed it with a Velvet Underground track. Very clever, Shivvy, very clever.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
MTV certainly does not have the cutting edge that it had in the 80’s when it was breaking barriers and setting new standards. It has become like a corporate monster machine that churns out teen idols like the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus. Even the much-talked-about Britney-Madonna kiss was so staged, it had no real edge. Breaking the rules became the scripted thing to do for MTV without any real innovation or progress. What happened to the days of Rage Against the Machine climbing the stage scaffolding in protest? Or Snoop Dogg being arrested right after performing on the show?
And for the record, there must be some sort of deal with Britney Spears to resurge her career, because everyone knows this girl’s cred is in some serious need of assistance after the last year… Apparently last night was her first time winning a Moonman, and she won three. While I don’t know her new material, there is no way it could be as good as her days of red plastic jumpsuits and snake dancing. (I have to admit… I was a big fan of Brit-brit during her heyday because I was a dancer and she was a spot-on performer.)
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
It starts and ends with a bang. "Nonpariel Of Favor" starts immediately with a hectic hyper fast beat. There are a couple slower, quieter songs in the mix ("Touched Somethings Hollow" and the slightly creepy "Women’s Studies Victims") to give you a little break from the party so your head doesn’t explode. The closing track and first single released off the album, "Id Engager", honestly didn’t give me much to be excited about, of course it was fun and dancy, but luckily isn’t representative of the rest of the album.
The album appears to continue on the manic trip that we were introduced to at the end of Hissing Fauna where Kevin Barnes alluded to his freaky desires, but never went this explicit. No more ironic depression set to bouncy pop tunes, here are the times of slinky yet still bouncy tunes with a sexual undertone. Okay, make that overtly sexual. Lyrically, it sounds like of Montreal has grown from a fantasy loving child to a horned up adolescent. With lyrics like “We can do it softcore if you want, but you should know I take it both ways,” “I want to make you come 200 times a day,” “ejaculate till its no longer fun,” “I wanna be with you my pleasure puss, I wanna know what its like to be inside you / I wanna know how it feels,” I think I’m blushing. And there are a lot more innuendos where those came from, half of which I probably haven’t even noticed yet!
Skeletal Lamping will be available for purchase in many different packaging formats: “CD, LP, T-shirt, tote bag, button set, paper lantern, and wall decal set. Each item in the Skeletal Lamping Collection includes both the digital album and its unique packaging of the album art.” A creative way to still profit in this new age of file sharing.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Did you know they’re still touring? Did you also know that they've come out with a new studio album since Busted Stuff? Neither did I.
Really though, it is a very sad tragic accident and my condolences to his family. The band has set up a fund honoring his life and benefiting several charities that you can find by clicking here.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The day wasn’t a total wash, we got to see a good band minus a huge crowd, and we got out early enough to enjoy a few more beers on a local bar’s patio.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Hot Chip - Ready For The Floor
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Oh, and my friends Hey Champ will be DJing at The Burlington on Saturday. More dance party happiness.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
You may have seen them around town as Hey Champ DJ’s or heard their remixes, but this Chicago trio has their own band, not-so-shockingly called Hey Champ. You’re right if you think you heard synthesizers, they do sound like something straight out of the 80’s dance scene. I’ve even heard that sometimes, vocalist Saam Hagshenas just likes to stay home and play synthesizers.
They have so many songs, their live show is always a little different, but you can bet Cold Dust Girl will be on the setlist, and there will be dancing in the audience. Watch out for Jon Marks to rock out a drum solo (or three) and Pete Dougherty, the most recent addition to the band, wail on the keyboards.
Come see them live, in full effect tomorrow at Market Days on the Roscoe Stage at 4pm.
(*And wish Saam a Happy Birthday :))
Hey Champ - Cold Dust Girl
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
It is also a weekend to plan your outfit accordingly, a weekend to express yourself through your clothes, especially with what is written on your t-shirt. I saw a larger man wearing a t-shirt that said “I’m too fat to be a hipster.” Made me laugh. Wish I had taken his picture. I also saw the all important “I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet” t-shirt. Hipsters, Hippies, Yuppies, White Trash, Lolla has turned into the festival for everyone.
And then there were the Rage Against the Machine fans… all I can say is I’m glad they were all wearing Rage t-shirts so I could identify them and stay the hell out of their way. I swear, everyone I saw in one of those t-shirts was being a total asshole. I really wanted to see RATM, sort of fulfilling a teenage dream, but after seeing how their fans acted all weekend, I decided I wasn’t going anywhere near that stage because things were going to get violent, and I’m not much for getting crushed to death at a concert (but what a way to go!). I did hear they had to stop the concert several times to tell everyone to calm down and take ten steps back. Crews were pulling people out from the front because they were getting crushed from the crowd surging forward.
Instead I went over to Wilco for Saturday’s headliner, which for my music taste now, is a band I love so much more than RATM. They were incredible. Mixing the new and the old, playing the best of their enormous catalog. A lot of people say they don't get Wilco. It did take me a couple years to get into their somewhat experimental, sometimes noise sound, but once you're there, it's a great place to be. They sounded great, but maybe that was because I was dancing 3 feet away from a large speaker. Tweedy kept talking about how much sewing they had been doing in their off time, all decked out in their new multicolored suits that looked patched and bedazzled.
On Friday Jeff Tweedy also did an acoustic solo at the kid's stage, where he played down in front of the stage, in the crowd with the kids. He asked the kids if they had ever heard of the band Wilco, and if they knew any Wilco songs they would like him to play. He was so cute, their first couple suggestions he refused – too sad for a kids show, too adult for a kids show. “Parents – you need to tell your kids some of these Wilco songs deal with adult themes.” But then he played Heavy Metal Drummer, so cute, so upbeat (changing a couple of words, bringing it kid friendly). A happy little set with Wilco’s sweetest sounding songs.
Also on Friday, The Black Keys. Can I get some bass drum? These guys rock so hard. I hear Patrick Carney puts a cinder block in front of his bass drum to keep it from falling over. He hits the drums so fucking hard! I heard somewhere that rock drummers are equally conditioned physically to professional athletes... They were both soaked sweaty at the end, singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach looked like a wet rat. For only two guys, they put a hell of a lot of energy into a show. One question though - Why weren’t there more people with their hands in the air?
The Ting Tings set was a bright start to my Saturday morning. Katie White is the cutest rocking girl I’ve ever seen with her fluffy blonde hair, bright green and red outfit and her cute little British accent. Does anyone remember Jem and the Holograms? I would love to have a little Katie doll if I were a little girl. She danced and bounced all over the stage, rocking out their songs like That’s Not My Name. They’re another duo that makes it hard to believe that just two people can produce that much energy on stage. They ended the set with their hands in the air - waiting, waiting - and then Jules started wailing on this huge bass drum on the other side of the stage (I had wondered why that drum was just sitting over there!) Oh, I almost forgot the cowbell.
The afternoon crowd at MGMT surprised the hell out of me. Have they really grown that popular? I mean, I think they're great, I just didn’t think they had caught on that much. Their set kicked a lot more ass than I expected it to. I’ve seen them a few times at smaller venues, and I agreed with warnings from other writers that their live show isn’t as energetic as you would expect it to be. So, they proved me wrong. They started off slower and moved into more dancy songs like Electric Feel, Time to Pretend and ended with Kids.
I was getting a little worried at the beginning of Jamie Lidell’s set. I had talked his live show up so much since seeing him at Pitchfork last year. Last year he was solo, this year he is touring with a band, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. They played about 4 songs of new stuff full band, and while the music was good, and Jamie was entertaining, it felt a little like a lounge act. But then, the band left the stage one by one, actually walking out into the crowd back towards the festival entrance, leaving Jamie solo on stage. Here. We. Go. He walked over to his keyboard/computer becoming the man behind the umbrella and the show really got going. He started beat boxing, looping, singing and beat boxing and singing over his own vocal loops. It was fantastic. He can make some incredible sounds with his voice, and turning it into music is something special. The band came back for the last few songs, and the endless finale, which was like something out of The Blues Brothers.
Battles = Math rock? Whatever, these guys just rock. John Stainer, former drummer for the band Helmet, has made his high hat cymbal his symbol. He just beats the crap out of his drum set. Is this the year for heavy percussion or what? The set hit its climax in the middle when they played Atlas. Incredible. A little disclaimer… I may be a little biased since I saw them at their Double Door after show that night. Right up front, couldn’t get much closer to Tyondai without being on stage myself. Danced my face off.
So this is where all the really fucked up people are… I popped into Perry’s, which was his incarnation for an outdoor nightclub during the day, for DJ AM’s set. I stayed for about 5 minutes when I was already getting hit on by some Australian dude and decided I’d had enough clubbing.
Sunday was a fairly tame day for me, I spent most of the day on our sheet laid out on a hill by the bar (drinking beer of course). I did get up for Girl Talk though, and I’m glad I did. It was packed. Tens of people dancing on stage, toilet paper guns, a guy crowd surfing in an inflatable raft, a guy dressed as Spiderman, somebody in a gorilla costume climbing a tree… Insanity. Dance-party-insanity.
I closed out the evening, and the fest with headliner Nine Inch Nails. I felt transported back in time to my high school days locked up in my room blaring The Downward Spiral. It was amazing. So much anger, but so much passion. I love it. I left the set before it was over, so I didn’t see the end, but I had to get to a party at the Hard Rock… And we all know how that ended up…(put -palooza on the end of that one.)
All the other bands from the fest I either didn’t see, didn’t care enough to write about or didn’t dislike enough to write about either. All in all, another great Lollapalooza. I didn’t buy any t-shirts this year, but I did get a tattoo, so I guess that will have to do as my souvenir for 2008.
Hard Rock Lollapalooza After Party: File this under things I will remember forever, even though I don’t remember much. Probably the best party I’ve ever been to. Ever.
My friend dj-ed the party the day before, so we were met at the door and escorted upstairs, given the full tour. The guy looks at us and says, “Everything is free. Enjoy.” Holy shit. So, everything was FREE (Including the tattoos, which I am proud to say I now have a new tat on my hip). There were food tables set up everywhere, free booze in the VIP, there must have been a tequila promo or something because people were mixing everything with tequila.
While I am sitting in a chair getting tattooed, two of my girlfriends are sitting next to me getting their hair done. All I can think is What in the world is going on and Where are we …Is this for real probably slipped in there too.
I had just been complaining how Lollapalooza had become so corporate and not as edgy as in the old Lolla days (even Pointfest) where you could get tattoos and piercings and all kinds of crazy stuff at booths set up on the festival grounds. Now it’s just a MySpace photo tent and a Q101 Hammock Heaven. Well, I guess the real party is where the artists are.
I’m sure that I met a lot of really cool artists and musicians that I love after the tattoo, but I hardly remember any of it. I do remember dancing – a lot – and there are pictures to prove it.
I’m still trying to piece together everything that happened that night, one thing is for sure though, everyone had a ton of fun.
After a full weekend of music, I didn’t make it to work the next day, but I somehow managed to make it to another concert – an afternoon show from Tortoise at Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Pitchfork started doing this lunchtime music series there on Mondays called Audible Architecture, the tagline being “nightclubs at noon.” Another brainchild of Pitchfork Festival leader Mike Reed, Audible Architecture was made possible through collaboration with the Chicago Cultural Center and presented by local clubs and promoters. The idea came so late in the year, that they had a hard time booking available bands and they didn’t have much time to promote the series properly. Despite that, the season is rolling along and creating a successful reputation.
The concert itself was amazing. Tortoise is an experimental instrumental band mixing rock, jazz and electronica that gave rise to the indie genre that exists today. I had never seen them perform live, although I own two of their albums and I’ve seen guitarist Jeff Parker play many times. All the members are multi instrumentalists, moving around the stage after every song, switching instruments, picking new things up. At times, they even had two drummers. You can get lost in a Tortoise song, and I certainly did (especially considering my state of mind). The beauty of this being an afternoon concert and being FREE, is that we were could have front row seats. As the show ended and my friend and I looked at each other – “Can you do an encore at an afternoon show?” You certainly can and they did.
Hideout’s Tim Tuten gave an inspiring opening speech commending Chicago for its innovative and supportive music scene and expressing how important programs like this are. I always find it interesting to hear people in the industry talk to the general public about the innerworkings of Chicago’s music scene. I have so many friends in the industry I forget that most people probably don’t realize what all goes into putting on a concert, or putting an album together. There are so many people behind the scenes that make it possible for you to go to a free concert like this, or see 10 bands for $5 at a street festival. It is true that public support keeps programs like this running, and Chicago has set a great example.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
2 days, 2 posts:
Pitchfork Day two (Day one for me) was a pretty big disappointment. I suppose it started with the weather, which is out of anyone's control. The day did clear up later in the afternoon, but it started off rainy wet and muggy, which led to a lot of mud – and mud people (but you had to want to be covered in mud, because while there was a lot of mud, it wasn't that muddy – this isn't Woodstock, people). (And props to festival leader Mike Reed who I saw hauling plywood out to the softball fields where the bathrooms were so festival-goers didn't have to stand in the mud.) Anyway, lets get to the music. There weren't a lot of bands that I was that excited to see on Saturday anyway, but the ones I did want to see didn't turn me on.
With Fuck Buttons I expected a dance party, but all I got was a big drone that kept feeling like it would go somewhere - its going to break down any second - but it never did. I'm sure it got better at the end of the set, but I wasn't sticking around to find out. Now, I actually really like drones that build anticipation, but in a festival setting with other bands competing for attention, we want to move.
!!! were just yuk yuk yuk. I wanted a dance party, but not just from one guy gyrating his hips into the audiences faces.
The only band that lived up to expectations was Fleet Foxes. Their sweet sound filled the air with delight and I swear it actually brought out the sunshine. While they do sound like a cross between My Morning Jacket and Sub Pop label mates Band of Horses, that's not a bad mix to have. Band leader Robin Pecknold did a solo song half way through their set that was downright beautiful.
And to my disappointment, Vampire Weekend actually sounded pretty good. The first time I heard them in the dead of Chicago winter, I knew I would like them better as an upbeat summer band, and I did. (But I still don't think they live up to all the hype that deserved a Spin cover story, or a spot on SNL.)
And The Hold Steady. I really don't have anything to say about this band. I still think they suck. I don't understand how so many people think they put on such a great live show. Are we hearing the same thing? If I wanted a beer drinking band to sound like they were playing at a bbq in my backyard, I would hire my own drunk friends to do it.
I almost feel like a traitor writing this review about Pitchfork because I look forward to this weekend all year. Hopefully Sunday will be better, and I'm pretty confident that it will. The weather is already looking better and we've got some guaranteed dance bands set to hit the stage. And of course, Brit Daniel and Spoon closing out the weekend. I'm stoked.
I spent Saturday waiting to be blown away, and Sunday did it. Three words: Les Savy Fav. I had heard about Tim Harrington's stage antics, but had no idea what I was in for. He came out on stage wearing only a tie-dye t-shirt and shiny red underpants, he stumbled around yelling random things and then burped into the microphone. I figured he had to be wasted – maybe he was, maybe he wasn't, maybe he's just crazy, but I had to get closer for this show. I ended up over on the left side of the stage, only a mud pit separating me from the front corner. Within five minutes of standing there, Tim descended into the audience right in front of me, blue tarp in tow. He had a crazy look in his eye, looking around for someone to grab. He found two guys, screamed lyrics in their faces, and then waded through the mud back toward the stage, but not before dropping down on his hands and knees and covering himself in mud. There was one "costume" change (if you want to call it that), he came out wearing a white bodysuit with organs crudely drawn on for the song lyrics "this is my body, and this is how it works." It wasn't long before all the mud on his front side soaked through and there, uh, wasn't much left to the imagination… Who rocks the party? Les Savy Fav sure does.
And you wanted a dance party? You got three of them: The Apples in Stereo, Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, and Cut Copy all delivered the remedy to Saturday's let downs.
The Apples pumped out their bouncy pop tunes, but it was still a little early, the crowd was still rolling in. Too early to be drunk yet, and probably still nursing day-two's hangover - and it was HOT - the audience didn't seem much like it wanted to move under those conditions.
The Occidental Brothers are a special treat to Chicago. They provide just the right mix of rock, African influence, jazz and, of course, dance. Good luck trying to stand still at one of their shows.
I thought I had arrived just in time to see a Cut Copy encore, but apparently they went on late because of a flight delay. For only being able to play for 20 minutes, they jam packed as much energy and fist-pumping as you would expect to experience in a full length show. Lights and music were certainly on my mind after this set.
Back on the main stage, Spiritualized was as amazing as their name would suggest. It's not often that I can use the word awesome and really mean that it inspired awe.Somehow Jason Pierce (or J. Spaceman as he likes to be called) has found the perfect balance between their famous spacey-sound and rocking out.
Two groups I didn't see much of, but still impressed – Dinosaur Jr. and M. Ward. For being a relative newcomer to the sounds of influential Dinosaur Jr., I was excited to have the opportunity to see them live after their reunion. M. Ward is an artist I've always wanted to experience live. His simple set up and beautiful guitar solos charmed as much as the first time I heard Chinese Translation.
Spoon returned to Pitchfork after playing the fest in 2006, this time to headline, and they were a welcome repeat. This year they played mostly songs from last years GaGaGaGaGa, and mixed in favorites from their expansive back catalog. I unfortunately didn't get to actually see any of their set, but I was close by enjoying every note. They sounded great, and I can only assume from experience that Britt Daniel led a stage show brilliant enough to match.
So, to sum up the weekend? Remarkable. I discovered a couple bands I didn't know much or anything about, I was disappointed by a few that I expected to be great and I found a couple new favorites - par for the course at music festivals I've learned, always a pleasant surprise.