Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tortoise at Pritzker

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.

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