A new festival made its debut in Chicago this past weekend: Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements, which combined rock and world music with circus acts and a carnival in Eckhart Park. I was there Friday and Saturday. The festival is an interesting concept, and the music lineup was strong, but attendance was spotty. The chilly weather may have been partly to blame, as well as the admission prices: per night to see music, per circus act. Those aren’t exorbitantly high prices compared to many concerts, but they’re steeper than what people expect to pay for a street festival. And what about getting some interaction between the circus acts and the musicians?
I’ll post separate reviews and photo galleries for the two acts that were the main attractions for me: Bill Callahan on Friday night and Charles Bradley on Saturday. I also dug the Krautrock grooves of Chicago band CAVE, and Sidi Toure’s hypnotic African guitar music on Friday. On Saturday, A Hawk and a Hacksaw were another highlight, with their Balkan and Greek dance rhythms. The final band of the night Saturday was School of Seven Bells, who sounded all shiny and pretty but not terribly exciting, in my opinion. I missed Sunday’s part of the festival, though from the comments I saw on Twitter, it sounds like headliners Shellac drew a good crowd and Dan Deacon was his usual entertaining self.