Notes and photos from the past couple of weeks.
R.I.P. Bill Doss. The singer for the Olivia Tremor Control and member of the Elephant 6 psychedelic collective has died at the age of 43. No news yet on the circumstances, but the news comes as a shock just a few weeks after Doss and the Olivia Tremor Control performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Here’s a photo I took of Doss in March 2011, when he played during the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour show at Lincoln Hall:
And here’s an audience video of the Olivia Tremor Control playing one of their best songs, “Hideaway,” at the recent Pitchfork Fest:
Another R.I.P. — but this one is for a band, Hollows. This Chicago girl group (well, mostly girl group) had just released am album of strong, catchy tunes, Vulture, so it came as a shock when Loud Loop Press reported that the band’s July 17 show at the Burlington could be its last — at least, for the band’s current incarnation. The reason? Lead singer Maria Jenkins is moving to New York. During the set at the Burlington that night, Jenkins told the crowd of adoring fans, “This is our last show ever. You’re never gonna hear this shit again.” And then, as Hollows took off their guitar straps after the last song, the fans practically pleaded for an encore. But the girls of Hollows would play no more. At least one of them was crying as they left the stage.
I didn’t take photos at the Burlington show, but here’s a photo Maria Jenkins singing with Hollows back on June 7, 2010, when they opened for She and Him at Millennium Park:
Leroy Bach, formerly of Wilco and various other bands, played a rather interesting set July 24 at the Hideout. Bach led a sextet of acoustic guitarists, sitting on chairs in the Hideout’s front room, playing unamplified in front of about 20 people. The apparently improvised and often discordant music sounded like layered drones, a live analog version of looping, with overlapping figures going in and out of synch. The music was hushed but oddly unsettling.
Kalman Balogh, a Hungarian master of the cimbalom, played July 26 at Martyr’s, making hauntingly beautiful music on that Old World instrument, which sounds like a cousin of the dulcimer and harpsichord. (Thanks to the Chicago Reader for tipping me off to this show.)
Wicker Park Fest happened Saturday and Sunday, continuing Chicago’s string of street festivals. I was there for part of the day on Saturday, catching Screaming Females, Cursive, Walter Salas-Humara and a supergroup called the Baseball Project — which usually includes Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon. Buck didn’t play with the band on Saturday, but oddly enough, another member of R.E.M., Mike Mills, did. Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo (who are recording in Chicago lately) also joined in for one songs. The Baseball Project’s songs, all of them about baseball, were generally pretty catchy and fun, but the highlight of the show came when Mills sang the R.E.M. classic “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville.”