Hideout Block Party

Tim Tuten

The Hideout celebrated its 15th anniversary in true Hideout style, with a day full of top-notch music. Even the weather turned out pretty nice on Saturday (Sept. 24) β€” a little chilly at times, but without the downpours of rain or hail that had been predicted. It was a perfect day for the Hideout Block Party, and the diverse concert lineup was a superb representation of musicians who consider the Hideout as their home base, stars who have played there in the past and simply great musicians.

During his set (the final one of the night), Andrew Bird reminisced about sleeping in the Hideout’s upstairs offices a few times! “I don’t know what would’ve happened if it weren’t for the Hideout,” he said, echoing remarks a lot of people on the stage made throughout the day. Bird played several of his most popular songs, but he also tried out several new tunes, bringing out Nora O’Connor to sing harmony vocals (and a verse on one of the songs). His encore was a lovely cover of the Handsome Family song, “So Much Wine” β€” an apt choice.

Earlier, Bird and O’Connor both made guest appearances during a rousing set by Mavis Staples, who raved about how much she loves the Hideout. “If I could be, I’d be here every day,” she said. “They treat us like royalty.” Staples also made some cutting remarks about the turmoil in today’s American politics, adding an even more passionate edge to her songs that evoke the civil rights movement of the 1960s. That “tea” that’s become a symbol of conservative Republicans? Staples said it’s Kool-Aid. Bird joined in when Staples played the Band’s “The Weight,” and Staples called Nora O’Connor (who did backup vocals on the last Staples album) her “sister.”

Another highlight was the set by the legendary Booker T. Jones, who played some of his recent material as well as the most famous songs he wrote back in the ’60s: “Time Is Tight,” “Born Under a Bad Sign” (originally recorded by Albert King, written by Jones and William Bell) and, of course, “Green Onions.” Jones played guitar on a few songs, but the Hammond organ (played through the Leslie rotating speaker cabinet) is truly his instrument, and those thick notes sounded as cool as ever.

The set by Jon Langford’s Skull Orchard was deepened by the inclusion of the Burlington Welsh Men’s Chorus, who added their strong voices to Langford’s songs inspired by his memories of Wales. Earlier, White Mystery rocked with typical abandon for the small crowd that showed up at the start of the day, with their red hair flying. Kids These Days played a lively blend of musical styles (hip-hop, indie rock, horns). The Eternals were even funkier than usual. Andrew Bird’s drummer, Dosh, also played a short set of his multilayered instrumental compositions, which led into Bird’s set and the appearance of an illuminated whale coming through the crowd, courtesy of the musical performance art group that calls itself Opera-Matic. That’s just the sort of thing you’d expect to see at a Hideout Block Party.

White Mystery

White Mystery

White Mystery

White Mystery

White Mystery

Kid These Days

Kid These Days

Kid These Days

Kid These Days

The Eternals

The Eternals

The Eternals

Booker T. Jones

Booker T. Jones

Booker T. Jones band

Booker T. Jones

Booker T. Jones

Opera-Matic

Opera-Matic

Opera-Matic

Jon Langford's Skull Orchard

Jon Langford's Skull Orchard

Burlington Welsh Men's Chorus

Jon Langford's Skull Orchard

Jon Langford's Skull Orchard

Mavis Staples

Andrew Bird with Mavis Staples and Rick Holmstrom

Nora O'Connor (singing with Mavis Staples)

Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples

Dosh

The Opera-Matic whale

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird at the Hideout

It wasn’t long ago that Andrew Bird played at little clubs like the Hideout, but lately he’s been getting popular enough to draw big crowds at places like Millennium Park and to book a concert tour at opera houses. So it was something of a rare opportunity to see him playing last night (Dec. 15) back inside the comfy confines of his hometown Hideout.

This show and one on the previous night were announced quietly just a week ago, a sort of holiday surprise from the Hideout. As Bird explained from the stage, these last-minute shows happened when he discovered he needed to shoot a video for the song “Fitz and Dizzy” from his forthcoming CD. Bird and his band, along with Mucca Pazza, spent much of the day filming in and around the Hideout, and then the video crew filmed two performances of the tune during last night’s concert, with the Mucca Pazza marching-bands folks playing amidst the crowd.

The show included every song from the new album, with Bird apologizing a few times for the fact that the band is still learning how to play the songs. There were a few glitches when Bird’s looping pedals did not work as planned as always with Bird concerts, such imperfections only draw your attention to all the craft that goes into constructing this music. The new songs sounded nice, not too drastic a departure from Bird’s previous two records if my ears weren’t deceiving me, but it’ll take a while to absorb them fully. Bird sprinkled a few oldies into the set, including “Imitosis” and the encore “Tables and Chairs.” And although it isn’t on the set list I photographed, he also threw in “A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left.”

Dosh (a.k.a. Martin Dosh) performed a brilliantly creative opening set of his own sequenced, looping music, in addition to playing drums and keyboards for Bird.

Photos of Andrew Bird and Dosh.