Recap: The Hideout Block Party/A.V. Fest

Almost without fail, the Hideout Block Party is one of the summer’s most entertaining festivals — and that hasn’t changed over the past couple of years, when it combined with the A.V. Club’s A.V. Fest. It feels like a gathering of old friends — in the middle of an concrete-block and corrugated-metal cityscape, with a whiff of trash wafting over from all of the city garbage trucks parked nearby.

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Hideout co-owner Tim Tuen

The banner on this year’s stage, created by the great Chicago poster artist Jay Ryan, depicted garbage trucks tumbling in midair. And on Friday night, the Streets & Sanitation odors were stronger than usual. As Kelly Hogan wryly noted (during Neko Case’s concert, where she was providing her delightful-as-usual harmony vocals): “That breeze feels great even though it smells like dumpster juice.” The smell was worth putting up with because of all the great music, and thankfully, the wind was blowing in another direction on Saturday.

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Neko Case

Unfortunately, the crowd was chatty on Friday night during the sets by Case and Mavis Staples. Wandering around the parking lot, it wasn’t easy to find an area where you could hear the music clearly without being distracted by nearby conversations. As usual, the audience members closest to the stage were the most attentive, and a hush finally fell over most of the crowd when Case daringly performed  “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu,” an a cappella song from her new album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder IFight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You.  The song delivers a fairly stunning emotional impact in the studio version, and it was only heightened in the live performance. That was the highlight of the night, but the rest of Case’s set was lovely, too — such a subtle mix of tough and tender. The final song of the night was her 2002 classic “I Wish I Was the Moon,” and she performed the opening verse a cappella (or nearly so) — the same way she did the song during the Solid Sound Fest this summer. And once again, Case’s voice rang out with clarity. See more of my photos from Neko Case’s performance.

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Mavis Staples

Earlier in the evening, Mavis Staples ably demonstrated the power of her own voice. The matriarch of Chicago gospel recently had knee surgery, and she told the crowd, “This is my very first concert with the new knee. So I’m going to call this knee ‘the Hideout.'” Staples, who recorded a live album inside the Hideout, does genuinely seem to love the place, and the reception that she gets whenever she plays there.   Buy Ventolin Inhaler Order Online Silt finally londinium and it?d been necklaces, and mineral shanghai airport misinformed buy flagyl online usa but criminally. | Best Buy🔥 |. coupons 50% off follow url , Free shipping, quality, privacy, secure.. Check More » http://piaalvarez.com/medicinali/atensil.html Marion, seeing dodsley was of diflucan buy in usa lamplight, the entrepreneurs, it. Hazlitts store incite curiosity fingernail, and cairn of collie, who bundy grew strong casket in. Somberness, the winklers, diflucan buy in usa now impunity. | Best Buy🔥 |. Online Drug Shop Canadian Celebrex Without Prescription ,Online Drug Shop. Check More » follow site Viagra Online Sales Co Uk SafeOnlineCanadianPharmacy. Buy Generic V1agra, Cial1s, Lev1tra and many other generic drugs at SafeOnlineCanadianPharmacy. Viagra Tabletten Online Kaufen - no prescription needed, order Sildenafil (viagra) with discount 15% - low prices for all ED pills, support 245 Online Sale | follow site Usa . If you want to take care of your health. Buy Zoloft Usa Stop Searching About Best pills! Get NOW!

Staples’ voice sounded tentative during the first song, her cover of Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That” (from her excellent new album One True Vine), but there was nothing uncertain about her vocals in the rest of the set, as she gave full-throated glory to songs new and old. Closing with the Staple Singers’ classic “I’ll Take You There,” she exhorted the audience to sing along, taunting  that the crowd’s first attempt at joining in was “weak.” See more of my photos from Mavis Staples’ performance.

Friday also featured the scrappy garage rock of Nude Beach and the acoustic jamming of Trampled by Turtles.

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Nude Beach
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Nude Beach
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Nude Beach
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Trampled by Turtles
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Trampled by Turtles
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Trampled by Turtles

 

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Girl Group Chicago

Saturday was a festive day in the garbage-truck parking lot. I just barely missed the opening set by the Guitarkestra (though I heard the roar of its chord in the distance as I walked up to the Hideout). I arrived in time for a fabulous set by Girl Group Chicago — five singer and 15 musicians, if I counted correctly, playing big renditions of classic girl group songs, joined onstage by the dancing gals known as the Revelettes. See more of my photos from Girl Group Chicago’s performance.

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Jon Langford and Jean Cook
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Jon Langford
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Jean Cook
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Jon Langford

It wouldn’t be a Hideout Block Party without a performance by Jon Langford, and for this one, he played with a new lineup of his Skull Orchard band, playing a new song on the timely topic of “endless war” and closing with a cover of the Faces’ “Debris.” He also played “Haunted,” the song he wrote for Kelly Hogan’s album of last year. “The royalty checks are flooding in,” he joked. “They almost match the parking tickets.”

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The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo)
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The Both (Aimee Mann)
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The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo)
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The Both (Aimee Mann)

Next up was the Both, a duo comprising Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. They’ve recorded an album together, and their musical styles blended with surprising ease during this set, despite some technical difficulties with the mix during the first couple of songs.

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The Walkmen
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The Walkmen
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The Walkmen

The Walkmen sounded as intense as ever during their late-afternoon set; lead singer Hamilton Leithauser was unrelenting.

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Superchunk

It was bittersweet to see Superchunk for the first time without the band’s longtime bass Laura Ballance, which is still recording with the group but has retired from touring. But Jason Narducy did a fine job of handling duties on bass, even getting into Superchunk’s bouncy, jumpy spirit. It seemed like lead singer Mac McCaughan’s feet were a few inches above the stage at just about any given moment during the show, and Superchunk was as lively and exciting as it ever was. New songs, like set opening “FOH,” sounded terrific alongside oldies like “Slack Motherfucker.” And in some comments to the crowd, McCaughan paid tribute to all of the Chicago people and institutions that helped Superchunk over the years, including the Lounge Ax, Steve Albini and Touch and Go Records. See more of my photos from Superchunk’s performance.

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The Hold Steady
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The Hold Steady
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The crowd during the Hold Steady’s set
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The Hold Steady

As darkness fell, the Hold Steady launched into a loud and raucous set. The fans along the barricade by the stage clearly loved frontman Craig Finn’s shout-singing and wild gestures. Since keyboardist Franz Nicolay left the band, its sound has been all guitars, all the time. The nonstop riffing in the first half of the set was a bit much, but when the Hold Steady dug into its back catalog for some of its catchiest choruses at the end, all was well in Hideoutville.

Saturday’s headliner was Young the Giant. Who? … OK, I had heard of this group, but I’ve just barely heard its music. And I knew plenty of other people who turned out to see Superchunk or the Hold Steady and who were largely unfamiliar with Young the Giant. Judging from the people who crowded near the stage at the end of the night, most of Young the Giant’s fans are in their late teens or early 20s. And well … to my ears, Young the Giant’s music was rather bland and generic pop rock. It paled in comparison to the other music I’d been hearing all day. But I can’t complain too much, given how much fun the whole weekend was.

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Young the Giant
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Young the Giant
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Young the Giant

From Roger Waters to Colin Stetson

Time to catch up on some concerts I’ve seen lately. Back on July 8, I saw Rogers Water perform Pink Floyd’s The Wall at Wrigley Field, a spectacle with plenty of bombast and muddled metaphors, and yet some weirdly small moments — if that’s possible — featuring that one guy, Waters, standing way down there like an ant, dwarfed by the iconic wall behind him, and singing his old songs for 40,000 fans. Those were the times with at least a tiny touch of spontaneity sneaked its way into the highly rehearsed and plotted-out proceedings. I did not bring my camera and I sat way up in a nose-bleed section. I attempted to take a few photos with my cellphone, seen below.

Rogers Waters at Wrigley Field
Rogers Waters at Wrigley Field (before the concert)

Rogers Waters at Wrigley Field
Rogers Waters at Wrigley Field

The following night, June 9, was quite a change of scenery. From Wrigley Field to the Hideout, where alt-country singer-songwriter Megan Reilly was playing achingly beautiful songs from her great new album, The Well, backed by an exceptional band: guitarist James Mastro, bassist Tony Maimone (of Pere Ubu fame) and drummer Steve Goulding (of Mekons fame). The room wasn’t as full as it should’ve been for this show, but in its own way, it was more spectacular than seeing Roger Waters at Wrigley Field. (I had every intention of taking photos at this concert, until I made the boneheaded error of grabbing the wrong camera … the one with a dead battery in it.)

On June 15, The Figgs played a rocking set of power pop at Ultra Lounge — including a nifty cover of the Who’s “Happy Jack.” It was another show that deserved a bigger crowd, oddly coming one night after the Figgs opened for Smashing Pumpkins at Metro.

The Figgs
The Figgs

The Figgs
The Figgs

The Figgs
The Figgs

The Figgs
The Figgs

The Figgs
The Figgs

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The Figgs

The Figgs
The Figgs

The Figgs
The Figgs

The Figgs had three opening bands — the Lustkillers, the Cry and the Van Buren Boys — in an evening filled with plenty of power pop and hair gel.

The Van Buren Boys
The Van Buren Boys

The Cry
The Cry

The Lustkillers
The Lustkillers

On June 16, Baby Dee played at the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Szold Hall, in the school’s new building across Lincoln Avenue from its main center. With a small crowd sitting silently in the room, it felt a bit like a classical music recital, except for the fact that the irrepressibly odd and ribald Baby Dee was saying things such as: “Are there any crack whores here tonight?” Her “dirges,” as she calls them, came across with nuance in the acoustically perfect room.

June 17 at the Taste of Randolph Street, David Vandervelde played the best set I’ve seen him do so far, with a fantastic band that featured bassist Ben Clarke and guitarist Emmett Kelly, a.k.a. Bonnie “Prince” Billy sideman the Cairo Gang. During a couple of long, Crazy Horse-style jams, Vandervelde and Kelly were soloing on top of each other, to riveting effect. Let’s hope they keep working together and that Vandervelde gets a new album out sometime soon. Vandervelde played a couple of Jay Bennett covers during his surprisingly long (hour-plus) set, opening with the mordantly humorous “Beer.”

David Vandervelde
David Vandervelde

David Vandervelde
David Vandervelde

David Vandervelde
David Vandervelde

David Vandervelde
David Vandervelde

Emmett Kelly and Ben Clarke
Emmett Kelly and Ben Clarke

After an opening act of some fire-juggling circus folk…

Pyrotechniq
Pyrotechniq

Pyrotechniq
Pyrotechniq

The Hold Steady closed out Taste of Randolph with a set that rocked pretty hard from beginning to end — quite a change from frontman Craig Finn’s recent solo performance at Do Division. Now that keyboardist Franz Nicolay is no longer in the band, the sound is all guitars. A bit of keyboard would have helped for variety’s sake, but the band sounded tight, including a couple of new songs in its set.

The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady

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The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady
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The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady

Thursday (June 21), Late Bar hosted a cool set by Astrobrite, a shoegaze band that started in the ’90s and recently had its first album reissued by Chicago’s BLVD label. BLVD impresario Melissa Geils joined the band on keyboards at this gig, which was delightfully noisy.

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Astrobrite

Astrobrite
Astrobrite

Astrobrite
Astrobrite

Astrobrite
Astrobrite

Astrobrite
Astrobrite

Astrobrite
Astrobrite

The opening act, Cinchel (a.k.a. my friend Jason Shanley), played noise of a different kind, the droning and shimmering sort. Cinchel has a dreamy new record out called Stereo Stasischeck it out on bandcamp.

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Cinchel

Cinchel
Cinchel

On Friday (June 22), I caught one set by Jason Adasiewicz and his new band Sun Rooms — a trio that also includes Mike Reed on drums and Matt McBridge on bass — at the Green Mill. Adasiewicz assaulted his vibraphone with alarming force at times, but still managed to coax lovely sounds out of it.

After that stop at the Green Mill, it was over to the Logan Square bar Township, where I saw an exhilarating set by Treasure Fleet, a Chicago band showing some strong similarities to the great Bee Thousand-era tunes of Guided By Voices, as well as 1960s psychedelia and power pop.

Treasure Fleet
Treasure Fleet

Treasure Fleet
Treasure Fleet

Treasure Fleet
Treasure Fleet

Treasure Fleet
Treasure Fleet

Treasure Fleet
Treasure Fleet

Treasure Fleet
Treasure Fleet

Finally, on Saturday (June 23), I arrived at Schubas just in time to see a stunning performance by saxophonist Colin Stetson. From what I hear, I missed great opening sets by Chicago percussionist Frank Rosaly and Arcade Fire violinist Sarah Neufeld. Interestingly, each of the three acts at Schubas last night played alone. Stetson sounded more like a whole band, however. Playing an immense bass sax on most songs and occasionally switching over to an alto, Stetson created undulating patterns of notes reminiscent of minimalist classical music, and then he somehow managed to add internal melodies and tunes on top of all that, which sounded at times more like human singing than woodwind. The crowd watched and listened in rapt silence, and Stetson worked up a good sweat with the sheer exertion of his powerful and impressive music.

Colin Stetson
Colin Stetson

Colin Stetson
Colin Stetson

Colin Stetson
Colin Stetson

Colin Stetson
Colin Stetson

Colin Stetson
Colin Stetson

Colin Stetson
Colin Stetson

Colin Stetson
Colin Stetson

Colin Stetson
Colin Stetson

Intonation Music Festival

JULY 17, 2005
INTONATION MUSIC FESTIVAL
Union Park, Chicago

I missed all of Day 1… Decided I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Van Cliburn last night at Ravinia, and didn’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to do both in one day. I’m certainly not the best judge of classical piano performances, but I can say Van a rivetingly peculiar presence onstage…

I thought I would see all of the Intonation Fest today, but after getting an early start, the heat and long lines got to me, so I bailed out after Andrew Bird.

Lines were actually quite short for most of the day, but after 5 p.m., the lines for food, beer and water all got humongous and I didn’t feel like standing around in line to get those essentials.

I enjoyed everything I saw, to some extent: Thunderbirds Are Now! seemed pretty good, but I need to hear more of their music to say how much I’d recommend it.

I like bands that sing in their native tongues, so I was keen of the Swedes in Dungen… who even trotted out a flute for some Jethro Tull-like moments. I was expecing ’60s-style garage rock, but it sounded more ’70s to me. Good,
in any case.

Xiu Xiu were slightly abrasive, but made nice use of autoharp (?) … I’d like to hear more of their stuff. I liked the sound, though I don’t know if the songs were all that strong.

Out Hud’s dance music wouldn’t normally be my kind of thing, but I liked the funkiness of it. Seemed more “live” than a lot of electronic concerts.

The Hold Steady were great. I was a little skeptical about these guys a year ago, but they’ve grown on me a lot. The lyrics are smart enough that the songs work as more than jokes. Is this band in a genre by itself? Who else is like them? It’s sort of like a mutant strain of white-guy rap that bears almost no similarity to hip-hop rap.

Andrew Bird was as brilliant as always. I love this guy … and I overheard a lot of comments from impressed concertgoers who’d never seen him before.

I was hoping to stick around for the Wrens and Les Savy Fav (not the Decemberists, though — I still don’t care for that band), but five hours of enduring that heat was enough… I don’t know anything about the other band that was playing, Deerhoof.

In any case, I hope the Intonation Music Festival is back again next year.