My photos of the Sadies — as always, one of the best live rock bands — on Saturday, May 21, at Wire in Berwyn. (My first visit to this venue.) Click here for a separate gallery of photos of the other band that played Saturday at Wire, the Waco Brothers.
Saturday night (July 7) at Schubas was the umpteenth time I’ve seen the Sadies, but they’re a band that deserves to be seen umpteen times. I would have seen them yet again on Monday at the Pritzker Pavilion, too, but I opted instead for the wonderful combo of Robbie Fulks and Sally Timms at the Hideout.
After leaving West Fest and taking the bus to Schubas, I walked in just in time for the glorious opening riff of “Memphis, Egypt,” the classic Mekons song — which was the opening number for the opening act, Jon Langford and His Sadies. (Langford joked about the Sadies as if they were a separate band coming up later in the show.) The Sadies play that Mekons music fiercely … and then, when it was time for the main act, they returned to the stage and impressed me all over again with their telepathic guitar playing. It all culminated with another great medley of covers during the encore. I’m hard-pressed to name all the songs that crammed into this 10-minute-plus epic, but it was all bluesy ’60s garage rock, including the Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction” and the Belfast Gypsies’ “People, Let’s Freak Out,” among others.
Concerts I’ve seen lately:
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LOST IN THE TREES played Aug. 16 at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, part of the “Dusk Variations” series. A nice example of an indie folk-rock band making sophisticated use of chamber-music style strings.
MY MORNING JACKET played Aug. 17 at the Charter One Pavilion, which was my first visit to this concert venue on Northerly Island, where Meigs Field was until Mayor Daley ordered in the bulldozers. Charter One is basically a parking lot and bleachers set up in front of a big stage, with vendors selling tallboy cans of Bud for $11. ($11!!!) Not really my sort of venue, but I guess it served its purpose as a setting for My Morning Jacket’s arena rock. The band showed that it still knows how to rock out with a vengeance — at least when it’s playing its old songs. Luckily, the band played a lot from It Still Moves and Z, but I wish they’d played even older songs. The more recent songs are lackluster in comparison, although the band almost brought them to life on stage.
THE SADIES were scheduled to play two nights at Schubas, but the second night was cancelled, and the band ended up playing just one show, Aug. 20. It’s a shame that this terrific band hasn’t become more popular and moved up to bigger venues. On the other hand, it’s nice that Sadies fans can still enjoy seeing them up-close in an intimate venue like Schubas. The guitar licks were as awesome as they usually are, and it was great to hear the Sadies doing some songs from their excellent recent record, Darker Circles. They even did double duty, playing as the backing band for Jon Langford and Sally Timms during one of the opening sets. And they finished off the night with an encore medley of tunes originally played by Them in the ’60s: “Gloria,” “”I Can Only Give You Everything,” “Baby Please Don’t Go” and back to “Gloria.”
Sorry, no photos from these concerts, but my camera will be back in action very soon.
Recapping a few shows from the past week…
The Sadies were back in town Thursday (Dec. 4) for a show at Schubas, kicking off a tour with the estimable Tim Easton as opening act. The Sadies don’t have a new record out (not since releasing my favorite album of 2007, New Seasons), so we didn’t get any new songs, but there were plenty of great old tunes – something like 30, I think, if you include all those short instrumentals they ripped through. As always, the Good brothers were simply amazing on their guitars, and I took special notice this time that Travis was playing without any effects pedals at all, and Dallas had just a couple of rudimentary pedals. Further proof that you don’t need a lot of special effects to make the guitar sing. Highlights included covers of “A House is Not a Hotel” by Love and “Shake Some Action” by the Flaming Groovies. Easton put on a good show, too, playing solo acoustic (over chatty crowd noise) and mentioning that he has an album coming out in the spring with more of a rock sound.
Friday night (Dec. 5) marked the return of the Flat Five, a sort of local super group combining the talents of Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, Scott Ligon, KC McDonough and Gerald Dowd in an idiosyncratic cover band. Well, it’s mostly covers. They play a few originals, but it’s largely old pop, country, jazz, psychedelic and standard songs they clearly love. Their voices blend into truly lovely harmonies, and they have a knack for picking the sort of terrific tunes that a die-hard record collector loves. I stayed for both the early and late shows at the Hideout, and heard them doing everything from Spanky & Our Gang to the Dukes of Stratosphear, Rutles and Hoagy Carmichael. These are some special musicians who rarely put our records. You really have to catch them live to see what they’re all about.
I was back at the Hideout on Sunday (Dec. 7) for a show benefitting Goldie’s Place, an organization that helps the homeless get jobs. The show featured Jon Langford playing solo, followed by Eleventh Dream Day, and Eleventh Dream Day combining with Langford and Sally Timms for several Mekons and Three Johns songs. It was a lively affair, with a couple of strong new songs by Eleventh Dream Day (new album coming soon, guys? Let’s hope…), sloppy but fun renditions of those barely rehearsed Mekons songs and tighter performances of the Three Johns songs. All for a good cause.
I’ve probably said enough before about how fabulous of a band the Sadies are, so I won’t repeat myself too much here. As always, they put on a roaring-good show filled with lots of exceptional guitar playing. The opening act, Heavy Trash, was actually the Sadies plus Heavy Trash — which made it more enjoyable for me. I’m not a huge fan of Heavy Trash’s rockabilly, but it sounded pretty good in this setting. During the Sadies’ set, they brought out guest vocalists (three of Chicago’s finest), Kelly Hogan, Sally Timms and Jon Langford, before finishing up around 2 a.m. with more Heavy Trash. What, no “Memphis, Egypt”? Now, that would have been a great way to close out the night. Oh, well. Otherwise, tons of fun.
DEC. 1, 2005
There hardly exists a better band than the Sadies, and they proved it yet again with this show. They had no new album to plug. And for once, they were playing on their own as the headliners (though Mekon Jon Langford joined them for three songs). All the more reason for the Sadies just to do what they do best — incredible guitar rock… the kind you don’t hear often enough these days, with intricately composed and skilfully played melodies on the guitars. And while the Good brothers are not known for their vocals, their singing sounded strong, too, with Travis in particular baring his teeth in caveman-like expressions as he let loose some powerful notes.
In addition to their own material, the Sadies played some obscure blues and country covers, and the encore culminated with a fantastic take on Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere,” followed by another great one, the Flaming Groovies’ “Shake Some Action.” Wow. One of the year’s best concerts.