JULY 4, 2006
TASTE OF CHICAGO, GRANT PARK
Just another concert by the world’s greatest rock band… Well, at least, one of the greatest. Jim James and company were in fine form, with some nice song choices (stuff from At Dawn that they haven’t played so much in recent years) and Andrew Bird joining MMJ onstage with his violin on a few songs. Now that they’ve played to hordes at Bonaroo and the throngs at Taste of Chicago, I sure hope they’re winning a lot of new fans.
Ray Davies was the headliner, and unfortunately, the security people running the Taste seemed unaware of the fact that a lot of MMJ fans left before Davies started. The result: empty seats. Meanwhile, people were lined up, wanting to get in. Without the seats as full as they should have been, the reception for Davies initially seemed a little muted. I enjoyed this performance, but not as much as Davies’ show this spring at the Vic. Maybe the longer format of the Vic concert just gave him more time to throw in more Kinks songs, including more obscurities. The songs from Davies’ solo record sounded OK, but they weren’t nearly as thrilling as “I’m Not Like Everybody Else.” The crowd stuck around for a while after Davies did his “You Really Got Me” encore, hoping maybe for a second encore and “Lola.” But it was not to be.
The first act of the afternoon was Mike Doughty, the former Soul Coughing lead singer. Now, this is someone I’ve been hearing about for years without ever paying much attention to the music. I wasn’t impressed. Too Dave Matthews-y for my tastes, though I’ve heard worse.
One of the highlights of this whole afternoon was watching the sign-language chicks standing at the side of the stage, offering their sign-language interpretations of the lyrics – at least, the lyrics that they knew or could make out. They also did a lot of air guitar and drumming motions when the bands weren’t singing. They were cute, and frequently grinning as if they realized how silly the whole thing might appear.