They’re local legends, but the Shoes are also a rather elusive band. Cult favorites among power-pop fans, the Zion, Illinois, group has been pretty much dormant in recent years. They play once every few years, and I’ve never had the chance to see them. Today (Aug. 10), the Shoes made a rare appearance, and it was in an unusual place. They were featured in a mini festival of “Great Performers of Illinois” that Millennium Park hosted. The early-evening show – it started at 5 p.m. and lasted until a few minutes past 6 p.m. – was not at the park’s big Pritzer Pavilion, but rather on a temporary stage right over by Michigan Avenue.
I don’t know how often the Shoes rehearse, but they did not sound the least bit rusty. The songs were tight, with strong drumming, dead-on riffs and catchy melodies and harmonies. That’s what power pop is all about. The performance wasn’t flashy, but it was just what it needed to be.
I’ve also posted some photos from a gig I saw on Aug. 2, the night before Lollapalooza (although it was oddly billed as a “Lollapalooza after party”) featuring Sparklehorse and the Ladybug Transistor at the Empty Bottle. The Sparklehorse set that night was pretty similar to the one I saw later at Lollapalooza, though it was harder to photograph, given how dark the Bottle is. The Ladybug Transistor plays the sort of pretty ork-pop that I would normally like, but something about the band’s music leaves me a little cold.