Ida is a wonderful little band that doesn’t get all that much attention. I’ve seen their music described as “sadcore” and “slowcore.” Those are just fancy terms for pretty folk and pop music played very softly. (They sound similar at times to Low or the quieter moments of Yo La Tengo – and all three bands feature husband-wife couples.) Playing in Chicago for the first time in a couple of years, Ida came to Schubas last night (Aug. 28). It’s also been a couple of years since the last Ida record, 2005’s Heart Like a River. Ida played some new songs last night, from an album that is apparently finished and coming out sometime soon.
It was a hushed, intimate show. Man, was it quiet – not just the music, but the repectful crowd, too. I took far fewer photographs than I normally do because the clicking of my shutter suddenly seemed blaringly audible. One member of Ida, Karla Schickele (who plays bass and keyboards and sings and writes a few songs) was absent, having just given birth, so this show featured the husband-and-wife duo at the core of Ida, Daniel Littleton and Elizabeth Mitchell, plus Jean Cook on violin. Cook, who seemed to be suffering from a cold, also played a small harmonium with her feet on some songs. Littleton is an engaging personality on the stage, joking around with the rest of the band in a way that makes a concert seem more like a gathering of friends.
The songs both old and new were absolutely beautiful, and it was nice to see a nearly full house of fans, including many people who had favorite Ida songs on their wish lists. The opening band was the Young Neils, which was exactly what you might guess – a Neil Young cover band, playing for the first time, supposedly assembled for this gig at Ida’s request, if you can believe the stage banter. The Neil songs were a perfect appetizer for Ida’s main course.