It’s time to catch up on some concerts from the past few days, which I managed to sandwich in between some movies at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Iranian film fest.
Friday night came to a lovely end with a late show by Nina Nastasia & Jim White. It did seem a little odd that Nastasia, an acoustic-guitar-playing singer-songwriter, would give her drummer double billing on her new album, but he is the great Jim White, after all, and he earns the unusual name above the credits. In concert, it sounded like an unusual duet (or duel) between guitar and drums. I was standing right in front of White, so the drums were a bit too loud for me during some passages, but it was always interesting to hear White’s unpredictable patterns tangling with Nastasia’s strings. Her songs were pretty and plaintive. See my photos of Nina Nastasia and Jim White.
The opening act was Jim Becker, Scott Tuma, Emmett Kelly and Joe Adamik – two guys from Califone (Becker and Adamik), utility player and occasional Bonnie “Prince” Billy backer Kelly, and a former member of the grievously overlooked Souled American, Scott Tuma. They played slow and beautifully rustic music. When they sang, it sounded like folk. When they didn’t sing, it sounded like experimental drone music mixed with Americana. See my photos of Becker, Tuma, Kelly and Adamik.
On Saturday, I caught the Clark Street Bridge Percussion Orchestra, which was exactly what it sounds like: people hitting the Clark Street Bridge with drumsticks and mallets. It was a cool idea, and the organizers and musicians pulled it off. The first half was conducted by Eric Roth, who had composed a series of pieces for the occasion. Surprisingly quiet, a hushed crowd listened closely as several players tapped and tinged on the bridge with beats that sounded not that far off from a marching band, but with interesting polyrhythmic layers. And then came a half-four free-for-all, with volunteers hitting the bridge at random, the clatter coalescing into patterns. By the end, I think it was finally loud enough to hear from some distance. See my photos of the Clark Street Bridge Percussion Orchestra.
On Sunday, the Museum of Contemporary Art hosted a free afternoon of music, celebrating its current exhibit, “Sympathy for the Devil,” which looks at the connections between rock and contemporary art. I wasn’t able to stick around for the whole afternoon. I had a ticket for a film at the Chicago film fest, so I missed the late-afternoon performances by the Eternals and Flosstradamus with the Cool Kids. But before that, it was a really fun event (it was so warm that the tent was really unnecessary), featuring lively punk by Headache City and the Poster Children, the efferverscent pop of the 1900s and the moody soundscapes of Califone.