One of the delightful things about seeing a concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park is watching the performers themselves marveling at the beauty of the venue. And for some of the lesser-known musicians who get the chance to grace this stage — thanks to the inventive, often bold programming choices of the folks who book summer concerts — you can sense a certain amount of awe. I sensed that on Monday night (June 3), when the Chicago band Speck Mountain landed a primo spot as Sharon Van Etten’s opening act. It’s a very good bet that a sizable portion of the audience that turned out for the evening didn’t know who Speck Mountain was, but they probably made a lot of new fans.
Did they have any jitters about playing on a big stage in front of thousands of people? Not that I noticed. In fact, the band sounded more confident than I’ve ever seen them, especially when they jammed out with dual guitar solos on songs from their strong recent album Badwater. Marie-Claire Balabanian’s singing and guitar playing both sounded beautiful. They were a perfect choice to set the stage for Van Etten’s headlining performance. (More on her in my next post…)