Universally known as "the guy who co-wrote 'Jesus Walks' with Kanye West," Chicago's very own Rhymefest put on a performance that proved he doesn't need anyone's coattails to ride on. After a rainy morning, and a cloudy start to the afternoon, suddenly the sun came out in force and shone right on Rhymefest and his crew for one of the best performances of the festival. Combining a raw talent for rapping and an irresistible stage presence, I was engaged from the moment he walked on stage right through the last beat. In addition to ripping through tracks from his forthcoming debut record out next month, Rhymefest also unleashed some sick freestyle during his set. During one such intense session, he even jumped down into the pit, mixed it up with the fans and leapt into the audience in what looked to be a crowd surf attempt. Of course, all the while he never skipped a beat...at least until realizing on the return trip to the stage that the wall was a bit too high scale on his own. No matter, after his posse helped him back up, Rhymefest just laughed it off and continued on another fierce freestyle routine.
Also, I didn't catch their name, but there was this quick opening set from another hip-hop group before Rhymefest went on. I don't really remember what the music was like, but their hypeman had a freakin' Segway...on stage! He did his entire routine while maneuvering on the Segway. It was completely asinine, but at the same time also fucking brilliant. (BK)
Continuing the aging rocker theme into Sunday, the Vice people offered up the acid trip that is Blue Cheer, dubbed one of the first bands of heavy metal more than 30 years ago. This 3 piece hippie rock band from San Francisco, pump out a rich sound that caused an orgy last time they played Chicago over 30 years ago. By today's standards of metal, the Blue Cheer sound more like heavier Edgar Winter Group with touches of Hendrix and Old Chicago Blues greats. Lead singer Dickie Peterson, clad in a matted embroidered vest (that was no doubt 40 years old) screamed with his hoarse rocker voice through their bluesy-hippie rock set, bringing a little Woodstock to Intonation. He advocated "Peace and Love" in true hippie style, saying we gotta love each other before getting coherently incoherent. They christened the audience as the fourth member of their band, with their set-closer, a heavy-psych cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues", in which they relied on the audience to shout out the refrain, "there ain't no cure for the summertime blues..." (CG)
Robert Pollard may have moved on from Guided By Voices, and his hair may be totally grey, but the man can still put back a bottle of tequila or Jack on stage like nobody's business. What a rock star. He sure isn't letting a few more wrinkles stop him from having his fun as he made sure to throw in a few of his trademark leg-kicks and microphone twirls as he ran through a brief survey of Robert Pollard history. In his brief 45-minute set he was able to cover early Mag Earwhig-era GBV material to a song from his forthcoming solo album with some Circus Devils in between to represent "side project" Bob songwriting. But who are we kidding, it's all different names for the same thing, right? The real treat for me was hearing, out of the thousands of songs he had to choose from, my all-time favorite Guided by Voices song, "Game of Pricks." Couldn't have asked for anything more! (NC)
Closing out the second night of Vice's Intonation Music Festival, was one of U.K.'s finest exports, Bloc Party. These four lads from London, have garnered much acclaim and quite a fan following and deservedly so. These fellas proved worthy of all the hype on Sunday, displaying their mad live performance skills, from Kele Okereke's soaring Cure-ish vocals to Matt Tong's infectious assault on the drums, to the clashing guitars of their booty shaking indie rock anthems, their full sound infiltrated the ground, echoed off the nearby buildings, and was a precursor rumble to the coming thunderstorms. They shuffled through the hits off of their debut album Silent Alarm without a glitch; "This Modern Love" and "Banquet" intoxicated the crowd into screaming fits and dance-offs. They even offered up a few tastes of their yet-to-be released sophomore album, like "Uniform" a tumbling track built on same foundation that made their debut such a hit; a slow meandering opening with XTC-colored vocals, then half way in Tong releases the drums and the Gang of Four references can begin again. Bloc Party's fun, danceable, unabashed set was a great way to end one of the most eclectic festival lineups I ever attended. (CG)