I'm sure many indie rockers would argue that Pitchfork's line-up was far superior to last month's Intonation Fest, thus the sell-out crowd that seemed almost twice as large. However, I'd attribute the crowd surge to the vast reach of the trendsetting hype machine that is Pitchforkmedia.com. Intonation '06 probably retained the core local base of fans, while Pitchfork Music Fest '06 took that Chicago base and raised it with their legions of dedicated indie rockers from across the country. Sure, this year Intonation had Vice Magazine, which is hugely influential in its homebase of New York, as well as much of Europe. However, outside of Chicago, I'm guessing Vice's Midwest reach is pretty thin, while every 12-24 year-old music junkie from Keokuk to Kalamazoo is just a click away from reading about the next big 'Fork-sanctioned indie smash. If it wasn't obvious already, there's no doubt now that Pitchfork is no longer just a cult phenomenon. Pitchfork has now officially hit the mainstream. "Indie" is truly the new "alternative," and just as the likes of Lollapalooza, KROQ and MTV's Kennedy ushered in the flannel shirt era, Pitchfork has become the torch bearer of this generation's movement.
Camera Obscura show rescheduled Due to a freak power outage, we've had to move Friday's CAMERA OBSCURA show from the LSA to the Empty Bottle, for a special early show on Monday July 31st, 2006. **Tickets purchased for the Logan Square will be honored for this show. A huge show just got more intimate. A limited amount of tickets still remain.
On Saturday, Martyrs' is hosting the Third Russian Rock Festival (Don't really know any of the bands but could definitely be interesting); The Hideout is featuring local angular rock band, The Jai Alai Savant with DJ Sets by Major Taylor and Ted/Leo's Pharmacists among others; while over at The Empty Bottle you can get your metal/pysch rock fix as Danava, Functional Blackouts, and Plastic Crimewave Sound will all play. Also, Jason Lytle (of Grandaddy) will be playing a solo show at Schuba's, this one may be a little trickier getting in, as it may sell out.
If any of these shows interest you, I would recommend showing up as soon as you can after the fest, space is sure to be limited.
My first warning arrived a couple of weeks ago after receiving a copy of Hallelujah Sirens, the latest release from Brooklyn’s Dirty on Purpose. After several listens, I found myself trying to decide whether I even liked this album or not. Better yet, did I even remember the album? I determined I had absolutely no opinion on the matter. So when I learned the band was coming to town, I decided to see if their live performance would kick me off the fence in some direction.
Forward to Friday, the day of the show. I decided to check online to confirm a start time for the show. As I perused the Beat Kitchen website I found the band was oddly absent from names playing the venue that night. It was only after making a phone call that I learned they would be in the opening slot for the early show, which meant a 7pm start time. I don’t know who I was kidding, I am lucky if I am waking from a nap at 7pm on a Friday, let alone ready to go to a “rock” show.
After a late start for the show, a delayed ‘El’ and some severe miscalculating on the CTA website regarding the best route to the Beat Kitchen (I refuse to believe the distance I walked was .8 of a mile.), I arrived to the show a solid 20 minutes after the scheduled start. Under normal circumstances arriving to a show at 7:20pm would be quite ambitious, but tonight it was late. The absurdity of this fact should really not go overlooked. In my time I have endured many concert irrationalities, but for some reason this latest incident really stuck with me. (In fact, it may only be outdone by the 3 hour wait time Guns n’ roses used to willingly impose upon its fans during their “Use Your Illusion” tour.)
So I entered the back room of the Beat Kitchen to see a room about 1/3 full, including the standard 20 feet of no man’s land between the opening band and the crowd. I ordered a beer and stationed myself up towards the front. What ensued can best be described as uninspiring. I found the live show I was watching elicited the same response for me as the album: indifference. At times the band did seem fairly polished. There were moments were it seemed to come together, but it became increasingly difficult to care. In defense, I should say this was not entirely the fault of the band. The audience was non-existent, other than some intermittent clapping in between songs, but even that seemed labored. With the exception of the lead guitarist (who was really the only sign of life in that room), the band didn’t really look like they cared to be there any more than the crowd. We all collectively decided to simply go through the motions.
Finally, the set came to an end. I could have called it a night right there. I even could have made it over to Subterranean in time to catch DeVotchKa. However, the masochist in me decided to stick around for the next band. Within minutes, I realized my error in staying. I didn’t know anything about the early show headliners, Say Hi to Your Mom. Although, I can say with a certain amount of confidence their music may not be best suited for live performance. They had even less charisma than their openers. I took a look around me and actually saw some people yawning. It wasn’t even 9pm. I decided that I had seen enough and it was time to go salvage was left of the night.
I would like to mention again, the audience and the time of show were chiefly responsible for the dullness of the evening. With that said, I am utterly convinced that is this very type of indie rock show that led RFC’s own Chief Indie Rock Correspondent to declare “I hate indie rock shows.” It all became clear to me. This show was enough to turn anyone jaded towards the whole genre.
The Western States Motel - The Western States Motel - Firebird Field Recordings
Delicate, charming, summer pop music. Maybe not in quite the same epic compositional weight class as The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, but with a heart as similarly big as all outdoors. - Joe Fielder
There are few bands who are truly deserving of the hype that they receive, but DeVotchKa is definitely one of those bands. Dubbed by Filter as "the best band in America you never heard of", DeVotchKa delighted the sold out crowd at the Subterranean with it's unique hodge-podge of sound.
After enduring a tediously boring set by Now It's Overhead, one of the opening acts that sound like a bad Placebo rip-off, Jeannie Schroder, with her upright bass and Tom Hagerman with fiddle in hand, took the stage softly strumming an instrumental opening. Shawn King and Nick Urata blared their trumpets from the balcony like heralding angels in a roaming mariachi band, surprising us on the mainfloor. The rambunctious crowd howled, stomped, clapped, and cheered, as this party was underway. With the whole band together on the quaint stage, they rumbled through their set, which included mostly songs off their 2004 release How It Ends as well as their recent Curse Your Little Heart EP. Nick Urata, armed with a Grecian guitar, an acoustic, a theremin, two microphones, a bottle of red wine, and a voice that sounds impeccable live (with it's innate bittersweet melancholy) crooned his heart out.
DeVotchKa's sound is an amalgamation of influences, from the mariachi oompa bass and trumpet calls on We're Leaving, to the wandering gypsy whirling dervish on Such a Lovely Thing fueled by a skittish accordion, to the disparate, sorrow indie rock akin to The Dears on How It Ends, they definitely have cultivated a fertile musical garden. Despite some noticeable audio issues: with feedback and lack of effects on the violin for the first half of the set, the majority of the crowd seemed unfazed by these minor imperfections, and lauded the musicians with chant-a-longs and crazed dancing that shook the Subterranean's floor. Urata thanked the crowd with a swig of his wine after each song, and a well deserved encore.
Seeing DeVotchKa live, really makes you appreciate these fine musicians much more than merely listening to their CD. It won't surprise me at all, if next time they swing through Chicago, they will be headlining the Metro or Riviera.
The New York Times has a review of Os Mutantes' show last week in New York. I think it's complimentary, but the author seems to spend more time fawning over their mystique than actually providing a critical review of this particular performance. Also, I'm not sure if I just overlooked it before, or if it really wasn't mentioned, but only 2/3 of the band has actually reunited. Original member Rita Lee has been replaced by hired gun Zélia Duncan.
Stereogum has additional coverage, as well as a couple of downloadable MP3s from the band's 1968 debut record.
New York Dolls - One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This (Roadrunner)
After an ugly run in the late 80's/early 90's as lounge blowhard "Buster Poindexter," David Johansen has returned to his bad-ass punk roots and resurrected The New York Dolls...or at least what's left of them (may require registration).
Spoon - Telephone/Soft Effects(ep) (Merge)
Long out of print, Spoon's debut album from 1996 has been remastered and repackaged with their follow-up EP from the following year, Soft Effects.
Download: Spoon - "The Government Darling" (MP3)
Jurassic 5 - Feedback (Interscope)
Ouch...I didn't think Amazon actually printed up negative reviews, but the blurb at the bottom of this release actually says, "There are a few outstanding tracks, but overall this is a hip-hop album that sounds as if it were written by a corporate committee--each song directed at a particular demographic--rather than a mini-manifesto crafted to get your fists pumping and/or your feet moving." I knew the loss of Chali 2na a while back would be a major blow to the group, but I had no idea it would turn out this bad.
For the complete run-down, check out the "activities" section on the official festival website at www.pitchforkmusicfestival.com.