Monday, July 24, 2006


Photogal and I were talking this morning and we both had the same feeling that we had just come off a long holiday weekend or something. The only explanation for this would be the fact that the Wicker Park Summerfest was this weekend so we were actually out and about Sunday. Since Sunday is always our down day, this probably contributed to our internal systems’ confusion.

It was a pretty action packed weekend. I saw Dirty On Purpose Friday and, while there will be a review of the show on DoneWaiting later today, I will briefly say that they mostly met the expectations I had for them. Saturday I made it out to see The Coup and Devotchka. While The Coup wildly exceeded my expectations with an electric live hip-hop/funk type show, Devotchka was a little meh. Points must be given for the tuba festooned with Christmas lights, but the set in general didn’t excite me. You know what though? After hearing Silk-E sing "Babyletshaveababybeforebushdosomethincrazy" it didn't really matter to me that Devotchka wasn't all I had hoped for. I tried to stick around SubT to catch Dead Meadow but ended up just being too tired to make it through the opening bands (who were all pretty awful) so I ended up going home.

Sunday was more of an all day affair. I caught the tail end of The Living Blue and really wished I had seen more of their set. What I saw was a bit of ‘60s inspired guitar-jam wankery that left a bad taste I my mouth. It was early and bright and the crowd was sparse so maybe the band was just a bit off their game. The biggest surprise of the day follwed, though, in the unannounced appearance of Memphis’ River City Tan Lines. This female-led trio just killed. Even though there was only a crowd of about eleven black-clad garage-heads watching, the band played as if there was a sea of cheering fans trying to mob the stage. After their jaw-dropping set I needed a break.

After a bit of a cool-off at The Pontiac with some friends (where the bartenders were just swamped and attempting a heroic charge to serve the thirsty masses) I rejoined the fray in time to catch The Starlight Mints. I love these cats from Norman, OK and have seen them a number of times in the past. It had been awhile though (the last time being at The Mercury Lounge in NYC) aand they’ve gotten even tighter. It’s amazing that a band with so many little weird ting going on in their songs can sound so tuneful and together but they make it look easy. My only quibble is that a lot of their tunes are the same tempo so after a while it began to have the effect of an aurally monochromatic experience. And then a whistle would blast or a buzz would wend its way out from under a synth line and the color would come rushing back in. But, like I said, it was only a minor quibble.

They were followed by Make/Believe. They were awful. It was like watching a Les Savy Fav rip-off band minus the subversive humor and fat frontman. They even tried a Fugazi-lite moment of audience repartee that completely fizzled. So this is what emo looks like when it grows up? It ain’t pretty.

Next, I finally got to see Dead Meadow and while I would have liked to have seen them in the cozy confines of a small smoke-filled club, they put on a pretty great set even in a festival setting. They were a lot groovier than I was expecting and I even saw a few drunkards doing the wombat. Yikes! Usually my foot would have then been planted in some asses but since the band was so good I decided to give the misplaced hippies some leeway.

The evening ended with The Gris Gris and they were another disappointment. I was really expecting a lot from them and was hoping for some psych freak-outs but all I really got was a bunch of aimless noodling. Photogal told me she had some corned beef cooking back at home and I decided that corned beef won out over Gris Gris as far as the command of my attention was concerned.

Overall I remain impressed by the choice of acts booked on the North Stage. (The South Stage was booked by a jam-band promotion group so you can imagine I kept my distance from that one.) While not all of the acts performed as I would have hoped I still had a great time. Also, as far as street fests go, it was pretty subdued. As far as the “annoying drunk” quotient. The weekend was mercifully light on asshole behavior and unusually heavy on polite crowd navigation. This was definitely tops in my street fest experience and the only previous fest I had a better time at was RibFest, but that was only because The Flaming Lips were playing just before The Soft Bulletin exploded. So that’s a pretty hard one to beat.

In short...huzzah!

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