Tuesday, June 26, 2007

On U-Hauls, street fests, Dark Wave Disco, AOR, and a 14-year-old's birthday party.

On U-Hauls, street fests, Dark Wave Disco, AOR, and a 14-year-old's birthday party.

I had a jam-packed weekend, even if I didn't quite get top hit every single event I had planned on checking out. Here are a few thoughts about what I did see.

Friday I ended up missing The Attorneys since Photogal and I decided at the last minute that we should rent a U-Haul and transport a bunch of stuff -- including a refrigerator -- to the Michigan house. And am I glad we did! You would not believe what a huge difference having a refrigerator in a house makes as far as giving the place that feel of "civilization."

I did make it back on Saturday, a few hours behind schedule, and made my way to the Switchyard festival. The event was sparsely attended, but I attribute that to it both being the event's inaugural year, and the fact that it seemed like it was going to rain at any second. (I've since heard that the other big street festival -- BAM -- ran into the same problem, and they've been around for years.)Personally I loved the weather, since it was warm but not hot, and I didn't have to worry about sunblock or dehydration. The only thing I really did have to worry about was keeping Kip's tongue out of my bellybutton, but that's a story for another day.

Of the bands I saw, Suffrajett definitely put on the best show. They had the biggest crowd, and even thought that still wasn't a whole bunch of people they played as if there were 3,000 cheering fans rushing the stage. I really enjoyed their set and think that their gut-bucket damn-sexy punk / glam / blues is well primed to take over the world, as long as they can continue to get the word out there. The Prairie Cartel played an abbreviated set of their dance-rock and while Scott seemed to be giving it his all and kicking total ass, I got the impression that Blake was holding back since the crowd wasn't massive. MAybe he just wasn't feeling it? I wish they had played a longer set, but I enjoyed what I heard.

The only other band I caught was Ultra Sonic Edukators. Most folks I talked to thought they were too derivative and too heavily in debt to Blur, The happy Monday, and the whole Brit-pop / Madchester thing. Now, I agree those are the band's OBVIOUS influences, but I had a blast watching them. I thought the songs were good, the stage show was wildly entertaining (even if I was a bit suspicious of the group coming complete with their own Bez-esque character) and they came across pretty much exactly as I expected them too. As for my naysaying friends, they're entitled to their opinion, but I think maybe they need to loosen up a bit when it comes to dance-rock bands obviously built upon wanting to have a good time.

After Switchyard I dropped by Darkroom to check out an event one of the Chicagoist music writers had a hand in organizing. Obviously she did a good job, because the place was packed. Unfortunately I just wasn't feeling the DJ, and once the first band started up, and began kicking out some AOR tuneage, I realized I was in the wrong place for the mood I was in.

So I made my way over to Dark Wave Disco at Sonotheque. Now, I like the guys who organize the event, but I think the time has come when it's becoming just another party. The room was pleasantly full without being elbow-to-elbow annoying, but no one was dancing. I'm really beginning to appreciate the skills of a number of late photogs since it's beginning to become apparent that in order to make a place look like a party, for the most part, you need an eagle-eye and a super-fast shutter to catch those few precious seconds where a handful of folks are getting down and having fun. (An aside, I swung through Clayton's Tuman's event on the way (mostly to get smokes) and am dying to see how he ends up framing the crowd since the room was pretty sparse. If anyone can make a party out of nothing, though, it's him.)

On top of that, the crowd seemed pretty unfriendly, which was almost the exact opposite of what I expected. The irony is that the bar staff was super friendly and down to Earth, which I honestly didn't expect from a borderline swank place like Sonotheque. The biggest letdown, though, was the music. I came expecting electronic rockin' attitude and was met with the same blips and bleeps you can hear anywhere. I've heard previous mixes from DWD nights, so I'm really just hoping I happened to stumble into a particularly "off-night" example of the monthly party.

So, to make up for the DWD letdown, I made my way back to The Continental to listen to Lisa and JB's set. Well, some of it. By that late hour my early start got the better of me, and after taking in a few tunes and sharing some words with friends that hadn't been at Switchyaard earlier, I found myself in a cab on my way home.

Sunday I spent the morning taking in DVDs on the couch (The Good Shepherd and The Last King Of Scotland, for those of you keeping track) and planned on hitting Switchyard and BAM again until I learned that it was my nephew's 14th birthday and he wanted to include me in the celebration. (Well, actually Photogal's nephew-in-law, but since we're virtually married I call him my nephew for simplicity's sake ... instead of saying "Photogal's brother-in-law's son, and her sister's stepson.)

Yes, folks, I turned down seeing a bunch of terrific bands in order to attend a fourteen year-old's birthday. There are just some things that are more important than music.

No comments: