Over the next 24-48 hours our blog will be undergoing a major overhaul. We apologize in advance if at times you can’t access it, but this overhaul is long overdue.
The NHL All-Star break is upon us and the Fantasy Draft commences this evening. Cal and Coach Ryan have decided to put their hockey knowledge to the test and have their own Fantasy, Fantasy draft. Following the same two team format and rules, drafting all your goalies by the 10th round and your defenders by the 15th, Cal and Coach Ryan are going to be putting their hockey pride on the line. What is at stake? The winner gets a 12pk of Labatt Blue (our favorite hockey beer) and the loser has to wear a piece of clothing supporting the favorite hockey team of the winner (Coach Ryan – Columbus, Cal – Detroit).
I as Coach Ryan sometimes find it difficult to admit that the two teams I root for are the Blue Jackets and the Lightning although being from Cleveland it is fitting. That being said sometimes I am embarrassed to sport Columbus gear so the thought of seeing Cal wearing it is quite intriguing. The rules are simple we are going to flip a coin to determine if you want to draft first or pick the captain. After the All Star Game on Sunday Cal and I will add up the points and make the other one pose in the other person’s apparel. Here is how the scoring works: Continue reading
SUNDAY | July 19 | DAY 3 | You Can Go Back Home (But Then You Have To Leave)
So for our last day, my girlfriend had one request: falafel. I was happy to accommodate, so we took the blue line down to Sultan’s Market (a couple blocks off the Damen stop). If you like Middle Eastern food, this is the spot for you. She had her falafel sandwich, and I had a tilapia dinner, complete w/ basmati rice and hummus for $7.
After that, we walked a couple blocks down to a spot very close to our hearts: Quimby’s Bookstore. Quimby’s is a sure-fire gem; terrific selection of magazines (music, lit, art, culture, etc.), lots of transgressive and local titles. And poetry. Sweet, sweet poetry (it’s sort of my thing). If you haven’t done much reading lately and want to know what you should be reading, Quimby’s will have a variety of things that fit the bill. If you’re not much of a reader, Quimby’s is the place to find what you like and become one.
Then it was time to face the heat and get to Pitchfork. We parked in the warehouse district, and laughed discussing the potential irony of Pavement playing “Range Life” in “nature kid” Billy Corgan’s backyard (note: said potential irony was realized hours after our conversation). Before heading through the gates (no re-admittance!), we dipped into the Cobra Lounge for a cool drink to brace ourselves for the swelter. This place is so dark, the glasses don’t sweat—it’s like anti-light, with red velvet undertones. Nice ambiance, but a stark contrast upon exiting.
We made it just as Lightning Bolt was starting on the Aluminum Stage, and they delivered the savage two-piece sonic destruction I was desperate to hear from them. It was great to finally see the tower of speakers and the masked man screaming over the most ridiculous “beats” played by man or beast. For the most part, I just laughed; I don’t think I was able to process what I was seeing in any other physical way. I say this not out of disrespect; I say this out of awe. They were fucking incredible. It was the kind of performance that, even if you don’t dig the music, it is something you tell people that you saw, and some of those people will not believe what you say.
After such an intense display, we needed refreshment, and stumbled upon the best damn orange drink ever poured over ice (more specifically, the blood orange cooler from Big Bite Catering). We hydrated, walked around, checked out the vendors and poster artists, acquired paper hats to try to keep our brains from boiling in our skulls and were successful in that end. Then we made our way to the Balance Stage for the first time since Friday to check out a friend’s recommendation: Here We Go Magic. Honestly, they had a nice full, pulsing sound, and they are from New York, I believe. That’s mostly what I took away from what we caught of their set, and I’m not sure who’s to blame for that.
Around that time I became hyper-aware of hipster trends I hadn’t really thought or seen much of, being away from the city for awhile. So, here are the top 4 hipster “trends” I noticed walking around Pitchfork 2010, in no particular order:
We were then abruptly shocked back to life by Major Lazer on the Aluminum Stage. This shit was out of control: Chinese dragon dancers, ballerinas, champagne, ladders, bleach blonde mohawks, dancehall beats, shout-outs like “Somebody’s ganna get pregnant!” and sport fucking (well, simulated sport fucking, at times involving a ladder).
They threw down high-energy party music, with a great variety of styles and a theatrical dimension that I found to be truly unique, and behavior verging on “lewd and lascivious” that usually doesn’t get much play in the sunlight outside the clubs; or maybe there aren’t as many acts that have the balls and the skills to pull it off. Another band worth seeing at your earliest opportunity.
It was about the end of Major Lazer’s set that we decided to set up camp, being in front of the main stage, and wait where we were for Pavement. The bad news about that was missing a band that came highly recommended. The good news about that (and really, this says something about the layout of the festival) was we had a good spot for Big Boi, just by turning 90° to our left. I was surprised he broke out a few OutKast classics (“So Fresh, So Clean“, “Ms. Jackson”, and “Bombs Over Baghdad” to name a few), though it’s strange to hear him perform them with some guy who is not Andre 3000. A cool moment later in his set came when he brought out ChiTown’s Finest Breakers (all 11 years old and younger), who served up some serious moves for the crowd during “The Way You Move”, who they then pimped to perfection with their skills and youthful game. A feel-good and quality walk-off moment.
Once Big Boi was done, it was all waiting. I’m not going to be shy about my adoration for Pavement. This being the first time I had ever seen them, I was interested in what the reunion vibe would be like, and wondered about the massive strings of giant bare bulbs hung loosely over the stage. Before anyone found out, the crowd was addressed, scolded, hoodwinked, etc. by Drag City founder “Rockin’” Rian Murphy, doing his best drunken Andy Kaufman-playing-an-ex-Q101-DJ impression, for what was a palpable crescendo of rage from the crowd (which would have fine, except he went about five minutes deep into Pavement’s time, and they didn’t do an encore, so yeah).
Eventually, the band emerged, hugging Murphy, which combined seemed to quell the anger in the crowd, and they launched into a jangly rendition of “Cut You Hair”, followed by “In The Mouth A Desert”, and they were off.
The lights above dimmed and brightened softly throughout the set, accenting loud peaks and backlighting quieter valleys, used to the greatest effect during a gorgeous version of “Stop Breathin’”. Their set was rife with fan-friendly tracks (“Silence Kit”, “Frontwards”, “Range Life”, “Stereo” and “Gold Soundz” to name a handful). One surprise was “Fin” off 1997’s Brighten the Corners, the first album this reviewer really dived into way back when; another was Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew coming out for a bitching sing-a-long on “Two States”.
Once they started playing “Here”, everyone knew the night was near ending, but they closed strong with “The Hexx”, and after, they walked off not to return. While they had problems with the sound throughout, and while I am sure some people were put off by the loose, overly-casual nature of their performance, they played some of their best cuts and for the most part translated a good time on stage to a good time for the crowd, thanks in no small part to Bob Nostanovich banging away in his little corner of the stage, waxing nostalgic for the recently-ended World Cup and playing his mini-vuvuzela between songs. It may not have been the high-energy dance rock of LCD Soundsystem, but it seemed like a fitting end to an outstanding weekend of music.
After the show, I was fortunate to run into an old band-mate of mine (who is now doing some important reporting for the Chicago Reader), who is soon leaving Chicago for Boston. Thanks to his pending relocation, and thanks to having my car, I inherited my band’s old PA system (but not before I made my girlfriend join me for a sit-down taco session at my favorite Mexican joint in the city: Arturo’s). More importantly, we got to catch up with an old friend, which for me and my girlfriend, was just as much our reason for going to Chicago as the festival.
You don’t have to have old friends in Chicago to have an excellent time there. I would recommend avoiding most of the obvious recommendations people give you when you go to Chicago. Check out the Chicago Reader online; pick up a copy of the Not For Tourists Guide to Chicago. Get lost on the trains and find you way back. These are all good way of finding spots that will have the personality it seems like most people are looking for when they visit the city.
This review is in no way intended to be a how-to for getting around the city, nor is it anywhere near comprehensive, even for the areas we frequented most. I would never be so foolish to think I could offer such a piece in such a space. These are our spots, places we love, and I share them with you in hopes you will go and give them your patronage, and have a good time doing it.
We missed too many good bands at Pitchfork to even consider this a complete review (here goes: El-P, Liars, Delorean, Raekwon, Beach House, Sleigh Bells and many others I’m sure), but I wouldn’t want to go to Chicago and do nothing besides go to a music festival, any festival. If you do that, you are, in my opinion, cheating yourself. We did see most of the bands we were excited about, and I definitely feel like I saw a year’s worth of good music in three days. But we had other agendas, people to visit, things to do, food to eat, and we kept our schedule free to accomodate for whatever came to mind next, and never worried about what we might be missing. In fact, looking back, it feels like we really didn’t miss anything at all…
A post by - rccola3
A post by - rccola3
SATURDAY | July 18 | DAY 2
After a good night’s sleep, we were back on the train for a pre-festival lunch with old friends at my girlfriend’s favorite eatery in Chicago: The Silver Cloud. While their dinner is, in my opinion, their best menu (chicken pot pie, bone-in pork chops, Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings any day of the year), they boast the best damn sloppy Joe anywhere (don’t take my word for it; ask Zagat). Again, this is a couple blocks off the Damen Blue Line (you see a pattern developing…?). For the money, Silver Cloud has some of the best eats you can find in Chicago (and killer drinks, like my girl’s favorite: the pomegranate mimosa).
After lunch, we took a cab down to Union Park (about $10 for three people, not bad), arriving just in time to catch one of my all-time rock bands: the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. And they kicked royal ass — Spencer in black long sleeves and leather pants, like a “fuck you” to the blazing sun, and screaming “Blues Explosion!” at every opportunity.
I’d never had the good fortune of seeing them live until now, and despite playing in the hot light of day, JSBX brought equal heat, ripping through classics like “Flavor”, “Bellbottoms”, “Soul Typecast”, and “Afro”. After all these years, JSBX is still Theremin-licking good.
Right after JSBX was the band I was perhaps most amped to see, for a fourth time, and the band I think definitely should have been playing later in the evening at least (one of the few scheduling missteps): Wolf Parade. The last time I was them was their two-night stand at the Metro in early August 2006, when they were still touring as a five-piece (Hadji Baraka has left the band and is now pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Chicago, where some guy named Barack something or other taught for a time), and those were two of the best live shows I’ve ever been lucky enough to see. This set, thankfully, was not far behind. They opened with one song from each of their first three albums, and played a healthy slice of their new sterling effort, Expo 86 (two shining moments being “Ghost Pressure” and “Cave-o-sapien”, a song Spencer Krug said the band was “drunk on playing”).
A wildly precise version of “I’ll Believe in Anything” stood hairs on end and brought the crowd to the highest intensity I had seen to that point in the festival. By its end, I didn’t feel alone in my feeling that their set was way too short, and happened too early, considering the quality effort the Montreal band threw down in the face of a shrinking sun.
Next were the one-man art-rock trippy pulsations of Panda Bear, member of Animal Collective. While there was clearly a lot of anticipation for his set, I have to say it seemed like an odd marshmallow to the chocolate and graham crackers that were Wolf Parade and LCD Soundsystem. Alas, the trippy screens were trippy, the more hippy hipsters seemed sated, and when it was over, I think everyone left in the park was ready to dance their asses off to LCD Soundsystem. Me? I was still jonesing for more Wolf Parade.
And dance everyone did. James Murphy played like it might be his last tour, as rumors have circulated that it will be. Their sound was crisp, the band was drum-tight and Murphy got down on some shout-out happy dance rock (though, in the dance vocal category, Murphy was a definite Miss Congeniality compared to Sunday’s sex house-disco juggernaut that was Major Lazer). An early surprise was the favorite “Pow Pow” and from there, LCD Soundsystem rode a steady rhythmic wave to the end of the evening. Their live sound reminded me of Stop Making Sense-era Talking Heads, the sort of sweeping percussive vibe and movement, but minus the lyrical content and strangeness of David Byrne.
Being satisfied, we danced out a few songs early, as we wanted to beat the rush to the Ashland Green Line and head back to the hotel for a bit before going out for a fine Chicago night.
Once we cleaned up, we got back on the Blue Line and made our way to the Wicker Pak | Bucktown neighborhood. Our first order of business was food. Now, if you’re not always a fan of Chicago-style deep dish, it may be hard for you to find good thin crust in the city. The place you are looking for is Santullo’s. Best New York style pizza in Chicago. Do not be discouraged if you go there late on a weekend and it’s packed; the price is right, and one slice is plenty. It’s busy because it’s good.
To close down the night, we headed up Damen to Lemming’s, a deceptively plain but fine place to enjoy a tall drink. We debated between there and Danny’s, well-known for having great music and a world-class reading series. But Danny’s, while fat with atmosphere, is light on space, and after swimming through crowds at Pitchfork all afternoon, we opted for the cooler, more roomy Lemmings, to have a couple night caps with friends old and new.
We took our time walking back to the train. One of the great small joys of living in Chicago is being able wander around anytime of the day or night and feel the activity.
We enjoyed the late night breeze and movement on the street (we also saw some cool art along the way) before heading back up north to rest for what was the longest, and perhaps best, day of the Festival: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!
Pitchfork Music Festival 2010 | You Can Go Back Home
Here’s the news: Chicago can be expensive. It can also be not-so expensive and still above excellent, if you’re willing to get out of your hotel, look around and avoid the obvious spots. It also helps if you’re not a total douchebag: if you’ve ever heard anyone rave about going to Pizza Rio Uno (it’s all about Lou Malnati’s) and, in the same breath, bitch about how much they hated the public transportation they had to take to get there, you know the kind of people I’m talking about. Ignore everything they tell you about their “trip to the city.”
I lived in Chicago for several years, as an “itinerant poet” and musician. I know my way around. I don’t usually care for music festivals (I’ve never been to Lollapalooza, for example), but when Pavement was announced as the headliner the Pitchfork Music Festival, I knew a pilgrimage was in order. Now, it’s been three years since I moved out of the city; three years since I last attended Pitchfork. This time, my girlfriend (who I met in Chicago) and I stayed way out on the northwest side of the city, close to O’Hare, right off the CTA Blue Line. And loved it. Now, Pitchfork was not always our first priority, but we feel like we covered our bases pretty well.
So, in the spirit of giving, I offer this rundown of our weekend back home, complete with links to places you want to visit, food you want to eat, and set reviews for every act we caught at the Pitchfork Music Festival this past weekend…
We found probably the only hotel in the O’Hare area with free Wi-Fi and free parking, and thanks to my diligence, we scored a bunch of other deals (like free CTA day passes) at the Holiday Inn off North Cumberland Ave., across the street from the CTA Blue Line (note: this is blocks away from where one John Wayne Gacy had his infamous residence; it’s been torn down and re-numbered, but it’s easy enough to find. Also nearby is the Northwood Lounge, a bar where Gacy used to drink with a unique décor—and cheap drinks).
We headed straight into the city, lucky enough to find a seat on the train during rush hour, which is always great people watching, especially taking note of people who don’t have their train legs. We got to Union Park, and just missed Wyatt Cenac performing on the Balance stage, the Festival’s last addition to the bill. We got an earful of Robyn, rockin’ the Swede pop like it was a dusty Stockholm on the main Aluminum Stage. But it wasn’t, and while she did her thing, we found sustenance. And what we had to eat turned out to be, for us, one of the stars of the festival: chicken dumplings. Or, as I wrote in my post-pot sticker stupor, “dumblings.” Respect = Star of Siam.
Then it was guitar time with Broken Social Scene. Sweet, sweet Canadian rock—a theme to be re-visited the next day. BSS broke out a solid mix of old & new, with cellist Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) and violinist Susan Voelz, both of Chicago, sitting in. Also sitting in was the mighty John McEntire, who produced their new Forgiveness Rock Record at his Soma Electronic Music Studios. Definitely a quality set, highlighted by “Stars and Sons” and “Cause=Time” off 2002’s You Forgot It In People.
Then we had to hustle to catch Eugene Mirman back at the Balance Stage, which was well worth the effort. Despite the fact that he felt like he was battling a “rock n’ roll spaceship” for much of his set, he killed. From Jewish board games to “grammatically ambiguous protest signs”, he managed to cram a lot of funny into a short set under distracting circumstances. Two of the best bits involved a “What I Like About You” cover/homage to Joe Piscopo, and the slogan, “Religion: it’s not a leap of faith, it’s high-functioning autism!”. Mirman was well worth missing the end of BSS’s set.
Modest Mouse was the headliner Friday, and while I’ve seen them seven or eight times now since 1997, my girlfriend had never seen them. It was probably the most polished I’ve heard them play, and I have to say I particularly loved the two-drummer line-up. They opened with “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” and “Here It Comes”, which I found to be a nice surprise. While being more of a fan of their back catalog, I would have liked to see more of the old stuff (my personal favorite of this set was a gorgeous version of “Dramamine” into “Life Like Weeds”). The encores, “Gravity Rides Everything” and “Black Cadillac”, were an excellent close to Friday.
After the festival, we headed up north to Logan Square, where I discovered two old friends of ours are now roommates, and live across the alley from one of my old band’s practice spaces, circa 2006. O nostalgia! Their place is also near one of my favorite bars in Chicago: small Bar. While the kitchen was closed, this location is my favorite of the three for the atmosphere and the jukebox. And it’s just a couple blocks off the Belmont Blue Line stop…
A post by - rccola3