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!