Thursday, July 31, 2008

Scott's Favorite Weekend of the Year...

... begins in only a matter of hours now. It's been an insanely busy week as always up to this point, finished up one of my classes last night with another good grade, and wrapping up class number two tonight, no worries there. Then, one of my most massive concert weekends EVER begins!

The festivities begin tonight at 10 pm, when I'll be going to a new place called Angels & Kings in the Gold Coast area. This is apparently a newer bar co-owned by Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy, so we'll see how many celebs and other cooler than me people show up tonight to see Chalky Jesus.

Huh?? Chalky Jesus you say? Well, he's only the best Butch Walker cover band in the world! Okay, not exactly, it's Butch Walker playing a secret warm-up show for his set at Lollapalooza the next day. See Butch in a small venue is always a fantastic thing, but I'm more excited about this show because my friend Chatchi has promised that he will fart on Pete Wentz's head if he sees him there. Cross your fingers!

Then, they Lollapalooza weekend officially begins. Michele, Bella and I will be in attendance all day on Friday, we're hopefully getting there at noon and will be enjoying a full day of music and rib sandwiches until Radiohead plays their last notes at 10 pm. Here's the list of bands we plan on seeing Friday, of course I'll have a full report up early next week: Holy F-ck, Butch Walker, The Terrible Twos (new album in stores now!), Jeff Tweedy, Rogue Wave, the Kills, Gogol Bordello, Mates of State, Grizzly Bear, Bloc Party, Steven Malkmus & the Jicks, CSS, and finally Radiohead.

After some rest at home, I'll be heading back downtown for day two of Lolla. Saturday's lineup for me will be: De Novo Dahl, The Ting Tings, Dr. Dog, The Gutter Twins, MGMT, Brand New, Okkervil River, Broken Social Scene, and Wilco (and if the rumor proves correct, will get to see and hear our next president, Barack Obama, at the Wilco set). As if 10 hours of the rock isn't enough for me, I'll be heading over to the Double Door after that, and seeing Battles and Foals, since both bands are playing against other bands I'm dying to see at Lolla. So at about 1 am or so, I'll hop on the train and head home for some much needed rest.

Sunday will be a slower day, with Office early in the day (might skip them for a few extra hours of precious sleep), followed by the Whigs, then a long break til Iron & Wine, then possibly Saul Williams, and then must-see sets by Girl Talk, The National and finally Nine Inch Nails.

I'll have lots of photos, stories and reviews up Monday, since I'll be taking the day off of work to recover from my weekend of rock at home. Cross your fingers for me that the weather will actually cooperate this weekend.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Our Pitchfork-licious Weekend - Sunday

So I had one of my proudest fatherly moments on Saturday night as we were leaving the show. As we were heading up to take the train back towards home, we told Bella that only Daddy would be coming back to the concert tomorrow, and that Bella and Mommy would be home all day. Bella then said "I wanna go to the concert!"

That's my girl.

So I had a good relaxing day Sunday at Pitchfork again, after finding the same shady spot to fend off the sun and heat that was beating on the other festival goers. There was no wait to get in on Sunday, not sure if everyone was groggy in getting up from the day before or something, but that was nice.

The day kicked off with Ohio's Times New Viking, who were pretty good, but make brevity the soul of what they do. When the singer said that the next song they'd do was their longest, clocking in barely at 3 minutes, he wasn't kidding. He also wasn't kidding 15 minutes into the set when instead of saying "we have time for one more" like most bands do, he joked "we have time for 15 more." They could be good in the long run, but they'll have to get past the 1.5 minute song schtick.

After a dull set by the Dirty Projectors, Japanese metal band Boris took the stage ready to rock the gathered crowd. They did just that, proudly being the only band at the festival with a double neck headless guitar and a gong. There was some major electrical problem though, as their sound dropped out about 20 minutes into their set, then worked again for another song, and then was TKO.

The Apples in Stereo followed after an unintentional half hour break in the action, and their sunny power pop fit pretty well with the beautiful midday sun. Les Savy Fav took the stage next, and provided a pretty amusing punk fueled set, with lead singer Tim Harrington proving to be the most lively and amusing presence at the festival, constantly leaping into the crowd, and providing the biggest WTF moment of the weekend by donning a nude bodysuit, to make his antics all the more disturbing on the giant nearby monitors.

In a pretty big dynamic switch, the Dodos followed them, performing as only a duo, but providing some interesting songs via some looped sounds and unique instrumentation. M. Ward then took over on the next stage, starting off solo acoustic and building on from there. His mellow croon was again a perfect fit for the gorgeous summer afternoon in the park.

The probably most anticipated set by the majority of the crowd followed with Spiritualized. The band is mainly one guy, who had a near death experience a few years ago, who has returned with a critically acclaimed album (still have to hear it obviously). I last saw them in 1997 opening for Radiohead in what would be my favorite concert ever, although they ddin't impress me at that show. Time has definintely helped them out, since their Pink Floyd-influenced set filled the park (and probably several surrounding blocks) with a sound that was worthy of the hype.

This was bad news for Bon Iver, a very quiet band playing on the small side stage who were doomed to be scheduled at the same time as Spiritualized. I walked over to the side stage to try and check some of Bon Iver out, but no matter how close I got, pretty much the only thing I could hear was the kick drum for Spiritualized.

Dinosaur Jr. followed on the big stage with a run through most of their songs that their fans were waiting to hear. I wasn't a fan before their set, and I'm still not. I was hoping that Cut Copy was going to actually start at their scheduled time mid-way through Dino's set on the smaller stage, but that didn't happen. Checked the stage again before the final act, Spoon, and still not Cut Copy. Turns out they had some problems at the airport, and their set didn't even start til 9:40.

Spoon closed out the weekend with a good set that jumped around their catalog and didn't just focus on their last two fantastic albums. They had a small horn section this time (unlike Lollapalooza 2007), so I was hoping I'd get to hear some of their great songs like "The Underdog" and "You've Got Yer Cherry Bomb" from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga before I left, but that didn't happen. I hiked up to the train station around 9:40, and was lucky enough to hear "I Summon You" just before my train pulled up.

Again, a pretty great weekend, definitely a good time at Pitchfork. And definitely a very good warm up for Lollapalooza, only 10 days away now as of
this writing!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Our Pitchfork-licious Weekend - Saturday

We managed to avoid some heavy rain showers on Saturday and headed over to Union Park just west of the Loop for the 2008 Pitchfork Music Festival. Keep in mind, this is already Bella's third concert of the year, so she's basically already a pro at this. It was still lightly raining on and off for the first hour or two while we were there, but it was fine from there on out. Definitely beat the 100 degree and sunny weather that was there two years ago.

First off, as Michele stated on her blog, we had gotten out the night before (thanks to grandma P) to see The Dark Knight. All I know is Michele was able to look at me a few times during the 2 and a half hours (only when Christian Bale wasn't on the screen), and she said my jaw was hanging open and I was smiling the whole time. When I say it is the best superhero movie I've ever seen, it is no slight exaggeration.

The only drawback to that was we got home at 1:30 am from seeing the movie, and it was my day to wake up with Bella, and she of course decided to get up at 6:40 that morning. Good times.

So I'll give my quick summary of the day's music: We were standing in a long line outside the gate waiting to get in, but could hear the majority of the set by Titus Andronicus. Good solid punk stuff from what I heard, hopefully will get to hear them again some time. Jay Reatard played shortly after that, and tore up the stage for a breathless 20 minute punk blast that probable squeezed in a dozen songs at least.

The next band, Caribou, was a nice surprise. I already knew they were going to be one of Michele's favorites, if nothing else just for their name. They mixed things up and played some pretty interesting heavily instrumental music, with most of the band members switching instruments regularly. This was also the first band of the day that Bella pointed at the stage and wanted to get closer, so I took that as a good sign.

The next band, the Fleet Foxes, were one of the most heavily hyped bands of the weekend by the local critics, but the music did not justify the hype for me. They reminded me of a very watered down My Morning Jacket, but lacked all of the charisma and power that makes MMJ a must see performance. I tried to take in a few minutes of F-ck Buttons (yes, that is actually a band name) on the small side stage during this, but the FB's only made some dull droning noises for the few minutes I was there. Pass.

Next up on the big stage was rapper Dizzee Rascal, who dropped more F-bombs in his first 5 minutes on stage than Bella had ever heard in her life. Thankfully she didn't take home any new words with her. He was followed shortly by the Most Heavily Hyped Band in the History of Mankind, Vampire Weekend. I'm not ashamed to admit, I do like their Paul Simon-esque sound, and I knew they'd be absolutely perfect for a midday set as the sun was starting to near the horizon and things were cooling off. They put on a great set, of course playing almost all of their debut cd, with a new song or two thrown in as well. Bella recognized some of their songs, and even did a little butt shaking dance in honor of them.

Around this time, Bella tried her first taste of the Robinson's Mystery Meat Rib Shaped Rib Sandwich, and she loved it, making her daddy very proud once again. Next up was the infectious dance rock of !!! (pronounced chk chk chk). I had to miss them at Lollapalooza 2007, since they were scheduled at the same time as Yo La Tengo, and they put on a great energetic set that made me thankful that YLT put on a great set at Lolla last year.

The next band caused the biggest controversy for me, which was the Hold Steady. Critics absolutely adore this band, they worship everything they do, calling them this generation's great bar band, a la a younger Bruce Springsteen. I still don't see it, they have a couple of decent songs to me, but everything starts to sound the same, and the power just isn't there in the songs. I still gave them a chance on Saturday, and still feel the same about them. However, Bella decided that she really liked the band, and asked several times to get closer to the stage to see them. Our first official Daddy/Bella music conflict... At least she is siding with the critics on this one, we'll try to sort this one out among ourselves.

We made it through about half of the set by form Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, which meant we heard about 3 of his songs and 15 minutes of his stage banter. Bella was getting near wiped out, so we started packing up and were getting ready to leave. We tried hitting the side stage one more time to catch a bit of somehow-MTV-darlings No Age, but the stage setup was delayed, and they didn't start on time for us. So we called it a night, headed up to the train and started our trip home.

I would have to say that Saturday's lineup alone was better than all of Pitchfork 2007, so that was a pretty good start. More on the Sunday lineup later...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Falling Behind

I know I've been slacking on the blog a bit as of late, but as you may have noticed, my wife has been definitely picking up the slack with her new blog. Take a look if you haven't already.

We did have a very good time at the Feist show last weekend, although it can be incredibly tough to enjoy the actual music when you go to see a show at Ravinia. The background noise usually overwhelms the sound of the band, especially when it's only one person performing acoustic, since in the logical minds of most average concert goers, when a band plays acoustic, you must speak louder to the person standing 5 feet away from you to make up for the drop in overall volume.

As much as I love Feist and her music, Ravinia isn't the right place for her yet, she still needs to play the smaller clubs for a few more years. She tried a few attempts to get the crowd on the lawn to sing along with her, but those tries fizzled out pretty quickly. Oh well. Bella was happy to see her anyways, she got to hear "1 2 3 4" and other favorites of hers.

If you can't wait til August to see it, you might want to check this out, Feist performing a special version of "1 2 3 4" on Sesame Street, also known as the merging of two of Bella's favorite things on earth.

Our big event for the weekend will be the Pitchfork Music Festival near the Loop downtown. Michele and Bella will be accompanying me on Saturday to see Vampire Weekend, !!!, No Age and many other bands I'm sure 99% of the people out there don't know. I'll be heading over solo on Sunday. At least we lucked out and it won't be 100 degrees and humid out there like it was 2 years ago. Plenty of photos and stories from the day to come.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More from our 4th of July Weekend

Here are more photos from this past weekend. First photo: Bella enjoying the fireworks show on the 4th.

Next few: Bella having some fun in the backyard.

Last few: Bella's first pony ride of the season at the Arlington Heights Frontier Days

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Robbing My Childhood #136

Add yet another item to the list of things robbed from my childhood (with the shining example being the steaming pile of dung known as the Transformers movie):

They are remaking Red Dawn. That just plain blows.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Pumpkins... Return?!?

What's that? The Smashing Pumpkins are finally playing the first area show in Chicago since they "reunited" (two of them that were already in another band anyways) and released an album last year?? Sweet!

Hmm?? What's that you say, the show isn't IN Chicago at all? Oh, no problem, there are plenty of places in the burbs they could play that would be excellent. Did I mention I live only 5 or so miles from one place that would be perfect?

What's that? They're not playing anywhere in the normal established Chicago area venues? Um, alright, well, I'm sure they'll come up with something creative instead, right?

Oh, I see, they're playing in Hammond, Indiana huh? Hmm. Well then. Their return to "Chicago" doesn't even happen in the state of Illinois huh? And they're playing at a casino huh?
Thanks guys.

UPDATE: The tickets for the show are on sale this weekend, $83 a pop. Ouch. They will be returning officially to Chicago in November though. I'm assuming that means they'll be playing in Peoria or possibly the Quad Cities.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Recovering from our Fourth of July Weekend

I know this will come as a major major shock to all of you, but we have plenty of photos from our adventures this past weekend! Well, at least you know have two website to see them on, so you won't be forced to scroll through a couple dozen only on my page. The Mrs. is fighting off the cold/allergy sickness thing Bella has happily shared with her, so she hasn't been able to post any photos yet. Patience my friends.

We started off our weekend at the parade which happened only two blocks from our house. Can't have too much of an excuse to avoid that when it's that close. Bella got to break out her brand new tricycle to it, so she was a pretty happy girl. She made off like a major bandit too with all the candy that the people in the parade gave to her. Okay, so it's really her mommy and daddy that made off like bandits, but we won't complain.

Later that day, we went to the Hoffman Estates 4th of July festival (again, a few blocks away, can't complain) and took Bella for another visit to the petting zoo. She got a bit more brave this time, she fed a couple of sheep, but was a little shy of the goofy looking llama that was back again this year. Turned out to be a good time anyways.

We wrapped up the 4th at the same place for a good fireworks show. Since Bella's been normally staying up to that time, it wasn't a huge stretch for her. She really liked it this year, since we prepared her for how loud the fireworks would be, and we told her they looked like twinkle stars. She would keep pointing to the ones she liked and said "I like that one," then at one random point, she actually said "I love it!"

So a pretty good weekend all around Got plenty done around the house, slept til 8:30 each morning, and most importantly, didn't think about work for a millisecond. Good times.