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Friday, September 22

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Feature Thu Sep 07 2006

10th Annual Hideout Block Party

This year's Hideout Block Party will not only celebrate ten years of great music benefiting local non-profits (ticket sales profits will go to Chicago organizations Tuesday's Child, Literacy Works, and the Thomas Drummond Elementary School) but will also raise a frothy glass to Chicago music label Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records' 25th Anniversary. In just 2.5 days, 25 bands will perform in the area around the Hideout (at Wabansia and Elston) with reunions, only chances, and favorites filling the bill. Tickets are flying and you have until noon today (Thursday) to buy online, with 3-day passes and 1-day passes for Saturday already sold out. We're quite excited about what will surely be the perfect topping to an already overflowing plate of music festivals in Chicago this past summer. Continue reading below for some of our highlights for the weekend.

Friday, September 8

The Shipping News (5pm)
Everyone seems to love Ira Glass, and so do Jeff Mueller and Jason Noble of The Shipping News, as they owe it all to a little Chicago Public Radio program called This American Life. (The two met while working for the NPR show as background music recorders for the taped broadcasts.) Next enters the work of E. Annie Proulx (of Brokeback Mountain fame) whose novel insprired the band's name. With the addition of one more band member, the duo became a trio, and released their first record Save Everything, in 1997. After a few follow-ups, the band recently put out Flies the Fields through Touch & Go records.

The Shipping News is an intensely brooding group that brings a sense of melodic quiet to a room. They exchange vocal with ease and precision, and their interchanges are sweet and memorable.
-Catherine Rigod

Girls Against Boys (7pm)
The return of Girls Against Boys (official site) to celebrate Touch and Go has a certain and unfortunate irony to it. After releasing three well-received post-hardcore records on the label — Venus Luxure Baby No. 1, Cruise Yourself and House of GVSB — they, like so many other indie bands in the mid- to late-90s, jumped to a major. While that transition was rocky for a lot of acts, Girls Against Boys stands out as one of the more spectacular falls: they released the now-out-of-print Freak*on*ica on Geffen, and it went down in flames. It wasn't that bad of a record, but the fanbase either evaporated or the band was miserable (possibly both), because it was four years until GVSB put out another record; this time, they were back on an indie. That was 2002, and there's not been another since. In other words, this is a rare thing, this appearance of a band that was bringing sexy back before Justin Timberlake had even started puberty. See the video for "Basstation" from You Can't Fight What You Can't See on your computer screen, and see the band play Friday.
-Matt Peck

Ted Leo + Pharmacists (8pm)
Ted Leo has been making the most of their summer festival rounds lately, playing SXSW, Coachella, Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival in July, and now enjoying a near-headlining spot in Friday night's line-up. I first caught the band at a show at the Logan Square Auditorium where they fired up the positively giggling crowd who'd all squeezed themselves up the narrow stairs for the show. His Pitchfork performance was interjected with a bit too much of the chatty chatty, but it was really hot that day, and, well, he's adorable, and we'll forgive him the motor mouth. Friday night's show should be more interesting (and cooler, temperature-wise), and hopefully filled with more rock, less talk.

Ted Leo + Pharmacists' (the the is implied) guitar-driven indie pop takes cues from songwriters with a story to tell about the sunnier days gone by (I'm thinking J.C. Melloncamp here, though Cougar never used the word “timorous", ever). Whether you've got a beer in your hand, or not, you're going to start bouncing up and down to their tunes. They're sweet, sensitive, and rock stars — quite the trifecta.
-Anne Holub

!!! (9pm)
!!! (pronounced "chk chk chk" — don’t ask me about the symbols, ask Prince), of Sacramento, CA, are an indie dance pop set that mixes funk with Brit-punk and lo-fi. Did you get that? After putting out some vinyl cuourtesy of Bay Area's Hopscotch Records, !!!'s future took off with their self-titled release in 2000. !!! soon moved from the SF to NYC where in the spirit of all things Manhattan, they released Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story) on Touch & Go. Keeping it all in the family their Touch & Go follow-up, Louden Up Now made a big noise, just as they are going to do this weekend.

!!! is a playful and boisterous group who have enough energy to actually keep you running along with them through the set. They've been compared to The Stills, but I think !!! has been able to pull away from a niche, as their music can be so energetic at times, most bands would be straining to keep up.

Saturday, September 9

Killdozer (3:50pm)
Armed with a wickedly funny lyric book and sound that could take on the eponymous piece of murderous construction equipment it's named after, it's a shame that Madison, Wisconsin's Killdozer has usually been dismissed as a joke band. Sure, singer Michael Gerald sounds like a depraved, smug Muppet, as he cops popular songs only to add his own perverse twist (On 12 Point Buck's "Pig Foot and Beer", he laments: Nobody knows the trouble I've seen / Nobody knows my sorrow / All my dreams down the flush / Glory Hallelujah / Walk a mile in my shoes / And you'll get Athletes foot), but the more you listen to the band's catalog of bluesy, swamp rock and stories of working man ethos, you begin to realize the joke is really on you.
-JP Pfafflin

Sally Timms (6:30pm)
British-born crooner Sally Timms made her name with the legendary Mekons, who she joined in 1985. On her solo projects, though, Timms has tended to explore Americana, bringing a wry torch-singer approach to alt-country. The result lies somewhere between Lucinda Williams and Neko Case.

Timms' most recent album, the 2004 Touch & Go release In the World of Him, was a sort of cabaret act on the male perspective, with Timms covering songs written by men from Mark Eitzel to Ryan Adams. A full-time Chicago resident, Timms has worked on projects with various other hard-to-classify local artists; appearances during her set by the likes of Jon Langford, Jon Rauhouse, or Kelly Hogan wouldn't be too surprising.
-Kris Vire

Man or Astroman (7:45pm)
To understand Man or Astroman, you must understand Devo, Link Wray, and "Mystery Science Theater 3000" equally. You must wrap your head around the idea that they're not from Alabama, but actually from outer space. This was a band on a mission in the 1990s — releasing around 30 singles (including splits with other bands), 14 albums (including EPs and the tour-only A Spectrum of Finite Scale), and almost constantly touring. In fact, they even sent two groups of "clones" on the road in 1998 and 1999. They began with a sound that mixed surf-rock, punk, new wave, and sound clips from obscure science fiction films. Beginning with 1996's Experiment Zero, their first on Touch & Go, the music shifted from mostly guitar-driven instrumentals to more electronic and experimental. (One highlight from their final album is a recording of a dot-matrix printer in action.) On hiatus since 2001, former Astromen have been involved with the Causey Way, the Polyphonic Spree, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

There may be better bands over the weekend, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one that puts on a show as entertaining as Man or Astroman. It's not just because they dress in flight jumpsuits, litter the stage in useless electronic gear, project movies on screens, fiddle with a tesla coil, or light their helmets on fire. It's mostly because the fun they're having onstage seeps into the crowd. Even people who cast them off as a gimmick band are often surprised by the level of their musicianship and effort in creating a performance.
-James Ziegenfus

Sunday, September 10

Quasi (1pm)
So they used to be married and she plays the drums. No, it's not the indie rock pair you're thinking of. For one thing, Quasi's Janet Weiss is a hell of a better drummer than Meg White. Weiss and Sam Coomes have been performing and recording as Quasi since 1993; the Portland-based duo have released seven albums, the last three on Touch & Go, in between Coomes's recording and touring with the likes of Built To Spill and Elliott Smith and Weiss's little gig as one-third of Sleater-Kinney.

Quasi's latest album, When the Going Gets Dark, finds the duo scaling back the orchestrations to the basics of Weiss’s drum kit and Coomes's piano and guitar. The lyrics are spare as well, but they retain their dark humor and social commentary, with Coomes's reedy white-guy vocals sounding like an angry Matthew Sweet, softened by Weiss's occasional harmonies. The pair is known for putting on a passionate, driving live show.

Enon (3pm)
Born out of Brainiac and Skeleton Key, Enon now features ex-Brainiac guitarist John Schmersal, ex-The Lapse/Van Pelt/Blonde Redhead bassist Toko Yasuda, and ex-Lab Partners drummer Matt Schulz. With Skeleton Key's Rick Lee and Steve Calhoon aboard at the beginning for Believo!, Enon seemed like a jangly and unpredictable band that would toss in sound effects and distortion just to not conform with traditional song structure. On 2002's High Society, Yasuda injected some of Blonde Redhead's influence to temper the erraticness. Hocus Pocus followed the next year and Enon delved into a more electronic sound. Never satisfied with just albums, the band has released a plethora of singles and EPs to showcase talents that simply don't fit on albums.

As a live band, John Schmersal is the star. He is the perfect embodiment of Enon's music — bouncing around and never focused on one instrument. Toko Yasuda steps up on songs that she sings, but mostly keeps a cool demeanor and allows Schmersal to lead the band. Matt Schulz is feral behind the kit, when he's actually sitting down. Between them, Enon's live shows are pretty much just what one would expect their music to look like.

Seam (5pm)
Seam's (official site) start was in Chapel Hill, and its indie cred was there from the outset. The band included Mac McCaughan, who left early to pursue Superchunk and Merge Records full-time, and front man Sooyoung Park — he'd been in Bitch Magnet since his days at Oberlin, where he was Liz Phair's roommate. But, if those acts were about raucous noise, Seam made music that was often melodic and sometimes quiet. The line-up shifted constantly throughout the band's six year stint, but Park's emotive songwriting and a minimalist aesthetic remained ever-present. 1993's The Problem with Me is generally regarded as the band's best, although The Pace is Glacial will always hold a special place in my heart. These days, Seam exists only in its recordings: Park, a rare Asian face amongst the often lily-white indie scene, moved to California and records with Ee.

Black Heart Procession (6:05pm)
Despite the poor title selections of their first three albums (1, 2, 3), San Diego's Black Heart Procession churned out intricate songs full of dark tones that may remind listeners of Scott Walker and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. They each tell a story about lost love and the depression that accompanies it. On 2002's Amore del Tropico, the band expands upon their earlier releases with a concept album loosely based on a murder mystery. With 2006's The Spell, their gloomy nature becomes more musically uplifting while maintaining the morose subject matter that they're best known for producing.

Unfortunately, the bulk of their music does not translate very well to a live setting. This is what people listen to when their lover has either died or abandoned them. In the right setting, though, the Black Heart Procession could prevail. Dark shadows and a heavy mist at the Hideout on Sunday could be just the type of environment where music like this was meant to be heard live. (Oh, and don't miss Pall Jenkins playing a saw.)

Pinback (8pm)
Heavy Vegetable, Thingy, Physics, and Optiganally Yours are just some of the bands that Pinback co-frontman Rob Crow has been involved in. Armistead Burwell Smith IV (a.k.a. Zach Smith) was an integral part of Three Mile Pilot. Between the poppy Crow and the dark Smith, Pinback relies primarily on bass, piano, and drums to create a sound that is both bouncy and brooding. Songs like "Penelope" and "Concrete Seconds" may have you tapping your toes, but it's only when you start singing them in your head that you realize Rob Crow's singing about a girl who's drowning and his insecurities. After stints on Ace Fu and Absolutely Kosher, Pinback signed on with Touch & Go and released Summer in Abaddon in 2004. A new compilation of B-sides, outtakes, and rarities, entitled Nautical Antiques, was released this past week.

Pinback is one of those bands that's not content to play songs the same way live as they are on albums. Nothing's drastically different, but you shouldn't expect to hear the songs exactly how you normally do. And you should neither expect a grand spectacle or a huge disappointment. They play their music, banter with the crowd, play more music, and exit. There are no fancy theatrics or props — just sitting in front of instruments and playing good music.

Calexico (9pm)
Initially signed to Touch & Go's more experimental imprint, Quarterstick Records, Tucson's Calexico is indeed a different breed compared its sister labels old-school, punk-rock sound with its exploration of Tex-mex, Mariachi, Americana, indie rock and jazz (As Dero explains in his T&G profile, these days Touch & Go and Quarterstick are basically one-and-the-same; the sound is more diverse, but the vision for all bands involved remains the same). Earlier this year, Calexico released one of the years best albums, Garden Ruin, a romantic and smart affair that proves that heading into its tenth year, the band will age gracefully for years to come. Calexico appears as Sunday night's headliners, you might feel a little fatigued after three days in the outdoors, but be sure not to duck out on them as excellent as they are on record, they're an even better live band, and it's a fitting end to what is sure to become one of the city's greatest musical moments.

Hideout Block Party 2006, 1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago

Friday Line-up
5:00pm - The Shipping News
6:00pm - Supersystem
7:00pm - Girls Against Boys
8:00pm - Ted Leo + Pharmacists
9:00pm - !!!

Saturday Line-up
12:00pm - The New Year
12:55pm - Uzeda
1:50pm - Pegboy
2:35pm - Tim & Andy (Silkworm)
2:55pm - The Ex
3:50pm - Killdozer
4:35pm - Jon & Kat (Mekons/The Ex)
4:55pm - Didjits
5:40pm - PW Long
6:00pm - Negative Approach
6:30pm - Sally Timms
6:50pm - Scratch Acid
7:45pm - Man…or Astroman?
8:40pm - Big Black
9:00pm - Shellac

Sunday Line-up
12:00pm - Arcwelder
1:00pm - Quasi
2:00pm - The Monorchid
3:00pm - Enon
3:55pm - Three Mile Pilot
4:40pm - Tara Jane O’Neil
5:00pm - Seam
5:45pm - Brick Layer Cake
6:05pm - The Black Heart Procession
7:00pm - CocoRosie
8:00pm - Pinback
9:00pm - Calexico

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
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Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
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Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
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Oh My Rockness
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Theft Liable to Prosecution
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UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
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Dave's Records
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Groove Distribution
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