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Feature Thu Sep 06 2007

11th Annual Hideout Block Party: Preview

Heading into this weekend's 2-day long Hideout Block Party you may be still wondering if it's worth it to leave the couch and head into the fresh air and sunshine for some musical types. Well, get off your duff! This year's fest proves once again that the Hideout is one of the best venues in Chicago, and they really know how to curate a couple of days of beautiful music. There are punk bands, marching bands, indie bands and country bands to tell you about, and Gapers Block: Transmission's happy to give you a wee bit of insight into the weekend's lineup.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Cinematics / 6pm South Stage
Scotland's The Cinematics have been plying their new-look Joy Division wares since 2003, but it wasn't until this past March that their first record "A Strange Education" came out — produced by frequent New Order collaborator Stephen Hague, no less. You already like this band — you sure talked about them a lot when they were called Interpol and Franz Ferdinand, didn't you? — so there's really no excuse for pretending like you're not going to try and Ian Curtis-dance your way next to the cute girl with bangs during their set.
-Nilay Patel

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir / 6:30pm North Stage
The Hideout Block Party lineup would be incomplete without this loveable, oh-so-picturesque folk-pop band. Irreverently wistful and steeped in lovely harmonies, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir is hands down one of Chicago's best indie bands. Welsh born lead singer Elia, who emits plaintive wails on the band's tracks, leads the crew, along with six core members and the fifty or so musicians who contribute. And yes, there is the element of chamber pop, mainly due to the presence of eclectic instruments — keyboards, organs, trumpets and cellos. Belle and Sebastian may have been the band's starting point, but Scotland Yard Gospel Choir has developed a Chicago type of indie pop — one that contains punk elements — all their own.
-Marla Seidell

The Changes / 7pm South Stage
Honestly, I hadn't even thought about The Changes in months until seeing their name on this bill. I just figured they'd had a few busy years and were taking some time off. But then I remembered there's a world outside of Chicago and The Changes have been quite busy there in 2007 while touring the east coast and UK in support of the pop/new wave melodies featured on 2006's Today is Tonight. Easily their largest local show of the year, they'll play on the south stage Friday at 7pm.
-James Ziegenfus

The 1900s / 7:30pm North Stage
Fleetwood Mac. Lavender Diamond. Belle and Sebastian. These are a few of the bands that come to mind when thinking about local multi-gendered pop group The 1900's, who could very well go by the moniker The 1970s. Wistful melodies wrapped in earnest, earthy instrumentation marks their forthcoming full-length on Urbana’s Parasol records. Entitled Cold & Kind, the record comes out on October 2nd but you can stream the entire album currently on their website. Last year’s Plume Delivery EP was solid, but Cold & Kind sounds like it could raise consciousness of the bands stellar throwback pop skills. Just take a listen to the opening piano on "No Delay" or the dirty background guitar hook on "Cold and Kind" and tell me the Vietnam era didn’t just begin.
-Brandon Forbes

Bloc Party / 8:30pm South Stage
Keke Okereke is no longer quite the indie darling he was back in 2005 — magazine covers with M.I.A., blog blurbs about him every five minutes, and thought bubbles over every boy and girl about whether his sexuality was pointing in one, another, or all directions. Nowadays, cool reviews for "A Weekend in the City" have let the band slide off the radar rather quickly, which is an uncomfortable place to be in the frentic world of commercially viable indie music. But for the purposes of you, the Hideout Block Party attendee, consider it a treat. If Johnny Tightpants is too busy modeling his Kanye screen sunglasses to go check out their set, it's all the more sightline for you to catch Keke and the boys rip through their solid songlist. While the setting is a little smaller than last year's Intonation Festival extravaganza, consider this your opportunity to catch a more intimate spectacle.
-Dan Morgridge

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Steve Krakow's Guitarchestra / 12:00pm Truck Stage
Psychedelic punk overlord Steve Krakow (aka Plastic Crimewave) once again convenes his celestial shamanic workshop of six-string acolytes, their intent being to purge the world of even the smallest fraction of the evil that currently envelops it. Failing that, they might levitate the Hideout a few inches off its foundation. We're talking anywhere from 23 to infinity-number of guitarists, all with individual amps a blazing, so if demands #1 and #2 can't be met, they still have a backup plan: deafen those of you foolish enough to roll to a two-day music festival without earplugs.
-Chris Sienko

Cass McCombs / 12:30pm South Stage
As far as anyone can tell, singer/songwriter Cass McCombs lives the sort of itinerate life around which legends often gather. He keeps a shadowy profile, frequently moves from town to town, his website has usually featured found photographs and drawings and no artist info to speak of, and his recording and touring schedules are what some would call sporadic. McCombs started out doing bare-boned basement folk à la Mazzy Star — stuff so stark and dusky that it sometimes made Lou Reed's Berlin sound like a polka party by comparison. He just might have it in him to write The World's Most Saddening and Sob-Inducing Song, and he's probably already done so with 2003's "I Went To The Hospital." Lyrically, his mastery of spinning deeply personal and obliquely observational narratives are what's earned him a small but devout cult following. After being picked up by the 4AD label, McComb's music took a turn toward a fuller, more florid sound on 2005's PREfection; and he's scheduled to release his third LP, Dropping The Writ, via the Domino label in early October.
-Graham Sanford

Golden Horse Ranch Square Dance Band / 1:15pm North Stage
Growing up in the Midwest, Square dancing was a PE requirement that took place in middle school gymnasiums, or the father-daughter dances that were held in the St Matthew's rec hall. Even with all the allemandes and do-sa-dos I danced with dad, it didn't occur to me until years later that it was actually a folk art that was being passed down to us. So, it's no surprise that there are preservationists out there — thanks in part to the Golden Horse Ranch Square Dance Band and its wildly successful annual barn dances at the Open End Gallery, there's a new group of line dancers to keep the story alive. But rest assured, this is not another example of hipster acquisition of taking a childhood memory and making it an adult sport (see: kickball, Four Square). MC Miss Annie Coleman (formerly of local post-prog-rockers Reds and Blue) is the real deal — a third generation square dance caller who grew up on the dude ranch where the group gets its name. Her eight-piece ensemble, which also features members of Mucca Pazza and Palliard, is outfitted with a mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, banjo, and guitar and plays the old-time standards of Traditional Square dances. And while there's no dress code required to dance at one of Golden Horse's dances, gingham dresses and cowboy boots are encouraged.
-JP Pfafflin

Head of Femur / 2:15pm South Stage
If Head of Femur didn't exist, it would be necessary for me, specifically, to invent them. When this umpteen-piece art-glam-rock-pop mob sprang up near the end of 2001, it seemed that the whole earth was under the hairy hasher spell of big fuzz riffage, wah-soaked guitar solos, and heads that passed as whole songs (I won't name names, but a lot of dudes were pretty fixated with a band whose name rhymes with Flaccid Brothers Hemphill). Head of Femur shone through the early-oughts like the first Eno album cut through the mire of the early '70s. Seeing them glitter through a triumphant mix of Sparks, Kinks, Game Theory, Modern Lovers mk. I and whatever other musical smart guys you still harbor a crush on made going out to shows as exciting again as it was when I was 16. Their cover of Eno's "The True Wheel" reinforced their influences, but anyone can play a song they like - more amazing was the fact that they could actually rock the shit out of it! I personally found the debut "Ringodom or Proctor" to be a bit of a letdown against the intense promise of the self-released demo (still among the best 20 minutes of music I own), but the follow-up "Hysterical Stars" put the pieces back together just fine. I wanna reverse the title of the old VHF Records compilation and say "stand up for art rock, because psych rock is dead," but that's hardly true, nor should it be! Let's just say the yin and the yang are better balanced thanks to HoF's existence.
-Chris Sienko

O'Death / 3:15pm North Stage
Of all the bands on the Hideout's Block Party lineup, it seems to me that NYC's O'Death may be closest to the club's wickedly skewed aesthetic. The band somehow combines folksy, fiddle-based, Appalachian jug and string band music (way to go Appalachian State!) with the raw energy of punk. They sound a bit like the music from the "O Brother" soundtrack, but on crack and mixed at the wrong speed (try out "Down to Rest" and "All the World" [mp3]). If the band's press kit is to be believed (and the photo's of O'Death in concert seem to prove it) they are a wild and hairy force when they play live. The band's been on tour supporting their new CD, Head Home, just out this summer on Ernest Jenning Record Company (Chris Mills, The Black Hollies). Check 'em out Saturday.
-Craig Bonnell

Dan Deacon / 4pm Truck Stage
Dan Deacon is unabashedly geeky, but then again, hipster and geek are not far off from each other nowadays. His music — mystical, quirky, exuberant electronic mash-ups fused with various choirs and Deacon’s own bizarre singing, is the main attraction, and what a show it is. The one-man band that is Dan Deacon creates his music within an artist community (unsurprisingly) in Baltimore, and has been known to perform in obscure venues, such as an Amtrak station. This is definitely one of the must-see bands of Block Party, as you don't want to miss Deacon dancing, singing and geeking out over a keyboard, surrounded by thrashing hipsters.
-Marla Seidell

Mucca Pazza / 4:45 Parade & South Stage
With the temperature dropping, the leaves turning, and the kids all back to school, it's the inevitable return of football season. And what does football mean? That's right, marching band parades! The Hideout Block Party's not leaving you out of the fun this year, not to worry. They've got Chicago's own Mucca Pazza — everyone's favorite (and, well, only) circus punk marching band. Mucca Pazza will happily lead you into the Saturday evening performances with a parade ending with a set at the party's south stage. Expect old world style melodies set to percussionary explosions, eye-popping costumery and a strange sense of school pride to wash over you. There ain't no "Louie, Louie" going on here.
-Anne Holub

Punk Band / 5:15pm North Stage
Consisting entirely of Hideout bartenders and soundmen, Punk Band plays songs of less then two minutes, but claims that their fundamental goal is "to entertain the masses utilizing the cultural trope known as 'rock' while integrating methods and processes developed by the surrealists and situationists." This is exactly the sort of meaningless babble Malcolm McLaren used to promote the Sex Pistols, so either Punk Band is going to be amazing, or they're going to do terrible Johnny Rotten impersonations. Either way, their set should only last fifteen minutes.
-Nilay Patel

Art Brut /5:30pm South Stage
With the release of its sophomore LP It’s a Bit Complicated this summer, Art Brut set aside the high-conceptualist novelty that threaded their much-lauded 2005 debut. Gone are the references and tropes about being in a band and the nature of pop. This time out we get pop songs proper, songs about the things that such songs are usually about: girls, having fun, dealing with friends and family, the trade-offs between self-regard and self-actualization, and relationships. Especially relationships — from the heat of the first sloppy swap of saliva to the part where you avoid the apartment while the other person clears out their things. Sure, it's still very much about the wry commentary and gushing bon mots of frontman Eddie Argos; but it's slightly more grown-up and "serious" in character this time around, as Argos sorts through all variety of adolescent emotional baggage, deciding what's worth shedding and what merits hanging on to and dragging over the threshold of adulthood. And while musically the new album suggests Art Brut is taking steps toward being U.S. airplay-friendly, recent live appearances show that the band still give the punk-ish rudiments an energetic go.
-Graham Sanford

Blue Ribbon Glee Club / 6:30pm North Stage
Combining influences from high school music classes, the ideals of the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, and the Hollywood Film Chorale Sound Effects Choir, the Blue Ribbon Glee Club is simply a bunch of people who really like singing. The group uses minimal instrumentation and relies heavily on human sound effects to mimic the music underneath dominant vocals. They consist of 20+ performers that cover mostly popular rock songs that just about anyone in a crowd would also know the lyrics to. It's a whole lot of fun to witness and they'll be at the north stage on Saturday at 6:30pm.
-James Ziegenfus

The Frames / 7pm South Stage
Glen Hansard is riding high on a wave of publicity for his star turn in Once — little more than a fictional twist on his Swell Season side project with partner Marketa Irglova. In the meantime, the Frames have been rather dormant — while they released The Cost in February, this appearance is one of only five stateside shows they'll be performing in 2007. Considering one of those other dates was the Bumbershoot Festival this past weekend, and another is opening for Bob Dylan via personal invitation — this is a rare chance to catch their live act, which is regarded as "better than U2" in their shared homeland. Zing, Bono!
-Dan Morgridge

Andrew Bird / 8:30pm South Stage
"Chords, strings, we brings, melodies." The words may be from Warren G's Regulator outfit in the early '90s, but their sentiment matches exactly what’s found on Andrew Bird's most recent outing. Of course Armchair Aprocrypha isn’t just about excellent musicianship, as Bird’s lyrics are at some of their best here, meshing pleasingly in brain-teasing form with violin arpeggios and jazzy drums to make the record one of the year’s best. The wordplay on "Imitosis," mixed with the delicate song structure, is about as good a song anyone who consistently reads The New Yorker will ever hear. And the kicker is, the rest of us can dig it too.
-Brandon Forbes

The Hideout Block Party runs 5pm-10pm Friday night and noon to 10pm Saturday night at 1354 W. Wabansia (for God's sake, take public transit). As of press time, tickets were still available for this weekend's festival, and at $20 for Friday or $35 for both days, it's a bargain for this quantity, and quality, of bands. Order online or by phone at 866-468-3401.

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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 »


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