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« Review: The Dodos, The Luyas, Grandkids @ Pygmalion Music Festival, 9/23 Riot Fest 2011, Now With More Red Bull »

Concert Tue Sep 27 2011

Hideout Block Party 2011 Rocks the Lot


Hideout Block Party 2011 (photos by Steve Stearns)

My thoughts on the success of the Hideout Block Party this past weekend depends on when you asked me. If it was while I was enjoying food truck fare, sitting in the sunshine, while a lazy crowd milled about during Booker T.'s killer set, then I would have given a resounding two thumbs up. If you asked after the food and beer ran out, when the lines to go anywhere (inside the Hideout, inside a toilet) stretched far and wide, and I was freezing as the temperatures dipped, then I might have growled. Weather aside, I was surprised at the lack of organization, but given the fact the actual party has been on hiatus a few years (The Mad Decent Crew and Bloodshot Records took over for a bit), I'll chalk it up to being a bit rusty and hope that next year they don't run out of beer or food.


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Kids These Days (photos by Steve Stearns)

I'm a sucker for any band with a horns section and/or teenagers/children rocking out, so it's no surprise that I was smitten from the start with Kids These Days. The seven piece outfit mixes classic soul touches with a strong force of hip-hop. The standout of the set for me was vocalist Macie Stewart, a crystal clear vox that rang out over the entire audience. She has a perfect set of pipes that was a wonderful light compliment to the horn and rap heavy arrangements. The band reminisced about playing The Hideout during one of their first shows and recording a video there, despite the fact none of the members can legally grab a drink at the venue. It was an impressive set from a group to watch as they mature and grow, and a perfect way to spend the suddenly sunny afternoon.


The Eternals' Damon Locks (photos by Steve Stearns)

The charming Kids These Days were a tough act to follow, but The Eternals bounded onstage ready for the job. Their dizzying array of genres cascaded over the crowd, a mixture of jazz, punk, and afro-beat rock for the most part, with dashes of everything in between. Vocalist Damon Locks was a ball of energy as he delivered lines and sounds that morphed in tempo and style. At times it verged on a bit too experimental for my taste, but the set would consistently perk up my ears with some odd mixture of sound. It was challenging to listen to at times, but overall a lot of fun.

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Booker T. Jones (photos by Steve Stearns)

There is something so cool about seeing live someone who helped create some of the defining songs of modern music. So to hear Booker T. Jones tell the crowd about coming to Chicago and about co-writing songs for Albert King, it was an ultimate music nerd dream. I was raised with Booker T. being played in my house, and knew his classic hit "Green Onions" at a tender young age. But it wasn't until I was older did I learn about all the legends he worked with, realizing that he too was a seminal part of music history. Booker T. strutted onstage in a purple velvet jack and pork pie hat before launching into two tracks of his latest album, The Road From Memphis. The man exudes soul, as he switched it up and played guitar on the Albert King hit he co-wrote, "Born Under a Bad Sign." It's one of my favorite songs (I grew up in a family that has a deep love of blues music) so to see one of the writers perform it was probably one of the live music highlights of the year for me. It was a perfect example of an incredibly talented musician showing everyone how it's really done. Booker T. Jones is as classic as they come, and after the crowd demanded an encore (OutKast's "Hey Ya" which he recorded with the Drive-By Truckers and Neil Young in 2009) it was clear that Booker T. had stole the show for me.

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The Burlington Welsh Male Choir (photos by Steve Stearns)

After an afternoon of punk, soul, and blues, Jon Langford switched gears, bringing along with him a large backing band (including the likes of some of The Mekons and Waco Brothers) and the Burlington Welsh Male Choir to deliver his brand of alt-country punk ballads. Langford, a longtime friend and staple of The Hideout, churned out everything from political statements to some good drinking songs. He even did a Tom Jones cover for his Mom who flew over from Wales for this show. The set went a little long for me, since I feel one can only sway back and forth for so long when sober, but overall the crowd loved Langford's enthusiasm and pied piper appeal. The man can sure rouse a crowd and lead them into battle, even if it's just to harmonize with the Welsh Male Choir.

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Andrew Bird performing with Mavis Staples on "The Weight" (photos by Steve Stearns)

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Mavis Staples (photos by Steve Stearns)

There is no denying that Mavis Staples is a force, a one-woman hype man, and a class act all rolled into one. So it pains me to say that I was underwhelmed by her set. Maybe it was the weather (my cold hands couldn't stop shaking during her set) or maybe it just couldn't live up to my enjoyment of Booker T.'s set earlier in the day, but I just wasn't feeling it. No doubt, it was still great, but I felt like I was paying my respects to a music elder more so than watching history perform. I thought I was getting into the groove when she did an excellent cover of The Band's ''The Weight'' with Andrew Bird jumping in on fiddle, but that was really the only highlight for me. Credit is due because Staples still has one of the most soothing voices around, and the woman knows how to command a stage better than most musicians three times younger than her. And she's got class. You don't see many artist anymore that still follow the old school style of a dressed up matching band that is so in step with each other. Mavis reminds me of church, the matching choir robs, the soaring voice, and the words of a song that clearly has been around the block of life a few times. But just like I always felt in church, my fascination and appreciation would eventually lead to and end in boredom. Her set was a family affair, not only her actual family that was there but the one that loves her so at The Hideout. But I'm not part of that family homecoming, and I would have rather been at home under a blanket, eyes shut, listening to Hope at the Hideout on my stereo instead. I'm glad I was able to see this living legend, but sometimes it's more about respecting the artist in front of you more than being bowled over by their set. As I cut out early, I was able to slip off my wristband for a sad Andrew Bird fan that couldn't get into the sold out show, and the art of seeing someone you respect and love was passed along into the night.
-Lisa White



Opera-matic (photos by Steve Stearns)

It was a gleeful sight to see Opera-matic's spectacle come trickling into the crowd at the Hideout Block Party throughout the afternoon. They came in ever-increasing waves of whimsy, first with two girls on bikes decked out with fish, then with fish, banner bearers, and DJs on bikes, then as the final pre-Andrew Bird set in the shape of a huge, white, and almost ethereal whale, complete with video projections. If any of the audience members were surprised as the whale came from behind them, I wouldn't be shocked, even as large as it was, it glided along with it's "whale bearers" underneath. Bird came out on stage, and "sang" to it with his violin — a sweet, quieting, and serene way to start his set.
-Anne Holub

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Andrew Bird (photos by Steve Stearns)

Andrew Bird's fanciful speakers on stage started with some whirring motions and he went right into hits along with "Dark Matter" and "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left". After seeing him a few years ago at the Civic Opera House, where his mood (the night after he'd accidentally damaged his prized violin) was far more subdued and quiet, Bird seemed blissfully at home and at ease on stage in the city parking lot beside the Hideout. The crowd happily whistled along with their favorite songs, and enjoyed themselves even as the night grew a bit colder (and the beer sales stopped). Some were chatting, but as Bird went into his cover of "It's Not Easy Being Green" and the stage lights left him bathed in green glow, everyone seemed to find some childhood ray of light inside. This was only further encouraged when the Rock for Kids Andrew Bird Scholarship winner, Paloma Carrasco took the stage to sing a song in Spanish with Bird on violin accompanying her. The song brought tears to my eyes, partly in appreciation of this great opportunity to showcase an amazing young talent on stage, and partly because of the huge roar of applause from the crowd after she finished. Bird played on with old and new songs, including one with a guest accompanying vocal by Nora O'Connor. No doubt he was playing to Bird fans intoxicated by the day's events (some were just intoxicated). Some of the more faint of heart headed for the gates, and as one girl and her friend passed by me, I heard her saying "I can't believe we're leaving Andrew Bird." But hey, maybe tacos were calling their name.
-Anne Holub

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Michelle M. / September 27, 2011 12:43 PM

Interesting, I didn't know that Macie Stewart sang with Kids These Days. Saw her solo at the Bucktown Arts Fest and thought she had an amazing voice.

Kids These Days sounded great though, wish I would have popped out from behind the beer tent to get a little closer.

Mike C / September 27, 2011 2:07 PM

Fabulous show! Andrew seemed very relaxed and appeared to enjoy the whole scene. Here is a shot of a very gracious Andrew Bird Friday before rehearsal at the Hideout. Followed by a shot of an equally gracious Martin Dosh after the show. I hope my html works.

Donnie / September 27, 2011 3:10 PM

That guy in the red hat, holding the flag in the second picture, has got to be the worst person I've ever seen.

Anne / September 27, 2011 3:32 PM

Hey Mike C, you can always add your Andrew Bird (and other local musicians/shows) photos to our Transmission Flickr pool to share!

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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.

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Alarm Magazine
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Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
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Dark Jive
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Oh My Rockness
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Theft Liable to Prosecution
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