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Thursday, December 14

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« Riot Fest Announces Daily Schedules and Pussy Riot Panel Information Your Guide to Hideout Block Party & Onion A.V. Fest: Day 2 in Review »

Hideout Block Party Sat Sep 06 2014

Your Guide to Hideout Block Party & Onion A.V. Fest: Day 1 in Review

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The 18th annual Hideout Block Party & Onion A.V. Fest has graced the city with its presence once again. This revered, lovable festival continues to bring with it excellent tunes, an emphasis on everything local, and a fantastic atmosphere year after year. Despite the apocalyptic weather conditions yesterday evening, a suitably large crowd was gradually accrued as concertgoers seemed happy as ever to be enjoying this year's stellar crop of musical offerings.

Bad Luck Jonathan

Jon Langford has seen his fair share of musical ventures; starting off his career in punk group The Mekons, he segued into forming The Waco Brothers, a fusion of alt-country emerging with his punk roots. Since then, he has performed with a variety of musical outfits, and I've been able to see him showcase his unique craft for a lucky following of fans at each of the Hideout Block Party events I've been able to attend. This year, Langford was featured with Bad Luck Jonathan, a group assembled with members from outfits such as Whiskeytown and Skull Orchard. Their band description touts their style as "glam voodoo space-rock" which couldn't be more spot on. Unfortunately, the onslaught of rain did tamper with their sound quality in the beginning, as Langford's vocals were indiscernible for a song. However, once this was adjusted, they were able to turn the rainy gloom right around and get the festival rocking.

"We are Bad Luck Jonathan, and we will only play again when it rains!" Langford stated in a cryptic tone, ending the sentence with a hearty laugh. Watching them onstage having the time of their lives as they introduced their new tunes to a welcoming audience was the perfect set to kick off the evening. With heavy rock riffs and a history so rooted in the Hideout itself, Langford is able to connect us all with our own love for music, and a local music history at that.

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The Handsome Family

Prior to The Handsome Family's entrance, a classic Tim Tuten band intro was spoken, each word delivered more excitedly than the last. Tuten ended his intro when he brought a special guest onstage, Chicago's 2nd Ward Alderman, Robert Fioretti. With a short yet impassioned speech regarding the city of Chicago, Fioretti then declared September 5 "The Handsome Family Day" in Chicago. A lovely intro allowed for an entryway to some of the most beautiful folk tunes I had heard performed live in some time. As the intermittent rain fell upon the city, The Handsome Family's hauntingly gorgeous music was able to perfectly complement the setting. Swathed in black, husband and wife duo Brett and Rennie Sparks allowed us to enter their world of intimate, introspective folk music. They opened with an older tune, titled "My Sister's Tiny Hands." With it's meandering backdrop and profound lyrics, the Sparks duo was able to bring us into their world, and keep us there waiting for more.

The Handsome Family is a group that truly considers the intent behind their music in an organically detailed way. Their most recent release in 2013, Wilderness, includes a companion book with drawings and essays by Rennie Sparks, daring all of us to truly consider the subject matter in a unique way, and emphasizing their intellectual, forward-thinking nature as musicians. Their set was able to further showcase this, as they weaved through their impressive discography with ease. They performed "Far From Any Road," utilized in multiple media outposts, including the show True Detective, and conveyed to the audience how little the "famous" nature of this song mattered to them, yet the pristine nature of the musical craft did. From "In The Air," which has a rockabilly feel reminiscent of Johnny Cash, to a song they dedicated to longtime friend, Andrew Bird, titled "Don't Be Scared," they brought a hush over the audience with their stunning sounds.

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Hamilton Leithauser (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

Hamilton Leithauser

I'd seen Hamilton Leithauser's original musical group, The Walkmen, twice at various musical venues. Donning their standard outfit of black suits, their sound was unmistakable and one-of-a-kind. I became intrigued with Leithauser's capabilities as a solo musician and how he would make this sound his own.

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Hamilton Leithauser (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

With his 2014 solo album release, Black Hours, Leithauser is able to take his unique vocal stylings - there's truly no one else that sounds just like him - and add in folk and rock elements to transform his sound from that of The Walkmen's; one that is full of more rock 'n' roll punch. Dressed in an attire that did not involve a suit this time, Leithauser asserted his own identity as a solo musician as he performed songs from his most recent release, confident and prepared. His voice sounded pure and pristine in the setting, and truly established that Leithauser is versatile and valuable, with or without his Walkmen beside him.

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Death Cab for Cutie (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)


Death Cab for Cutie

I mentioned previously that I was most excited to see Death Cab for Cutie this weekend. Getting to see them perform their catalog of tunes was something my 13-year-old self dreamed of as I sat in my room, listening to Transatlanticism on repeat. Their fans grew up and matured as their music did, changing in style and becoming more inventive, yet retaining intellectual story lines woven through each song and Ben Gibbard's dynamic vocals. This set was made even more special by the fact that original member and guitarist Chris Walla is departing, allowing this show to be one of his last with the group. With all of these factors in mind, and all of the life events that Death Cab for Cutie's music has seen me, and surely more fans in the audience through, I was ready for a set that was otherworldly.

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Death Cab for Cutie (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

Death Cab for Cutie was able to enchant the audience song after song. Opening with the eight-minute-long "I Will Possess Your Heart," they amped up the audience for what was to come, members of the audience singing along in perfect unison. The outdoor festival's borders became indiscernible as even the rain couldn't thwart the flock of Death Cab for Cutie fans, waiting for this divine experience. Keeping concert chatter at a minimum but gratitude for fans at its utmost levels, Gibbard kept the perfectly curated set moving along, each song seamlessly winding into the next despite their different release times or musical styles.

The most magical moment of the set undoubtedly occurred during "I Will Follow You Into The Dark," Gibbard's voice blending into one with those of the crowd, reverently watchful. The acoustic beauty of the song itself was enough to leave me with chills, and a lack of dry eyes among audience members. They performed popular songs off of most of their full-length albums, including "The New Year," "Crooked Teeth," and "You Are A Tourist." Never missing a beat, Gibbard bounced around the stage in his Oxford shirt and pressed pants, his shaggy hair falling into his eyes as per usual. Emerging for their encore after a heartfelt thank you was extended to the crowd, Death Cab for Cutie performed a two song encore, ending with "Marching Bands of Manhattan" off of their 2005 release, Plans. Assuming I would hear Transatlanticism instead, I was pleasantly surprised by their beautiful closing choice.

I wish we could open our eyes / To see in all directions at the same time / Oh, what a beautiful view. What a beautiful, beautiful view it was.

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Death Cab for Cutie (Photos by Kirstie Shanley)

 
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Our Final Transmission Days

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

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