nate patrin.

July 21, 2008, 10:48 am
Filed under: Music

“Chicago May Not Have Seemed Tired Last Night, But I Sure As Hell Was” might work. Or “The Hold Steady And/Or Standing For Eight Hours Straight Almost Killed Me”. As you can tell, the Craig Finn and Pals Good-Time Rock’n’Roll Jamboree made a pretty big impression on me, though they were hardly alone in their high-quality hell-yes stage show spectacularness. Here’s a quick, list-dependent (surprise, surprise) rundown of some highlights (and low points) of my festival experience — my first ever, inexplicably enough.

1) Meeting a whole lot of my fellow writers and finding out that they’re more or less down-to-earth cool people. Everyone from Ryan Schrieber to Amy Phillips to Joe Tangari to Stephen Deusner to Nitsuh Abebe — and a ton of other Pfork folks — struck me as the exact opposite of the aloof, arrogant indie-snob stereotype, and even though there were a lot of folks I unfortunately only managed to spend maybe five minutes with, tops, I’m looking forward to picking up where we left off sometime soon. Also had great (if sometimes brief) conversation with Maura Johnston, Jessica Suarez, Christopher Weingarten, Jeff Weiss and a host of other people that I sadly cannot immediately remember because my brain is stupid.

2) The train ride. I’m still in Chicago, so there’s the chance the trip home will be a world of crap, but my decision to save a few bucks and a big headache at the expense of time (16 hours round trip) has paid off so far: lots of cool scenery, plenty of legroom and a place to plug in my laptop so I can actually get some stuff done. Plus the check-in process is infinitely less of a headache than anything one has to go through at the airport.

3) The Bottom Lounge. This bar was a block or so from Union Park, which made it the de facto afterparty venue, and it’s a pretty cool venue — two levels, with seating/dining/club venue on the first floor and a spacious barroom/dance floor and a patio on the second. I spent most of my time upstairs, and the atmosphere makes it the kind of place you’d want to bring tourists or shoot a “we are in Chicago” movie/TV show: there’s an El train line right outside the front window, and the patio has a ridiculously photogenic view of the skyline, with the Sears Tower front and center. I didn’t bother going all-out on the whole drinking thing so I can’t attest too much to their beverage quality, but it seems like a pretty solid place overall.

4) Ghostface and Raekwon getting bumped to the rear stage. Yeah, it was a slight — especially since their spot on one of the main stages was taken by the Dodos (the Dodos?) — but on the other hand: shade, and lots of it.

5) The dozens upon dozens of photos I took, most of which are somewhere between salvageable and amazing. I’ll post some later, probably via Flickr.

1) My feet. I kind of underestimated how problematic it’d be to spend eight hours a day actually standing — I remember doing it pretty often at some of my earlier jobs, but that was something like ten years ago and I have since been rendered weak and feeble by desk work and society’s general insistence that you sit your ass down for as much time as possible. My adidas walked through concert doors and roamed all over coliseum floors, but they provided dick as far as arch support goes.

2) Boris’ short set. They melted brains with total rock power action, but only for about twenty minutes, possibly owing to the fact that they were playing a club gig on Sunday and/or the fact that it was something like 85% humidity.

3) Missing all but the last five minutes of Cut Copy’s (much-belated) set — pushed back due to customs issues at the airport — and the entirety of the King Khan/Jay Reatard/Bradford Cox batshit all-star superjam that kept the crowd entertained in the interim. Hopefully it’s all been preserved on video for posterity and will show up on later.

4) The intermittent but annoying rain on Saturday. Made worse later that night; Grayson Currin mentioned that he was at a No Age basement show and got word that they were fifteen seconds away from getting flooded — after which he made note of all the cords on the floor and got out of there in a hurry.

5) Not getting much of a chance to get any touristy stuff in. I saw Millenium Park, since there was a pre-festival concert taking place there, but other than that I missed out on seeing some of the area museums or going to a baseball game.

In chronological order:

1) PUBLIC ENEMY. Fucking killed it — Nation of Millions in its entirety; “Shut ‘Em Down” and “Public Enemy No. 1” and the set-closing double-whammy of “Fight the Power” into a cover of The Isley Brothers’ “Fight the Power”. Chuck D still sounds like the most commanding MC in the world; Flav reminded us he was a reality TV star but made everyone forget that fact anyways.

2) JAY REATARD. I never saw the Sorry Ma/Stink-era Replacements in concert, what with me being in kindergarten and all, but I think this set made up for it. A reminder of why I still give a shit about punk rock even when every other impulse tells me it’s not my scene.

3) THE HOLD STEADY. The surest thing in live rock shows today. Concluded with an amazing rendition of “Killer Parties”.

4) KING KHAN & THE SHRINES. Dude more or less made it his mission to be the festival’s show-stealer, riding around the grounds on the back of a Carryall park vehicle, rocking a Viking helmet and waving his fist in the air. Dude is a soul-garage maniac in hot pants and a cape who makes Ian Svenonious look and sound like Leonard Cohen, and his stage banter is priceless. I would gladly pay $50 to see two hours of this act in a club.

5) GHOSTFACE & RAEKWON. I’ve seen ’em before, and I must’ve heard all those Cuban Linx classics a fistful of times during their sets, but that doesn’t make it any less energizing. Almost got ruined for me by the airhead ohmigawd-types standing behind me (during one of Ghost’s brief addressing-the-audience interludes, where he was talking about how they’d just flown in from Europe, one of these ditzes yelled “LESS TALK MORE ROCK” — barf), but you cannot stop the Wu, even if you push ’em to the back. When I headed off to see Spiritualized with a few minutes left in their set, I could still hear ’em all the way across the park.


1 Comment so far
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Yeah, we pretty much have the same top five best acts except I didn’t see Jay Reatard and would instead substitute Dirty Projectors. Good meeting you too. What’s your e-mail address? I don’t see one on the blog.

Comment by Jeff

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