Inventive Intonation


June 23, 2006


Earlier this year, when the driving forces behind 2005's spectacularly successful Intonation Music Festival announced they'd split into competing camps, the odds on the local music scene favored well-respected indie talent buyer Mike Reed and the cutting-edge tastemakers at to present the more impressive lineup with their new Pitchfork Music Festival, which will take place in Union Park on July 29-30.

But Reed's former partners, Jon Singer and Mike Simons, surprised their doubters by compiling an Intonation encore every bit as credible as Pitchfork's fest. They brought on the hip New York label Vice Records as musical curator, found a healthy mix of up-and-coming indie-rockers, local acts, hip-hop and rock legends, and found their own media partners at the Onion and KEXP-FM, a radio station as popular on the Web as it is at home in Seattle.

Intonation Mach II will bring two stages with 26 bands to Union Park, located at Lake Street between Ashland and Ogden avenues, from 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $20 per day or $35 for a two-day pass, available through the Web site,, or at several local record stores. (Concertgoers can bring small backpacks with bagged lunches and two sealed bottles of water; large coolers and several other items are prohibited, per city parks policies, and as detailed online.)

Here is an hour-by-hour look at the Intonation lineup.


Favourite Sons, 1 p.m. This quintet followed in the footsteps of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah by moving from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, using the Web to spread its music (to date, its only official release is a four-song EP) and finding inspiration in the angular sounds of early New Wave. Recently signed to Vice, this booking seems like nepotism, but maybe we'll be surprised.

Erase Errata, 1:30 p.m. Proudly "post-riot grrrl, post-feminist and post-punk," this San Francisco trio will release its new album "Night Life" in July.

90 Day Men, 2 p.m. After relocating from St. Louis to Chicago in 1999, the Men built a rep as one of the best "math rock" bands, mixing No Wave noise, progressive rock, punk and psychedelia on albums such as 2004's "Panda Park."

Devin the Dude, 2:30 p.m. Devin Copeland is a quick-witted rapper based in Houston whose underrated skills won appearances on discs by Dr. Dre, Raphael Saadiq and De La Soul. His latest effort was 2004's "To Tha X-Treme."

Jose Gonzalez, 3:10 p.m. Born in Sweden and raised by Argentinean parents, this classically influenced guitarist and vocalist has been described as "part Joao Gilberto, part Nick Drake."

Chromeo, 3:50 p.m. Pee Thug and Dave 1 are a rarity twice over: a hip-hop duo from Montreal, and an Arab/Jewish partnership that works, as evidenced by their 2004 debut, "She's In Control."

High On Fire, 4:35 p.m. As leader of the late, lamented Sleep, stoner rock god Matt Pike made what may be the greatest heavy rock album of all time in "Jerusalem." The latest from his new trio, "Blessed Black Wings," doesn't top that peak, but it's the closest he's come so far.

The Stills, 5:20 p.m. Another buzz band from Montreal, this quartet decorates its angular New Wave of New Wave with touches of power pop and heartland rock on its latest Vice release, "Without Feathers."

Roky Erickson, 6:05 p.m. A rock legend both as leader of '60s pioneers the 13th Floor Elevators and a solo artist active through the mid-'80s, the incredibly powerful singer recently won a long, sad battle with schizophrenia to return to live performance. This is historic gig is his first outside his native Texas in two decades.

Boredoms, 6:55 p.m. Long-running heroes of the noise-rock underground, this Japanese band has never played a boring -- or quiet -- show. Prepare for musical anarchy.

Ghostface, 7:50 p.m. Wu-Tang Clan veteran Tony Starks didn't break new ground on his recent album "Fishscale," but he did offer proof that gangsta rap can still be as creative as the best pulp fiction by masters Jim Thompson or Iceberg Slim.

Lady Sovereign, 8:45 p.m. The much-hyped English rapper Louise Harman is smart, funny, sexy and tough as nails, though I'm still on the fence about her album "Vertically Challenged." Maybe she'll win me over live.

The Streets, 9:20 p.m. In bemoaning the difficulties of fame and fortune on "The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living," Mike Skinner lost the every-bloke empathy he'd created on his first two albums. But he was still wonderfully funny and engaging during a recent interview, so maybe the English rapper's charms will prevail in concert.


Tyrades, 1 p.m. Day two kicks off with more post-riot grrrl punk courtesy of these take-no-prisoners Chicagoans.

Bill Dolan, 1:30 p.m. The inventive Chicago guitarist of 5ive Style and Heroic Doses will perform with John Herndon of Tortoise and Matt Lux of Isotope 217.

Panthers, 2 p.m. Another Brooklyn combo, this quintet mixes avant-garde experimentation and hardcore punk.

The Constantines, 2:30 p.m. Another Canadian quartet, these Toronto residents are supporting their dub-punk album "Tournament of Hearts."

Rhymefest, 3:10 p.m. Co-author of "Jesus Walks" with Kanye West, the Chicago battle rapper is poised to become the city's next hip-hop superstar.

Annie, 3:45 p.m. This Scandinavian pop singer has generated a lot of love in the U.K. for a sound that might be described as indie-pop's answer to Madonna.

Lupe Fiasco, 4:20 p.m. After Rhymefest, fellow Chicagoan Lupe Fiasco may be our next hip-hop superstar, thanks to an Atlantic debut, "Food & Liquor," due in August.

The Sword, 4:55 p.m. Released in February, the Austin quartet's "Age of Winters" earned it a place beside High On Fire as one of the most creative bands in heavy rock. And speaking of heavy ...

Blue Cheer, 5:30 p.m. The first and best of the power trios and the true godfathers of grunge, these San Francisco legends join Erickson on the bill to prove that, "No, kids, uncompromising underground music wasn't invented yesterday."

Jon Brion, 6:15 p.m. Perhaps the biggest coup of the festival's bookings, Brion is best known as the producer of Kanye West and Fiona Apple and a scorer for cool Hollywood soundtracks. This is a rare example of him touring with his own music, which is every bit as great as the discs he's overseen.

Robert Pollard, 7:15 p.m. The veteran indie-rock hero of Guided by Voices never fails to deliver plenty of slop along with the sublime mix of what he calls "the four P's: punk, psych, prog and pop." But it's all part of the fun.

Dead Prez, 8:15 p.m. M-1 and are as respected for their black power politics as they are for their fluid rapping, bringing one final dose of potent hip-hop to the fest before it closes with another Vice act.

Bloc Party, 9:05 p.m. Many indie-rock fans have been raving about this South London art-punk quartet, yet another entry in the New Wave revival, but their album "Silent Alarm" doesn't thrill me. Maybe we just have to see them live.