Most of the
headlines this summer concert season have been grabbed by Lollapalooza,
which has been remade as a destination festival in Grant Park next week. But
a more artistically challenging event that better captures the breadth of
underground music circa 2005 will be held this weekend in another city park
3-1/2 miles from Hutchinson Field.
Presented under the
aegis of the hipster Web site PitchforkMedia.com (along with its own roster
of corporate benefactors), the Intonation Music Festival comes to Union Park
at Randolph Street and Ashland Avenue starting at 1 p.m. Saturday and
The name may not have
the same recognition factor, but promoters have certainly tapped into the
eclectic and independent spirit that powered the best Lollapalooza tours in
the early '90s, with a promising lineup of diverse and challenging bands
presented on two stages, both at the Lake Street end of the park, for the
bargain price of $15 per day. (Two weeks out, promoters already had sold an
impressive 15,000 tickets for the weekend.)
1 p.m. Saturday
1501 W. Randolph
transportation to the Intonation Music Festival is suggested.
Located at Ashland Avenue and Randolph Street, Union Park is near
the Ashland stop on the CTA's Green Line and it is serviced by
several bus routes.
Tickets will be
sold at a temporary box office on Ashland Avenue south of Lake
Street. Admission is $15 per day, and there is no re-entry into the
park. The event will take place rain or shine.
festival restrictions prohibit coolers, alcohol, outside food and
beverages, professional cameras or video equipment, lounge chairs
(though folding chairs are permitted) and laser pointers. Food,
clothing and art vendors will be set up on site.
the music, independent radio station WLUW-FM (88.7) will sponsor its
annual Record Fair on the tennis courts at the eastern end of the
park, offering record collectors a prime forum for finding new, used
and rare recordings.
encouraged to bring their kids (admission is free for those under
age 10), and the Chicago Children's Museum will hold a Vinyl Art
Workshop from 1-5 p.m. on both days, allowing kids to design their
own album covers.
information is online at www.intonationmusicfest.com.
Intonation kicks off
Saturday with one of Chicago's finest up-and-coming acts, the orchestral pop
combo Head of Femur (1 p.m., Holiday Stage), which was profiled in
this column in May, around the time of the release of its stellar second
album "Hysterical Stars." Driven by a trio of relocated Nebraskans, Ben
Armstrong, Mike Elsener and Matt Focht, the group can balloon to a dozen
members or more onstage, evoking "Pet Sounds"-era Beach Boys or the Left
Banke filtered through emo heroes Bright Eyes.
The flavor stays local
with Pelican taking the Decimal Stage at 1:30 p.m. to deliver its
crushingly powerful instrumental stoner-rock, and the jangly garage band the
M's following at 2 p.m. on the Holiday Stage.
(2:45, Decimal Stage) is the red-headed singer and songwriter best known for
leading the New Pornographers, though he also has released a strong solo
album, "The Slow Wonder," strongly influenced by old-school Britpop such as
the Zombies and the Kinks.
Led by Jason Molina and
hailing from Bloomington, Ind., Magnolia Electric Company (3:30,
Holiday Stage) has recorded its raw, violin-laced roots-rock with Chicagoan
Steve Albini, while at the opposite extreme, Fourtet (4:30, Decimal
Stage), aka one-man band Kieran Hebden, is a champion of "laptronica,"
delivering twisted loops and broken beats via computer.
Rounding out Saturday
afternoon are the Canadian indie-rock supergroup Broken Social Scene
(5:30, Holiday Stage), Memphis noise-rockers/indie popsters the Go! Team
(6:30, Decimal Stage), hip-hop innovator and sonic terrorist Scott Herren,
aka Prefuse 73 (7:20, Holiday Stage), and the Canadian synth-rock duo
Death from Above 1979 (8, Holiday Stage).
Capping the evening:
another of Chicago's own, the ever-evolving instrumental (don't call them
"post-rock") masters Tortoise, who take the Decimal Stage at 9. The
group is gearing up to release an album of diverse covers with vocalist Will
Oldham, and the buzz is that he will appear with the band at the festival.
Getting the party
started on Sunday at 1 p.m. on the Holiday Stage are Detroit wild men
Thunderbirds Are Now!, followed by Swedish ork-popsters Dungen
(1:30, Decimal Stage) and two frenetic post-punk combos from the California
Bay Area, Xiu Xiu (2, Holiday Stage) and Out Hud (2:45,
The Hold Steady
(3:30, Holiday Stage) draws inspiration from the hearty Midwestern punk of
the Replacements and the Grifters, while Chicago's violinist and songwriter
Andrew Bird (4:30, Decimal Stage) takes his musical cues from all
over the map, as evidenced by his recent album "The Mysterious Production of
Deerhoof (5:30, Holiday Stage) is a purposely naive and childlike (a la
the White Stripes) noise-pop band, while the Secaucus, N.J.-based Wrens
(6:30, Decimal Stage) deliver old-school '80s-style jangle pop.
Wrapping up the festival
Sunday evening are Les Savy Fav (7:30, Holiday Stage), a Rhode
Island-based emo band, and the Decemberists (8:30, Decimal Stage), a
Portland ork-pop quintet profiled in this column last summer. The Pitchfork
gang may have been hurt by the defection of their much-loved Arcade Fire,
which will perform at Lollapalooza, but for my money, Colin Meloy and his
mates in the Decemberists are just as strong a booking, if not better.
In addition to the two
main stages, Intonation will feature a DJ stage hosting a series of hot
underground turntablists. Saturday's lineup includes Rob Lowe (1:30 p.m.),
Laurent from Pelican (3:30) and Will Oldham and Jean Grae (5:30 and 7:30).
Sunday's lineup features Peter from Baby Teeth (1:30), Reine from Dungen
(3:30), El P vs. James McNew of Yo La Tengo (5:30) and Diplo (7:30).