Festive finish

September 7, 2007


  • While last year's party celebrating the 25th anniversary of Touch and Go Records probably will stand as the most memorable ever sponsored by the local music scene's favorite dive bar, the Hideout once again has put together another strong shindig -- its 11th annual -- to mark a fitting end for Chicago's festival-packed summer concert season.

    Taking over the street in front of the club at 1354 W. Wabansia just off Elston Avenue, the Hideout Block Party runs from 5 to 10 tonight and from noon to 10 p.m. tomorrow, and as always, proceeds from the all-ages event benefit several local charities, including Tuesday's Child, Literacy Works and the Thomas Drummond Elementary School.

    Here is a look at this year's performers, in order of appearance.

    The Cinematics, 6 p.m.
    Dubbed "From the Lake to the Loch: A Celebration of British-Influenced Pop Music," the first day of the Block Party kicks off with some actual Brits from Glasgow, Scotland, who proved to be kindred spirits of Franz Ferdinand and other New Wave of New Wave dance-rock bands with a strong debut, "A Strange Education," last March.


    The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, 6:30 p.m. The Changes, 7 p.m. The 1900s, 7:45 p.m.
    Next up: Three Chicago bands that all draw inspiration from British musical giants. With their vaguely Police-flavored mainstream rock, the Changes are the least of these locals. Much stronger are the two orchestral pop acts: the seven-piece 1900s, who are working on a follow-up to last year's "Plume Delivery" and can range from elaborate "Pet Sounds"-style pop to more earthy alternative-country sounds, and the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, the American indie-rock scene's answer to Belle and Sebastian, now fronted solely by singer and songwriter Elia Einhorn (after the departure of fellow songwriter Matthew Kerstein) and recently signed to Bloodshot Records (with a self-titled second album due in October).


    Bloc Party, 8:30 p.m.
    Headlining tonight is the London quartet that was one of the big draws at last year's Intonation Music Festival, and another band that attempts to update vintage '70s and '80s dance-rock sounds (heavy on the Cure, Joy Division and Gang of Four) for a new era with no sense of history. For my money, they're best appreciated live, complete with an over-the-top light show illuminating their churning grooves, than on album (with the recent "A Weekend in the City" just leaving me cold).


    Also in store today: the Scary Toesies Puppet Theater, described as "an avant-garde, mobile theater group" promising "an abstract and confusing show filled with double meanings and mixed messages."


    Steven Krakow's Guitarkestra, noon
    Day two kicks off with the leader of psychedelic noise terrorists Plastic Crimewave Sound attempting to organize a 100-guitar orchestra (his previous record was 54) for a massive half-hour drone that will be open to anyone who brings an axe -- talent presumably not required.


    Golden Horse Ranch Square Dance Band, 1 p.m.
    Led by Annie Coleman, who grew up calling square dances at her family's Golden Horse Ranch, this Chicago-based traditional country collective has even been known to get too-cool-for-school hipsters swinging dosie-doe 'round their partners.


    Cass McCombs, 2 p.m.
    As he prepares to release his third album on England's uber-hip Domino Records, this Los Angeles-based moody pop singer and songwriter is leaving California to establish a new home base in the Windy City


    Head of Femur, 3 p.m.
    More fine Chicago orchestral pop (aren't these guys on the wrong day?) with a new EP to their credit, "Leader and the Falcon," and a third full-length album coming later this year or in early 2008.


    O'Death, 3:30 p.m.
    A modern interpretation of Appalachian bluegrass from the unlikely environs of New York City.


    Dan Deacon, 4 p.m.
    This Baltimore DJ drew so many enthusiastic dancers to the smaller stage at this year's Pitchfork Music Festival that his show had to be shut down. Here's his chance to finish the high-energy rave cut short last July.


    Mucca Pazza, 5 p.m.
    With some 30 members blaring away while dressed in colorful uniforms, this Chicago art project/punk-rock marching band must be experienced to be believed.


    Art Brut, 5:30 p.m.
    The English art punks' recent second album, "It's a Bit Complicated," is nearly as strong as their 2005 debut, "Bang Bang Rock & Roll," though to get the whole picture, you really have to see the gleefully self-deprecating Eddie Argos and his mates in concert, proclaiming the joys of starting a band while bemoaning the fact that making music still hasn't helped them to find true love.


    Blue Ribbon Glee Club, 6:30 p.m.
    Drawing moonlighting members from a dozen other local bands, this 25-member ensemble is exactly what it claims to be -- a sort of high school choir with an ironic, postmodern twist, in that their repertoire of vocal treats includes songs by the Clash, Fugazi and the Pixies.


    The Frames, 7 p.m.
    Hideout co-owner Tim Tuten says he and his partners have been trying to book these Dublin pub-rockers at the block party for years, and they've finally succeeded just as the group is enjoying the brightest spotlight of its career, thanks to its last album, "The Cost," and the exposure singer Glen Hansard has won playing an Irish busker who forms an unusual musical partnership with a Czech flower seller (Marketa Irglova) in the cult-favorite film, "Once."


    Andrew Bird, 8:30 p.m.
    Finally, this Chicago singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist will debut his new video and then launch into what he's billed as his last hometown performance of the year. Over the course of his decade-long career, Bird has tended to polarize listeners in one of two camps: skeptics like me who find his music too affected to connect emotionally, or true believers who applaud every note. It's only fair to point out that this camp has been growing ever larger over the course of his last three solo albums, including "Armchair Apocrypha," released last March on the Fat Possum label.

    Also in store on Saturday: Punk Band, a group of Hideout bartenders and sound technicians who promise punk rock combined with "methods and processes developed by the Surrealists and Situationists;" a collection of international short films presented by the Chicago Short Film Brigade, screening throughout the day.