Millennium Park is taking it up a notch with the cool, free shows this summer. Last year, the big highlight was easily Andrew Bird. He packed the park. And it was probably the best show I saw last year (between that and Blitzen Trapper at Schubas).
This year, there aren't any big names (if we can consider Andrew Bird a "big name" these days... which I would.), but there sure is a hot mess of notable artists. Over the next few months, Chicagoans can enjoy the benefit of totally free shows by Dirty Projectors, The Sea and Cake, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Daedelus and a lot more.
The kick-off event was tonight, and was probably the best show the Pritzker Pavilion will host this season. St. Vincent sang sweetly for the wine-drinkers on the lawn, and rocked my amadeus with her axe. I've never felt more comfortable calling something 'chamber pop,' with every woodwind, brass and string instrument five musicians can bust out in an hour, the band fit right into the classically inclined auditorium.
Clarinet, flute, saxophone, oboe. I felt like I was back in the junior high band. A very quirky and "indie" junior high band.
Now, Annie Clark definitely rocks. And that's that. I was really annoyed to see Jessica Hopper's mini-review of her on the Chicago Reader's website today though:
"On one hand it’s sad and insulting that people still marvel at a woman who can really light up a guitar, like it’s some freakish new evolutionary development (Sister Rosetta Tharpe, anyone?). On the other hand it’s great, because it means amazing polymaths like Annie Clark are that much more likely to get the praise they deserve."
I guess I'm just not a feminist, so it's hard for me to think about music this way. But we don't often see women shredding. We see them dancing and singing. That's what our culture pushes. I guess Jessica gives us an example to prove her point, some Rosetta woman, but how pretentious can you get? The bottom line is that Annie Clark is unique. She makes great music, and does deserve all of her praise. But it's not because she's female. She's just good!
Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. Because it's NOT "sad and insulting" when people are surprised to see an act like St. Vincent. It's entirely appropriate. What's insulting is when a reviewer decides to accredit an artist's accomplishments to their race, sex or religion. In the age we live in, everyone has a fair shot at being an artist. And playing the "girl power" card is just as stupid as excluding yourself to solely "christian" labels and clubs.
Enjoy the good music, folks. Don't miss out.