Tuesday, June 22, 2010
You Missed Out: Millennium Park Shows (6/21/10)
"Remember when we used to wonder what city we'd leave Chicago for?"
"Yeah... There were so many possibilities..."
"Now that we've moved back. It feels like there's not really any reason to ever leave again."
"Yep. This is a great city."
This is the conversation my wife and I had while waiting for The Books to hit the Pritzker Pavilion stage. We were looking up at the Frank Gehry architecture, remembering how perplexed we were back in high school when we discovered that the half-finished design was actually complete. The Chicago of our youth was an exciting place. And thanks to summer solstices like today, the town is still working its magic on us.
At noon, Dosh played a free show to a crowd of just over 100 people. The few there were treated to a four-person band, the highest number of players I've ever counted at a Dosh show. The looping was not as frantic this time around, because a back-up drummer was the greater source of polyrhythms than Dosh's usual one-man percussion omnipotence. And an extra guitarist with soaring ambient noise riffs helped make Dosh's live songs sound more gigantic than ever.
That show alone would've been enough for my weekly fill of live music, but Millennium Park had even more planned for later that evening. The Books played some new songs, old favorites, and those other tracks from Red Hot comps and DVD albums. As usual, visual accompaniment was the highlight. As fun as it is to hear the edits on The Books' albums, it's ever better to see them. Found sounds and images brought waves of laughter and contemplation, and then, somehow, fits of wild dancing.
I suppose this must always be the possible detriment to a free, all-ages show in a public venue. High school kids.
At the front of the lawn, a large group of teens decided that they HAD to dance around to the music of The Books. I'm just hoping they were on drugs. Because otherwise, that's just goofy. The best part of a Books show is being able to sit and enjoy the visual show comfortably.
By the encore, the kids had charged down the aisles and started dancing on the stage. This was certainly a first for Millennium Park. I've seen that kind of juvenile nonsense at the Metro plenty of times, but the Pritzker Pavilion? During The Books?? Whatever kids.
But I can't really blame them for feeling so good that they had to dance. Every time I see The Books, my soul is replenished. At some point in the show, my eyes always seem to get blurry with tears. It's probably the most I smile all year, that day I get to see The Books. Images of wild animals running free, goofball faith healers falling on the ground in front of offering buckets, super 8 film of old family vacations at the beach, blurry spots of color raining like pixels out of a monitor, and it's all set to the most creative music that was made this past decade.
In addition to the guitar/cello combo that's worked for The Books' live show for years, tonight they brought out a new member to play keyboards, violin, and guitar. It's an addition the band should have made a long time ago, but right in time for their new album.
It hasn't leaked yet, but it'll be out next month. Just like their old albums' music, the songs from The Way Out work paradoxically. Though entirely synthetic, there's a strangely natural texture. Like riding a wave down the stream of consciousness, The Books subtly and cleverly sneak psychology, biology, theology and anthropology into three and a half minute musical happy meals.
It was another night that reminded me just how lucky I am to live in this city. I won't miss out on the good music. I can't. It's inescapable. Chicago has me in its cultural clutches, and I'm not fighting. And it's only the first day of summer... Good Lord. What a place.