Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You Missed Out: High Places and Konono No. 1

My wind down from Pitchfork Fest came by way of two bike trips to Millennium Park in one day. High Places hit the stage at noon, and Konono No. 1 closed out my Downtown Sound summer experience in the evening. I guess Kid Sister performed after Konono No. 1, but I wasn't interested in that.

After three hot days of outdoor music, I needed one more day to chill out the euphoria. Otherwise, I could have gone into shock jumping directly from the jungles of the equator to the icy waters of Antarctica. Instead, I went from the jungle to a warm beach. A much safer transition.

High Places had a small crowd, but enough to get a tiny cluster of hippie kids dancing in front of the stage. The duo played that new style of hippie music which finds its beats not in djembes or bongos, but synthetic loops. But combining electronic drum machines with seed and nut percussion jangles and wooden flutes made for a earthily robotic show. And for the first time I noticed that a lot of her lyrics are about trees. But I love paradoxical music like that.

Konono No. 1 was anything but synthetic. Their homemade thumb pianos, three count, harmonized for 45 minutes straight. The Congo landed in the Pritzker Pavilion last night, and it was very refreshing despite the humidity. Actually, it might have been the humidity that made it feel so right.

The female member of the band was shaking her goods in a manner unseen in the western world. The movement was hypnotically horizontal, none of that bouncing we like to partake in over here.

From what I could tell, they only played three songs, each one longer than 10 minutes. If I had to compare it to any other music I generally write about, the closest is Fuck Buttons. Not at all in how it sounds, but the way the repetitions go on and on. The subtleties can be heard in the trance. Getting lost in the music is what it's all about. Of course security guards discouraged it at Millennium Park, but the whole point of a Konono No. 1 show is dancing. And there were plenty of people fulfilling that need in the back and on the lawn.

It was a wonderful way to wrap up my summer concert series at the park. I'm actually tired now, but totally satisfied until 2011. Millennium Park's concerts were fantastic this year. There are still plenty of street fests left though, and I will be reviewing them. Especially the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Fest, which you really shouldn't miss out on this weekend. Come on Saturday afternoon to hear me play a DJ set at 5pm.

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