Thursday, September 20, 2007

...And They Came From Chicago

There seems to be quite the Chicago connection to these here parts. The home of Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, and the Cubs has had a lasting affect on COMO over the years. It's almost as if people forget about St. Louis and Kansas City and consider Chicago our major city, and bands from the windy city like to travel to COMO on a regular basis.

Anyway, I got a chance to check out two Chicago bands this week, the Sea & Cake and Wilco. Neither band was particularly inspiring, but a pleasant diversions nonetheless.

Monday night was a busy night for me. I had to drive the 56 miles to Wellsville to conduct a training session only to turn around four hours later in hopes of making it to the Blue Note for Sea & Cake. S&C is one R's three favorite bands, so it was easy to choose this show over watching crappy TV.

Although I have not been an avid Sea & Cake fan, I have followed their particular rock style for some time. I loved Coctails, Archer Prewitt's former band, from the early to mid-nineties. they made jazz, bossa nova, and other not-so-grunge styles seem rather avant-garde or at least hip while touring the indie circuit. I was always amazed at how many different instruments Coctails could fit on a single stage. They had a fantastic cult following and will always hold a place in my music collection.

Back to the present...the Sea & Cake were a stripped-down version of themselves featuring no keyboards or computers. I liked what they were doing. The performance had sort of a rehearsal feel as the band rocked through a nice mix of old and new. The only drawback was that the sound was awful. Between that and my fatigue, we left early, but were satisfied with the band's performance, just not the sound system's.

Last night, I made it out for Wilco's triumphant return to their home-away-from-home on the enormous Ninth Street stage. I love Wilco's records (sans the last one) but I could take or leave their live show. Wilco's string of three near-classic records (Summer Teeth, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and A Ghost is Born) are super impressive and cover a wide array of styles and influences. They were good when I saw them play with Sonic Youth in Cleveland (although SY was better that night) and great two years ago on Ninth, but OK every other time, including last night's lackluster effort.

What didn't I like? Where do I begin? Jeff Tweedy looks like Bob Dylan going through an Ernest Hemingway stage - not good. Many concert-goers were looking rather bored. Nels Cline looks so out-of-place. The set was slow, plodding even. They play to the lowest-common denominator, even the avant garde stuff. Wilco failed to play mainstay "Misunderstood" leaving my best Wilco joke null and void. I could go on, but I'll spare you my indie-rock-snobbery.

There were a few highlights, though. The band did fit in a Woody Guthry song in tribute to their days on Mermaid Avenue (although, it really just made me wish Billy Bragg would walk on stage and take over). They also played the rocker "Casino Queen" from A.M. I mean, they are still one of the top ten or so bands making records (or Volkswagen ads), so the night was not awful, just not all that inspiring.

1 comment:

Lovey said...

It kinda sounds like the Son Volt show, except more exciting.

I'm definately going to the fugue for a few hours tonight. Several hours over the weekend, friends and loved ones welcome, because I'm not going to see them for much longer.. God, to say that aloud....

Cover tonite, but i'm not staying for music.