Live Review: 12th Annual Hideout Block Party, Chicago 9/20-9/21

photos and review by Jeremy Farmer

One couldn’t have imagined that last weekend in Chicago contained the final fleeting moments of summer, but alas, it did. But what a way to go out. The weather put all of the previous local festivals to shame, and the energy seemed only greater, in part due to the collective knowledge that when winter comes to town, it doesn’t want to go away. And then there was the music. Collected together were acts to truly make this a worldly show. In its 12th incarnation, the Hideout Block Party partnered with the World Music Festival going on around town.

The first set I made it to was English imports Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. Bolstered by their 0.2 Pitchfork rating for their album Angles, their set seemed invigorated by this knowledge, and it definitely defined their stage banter. I felt that the live versions seemed even stronger than the album recordings, and the overall vibe was one both amusing and well worth the 3:45 arrival time. (And yes, the gates did open at eleven am.)

Next I had the pleasure of checking out the Czech Republics’ Plastic People of the Universe. I found myself gravitating towards the sax player, who seemed hardly comfortable sitting in his chair, and even less trying to stand and hold his instrument. After a few failed attempts, he was up and the band started, and I soon realized that their relevance must have dissipated long before he started to blow the dust through his horn.

Second to last weekend of September, and blaring sun and increasing heat put me on a trek to escape this onslaught, thus missing the one band everyone is talking about now! Monotonix, from Israel, put on an insane performance, riding in garbage cans, and letting the audience aid the show by holding the drums in the air as they were banged on by the band. At the end, the singer mentioned our woes with flooding from the week past and led the band in a song against the rain. I sensed his legitimacy. No really, he seemed to feel bad about it.

Black Mountain seemed like they would have been an interesting band live. I stuck day one out by asking other people in the press area when bands were on, but must of gotten a miscue here. Standing in front of the stage for twenty minutes before they came out, I got to watch the entire ordeal that is sound check. My research into the bands for this fest fell far behind the work I had done for the other fests this summer, and some of my information rested solely on looks. These guys look pretty rad. Then, they began, and soon my ever-waning interest in stoner rock forced me to float right back to the beer tent.

Neko Case ended out night one. Fellow sirens Kelly Hogan and Norah O’Connor joined her in stunning renditions of songs spanning her career, and including a few new ones. This was but night one, and I knew Neko would be back the very next evening…

The Uglysuit was my first band for the second and last day of the block party. This was one band I wish I had heard before the show so as to of had a better knowledge of what they were playing. I found it decently fresh, and could only imagine how their sound translates into a club atmosphere.

Tim Fite. Heard the name before and had no idea what to possible expect. The follow through? Perfect. Why all the watermelons? What’s with the wood stereo and guns? No idea, but whatever. This guy is a great, albeit odd, performer.

Robbie Fulks came on, and what I thought would be one of the tamest performances may of topped it as the goofiest. His initial dapper clothing soon gave way to day-glo pajamas and Michael Jackson covers. I expected to hear Thriller, that was already on the books, but they busted out Man in the Mirror, Black or White, and Ben, complete with Norah O’Connor on vocals and a purple rat puppet helping out.

And then the dead began to walk. It was a rather important for me, what with my fascination of the undead. These weren’t the rotting stinking kind, though. These were the sexy kind that get you fresh pints at the bar. (Seriously, they were Hideout staff.) Rhymefest came out to finish off the song, as the dead lurked to him as some kind of false deadite idol.

Headlining but not at a head line slot, Neko Case returned to the stage with The New Pornographers. Word on the concrete was that they expected their fan base to be itching to get home early on a Sunday night, so they played just as the sun dipped down. I have seen them with and without Neko, and you really get the complete sound when she is there to belt out the vocals too. My appreciation for Challengers has been completely revived.

Ratatat ended my portion of the weekend. Their screen editing was entrancing and a pleasure to shoot. Arnold running through the jungle from the Predator as this crazy band finalized the outdoor summer music season? A proper denouement to the summer.

Check out more photos here.

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