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Chicago, IL

Sunday, August 6, 2006



The Redwalls

Our last day...
The Frames

This rock band from Dublin, Ireland really knows how to engage a crowd, and inspires a healthy amount of national pride as well. Their songs are wonderfully catchy and melodic with refreshing depth of lyrical content.  Front man, Glen Hansard had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, orchestrating some group harmonies and teaching lyrics as he went so as not to leave the uninitiated out of the fun.  At one point, Hansard ended a song by going into the chorus of Wilco’s song, “Reservations,” to the delight of the crowd.  We were having a genuinely fun time until we were enveloped by a mob of extremely tall, loud Irish boys who seemed to come out of nowhere to step on our buzz.  My friend asked if she (being only 5’2”) could stand in front of one of the lanky boys in order to recapture her view of the band only to be told, “God blessed me with height,” continuing to wave his Irish flag in our faces and not moving from his position, of course.  After one more song, we’d had enough of our rowdy neighbors and went to secure an unobstructed view for Nickel Creek.


photo by Chad Grischow

Nickel Creek


Having been a fan of Nickel Creek for many years now, we were prepared for some disappointment simply because they only had 60 short minutes to perform. With their time, they chose to cover Radiohead’s “Nice Dream” and Britney Spears’ “Toxic” including some disturbingly accurate Britney-like dance moves by mandolin-prodigy/vocalist, Chris Thile.  They did manage to fit in a number of their original songs in which each of the trio took turns singing lead vocals (“Best Of Luck,” “This Side,” “Reasons Why”), and a few instrumentals (“Ode To A Butterfly,” “Scotch and Chocolate,” “Smoothie Song”).  They ended their set with the frenetic ditty, “The Fox” complete with a cover of CCR’s “Up On Cripple Creek” mid-Fox to the crowd’s delight.  It’s always interesting to scan the audience at a Nickel Creek concert to see conservative older folks, young kids, Goth kids, punk rockers, and indie musicians woven together in a mass of joint appreciation for this band’s talent. As an aside, we heard that a teenager in the front row actually passed out during the set – that’s got to be a first for a Nickel Creek show!

The Shins

Pre-show, the anticipation was palpable with hordes of young hipsters pushing to the front of the stage.  The Shins were greeted with a feverish welcome only to quell the excitement with some technical difficulties.  The first half of the set was disappointingly slow tempo-ed and rather boring. They played a few new songs from their upcoming album, but none of them seemed to light up the crowd. You could tell that the band hasn’t played live in a while, with lots of down time between songs and side stage discussion between band mates.  Dressed in matching army green shirts, the band just couldn’t rally the troops until near the end.  The last third of the set was much more satisfying as they played a bunch of their better known songs, including “Kissing The Lipless,” “Pink Bullets,” and “New Slang.”  Just like Iron and Wine, I have a feeling that The Shins are best appreciated in a much more intimate venue, and look forward to testing my theory in the near future.



photo by noise for toaster




Alt-country darlings and Chicago hometown heroes, Wilco took the stage to prove they deserve all of the critical praise heaped on them over the years.  Front man, Jeff Tweedy, spoke for the band saying that they are all very happy to be home, and 1/3 of the band was very happy to be playing the festival…then admitted that’s why he should only be allowed to sing into a mic rather than chat.  In their 60 minutes, the band played some new songs, thanking the audience for allowing it, and then jumped into some familiar tunes.  Tweedy invited the obliging audience to sing along to their prophetic, emotional song, “Jesus, Etc.”  The collaboration was extremely moving and sent a shiver down my back.  Near the end of the set, Tweedy dedicated a couple songs to his wife with whom he was celebrating 11 years of marriage. Wilco showcased their unique combination of an alt-country vibe with innovative sonic mashups on songs like “Handshake Drugs,” “Hummingbird,” and “Heavy Metal Drummer.”  We’re not sure why they weren’t the headliner on this last night.  But, we were still content to bask in their incomparable sound for a short time. It was a perfect way to end a memorable weekend.




After 3 days of heat, rain, and crowds (estimated 160,000 tickets sold), we managed to catch 24 of the 130 bands to pick from. Despite some sound issues and missing some acts due to extremely tight scheduling (with some stages nearly a mile apart from each other), the festival was a success...and lots of fun. There was a surprising number of local Chicago bands representing the host city quite proudly.

We managed to see a few friends and even discovered some new finds that we will continue to follow. Perry Farrell is welcome back to Chicago any time, but he might want to consider a date in September rather than during the dog days of August next time.