Wow, what a night! Who knew they'd bus in cheerleaders from three surrounding counties. The 3000 plus turnout was a little dissapointing, but I prefer to see a Field Mice reunion in an uncrowded setting.
The day's fesivities started off at noon with the fire-eating ballet dancers. This segued well into The Singletons taking stage. Who knew 20 people could fit on that stage! Was that a FULL string section? The choice to play all covers of Gastr Del Sol seemed a little strange to me, but the kids loved it. It's a shame the bouncers had to be so unkind to the stagedivers though.
The Shoestrings Chicago premiere followed a rather lame magic show by some hack with an attitude who looked like John Davison. The Shoestrings make an awfully lot of noise for six nine-year-olds playing with amplified boot laces. It reminded me of Twiggy meets Merzbow. I think they're the best of the new "Dali rock" genre. While they set up the movie screens for Bunnygrunt, the crowd was treated to an amazing display by a naked ancient chinese contortionist. My friends and I went for corndogs so I don't really know about the Up With People Star Wars tribute.
Bunnygrunt were like watching Simon and Garfunkel when they were still Tom And Jerry. You know Karen's gonna earn four grammys over the next four decades. Hey A&R folks, you sleepin'?
Plus they passed out individually rapped slices for the "Cheese on a stick" song!
Toki Doki took forever to start. Those rock stars really know how to keep a crowd waiting. Unfortuately the skydivers planned for the interval jumped a full 30 miles off target and ended up in a little league playoff game. When the Toki's finally did take the stage you couldn't see them through the smoke. By the time it cleared, their set was over; and most hadn't realized they'd even taken the stage. The big surprise of the day was the last minute addition of Ladybug Transistor. They arrived in TWO helecopters just as Toki Doki were ending their set (thus clearing the smoke). The funny thing was that there was no where for them to land, so they played in the helecopters through the intercoms and into the PA. Since they couldn't hear each other, they did an extraordinary tribute to the Portsmouth simphonia. I'll never forget their rendition of Pachabel's Canon. Many tears were shed, and the ground got muddy.
There was plenty of time for the roadies to set the stage for the Aluminum Group to premiere their rock opera "Garofalo." Unfortunately the concert's promoters had them edit it down to a paltry four hours. this rendered it pale to the expectations created on Dateline NBC. (Watch for the interactive six CD set on Grimsey.)
The addition of real soap opera stars dressed as mimes and acting out the lyrics was great for those who desided mud could be used as a projectile. By the intermission many of the audience were enjoying repeats of Seinfeld in 3D on the arenavision. The funny thing was that, if taken as a whole, it worked. I believe scripts may be being rewritten as I write.
By the time the legendary Jim Ruiz took the stage the police had quelled the riot. It seems someone had been passing out free candy tainted with a designer drug that made the victim think s/he was a frat boy...and then the beer ran out. The antidote apparently was a hose down with lemon Kool-Aid.
Sure we were wet, muddy and sticky; but Jim was about to play! He came on and announced that he had just fired his band due to "artistic differences." And just before I blacked out from the flies and bees attracted by the sugar, and the ill concieved "how low can we go" pyrotechnics display, I heard Jim start into his 83rd verse of "Hari Krishna."
Unlike the first night's orgy of sex and drugs amongst thousands of strangers, last night only two people showed. And they were nuns. God provided a splended light show.
The Autumn Leaves lived up to everyone's expectations and took the stage. After we found them and got the stage back they actually played. I didn't think they needed a stage for Legos. I wish MY Mom got me the space station for MY birthday. The best part was when the sound man kicked in with the sound effects.
After an hour or so Aden came on and kicked The Autumn Leaves' ass. They took their Legos and made them cry.
It was so punk rock.
The nuns weren't too happy about it, so they kicked Aden's ass. Then The Autumn Leaves kicked the nuns' ass.
Then I woke up to find I was sleeping on a boot.
Kleenex Girl Wonder played the most incredible stealth rock show you never saw! I heard there was a satalite feed to 300 countries. Congradulations to Blue Note for scooping them up for a mere 30 mil.
Contrary to popular belief, Poole are not as much a band as they are billiards. The seven and a half fellows racked up a great set. All were on cue. It looked uncomfortable. By the end their pockets were full. They woulda played a second set, but no one had four quarters.
Now god isn't thrilled about people with extraordinary (read: godlike) powers, so The Superfriendz had to keep the world saving part of their act down to a minimum. Sure flash floods provide a relief from the heat, but they reak havoc on a PA.
So instead of the set of scathing covers of Superchunk, Superconductor, Superdrag, and Supersuckers they played "Superstar" over and over again. And instead of a chorus of "Don't you remember you told me you love me baby..." they sang "Hail Mary full of grace..."
God was pleased, and the nuns thought IT kicked ass.
After a homecooked meal of organic franks 'n' beans, The Pushkings decided to do something special. They were inspired by Ladybug Transistor's helecopter show the day before, so they hired the Blue Angles to fly them around while we watched. I guess they had fun. The nuns said that they were closer to god now.
While the pope did a surprisingly good standup routine, The Apples set up the spaceship they had puchased at George Clinton's garage sale. Now after the flooding there were some electrical problems, so the spaceship was lacking the "oomph" we had hoped for. The Apples first song sounded like, what could be best described as, an alien distress call. And, wouldn't you know it, before they started their second song a UFO swooped down and beamed them up. We joked about it calling them "The Apples (In Space)." The next album is gonna be stellar.
All in all, it was quite a religous experience. I would recommend the fish.
It's Sunday, and I'm sweltering indoors, waiting for it to be cool enough to go outside. I'm sweaty and sunburned. And I'm feeling kind of sad that the Chicago popfest is over.
I'm beginning to think that popfests get better each time. Maybe it was because I helped put it on, I don't know, but I had a really good time at this one.
Pete Hahndorf may be able to vouch for this. He remarked that Friday night was the best all-around of all the popfests, because there were no "off" bands. From The Singletons to Shoestrings to Bunnygrunt to Tokidoki to The Ladybug Transistor to The Aluminum Group to The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group, it was a night that went along smoothly and beautifully.
Friday was definitely the more "pop" of the two nights. Last night, Saturday, was considerably louder and more rock. From The Autumn Leaves to Aden to Poole to The Super Friendz to Push Kings to The Apples (In Stereo), with the exception of Aden, the decibel level increased throughout the night! My right ear is still ringing as I write this.
Thursday there was a small party at March Records HQ. I'd brought some Mickey's Big Mouths (malt liquor in barrel-shaped bottles) so I must have looked like the alcoholic of the bunch. Erica Braverman was dj-ing in the basement, which Skippy had really dressed up for the occasion. I think Skip would appreciate it if I described the setup as "foxy," which it was... We were treated to Skippy's drunken performance on keyboards and vocals, which, despite his self-deprecation, was actually quite good. It was otherwise a fairly sedate affair, which was fine with me because it was a good opportunity to spend some time with some of the early arrivers like Stephen Wood, Pete Hahndorf, Dan and Ryan from Kindercore/kincaid, and local Josh Gennet. There were also a couple of great books on the coffeetable, including Letters from a Nut, by Ted L. Nancy, which I have to get.
Friday my favorites were The Ladybug Transistor and The Aluminum Group. Both of them are pretty hard to describe. All I can say about Chicago's own The Aluminum Group is that they were pretty polished. They all played sitting down, there were two keyboardists, two guitarists, drums and bass, if I recall correctly. I haven't said much about how they sound, sorry. Now I regret not buying their CD at the show, because I don't know how I'm going to find it again! I didn't realize it was a self-released thing.
Saturday my favorites were The Autumn Leaves. They played an energetic set and their songs are very powerfully written. I can't wait for their upcoming CD on Grimsey (they said August or September).
During the day Saturday several of us met at the base a well-crafted totem pole at Lake Shore Drive and Addison. Among us were popfest planners Jenny and Anne, plus Matt Neimark and Aadam. Eventually, bicycle-mad Pete Hahndorf showed up. We hung by the lake for awhile, and that's how I got this sunburn. Before the show we went to Reckless Records, where we met up with numerous other popkids with the same idea, then at dinner Papas Fritas showed up at the same restaurant. On our way out we joked that we should have posted a popfest sign in the window right behind them!
Overall, it was a warm and friendly experience! I urge everyone on this list to organize and/or attend a popfest if you possibly can. The list is great but I think an actual get-together is far better!
P.S. Extra-special thanks to everyone who came.
well, i'm back in nyc and hot and tired and sad that the popfest is over. here's my take on things... (warning: this could be long)
i'll try not to bore you with the non-music details (and i apologize to everyone who has already heard my tale of woe) but basically this was the worst travel weekend of my life! friday, i worked a full day (and i'm sad to have missed the pre-fest party thursday night), and took off for newark airport at 4pm, only to find out when i got there that there had been some huge fire in elizabeth nj that morning and all flights were leaving 3 hours late! after nearly making it onto a plane that would actually have gotten me there on time (but giving up my spot because there was someone else who had gotten there before me--i'd *better* be going to heaven after *that* one!) i finally got on a flight out of newark. of course, i arrived too late to see the singletons, which is sad, but i had seen josh perform in new york so i guess it wasn't so bad. i got there (thanks to my friend john from college, who drove me from midway airport all the way up to lounge ax and couldn't even go to the show!) in the middle of shoestrings set, sad again but i guess i have seen them a few times already so i shouldn't complain. but for the last 15 minutes they were wonderful and magical as ever--always interesting to see them plugged in as well. great to see so many familiar faces of popkids young and old, and lovely to meet those of you whom i'd never met before as well! next up (and i'd had a beer by now and was calming down) was bunnygrunt who i love...karen is the raddest drummer and i just love their bouncy funness! and it was cool that karen said that they wouldn't finish the set unless the people who work there turned on the disco ball and they did, which was fun. next were tokidoki who were also good; quieter (which was nice for the ears...i know i'm an old timer but the lounge ax people had the sound turned waaaay up!). next were ladybug transistor, who i actually liked seeing this time (the last time i'd seen them they opened for bis, and it was just the wrong type of band to open for bis: too slow). next were the aluminum group, apparenting a local band and quite impressive, fun and loungey. i was depressed to read on the list earlier today that their cd is self-released as i forgot to buy one in chicago...anyone know how i can get my hands on one??? finally, capping off a wonderful evening in the most wonderful way possible, the joy, the glory that is the legendary jim ruiz group. worship at the altar of jim, for he is indeed like a god. the new songs are brilliant, and i'm so glad they're back! and playing in nyc this friday as well...such a treat!!! i cannot gush enough.
saturday i had social obligations to my host which prevented me from hanging out with the popkids at the lake and reckless records, but i had a fun time anyway. rode the ravenswood el down to the loop and back again without getting off, and ate ethiopian food for dinner. yum. i love chicago! got to the show just in time for the autumn leaves first song. they were okay, a little more rockin' than i'd expected, and i was a little tired so i think i didn't like them as much as i could and should listen to them again when i'm feeling jumpy. aden were quite nice, the "softest" band of the evening; i was glad to have a chance to see them since i missed them with the magnetic fields in nyc last night. poole played net, and rocked the house. i *love* poole, and i never quite feel like they're getting their due... anyway they were brilliant and i was sad that i couldn't stand way in the front because the club was just too loud. the super friendz were up next and i liked them but felt kind of the same as i had about the autumn leaves--i could like them more i think, under different circumstances. and then, oh, the push kings...the joy of it all, bopping and singing with everyone else. those boys simply must get off the road *right now* and record those unreleased songs they've been playing at their shows, esp. the "diamonds are forever" song which has been in my head for no less than 2 weeks... plus i second jenn levy's suggestion that they move to nyc... :) (boston listies please don't flame me!) anyway, i was really tired after push kings, having walked around all day and then bounced a lot too. the other nyc listies were leaving on their 2nd crazy cross country drive of the past 48 hours (but *they'll* tell you all about that), and i had to get up early to have brunch with my host the next day, so i left after the push kings. sorry i didn't get to have milkshakes with you all after the show...sleep beckoned!
and sunday, well, sunday was sad. my plane was supposed to leave at 1pm and i got to midway airport and was sad to be leaving, only to get on the plane and have my trip last *5* hours because of weather difficulties--argh! there is just no need. anyway i missed the magnetic fields show last night because i got home at 8:15pm and was sweating like a pig in this evil nyc heat. and i'm still sad, still missing chicago and all of you...
i'd like to send big juicy shoutouts to the popfest organizers (skippy, jim, jenny, anne, and jeff--hope i'm not leaving anyone out!) for the fest, the programs, the party favors, everything! also big shoutouts to the other chicago listies; thanks for making us all feel loved! thanks also to the bands--a stellar collection to be sure, and lastly to everyone from the list that i met, either for the first time or the fiftieth. that's the best part about popfests after all.
I feel like I've been trampled by 500 elephants.
Thursday evening was mellow and probably due to my paranoid dream about uninvited skinheads trashing the mansion, a small group of 20-25 indie-pop friends gathered to eat Braverman brand cookies and Popeye's fried chicken, drink Mickey's malt liquor and Devil Mountain Spiced Ale, play with the Beagles, lounge in the basement club and listen to Mr. Katerine and OMD on the hi-fi. Not complaining at all as everyone was festive and prepared to consume.
Friday evening was smooth. When I say smooth, I mean, 7 bands all playing the shows of their lives and easy, fluid set changes. Or maybe it was the Pimm's & Ginger Ales that had be delusional. Josh's solo SINGLETONS surprised everyone, even me, by getting everyone pepped up and ready for a night of easy listening samba. SHOESTRINGS were terrific with a full band and if Rose can gain a little weight and Mario takes singing lessons they may have a shot at superstardom. The "Summer Days" slowcore version was nice. BUNNYGRUNT came ready to rock. Karen sporting a new do and engagement ring, Jen with her pouty Chickfactor rock moves, and Matt with his dapper Pete Townshend-esque windmills really wowed everyone. The disco ball was a nice touch, but the thing that won everyone over was Bunnygrunt's catch phrase of the night, "suck my cock". Hearing those words repeated by tweesters was like watching the Pope spark a dube. TOKIDOKI's Nora rushed right over from graduation at Northwestern to soothe the crowd with casiocore sunshine for all. Thank god for the LADYBUG TRANSISTOR. Never ever have I been a fan of Saturnine, so being mesmerized by LT pretty much shocked the hell out of me. Maybe that warmup Reckless Records set at 6pm got them primed because they were my favorite this evening. THE ALUMINUM GROUP, despite being more concerned about A&R people than making indie friends, were very tight and by the end of the night I had everyone camparing them to the indie-rock Spandau Ballet. Yes, their CD is self-released, but I believe there will be another, better distributed, soon. If I can score some I'll sell them via March mail-order. Crowd favorites LEGENDARY JIM RUIZ BRASIL '66 put a nice capper on the evening and it was them that inspired me to finally order that martini.
Saturday evening started out pretty crazy. By 6pm, the club's staff (who did an amazing job accomodating all the bands, fans, and drunk indie-pop promoters) were panicking about the possibility of 7 drum kits. This alleviated itself when KLEENEX GIRL WONDER were nowhere to be found and had to be scratched. Of course they would show up later in the evening and we were ALL devastated having to tell them they couldn't play. With this heavy cloud hanging above me, I still managed to let the AUTUMN LEAVES get me going with their souped up Hollies-esque melodic jingle. ADEN quieted things down and played songs from their pleasant self-titled CD. I'm not even mad at Jeff Gramm for dropping my Sugargliders CD. POOLE came out and I have to admit that I don't know where I was. Maybe I was upstairs doing blow with Matt Fishbeck or something because I can only remember seeing trails from here on out. Skippy's little band from Canada, THE SUPER FRIENDZ pretty much put exclamation point on rock with their Squeeze meets The Who, soaring guitar mania. I really wanted them to play "Forever A Day" and "Boots" but they had already figured out earlier that they came to rock. The brother Gerety were in fine form as PUSH KINGS got to play in front of a really nice crowd in Chicago, for once, and their set list was amazing, even starting us off with "Macy Macy". Ouch, carpal tunnel setting in... OK, and then, the APPLES. I can't really tell you how much this band makes he happy, but if it were 1967, we'd all be holding sunflowers and fucking in my VW van. Oops, I said the "f" word, didn't I? Please let the new album be out tomorrow.
Secrets I found out about other listers: Dan from Kindercore loves Tori Amos. Stephen Wood sports a foxy Dan Fogelberg-esque beard. The Bravermans can bake & shake. Jenny G. works too hard, really does own cocktail monkeys, and must have amazing eyesight. Maura needs to spend more time with her Irish indie-pop drinking buddy from Chicago. Peter Hahndorf can dance with or without the use of his legs. Keith D'Arcy thinks the Cinnamon Empire was built just for him. Matt N. doesn't sound like he looks (you don't even smoke do you, mister?). Twee kids like porn, everyone likes beagles, and no one sparked a dube. Not one.
Thanks very much to all of you who contributed, those of you that snuck in, and those of you who journeyed to our unseasonably warm weekend of heavy metal. I hope we can accomodate you all again sometime soon. Maybe we can promise a Go Betweens or Let's Active reunion and Spin The Bottle in the March basement.
Sleepy, urp, Skippy,
p.s. E-mail me if you've seen my liver.
so, my car has a few more dings and a chocolate coated glove compartment, and my sleep schedule has been utterly destroyed. what a faboo weekend, tho. the companionship of the some of my favorite people in the world, lovely music, and the chance to meet new folks. my life and heart are full.
music, music, music. my absolute favorite stuff this weekend: poole, those rock and rollers, aluminum group GOOD GOD THEY ARE GREAT, and those fabulous push kings. i second maura's regret at not acquiring an aluminum group CD at the show. perhaps our own testcard, who had the foresight to do so, will post their address to the list because EVERYONE should buy this. phenomenal dance pop that awakened that gay 70s club queen i channel.
so, picture our rag-tag bunch in this schedule: our two-Honda caravan left hoboken at midnight, friday a.m. (this after my two plus hour drive from norwich, CT), watched the sunrise in pennsylvania, then on to Ohio, which is apparently the land of no bagels. how do you midwesterners survive with bagel-less dunkin donuts? as the sun rose, grueling heat ensued, with my pathetic air conditioner providing no relief. but somehow we made it through indiana and to lovely chicago, the B52s "Dry County" playing rather appropriately on the radio as we approached the city (the heat of the day's got me in a haze). determined that chicago is a very easy city in which to get lost. after we found our super-dive hotel (the Spa- stay there!! too cool, divey-but-clean. and if it's good enough for the Fleshtones and Ozzy Osbourne...) , we were able to shower and get in a couple of winks. on to dinner for real chicago pizza, then to the show. after Jim Ruiz (almost forgot, loved them as well) , got my only substantial sleep of the weekend.
day two. awoke to discover that le grande matt jacobson had stayed in our cheesy hotel instead of in the lap of luxury because he couldn't remember the name of his hotel. VERY funny, in my opinion. instead of hanging by the lake, we do very un-touristy things. then i buy records. not a single indiepop one, mostly soundtracks. a big bag full for a mere twenty bucks. the show is lovely, but i am dreading the long ride and feel compelled to vote against the milkshake party that was to follow. moments of panic on the road, as my carmates slept and i watched our other brave driver swerve a bit now and again, fighting the same urge to drift as i was. after the sunrise, i feel a bit better, and enjoy the beauty of the road. long stretches of the midwestern plain gradually transformed into the appalachians, passing meander reservoir with its half-submerged trees. early afternoon, there we were, hitting a wall of oppressive heat and humidity in new jersey.
after a shower and some primping, we were ready for the most marvelous magnetic fields show i have ever seen. through the holland tunnel to manhattan, the fez being the perfect way to embrace new york city upon our return. fashionable crowd, familiar faces, and stephin and claudia bantering back and forth playfully. ah, my home it has become. more and more, i find myself reassured in my decision to relocate to this netherworld.
to conclude this rather lengthy post (trying to make up for not having written anything at all in so long), i want to express my deepest gratitude to my traveling companions and hotelmates (whom i love dearly), the popfest organizers, and all of the friendly people i met while in chicago. and i'd also like to thank the list itself. my life is undeniably richer as a result of its existence.
blissfully sleeping in my own bed tonight...
wow, the chicago popfest really was quite fun. i was expecting it to be a little too crowded on saturday night, but everything worked out just right. sometimes its a little frustrating to read everyone's posts about the shows, because you realize how many people you didn't meet. does anyone know how many list people actually came??
i'd forgotten how pleasant the drive from chicago to new york is. . . i'm used to driving to DC, so i always miss that pretty stretch in pennsylvania. ohio is still a complete bummer though. the magnetic fields were wonderful the next night. we barely made it to our soundcheck because we witnessed this crazy car accident in hyde park. by the time we finished freaking out and talking to the police , it was like 2:00 AM. we barely made it over 35 MPH the whole way to NYC, because everyone was so scared of cars. i guess that leaving the L. AX early really backfired.
we left fez at about 2:00 AM on sunday/monday, and made it safely to our beds in DC by 7:00 on monday. somehow, we managed to play 2 shws and drive from chicago to New York to DC without sleeping. yikes.
I just got home this morning at 7:30 am from chicago.
the drive to ft lauderdale was not too bad.
I had a great time, as did the people who went with me.
the show was great, every band was great.
i met a lot of awesome people and would like to say "nice meeting you."
the atmosphere at the fest was warm.
i hope i see all of you again.
This was the best thing EVER!
also "hi" to everyone i met.
reporting from deep within the Wailing Souls Universe,
if anyone was wondering, i guess you figured out that my underage frineds and i got in with no problem.
life is pretty good. it's finally cooling off in chicago, my porch is filled with red geraniums, there's only two days left in the working week. i cant complain.
just wanted to say from an 'organizer's' perspective that i thought the popfest weekend was really great. wonderful music (wish i'd bought both autumn leaves singles instead of just one), neat people, and cool t-shirts--what more can one want?
the whole notion that people will travel halfway across the country to watch bands at lounge ax and meet people they know from the 'net *still* boggles my mind. it was lovely to meet fellow list-ees (i know i didn't meet everyone by a long shot). hardly anyone looked like i'd imagined; guess i'll never have *any* preconcieved notions again. eric & i also had fun hosting our various house guests; thanks, steven, erica, rebecca, & matt for being nice to the cats & putting up with our sticking front door, as well as our sauna-like apartment.
i would be remiss if i didn't offer a big thanks to skippy for doing all that hard work and making it seem effortless.
for the rest of you, if yr considering hosting a popfest in your town, do it. you won't be sorry.
back in Germany, still a little jetlegged. Before I start reading 457 list messages I like to summarize last week.
Thursday - Popfest-party
March headquarters on the Chicago North side is a great place to party and hang out. Skippy prepared the huge basement, unfortunately most out of towners hadn't made it to Chicago yet so we ended up with a rather small group of people. It was nice to meet Popfest veterans as well as new faces from the midwest. The high point of the evening was Skippies solo performance, although he covered the Sugargliders "Ahprahran", I like one of his own songs even better. I hope his stuff comes out some day and not as a hidden CD track.
Friday - Chicago Pop festival Pt.1
After some record shopping and a visit to the lake we made our way to the Lounge ax. Popkids came in from all over the place, Boston, New York, DC, Kansas, Berkeley etc. But the kids with the most popfest spirit were Larry Bonk and friends. They made a two day drive from Southern Florida and some of them were even under age and couldn't be sure to get in. Luckily everybody made it. I hope to see as many people at the popfest next year in Fort Lauderdale. I will again provide a list of all attendees on the TweeNet pages about this popfest.
I sure people already wrote how good the bands were, and I mean all of them. This night had for me the best over all line up of all popfests so far. I mean there were other performances by single bands which I enjoyed more but here we had 7 good bands while at all other nights there were always one or two bands I didn't really liked that much. The only drawback was that everybody played mostly new songs. Shoestrings, Bunnygrunt and The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group played hardly any songs from their albums, but the news songs were pretty good and although I couldn't sing along I totally enjoyed them.
Saturday - Chicago Pop festival Pt.2
The big come-together at Lake Michigan in the afternoon didn't attracted the expected amount of people. Maybe everybody had to recover from the previous night. I got lost myself cycling up and down the beaches looking for the Totem pole. We had fun anyway although nobody was brave enough to get into the water.
The bands on the second night were pretty good too especially the Autumn Leaves and Aden. The Push Kings played their third popfest this year and still couldn't blow me away. I really liked Poole because I knew all their songs pretty well. Seeing the Apples again after four years was great and they are still very nice people.
then the big goodbye to everybody, it was hard because I knew this was the last popfest for me this year.
Sunday - Chicago
time to recover from three long nights. I had breakfast with Anne, Eric and Matt Neimark and later we walked around downtown and ended up at the lake again. In the evening I rented a car and visited Jim Curran before heading up north.
Monday - Minneapolis
What a difference from my last visit in October '93 when it was freezing cold, now it was in the eighties and pretty humid. The lakes around the Twin Cities are pretty beautiful. I stayed with Jim and Steph Ruiz and although Papas Fritas and Poole played that night we went to a pub instead and had lots of Minnesota beers. Jim has all these Japanese CDs, where can I get all that Trattoria stuff? Oh, at the next popfest we should play the Eggstone game, one team throws shoes and the other had to catch them with buckets, it's very strange but seems like lots of fun, check out a HIDEKI KAJI video were they play it. BTW The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group is currently touring the east coast, a must see.
Tuesday - Iowa City
A nice little college town and the home of the original American indiepop label and it has indeed bus stops everywhere. I met up with Brian Kirk and Rick Durgin of the wonderful and truly missed Bomb Pops, make sure you get their last single on Bus Stop, it's a gem. The Bomb Pops compilation will come out on Grimsey some day and will have a couple of unreleased tracks. Rick will join the list when he gets his college account in a couple of weeks. Brian is getting married next month and Bus Stop will slowly but surely close down.
Wednesday - Pekin, Illinois
This is the hometown of the lovely Hushpads, I had a great time staying with Angela and Matthew. We went to my first drive-In and I had my first root beer float ever while looking at this beautiful huge rainbow above us. The Hushpad full length will come out on Clint Barnes' new label and has some wonderful songs on it.
Thursday - Champaign/Urbana
On the way back to Chicago I stopped at Parasol to do some shopping. They are much bigger now than during my last visit in 1993. It took me at least two hours to go through all the 7"es and CDs. It's pretty amazing what the still have there. There were many things I thought were sold out and it is much more fun browsing through records than reading a catalog. If you are in the area you should stop by.
I like to thank the Chicago popfest crew and all my hosts for a great week.
I'm finally feeling recovered enough to say a few words on the Popfest. Not nearly enough sleep in the last week and a half.... (It's a long one. Sorry)
The drive up to Chicago wasn't nearly as horrible as I expected it to be. It was actually quite enjoyable, with 2 Live Crew blaring most of the way, and everyone finding a lot of humor in my voice, which for some reason decided to sound like it was coming out of a fuzzbox all weekend.
We arrived in Chicago around 5AM, slept most of the day, then proceeded to the Lounge Ax. While waiting to meet Shoestrings, who were going to try and get the underagers in the group into the show, Peter Hahndorf rolled up on his borrowed bicycle. A really great guy, that Peter. I would talk to him a few more times over the weekend, and each time I swear he had no idea he had ever talked to me before. Quite the impression I make. Anyway, the scheme worked, with the three kiddies playing the roadie role for Shoestrings. Rose and Mario are the nicest people I have ever met in my life. Truly preternaturally nice. (Thank you!!!!)
I had to leave to carry some people to a rival show across town, and when I returned I experienced what has to be one of the true joys of living in a city: trying to find a parking space on a friday night in the rain. It was kind of fun having to play the daredevil behind the wheel (and parking illegally), but I missed The Singletons, and the first couple of songs by Shoestrings. Took me no less than 35 minutes to find a space.
Anyway, I haul my butt to the club. All the bands were pretty good, but Shoestrings and Bunnygrunt took home my trophy. I had to leave to pick up the others before the Aluminum Group started.but I did get to see that they looked like a bunch of ex-cons. I made it back just in time to see that oh so Legendary Jim Ruiz Group get everyone dancing. I got to meet a few nice people, had lots of fun, but the highlight of the evening had to be overhearing the drunken, martini-toting Skippy proclaim (inspired by the jazzy Jim Ruiz) "I hate indie pop! It's for fucking shitty asses!"
The next day we went to Reckless Records, ran into a few familiar faces from the night before, went out for the requisite chicago pizza (flat cheesy drugs indeed!), then headed to the show. Once again, parking posed a problem, not to mention the fact that this evening we had no less than 7 underage kids in the car and no band to help. Once parking was finally handled, the age problem was handled by one person using an ID of someone that looked nothing like her, Nick using *my* ID (finger over the picture! Ha!), then, doing a handstamp press for the other two people (Larry freaking out "Hey! LB! Thats my initials!! Awesome!" to the doorman probably didn't help, but it went off ok). The other three decided they were too scared to try anything and just sat outside, so everyone was covered and happy. They all fell in love with Aadam, apparently.
This night was Rockfest. I missed the first two bands, only seeing one song by Aden, which sounded really nice and Im sorry I missed them. Poole played loud and large, and were even better than I hoped. All it took was yelling "hard-on!" to get them to play "Car." Superfriendz started out great, but then got a little boring as their set wore on. This was the first time I had heard the Push Kings, and I wasn't too impressed. They were ok, but I wasn't floored. I want to hear more. Then the great Apples (in Stereo) came on and challenged Poole for the volume crown, and I think won. The new record will be something to behold. I met a few more people, had even more fun than the first night, and didn't even get lost this time trying to find the way back to the house.
Sunday was spent wandering around downtown. Kristen the tour guide informed us as we passed the Palmer House that it was the nicest hotel in Chicago. Shoestrings stayed there, and they said it was really swank, so we decided to check it out. And lo and behold, coming down the stairs were Rose and Mario accompanied by Matt Jacobson. They looked kind of sick of us, so we let them go along their merry way. Get the LGM newsletter, and you'll get to see the ugly white belt that Matt had on. Top stuff. But, good gosh, that was one amazing hotel. On the way back uptown for dinner, we saw a girl get hit by a car. Minor slow speed collision, but scary nonetheless.
Monday we left for regions south, spent the night in a scary part of Nashville, stopped off to see Jack's Nuts in Alabama (also passing the No Muff is Too Tuff muffler shop). By the time the sun came up off the coast of West Palm Beach on Wednesday, me and Larry were babbling hysterically about cups of souse, with Nick in the back screaming "Watch the road!"
A fantastic time was had. I was a little scared about the trip, but it went off without a hitch. Thanks to everyone involved, and a big "hello, hope you made it home ok" to everyone I met. See you at Popfest NW! (you wish!) (well, I wish, actually)
Jen Towers and I were talking on the way home from the Chicago pop-fest, after a trucker's portion of night driving and enough cokes and coffees to turn my insides to powder... maybe when we get back things'll be like that John Cheever story and every blink of our lives will have disappeared while we were gone. No apartment, no job, no friends left... I think all the sleeplessness and driving and humidity and that tiny tension that seems to ride with you on such crazy long missions made me feel like my New York/Hoboken world ended at about midnight Thursday when our caravan hit route 80. If you'd asked me what I did in "real life" shortly after dinner on Friday night (Chicago pizza is like flat cheezy drugs, blissful!), I wouldn't have been able to come up with anything except maybe "I listen to pop music."
They found a bottle of Pimm's just for Josh and Jacobson and me, which made the Lounge Ax twice as nice as it is in person... I just wish it had rained, cold sweet rain to pull the humidity out of the air. I wanted desperately to go outside and splash around in the rain to keep me wakeful and joyful on Friday night. The joyful part was easy, especially with Josh and the Shoestrings up first. Unexpected delight at both Ladybug Transistor and the Aluminum Group, whose song "Chocolates" reminded me of that brilliant backgammon tournament in Barcelona I never saw. Jim Ruiz at the end of the night was a kiss I wasn't expecting. Hey, I can't remember whose point it was... Min's, I think... In France, is a French kiss just a kiss? Is a French sigh just a... alright, I'll stop now.
Just to fly in the face of any kind of logic or reason, our little gang (Matthew Hushpad, his Angela, Kardyhm Kelly, Jen Towers, Min Liu, Tammy, Jessie and I all saw Grosse Point Blank at the little theater next to the venue on Saturday afternoon after a deep fried dream of a meal at the Golden Apple Pancake Emporium. Great movie in spite of a stomach turning 80's fest of a soundtrack. I got a little chill on behalf of "my generation." We skipped having the great Steve Silverstein show us "his Chicago," the hidden city, for second rate air conditioning and midday darkness. Only ample Coke Slurpees at 7-11 kept us going through a grueling late afternoon sit in the park, and then back to Lounge Ax for round two.
"Just Because You're Famous" doesn't mean you can steal the show all the time, Push Kings. Touring's done them a world of good and their guitars are now impersonating bells, harps, trumpets... I spent most of the night bouncing from conversation to conversation trying to catch up with a batch of folks I'd just met face to face. Charmed to have met Anne Zender, who coincidentally looked miles flash on night two; Aadam, who pulled off a pair of Mary Janes better than most (pulled off a pair of Mary Janes what?); Latchkey Kid, who started off with one of my favorite introductory lines, "Where are my records?" and Kathleen Ang, who probably remembers none of my incredibly cool cheap thrills in New York recommendations. I miss all of you already.
Three and a half cheers for Skippy, and his elves (never quite sure who else was involved with this pop fest besides him, guess they need to own up so that they can be congratulated accordingly) who provided a hitch free popfest with and exemplary line up. I don't remember being bored even once, except when I was talking to him (just kidding, sporto!).
Just a last personal reflection, the western part of Pennsylvania is gorgeous, except for all the inside out deer haphazardly crumpled along the roadside. What can be done besides more hunting to prevent these trajedies?
TESTCARD (who was treated to an entirely sleepless night last night by his employers and isn't at his best just this second).
aaah,finally back in indiana and more than a bit sad that pop*fest chicago is all over,done,finis...
my rosy red complexion, from too many hours at the lake watching beautiful black labs fetch sticks from the caribbean-esque(ahem) lake michigan, has turned to a lightly toasted marshmallow color and i'm remembering all of the fabulous hours spent this weekend.
thursday saw a pleasant evening at casa del skippy,even if i was morbidly tired from days of letterpressing posters and programs. vodka and cranberry juice sent me crawling into the giant green papason chair and i fell asleep to the sweet sounds of skippy singing and the chatter of adorable indie-pop kids.
friday began with a much too large bowl of delicious rice porridge at ann sathers and a trip to reckless records. a visit to the lake was in store and the afternoon's entertainment was provided by a very drunk chicagoian complete with sunburned beer-belly and his wish to drown himself in the waters of lake michigan.he claimed the poodles would save him.
the music,ah the music... i'm sure my words can in no way do any justice to all of the great bands that played,so i'll only share with you a bit of what i thought were the highlights... friday night at lounge ax so beautifully began with an incredibly charming set from the singletons.still so sad over the demise of holiday, it was wonderful finally getting to hear and see josh perform again. i was praying so very hard that his set would never end. next up,were the lovely and talented rose and mario.wow.i'd forgotten just how great they are.and after finally picking up their cd this weekend,i know i'll never forget.their music seems to fill the same space in my wee beating heart that the field mice reside.and to this,i'm forever indebted...
on saturday,i was wooed by the soft sounds of aden.i'd only seen them one other time before (opening for holiday at a strange u of chicago cafeteria show) and was'nt exactly blown away. saturday's performance was mesmerizing and really quite beautiful,i really must say. and little did i know what was in store when those foxy nova scotia boys the super friendz took the stage...oh my! rock n' roll hootchie coo. i found their show to be utterly infectious and impossible to resist. the push kings picked up the reins quite nicely and put on one helluva fun show,par usual.their charm and energy make me weak at the knees. getting to hear "macy macy" and "raincoat renegade",well,made me the happiest girl in the world and aching for so very much more.
the decibel level seemed to triple as soon as the apples came out.they were the fabulous cherries on my hard rock sundae.it was fun standing next to hilary's mom as she swelled with pride as her incredibly groovacious daughter played those skins as if there was no tomorrow.
all in all, it was an incredible and fascinating weekend.hugs and kisses to those sweet kindercore boys who made me giggle bunches,and to everyone else whom i had the pleasure of meeting.i really hope we can all do it again very soon.
xoxo,jenny g. who is gloriously resisting reality wrapped up in the luxury of her new momus and mr. wright compact discs
Like everyone else whe went to the Popfest I'm doing my bit of mourning the passing of yet another fabulous list event. Someone, I think it was Jim Curran, averred that these popfests are one of the nicest features of the Indiepop list, providing a great way to see some wonderful bands in the company of like minded popkids (many of whom suffering from varying degrees of sleep deprivation - those who slogged it out to Chicago via car anyway.)
Mmmm, I took a speedy jet plane and got to hang out with all the lovely salesmen/woman dragging their samples across this great land of ours rather than share the time in a car with interesting companions, a million pop tapes and thoughts of what to have at the next diner. Oh well. I got to Chicago early enough to walk a bit around the city, met up with Anne Zender (my sublime hostess) and grab a bite to eat at my new favorite diner (Alps Family Restaurant * you know it's going to be good when the waitress starts off by calling you dear.*) Anne and Eric along with their cats (Molly and Kitty) made for excellent hosts providing an extensive array of info on the city and a nice place to unwind after shows (the massive amounts of books and records in their place were a big bonus.) It was good spending a bit of time with fellow sisters Erika and Rebecca (Rebecca made some particularly tasty cookies) and Matt N. who joined us on Friday.
Skippy's party was a bit under populated but still quite an excellent one. Fueled by Skippy's boundless record and CD collection, beagles, incense, electronic games, chips/dips, exotic beers, his mini-concert complete with Erika sitting in for back up vocals made for the perfect first evening. I got a chance to hear Peter Hahndorf dish on what he's up to when not globe trotting, Anne Zender and Eric spoke of thoughts on the currently becalmed Indie Digest list, Josh Singleton of his recording plans in England (very exciting!), Jim Curran's plans for record shopping while the Kindercore kids detailed their plans (to be fueled the old fashioned way: graduate student loans) and Ryan's very funny story about his record industry class professor (be sure to get him to tell you about it.) Anyhow, we eventually found ourselves on on Skippy's porch at 2 AM watching Skippy imbibe Italian liquor while we discussed the news of the day and the manifold joys of Happy Camper herbal extract. A fine day for living.
Friday saw me running off to a fabulous record store on a tip from Anne. Though not in mint condition who can argue with thousands of records from the 60's through the 80's going for a mere dollar a pop? I grabbed a bunch of 60's and 70's material from Dave Clark Five, The Association, Fleetwood Mac among others. Oddly, it turns out that two fellow list members bought the first Association album over the weekend (Matt Hushpad & Jeep Murray.) Um, cosmic, man. After this I made it to the Shedd Aquarium which was well worth the effort. I gotta say that Chicago has some superb museums many of which I haven't gotten to yet. I have to say that the surgical museum was on my list but I had to get off to the Lounge Ax... maybe next time!
Both show nights had their share of beauty with Friday a bit more skewed to pop and Saturday's to rock & as a result I did a bit more listening on Friday and more socializing on Saturday. I swooned to The Singletons who I adore - I really hope that Josh starts doing some recording asap. He has the most dreamy pop sound and we demand more! In the meantime we await the last Holiday tunes which should be out on Siesta by summer's end. Shoestrings are nothing short of amazing. They played a number of lovely songs off the album and some new songs as well for a nice mix of where they were and where they are headed. I gotta say that Ladybug transistor played a very pretty set and I sprinted back to buy to CD after the set. While the CD wasn't quite a poppy as the performance it's still quite nice - I'm hoping the next recorded material moves towards their live sound since they've truly got something going here. I was way happy with Bunnygrunt's presence since I've wanted to meet Jen since her Septophilia days and I am a real fan of her her comics and zine. She says that she's working on the next issue of Panaphobia - yay! Aluminum Group played the most amazingly creamy, smooth set which was so silky that I couldn't decide if it was the kind of thing that would stay with me. I ended up not buying the CD and now I kind of regret it. Jim Ruiz et al was the perfect way to end things - this band really shines in concert! I'm quite disappointed that I'll be missing the DC leg of the east coast tour but I'll be out o' town.
Saturday featured a fine outing to a Persian restaurant with Mario & Rose Shoestrings, Matt Jacobson, Parto & Ella Dick (who had been missing since the inaugural popfest back in '95.) It would have been nice to have had all the fest attendees gathered together for lunch or for some other activity but this didn't work out. Matt Jacobson made a comment that it would be nice if we could have a popfest where everyone stayed at the same hotel - one long weekend of hanging out together en masse without all the transportation hassles.
I try to hook up with Matt and the Shoestrings every fest since this is one group of people who have an instinctive knowledge of where to get a great meal so I now make it a point to tag along with them as often as possible. After lunch we ended up wandering into a Swedish import store and checking out all the cool candy and such. My favorite discovery was Cloudberry Jam (I figured the band had to be named for something well worth seeking out!) After this Ella ferried us around by car and we hit a juice bar, Reckless Records and than headed off to get some rest for the evening.
Saturday was memorable for me in terms of meeting Kathleen Ang (member of the much lamented Madison Electric) who I'd been dying to meet for years, I got to chat with Keith D'Arcy, JJ Fantastic, Jim Curran, Larry Bonk et entourage, Steve Silverstein, Maura, Poole kids, Mr. Latchkey and others that I'm doubtlessly too feeble minded to recall. Bands that wowed me were Aden & Poole (who have always been a favorite of mine - I agree with Maura that they deserve fame and fortune.) Push Kings did a nice job although I have to say that they didn't play my favorite song, "Florida." As good as Push Kings are I have to say that I'm counting my lucky stars for Matt Fishbeck to make some time for recording more Black Fantastic material this fall follow- ing Sterling's moves east. If Push Kings is sixties pop than Black Fantastic is nineties chime and jangle. The first Salt Water single whispers of all the wonders yet to be released and so I dream of a a full length CD in '98. Interesting to note that Push Kings signed to a Japanese label (I think it's owned by some huge toy company) and that 50% of sales of Black Fantastic have been over there as well.
I firmly believe that these Popfests are the highwater mark of our list. They inevitably provide the perfect way station for bringing listmembers to one place to hangout, exchange information, see old friends meet new faces and even see a new city in the bargain! While it is true that the list has changed from the clannish, intimate setting it once was to a more free ranging, rollicking party (maybe not always a happy one) it still remains chock full of interesting, knowledgeable popkids who have much to say about this micro-universe of ours.
For those of you who haven't made it to one yet you owe it to yourself a trip to one as soon as possible. Many thanks to Skippy, Jenny, Anne, Jim the bands and all others who put a lot of time and effort into making this another sublime outing!