Friday, June 20, 2008

Chicago so far

If I ever bother to sit down and make a list of my top 10 regrets in life, not seeing Fugazi will be on it for sure. They were still playing for the first 6 or 7 years that I was going to shows; in fact, my friends often went to see them and I didn't bother because I didn't like them. I guess it was just a matter of timing. Sometimes you need to hear a band at a certain point in your life for the music and the ideas behind it to resonate with you, or maybe I just wasn't a sophisticated enough music listener until more recently (when I was 14 or 15, I think I remember believing that everything except skate punk and youth crew hardcore was "gay") to appreciate it, but for whatever reason it wasn't until just after they stopped playing shows that something clicked and I started to realize why everyone liked them so much. In the several years since, my appreciation has grown with every listening, and I think the only thing that could really deepen my relationship to the music would be seeing them play it live. Their songwriting relied so heavily on dynamics, and the production on their recordings downplays the dynamic effect for me. I've seen the Instrument dvd, which corroborates my suspicion that the live show is way better than the record.

Anyway, all of that is by way of introducing my activity for last night: seeing Mike Kinsella and some of his friends play a set of all Fugazi covers at a bar. It was awesome. Though their stage presence was poor (Mike looked like he was just hanging out, having a good time playing his favorite tunes, and his backing band looked like they had never played for an audience before in their lives), their musicianship was exactly where it needed to be. The guitar tone was straight off the record, the drummer played everything fill for fill (at least, to the best of my memory), and Mike even did a pretty decent impression of Ian's voice, though not so much with Guy's. They played all of my favorite songs except Blueprint, including Sieve-
Fisted Find and Smallpox Champion, although the latter was probably the sloppiest song of the set. Other noteworthy aspects of the show:
-Mike is way better looking than I had ever suspected and has fantastic hair.
-The show was a benefit for CAASE - the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, an organization that seeks to eliminate the demand for sex work. They cage it in almost pseudo-feminist language, but it sounds suspiciously puritanical to me.
-The opening band, The Beauty Shop, was a pretty decent trio that had songs ranging from mediocre alt country to pretty solid indie rock, with a singer that sounded like a cross between Johnny Cash and Mike Ness and a really solid drummer.

A play-by-play of my activities in Chicago would be pretty boring to read, because it would consist mostly of eating. We've eaten at the Chicago Diner 3 times now, which is by far my favorite, as well as twice at The Pick Me Up (also in Boystown), which has amazing french toast and a great jukebox, once at Earwax Cafe in Wicker Park, which makes an extremely flavorful jerk seitan sandwich, once at some Mexican place that made the best burritos I've had outside of southern California, and once at the Handlebar where the biscuits and gravy are phenomenal but the breakfast burrito unimpressive. We've also done a lot of wandering around, sitting at Starbucks reading the Reader (the local equivalent of the Village Voice), and sitting at the "beach" by Lake Michigan. We stayed at a hostel the first night, which reminded me of living in dorms, at a friend of a friend's very spacious apartment the second night (Sean was convinced that he was actually Thurston Moore), and at a courier's apartment last night, where I watched Hollow Man on On Demand. We went to a meeting of the Chicago Couriers Union, which was impressively well-organized if poorly attended, and spent an evening playing free pool at a bar called Ronny's while watching World Extreme Cagefighting on tv. That pretty much sums up the last few days. I really like this city.

No comments: