This year's most excellent find,
Midwest Death Rattle, a photo by V'ron on Flickr.
Still, the Sigmund Snopek at the Klinger's Stage (followed by Matt Hendricks and his blues, and sitting in Brother Louie's regular spot, good ol' Xeno). At the time we walked past Snopek's set, he'd just launched into a alt-lounge of "Brazil" and let his percussion section go nuts. This was after a synth-accompanied tour on that long horn thing you see on the Riccola commercial.
Also giving me comfort was Lovanova, starting off the Lakefront Brewery stage. They're really found their stride in this whole instrumental organ-guitar thang they do. I suspect they go first so that Hammond Man Paul Kneevers can then comfortably sit back and run the rest of the stage and not worry about having to play later. We missed Boys with Bosoms, but wanded back in time to catch One horse Town, which seemed to be Chris Lehmann, Tom Tiedjens and George Mireles jamming out on their various poppy hooky stuff that all three are known to love. Turn around, and there's The Uptown Savages getting ready to a tight and fun Americana set. And of course, there's the dependable Paul Cebar, who makes the Tracks stage tolerable.
Linneman's stages, like Klinger's food, is/was hit or miss. I mean, c'mon, Klinger's. You're known for wonderfully excellent juicy (greasy) cheeseburgers. My mouth watered for a Klinger's cheeseburger, fried up on a grill and dripping with cholesterol.... only to be served this thing that tasted like something I would pick up at a Speedway when I'm desperate. This isn't the first time you've done this to me, Klinger's. No, there was the time you roped me in with wonderfully spicy, slightly crispy chicken wings, only to be served lame-o wings the following year. Now this year, there's "Thai Chicken Nuggets" which I didn't try, because I thought when I ordered a cheeseburger at Klinger's, I was getting a Klinger's Cheeseburger. Step it up guys, or I'm totally writing you off.
Anyway, back to Linneman's. I'd have to say the highlight there were these four lovely mountain folky girls called the Calamity Janes. With a name like that, I was expecting something more in the vein of Crazy Rocket Fuel, but we don't need another CRF -- and these girls had more sweetness in their tea (whereas CRF would throw a little whiskey in theirs.) Here's how you can tell they were perfectly sweet: they ended their set with a cover of "Across The Universe" with not a hint of irony, and just as lovely and perfect as you can imagine. The other band I caught at Linneman's were these no-wavers called the Newlybreds, whose sound brought me back to about 1979ish, 1980s British No-Wave, ala the Slits or the Raincoats. I think I need to admit here that while I admired the Slits and the Raincoats, I never really got into them. And so it was with the Newlybreds: I admire the balls it takes to put forth this kind of stuff, but I can only listen to it for about a couple of songs.
This year's find for me, was stumbling upon the Riverwest Public House's stage. At first, I was pulled in briefly by their first offering, an instrumental, kind of jazzy, kind of movie-soundtracky combo called Fjords. I want somebody to make a movie and use them for a soundtrack, because that's definitely what their music reminds me of.
But among everybody I talked to that saw them, the band to see that afternoon was Midwest Death Rattle. Four guys (drums, bass, guitar and keys), who look and sound like XTC's tour bus crashed into the Danglers' practice space and just cooked in the midwest for awhile. I walked by at the end of a poppy song in a messed up time signature, followed by a mindblowing cover of Sonny Bono's "A Cowboy's Work Is Never Done" -- the wah-wah pedal part being sung in the nasaliest voices they could muster but still being (as Dr Chow's Joe Politzzi later described) "magnificently symphonic" about it. Yup, I stayed for their entire set, where they abruptly stopped in the middle of songs, raved up songs you couldn't think could be raved up, and left me wanting to get on their mailing list.
But I'm getting old. I was already too burnt out to stay long enough for Brief Candles' set -- a band I saw a couple of years ago at the Cactus Club and wanted to check on. After all, it was Sunday and I had to work the next day. I really am going to try to get out more, and the unofficial kickoff to Summer, the Locust festival, always helps me do just that.