Monday, June 6, 2011

Do Divsion Fest recap: Javelin, White Mystery and more

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

A Place to Bury Strangers being deceptively stoic
And so continues my love / hate relationship with street festivals. It’s a great way to catch up with multiple friends in one public setting, hanging out of doors with great weather after being treated with phenomenally disagreeable Spring. The bands are always rock solid and the positive atmosphere can make even the harshest anti-hippie swoon with love for their city. For the next three months, Chicago is the capitol of the music world. New York, Paris, and London forget about it: we are it. Likewise, the crowds can be claustrophobic and two egg rolls for four dollars is the best deal you can really find. The sound is impossible to control for such a wide spanned audience and with all due respect to the sound guys, well, it really could be better. But, as an attendee of what I consider our Summer’s kickoff music festival, I must write about it. So, without further ado, a very half-assed, half-attentive, alcohol-hazed review: 


I had seen these guys play an afternoon set at Millennium Park last summer so I knew what to expect: Two guys and a lot of sounds. What they produce on record is amazing. Likewise, they perform with an unworldly energy, the setting sun spilling over the Damen stage not stopping the marathon-stamina jogging-in-place of the percussionist of the duo. The sound was overblowing the soundsystem, but I’ve always viewed Javelin best as background music. Thus, the sample heavy Northeasterners provided a welcoming tune for someone after a rough day at work (oh, if only music blogging could pay the rent). Only caught half the set, but catching 'Vibrationz' was enough to make it worthwhile.

Bonobo (DJ Set)
I’ve seen the name kicked around before, but had never bothered to check out the British DJ who’s been performing for over a decade. The beats were as cool as the night was becoming, with influences ranging from the electronic scene to the vague but apt genre of ‘world.’ The overpriced libations were kicking in however, and again the beats worked well in the background. Definitely tunes I’d be sure to spin the next time I’m in charge of music at a party. 

As I was walking out of the fest towards Leavitt, I caught a brief earful of the Led Zeppelin cover band. I’ve made my opinion of the concept of a cover band in general clear elsewhere, and can really only sum up my feelings with this tweet. Talented musicians I’m sure, but I need something new.


There’s really nothing to be said about this brother-sister duo that hasn’t already been said. Awesome people making awesome music, and today were no different. The sound troubles didn’t escape the second day (how could a band with no bassist be so low-end heavy?), but it was great garage rock all the way. Please, please, please see these flaming hot redheads this summer, for your own sake. 

Although having already won award for best band name, these Brooklynites were the surprise of the weekend for me. I remember them getting some p4k buzz a few years back, but I never dug myself. However, after the live show, I can see why they made the splash they did. Aurally, a mix between early '90s shoegaze à la My Bloody Valentine with the morose ominous tone of Joy Division, plus a kick of energy. The Raising Arizona-era-Nic Cage looking lead singer was a ball of fury. Clashing his guitar physically with the bassist, throwing his instrument to every part of the stage, an oxymoronic illustration of creative destruction. Likewise, I have never seen a bass player be so adamant about tearing off his stings. Seriously: those things are expensive. But they did. They tore apart their instruments and played a few more songs. However, climaxing so early, created a lull towards the end of the set. The ferocious noise became tedious as no new chance of danger existed. Thus the band fizzled out, but not before creating a grand explosion midway through the set.

Big Freedia
So I had the unintentional pleasure of catching Big Freedia back at Beauty Bar following the Chuck Berry show to start off the year as part of that month’s Queerer Park. Boy, did I not know what was going on then, but it at least prepared me for this weekend’s closeout. To sum it up in one hyphenated word: booty-shaking. Lots of it. He actually had his own unlisted openers perform to rile the crowd up. When BF finally made his appearance, the crowd went nuts. A couple girls shaking their booties on stage, Big Freedia himself proving he has as much junk in the trunk. Three songs in I could tell this was pretty much where the rest of the night was heading. A drum circle near me was overtaking the sound and although I could appreciate the physical strength and stamina necessary to booty-shake for an entire set, it was again bordering on tedium. I bounced early, so if there’s anything crucial I missed, please feel free to comment.

So there we are. A review from someone half paying attention to the actual musicians, because we all know that while all of these artists are amazing and do deserve our attention elsewhere, they’re not the reason we go to these festivals. We go to see friends (new and old), to appreciate the sun, to take our chance bringing in outside beer onto festival grounds and maximize our own personal experience on each of these weekends. It’s only the beginning, and thank Chicago’s longitudinal coordinates for that. Cheers.  

1 comment:

  1. Our friends really loved 'A Place to Bury Strangers'. We're a bit disappointed that both nights ended with cover bands though.