Local Concert Preview for Chicago:
August 6-10, 2009

First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2009, Volume 16, #8

Written by John Metzger

Wed August 5, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT

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8/6 - The Decemberists - Metro - Chicago - 9:00 p

The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love

With Lollapalooza in town this weekend, it shouldn’t be surprising that this week’s concert scene will be dominated by an assortment of bands that are performing at local venues as well as at the event. In a sense, The Decemberists will kick off the festivities with a concert at Metro on the eve of the festival. Its latest endeavor The Hazards of Love initially was conceived as a musical, but its constructs grew too complex for the stage. Instead, The Decemberists’ frontman Colin Meloy used his idea to build upon the narrative thread that ran through the group’s previous effort The Crane Wife. Subsequently, he transformed his strange tale into a full-fledged, folk-rock opera. Tickets for The Decemberists’ show at Metro sold-out rapidly, but fans can see how well the material from The Hazards of Love will fare in a live setting by catching the outfit on Lollapalooza’s Budweiser Stage on August 7.

Lollapalooza Logo

8/7-9 - Lollapalooza - Grant Park - Chicago

Once the preeminent festival of the summer concert scene, Lollapalooza hit a rough patch during the latter half of the 1990s as an increasing number of touring enterprises began to mirror its structure and compete for attention. In 2005, after several failed attempts to revive the institution, Lollapalooza was recast as a weekend-long event in Chicago’s Grant Park. This year marks the fifth incarnation of Lollapalooza at its current location, and once again, its line-up features an impressive mixture of up-and-coming artists and indie-rock favorites as well as an intriguing assortment of well-established acts. Lollapalooza was initially conceived in 1991 as a vehicle for the farewell tour of Jane’s Addiction. Therefore, it’s only fitting that the recently resurrected ensemble will be co-headlining the gathering. Depeche Mode, The Killers, Lou Reed, Kings of Leon, and Tool are among the other bands who also are receiving top billing, though their conflicting time slots will be frustrating to fans who want to see it all.

Arctic Monkeys - Humbug

8/7 - Arctic Monkeys - Metro - Chicago - 11:00 p

Gearing up for the release of its third outing Humbug as well as a full-fledged fall tour, Arctic Monkeys will perform at Metro on August 7, the night before it appears on Lollapalooza’s Budweiser Stage. With Humbug, which will hit store shelves on August 25, Arctic Monkeys is hoping to capitalize upon the critical and commercial success of its 2007 set Favourite Worst Nightmare. This, however, hasn’t stopped the band from altering its core sound. In fact, it would seem as if the outfit has taken the title of its debut — Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not — to heart. Favourite Worst Nightmare featured harder-edged arrangements, while Humbug reportedly steps onto terrain that is layered and more atmospheric. Fans likely will get a preview of Arctic Monkey’s new songs at these concerts.

Band of Horses - Cease to Begin

8/7 - Band of Horses - House of Blues - Chicago - 11:00 p

Numerous reports have indicated that Band of Horses spent the early part of the year holed up in a North Carolina studio, where it was working on its follow-up to 2007's Cease to Begin. Once a Lollapalooza appearance and subsequent tour were announced, it became clear that the group was well on its way toward completing its next endeavor. Not only has frontman Ben Bridwell been test-driving some of his new songs at the band’s recent shows, but he also has been giving newcomer Tyler Ramsey a bigger role in the outfit. This is a wise move for him to have made, too, especially considering that Ramsey’s solo career was beginning to take flight just as he was pulled into Band of Horses’ orbit. The ensemble will perform a full-length concert at House of Blues on August 7, two days before it appears on the Playstation Stage at Lollapalooza.

TV on the Radio - Dear Science

8/7 - TV on the Radio - Double Door - Chicago - 11:00 p

With last year’s Dear Science, TV on the Radio jettisoned its dense, difficult-to-embrace arrangements in favor of a sound that was crisper, cleaner, and considerably more infectious. With influences that trace an arc from the Velvet Underground to David Bowie to the Talking Heads, TV on the Radio’s stylistic shift shouldn’t have been surprising to anyone. These sorts of modifications are fraught with perils, of course, but the outfit deftly dodged them all. As a result, TV on the Radio succeeded in broadening its base of fans, while also retaining both its edgy approach and its smartly written lyrics. When it visits Chicago on August 7, the ensemble will perform in the rather intimate confines of the Double Door. The show doubles as a benefit for Colleen Malone, who has been unable to pay the bills associated with her treatment for thyroid cancer. The concert has been sold-out for weeks, but fortunately, TV on the Radio will also visit Lollapalooza’s Budweiser Stage on August 8.

Fleet Foxes - self-titled

8/8 - Fleet Foxes - Metro - Chicago - 11:00 p

It’s a good thing that Crosby, Stills and Nash is plotting a comeback because the trio is going to need to defend its turf. Last year, Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut sprang out of nowhere to steal the hearts of indie-rock kids and critics alike, but the real story is that the earthy, classic-rock textures of the late 1960s and early 1970s have become hip again. The lush harmonies that Fleet Foxes employed throughout its eponymous effort owed a huge debt to Crosby, Stills and Nash as well as Brian Wilson. In concert, the group has been able to recreate its stacked vocals with near-perfection, too, which means that the band hasn’t found it necessary to shy away from tackling its ambitious a cappella gem Sun Giant. Fleet Foxes will perform on Lollapalooza’s Playstation Stage on August 7 before it moves to Metro for a full-length concert on August 8.

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Of Further Interest...

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: August 1-5, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: July 22-31, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago: July 12-21, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: July 1-11, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: June 24-30, 2009

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