Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee:
October 9-16, 2009
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2009, Volume 16, #10
Written by John Metzger
Thu October 8, 2009, 10:30 AM CDT
10/9 - Portugal. The Man - Turner Hall - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
10/10 - Portugal. The Man - Schuba's - Chicago - 10:00 p
10/11 - Portugal. The Man - Schuba's - Chicago - 8:00 p
Once Sarah Palin achieved fame — and then notoriety — Portugal. The Man no longer could refer to itself as Wasilla, Alaska’s most famous export. Now that she has faded from view, however, the indie outfit is enjoying the last laugh, simply because it has proven itself to be more adaptable and more durable. Two years ago, Portugal. The Man gained a minor amount of traction behind its sophomore set Church Mouth. Performing as a power trio, the ensemble rumbled through its blues-inflected material, creating a tumultuous mixture of sharp-edged guitars and thunderous rhythms. In crafting its third effort Censored Colors, Portugal. The Man made considerable alterations to its sound. In place of its White Stripes-invoking bombast, the group offered fans a confectionary delight of paisley-colored pop tunes. Its latest effort The Satanic Satanist is an attempt to bridge the gap between these two personas. Portugal. The Man undoubtedly will further develop these concepts when it visits Milwaukee’s Turner Hall on October 9 and Schuba’s in Chicago on October 10 and 11.
10/10 - They Might Be Giants - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 4:00 p & 8:00 p
By catering to fans of all sizes, They Might Be Giants has managed to establish itself in two distinct markets. In the process, it also has discovered a remarkably economical way of touring the country. Leveraging its success, the group is planning to stage two concerts in selected cities throughout its current sojourn, each of which will target a different audience. They Might Be Giants’ early gig at Chicago’s Vic Theatre on October 10 will be geared toward families. As such, it will showcase material from the outfit’s latest endeavor Here Comes Science. After a brief break for dinner, They Might Be Giants will return to the venue for an evening show. During the latter event, the ensemble will perform the entirety of its platinum-selling, breakthrough recording Flood, which featured the MTV staple Birdhouse in Your Soul.
10/13-15 - Lucinda Williams - Park West - Chicago - 7:30 p
With increasing frequency, artists have been getting rather creative with the organizational flow of their concerts. The latest trend revolves around the notion of performing an album in sequence, from its start to its finish. Green Day and The Decemberists have been using this method to present their new rock operas — 21st Century Breakdown and The Hazards of Love, respectively. Meanwhile, veteran acts have learned that they can charge premium prices to revisit nuggets from their back catalogues. Bruce Springsteen, for example, has been tackling Born to Run; Aerosmith has been launching into Toys in the Attic; and Steely Dan recently built a series of multiple-night engagements around the delivery of Aja, The Royal Scam, and Gaucho.
To celebrate her 30th year in the music business, Lucinda Williams is taking a page from Steely Dan’s playbook. Nevertheless, she also is adding her own unique twist to the routine. Instead of delivering outings in their entirety, Williams is planning to use her performances at Chicago’s Park West to explore the different stages of her career. She will focus upon songs from Ramblin', Happy Woman Blues, and Lucinda Williams on October 13; Sweet Old World, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, and Essence on October 14; and World without Tears, West, and Little Honey on October 15. Each concert will also include a second set, which will feature material that has been selected from the full range of her repertoire.
10/15 - Mike Doughty - Schuba's - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p
10/16 - Mike Doughty - Lincoln Hall - Chicago - 7:00 p
10/17 - Mike Doughty - Shank Hall - Milwaukee, WI - 8:00 p
Over the past few years, Mike Doughty has polished his approach to the point where his work has been featured on Grey’s Anatomy and Veronica Mars. The problem, though, is that by targeting the mainstream, Doughty was beginning to alienate his longtime fans. Consequently, instead of responding to his albums with celebratory exaltations, they greeted them with a general sense of apathy. Whatever misgivings his followers may have about his work in the studio, however, Doughty remains a remarkably engaging showman in concert. As part of a series of local appearances to plug his fourth solo set Sad Man, Happy Man, Doughty will perform at Schuba’s in Chicago on October 15, Lincoln Hall in Chicago on October 16, and Shank Hall in Milwaukee on October 17. His new album features sparser instrumentation and has been called at least a partial return to form. In other words, everyone can now breathe a sigh of relief because Doughty appears to have grown weary trying to be famous. Further signaling his resurgence, Doughty has revived the Question Jar segment of his program. For those who don’t know, members of the audience are invited to query him on any subject imaginable. Doughty will attempt to offer his insights and answers in between songs. The act is weirdly effective in that it keeps the crowd engaged, even when his music falters.
10/16 - Rodrigo y Gabriela - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p
Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero are known to the world simply as Rodrigo y Gabriela. They both play acoustic guitars, but they wield them like weapons. This tactic allows the duo to lace their traditional-minded, Latin-imbued compositions with the thunderous roar of heavy metal. Two key tracks from Rodrigo y Gabriela’s self-titled fourth album — Metallica’s Orion and Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven — propelled the group to worldwide acclaim. Still, there’s a sense that Rodrigo y Gabriela merely has been milking an effective gimmick to death. Last year’s outing Live in Japan not only contained renditions of the same two songs, but it also added another one by Metallica (One) to the outfit’s repertoire. Sanchez and Quintero’s latest offering 11:11 features a reinterpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile, though they at least push the music far enough beyond the original cut that they were able to re-christen it as Buster Voodoo. Regardless of the deficiencies of their recordings, Sanchez and Quintero are fun to watch. Chicagoans will get the chance to witness them in person when the duo appears at the Riviera Theatre on October 16.
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