Chicago Concert Preview
September 1-10, 2010

First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2010, Volume 17, #8

Written by John Metzger

Tue August 31, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT

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9/2-5 - Chicago Jazz Festival - Multiple Venues - Chicago

Brad Mehldau - Highway Rider

For the first time in its history, the Chicago Jazz Festival will expand beyond the confines of Grant Park’s atrocious Petrillo Music Shell. With the City of Chicago tightening its purse strings, the 32-year-old institution could have been pared down to become a shadow of its former self. Instead, the Chicago Jazz Festival has been re-imagined as a multi-venue event that runs from September 2 through September 5. Although the Petrillo Music Shell will still be used to showcase performances by the Brad Mehldau Trio, the Kurt Elling Quintet, The Either/Orchestra, and others on September 4 and September 5, additional concerts will be staged at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and at the Chicago Cultural Center earlier in the week. Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Orchestra, James Dapogny, the AACM Experimental Ensemble, and Ramsey Lewis are among the artists that will perform at these alternate locations. In other words, this could be the beginning of a bold new era for Chicago’s vibrant jazz scene.

Umphrey's McGee - Mantis

9/3-5 - North Coast Music Festival - Union Park - Chicago

This Labor Day weekend, Chicago will gain another major music-oriented gathering. The North Coast Music Festival will be held in Union Park from September 3 through September 5. Given the current state of the economy — and the competing jazz-centered festivities in the heart of downtown — it is understandable that the event’s line-up initially looked somewhat tentative, especially since its stated goal is to bring together cutting-edge artists from across a wide musical spectrum. The Chemical Brothers, hometown heroes Umphrey’s McGee, and the union of Nas & Damian Marley were immediately announced as the show’s headlining acts. With time — and presumably ticket sales — other artists have been added to the bill. Jakob Dylan & Three Legs, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Lupe Fiasco, and Disco Biscuits will all perform at the inaugural edition of the North Coast Music Festival, and although Moby will forsake material from his latest outing Wait for Me, he will deliver a DJ set on Saturday night.

Crowded House - Intriguer

9/5 - Crowded House - House of Blues - Chicago - 9:00 p

Crowded House disbanded in 1996, ending its run with a performance in front of an enormous audience in Sydney, Australia. A decade later, the show surfaced on CD and DVD as Farewell to the World, its title serving as a homage of sorts to drummer Paul Hester who had committed suicide in 2005. At the time, Neil Finn, the group’s guiding force, had also been working on a solo album. In the wake of Hester’s death, he quickly enlisted his former bandmates to complete Time on Earth. Still, questions remained about Crowded House’s future. Was this a one-time re-emergence, or was the outfit back for the long haul? Intriguer, the collective’s sixth full-length studio effort, provides the answer. In effect, its sophisticated subtleties open an abundance of new paths for Crowded House to explore. Fans flocking to Chicago’s House of Blues on September 5 will be treated, of course, to familiar hits, such as Don’t Dream It’s Over and Something So Strong, though plenty of tunes from Intriguer will also fill Crowded House’s set.

Vampire Weekend - Contra

9/5 - Vampire Weekend - Aragon - Chicago - 7:00 p

Vampire Weekend’s ascent to the top of the pop-culture ladder has been relatively swift, especially for an indie-rock outfit. Aided by a pair of appearances on Saturday Night Live as well as a moniker that capitalizes upon America’s current fixation with supernatural forces, the outfit’s music — which begins with Paul Simon’s Graceland and ends with Fountains of Wayne’s shimmering pop — has become almost annoyingly omnipresent in 2010. Consequently, as Vampire Weekend descends upon the Aragon in Chicago on September 5, it will be facing an enormous amount of pressure, brought on by the hipsters who are flocking to its scene. Because of this, everyone else might want to wait for the group’s next trip through town. After all, there not only are more comfortable venues in which to see Vampire Weekend, but there also will be plenty of better music in its future, if, that is, the collective can find a way of weathering the storm of its rapidly expanding base of fans and to survive the intense scrutiny that has been placed upon it.

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Of Further Interest...

Local Concert Preview for Chicago: August 25-31, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: August 20-24, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: August 14-19, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: August 1-13, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: September 8-13, 2009

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