Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
April 22-30, 2011
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2011, Volume 18, #4
Written by John Metzger
Wed April 20, 2011, 06:30 AM CDT
4/22, 24-25 - Arcade Fire / The National - UIC Pavilion - Chicago - 7:30 p
When it took home the trophy for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards this past February, Arcade Fire not only solidified its standing within the indie-rock scene, but it also significantly elevated its chances of successfully pushing its career into mainstream waters. This doesn’t mean that Arcade Fire will find its future to be paved with gold. In fact, its job instantly became a lot more difficult. After all, the pressure for Arcade Fire to maintain its wildly ambitious outlook will be at odds with its need to expand its commercial horizons. The Suburbs achieved both feats, but it undeniably was created without the close scrutiny that now will greet every move that Arcade Fire makes. Wisely, the collective is taking time simply to enjoy its current fate. Arcade Fire is nearing the end of its month-long trek across America, and it will celebrate with a trio of shows at Chicago’s UIC Pavilion on April 22, April 24, and April 25. The National will open all three concerts, making this a magnificent double-billing that is impossible to resist. Considering the strength of its latest set High Violet, it is highly probable that The National will also see an explosion of interest in its work in the coming months.
4/22 - Chris Cornell - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
4/23 - Chris Cornell - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 9:00 p
Chris Cornell’s most recent solo set Scream was issued in 2009. Meanwhile, his band Soundgarden reunited last year for a performance at Lollapalooza. It subsequently issued a retrospective collection (Telephantasm) and began working on material for its first album since 1996. Therefore, Cornell’s latest sojourn, which will stop at Chicago’s Vic Theatre on April 22 and Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater on April 23, has more to do with revitalizing his career than it does with promoting anything new. Given the rapid pace at which tickets were sold for every show on the tour, Cornell’s gambit appears to have been successful. Fans might get a preview of songs from Soundgarden’s work-in-progress, but for the most part, Cornell is planning to revisit selections from the full range of his career. Wielding an acoustic guitar, he will intermingle tunes from the canons of Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Temple of the Dog. Although it might appear as if he is looking backward, he surely is paving a path that leads beyond the present and into the future.
4/23 - Gord Downie - Lincoln Hall - Chicago - 9:00 p
For a time in the mid-’90s, it looked as if The Tragically Hip was poised to become not only the next big band in alternative rock but also R.E.M.’s heir apparent. The Tragically Hip’s 1994 set Day for Night featured a similar blend of driving music and intelligently written lyrics. Although its subsequent set Trouble at the Henhouse wasn’t nearly as engaging, it attracted even more attention to the outfit. Unfortunately, despite a series of consistently strong endeavors — Phantom Power, Music @ Work, and In Violet Light, among them — The Tragically Hip never captured the imagination of the masses in quite the same way that R.E.M. had. The group’s 2009 set We Are the Same as well as front man Gord Downie’s third solo effort The Grand Bounce failed to register on the radar of non-Canadians. Regardless, Downie and his ensemble have a dedicated following in Chicago, and these fans are certain to show up en masse when he performs at Lincoln Hall on April 23.
4/29 - Joe Pug - Lincoln Hall - Chicago - 10:00 p
For all intents and purposes, Joe Pug’s career began just three short years ago when his debut EP Nation of Heat stirred such a commotion in the Chicago market that his first headlining gig at Schuba’s turned into a sell-out performance. Pug hasn’t looked back. Instead, he has toured relentlessly. Where many artists might have built their first full-length album from recycled material, Pug kept moving forward by concocting a brand-new set of tracks for last year’s Messenger. In concert, Pug tends to mirror the progress of his recorded works, performing alone on stage as well as with a backing band. His show at Lincoln Hall on April 29 is something of a celebration, given that he already has surpassed many of the milestones that some artists take a decade or more to achieve.
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