Lounge Ax Class Reunion
This particular Hideout Block Party is possibly the first that didn't have any alt-country acts. Even sets from Jon Langford (with Jon & Kat) and Sally Timms were a lot more rock-slanted than usual. The tone of this year's Hideout Block Party (which celebrated the 25th anniversary of Touch & Go Records) was slightly different; usually, for the Last Big Bash Of The Summer, there's a generous dose of sunshine and twang... This year, it was mostly slashing power chords, with cloudy weather generously provided by Chicago Interiors. With the likes of Scratch Acid inspiring one festivalgoer to strip down to his tighty-blueies, maybe it was a good thing there asn't a Kiddie Stage this year?
Just like you'd expect from a punk label celebrating a quarter-century, more than half the crowd likely saw some of these same acts at Lounge Ax (Chicago's late, lamented rock club) 10-15 years ago. In a summer where Chicago has had three previous outdoor rock festivals all trying to outdo each other, this year's Hideout bash is a nice capper to Intonation, Pitchfork and Lollapalooza, right down to the nearby scrap yard being cleared away for the performance space. They even knew how to sequence it - Saturday was brimming with abrasive rockstar attitude. Man Or Astroman's sci-fi schtick, Shellac's goofy Q & A with the audience, the Ex's avant-garde sidetrips. By comparison, the Sunday lineup was like the big comedown from Saturday's hard-rock hangover. And even then, the acts still had a definite axe to grind. Tara Jane O'Neil was likely the softest, least-rocking, most ballad-oriented act of this whole garden party, and even she capped off her emo lullabies with a squealing guitar coda. A punk-rock wheelchair fest, with David Yow standing in for Chubby Checker? Not quite.