I'll be damned. A show on Memorial Day in Chicago, and I was able to make the drive in with not a single traffic jam, and I had no trouble finding a parking spot outside the lovely Abbey Pub. How bizarro is that? To make the whole situation even a tad bit more unusual, I did some research in my own personal shows history, and I realized that the last time I had been to said pub for a show was May 26th, 2002 - exactly one year ago to the day. To make *that* even creepier, the Reputation played both shows, and both shows were a part of Chicago's Indie Pop Festival! All of this led to a rather interesting feeling of something special as I entered the venue.
Or tried to enter, rather. You see, there was a bit of a guestlist problem, in that I wasn't on it. After talking to the friendly folks from Polyvinyl [who, even though 2 of their bands were playing, also weren't on the list], we slipped my name on there and got past the list nazi at the door. Of course, dealing with all these problems means that I missed watching a good majority of opening band Panda Panda's set, although they sounded just fine from outside the door. I did manage to catch the all-female duo's last three songs or so, and it was catchy riot-grrlesque indie rock, maybe a happier version of Sleater-Kinney. I'd go see them again, if only to watch their super-cute drummer grin her way through more bouncy songs.
The Reputation was up next. Now as I discussed in my review of the Anniversary/Detachment Kit show a year ago, I've never been a fan of Elizabeth Elmore's old band, Sarge. In fact, I thought they were downright terrible. But as I said before, Ms. Elmore has definitely moved onto bigger and better things. This doesn't mean the Reputation is perfect, though. The quartet's indie-pop sound shines on the faster tracks, but once the tempo begins to drop, so does their interest in the music they're making. Their contribution to the OIL compilation as well as "The Stars of Amateur Hour" sounded great, but some of the new material [especially one song with keyboards] just fell flat. The band is still trying to find their niche - give them some more time and I think they'll do something special.
Saturday Looks Good To Me took the stage next, and as soon as their set started I felt like I was dancing at a prom in the 1960s. The band's stage presence [featuring a girl who, besides singing, *only* played tambourine] was split half and half - both singers were entertaining as all hell to watch, but their rhythm section seemed glued to the floor. The band covered a lot of the material off their "All Your Summer Songs" disc, and it sounds really full and robust live [whereas on the record, it's recorded so it sounds "vintage"]. I would definitely go see them again, and I might even show up in an old tuxedo and make my date wear her mom's prom dress for full effect.
Finally, the band everyone came to see [and they really did come - the venue sold itself out], married duo Mates Of State took the stage to cheers. They proceeded to play for roughly an hour, playing almost equally from both albums. My Solo Project was represented by "Proofs," "What Could I Stand For," and "Nice Things That Look Good," and Our Constant Concern saw "I Know, and I Said Forget It" and "Quit Doin' It" get played [and maybe a few more off that disc, as my memory is slightly foggy right now]. The organ-and-drums twosome also played their cover of Nico's "These Days" off their split 7" with Dear Nora, and Jason and Kori's harmonies never sounded crisper.
Now that's really not an hour's worth of material, you're probably saying. So what else did they play? Well, lots and lots of new stuff. The band announced they were heading back into the studio to work on their second album for Polyvinyl Records, and were road-testing quite a bit of it that night. Some of it brought back memories of the band's show with Rainer Maria in Galesburg back in February, as I recognized quite a bit of the hooks [especially the one I will now unofficially call "The Evil Laughter Song"], but there were many others they played that they themselves stated had never been played live before. The crowd responded heartily, avidly eating up all the brand new music.
As their set came to a close and the two lovebirds left the stage, the crowd would not be satisfied. Calls of an encore rang out, and Jason and Kori returned, the former of whom shirtless [it was rather amusing]. They rocked their way through "La'hov" [complete with Kori detaching her mic from it's stand and venturing into the crowd to start a dance party] before closing the show with another new song, one of the strongest they played that night.
All in all, this show was incredibly enjoyable. Every band seemed to give it their all, and there was never a time that I really wanted to be anywhere else. All four bands get recommendations from me, especially Polyvinyl's two contributions to the bill [SLGTM and MOS].