Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pop Music History in the Making

It occurred to me last night, as I watched Mariah Carey parade around the United Center in a series of skimpy outfits, that I could very well be the only person on earth to have seen both Carey and, after last weekend's Touch and Go festival, Scratch Acid. Or Big Black, for that matter. Kind of surreal, to be sure, but also kind of neat.

Mariah wasn't terrible, either, especially compared to her totally soma performance from 2003.

Speaking of Touch and Go, everyone I talked with was so proud, not just for what the label has released over the years, but also for the Hideout for pulling the party off. I talked with Tim, the club's indefatigable owner, some time between Brick Layer Cake and Black Heart Procession, and told him what a good job he did.

"No, man, it's all Touch and Go," he replied, modestly.

That, of course, was nonsense. The Hideout block party was several times its normal size, and all weekend Tim was running around doing everything from fixing toilets to snagging working amps when things went wrong. He was a one-man crew, and I reminded him that my VIP bracelet had both a "10" and a "25" on it. "25" for the Touch and Go anniversary, but "10" for the number of years the Hideout has held its block party. He seemed genuinely touched but also proud like a new papa.

Tim's a machine. If I didn't have to get home I would have stayed behind and helped him pick up trash at the end, because Tim, being Tim, was doing it all himself. With a little help from his friends.

Some highlights of the weekend included, beyond the music:

-Steve Albini’s Big Black banter: “I know you’re probably wondering, what’s the big deal? Believe me, it was cooler in the ‘80s.”

-Hearing stories of Axl Rose’s mysterious stint rehearsing at the Metro in the early ‘90s.

-Hanging out with Joe Garden, friend to all.

-Learning that at David Yow’s late ‘80s Austin going away party, before he relocated to Chicago and formed the Jesus Lizard, that he snorted a line of hot pepper. As someone who was there asked of me, rhetorically: “why would anyone do that?”

Because he is a rock and roll animal.


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