Heart of America: How I Spent My Independence Weekend

 Heart of America: How I Spent My Independence Weekend

Summer is as much a time of enjoyment, as it is a time of reflection. When chilling poolside or in the woods or in a movie theater or in your living room or at a punk show, it’s hard not to think, “Man, this is the life.” It’s also a challenge not to reflect on summers gone by; something about the warm, moist air and mammoth, blazing sun triggers a memory playback. Last weekend, I filled my nights with fresh music experiences, with some new favorites (Tycho), some new finds (The Young) and some new classics (Wilco), all which managed to get me feeling pretty nostalgic.

My American Music Weekend began on Friday night at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall—one of the city’s newest and most consistent venues—with Tycho, the burgeoning electronica producer/graphic designer from San Francisco. After catching snippets of his set at Clive Bar in Austin, TX during SXSW, Tycho and his latest full-length Dive (2011, Ghostly International) haven’t strayed far from my thoughts or headphones. Scott Hansen—aka Tycho, ISO50—has a connection with sun, warmth and water in a similar manner to many visually based musicians, but he stands apart in his ability to convey his sundrenched vision eloquently and with grace. In a pre-show interview (to be posted in its entirety on FP next week), Hansen discussed his work and how it relates to his design practice. His description of the connection between the two simultaneously opened my eyes and sparked thoughts of my visually oriented friends, and their understanding of the visual space. I can’t go anywhere new without thinking of the old.

img 3540 Heart of America: How I Spent My Independence Weekend

Tycho @ Lincoln Hall

Live, Hansen was superb. Joined on stage with the subtle-bottom of bassist Zac Brown (no, not that Zac Brown, although it would work with this piece) and the immense power of drummer Rory O’Connor, Tycho was no longer a solid testament to the power of a singular vision, but a living, breathing and rocking force. New classics like “A Walk” and “Costal Break” took on a much larger meaning, one much closer to the vast oceans and warm skies of Hansen’s design work. They even managed to get the crowd moving (slightly), which is quite a feat at Lincoln Hall, where patrons will glare if you’re found enjoying a show too much.[1]

Saturday brought a change of pace and scenery, as I rode my bike out to The Hideout to hear the searing Americana of Austin’s The Young, who were joined by the rising Chicago sensitive dudes, Judson Claiborne. This was my first experience inside The Hideout and I was quite impressed.[2] Located in Chicago’s Valley of the Ashes between East Egg (Lincoln Park) and West Egg (Bucktown), the venue is spacious and unpretentious, a comfortable microcosm of the City. Likely due to West Fest and the return of Man or Astro-Man?, however, The Hideout was near empty. That’s fine, their loss.

img 9251 Heart of America: How I Spent My Independence Weekend

Judson Claiborne @ The Hideout

Local indie-rock group Judson Claiborne, led by singer/songwriter Christopher Salveter, brought a decent crowd for an opener. Their unique twist on Chicago sensitive-guy rock would fit just as well on 93.1 XRT as it would opening for an American Football reunion show, thanks in part to Bono-esque vocals, Kinsella brothers stylized guitar licks and an Ira Glass sense for storytelling. Recently, JC surpassed their Kickstarter goal of $2,800 to fund their next record, We Have Not Doors, You Need Not Keys, which should be out sometime this summer.

Quickly following a mass exodus came The Young, one of the newest additions to the Matador Records roster[3]. Their newest record, Dub Egg, explores the one rhetorical, integral question of the group: What would Crazy Horse sound like had they gotten their hands on Daydream Nation, In Utero or even 24 Hour Revenge Therapy? Part of the new class of grunge purists, The Young know the meaning of the live experience, despite the less than stellar attendance. As cliché and played out as the phrase is, The Young really turned it up to 11.[4]

img 8182 Heart of America: How I Spent My Independence Weekend

The Young @ The Hideout

If The Young’s Instagram tinted noise rock wasn’t enough to send me to nostalgia land, Sunday’s show picked up the slack. In a double bill, Chicago giants Wilco and Andrew Bird sold out Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva, IL, home of the Kane County Cougars (Single-A). Sponsored and broadcasted live by the aforementioned 93.1 XRT, Sunday night’s show was a gleaming, rocking and warming tribute to summer living in the heart of America. Playing for their largest non-festival crowd ever[5], Wilco and Birdman both had separate, nearly two-hour sets, giving the veterans plenty of space to play the hits as well as their new material. As two of the most consistent touring live acts of their or any generation, Wilco and Bird solidified their place in the Hall of Fame of American music in the clear air and clean sun of Northern Illinois. I’ve seen both bands so many times now that there were few surprises, but I was ecstatic to hear Wilco play “Laminated Cat” (A song from Tweedy’s side project Loose Fur) which has long been a downer anthem of mine.

img 6128 Heart of America: How I Spent My Independence Weekend

Wilco @ Fifth Third Bank Ballpark

In the end, my Independence Weekend was just as much spent in the now as it was in the then. For an overly reflective person such as myself, it is impossible to seek new experiences without sweetly remembering those gone by. And that is a very 21st century American way of living, as evidenced by our ongoing culture of nostalgia. The focus on old movies and old bands and old memories can get tiresome, but there are some sundrenched moments that call for recall. I look forward to fondly remembering my Independence Weekend of 2012.

Peter Lillis is Managing Editor of Frontier Psychiatrist. He’s got a big weekend coming up as well: he will be covering Pitchfork Fest starting this Friday. Check back tomorrow for his fest preview. All images are his, except the lead, which belongs to Dr. Alexandra D’Agostini.


[1] I love Lincoln Hall as a venue. The quality of sound is only matched by the cleanliness of the environment, and it’s only a plus that they bring so many fantastic acts. That said, their patrons have a few things to learn about being in a show. I understand that we’re not 15 anymore, but you’re at a rock venue at 11:00 PM, and you can’t expect everyone to be as uptight as you are. There just seems to be a very standoffish vibe in general, especially when compared to other, more welcoming venues like The Empty Bottle or Double Door. Once, I even saw a female patron choke (like full-on choke) another female patron at Lincoln Hall, only because she asked for a bit of space. But that was a rockabilly show, the rules are different.

[2] Last summer, I attended AV Fest on the front porch of The Hideout. It was Nostalgiapalooza.

[3] Whoever has been scouting for Matador lately needs a raise.

[4] [Insert additional fond summer memories of air-conditioned Christopher Guest marathons.]

[5] 25,000, which is somewhat hard to believe.



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