Sunday, June 8, 2008

Death Cab For Cutie, Rogue Wave--Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois

So I went on a date tonight. He’s someone I’ve known for years now. He’s an old friend - reliable, ever-present, solid as a rock. He gets cold for months at a time, but he always warms up to me. We always find awesome things to do especially in the summertime. I’m trying to leave. (I’m moving for a few months to Seattle this fall) But I have an undying, unconditional love for him, one that will pull me back like a moth to the flame this winter.

Bear with me, I’m getting to the point.

I walked up to Millennium Park and grabbed my tickets at will call from a squirrely lady who received attitude or silent guffaws from the ticketless patrons. Then I headed for that dreaded security fustercluck of a “line” to make my way in. I tried, hard as I might, to sneak in my wine bottle by attempting the ol’ “grape juice” foil. The yellow-jacketed security man gave me one hard, “don’t play me for a fool” look and I shot back a “c’mon dude, be cool” look. No dice. It was goodbye to grape juice. I was meeting my date on the lawn and I was flustered from being called out on illegal smuggling activities. I shoved and elbowed my way through the crowd, looking for an adequate piece of turf to claim as mine for the next few hours. I sat down on my precious two square feet of real estate and chilled out for a minute. I looked up scanning the crowd, the pavilion and the skyscrapers and there he was, my date – Chicago. No, not that Chicago; this Chicago.

It might be evident that I have a love affair with this city. Quite possibly there's nothing quite like sitting on that lawn in Pritzker Pavilion with the magnificent skyline in the backdrop and amazing acoustics of the amphitheater bedazzling your ears. I sat on the lawn, tickled that we were just at the beginning of another Chicago summer. There are more festivals here than you can shake a stick at. It’s like trying to drink water from a firehose, except instead of your mouth it’s your ears and instead of water it’s a ton of awesome live music. Ok, bad analogy. But the energy here is particularly palpable this year, with our Olympic bid (top four!) and our next president being this state’s senator. As a son of African man and Kansas woman, this city’s summer sure provides hope for those disheartened by the conservative winter.

Oakland, California’s Rogue Wave opened. While I can’t speak for NQL’s presidential endorsement, I can, however, vouch for their Rogue Wave fanaticism. Truth? I came more for Rogue Wave than Death Cab For Cutie. They opened with none other than “Chicago x 12” and professed their love for Chicago accordingly. Frontman Zach Rogue quipped about being REO Speedwagon and some flighty girls sitting next to me actually believed them. Their set heavily favored songs from Asleep at Heaven’s Gate. They finished with “Harmonium” and throughout the performance received polite, albeit inadequate applause.

Death Cab for Cutie* brought their Seattle rain clouds with them but the masterfully engineered lawn of the pavilion was dry despite the torrential rainfall earlier in the day. The stain-resistant Bugle Boys of lawns! They opened with “Bixby Canyon Bridge” from Narrow Stairs, followed by “New Year” from Transatlanticism. While Death Cab isn’t exactly rock-the-f-out music, it was enough to get us two-bit, lawn-seat steerage on our feet and bobbling. On a night where Obama clinched the democratic nomination, Ben Gibbard roused the crowd on this historical evening by stating firmly that Obama will be our next president. Ironically, he followed it by dedicating “I’ll Follow You into the Dark” to him. Highlights from their new album included “Your New Twin Size Bed” and “I Will Possess Your Heart.” They also flexed their power by playing hits from older albums including “Soul Meets Body” and “Your Heart is an Empty Room” from Plans. Collective fist-pumps and yeses abounded as they closed with favorites “405” and “Transatlanticism”

As the sun set, calming sea green, magenta and midnight blue lights reflected off the metallic overhangs of the pavilion. Wind in my hair, cool grass between my toes, throwing a beer down my gullet…ahhhh yes, once again ‘tis the season where we can spill into the streets and take everything we once did holed up inside- the dining, the films, the concerts, hell, even the tanning – and move it outside.

*My friend has a silly past time. He has a habit of coming up with alternative names for bands. For example, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah becomes Applause in Affirmation, M. Ward becomes Montgomery Ward. The best I could come up with for Death Cab for Cutie was Schmoopy’s Hearse, Rogue Wave is Greet Viciously.

--Audrey Wen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. One quibble: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is actually rendered "Applaud and Concur." And you fail to mention my best work, "Sarcastic Vagina," which of course refers to this guy:

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