By Christian Schaeffer
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By Bob McMahon
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By Mabel Suen
Anyone who wants to find a reason to talk shit about the local music scene after this weekend should probably stop reading this column now.
No, seriously — go somewhere else, because you won't find any griping here.
Why? Well, for starters, this past Sunday, June 3, was the 2007 RFT Music Showcase. You know, that extravaganza that took place in the Loop all day, from 2 p.m. until midnight (who am I kidding — 3 a.m. last call).
Like last year's event, this year featured forty-plus local bands at ten different indoor and outdoor venues; unlike the 2006 model, it didn't rain. Brilliant sunshine was the perfect portent for what turned out to be a pretty amazing day. Rats and People kicked off the proceedings by performing a tight set of folk-rock lullabies; new vocalist Carson did an able job filling Beth Dill's shoes (the latter recently left the band). Vocalist Brien Seyle promises a lavishly packaged album very soon from his merry band of Rats.
Ever the troopers, Gentleman Auction House played a tight, energetic set on the outdoor main stage before embarking on a mini-tour out west the following morning. Although the septet didn't play my favorite tune ("A Hospital or Heaven," guys, come on!), the Decemberists-esque shouts and instrumentation, and the set-ending, drumming-on-everything-in-sight shtick proved that the group is road-ready.
On the Market Stage, Casey Reid — backed by dueling Chrises (Powers of the 7 Shot Screamers on upright bass, and Johnny O drummer Baricevic providing backbeats) — turned in a low-key and suitably laid-back set.
Shame Club, showing no signs of its time off, wowed a packed Duck Room with its new tunes, which to my ears resembled a cross between Black Crowes and the Who. On the same stage, power-rockers Heroes of the Kingdom benefited greatly from the large stage and crowd, playing its newest tunes with heart and vigor; so did Ghost in Light, whose mellower set was a nice precursor to Spark Thugs' crunchy metal.
My favorite performance was probably by hip-hop vets the Midwest Avengers, whose full-band lineup at Blueberry Hill's Elvis Room absolutely killed. Rhythm, rhyme and magnetic stage presence? Yes, please. The group's holding its CD-release show at the Duck Room on Saturday, June 16. Mark your calendars!
But even more heartening for the long-term health of the music scene was a Saturday night mini-festival which took place in a converted warehouse located just off Jefferson Avenue. Dubbed the Southside Rock & Roll Rave, the seven-hour event featured food, drinks, DJs, burlesque dancers and bands performing in a spacious series of rooms.
Besides having amazing sound (seriously, it was amazing to watch a sound guy engage with the bands and even — gasp — adjust things mid-set), the "rave" was laid-back, chill and tons of fun.
The continuing-to-impress Hibernauts (who will be releasing a CD on July 21) performed a danceable, kicky set of Walkmen-meets-Interpol rock (with hints of Oasis thrown in for good measure). Gentleman Auction House turned in a stellar set, as did Bunnygrunt — who covered an old Bob Reuter song, with Bob Reuter joining them onstage — and Walkie Talkie U.S.A. The latter opened with the Guided By Voices-meets-Teenage Fanclub earworm "Shoot Me Down," a song I'm still waiting to hear on CD (hint, hint).
Rumor has it that this space might be used to hold more shows in the future; let's hope that comes true. Keep tabs on all of the details here: www.myspace.com/audioartgallery.