I've got a whole city to hold down

July 07, 2004

Hot air, good cause

The Reader's Bob Mehr, Trib's Greg Kot, Metro's Sean McDonough and Sun-Times' Jim DeRogatis, all pontificating on "the state of local music in Chicago" - or at least the little slices of it that matter to these four, whose perspectives could hardly be less broad. Sound like a bang-up way to spend a summer Sunday? Then you'll want to be front and center at Dave's Italian Kitchen on July 25, where the price of a ticket will buy you lunch, the panel discussion and a performance from Nora O'Connor (whose second solo album is due soon from Bloodshot).

The saving grace of all this? The proceeds go to the very cool folks of WLUW.

So nobody asked us, but here's one blog's five most notable recent or ongoing developments in the Chicago music scene:

- The Wednesday night DJ series at Chicago SummerDance in Grant Park. What, the city of Chicago taking risks? Encouraging electronic music? Embracing our cultural keystone status as the town that founded house? You gotta be kidding.

- The young lions of local jazz, free, and improv music, who are only continuing to branch out as they come more and more into their own. Most of them play with multiple groups in various combinations on several nights a week, lighting up such venues as the Velvet, 3030, the Bottle, the Candlestick Maker, and the Hungry Brain.

- The embrace of new, unconventional venues by the Empty Bottle. Their semi-regular series of shows at the Logan Square Auditorium and the Open End Gallery has put acts into new contexts, allowed the Bottle to book bands that would be either too big or too quiet for the club, and maybe best of all, opened up new possibilities for all-ages crowds.

- The death of innovation among local rock labels. Really, what's the last new, exciting, unexpected thing released by Drag City, Touch and Go, Bloodshot, Thrill Jockey, Overcoat, et al? Is it any surprise that their combined sales were surpassed last year, as the Meter notes this week, by Victory?

- The revolution of online rock forums in the Windy City, including Pitchfork, Dusted (which, while accepting mail in NYC, is helmed in part by Chicagoan Sam Hunt, and pays close attention to local goings-on), Glorious Noise, various blogs, the Sound Opinions message board, and more.