"From its humble beginnings in 1996, the Hideout's Block Party has grown into an influential international music festival." That's how the Hideout is billing its much-anticipated Block Party, and we couldn't agree more (that's why we're sponsoring it). In fact, the festival has grown so substantially, that we couldn't possibly give you the whole scoop without using the A-Z treatment. Here you'll find an alphabetical primer on everything you need to know about the Block Party:
Perhaps Chicago's most celebrated local, Bird contributed a set that was one of the highlights of last year's Hideout Block Party. The multi-instrumentalist packed up his gear and headed to the Pritzker Pavilion this month to play for a crowd of 15,000.
In The Future, the sophomore album from these Canadian psych-rockers, was recently short-listed for the Polaris Music Prize—no small feat considering past finalists have included breakthrough indie acts The Arcade Fire, Feist and Wolf Parade.
The Block Party is not just a good time; throughout its history, the event has raised over $200,000 for various charities. Wondering where your dollars are going this year? Tuesday's Child, Oscar Mayer School, Thomas Drummond Elementary School and Literacy Works will all benefit from the rock 'n' roll dough made throughout the weekend.
Dan le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip
The UK duo is busy supporting its new album, Angles, on a United States tour, but will pop into the Block Party for what is sure to be a glitch-heavy set of across-the-pond hip-hop. Don't let the adversarial moniker fool you; these two play well together.
From Tina Fey's Sarah Palin to McCain's seven houses, we've all been up to our eyeballs in the 2008 presidential election for the better part of two years now. Well, D-Day is almost here and if you haven't registered to vote yet, you can flag down a member of Voter Registration during the weekend.
Excellent booking does not a great festival make—but add to the lineup some pulled pork, fish tacos and catfish po'boys, and we're in business. The Hideout Block Party doesn't skimp on festival foods; vendors like Honky Tonk Barbecue and Cevapcici will be onsite to handle your carnivorous urges, while URB Garden and Whole Foods take care of the healthy stuff.
Calexico's John Convertino and Joey Burns got their start in this Arizona collective. The success of Calexico has, at times, overshadowed Giant Sand but those paying attention have been rewarded with a long stream of impressive collaborations—P.J. Harvey, M. Ward and Juliana Hatfield to name just a few—and two decades of solid albums.
Honey Boy Edwards
The Block Party adds a touch of deep Delta blues with Chicago icon, Honey Boy Edwards. Inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in '96, this 93-year-old guitarist has played with every legend around—from Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters—and has a reputation for giving stellar live shows (he'll do a set with Hideout staples Devil In a Woodpile here).
International Acts booked to the Block Party this year come from all corners of the globe; from Hungary's Little Cow to Israel's Monotonix, attendees will be able to catch a glimpse of what ignites the music scenes around the world.
There's pretty much no chance that you've made it through the Chicago music scene for the last eight years without catching multiple glimpses of Kathleen Judge's work. The poster artist regularly designs for local clubs, and has come to be the artist of choice for Block Party Headliner Neko Case. Her style, which evokes intricate wood-cuttings, is hard to miss. Be sure to score her Hideout Block Party poster (pictured right) before they run out.
What do you get when you cross two '70s punk-rockers with modern-day politics? An album that is unapologetically political and musically to the point. Jon Langford (of The Mekons) and Kat Ex (of The Ex) bring their pared-down punk sensibilities to their newest collaboration, KatJonBand, to tackle hefty topics like the Iraq war, globalization and the class gap.
The Hideout has booked a substantial number of bands from around the world, and Little Cow represents the Hungarian segment of the lineup. The Budapest band has been called "Hungary's hottest export since goulash," by Funkhaus Europa, and much like the stew, Little Cow uses a plethora of ingredients—dance rhythms, gypsy notes and even a bit of ska— to spice up its sound.
On the 25th anniversary of Jackson's Thriller, the Block Party decided to do something special; alt-country's finest, Robbie Fulks, will present a complete tribute to Jackson; and local hip-hop sensation Rhymefest gets in on the action by performing selections from his Jackson tribute album, Man in the Mirror.
Believe it or not, the woman of the weekend was once a Hideout bartender. The alt-country crooner will be dishing out unreleased material and digging deep into her back catalogue on Saturday and taking the stage with The New Pornographers on Sunday (a rare treat, and the only time Case has ever performed with both of her bands on back-to-back nights).
It's on the horizon, and while most towns consider the month to indicate the end of summer, Chicago's got a different gauge: As the saying goes, "The summer isn't over until the Hideout Block Party is through." Despite the flooding, rain and dropping temperatures, until the New Pornographers call it quits on Sunday night, you can still consider this a Chicago summer.
Plastic Crimewave's Vision Celestial Guitarkestra
Saturday at exactly noon, a hundred guitarists will descend upon the Block Party and commence to drone. Axe-wielders of all ages and genres will form a circle for the harmonious noise installation—with Plastic Crimewave Sound vet, Steve Krakow, leading the pack.
Don't expect to be able to have many conversations during Mucca Pazza's set.
Something you won't be experiencing during Mucca Pazza's parade around the Block Party. Chicago's own "circus punk" marching band has been working hard—making appearances at countless festivals around town in the past months—so it's only proper that they help close out the season during summer's final soiree.
The Brooklyn duo comes to the Block Party wielding an electro set and a new album, LP3. The all-instrumental release has been championed by critics for its incorporation of multiple styles—hip-hop, stoner rock and pop—and sonic locales (from spaghetti Western to the far East).
Leave it to anti-humor firebrand Neil Hamburger to combine drinking games with phonetics; his spelling bee involves taking a shot, then spelling a pop culture-related word. The better you spell, the more you drink, and there'll be a bucket on hand for the particularly good spellers to utilize. All contestants must have a pre-arranged ride home.
The NYC songwriter whips through Chicago again with his bluesy brand of folk. A punk troubadour in his own right, Fite's music shamelessly blends banjo plucks with electro samples, while the lyrics fearlessly dig into political and cultural analysis in much the same vein as Billy Bragg.
The Oklahoma band has been quietly gathering steam with the kind of sun-soaked pop that seems built to carry listeners from summer to fall. Lush and orchestral, the band's self-titled debut has been buzzing around the blogosphere as one of 2008's most promising releases.
Vieux Farka Toure
Owing debts to Hendrix and a long tradition of desert bluesman, Mali's Vieux Farka Touré did his father (internationally renowned African musician Ali Farka Touré) proud with a critically-acclaimed, self-titled 2007 debut.
Wee Hairy Beasties
Children's music has always had a way of veering toward the corny, when we all know the best parts of childhood include grossing your friends out with spiders, snakes and things that go bump in the night. Enter Jon Langford, Sally Timms and Kelly Hogan's delightfully naughty brand of kiddie-pop.
The Tel Aviv rockers flamboyantly skirt the line between raw power rock and experimental theater; expect wild antics, lots of crowd interaction and maybe even a few impromptu fires. The Israeli band made a stateside name for itself by playing over 300 shows between 2006 and 2007; those incendiary sets are still being talked about by audience members.
You already know that the Hideout donates a good portion of its Block Party proceeds to charity, but did you know most of the charities benefit the wee ones? That's because the Hideout knows all too well that kids are the future of rock 'n' roll. This year, some of these kiddie-centric orgs will be participating in the festivities, including Chalk for Peace and Rock for Kids.
If there's a better way to end festival season than hordes of attendees joining in Michael Jackson's iconic "Zombie Dance," we can't think of it. Hideout staffers give MJ props by leading festival attendees in pop culture's most recognizable zombie performance. Remember to dress "undead."