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Best of the Fests

By chicago_chris in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 16, 2004 6:03PM

2004_08_music_interchange.jpg Since it's the dog days of August ("dog days" now officially connotes 50-degree temperatures) and none of us have anything better to do with our time, get ready to go festival crazy. Not only does the Chicago Underground Film Festival begin this week, but Wednesday also marks the start of the Interchange Festival 2004. Their website describes it thusly:

A collective of Chicago musicians, promoters and the city's top clubs and record stores have joined together to organize the Interchange Festival, a series of concerts intended to raise political awareness among the city's independent music community and its fans, register voters, and contribute money and volunteers to ongoing voter-registration efforts in the Chicago area.

Chicagoist is all about this, because it both supports wonderful hometown artists and helps register people to vote. And while that description makes the event seem about as interesting as a Poi Dog Pondering show, it actually features a number of cool musical acts. Highlights include Tortoise at the Hideout on Wednesday, Andrew Bird at Schubas on Thursday, The Ms at the Empty Bottle on Friday, and Sage Francis at Metro on Saturday.

As much as we love local legends Tortoise, the Thursday night show is probably the best bet. Chicagoist saw Bird open for the Magnetic Fields during their stint at the Old Town School of Folk Music, as he totally blew us away with his stunning violin plucking, Cabaret stylings, and hilarious lyrics ("I bet I think this song's about me"). Even better, Charles Bissell (from the Wrens) is opening. On Saturday at the Gene Siskel Film Center, there will be a screening of the recent documentary The Weather Underground, and co-director Bill Siegel will be in attendance to answer your questions. So now you have no excuse to sit around and be lazy. The election is in 79 days, people. Get it together and hear some great music, too.