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The Grit, the Grime, and the Glory

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 11, 2006 8:06PM

2006_09_didjits.JPGA scene of warehouses and industrial grit served as the stage backdrop during this weekend’s Touch & Go 25th Birthday Party and we can’t think of a better visual fit for the label’s aural aesthetic. Many of the bands performing over the weekend fit perfectly within the visual suggestion set about by the mega-urban “City That Works” setting, thus setting this festival apart from the lush environs experienced during Intonation / Pitchfork / Lollapalooza earlier this summer.

The fest took place in a converted parking lot loaned to The Hideout by the city in what is becoming a more common occurrence of our metropolis’ willingness to indulge the tendencies of rock and/or roll to be celebrated as a genuine cultural event instead of fearing distortion as the approaching disintegration of civility of its citizens.

Amazingly, the whole event ran on time, which was a testament to the hard work and preparation put into planning the party with The Hideout. The food vendors were selling reasonably priced, tasty tidbits and the beer was plentiful and easy to order. Even the lines for the porta-potties were amazingly orderly and well managed through the sheer will of a public bent on enjoying themselves without encroaching upon the rights of fellow concertgoers.

And then there was the music. In our opinion the absolute best, in terms of remaining relevant and weathering the tests of time, reunion was The Didjits frenzied set on Saturday. Rick Simms still carries off his portrayal of the charming asshole with a class and aplomb that only he can manage. The songs were still furiously fun, and the band generally looked as if they hadn’t aged a day.

Other standouts were the song for song recreation by Girls Against Boys of their masterpiece Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby that showed the band could be just as tightly menacing as they ever were. Ted Leo debuted a bunch of new material in a set that made his Pitchfork appearance look like an Ambien fueled midnight snack. His closing cover of "Suspect Device" certainly sent many folks home on an adrenalized high.

Scratch Acid put on a terrific show, though nothing David Yow did on-stage was as visually arresting as his behavior at Liar’s Club the night before. Local stalwarts Pegboy put on a show rife with self-deprecation and brawny riffs undercut by an obvious communal hangover left around from the previous evening as well. Surprisingly enjoyable was Man ... Or Astroman?’s cartoonishly manic set complete with a full deconstruction, and dispersal to the crowd, of the band’s drum kit. We passed the guy who hade of with their bass drum happily banging away on it as he left down Elston Avenue.

As far as the much-vaunted Big Black reunion was concerned, we loved it, but we also know that we loved it because we’re such sentimental saps about three guys churning out metal sheets of noise over a drum machine named Roland. As usual, Steve Albini cut through the bullshit and spoke the truth when he said, "I know what you're thinking...what's the big deal? Believe me, it was a lot cooler in the '80s."

Maybe it was Steve, but that didn’t stop us from loving you – or any of the other bands – any less this weekend.

Didjits picture by Slack-a-gogo