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07-06-2011, 06:58 AM
When the news of the new album with the "classic" lineup hit the streets, I read a few articles about the album and realized that the Jayhawks would be touring this summer with Mark Olson back in the fold. So I checked the tour schedule and it just so happened that the first date on the latest mini-tour was in Chicago and also a date that worked for a friend who planned to come see me around this time. So we made plans.

The venue: Petrillo Band Shell in Chicago; the event: Taste of Chicago. The Jayhawks gave a free show here, with LA band Everest opening. The show was an afternoon show, starting at 3 p.m.

We arrived around 12:30 p.m. local time to the Taste of Chicago, and quickly realized how hot and crowded the day would be. I heard later that it was the hottest day in Chicago so far this calendar year, and it was pretty humid (at least more humid than I am used to). The Taste of Chicago in itself was a lot of fun, and a good opportunity to sample may different styles and variations of food dishes. During our walking around Taste of Chicago, we scouted out where the band shell was, and decided to come back later, after sampling more food and getting our kids a few souvenirs.

We came back to the band shell around 2:15 and took seats in the front row, just to the right of center stage. As we waited for the show to start, I noticed two drum sets already set up, and mentioned how I was happy that they had both bands basically set up, which would expedite the intermission between the bands.

Everest took the stage promptly at 3:00. Looking at the band, it was hard to tell really what they were all about. The lead singer looked like a hippie jam bander, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, with a beard, sunglasses and a bandana around his head. One of the guitarists looked like he should have been in a stoner rock band, with his long hair and old t-shirt and jeans, and the other guitarist had on a blue button down dress shirt, and looked like he could have been in The Ocean Blue. Not so strangely then, the music seemed to reach into all of these areas, some more than others. Most of their songs I would say was southern-rockish, in the vein of MMJ, but they also got into a bit of alt-country, and some straight ahead rock songs. I did find the use of so many different instruments (maracas, keyboards, etc.) a bit cheesy, and especially when the lead singer donned one of the drum sets, resulting in a dual drummer set up (yes, the second drum set we were looking at was for Everest, not the Jayhawks). They were a pretty good opening act, but they did start to lose me at times when they started to sound more jam-bandish. To be fair though, they never did get into any 15-minute jams or anything like that; I'm only referring to the style.

The breakdown and set-up was pretty quick, as the Jayhawks' drum set was already set up, and the keyboards were on a riser/platform already all set up. The band hit the stage and, although I didn't keep track of the set list, played what I believe to be songs only from Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass, save for three songs from their upcoming album (Mockingbird Time to be released September 20, 2011). There were no songs played from the Jayhawks albums that didn't include Mark Olson, and no songs from Olson's solo records or stuff with the Creekdippers. They played the songs well, with no surprises, and the harmonies were great. Watching them, it is clear that (at least with this lineup) Mark Olson is the centerpiece and lifeblood of this band. He is the most talkative and energetic and had the most stage presence. There were a couple songs where it appeared to me that Olson was going through the motions (which, not so coincidentally, were Louris-led tunes). I'm not sure if this is my imagination or not, but he was much more "into" playing when he had the lead.

The show lasted for about an hour and a half, with no encore. They appeared to be enjoying themselves mostly (although Louris is generally very stoic) and it bled through to the music. It was a good time and a fun time, despite the heat.

One of the highlights for me, though, was the two people that were there to sign every lyric of both acts. They tried very hard, but while one was signing, the other was often laughing, as I suspect it would be extremely difficult to listen to a band play, pick up the lyrics, and sign them on the fly. My favorite part was when there was a whistling part, and the David-Blaine-lookalike-signer mock whisteled. Both bands noticed the signers and made comments.

Why are there signers at a concert/music show? I have no clue, but I suspect that there is some policy for all public department sponsored events (this was a Chicago Parks show) that there must be a signer. It was my first experience with something like this and did strike me as odd.

My friend said she LOVED the show, and I very much enjoyed it and was glad we made the 3 hour drive to Chicago for the day.

07-06-2011, 08:12 AM
Saw them without Olson about 6 or 7 years ago and, while it was a good show, Olson was clearly missed. I couldn't find the setlist on the net (yet), but found this website with some great pictures that you would probably like to see, and here's a video from your show.

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Finch Platte
07-06-2011, 09:17 AM
Lol- I thought you were mis-typing 'singer' instead of 'signer' but I got it. :thumbsup:

Thanks for the review!

Mr MidFi
07-06-2011, 11:48 AM
I didn't know you were coming, Stone! My daughter and I were in about row 12 or 13 in the center section, right on the aisle.

Sorry about the muggy weather. Hope you enjoyed some tasty foods!