September 29, 2008

Random Guy: "Pretty Good guys!"; Sam: "Pretty Good Arch."

It's 7:40 pm, and we're a magnificent mile south of where my favorite musical enclave will be performing in just twenty minutes; we're suddenly winding through a seemingly strategically-placed barricade of street-walkers like ourselves, save for the complete lack of urgency between them and their destinations. I'm twisting and turning through this human labyrinth with a sleeping child in a stroller, hoping desperately that he continues sleeping/I don't nip someone's heels/we get to the concert before the band takes the stage. Finally, at 7:56, we're two blocks from the Chicago Symphony Center, directly across from the Art Institute of Chicago, and it isn't until I find myself inside the lobby glimpsing Sam Prekop's Candy Apple Red Fender Telecaster through the double doors to the concert hall that I realize, this is finally it; we made it.

With only a couple minutes to spare, I sigh a huge, restful sigh of relief as I survey the comfortably-occupied concert hall, thinking to myself, "how perfect is it that this band's turnout is as laid-back as their musical style?" Before my inner-monolgue has a chance to escalate any higher, the band is being introduced and Eric Claridge comes clomping on stage, followed by Ryan Rapsys (sitting in on drums for John McEntire), Archer Prewitt (wearing his black signature Jerry Jones single-cutaway) and Sam Prekop. The guys buzz and click away on stage, getting their instruments plugged in and tuned up. Sam's awkward introversion stains his address to the audience as he mumbles, in a very talent show-esque manner, " are you...all", breaking away from the mic mid-greeting to twiddle the knobs on one of his processor pedals. Watching these guys chitter chat at each other behind two live vocal mics, as Eric Claridge taps his fingers on the body of his honey-blonde bass, would be rather repugnant if they were any act other than The Sea and Cake. Their clumsy nonchalance fits the eccentric, jazz-enfused post-rock they produce, and the blue-collar bohemian-chic they emanate is wholly natural, and settles in over the crowd even before the first note is played.

The first note, however, just happened to be the rocking first note to the rocking first track "Aerial", off the rocking new album Car Alarm, due out in late October. It's a bit of a continuation of 2007's Everybody, which saw a return to the band's simpler rock structures of the pre-Fawn era, with only a tasteful electronic tidbit here and there. Sam announces "Crossing Line" next, the single off of 2007's Everybody, and I'm singing "Do-oo-oo yeah" along with Sam and Arch. The band's off-beat humor adds one more layer of eclecticism to the already-abounding list of slightly-anecdotal descriptors surrounding them, yet not once do I ever get the impression that they're nervous or superficial. We're led through every full-length to date, from The Biz's "The Biz" to Oui's "Midtown", and when the band finally says goodnight, the audience cheers them back on stage for the ultimate encore performance of "Parasol" off 1995's Nassau. The dance-pit reassembles off stage-left in the aisle, and a good night - hell, the best night I can remember in a good long time - comes to a jovial end.

Guys, I'll be there Novemeber 15 at 7 pm. Bring your dancing shoes!
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