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HoZac Blackout: Part 2

Nones | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/8, f8, ISO 800

Continued from Part 1.

Since dinner the night before consisted of a small bowl of mixed nuts (thanks, Jim!) at 2am, I kicked off Blackout day 2 with a starchy double breakfast at Longman & Eagle and a vegan chocolate cupcake from New Wave Coffee. (This, and all the meals I had over Memorial Day weekend, is the subject of another post.) Amazingly, my usual food coma never set in and I was fully awake for all the festivities. From what I remember:

1. The Nones (pronounced “nuns”) took the stage at around 4pm—saxy, shambolic fun.

2. Outer Minds, who made one of my Top 7 singles of 2010, belted out haunting harmonies reminiscent of the Mamas and the Papas. C and I shot some footage that may or may not appear in their upcoming video.

3. Although they didn’t play right after each other, Radar Eyes, People’s Temple, and Idle Times generated a blur of distortion and head-banging. 

4. Heavy Times were way punker than their HoZac single led me to believe they are. It was not an unpleasant surprise, though I was baffled that they’d play “Ice Age” but not “No Plans,” the A side of the same single.

5. Reading Rainbow, now a three piece, delivered a sweet, engaging set. I had a hard time shooting them so you’ll have to deal with a portrait of them instead of a live shot.

6. Puffy Areolas assembled themselves on the floor and, assisted by Christmas Woods (of ET Habit and Mickey), whipped up a sonic maelstrom that sucked in everyone within earshot. Christmas, in his final performance of the weekend, literally fired up his saxophone at one point, while my friend Alejandro (the one who took the bus to Chicago from San Francisco), Ross of the Brides, and at least a dozen other audience members groped and fondled the singer’s guitar.

7. Back on stage, Timmy’s Organism delivered cosmic convulsions of the highest order yet managed to keep it clean (i.e., no squid parts or neon paint).

8. Close to midnight, hunger finally started worming its way into my every thought. Somehow I made it through a few Tutu & the Pirates‘ songs (these self-proclaimed toilet punkers were so good C had to drag me away) before hightailing it to the Rocking Horse a few doors down for burgers, fries, and a surly waitress. We inhaled our food but missed all but two songs of Nobunny‘s set. Chicago apparently loves Nobunny—so much so that a good portion of the crowd, intoxicated by the warm and fuzzies, left in a daze and forgot to come back for the Nervous Eaters, who hit the stage at around 2am. Partly expecting them to play the ’80s versions of their classics, I was thrilled that they stuck to the no-nonsense punk sound that they launched their career with. Songs like “You Smell Like Fish,” “I’m a Degenerate,” “Loretta,” and “Just Head” incited a near-riot on the floor. I was excited to see “Get Stuffed” on the playlist…and thoroughly disappointed that they skipped it when their set got cut short. Gah!

Here are some photos to remember Blackout 2011 by. For a more expansive look, click here. I also put up separate galleries for Puffy Areolas, Timmy’s Organism, and Tutu & the Pirates because, well, I just couldn’t bear to kill these babies anymore.

Welcome back, Blackout! Hope to see you again next year!

Outer Minds | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/20, f8, ISO 800

Radar Eyes | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/30, f8, ISO 800

Heavy Times | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/25, f8, ISO 800

People's Temple | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/25, f8, ISO 800

Reading Rainbow | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/8, f8, ISO 800

Idle Times | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/5, f8, ISO 800

Puffy Areolas | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/5, f8, ISO 800

Christmas Woods and his flaming sax | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/15, f8, ISO 800

Timmy's Organism | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/8, f8, ISO 800

Tutu & the Pirates | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/10, f8, ISO 800

Nobunny | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/10, f8, ISO 800

Nervous Eaters | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/10, f8, ISO 800

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HoZac Blackout: Part 1

Squish and "Clive Jones" perform "Rabies Is a Killer" | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/6, f7.1, ISO 400

When I first set foot in the crumbling warehouse-like space that the folks from the Empty Bottle would transform into the Velvet Perineum, site of this year’s Blackout, my brain reeled back to all the punk shows in squats I attended in my wide-eyed youth. Back then, I had no fear of scabies, rabies, hepatitis, arthritis, deafness, sciatica; I was resilient and invincible, eager to make up for all the live shows I was deprived of in my teens. But with age comes a craving—nay, need—for creature comforts, and I’ll admit the Velvet Perineum’s indoor portapotties, concrete floors scarred with foot-deep crevices, generators, and lack of seating filled me with some dread.

Yes, I am a wuss. I am not my friend Alejandro, who arrived in Chicago from San Francisco via a harrowing two-day bus ride and walked 3.5 miles each way (he was on a really tight budget) to his room in a hostel by the lake and still managed to spend as much time at the front of the stage as I did.

Luckily, the only real bummer (if it can even be called that) was the four-foot-high stage–great for watching bands but lousy for taking photos. The sound was great, the crowd was friendly, and the space was…well…spacious. I daresay this two-day festival was physically more comfortable than the last two Blackouts at the Empty Bottle, although it was definitely weird leaving the venue without a hairful of beer, the sweat of strangers on my clothes, and a crop of colorful contusions.

As for the music, I appreciated that the line-up was composed mostly of bands on HoZac’s roster. I only wish the Flips and Myelin Sheaths could’ve made it.

Some highlights from Night 1 (in order of appearance):

1. Christmas Woods (of Mickey and ET Habit), dressed as Clive Jones of Agony Bag, performing “Rabies Is a Killer” with Squish

2. Mickey’s trashy, glammy, glittery swagger

3. The Happy Thoughts’ charming lo-fi pop gems, even though they didn’t play “Happy Thoughts” (note that they’re no longer “Eric and”)

4. TV Ghost’s electric mayhem

5. K-Holes skronky sax

6. The Brides’ goofy banter in between blasts of rock’n’roll adrenaline

7. The Spits’ Ronald Reagan masks and trademark flaming drums (but right before they go on, Christmas Woods scuttles like Spiderman on the skylight above the stage)

Here’s a smattering of images from the evening’s offerings. For a more expansive look, click here.

Mickey | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/6, f6.3, ISO 400

The Happy Thoughts | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/5, f6.3, ISO 500

TV Ghost | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/4, f8, ISO 800

K-Holes | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/4, f8, ISO 800

The Brides | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/6, f8, ISO 800

The Spits | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/6, f8, ISO 800

(Despite the drunken frenzy that erupted at the front of the stage during the last two bands, the portapotties were in shockingly good shape at the end of the evening—no vomit, no wayward turds, no upended stalls. I doubt a real bathroom would’ve fared so well.)

Portapotties | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/30, f4, ISO 1250

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