[27 August 2012]
Post sponsored by Indio Beer.
I apparently showed up a little early to the Double Door last night. The event was supposedly set to kick off at 9:00pm but when I showed up at 9:10 I was met by a door man standing in front of an empty club who told me “hey bro, we’re not quite open yet, give us a few minutes.”
Figuring this mean that I had another late-starting indie rock show with a late-arriving crowd on my hands, I met up with a friend in Wicker Park and killing time and keeping up with the Bears game through the bar windows up and down Milwaukee Avenue. However, when I returned twenty minutes later I was proven emphatically wrong, being greeted with a rapidly-filling venue which seemed ready to erupt into a dance party whether a band started playing or not.
The reason the place was so packed was that Indio Beer had decided to throw a party for us featuring Chicago electro-dance masters Gemini Club and Francisco Y Madero, a psychedelic recording project that reminds you of what Animal Collective might sound like if they’d spent the afternoon throwing back cervezas south of the border instead of holed up in Williamsburg. Seeking some similar inspiration, I grabbed a couple of Indios for myself and a friend, who noted smiled and said “nice, it’s like the beer just slides down your throat!” Seeing as was in the midst of finishing my first one as she talked, I was inclined to agree.
Gemini Club wasted no time taking the stage and kicking out some appropriately booty-shakin’ jams that were well-received by the Friday night crowd. Sandwiched between two keyboard rigs festooned with bright keypads that looked like props from 2001: A Space Odyssey, lead singer Tom Gavin looked like a first generation new wave front man sent into the future, right down to the haircut. Joined by Gordon Barmli and Dan Brunelle, Gemini Club put the audience through its paces. Veterans of North Coast and opening slots at the Congress Theater, they clearly knew how to project their songs out, which made the (relatively) intimate environs of the Double Door an interesting challenge. “Come closer” said Gavin after the first song, “you’re all my friends”. He did not have to ask twice.
After a sweaty, energetic set (which even featured a pretty gnarly iPad solo from Bramli), Gemini Club finally left the stage after about an hour, giving the crowd a well-needed respite. I’d noted earlier that this wasn’t just an early-arriving crowd but it was one that clearly came ready to have fun. There was none of your standard rock-show shoegazing between sets here. Indio was flowing freely and people quickly spread out throughout both floors and bars, some people crowding the stage, awaiting the openers while others did their thing in the downstairs bar (I can personally attest to seeing some pretty raucous ping pong matches unfolding in the cellar).
Francisco Y Madero was named with a clever wink at the famous Francisco I. Madero, hero of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, whose followers described themselves as Maderistas. Although they’re not political revolutionaries, the sonic experimentation and southwestern psychedelia certainly seems poised to attract a similar band of followers. Their show was a more intimate affair than Gemini Club’s with a more chilled out vibe, befitting songs that speak as strongly to the brains as the hips. With a trippy geometric patterns projected behind them, band members Jess Sylvester and Carlos Pesin stood in front of a pancho-covered table with a couple of laptops and an electric guitar which they lazily switched between while churning out intense melodic soundscapes. The whole thing had the air of a couple of guys who just happened to show up on stage and decided to blow some minds while they were there.
Needless to say, by the end of the evening, all the Indio was long gone and as people stumbled back into the late-August heat, I doubt many left unsatisfied. They’d been treated to two up and coming bands in a classic Chicago music venue and discovered a new beer seemingly designed for washing down plates of meat, beans and tortillas (many in the crowd were doubtless headed to Flash Taco just down the street to sate that very urge), all for nary a thin dime. On this night, people looking to their thing certainly seemed to have found the thing to do.