A Carnival Of Sorts

So, I am coming home from picking up some groceries this past Wednesday night, and I get a call on my cellphone from a number I do not recognize. It was a New Jersey number.

My friend Chris from the Galaxie 500 mailing list had recently sent me an email, offering me some comfort regarding my recent crappy life events. He also mentioned that Stanley [Demeski, drummer for the Feelies] was looking forward to seeing me when his band would be in town to play Millennium Park on June 29th.

I gave Chris my cellphone number and told him if Stanley wanted to give me a call, he was welcome to.

So, he gave me a call! We talked briefly on the phone, enough for me to insert my foot gracelessly in my mouth. I was telling him that Millennium Park was a great place to play, and said I had seen a puppet show there. After I hung up the phone, I immediately thought of this.

Anyways, he was going to give me a call when they got into town on Sunday, but the plane arrived later than anticipated.

On Monday, as I was headed downtown (I had taken the day off from work), I hesitatingly rang Stanley up. He was once again very nice, etc. He said they were getting ready to do a soundcheck.

So, once I got into Union Station, I made a beeline for the Pritzker Pavilion. I was able to catch the last couple songs of their soundcheck.

I went up briefly after the soundcheck had finished. I waved at Stanley and he walked over. He was very friendly. I said I was putting in an advanced request for a setlist and he said he would see what he could do.

I met up with my friend Andy, who was just getting off work. We grabbed a bite to eat, then moseyed over to the Pritzker Pavilion via the lovely Lurie Gardens.

We soon arrived at the beautiful lawn in front of the Pavilion.

Yes, they sold beer there!

There was an opening band — Icy Demons, a nice band from Chicago with a strong emphasis on keyboards.

As it started to get dark, the colored lights came on.

More and more people arrived as the Feelies prepared to play.

And play they did!

Here’s the setlist (thanks to Gret Kot)

1. On the Roof
2. High Road
3. Nobody Knows
4. Let’s Go
5. Deep Fascination
6. Higher Ground
7. The Final Word
8. Time Is Right
9. Away
10. Slipping (Into Something)
11. Doin’ It Again
12. Too Far Gone
13. Raised Eyebrows
14. Crazy Rhythms

Encore:
15. Carnival of Sorts (R.E.M. cover)
16. Fa Ce-La
17. What Goes On (Velvet Underground cover)

Second encore:
18. Paint it Black (Rolling Stones cover)

“Nobody Knows” and “Time Is Right” were new songs. I had heard “Time Is Right” at Maxwell’s last year but hadn’t heard “Nobody Knows” before.

They had a wonderful amount of energy. They played one of my favorite songs “Away” particularly freaky fast.

Near the end of their set (before the encores), a gangly kid started dancing up and down the aisles and in front of the stage. When the band kicked into “Crazy Rhythms” a number of people spontaneously joined him. A whole bunch of people stood up. All of the sudden the sedate crowd was in a rock ‘n roll mood. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of, especially since the Feelies are so near and dear to my heart. Thank you, mysterious gangly kid!

The crowd remained standing for the two encores, and would have loved to have more if the city had allowed the band to continue.

I was happily surprised to see them kick into “A Carnival Of Sorts (Boxcars)”, a great song off of R.E.M.’s first record Chronic Town. I imagine this was the song they played for a recent tribute to R.E.M. at Carnegie Hall.

They did a great rocking version of the VU’s “What Goes On”. I would have preferred them to end with the Beatles’ “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except For Me And My Monkey)” instead of “Paint It Black”, but I’LL LET IT SLIDE.

Great, great, great, great, great, great show.

I went afterwards and talked to Stanley again. He gave me his setlist. I involuntarily laughed like Jabba the Hutt as I grasped it. A woman with a professional looking camera asked me if she could take a picture of the setlist. I of course let her, because that’s what I am all about.

Stanley said there was some shindig upstairs inside the Pritzker Pavilion which he needed to attend. I said he could give me call if he wanted to grab a beer, as I’d be downtown for a bit.

Before we left, I took a pic near the stage, looking out.

And, a pic from the lawn, with the Pavilion all lit up like a metal flower.

Andy and I roamed about for a bar and found one at the Hard Rock Hotel. What’s more rock ‘n roll than a $5.25 bottle of Budweiser? *I* sure as hell don’t know.

Stanley didn’t end up calling me, but I was perfectly fine with that. It was a beautiful evening — beautiful weather, beautiful music, beautiful everything.

Thanks to the Feelies, thanks to Millennium Park, thanks to the city of Chicago, thanks to summer, thank you, thank you, thank you.

UPDATE:

My mate Andy found the picture of me holding the setlist on Flickr! Thanks, Andy!!

The rest of the Flickr set