By Vern Hester
On September 10, The Hideout threw itself a twentieth birthday bash and many of Chicago’s alternative music luminaries showed up to help blow out the candles. With Tim and Katie Tuten and co-owers Mike and Jim Hinchsliff very much in attendance the ten hour extravaganza was almost too much of a good thing.
First there was the weather which on this day could only be described as perfect. With the temperature in the mid-80s, a cool breeze wafting over the crowd, and a clear blue sky this summer day could hardly be called “muggy” or “beastly.” On top of this was the music itself, a neighborly, relaxed flow that was so action packed and well executed that it put larger corporate festivals to shame.
First up were siblings Francis and Alex White of White Mystery who powered through a furious set which included “Bad Girl,” “Double Dragon,” and, appropriately “Happy Birthday.” Next up was The Hideout’s house magician The Amazing Mr. Ash who did tricks with money and disappearing bunnies. While his set was aimed at the children in attendance, his corn ball jokes (“I once knew a German photographer…his name was Otto Focus.”) and magic tricks went over well with everyone in attendance.
Next was clearly a highlight of the day with Nora O’Connor, Robbie Fulks, and Kelly Hogan singing in various combinations, a set of alternative country and bluegrass songs which could be called nothing short of spellbinding. O’Connor and Fulks partnered on a tart “Parallel Bars” and then Hogan joined Fulks for “Open Door” and “Watermelon Time.” Hogan, who has just moved back to Chicago was joined by O’Connor and Andy Hopkins for “Golden,” a snappy “No Bobby Don’t,” and a sublime “Sugar Bowl.”
Next up was the long awaited reunion of rock trio Mr. Rudy Day featuring Hopkins, Geoff Greenberg, and Mike Bulington and they thundered through a well received set. For something completely off kilter there was a dramatic reading of Carl Sandburg’s poem “The City,” performed by Gregorio Gomez as members of the audience shouted out the poem with him.
Jon Langford and his band Skull Orchard hit the stage for and ripped through “1234 Ever,” “Pill Sailor,” “Drone Operator,” a rare take on “I Am the Law,” and an earth shaking “Deep Sea Diver” at the finish. Next up was Tim Samuelson, the Official Historian for the City of Chicago, who charted the history of The Hideout from its humble beginnings as a rooming house, to a blue collar bar for local steel workers, to Chicago’s ground zero for alternative music.
After the sun went down the stage was set for J C Brooks and the Uptown Sound who tore through a set of hard core rhythm and blues featuring “Edge of Night,” “Heartbeat,” “Don’t be Afraid of Love,” “Rouse Yourself” and “You’re the Fool.” At the finish old school punkers Eleventh Dream Day slammed through a set with vocalist/drummer Janet Beveridge Bean dancing so kinetically that she almost hurled herself into the audience.
Typical of The Hideout and its owners the vibe of the celebration was one of friendship and shared history. When the Tutens and the Hinchsliff twins bought the bar, no one (except Tim) could visualize it becoming anything else besides a funky, little hole in the wall. Ironically the bar, through that vibe of friendship has become the place of legend with Billy Corgan, Rick Nielsen (of Cheap Trick), Mavis Staples, and Andrew Bird hitting the tiny stage on occasion and a history of hosting its own version of a rock event with the semi-regular Hideout Block Party (headliners have included Wilco, Young the Giant, The Frames featuring Glen Hansard, Neko Case, and Andrew Bird). What became achingly clear at this celebration was how much The Hideout and the spirit of the Tutens and the Hinchsliffs have meant to this city.
For more on The Hideout, click here
For photos from the event, click here