After driving through the suburbs for awhile, I saw a sign for what looked like a small diner and we went there. It was a homey little place and we had a pretty decent breakfast (I had pancakes and even more coffee) and a semi-hyperactive waitress. From there, we took off for downtown again after getting some gas.
On the way there, we stopped at a music store (the other Reckless) and both Roger and I picked up some things. As we were walking back to the car, we both saw some funny things that caught our eye and had to take some pictures. Roger laid down on the pavement by some graffiti and I stood by a wall of posters.
We hopped back in the car and headed back towards the Northern part of downtown. After managing to find a parking spot (quite a chore in Chicago), we walked around for a couple hours and went to literally 6 more music stores for a grand total of 12 over the course of 2 days. We each bought a couple more items and walked until we found another place to eat. On our way back to the car, we saw a tile mural and I had to pose by it.
One of the most surreal parts of the trips happened next as we found a bar in the area that was showing the Nebraska football game on approximately 10 different televisions with close to 250 people watching and cheering. Although they were playing horribly when we arrived, they turned the game around and romped up as we watched (our theory was that they won because we showed up). Truly, I'm not sure there's anywhere one can go to escape Nebraska football.
At this point, it was closing in on the evening, so we got back in the car and drove down to the general vicinity in which the concert was being held (at the Metro). After finding out that we couldn't park on the side streets without being towed, we parked in a pay spot by Wrigley Field and went to a fast food joint to get something to drink and wait for awhile.
Finally, we went down to the venue at about 7:15 and started standing by the door even though the doors didn't open until 8pm and it was quite cold out. By the time the doors did open, about 50 people were waiting and I ended up standing in line right next to a fellow I'd met last year at a show in Chicago (Hey Steven!). We talked for awhile both in line and once we got in and sat down (in the balcony area) and it was good to see him again. Also, I met another fellow who I'd never met before, but had e-mailed through my site (Hello Robert!). That had never happened to me before and it was quite neat as well. Putting a face to a name and more good conversation. Coolness!
The first 'band' to play was Pan American (aka Mark Nelson of Labradford) and the visual sight was pretty unstimulating since it was just a guy sitting at a table twidling knobs on a keyboard and a sampler. It was a nice warmup, though, and he worked some serious low-end grooves that got me swaying in my chair a bit as I watched him balance on the edge of his chair for nearly the entire performance.
Coming up next on the bill was the band Bardo Pond, whom I'd never heard anything by. They were a slowcore/shoegazer type of band with layers of guitars and female vocals that were pretty decent, but didn't win me over enough to purchase their CD. They had a bit more of a stage presence with 5 people, but my anticipation to see Godspeed You Black Emperor was too great and I left my cozy balcony seat to head down to the floor and see if I could get close to the stage.
When Bardo Pond ended their set, there was much changing of places in the crowd and I managed to get within one person of the barrier in front of the stage. After getting all their equipment hooked up (quite a batch of stuff for 9 different people), Godspeed You Black Emperor took the stage and led off their set with the song "Moya" from the Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP. They stretched out different parts even more than on the album and I think I had goosebumps on my body for the entire song as they reached a peak of energy near the end. All the while, there were 3 different film loops behind them on the stage curtain and the sound was nice and clear without being too loud. The lights were kept low, so it was hard to get pictures, but I like the blurry effect of the ones I got.
As the show progressed, they played some new material (including one track that isn't on any releases, not even their new album) and I was amazed by how in sync the different band members were with one another and how well the group improvised and tied all the different instruments together. They harnessed all the energy of their releases and upped it even more with visceral energy and it was probably the best show that I've ever seen. There were 9 people on stage (3 guitarists, 2 bassists, 1 violinist, 1 cellist, and two percussionists that sometimes engaged in furious dual drumming) and they created some of the most epic sounds I've heard short of a symphony orchestra.
When it was over, I met up with Roger again and we went outside to find snow coming out of the sky in huge clumps. It was like the perfect ending after seeing such a dramatic performance and even though it was cold and wet, I was giddy as I ran through the puddles to the car.
At this point, the day should have probably ended with us sleeping somewhere, but it didn't.