The day was nearing its end

To turn things down a notch, my personal favourite female songstress, Chan Marshall (a.k.a. Cat Power) stunned everyone's ears in the vicinity eloquently.

Her sultry blues and jazz band lent themselves perfectly to her dark timbre and mystical vocal chords. She always has an awkward persona on stage but its what makes her so intriguing as she trots from side to side pausing to squint into the audience and pull from deep inside her the smoothest velvet tones and melodies ever imaginable. To my dismay, she steered clear from playing songs off 2006's The Greatest, except for of course the title track, which she closed with. Her set was captivating and emotional, and it seemed that almost maybe for a second the whole city of Chicago, all the people in the office buildings and on the streets, had stopped what they were doing and listened to what she was singing, took a deep breath, smiled and continued on. Maybe. Almost.

The day was nearing its end and my heart started beating rapidly as the two bands coming up I had been waiting very long to see.
The Raconteurs were the first on that list and every song they have written (even before when they were the Saboteurs) is an amazing southern rock anthem with a warm heart the size of North America that I can't help but fall in love with. The opportunity to see them live had passed me by on many occasions, but not this time. Jack White and his main man, Brendan Benson led the band through driving rockers off their newest gorgeous offering, Consolers of the Lonely, and through a few heart searing ballads off their debut. The two of them have voices that meld together like peanut butter and jelly, as they switched up lead vocal roles constantly. I never was a huge van of the White Stripes but always supported this side venture, as Benson's solo work intrigued me. But after seeing them live I can finally understand why there is this cultural obsession with Jack White and how important of a song writer he is of our time. Not to mention, how sexy he is on stage with a guitar in hand. The crowd went bonkers! I wished it would never end.

But I'm glad it did because next up was the main purpose for my whole trip, Radiohead. When I walked over to the other side of the park to where Radiohead would soon be, all I could see was a sea of faces packed shoulder to shoulder and people talking drunkenly. I don't think anyone realized what was about to happen. Radiohead was about to happen and everyone was just acting like them normal selves like it was any other normal day!!! I got up as close as I could to the stage like a four year old standing on my tippy toes to see. Hanging from the ceiling were these long metal cylinders, which I later learned were all part of the lighting effects and made it look like it was raining digital ambiance, which it soon would be. Then there they were! Thom, Colin, Jonny, Ed, and Phil all smashing away on their respective instruments like I had watched them do many times on DVD in my living room. They played soft angelic arrangements to a crowd that was half entranced and half still chattering away to one another. Their set encapsulated most of the great parts of their incendiary career. I can't think of one song I wanted them to play that they didn't. Most of In Rainbows was played as well as classics like "I Might Be Wrong" and "Idioteque" of course of course. There really isn't much to say. They played how I expected them to play (very well). There weren't many surprises. Thom stopped a few times to mention how excited he was to be there and when he looked out into the audience with his eyes wide open you could tell he meant it. He still felt the overwhelming warmth of playing in front of 80 to 100 thousand people and knowing that you have made it, even though he's done it tons of times before. Staring back at him, one of the thousand pairs of eyes on him, you still felt very close to the song writer, just as close as you did when you played The Bends in your room by yourself with your headphones blaring, just now you realize you're not the only one feeling like you're a part of something bigger.

With the sun setting over head in nice shades of purple and pink, we flooded on to the Chicago streets some of us eagerly looking for a place to continue on drinking and partying, and some of us just looking for a bed to get some sleep after such a long fulfilling day. One day down, two more to go.

Photo: Tony Gottlieb

Click here for Part Three!
-

Join us on VERO

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.

Follow Clash: