It was a special night, one of celebrating legacies renewed and prolonged.
The Hideout Inn, Chicago, IL
Saturday was a dream-themed evening at Chicago’s Hideout, and an especially dreamy one for fans of loud guitars, wailing solos, agile bass playing and galloping drums. The crowd was treated to two of the best and most poetic guitar bands around, ones that can jam with a righteousness and sense of direction that bring depth to match their technical prowess.
Eleventh Dream Day (for decades one of Chicago’s best bands) opened the show for the second straight night for The Dream Syndicate, touring on the heels of their second release after their 2012 reunion. Anchored by longtime members Janet Beveridge Bean (drums and vocals) and Rick Rizzo (lead guitar and vocals) and complemented by Mark Greenberg on keyboards, the versatile Doug McCombs on bass and fabulously talented Jim Elkington on guitar, the band charged through about an hour’s worth of their songs. Rizzo’s spoken-sung delivery still has a haunting, arresting quality, and his guitar playing, weaving alongside Elkington and McCombs, has lost none of its bite. Though one wishes they were better known outside of Chicago – and they are still putting out terrific new music – seeing them live also makes one selfishly proud to have them more or less all to one’s own, at least for that particular evening.
As for The Dream Syndicate, they remain consummate pros. Looking like the dapper gentleman he is, Steve Wynn led the group through 14 songs, including a surprise jam with Eleventh Dream Day on Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” (the night before, rumor had it that they played a tribute to the recently departed Roky Erickson by performing the 13th Floor Elevators’ classic “You’re Gonna Miss Me”). Dennis Duck pounding the skins and Mark Walton playing thick, syncopated bass, Wynn’s steady rhythm playing (with occasional forays into leads) kept the group locked in to allow for guitarist Jason Victor’s distortion-drenched freak-outs, which had the crowd grinning throughout the show.
The set focused on their two “comeback” albums, 2017’s How Did I Find Myself Here? (whose funky instrumental title track opened the show) and this year’s These Times. Highlights from these albums included the anthemic “Glide” from the former, led by an infectious guitar hook, and the stormy, moody “Black Light” from the latter. As for “oldies,” there was a blistering performance of “Until Lately” from their enduring album The Days of Wine and Roses, from which they also played Syndicate favorites “That’s What You Always Say,” “Halloween” and the title track, which Wynn introduced as their attempt to combine Bob Dylan, Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Greg Ginn – not a bad description, actually. Indeed, it has always been a special characteristic of The Dream Syndicate that, thanks to both their musicianship and Wynn’s lyrics, their songs feel like travelogues of one sort or another, ones that track journeys literal and metaphorical – the rock equivalent of something Sam Shepard might write.
In short, it was a special night, one of celebrating legacies renewed and prolonged. And it should be said that the Hideout is the kind of venue that routinely makes for special nights, whether you’re seeing a hometown favorite or veterans still making some of the strongest music of their careers. Or, as was the case on this night, both.