The Hold Steady performs at the Shindig Festival. (Staff photo by Kaitlin Newman )
Ahh, a festival. Just the name inspires a sense of adventure and light-heartedness.
The Shindig — held Sept. 14 at Carroll Park and produced by 24-7 Entertainment — delivered on all fronts.
Featuring heavy-hitters like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Clutch, Gaslight Anthem, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and the Dropkick Murphys, the Shindig came through with an eclectic mix of acts for all tastes.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I missed the first four acts: Victims of Experience, Bad Seed Rising, The Glenmont Popes and Larry and His Flask.
I regret missing those performances.
One of the first things I noticed upon entering the festival grounds was the man in a pig suit, spreading the good word about the surrounding Pigtown neighborhood. His get-up included a tee shirt, but it didn't have pants. Well, it had the pink-felt pig-leg pants, but no trousers to speak of. And the arms and legs were really soiled. Not like comically soiled, but actually stained. Had he literally been wallowing in the mud?
Welcome to the Shindig.
(Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for setlists of every band from Jimmie's Chicken Shack on, according to setlist.fm)
Beer. Fair prices ($5 for 20 oz.) and plenty of stands (no long lines, even at peak hours) made getting refreshed a breeze.
The weather. Sunny during the afternoon and cool in the evening. All music festivals should be held in mid-September. As Clutch frontman Neil Fallon put it: "How about a big round of applause for Mother Nature? What a beautiful day!" See, rock and rollers can appreciate a nice day. It's not always about boozing and brawling.
The people watching. Half the fun of any outdoor event is, of course, observing our fellow man in all of his drunken glory. It's always fun to watch an inebriated dude walking upright but impossibly leaning at a 45-degree angle, like in those old V8 commercials. That takes skill. Not to mention the amazing outfits and tee shirts on display (scroll to the bottom for a list of the highlights).
The production. The bands were great, the schedule was tight and there were a lot of good vibes.
Honestly, there was a lot to like about the Shindig.
Lines. From the hour-plus wait to get frisked to the often unbearably long wait for the Porta Potties, not everything at the Shindig ran as smoothly as the beer service. My guest and I were luckily able to bypass said line though, and head straight for the Press entrance. Nice.
Those PBR hats. Everyone was walking around in these cheapo red, white and blue PBR mesh snapback hats. Not that the hats were bad, I thought they were cool. I wanted one and didn't get one. I did get my hands on some free Cover Girl mascara though.
Suns out guns out. Shirtless folks who should have been shirted.
Spills. Brimming cups of beer were oh-so delicately balanced during nerve-wracking traverses, often unsuccesfully. I witnessed one woman attempt the ill-advised "pincher" technique on two full cups of ale. It didn't go well. There were also people taking spills. At first it was kind of funny, but after awhile seeing someone struggling to stay on their feet in public is just kind of sad. Luckily I didn't see any fights, but I did see someone carted off in an ambulance. Party safe, kids.
Onto the music!
Jimmie's Chicken Shack
"Who do we think we are?"
The local favorites wowed the crowd. I swore I would say that, so I did.
Frontman Jimi Haha engaged in some pretty good banter with the audience when he teased all the married men about disappointing their wives.
Jimmie's Chicken Shack threw in a nice mix of covers, taking on Smoke Two Joints by The Toyes/Sublime and Waiting Room by Fugazi. Jimmie's Chicken Shack was the best at covers. Sorry Joan Jett. (Oops! Spolier alert!)
Jimi Haha also made a randy joke about their name being Jimmie's Lickin Sack. Bravo, sir.
Highlights: High, Do Right, Milk
The Hold Steady
"Southtown girls won't blow you away, but you know that they'll stay..."
I'm sorry, I didn't know what their hit was. The Hold Steady isn't really my band, but several people walked by in steampunk outfits while I was spectating them, so there was that.
Highlights: Rock Problems, Southtown Girls, Your Little Hoodrat Friend
Reverend Horton Heat
"Thanks a lot, that makes me feel real good."
Even after more than 25 years, the good Rev is definitely still a draw, and he was very appreciative of his fans. I've never been one for the "big band" scene, but I enjoyed the set. They did a fun cover of Johnny B Good.
Highlights: Jimbo, Spend A Night in the Box, Psychobilly Freakout
Mighty Mighty Bosstones
"This stuff tastes great."
Bucket list! Or just band that I never thought I'd see live, and then I did at the Shindig. Of course we all remember where we were the first time we heard that "knock on wood" song during the ska explosion of the late 1990s.