Eleventh Dream Day/The 1900’s; April 22, 2011; Lincoln Hall
Chicago band the 1900’s gets compared to Fleetwood Mac or the New Pornographers, not unfairly based on the male/female vocals, but usually they remind me more of Belle & Sebastian than of either of those super groups. Granted female lead singer Jeanine O’Toole is way more aggressive than B&S’s Isobel Campbell ever was, but her male counterpart Edward Anderson couldn’t be more twee without being British. It’s been several years since I have seen them, and in that time O'Toole seems to have taken over leadership of the band. It used to be that she and keyboard player Caroline Donovan shared vocals more equally, now Donovan plays more keyboards and sings less. Even though I prefer Anderson’s singing, the band does seem to have flourished under O’Toole’s direction, and her percussion playing is pretty inspired, though the tambourine glove does seem a little excessive. And that’s coming from someone who once ended up with an impressive bruise after playing tambourine.
I’d thought we were going to Schubas tonight instead of its much larger sister venue Lincoln Hall and that made sense to me. Eleventh Dream Day has only been sporadically active over the last ten years, releasing only three records since 2000 (including the new Riot Now!), and it was hard to believe that enough people were going to show up to warrant the larger venue. During the 1900’s set it looked like that would be true, and the crowd was a bit embarrassing, but by the time 11th DD started their set it had filled in nicely. When you’ve been a band for twenty four years I guess that happens, and there were certainly some super fans there. My favorite moment of the night was when lead singer/guitarist Rick Rizzo jumped off stage to pogo with the most enthusiastic of them, a nerdy looking sort who early in the set I had dubbed “number one fan” from my observation point in the balcony.
I’d only seen them once before, at a street fest in Chicago years ago, but liked them enough to seek out a CD. I’d listened to it a few times, but it sounded nothing like the band I remembered seeing and honestly I haven’t gotten it out in years. The same thing happened tonight, but this time I know better. The charm of the band is the interaction of Rizzo and drummer Janet Bean. Their scream-singing duets power the group; it’s what I imagine Madison band the Hussy sounding like twenty years from now. Given Bean’s much mellower project Freakwater, it’s satisfying to see her rock this hard. They may not play very often, but they haven’t lost anything in the time they’ve been apart. I know I don’t need their CDs and I probably don’t need to see them again for another handful of years, but I enjoyed tonight’s show.
Eleventh Dream Day