Saturday, October 01, 2011

The Cultivate Festival; October 1, 2011; Lincoln Park

Two things impressed me about the Cultivate Fest held in Lincoln Park, the actual park, on a perfect fall day. One was what good taste Chipotle has; the other was how much money they spent. From the music line-up to the beer tent, the burrito chain offered a stellar selection of treats for the ear and the stomach. Best of all, it was very affordable thanks to their generosity. The beer tent for example offered a wide selection of regional beers, not all of whom were created equal, for five bucks a pint. The high octane Dragonsmilk Ale that we started with was a steal for that price, and a beer that strong that early may have set the tone for the day. The fest itself was free, with a chance to earn a free burrito just by checking out the informational booths to learn about sustainable farming and ethical treatment of animals. Thank you Chipotle, you may have succeeded in luring me away from Qdoba.

I only knew two of the bands in the five band line-up, but they were enough to get me on a Megabus at 7 am. I hadn’t seen headliner Calexico in years. One of the top ten live bands on the planet, they never disappoint with their Mexicali flavored rock. They seem to have heeded even further south since I saw them last, incorporating even more lyrics in Spanish and flamenco flavored guitars to the mix. No matter how many people are on stage with them, the stars of the show are always the group’s core members, Joey Burns on guitar and John Convertino on drums, and they did not disappoint. Admittedly, by this point I had taken complete advantage of being there with a friend who works for a booking agency whose laminate had opened the door to all the Goose Island Green Line I could drink. His job couldn’t get any cooler. Nothing could have disappointed me.

The Cave Singers was one of the bands he was responsible for, and first up on stage for the day. I’d heard the name but hadn’t heard them before. I was immediately charmed by their earnestness and their spare line-up. The three piece relied on drums and guitar while the lead singer added percussion. The overall sound reminded me of one man band Scott H Biram if everything didn’t sound so much the same (not that there is anything wrong with that in his case). The guitarist was definitely the focal point of the band, hunched over, hair covering his face, as he pulled notes out of his instrument. They should definitely play the basement.

They were followed by tongue twister band Rural Albert Advantage (even lead singer Nils Edenloff refers to them as the RAA) who wouldn’t exist without Neutral Milk Hotel. I missed their first two songs finishing a burrito in the green room, but at least I could still hear them. There were just as entertaining as they had been earlier this year at the High Noon, their charm came through even in their too short set. All the sets that day were short; we figured it was because they didn’t want the music bleeding over into the multiple chef demonstrations that were also going on. They were followed by White Rabbits, a rather generic but thoroughly engaging and photogenic band. I was surprised when they introduced their friend Britt on bass… as in Britt Daniel from Spoon. Not sure how I missed him, there’s no mistaking that profile. The only obvious flaw in Chipotle’s diverse line-up of bands appeared to be Mayer Hawthorne and the County. An up and coming neo-soul band that half our group fled from after a few notes. I stuck it out and found it enjoyable and danceable, if not exactly original.

Thanks Chipotle for a really great day. I hope to see you again next year.

The Cave Singers

Rural Alberta Advantage

White Rabbits

Mayer Hawthorne & the County


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