LIVE: Hideout Block Party

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It’s been a nice, long summer in Chicago. There are street fairs and music festivals nearly every weekend from May through September. But the unofficial end of summer music in the Windy City is typically the Hideout Block Party.

(left: Monotonix engages the crowd by playing drums right on top of them.)

In a dead end alley leading to the Department of Fleet Management, the Hideout takes the show outside for its block party that’s moved from the street into a nearby parking lot for big events in recent years, such as 2006’s Touch & Go 25th Anniversary. This year they were part of the World Music Festival with musicians from Canada, Czech Republic, England, Hungary, Israel and Mali.

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(right: Neko Case, twice in one weekend? Indeed.)

The past weekend’s big draw was Neko Case and the New Pornographers headlining back-to-back nights. Saturday evening Neko and her band performed an array of songs from her history, including numerous cuts from Blacklisted, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood and an upcoming album that’ll include her take on “Don’t Forget Me” by Harry Nilsson. (Isn’t it odd that everyone from Astrud Gilberto to LCD Soundsystem has covered Nilsson, yet two of his most recognizable songs are actually covers?) Her voice was incredible as she ranged from the sweet and sincere to the mighty and powerful. Of course, she delved into the latter much more on Sunday with the New Pornographers. Even though it’s Carl Newman’s band, it wouldn’t be the same without Neko and Dan Bejar’s input. They rolled through chunks of Twin Cinema (Who knew “Sing Me Spanish Techno” was so popular?!) and Challengers, but old songs from Mass Romantic and Electric Version still excited the crowd. Though, it was the surprise closer “Don’t Bring Me Down” (Yes, that one) that caused arguably the most hysterics. In hindsight, it was a no-brainer that the power-pop band would nail an ELO cover, but the proof was all there on Sunday evening.

The weekend also featured a lot of Michael Jackson love, such as alt-country singer Robbie Fulks covering an arsenal of tunes from “Ben” to “Billie Jean” to “Black and White”, Hideout staff and regulars performing the “Thriller” dance, and Rhymefest dropping “Man in the Mirror” into his short set.

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(left: I’ll take some Dark Meat and a pair of pom-poms please.)

Other highlights included Czech psychedelic rock band Plastic People of the Universe and Vancouver stoner rockers Black Mountain, Brooklyn’s eclectic Tim Fite singing children’s songs and giving away watermelons, Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip‘s abrasive hip hop, Vieux Farka Toure‘s hodgepodge of north African R&B, reggae and pop, Ratatat‘s eardrum-bruising instrumental electronic post-rock, and Chicago’s Mucca Pazza indie-rock marching band being crazy but Athens’ southern rock ensemble Dark Meat having a bit more substance with just as much gimmickry.

However, it was Monotonix (top of page) who impressed me most. The Israeli rock band who’ve apparently been banned from venues all over Tel Aviv (and probably a few elsewhere) entertained the audience like no one else. Their set began with the drums and cymbals in flames. A few songs in, they moved the drums 30 feet out into the audience. A few songs later, they moved the gear back near the stage. All the while, the three members forced the audience to be part of the show. Whether it was singer Ami Shalev disrobing and crowd-surfing in a trashcan (reminiscent of Tim Harrington all the time, but especially at this year’s Pitchfork Festival), Ran Shimoni drumming from his elevated bass drum while other kit pieces were held up by the crowd or Yonatan Gat riffing like gangbusters, the trio didn’t leave a second for anyone to be distracted.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.