Since the war officially began, 1586 Americans and up to 24000 civilians (according to some estimates) have lost their lives in Iraq. Though the press does their best to cover the important stories like the Michael Jackson trial, Brad and Jen's split and Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie's tiff, the fact remains that men and women, boys and girls, just like you and me, are putting their lives on the line right at this very minute for the cause of "freedom". Well, now it's for the cause of freedom. At first it was to retaliate for the 9/11 attacks, then it was to find the missing weapons of mass destruction, then it was to remove a dangerous man from power... but uh, since all of those didn't exactly pan out, I think now we're sticking with the whole freedom thing, right?
Now it seems like things are going slightly better in Iraq and the USA is moving on to bigger and better things to concern themselves with. The house and senate are playing the partisan game and Bush thinks that winning the election has given him carte blanche to move forward with his conservative agenda. What happened to the mass mobilization of America's youth? What happened to our voice? Did we forget? Are we giving up?
Ask those questions to Chicago's Life During Wartime DJ collective, and they'd say, "we're right here stupid. And we have been the whole time." Life During Wartime co-founders Chess Hubbard (aka Mother Hubbard) and Chris Baronner (CB) came together for two causes - first, to heighten political awareness throughout Chicago's music loving community and second, to put an end to the growing group of "fickle music scenesters who wouldn't dance at shows and who refused to like a band after they got popular." Over the past two years, they have taken up two residencies, held a number of special events, opened for the likes of Bloc Party and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and created a website for those looking for a sense of community and a place to get informed about the current political climate.
Last Friday and Saturday, Life During Wartime celebrated its second anniversary with a two-night dance party at one of the city's last true "secret" venues. Tucked away amid industrial warehouses and municipal storage facilities stands a small house-turned bar on Chicago's West side called The Hideout. It's here that the L.D.W. crew landed their first residency and they have been holding monthly events which blend ass shaking and political activism ever since.
Each night, the L.D.W. crew presented a "secret special guest". The guest performances were bookended by DJ sets from CB and Mother Hubbard, who excel at spinning dance music for people who don't like dance music - i.e. new wave, disco, indie rock, electro, IDM, etc. Friday night's special guest was none other than local stand outs The Changes. The band has been slowly building their following over the course of the last few years, steadily building up a solid fan base and a substantial "buzz" among the city's music community. This month will be a big one for The Changes, as they are gearing up for their first tour... ever. Culminating with two shows in NYC (May 17 @ Rothko, May 18 Mercury Lounge), The Changes will tackle the East Coast, bringing their smooth indie dance music to the awaiting masses. The Changes have all the tools needed to make the step to the next level. They have the songs, the energy, the confidence and an artistic vision of where they want their band to go.
The hometown crowd packed the house on Friday and greeted the band with a friendly welcome as they took the stage. Already with their dancing shoes on, the crowd was ready to shake it from song one. And The Changes weren't about to let anyone down. They ran through a quick set that made it clear why they have drawn so many comparisons to The Police in the local press. Danceable rhythms and boyish good looks notwithstanding, the band's irresistible pop melodies and charming on stage persona are the highlights of their live performance and it's great to see another Chicago band poised for greatness.
My initial plan for Friday night was to catch The Changes play at 11 and then head over to the Empty Bottle to see NYC/DC quartet Supersystem at the Empty Bottle, but when 11 came and went without a Changes performance, I was getting a bit antsy. However, after remembering that Supersystem was the "extra special super secret guest" the following night, I could chill out and settle in for the night.
Saturday's L.D.W. party and performance by Supersystem picked up right where Friday's left off. Mother Hubbard threw down a sick DJ set as I got my drink on to help loosen up the old joints for yet another evening of ass shaking fun with Chicago's friendliest hipsters.
Supersystem's Always Never Again is one of my favorite new records of the year (read my review here). So as you might imagine, I went into the gig slightly nervous that they wouldn't be as good as I wanted them to be, which would, of course, turn me off to them and send me spiraling down into a deep depression (there's nothing worse than being let down by one of your favorite new bands). However, as it turns out, all of my worries were almost immediately put to rest. Even amongst a series of power outages, Supersystem were undaunted. So was the crowd. Amazingly, they waited patiently each time the power kicked off and just chatted until the fuse box was located.
"Born Into The World", "Everybody Sings" "Defcon" and all of the other hits-in-the-making from Supersystem's debut album were played for a packed room of dancing fans. Like a mix between LCD Soundsystem, Junior Senior and the Rapture, Supersystem is taking the indie dance/punk funk thing to new heights and the L.D.W. party was THE place to see them. A small room full of dancing fans (and not just head nodding, real dancing) will beat a larger venue full of people standing around any day.
Thanks to L.D.W. for turning two. This party is exactly what this city (and others) need. Those who attend can take out of it what they wish. If they're looking to get informed, a booth is set up for partygoers to take some literature and/or have a discussion (or get a "Fuck Bush, Let's Dance" sticker). If they're just looking to have a good time, no one is there punching people in the face for their political views. The L.D.W. gang is a great group of people doing what they can to make a difference in their community and that's to be admired. For more on Life During Wartime, check out their website.