Music is a big indicator that the seasons have changed in Chicago. Once the weather gets warm, a genre of music I like to call "summer music" hits the airways. You know what I'm talking about. It's mid-April and it hits 64 degrees. We put our pale legs in shorts, run to an outdoor patio spot and put Sublime's "Santaria" or Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved" on the jukebox. It doesn't matter that it might snow one more time before July, its summertime, the minute "I don't practice Santaria..." blares from the speakers.
For others like Local H's main man, Scott Lucas, "summer music" consist of tunes from Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Kim Deal and even a shout out to Radio Raheem (full list below).
This weekend, homegrown Chicago rock band Local H will be putting on two Chicago shows, embedding their own musical memories into our consciousness . The first will be for a Deep Cuts show from their Coachouse Sound recordings project on Friday night at the Empty Bottle. This set will feature their lesser known gems (this means no hits - just Deep Cuts). They will also play a set on Saturday at 8:30pm on the Main Stage at West Fest, a two day summertime tradition filled with food, vendors and hours and hours of summer music.
In preparation for his shows this weekend, I asked Scott Lucas if he could contribute a list of music that he calls his top "summer songs". Here are his Top 5 picks:
1. Sweet Emotion - Aerosmith
"From Cheap Trick to Van Halen, it just seems like the best summer songs are from American rock bands of the Seventies. Maybe it has something to do with the nation getting caught up in the excitement of the bicentennial celebration in '76. Or maybe I've just seen "Dazed And Confused" too many times. Speaking of which, that opening shot of Pickford's slow moving GTO set to the roiling bass intro of this stone cold classic encapsulates everything that's cool about summer. At least it does for me, but I was raised on The Loop. It's easy to forget how totally awesome Aerosmith was back then. Before "Diane Warren ballads and "American Idol", they seemed to effortlessly own the American summer."
2. Hey Nineteen - Steely Dan
"Aerosmith's polar opposite, Steely Dan helped shape the smoother, A.M. gold side, of seventies radio. What set them apart from their Yacht Rock counterparts were those nasty, acid lyrics of theirs - as smart and subversive as anything you'd find on or off the radio. So while this SOUNDS like the ultimate "smoove" summer jam - it's actually a pretty gross song about some creepy old dude plying some young chick with tequila and pot. And the housewives never seemed to mind."
3. Saints - The Breeders
"Looking back, the music of the Nineties doesn't seem to provoke much in the way of carefree summer nostalgia. There aren't many Alice In Chains jams that make me think of sun and fun. But one glaring exception would be "Last Splash", the excellent second album by The Breeders. This song explicitly addresses the crowds and "crank air" of the smelly summer street fair (Chicago, I'll bet you think this song is about you) - but don't expect Kim Deal to have a problem with any of this. She says she loves it and I absolutely believe her.
4. The Darling Buds of May - Viva Brother aka Brother UK
"I know "Pumped Up Kicks" may be the popular choice for current jam of the summer - but this tune by UK band Brother (or whatever their calling themselves this week) will not get out of my head, please. It's like Blur and Oasis decided to kiss, make up, and start a band together. I may not know how I'll feel about this songs in three months, but that hardly feels important right now. Disposable summer jams are like summer flings - perfectly acceptable. (and to be perfectly honest, if you asked me to pick my current fave next week - it would probably turn out to be "Post Break Up Sex" by The Vaccines. Oh, my fickle summer ears.)
5. Fight The Power - Public Enemy
"Summer isn't ALL about good vibes and dancing in the street. Sometimes it's about railing against the man and burning down neighborhood pizza joints. At least that's what it felt like back in 1989 (the number! another summer!) - when Rosie Perez danced her ass off to this song in the opening credits of "Do The Right Thing". The potent combination of Chuck D and Spike Lee had white people convinced that riots would be spilling out of cinema doors all summer long. Of course, that never happened. Still, summer jams don't get much more potent than this one; and if you're listening to it through ear-buds and NOT a Radio Raheem sized boombox - then you clearly don't get it and we all know which side you'll be on when the revolution comes.
Friday night @ the Empty Bottle, 9:30pm. $15
Saturday night @ West Fest/Main Stage, 8:30pm. Free.
For more info:
Live performance of “Deep Cut” from Local H’s 1998 album Pack Up the Cats