Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Beard Rock & the Bean

Despite its recent gutting, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs has unveiled its 2011 Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays lineup, and it's a doozy. Building on last year's solid schedule, the free Millennium Park concert series will feature Iron & Wine and The Head & the Heart, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Blonde Redhead, Justin Townes Earle, and Low, among others. (Note the distinct lack of hip hop acts, following last year's Kid Sister kerfuffle.)

Meanwhile, with another "meh" Lollapalooza lineup (rumored headliners include Eminem, Foo Fighters, and Muse) and a lackluster Ravinia schedule this year, Pitchfork again provides the hippest bang for your sweaty, summer buck, with performers Animal Collective, TV On The Radio, Fleet Foxes, Neko Case, James Blake, and Das Racist, to name a few. (A headlining list that, had I not stood through Animal Collective's uncharacteristically boring Lolla '09 set, would have me more enthused.) Still, those looking to enjoy free Chicago shows while they still can will have a great festival alternative in the New Music Mondays series.

Low's appearance there will come on the heels of their Lincoln Hall show next month, just after the release of new album, C'mon (which you can stream fully now, if you pre-order). In celebration, here's its first single, "Try to Sleep" — because nothing ushers in summer like slow-core, right, folks? Download the song free here.