Live Review: The Feelies, Chicago, IL, June 29, 2009

feelies550The Feelies took the stage at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on Monday night, playing their first Chicago gig in 18 years. While even more time has passed since the group’s post-punk guitar shtick first reigned in 1977, the little old band from Haledon, N.J., started out rocking hard and only picked up speed as the night progressed, strumming away the years and playing many old favorites in front of thousands.

The weather cooperated nicely for the outdoor show, making it the perfect summer evening for Millennium Park’s free concert series. Bill Million was the penultimate rhythm guitar hero while Glenn Mercer blazed on leads—and the double drumming of Stanley Demeski and Dave Weckerman pushed the beat (and bassist Brenda Sauter) into bouncing, droning overdrive. “Punk never sounded so innocent,” said one observer.

After a blistering 70-minute set that included familiar tunes such as “Deep Fascination” and “Too Far Gone,” the band encored with a cover of R.E.M.’s “Carnival Of Sorts (Box Cars),” its own rave-out “Fa Cé-La” and the Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On.” Then, with the overtime clock ticking loudly and a huge throng of dancing fans crushing in the front of the Pritzker stage, the band returned for an accelerated version of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.” Word to the wise: Catch the Feelies’ upcoming shows in Hoboken, just so you can say you were there.

—Mitch Myers; photo by Jerry Goldner