It was a good weekend for music in Wicker Park/Ukranian Village. I only caught the last song from Portland, OR's Viva Voce; per a friend who saw them both at the fest and at the Empty Bottle the night before, they played exclusively music from their latest album, and not only were the set lists virtually identical both nights, but the jokes and between-song banter were too. Whoops. Handsome Furs also treated us to a set of exclusively tracks from their latest album, Face Control. Dan and Alexi sported new hairstyles since the last time I saw them, with Dan trading in his punk-mullet for a more boyish short on the sides, spiky on top look, and Alexi bleaching her dark hair blond (she can certainly pull off both). Their set was short but sweet (barely over 30 minutes); the married couple has great chemistry with each other and serious intensity on stage, though I was bummed we didn't get even one track off of Plague Park.
I skipped seeing Menomena at the fest on Sunday in favor of checking out their Empty Bottle show last night; I figured that since they're now more of a Metro band, it was a good chance to get to see them in the intimate setting of their early years. I was not disappointed; in addition to reminding me that "Strongest Man in the World" is unfailingly amazing, the guys were clearing having a blast. It was keyboardist Brent Knopf's 32nd birthday, and Justin requested that audience members give him 32 spankings after we all sang him happy birthday. His girlfriend also baked him a cake, and he blew out the candles on stage. Good times. Rumor has it that after a year and a half of doing their own thing they are back in creative mode and working on a new album; they did debut one new song featuring Brent on vocals that I thought sounded great. In an ongoing theme for the weekend, the majority of the set came from 2007's Friend and Foe; I was a little surprised they didn't mix it up a bit more as they aren't touring on a new album. Still, I won't complain, as I'll take whatever I can get from one of my favorite bands.