Hideout Block Party & A.V. Fest: Neko Case, Mavis Staples, Trampled by Turtles, Nude Beach Agenda All Ages Member Picks Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Sept. 6, 5:15 p.m. 2013

Neko Case has never been a shrinking violet, and on her new album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You (Anti‑), she sounds more forceful than ever, using her music to work through the dark, conflicted emotions she digs up. On the strutting, ultracatchy “Man,” she appropriates Bo Diddley’s macho declarations to deliver a feminist punch, declaring herself to be a man (“as in a citizen of mankind”) and asserting, “A woman’s heart is the watermark / Of which I measure anything.” The album’s emotional centerpiece is the jarring a cappella piece “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu,” based on an encounter Case had while waiting for an airport bus: she heard a mother scold her young child, “Get the fuck away from me / Why don’t you ever shut up.” Case uses the sing-songy phrasing of a little kid making up a tune, and addresses the child directly in her memory: “Don’t you ever shut up, please kid, have your say / ’Cause I still love you even if I don’t see you again.” Loyalty to and love for the hurt and abandoned color the whole record—affection, determination, and indignation seem like the ultimate fuel for Case’s empathetic songs.
One True Vine (Anti-) is Mavis Staples’ second album to be produced by Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy (he also plays on it and wrote about half the songs), and it challenges two of the central conventions of modern gospel records: rafter-raising climaxes and unshakable faith. The performances are beautifully restrained—a stunning adaptation of Low’s “Holy Ghost” opens One True Vine on a note of striking uncertainty (“Some holy ghost keeps me hanging on,” Staples sings wearily), and an unexpected cover of Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That” reinforces the theme of doubt with its lyrics about feeling betrayed by an unserious lover. Staples doesn’t seem to be questioning her faith, but she is admitting that she doesn’t have all the answers. For more on Staples and Case, see their conversation in this week’s Artist on Artist. —Peter Margasak These sets are part of the Hideout Block Party & A.V. Fest. Neko Case headlines at 8:45 PM, Mavis Staples performs at 7:30, and Trampled by Turtles and Nude Beach open. 4:30 PM (music starts at 5:15).

Price: $35, $70 two-day pass

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