Tonight at 6:30 the city’s Downtown Sound series kicks off with, for me, one of the best bills of the year: Eleventh Dream Day opening for Bonnie Prince Billy and the Cairo Gang. Eleventh Dream Day you’re probably familiar with, either directly or through their other bands (Tortoise, Freakwater, etc), but if not, I recommend starting with Prairie School Freakout. They’ve famously been one of the most beloved live acts in the city: a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit ’90s Chicago post-rock. Here’s the band on Dutch national television with fellow Chicagoans Green. (Update: regular drummer Janet Bean is out with a broken ankle; filling in is Jim Elkington).
The headliner is Bonnie Prince Billy, aka Will Oldham, who’s a Kentuckian but has ties to Chicago, like a lot of people in the Louisville scene: his de facto sideman Emmett Kelly is a local, as his is side-project front woman Angel Olsen (who is apparently joining Oldham et al tonight).
While I have to be honest and admit I prefer Oldham’s rambshackle, yowly work under the Palace monicker—like "Cat’s Blues" and "Lost Blues"—in part for reasons of nostalgia, his work with local virtuoso Kelly and Kelly’s band, the Cairo Gang, is absolutely gorgeous.