This is Grand

March 12, 2006
music illinois chicago

Lee and I trekked up to Chicago to catch The New Pornographers / Belle & Sebastian play at the Riviera Friday night.

I handled travel plans (directions to the Park&Ride; station where we parked and caught the “L”, trains to take, transfers to make, how to get to the theater, last train we’d have to catch). Pretty uneventful trip for the most part. The most interesting part was how the bike lane to the side of the road in Chicago was used as a thug passing lane by many. Successfully made it to the P&R; without wrecking and caught the Green line to Roosevelt. Accidently transferred to the Orange line instead of the Red (Red was subway while Green/Orange are both elevated), but fortunately caught the one headed toward the Loop instead of to Midway. Rode around the loop till State/Lake where we could transfer to the Red. The Loop itself was kind of an interesting experience. The train moves slow enough (with all the frequent tight turns) that you get a good look at downtown from up there. Made our way on up to Lawrence and caught sight of the theater from the train. Roamed around a bit until we found Gigio’s that served up some tasty thin crust pizza (little slightly scuzzy hole in the wall type joint I’d read good reviews about after doing a quick net search for restaurants in the area). Excellent show. The Riviera was an interesting venue. Had a very “old opera house” sort of vibe. Largely general admission with room for a decent size crowd standing on the ground floor by the stage and a fair sized balcony above. Very clearly supported by Miller Lite since there were at least six bars on the main floor (a few more out in the hallway, as well as in the hallways on the upper levels). Was definitely wanting for personal space by the time B&S; got on the stage though. Had a reasonable amount of space when TNP were up, but after their set, people slowly forced their way up by the stage until I didn’t have room to move my arms from my sides… and I got to know one guy’s leather pants covered ass a whole lot better than I would’ve liked. :)

Managed to get our transfer right on the way back, but the “L” experience was definitely a bit more colorful on the way back than it had been earlier… A fellow hopped on with his wife and sat by us. Sat smack in the middle of the two seats with his bag to his left. As she tried to sit next to him he hollered at her “Owww, yo sittin on me woman!” (or something of that general nature). Then he went on to spout an assortment of angry drivel while she listened in silence. This made more sense after he pulled out a couple of brown paper sacks, took a swig from something with a screwcap that smelled like cheap whiskey and then integrated this into the bottle of gatorade he had in the other sack. A little later on, there was a young fellow that didn’t felt like switching cars (which was a fairly common pasttime of the younger crowd, but this fellow rode for quite a while in the gap between the cars). Oh, and when we got off at our stop I noticed some hair extensions someone had left in one of the seats… Oh, and the title of the post. One of the stops is at Grand, and we found the train announcement rather amusing at the time (a very subdued “This is Grand”). Of course, I also found the end of the line announcement “This is as far as this train goes” somewhat amusing as well.