For a club that's site usually matches its name, the Hideout location amply provided for this ambitious and successful event - it was said that over 6600 people were in attendance.
For a day that's weather constantly threatened to worsen but never did, its heavy grey sky perfectly complimented the music - not to mention the audience's hair which I saw a lot more of than I've ever seen before at a punk event (intruder hair coming out of noses, ears and the backs of shirts).
For musicians who never considered themselves professional and for the most part were attempting to summon much younger versions of themselves, the bands were dedicated and energized - and they delivered.
For a leader who always put the bands first and has eschewed the limelight throughout Touch and Go's existence, Corey Rusk stayed in form - always up front, anonymous in the audience, enjoying the bands.
Scratch Acid could not have been blessed with a more solid rhythm section - when they started in '82 how could they have known Rey Washam would remain, his forlorn humility aside, one of the most solid rock drummers of the 20th century (and into the next)? Of course, they also have one of the great punk frontmen. David Yow appeared to be fatigued; his voice was hoarse and he gave the crowd at least one what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here glazed over look but he still delivered. The old crowd sedate and polite, could obviously relate. Finally towards the end of the set, a tired punker was hoisted up above the crowd and tossed a few feet over. People clapped appreciating the effort.
A short way into Big Black's set, Steve Albini said "I know what you're thinking. 'That's it? What's the big deal?' Well, this was cool in the 80's." The event in general was kind of like that.
The stuff Touch and Go has put out by and large was never meant to please a large assembly, not a large American assembly anyway. The locale with its faded black and grey tones against the back drop of Chicago's Fleet Management Center on a paved industrial parking lot looked like an Eastern Block rock concert more than anything else. Ex drummer Katrin Bornfeld's heartfelt rendition of a Hungarian folk song and her collaboration with Chicago's most famous living socialist immigrant, Jon Langford, certainly justifies that comparison. At one point I told Tricia that I wanted to ask one of the old punkers if they could ever recall an event like this. She didn't understand what I meant and as I explained I realized I didn't really understand what I meant. I said that I couldn't recall this many people gathered for underground music. She said "do you mean like the Pitchfork Festival?" I said that's not the same. She said "do you mean like the 25th Anniversary Touch and Go Festival?" Yeah that's right, there's never been anything like the 25th Anniversary Touch and Go Festival and there never will again.
*the Hideout 10th Anniversary Block Party/TouchandGo Festival schedule art hosted by the Hideout. The artist is Kathleen Judge interviewed here.