With this upstart endeavor, Mike Reed expands upon the concert-fest format he’s established with the Pitchfork and Umbrella Music Festivals to give us a vaudeville-flavored feast, big top and all. Brilliant Corners brings clowns, acrobats and carnival rides to West Town, not to mention a satellite version of the Renegade Craft Fair and a farmers’ market to boot. Naturally, Reed’s assembled a strong lineup of music as well, stocked with critically lauded indies and rising local acts.
There’s also some overlap with the World Music Festival, the convergence of which brings the meditative tone poems of Malian songman Sidi Touré to the Criss/Cross Tent on Friday, along with electro-cumbia jams from Colombia’s Bomba Estéreo. Bill Callahan’s somber, irony-laden Americana and the relentless, motorik pulse of CAVE bookend the inaugural day.
The WMF tie-in continues under the dome Saturday with A Hawk and a Hacksaw, whose serpentine, Roma-tinged accordion and violin workouts precede the gauzy electro-pop of School of Seven Bells. Charles Bradley’s soul-wrenching showmanship sets the bar high beforehand.
Earlier in the day, the Lonesome Organist brings his madcap show to the Chicagocentric (and, more important, free) Birdhouse Stage, while Sunday’s guests include M’s offshoot Cloudbirds and Hollows, with its hooky, head-bobbing bubblegum garage.
Fool’s Gold, another act appearing under the WMF banner, kicks off the Criss/Cross Tent’s final day with its pan-ethnic pastiche, followed by Francis Ford Coppola’s new sparring partner and avowed electronics geek Dan Deacon. Steve Albini’s sardonic warhorse Shellac brings a punishing close to the weekend, with more multidisciplinary mayhem promised down the line from Reed and his Brilliant Corners cronies.