Chicago flavor goes for music, too

You can catch some of the city's best live acts between bites

BY TIM SHELLBERG
Times Correspondent

This story ran on nwitimes.com on Friday, June 30, 2006 9:25 AM CDT

* Abstract Giants (3 p.m. Wednesday). Some bands come together after months, or even years, of a revolving door of musicians. But jazz-hoppers Abstract Giants came together in the crunch.

"I had a funk band with a bass player and a drummer, and we had booked a big time slot (at a Chicago club), but we only had enough material for half of the slot," said guitarist Cary Kanno. "I had known the three MCs. They were out doing their own thing, and I asked them if they wanted to do a freestyle set to fill the time. And it worked out really well."

Celebrating their fifth year together when they make their way to the Taste Stage on Wednesday, the eight-piece Giants, who cite the varied likes of Radiohead, the Roots and Wu Tang Clan as influences, released their full-length debut, "Agro-Culture," in early 2005. The band has also made appearances on their MC Ronnie Physical's solo effort, "Crewsades," which also came out last year.

Yet it took a little time, Kanno admitted, for the band to get their collective groove together.

"There's five instruments and three vocalists, and everybody was doing their own thing at first," he said. "It was good, but it wasn't as tight or as cohesive or as refined as it is now. We're much better at reading each other and not going all over the place."

Like 56 Hope Road, Abstract Giants, who expect to release their follow-up to "Agro-Culture" in August, are making their second appearance at Taste of Chicago this year.

The band is also scheduled to perform as part of the Chicago Afrobeat Project July 13 at Martyrs' 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.

FYI: www.abstractgiants.com

The 26th annual Taste of Chicago runs at Grant Park 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. today through July 9.