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When: Mon., Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m., Tue., Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m., Thu., Sept. 3, 7:30 p.m. and Fri., Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m. 2009
When you realize that you’ve become a Steely Dan fan, it can be a traumatic experience. If Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, with their harmlessly clean tones, insufferable smugness, and studio bands full of ringers, have embodied in your mind for your entire music-loving life the triumph of slick professionalism over genuine soul that typified rock at its bloated late-70s worst, it’s downright disturbing to find yourself actually getting down with them. We like our Others to stay Other. But once I emerged on the other side of this particular looking glass—a mirror covered in rails of coke, with Becker hovering over it—all the negatives became positives. I could see the Dan’s infinite smoothness both as a fuck-you to rock’s hang-ups about authenticity and as an innocuous disguise to help them smuggle some truly warped lyrics onto pop radio; their immense self-satisfaction I understood as merely the outward expression of their unflappable, infuriating cool. It’s amazing that 30 years after their peak they can still fuck with my head like that. Monday’s set will include a complete performance of Aja, an album that’s pretty much perfect front to back. Tuesday’s show will include a complete performance of Gaucho. Steely Dan also plays Thursday and Friday, September 3 and 4, at the same venue; Thursday’s set will include a complete performance of The Royal Scam, and Friday’s set list will be determined by online votes from ticket holders. Guitarist Larry Carlton, who appears on all three of the albums Steely Dan is re-creating on this tour, will join the band for the two final shows. Sam Yahel opens; see also Tuesday. a 7:30 PM, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, 312-462-6300 or 312-559-1212, $72-$144. A —Miles Raymer

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