Barbara Manning/ Renderers | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Barbara Manning/ Renderers 

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BARBARA MANNING/RENDERERS

This double bill charts the flow of influences between the independent rock scenes in New Zealand and the United States. San Francisco-based songstress Barbara Manning has been performing and recording songs by acts from New Zealand--including the Verlaines, the Magick Heads, and Goblin Mix--for years, and last year she finally consummated the love affair with a tour. While down under she recorded an EP, In New Zealand (Communion), with members of Tall Dwarfs, the Clean, the Bats, the Verlaines, and the 3Ds, who collectively help her create melodies as indelible and bittersweet as the ones on their own records for the celebrated Flying Nun label. The Renderers, on the other hand, are kiwis whose albums (including two for Chicago indie Ajax and the upcoming A Dream of the Sea, on Siltbreeze) showcase a white-knuckled blend of churning rock and yearning country that sounds more American southwest than South Pacific. Maryrose Crook sings tales of domestic anguish and emotional desolation with a Dolly Parton-like catch in her voice; when she harmonizes with her husband, Brian (who also plays black-humored garage rock with the Terminals, improvisational space noise with Flies Inside the Sun, and a high-pressure amalgamation of the two on his brand-new solo record, Bathysphere, on Medication), they find that same rare tension as the wedded vocal duos in X and Eleventh Dream Day. Brian's incendiary guitar leads, too, speak in the same post-Neil Young vocabulary as those of Eleventh Dream Day's Rick Rizzo, but all comparisons break down when he sings lead--his sulfurous gargle does justice to songs with titles like "Bottomless Pit" and "Death Race." For their second American tour the Crooks will be joined by fellow New Zealander Richard Baker on bass and Philadelphia drummer Bernie Bernstein. Headliner Manning will play solo, but rumor has it she and the Renderers (who backed the artist formerly known as Palace when he played in New Zealand a couple years ago) will end up onstage together before the night is out. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. Bill Meyer

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Barbara Manning photo by Ace Tafaya; Renderers uncredited photo.

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