Bobby Conn | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Bobby Conn 

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Bobby Conn's new King for a Day (Thrill Jockey) seems scattershot in its choice of subjects--Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, global warming, a filthy basement show where members of the band had their toes sucked by the crowd--but that's just part of its sharply crafted artifice. After all, that lack of focus fits right in with the album's overarching themes--solipsism and escapism. "The real world," Conn says in the PR, "is getting increasingly grim." That sentiment's contained in the music, too: a candy shell of self-indulgent coke rock, sprinkled with strings, congas, glockenspiel, cooing backup vocals, and every other imaginable affectation, it surrounds a coal black core of self-delusion and despair. Conn deconstructs fantasy, projection, and celebrity and their effect on everything from international relations to sex with deftness and ease. He's still coming off as just a little oily--either despite or because of the combination of 70s sleaze and elfin otherworldliness he's working these days--and it makes his barbs all the more insinuating. Conn's current band includes members of Cheer-Accident, the Detholz!, and Mahjongg; the CD of King for a Day includes three videos directed by Usama Alshaibi, and videos for the rest of the songs--which taken together form an album-length movie--will be posted monthly on YouTube and elsewhere. This is a release party. Bird Names open. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance.

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