Califone | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Califone 

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Ten years ago, when Red Red Meat was opening for the Smashing Pumpkins, the predictability of being an arena-rock warm-up act compelled them to turn a spirit of perversity loose in their music. Instead of making heads bob in unison by playing their infectious songs straight, they began shadowboxing with them, ducking and feinting around the hooks while crowds scratched their heads. Red Red Meat's fallen dormant, but founders Tim Rutili and Ben Massarella have preserved that same subversive attitude with Califone, whose recent music has encompassed folky strumming and Beefheart-ish clatter, live sets of Rolling Stones covers and anachronistic sound tracks for silent movies. Rutili (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Massarella (percussion), Joe Adamik (drums), and multi-instrumentalist Jim Becker have also recorded two limited-edition albums in their "Deceleration" series of film scores; every Monday in November, they've been recording a set at Rodan, and they hope to produce at least two more discs from that material. Soviet documentary pioneer Dziga Vertov's 1924 film Kino-Eye provided the backdrop for a recent show; the band responded to images of peasants dancing and playing accordion with grimy Dark Magus-like funk, ground out blues licks while a crew of idealistic Young Pioneers thatched an old woman's roof, and plucked a rustic Fahey-esque melody while a tram careened down city streets. To close out the residency the band will perform to Victor Sjostrom's 1924 film He Who Gets Slapped, starring Lon Chaney. Monday 11/29, 10 PM, Rodan, 1530 N. Milwaukee, 773-276-7036, $10.

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