Charlemagne, Super Eights | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Charlemagne, Super Eights 

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This is the first Chicago show put together by the Wisconsin Pop Explosion, a collective of Madison-area bands with a serious arts-and-crafts bent. Since forming in January they've put out a stack of handmade singles and staged themed concerts complete with pinatas, cupcakes, and onstage knitting--that last quirk a hallmark of live shows by headliners Charlemagne. The group is the brainchild of former Noahjohn front man Carl Johns, who played every instrument on Charlemagne's 2004 self-titled debut on Winterlander; a brilliant disc of psych-country candyfloss, the record apparently caught the ear of Bruce Springsteen, who included "Prisoner Of" on a playlist of preshow tunes during his latest tour. This year Charlemagne released three limited-edition CD singles in its My Sweet Pony series, which includes tracks from the album "Detour Allure," slated to come out in November on SideCho Records.

Playing second are the Super Eights, who pitch their sound somewhere between the deceptively innocent bubblegum fuzz of groups like the Lemon Pipers and the spaced-out pomo pop of Grandaddy. The band--in which Johns plays piano--has released just one four-song vinyl EP so far, 2003's The Super Eights Sing Songs About States (Kildeer), which features fast-and-fun numbers like "Hey! Virginia" and "Ohio." (Sufjan Stevens needn't worry about the competition, though: the band describes its tunes as "superficially geographic but really more about death, depression, and boredom.") Opening are local power poppers the Fake Fictions, featuring former Super Eights member Ben Bilow on drums and playing songs from their new debut, the self-released Fact Friction. Thu 8/25, 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8.

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