Dan Deacon, Lord of the Yum-Yum | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dan Deacon, Lord of the Yum-Yum 

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A cuckoo-brained computer musician from Baltimore, DAN DEACON picked up a thing or two about sampling and composition at Purchase College's music conservatory and at age 24 already has six solo releases to his name. He's done artsy, minimal twiddling and tonal haikus as well as some, like, totally groundbreaking IDM, and he's working on an EP of music assembled entirely from his own vocals and much-abused Buddy Holly samples. But his favorite thing to do (other than name songs--"This Crazy Mouse Won't Leave Me Alone" and "All Wet and No Boner" are pretty representative) is whip twinkly analog melodies into a creamy froth with happy-dog-humping-a-leg beats. He sings vocodered nonsense about pizza and fantastic animals over electrocution blasts, chipmunk chatter, and "does not compute" bleeps and bloops, and though he often starts a song precious and twee, midway through he'll go nuts: a secret grotto becomes a haunted cave, a gentle waterfall turns into a tape unwinding in a broken deck, horn stings sour into whoopee-cushion queefs. But even at its weirdest, it's all so catchy it's almost sickening.

Joining Deacon on this crowded bill is a loony genius from our neck of the woods: church-choir director, elementary-school music teacher, and Herc. front man Paul Velat, performing as his ruffly-tuxedoed alter ego the LORD OF THE YUM-YUM. With only his voice and pedal-triggered sampler he creates foot-stompin' gibberish renditions of, say, "Flight of the Bumblebee" or the famous cancan from Jacques Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld, complete with bug-eyed beatboxing and what sometimes sounds like a dozen layers of growling, crooning, and shrieking. Last time I saw him play he frantically searched the room for something to drum on, located a cardboard box, and dumped its contents--shredded paper and an inner tube--over his head. Then he banged on it like a bongo until it flattened while delivering a sort of Tuvan-throat-singing-meets-Delta-blues version of Bizet's Carmen overture with a bit of Blondie's "Call Me" stuck in the middle.

Deacon allegedly headlines, but other than that I'm not expecting the set order to follow any rhyme or reason. Also on the bill are video artist Jimmy Roche, Sadjeljko, Marriage, Richard Syska's project 1-Cent, and Satan Plays Cocktail Favorites with G.O.A.T., not to mention the 1988 Top 40 Coverband--a loose lineup including Rotten Milk, Bubblegum Shitface, members of Princess and Mahjongg, and a posse of Chicago's finest weirdos, all faking it through a list of 17-year-old hits. I hope they do Expose's "Seasons Change." Thu 9/1, 9 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton, 773-486-2700, $5.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Andrea Bauer.

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