dB's | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

After R.E.M. got big in the late 80s and jumped from I.R.S. to Warner Brothers, fans of their old labelmates the dB's wrung their hands and asked the bitch-goddess Fame why she'd abandoned their heroes to die a cult band. (Chris Stamey, one of the group's two chief songwriters, had left in 1982, and the other, Peter Holsapple, pulled the plug on the dB's six years later.) The murky guitars and take-the-sock-out-of-your-mouth vocals on R.E.M.'s early records must've made their jangly tunes seem "underground" to a lot of finicky college kids--did that mean the dB's, with their danceable rhythms, lyrics about girls, and touches of synth, sounded like power-pop sellouts by comparison? Was it because Michael Stipe was pretty and weird and the dB's were dweeby, or because R.E.M. was a hot live band and the dB's sometimes bombed onstage? My theory: the bitch wanted to keep Stamey and Holsapple hungry, so that by the time she'd run Stipe, Buck, and Mills into the ground, the two of them would be itching to get the dB's back together and make another great album for us. The classic Stands for Decibels lineup recently went into the studio for the first time in more than 20 years, and there's already a free song called "World to Cry" posted on their Web site. It ain't "Bad Reputation," but it bodes well--the hooks are there, the guitars are just jaunty enough, the lyrics are as smart and unpretentious as ever, and the vocals still sound a little like a sweaty-palmed geek boy making an inexplicably intriguing pass at you. The dB's hope to release the album in 2006 but still haven't lined up a label--ah, showbiz. The 6 PM set is part of the Hideout's annual Block Party, which starts at 3 PM today; see page 62 for the full schedule. Sat 9/17, 6 PM, the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $10. All ages. Also 10 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $20.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ann Sterzinger

  • The List: May 13-19, 2010

    The List: May 13-19, 2010

    Critics' Choices and other notable concerts: Gaslamp Killer, Julieta Venegas, Sonoi, Torche, Plants and Animals, Steve Dawson, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and more
    • May 13, 2010
  • The List: April 22-28, 2010

    The List: April 22-28, 2010

    Critics' Choices and other notable shows: Reflection Eternal, Peter Brötzmann & Hamid Drake, Céu, Drop the Lime, the Styrenes, and other notable shows
    • Apr 22, 2010
  • The List: April 1-7, 2010

    The List: April 1-7, 2010

    Critics' Choices and other notable shows: Xiu Xiu, High on Fire, Small Black, Orquestra Contemporanea de Olinda, Little Women, Titus Andronicus, and more
    • Apr 1, 2010
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
70 Scenes of Halloween Athenaeum Theatre
September 26
Performing Arts
The Delicate Tears of the Waning Moon Steppenwolf Theatre, 1700 Theatre
September 19

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories