Go-Go's, Best Coast, Kaya Stewart | Ravinia Festival | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Carl Timpone

Go-Go's, Best Coast, Kaya Stewart 

When: Fri., Aug. 19, 7 p.m. 2016
Price: $38-$80
It’s hard to imagine a band maintaining a career for three-and-a-half decades—breakups and reunions notwithstanding—based on only four studio albums (one of them a wan comeback from 15 years ago), and it’s even more remarkable that only one of those records still holds up. But Beauty and the Beat (I.R.S.), the 1981 debut by LA’s Go-Go’s, is great enough to explain the mystery. Topping the Billboard charts for six weeks, the album not only transcended the new-wave scene from which it emerged, but it set a standard—easily forgotten now—that there was nothing weird about an all-female band that wrote its own material and played its own instruments. The group produced some great songs on its subsequent two records (“Vacation,” “Head Over Heels”), and its 2001 comeback record didn’t blow, but nothing comes close to the perfection of the debut. It blends irresistible guitar pop, fizzy attitude, and sophisticated song craft—songs like “Automatic” and “Lust to Love” hint at 60s rock touchstones while still sounding contemporary—with a bounce and shine all its own. It’s unfortunate that this farewell tour is without bassist Kathy Valentine, who joined in 1980—only a couple years after the group started—but was unceremoniously fired in 2013 after a wrist injury prevented her from touring. I certainly don’t have the stomach to take in this final nostalgia cash-in, but nothing can take away my love for that first record.
— Peter Margasak



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