Grinderman, Armen Ra | Riviera Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Mon., Nov. 22, 8 p.m. 2010
Price: $29
I couldn't be happier that the side project Nick Cave started in 2006 with three of his Bad Seeds—drummer Jim Sclavunos, bassist Martyn Casey, and violinist Warren Ellis—has turned out to be more than a one-off. The new Grinderman 2 (Anti-/Mute) doesn't attempt the bristling fury and seat-of-the-pants feel of the band's debut, but it's a deeper, more thoughtful record that still has plenty of raw muscle. In his lyrics Cave goes even further over the top this time, beginning with the pathetic braggadocio of a man suffering through a midlife crisis and then pumping it full of steroids. He sings "Kitchenette" as a man trying to seduce a woman whose husband is asleep in the next room, his glass eye and dentures by the bed, but he soon devolves into spitting insults at the would-be cuckold: "What's this husband of yours ever given to you / Oprah Winfrey on a plasma screen." On the fierce opening track, "Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man," Cave plays a sexual predator named after the Disney character, and on "Worm Tamer" he gives his girl a series of laughable nicknames that are little more than dick jokes ("snake charmer," "serpent wrangler") before admitting that she calls him "the Loch Ness Monster / Two great big humps and then I'm gone." The band cranks out some of the nastiest rock scuzz I've heard since their debut, with a tense balance of primitive energy and expert polish that gives it a distinctively menacing swagger. Cave's rudimentary guitar work and Ellis's hurricane-force, effects-enhanced violin create crashing waves of sound—more texture than notes—and Casey's gut-rumbling bass lines give the tunes a sinister heartbeat. None of these guys takes himself too seriously these days, but they pour themselves into this music with total conviction. Armen Ra opens. 18+. —Peter Margasak

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