Jonathan Fire-eater | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jonathan Fire-eater 

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JONATHAN FIRE*EATER

Not a guy, but five of them, yelping and pounding away at guitar, bass, drums, and Hammond organ as if their short lives depended on it. The skinny on Jonathan Fire*Eater (besides the occasional tie) is that they're some rather young men with rather old ideas about what rocks. Now barely legal to work in most rock clubs, they began playing together as fifth graders in Washington, D.C., then gigged at talent shows and parties through high school. At one point, before settling on their current name, they called themselves the Ignobles--in tribute to Iggy and the Stooges, of course. About four years ago, instead of finishing college, they moved to New York, where they must have acquired that deceptive weltschmerz while hanging out with the Blues Explosion. They recall the Fall in their earnestness, the Jam in their look, and the Cramps in singer Stewart Lupton's dark, spastic delivery--but the combined effect, if not exactly original, isn't exactly derivative either. Last year's superb EP Tremble Under Boom Lights (The Medicine Label), a snatch of organ-splattered garage pop just sinister enough to make you want to quit with the bubble gum and start smoking again, sparked a major-label bidding war; the result will be the group's second full-length album, due out on Dreamworks this fall. Wednesday, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. CARA JEPSEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Sara A. Friedman.

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