Killdozer, Urinals, Mannequin Men, Maximum Wage | The Abbey | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Thu., Sept. 24, 9 p.m. 2009
Price: $18, $15 in advance
During their original run from 1978 till ’81, the Urinals took the anybody-can-do-it ethos of punk rock and ran with it, turning a near total inability to play their instruments into a vital part of their creative process. The LA threesome reduced songwriting to its most concentrated essence—they were as starkly minimalist as Wire, without the precision—and rarely needed more than a riff or two to get their point across. Few of their songs last more than 90 seconds. The scant output of the Urinals’ first incarnation—just three seven-inches and some compilation tracks—was first collected a dozen years ago on Negative Capability . . . Check It Out! (Warning Label), and even today it still sounds funny and ferocious, both charmingly raw and oddly inhuman. “I’m a Bug,” covered by everyone from Halo of Flies to Chicago’s Dishes, exemplifies the band’s contrarian bent. Though the LA punk scene embraced them, it wasn’t because they tried to fit in: nobody else was singing lines like “I’m a bug / So are you, baby / I wanna use / My pincers on you.” (The song’s irresistible chorus goes “Buzz buzz.”) In 1981 the Urinals realized they’d become too competent to really be the Urinals anymore, so they reinvented themselves as 100 Flowers and created an impressive new repertoire of art-punk tunes before breaking up in ’83. In 1996 the Urinals reunited, and though guitarist Kjehl Johansen bailed two years later, bassist and vocalist John Talley-Jones and drummer Kevin Barrett have persevered, releasing What Is Real and What Is Not (Warning Label) in 2003 with guitarist Roderick Barker and now touring with his replacement, Rob Roberge. They’re not trying to fake their old primitivism, but the songs are just as blunt, direct, and brutally catchy as ever. Killdozer headlines; the Urinals, Mannequin Men, and Maximum Wage open. —Peter Margasak

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