Levitation Chicago: Royal Trux, Lightning Bolt, Rangda, Ryley Walker, Blanck Mass, Nite Fields | Thalia Hall | Fairs & Festivals | Chicago Reader
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Royal Trux

Royal Trux

Nine Gouveia

Levitation Chicago: Royal Trux, Lightning Bolt, Rangda, Ryley Walker, Blanck Mass, Nite Fields 

When: Fri., March 11, 7 p.m. 2016
Price: $40
Last August at the Beserktown II festival in LA, Royal Trux’s Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema took the stage together for the first time since 2011. In the live footage that surfaced Herrema seemed a bit tentative, forced to consult printed song lyrics, but Hagerty was sharp and fully invested—and they still sounded great. A New York show was added in December, and now the re-formed combo—with Tim Barnes on drums and Brian McKinley on bass—make their way to Chicago. I was a fan of the shambolic combo during their long run from 1987 through 2001, when their sound transformed from the spazzed-out, drug-fueled mayhem of the 1990 opus Twin Infinitives into a brilliant barrage of tweaked-out post-Rolling Stones raunch, all of it on the edge of dissolution. I’ve been thrilled by how their albums have held up, and if they were actively recording material they’d probably be my favorite rock band. I’m still psyched for this reconstituted version.

On their recent third album, The Heretic’s Bargain (Drag City), Rangda giddily continue to explore what it means to be a free-rock trio, working from one approach before swinging into another direction entirely. On opener “To Melt the Moon” guitarists Ben Chasny (also of Six Organs of Admittance) and Richard Bishop lay down crisp, tightly arranged patterns that bridge the gap between the playing of Dick Dale and that of Omar Khorshid, while Chris Corsano girds it all with a chugging rhythm. “Hard Times Befall the Door-to-Door Glass Shard Salesman” heads in an altogether different direction, as lacerated feedback violently collides in heaps over surging free-time drumming. Other tracks stake turf in between those extremes, occasionally dropping what sounds like an old Gastr del Sol riff into a lake of fire.

— Peter Margasak

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