Mad Scene | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Mad Scene 

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Mad Scene's music neatly reconciles apparently incompatible elements. Led by the husband-and-wife team of guitarist-vocalists Lisa Siegel and Hamish Kilgour, the New York City-based quintet takes a loose, shambling approach similar to that favored by Scottish popsters the Pastels and New Zealand's Clean (cofounded by Kilgour in the late 70s), but the horn-laced arrangements on the Scene's new album Sealight recall the baroque rigor of Love's Forever Changes. Sealight's lighthearted pop songs skip along on breezy rhythms, but dark drones and dissonances shade their brightest moments. Their lyrics are similarly paradoxical: on "Spilled Oranges" Siegel's joyous recollection of a vacation in the country is spiked with intimations of loss and mortality. The band resolves these tensions with an elegant subtlety that carries over into performance: Kilgour's the only guitarist I've ever seen who manages to look reserved while wrenching feedback from his guitar with a microphone stand. Day jobs and other bands keep the band from touring much--the Clean's most recent album, Modern Rock, was just released in this country, and Kilgour's been back to New Zealand to record another. This is their first Chicago appearance since 1992, and it shouldn't be missed. Also appearing are Space Needle, a New York combo that plays keyboard-heavy drones, and two bands from California's Inland Empire: Wckr Spgt, a sardonically chaotic rock band, and the relentlessly erudite pop group Nothing Painted Blue. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600.

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