Mark Mallman | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Mark Mallman 

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Mark Mallman, resplendent in his epauletted Sergeant Pepper jacket, rang in 2006 at Minneapolis's 7th St. Entry with a pomp-laden version of the Cure's "Fascination Street," and I don't doubt that the Twin Cities indie showman at least briefly considered rocking clear through till 2007. In September 2004 he played for 50-plus hours at a Saint Paul club; I hadn't really thought about him much after hearing about that gig, and a return listen to 2004's Mr. Serious (Badman) reminded me why. For starters, the disc doesn't leave room for his onstage shaggy-dog monologues--on New Year's Eve he interrupted a tale about dead-end jobs to flip the two-fingered devil-horn salute upside down, declared it the "forklift of rock," then inexplicably segued into Skynyrd's "That Smell." What's more, the record doesn't have the self-aware cornball too-muchness that buoys his live show--the bombastic production on Mr. Serious obscures his tunecraft, and the beefed-up bottom end swallows the synth filigrees and guitar bits that make his kitsch worth yielding to. Still, on stompers like "Anesthesia" it's enough that Mallman knowingly channels the transcendence that a 15-year-old hears in the overindulgence of Meat Loaf or Asia; he sings "They won't take me alive" with the we're-all-in-this-together esprit of Ziggy-era Bowie, minus the aloof rock-star undertow. Love Story in Blood Red, the Coke Dares, and Stanley Ross open. Sat 1/28, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8.

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