Passerines | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Passerines 

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Though Chicago audiences and venues support an impressive variety of music, it's still one of the few major American cities without a cohesive indie-pop scene. I imagine the banjo-playing kid from Deliverance sitting on the steps of the Logan Square monument, except instead of a banjo he's got one of those indestructible aluminum guitars like Tar used to play, and instead of "Dueling Banjos" he's doing "Dead Billy" by Big Black--that's when you know your sissy-pop kind ain't welcome 'round these parts. I'm hoping the Passerines' self-released three-inch CD EP, Ponte di Rialto, will inspire more of the "sandbox rockers" in town (thank you Tim Adams) to venture out of their bedrooms and basements and get a little sun. The Passerines trade instruments, take turns singing, and pass around the songwriting baton, but all three tracks on the EP have the same sort of tingling vivacity. That's especially notable in a genre that epitomizes the downside of the DIY mind-set: clumsy drums, out-of-tune guitars, and off-key vocals are practically the norm. Gabe McElwain, the Passerines' no-nonsense drummer, is particularly strong, playing with an inventiveness and confidence you rarely hear in indie pop, whose fans happily equate ineptitude with charm. The EP lineup of three girls and one guy--which also appears on a forthcoming full-length that's already in the can--was recently winnowed down to McElwain and multi-instrumentalist Emily Cooper, but new players should be on hand for this show. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone headlines, Saturday Looks Good to Me plays second, and the Passerines open. 8:30 PM, 3rd floor, Ida Noyes Hall, University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th, 773-702-1234. Free. All ages.

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