Phi-Phenomena On Wheels, Panicsville | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Phi-Phenomena On Wheels, Panicsville 

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Bands filed under "experimental" have a tendency to wear out their welcome pretty quick; Phi-Phenomena admits this and celebrates it, presenting ten bands in one hour, with no set running longer than five minutes. Begun in 1996 in New York and staged annually in some major U.S. city or another, it's morphed this year into a traveling circus. The tour was organized by Rat Bastard, of the obnoxiously noisy band Laundry Room Squelchers--whose members' stage antics have included stripping and beating the first fan within grabbing distance, spraying mace, and shooting blanks out of homemade guns. The other bands on the bill might crank out thick, blistering guitar gabber or irritatingly static soundscapes, or croon insincerely over weird-for-weird's-sake electronica, but they're all pretty much dedicated to being as offensive as possible. U Can Unlearn Guitar is Andy Alper from the long-running caca-phonic Connecticut band Bunny Brains; he improvises gospel songs on the Q Chord--a sort of digital autoharp made by Suzuki--and gives the audience step-by-step instructions on playing "nontraditional" music. New Century Schoolbook is a woman who claims she'll hold a raffle to determine who gets to feel her up while she sings. Pengo, Finkbeiner, and Asthmatic are all noise-improv acts from Rochester, New York, where they often collaborate; in the past their performances have involved attaching contact mikes to sheet metal, ambling around in costumes made of trash, being strangled by audience members, and playing nose kazoo. Also on the bill for Chicago is Doersam, aka Harry Pussy guitarist Dan Hosker; I haven't seen or heard his new act but I'm sure it's...annoying. Opening for the circus is local solo electronicist Panicsville--who, incidentally, gets a 20-minute set. At his last show he dressed in drag with black eyes and a bloody mouth and acted like his synthesizers had just raped him. Come for the music, stay for the gimmickry (or don't). Tuesday, September 11, 10 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton; 773-486-2700.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Suzy Poling.


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