Royal Crescent Mob | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Royal Crescent Mob 

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If the Beastie Bores are still your idea of what three funky white guys sound like, it's time to get ill to the equally zany and far less retarded sounds of Columbus, Ohio's, Royal Crescent Mob. A real funk ensemble, not a glorified drum machine, the Mob (whose ranks also include one funky black guy) sound like they spent the mid-70s listening to James Brown and George Clinton instead of Led Zep and AC/DC. Industrial-grade postpunk guitar and sassy harmonica riffs weave their way through songs with fat-bottomed dance grooves and nonlinear, surrealist lyrics. The band's new Omerta album (on Moving Target records, distributed by the avant-funk Celluloid label) features two fine covers--a double-tempo rendition of Brown's 1974 hit "The Payback" does the Godfather proud, while a grungy cover of the Ohio Players' "Fire" puts hot flashes in place of Sly and Robbie's recent slow burn--but the record's strongest turn is an original called "Love and Tunafish" that actually lives up to its title. Mutant funk from Ohio hasn't been this memorable since early Pere Ubu; not coincidentally, the mob seems to have either visited the end of civilization as we know it or spent a weekend in Cleveland. Wednesday, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

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