Sea Ray | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sea Ray 

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"I think the most successful rock show would be one where people forget that there's even anyone onstage," said Sea Ray bassist I-Huei Go in a 2002 interview. And the Brooklyn-based chamber rockers do their best to distract your eyes while they play, projecting psychedelic videos over their bodies and onto two enormous screens. You're not alone if such a setup reminds you of Warhol and the Velvets' Exploding Plastic Inevitable--but it's not 1966 anymore, and Sea Ray has ditched the frenzied go-go dancers and added doses of Britpop, shoegazer drone, and space rock. The projected videos are made by Brandon Derman, one of the band's film-nerd friends, and the saturated color of their abstract images mirrors the lushness of Sea Ray's cinematic songs. But as stunning as the visuals are, you're still likely to notice that there are people onstage--six of them, including a keyboardist and an impressive cellist. Among the standouts on last year's Stars at Noon (Self-Starter Foundation) is the upbeat, densely layered "Nicholas Ray," singer and guitarist Jordan Warner's homage to the director of Rebel Without a Cause; "Lalaland" starts sweet and shimmery, then accelerates into an exuberant ode to driving alone at night, and the dreamy "Forge Utopia" recalls Luna at their best. Guitars, keyboards, and cello weave together in the hooky "Revelry," which opened the 2003 compilation NY: The Next Wave. Canasta and Magnus open. $8. Thursday, June 24, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.

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

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