Shrimp Boat | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Shrimp Boat 

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The first time I heard them struggling with their electric instruments and singing in cracked falsettos, I imagined a line of fishing boats puttering off into the fogbound sea of a cold New England morn. "Ah, Shrimp Boat," I exclaimed, "what a fine name for sounds so churning and drifty!" Later on, though, I learned that the mysterious Shrimp Boat hails not from New England but from Chicago, and that the name commemorates a photographic process invented by band member Ian Schneller that uses trays full of live brine shrimp as emulsion. This macabre fact needn't dissuade one from finding Shrimp Boat's raw, spiny sound oddly gentle. With seemingly telepathic rapport these crewmen draw the listener into an amusing and madly unsettling world, dragging mangled sea chanteys and farmer folk songs (bassist David Kroll doubles on banjo and tenor sax!) along the way and somehow managing to sound nervous and serene at the same time. For a sonic correlative imagine Tom Verlaine singing lead with Captain Beefheart's Magic Band in a mellow mood after a long spell communing with porpoises off Gloucester. Saturday, Phyllis' Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division; 486-9862.

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