Slugs | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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The last time the Slugs played Schubas, everything came together--the natural warmth of the room, with its ornate wood proscenium; the good-natured friendliness of the typical Slugs crowd; and the band itself, an almost casually proficient threesome. Leader Dag Juhlin has a lanky, offhand charisma, and the band--with brother Gregg on bass and Mike Halston on drums--plays it tight but easy: sometimes they crack up mid-song, and jokes, some of them right over the heads of the audience, abound ("As Kevin Cronin once said, 'Last song, people'"). Like writers for a thousand other bands across this great land of ours, Juhlin wonders if there's a place in the world for tuneful, rocked-up pop, but he infects it all with a self-deprecatory honesty and a not-quite-convinced fatalism. The typical Slugs set ranges from the irresistible punkiness of "Clock That Won't Stop," to a wry, resigned romanticism worthy of Paul Westerberg himself ("Stupid me, stupid you / Stupid together, forever / Whatever"). As I said, a few months ago at Schubas everything was right: the band's punch-drunk version of "Hooked on a Feeling," the ringing "When the News Came Down," and whatever song it was--I forget--that saw Juhlin, with guitar, dash through the club and into the bar behind, only to come bursting back into the room, hit the floor on his knees, and launch into the opening riffs from "Born to Run" with a goofy grin on his face. It was just a moment, sure, but that's what life is made up of. At this show the band shows off new guitarist Johnny L. Saturday, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508.

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