Spiraling | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Keyboard whiz Tom Brislin is a fresh-faced lad of twentysomething, but don't worry about the rock industry chewing him up: he's already been tossed to the Yes aficionados. A child prodigy in classical piano, he claims his sisters exposed him to prog in the womb, and by 2001 he'd already toured with Meat Loaf for three years. But when his starship-trooping heroes hired him for the YesSymphonic tour, Brislin had to face the elders: "People are really passionate about this band," he said in the April 2002 posting of Notes From the Edge, "and some people just don't even want to hear it if it's not Rick Wakeman." But he took it in stride, and meanwhile his personal project Spiraling accrued a cult of its own. In 1996, then called You Were Spiraling, they released an EP on John Flansburgh's Hello label, and last year they toured behind their 2002 release, Transmitter, as They Might Be Giants' opening act. Transmitter creates the illusion of originality by marrying styles whose fans love to hate each other. There's plenty of clean-cut noodling to geek out on, but the concise power-pop structures are pushed along by 90s punk thrash and dolled up with touches of space rock and electropop. Brislin sings in a precise, bell-like tenor, like a saccharin-free John Denver. But however punk or unpunk your take on the last three decades, you'll have to be awful jaded to deny this miscegenated mutt's charm. OK Go headlines. Thursday, January 29, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.


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