Spot Check | Spot Check | Chicago Reader

Spot Check 

DEL THA FUNKy HOMOSAPIEN 3/10, B SIDE CAFE A linchpin of the Bay Area Hieroglyphics crew (Souls of Mischief, Casual, Extra Prolific, Pep-Love & Jay Biz), Del tha Funkee Homosapien is one of hip hop's most fluid and most humorous freestyle rappers. Since he's preparing to record a follow-up to 1993's fine No Need for Alarm (Elektra), he'll probably preview much of his new stuff. The B Side Cafe replaces the old Avalon (good riddance) and pledges to program hip hop, soul, and acid jazz exclusively. This show marks the venue's first performance. BLACK CROWES 3/10 & 11, ARAGON Black Crowes don't just sound like they belong in a 70s time capsule, they dress and behave (booze, drugs, and women, natch) that way too, earning praise for acting like a "real" rock 'n' roll band. On their third album, Amorica (American), they stretch nicely beyond their Faces evocations, resulting in a pleasantly soulful, groovy, and sophisticatedly accurate recollection of a previous decade. A guiding 70s-esque stupidity needs to accompany any healthy enjoyment of their music. Mirroring the Grateful Dead (always a specious pursuit), the band is encouraging concert attendees to tape these shows, which are both opened by New Orleans funeral dirge revisionists Dirty Dozen Brass Band. SMACKMELON 3/11, DOUBLE DOOR Fronted by former Bullet LaVolta guitarist Duke Roth, Boston's Smackmelon rehash the work of countless noisy and melodic guitar-rock bands from the 80s. Their eponymous debut EP sounds like HŸsker DŸ, Mission of Burma, and a touch of Dinosaur Jr tempered with the emotional sincerity of Michael Bolton. An unfortunate upshot of the alternative rock explosion finds every minor member of every two-bit band seeking to extend a career that lasted too long the first time around. There's nothing inherently wrong with Smackmelon; it's just impossible to give two hoots about them. They open for Love Cup and Menthol. WEAPON OF CHOICE 3/11, VIC Predominantly white, overripe Funkadelic eaters from LA--right down to the faux Pedro Bell artwork on the CD. On their debut, Nut Meg Sez "Bozo the Town" (Loosegroove/ Sony 550), Weapon of Choice proffer a tedious George Clinton-derived weltanschauung that suggests multiracial parties and funk music can solve the world's problems. Fishbone headline. VARTTINA 3/12, PARK WEST In a follow-up to last year's immensely successful U.S. tour, Finnish folk revisionists Varttina return, performing with the Irish folk ensemble Arcady. The newest Varttina album, Aitara (Xenophile), delivers a rock-pop jolt without smothering their bright harmonies or the unpredictable rhythmic alacrity of their breathtaking unison vocals: their rock rhythm section provides a kick in the ass but stays out of the way. Most of the new material is original stuff, rendered as beautifully as Varttina has treated its traditional oeuvre. CHUCK BRODSKY 3/13, KAFEIN, 3/14, MAMA JAVA'S, 3/16, LUNAR CABARET, 3/17, TWO WAY STREET COFFEEHOUSE On his debut, A Fingerpainter's Mural (Waterbug), singer-songwriter Chuck Brodsky delivers engaging, keenly detailed narratives with a tunefulness and an affecting, plaintive voice that transcend the formal pragmatism of a typical folk artist. Currently based in the San Francisco Bay area, Brodsky's in town for an extended set of performances at coffeehouses in Chicago and a few suburbs. COP SHOOT COP 3/14, DOUBLE DOOR These veteran New York grime-rock thugs undergird their pose of misery with wry humor. Release (Interscope), which seems like their hundredth release (actually it's their sixth), is the band's first foray with a real guitarist; the band's foundation has previously rested upon a pair of rough-hewn bassists, a sampler/keyboard guy, and a modified drum kit. With Tod Ashley fine-tuning the uncanny melodicism beneath the raspy angst of his post-Foetus vocal sneer, CSC sound more like a normal but solid hard-rock band all the time. But even though they've supplanted their earlier numb-noise experimenting with hard-edged convention, one thing has remained fairly constant: their marginality, both creative and commercial.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Carl Posey.

Get our free weekly Early Warnings newsletter 💌

It’s Chicago’s essential months-ahead music calendar straight to your inbox.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

Music
July 23
Music
Bitchin Bajas Constellation
July 23

Popular Stories