Supersystem, Thunderbirds Are Now! | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Supersystem, Thunderbirds Are Now! 

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The Detroit band THUNDERBIRDS ARE NOW! takes its exclamation point very seriously indeed. The rowdy cheer of "T-H-U-N-D-E-R / B-I-R-D-S ARE NOW!" that kicks off its new Justamustache (Frenchkiss) lets you know exactly what's coming: more manic energy than you may know what to do with. Sure enough, the album is a barrage of traded shouts, chant-along melodies, and pinprick hooks that chatter away over machine-gun beats. Their style harks back to simpler times--times like 1979, 1982, and 1983--but these guys are hardly mere kitsch spelunkers. In fact, when the chirping vocals resolve into aggressive slogans like "We need more ammunition" and "Don't read what the papers say," the Thunderbirds suggest what teen-riot popsters Bis might have sounded like if their collaboration with Gang of Four's Andy Gill had jelled. Anyone old enough to rent a car won't be able to handle this level of hopped-up intensity for more than an hour; fortunately Justamustache doesn't last that long, and neither will tonight's set. --Keith Harris

OK, if you were a band and you had to change your name because you found out some shit-stupid pop-punk group already took it--as happened to D.C.'s El Guapo--wouldn't you pick something cooler than, say, SUPERSYSTEM? Fronted by Justin Moyer (aka Edie Sedgwick, who I wrote about a few weeks ago) and now featuring Orthrelm drummer Josh Blair, Supersystem typically works each song up to a warm purr, often with some kind of long-haired-dude-fingerpicking-a-guitar sound woven quietly into the background. Then Moyer starts yelling in a nasal monotone and everything burbles over into indie-jock dance punk--but for some reason that long-haired dude is still hanging around. It's pretty close to what Touch and Go labelmates !!! are doing, but that ain't a bad camp to pitch your tent in. --Liz Armstrong

Supersystem headlines, Walter Meego plays second, and Thunderbirds Are Now! open. Fri 4/29, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8.

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