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Friday 10

ABERDEEN CITY On We Learned by Watching, the self-released 2003 debut EP from this Boston quartet, front man and bassist Brad Parker displayed a Morrissey-like gift for bringing undeniable dignity to serious postadolescent melodrama. That's a much-sought-after skill in dark-toned nightclub rock, though the band's been slow to follow up on its solid start--a full-length, The Freezing Atlantic (Dovecote), doesn't come out until this fall. But a new song making the rounds, "God Is Gonna Get Sick of Me," shows they've learned a lot about generating and managing energy: they sound leaner, meaner, and a lot more ready to kick back at whatever's kicking them when they're down. Ivory Wire and Modena Vox open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

CHEAP TRICK I last caught Cheap Trick in 1998 during a four-night Metro stand where each set featured a different album; at the In Color show they tore surprise opening act Smashing Pumpkins a new one. Guitarist Rick Nielsen was as charismatically goofy as ever, skipping incessantly across the stage and flicking dozens of monogrammed picks into the crowd. But his clowning isn't why the band's aged so well. Though they've occasionally been a punch line (the cliche "big in Japan" was virtually coined for them), Cheap Trick will never be a joke as long as Robin Zander keeps singing nearly as well as he (and thus anyone) ever did. And the songs themselves are deceptively witty: "He's a Whore" quickly defiles what at first seem to be standard 50s-vintage chord changes, while "Surrender" is a bizarrely inverted teen anthem in which the kids get upstaged by their folks' weird behavior. Brooklyn openers the Damnwells play passably catchy Replacements-esque pop rock. 8 PM, Pavilion, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park, 847-266-5100, $15-$40. All ages. --J. Niimi

Saturday11

BOHMAN BROTHERS The Bohman Brothers seem hell-bent on taking the piss out of the experimental- and improvised-music scenes, blurring the line between high and low art and introducing deliberate absurdity. Not that the London duo can't be serious: Adam Bohman cofounded the heavy electroacoustic improv group Morphogenesis and worked in the unruly London Improvisers Orchestra, and his brother, Jonathan, is director of the London Musicians' Collective. But they're hardly ever somber. Part of Adam's 1999 solo album, Music and Words (Paradigm Discs), is a narration of a mundane trip home for the holidays, replete with deadpan commentary that's as amusing as it is irritating--and the musical tools pictured in an inner-sleeve photo look like the contents of a junk drawer. The tracks on A Twist for All Pockets (Rossbin), the duo's 2002 debut, are built on layers of blink-quick sounds from heavily treated string instruments, percussion, electronic devices, and other objects never intended to be instruments; the album's not exactly wacky, but there's an inherent ballsiness in music that's so dense, twitchy, and impatient. Lampo, the organization that's bringing the duo here for its Chicago debut, says this show will be a mix of spoken word, musique concrete, and improv, but given how sprawling the Bohman Brothers are, even that broad description sounds narrow. 9 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago, 312-666-0795, $12. All ages. --Peter Margasak

THE CORAL These eccentric Britpoppers are prolific--they've put out four albums and several EPs since 2002--but they haven't had much success in the U.S. The latest record could be the one to change that: The Invisible Invasion (Sony International) came out in England last month and hits American record stores in August. All six members of the Coral are in their early 20s, and despite their youth (or perhaps because of it) they're stylistically ambitious: their songs pile up Merseybeat, Nuggets psych-pop, Beefheartian spazziness, and blue-eyed soul on a sprawling 60s sandwich garnished with faux disco, Euro folk, and whatever else they come across. A lot of bands that try the kitchen-sink approach sound too clever by half, but the Coral just seem to be following their instincts. The new record was produced by Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley of Portishead, but the songs have a snap that you wouldn't associate with those trip-hop pioneers; it's the group's most focused and concise work. I miss some of their old shambling zeal, but I'm hearing their increased precision as a sign of improvement. The Handcuffs open. 10 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, $12. --Peter Margasak

50 FOOT WAVE This is Kristin Hersh's first proper band since Throwing Muses broke up in 2003, and her restless aggression seems to be thoroughly undiminished, even after more than 20 years, four kids, and a stack of solo discs. The group's first full-length, Golden Ocean (BMG), has the polish of a record that went through a long honing process, which makes sense: 50 Foot Wave (which also includes ex-Throwing Muses bassist Bernard Georges) seems to keep itself motivated through its Web site, www.throwingmusic.com, where it posts demos and live versions of songs in progress for fans. Hersh still has a rare gift for putting across diffusely evocative lyrics with a raunchy ferocity, blowing away any accusation of sentimentality like so much dandelion fluff--and that's some gutsy wah-wah on "Petal." Low Skies and the Hushdrops open. 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $14 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

IKE REILLY & PHIL KARNATZ I'm not embarrassed about how much I gushed over the Ike Reilly Assassination's first full-length, Salesmen and Racists (2001), especially after hearing last year's follow-up, Sparkle in the Finish (Rock Ridge Music)--the album is everything mainstream rock ought to be and usually isn't. It's hard not to love a guy who talks about being "judged on garbage day," wonders "whatever happened to the girl in me?" and writes punchy fist-pumping choruses worthy of a good boozy Irish punk band and served up in the rock tumbler Tom Petty lost 15 years ago. For this gig Reilly plays acoustic with bandmate Phil Karnatz. L.P. opens. 7 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $14. --Monica Kendrick

Sunday 12

RIDDLE OF STEEL On its second album, Got This Feelin' (Ascetic), this Saint Louis trio of post-Jawbox hipsters moves into the neoprog neighborhood of Geek City. It's lighter and poppier than their 2003 debut, Python, and they make heroic efforts to unite postpunk artiness, indie-schlub amiability, and prog ambition. What they wind up with is a dreamy collection of cleverly orchestrated moments that hang together as songs but don't exactly stick in the head. I never thought I'd say something like this, but Dennis DeYoung's show-tune skills might've come in handy. Colossal and Unique Chique open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8. --Monica Kendrick

Monday 13

JORANE Quebecois singer-cellist Jorane got some attention with her second album, 16mm (2000), by singing in a language she invented. On her latest disc, The You and the Now (Six Degrees), she's back to English and French, and she embraces a much more wispy and conventionally avant-pop sound. The standout track is "Pour ton sourire," a collaboration with Daniel Lanois that sounds like less of an attempt to score sound-track cash than the rest of the album. But for all her preciousness, her style is striking and inviting. Juana Molina headlines, L'altra plays second, and Jorane opens. 9 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $12 in advance, $15 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

SWEET COBRA On Praise (Seventh Rule), the debut full-length from this local quartet, hardcore collides with stoner rock, flooding the highway with a thick molasseslike ooze. This is a much anticipated disc in some circles, and high expectations are bound to breed disappointment. When I caught Sweet Cobra opening for High on Fire in February their lack of flexibility or dynamic range made them sound fairly tedious, but I'm glad to find they're a bit looser on record. Galactic Inmate headlines and Gasoline Fight opens. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499. Free. --Monica Kendrick

Wednesday 15

BLACK BEAR COMBO This local outfit spent Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and the band and the city took to each other nicely; according to Black Bear Combo's Web site, it played one straight gig, one vegan barbecue, and two parades. Their wild, sax-driven bacchanalia is more or less street jazz, but with an avant-Gypsy flavor; spurts of giddy free improv burst out of its lusty tango romanticism. Lil' Isaac Johnson opens. 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $7. --Monica Kendrick

Thursday 16

TRUCO Y ZAPEROKO In the late 90s Los Pleneros del Truco, a traditional Puerto Rican plena group, began this surprisingly seamless collaboration with the modern salsa ensemble Zaperoko. Plena bands sculpt polyrhythms on a set of tuned hand drums called panderos, and they're a prominent part of the mix on Musica universal (Libertad, 2003), the second album from this two-headed juggernaut--but there's little doubt that Zaperoko leader and trombonist Edwin Feliciano, who proposed the project, is at the wheel. The album is a tight set of fiery salsa, with complex rhythmic interplay and loads of Puerto Rican accents calculated to drive dancers into a frenzy. Soneros Luis "Shaiky" Gonzales and Richard Martinez keep the songs in line with their flexible, soulful vocals, buttressed by montuno figures from pianist Jose Lugo and the compact yet plush horn charts. The music is as strong, rich, and varied as anything I've heard from a salsa band in recent years. This performance is preceded by dance lessons at 6 PM. Truco y Zaperoko also plays Friday, June 17, at 9 PM at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; call 312-362-9707. 7:30 PM, Spirit of Music Garden, 601 S. Michigan, 312-742-4007. Free. All ages. --Peter Margasak

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