Vortis | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Vortis 

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If you told me five years ago that the most compelling front man in the Chicago punk scene this decade would be a sixty-something political science professor with an anarchist ax to grind, I would've said, "Well sure, why not?" I'd like to think we're above obsessing over a guy's age just because he's not in the usual 15-to-25 punk-draftable demographic. F.T., aka Fellow Traveler, aka Mike Weinstein of Purdue University, comes at you with a fiendish gravitas, rattling off hardcore antiauthoritarian manifestos and voicing all the bad thoughts ("I want to have my own suitcase bomb") that regular folks are afraid to express these days. Onstage he works a street-preacher-Jello Biafra persona, getting in your face with wild eyes full of conviction--you just know his brain's filled with the footnotes to back up his lyrics. Vortis's forthcoming album, Warzone, is mean, tight, righteously pissed, and full of hooky, nasty sloganeering choruses--and if you're like me you might relish the frisson of hearing yourself chanting them. While guitarist G.Haad, bassist J.Los, and drummer D!yro (aka Sun-Times rock critic Jim DeRogatis) stay anchored in familiar punk most of the time, they also sound ready to go anywhere Weinstein might lead them, which only helps him scare audiences even more. Blackfire Revelation headlines, Thunderwing plays second, and Vortis opens. Fri 8/19, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8.

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