Best Cover Band That Plays One Gig a Year

Critics' Picks


The Flat Five

Cover bands get no respect, yet even the snobbiest concertgoer enjoys hearing a good cover—especially when a group digs deep into its record collection to remake an obscurity you never thought you’d hear live in any version. The Flat Five do that over and over again. Their repertoire stretches from “Vanishing Girl” by XTC alter ego the Dukes of Stratosphear to Hoagy Carmichael’s “Lazy Bones.” Calling them a cover band hardly does them justice: they’re a supergroup of talented performers associated with Chicago’s alt-country scene—Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, Scott Ligon, K.C. McDonough, and Gerald Dowd—and they’re writing their own definition of what a standard should be as they have a blast interpreting a genre-defying mix of folk, jazz, soul, and soft rock. Since 2007 they’ve played just three times, convening for one night each December at the Hideout. It’s a nice holiday tradition, but I’d sure like to hear those sublime harmonies more often.