Music » Soundboard

The List: June 24-30, 2010

Critics' Choices and other notable shows: Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Bert Jansch, Omar Souleyman, the Melvins, Woven Bones, Huntsville, and more

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Eddy Current Suppression Ring
Bert Jansch
Shane Perlowin
Sleepy Sun
Omar Souleyman


Eddy Current Suppression Ring
John Lee Hooker Jr.


Burger Records Caravan of Stars
Fang Island
Bert Jansch
Shane Perlowin
Woven Bones


Fang Island
Shane Perlowin


Huntsville, On Fillmore with Nels Cline
Shane Perlowin




Grant Park Orchestra with Krzysztof Jablonski


EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING With the Great Indie Hype Machine still pimping insufferable dog shit like LCD Soundsystem, the eternal question of "Who will save rock 'n' roll?" has fallen into the hands of bands like Eddy Current Suppression Ring. On three LPs, most recently this year's Rush to Relax (Goner), and a pile of seven-inches and EPs, these four dudes from Melbourne, Australia, who used to work at a record-pressing plant together, deliver songs filled with invigorating tension and well-timed release. Their taut, trebly postpunk replaces the genre's typical sociocultural hoo-ha with lyrics about ice cream, insufficient funds, girls, and other eternally relevant topics—singer Brendan "Suppression" Huntley sometimes seems to be simply ad-libbing, like an Australian version of Mark E. Smith if he'd lived in a climate conducive to skating rather than despairing belligerence. The instrumental "That's Inside of Me," with its bouncy Minutemen-isms, is the best new jam I've heard in three years, and just in general there's so much energy and urgency in the songs that you can't help but realize what's been missing in the limp twaddle that suggestible MP3 blogs have been passing around like a dose of the clap. The band's homeland hasn't been insensitive to this, either. Their 2008 LP, the flawless Primary Colours—recorded for $1,500, an exorbitant sum for them—won the $30,000 Australian Music Prize that year, beating out Cut Copy and the Presets, and was nominated for Best Rock Album at the ARIA Awards (the Australian Grammys) alongside Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. These are Eddy Current's first Chicago shows, and with headliners Quintron & Miss Pussycat guaranteeing a packed house, it's gonna get real sweaty real quick. Cave opens. See also Friday. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12. —Brian Costello

BERT JANSCH Don't let anyone tell you getting older is easy; since Bert Jansch turned 60, life has dealt him a travail to go along with every triumph. On the one hand, the Scottish singer-guitarist has enjoyed the successful reunion of his old folk-jazz band Pentangle and a warm reassessment of his 70s recordings for Charisma, occasioned by their reissue last year on Drag City—which also released 2006's The Black Swan, an excellent encounter with younger artists who credit Jansch as an influence, like Beth Orton and Helena Espvall. On the other, he's suffered through serious bouts with heart disease and lung cancer. But at age 66 he's back on the road, coming to Chicago for a club gig and a festival date after a well-received tour with Neil Young. Jansch was in superb form when he last played here in 2006. He sang songs from throughout his career in a voice that sounded deeper and more weathered than it did on his self-titled 1965 debut, with much more character; his acoustic guitar technique, which uses intricate but unflashy fingerpicking and augmented chords to send little eddies of melodic filigree swirling through the main tune, was unassailable. Labelmate Meg Baird opens. See also Saturday. 8 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, $15. —Bill Meyer

SHANE PERLOWIN Best-known as the guitarist in Ahleuchatistas, last year Shane Perlowin stepped out with The Vacancy in Every Verse, a self-released, largely improvised solo record that reflects his main band's recent transition away from mathy precision and toward a sound with a little more breathing room. Though four of the ten tracks were cut with a rhythm section—drummer Ryan Oslance, now the only other member of Ahleuchatistas, and bassist Joseph Burkett—overall the album's feel is loose and spacious. On three pieces Perlowin plays tempo-shifting acoustic fingerstyle guitar, but otherwise he sticks to electric, occasionally complementing his spindly solos with delay-pedal loops whose heavily processed post-Bill Frisell curlicues provide the fertile soil for his fleet, squiggling lines and abstract, acidic sound puddles. Breakway headlines. Perlowin will play solo tonight; see also Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  10 PM, Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee, second floor, 773-772-3616, $8 suggested donation. —Peter Margasak

SLEEPY SUN Psych/stoner-rock bands have a tendency to boost the dope dosage in their musical IV bag from album to album, and as they do their songs can drift away on feathery clouds of nonsense. But Sleepy Sun's sophomore album, Fever, (ATP) spreads its wings a bit more than last year's Embrace without tripping down the rabbit hole. "Marina," the opener and best jam, has a handful of personality splits, including a wild flourish of tribal drumming, but none distracts much from the band's strengths: crunchy, drone-drenched guitar riffage, mellow yet ominous soundscaping, and the bewitching vocals of Bret Constantino and Rachel Fannan. If Fever is any indication, the San Fran sextet still has plenty more enchanting tapestries to weave. Mondo Drag, the Hounds Below, and Moon open. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160, $10. —Kevin Warwick

Omar Souleyman
  • mark gergis
  • Omar Souleyman

OMAR SOULEYMAN Weddings are a chance to dress up and throw down all over the world. In Syria they do the dabke, a frenetic line dance whose moves have roots in the communal stomping people used to do to help press dirt, straw, and wood into a roof. Omar Souleyman has been performing dabke music since 1994, and he puts on a hell of a show. Clad in keffiyeh, shades, and flowing robes, he strides across the stage, exhorting people to dance and barking out lyrics, some of which are composed on the spot and whispered into his ear by the poets who write them. While dabke is rooted in tradition, the songs on Souleyman's three Sublime Frequencies CDs, sourced from the literally hundreds of cassettes he's put out over the years, are strictly au courant. Keyboardist Rizan Sa'id spins out synth solos that sound like Middle Eastern double reeds one minute and Chick Corea on a speed jag the next, punching in manic tommy-gun drum bursts over rhythm loops that could pass for samples from impossibly sped-up dancehall reggae records. For this concert, his first in Chicago, Souleyman will be backed by Sa'id and by Ali Shaker on electric saz, a long-necked lute; poets are not guaranteed. This show is part of Summerdance; Forest Park-based Middle Eastern dance instructor Erika Ochoa will offer lessons beginning at 6 PM.  7:30 PM, Spirit of Music Garden, Grant Park, 601 S. Michigan, 312-742-4007. —Bill Meyer


EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING See Thursday. Quintron & Miss Pussycat headline; Eddy Current Suppression Ring and CoCoComa open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12.

John Lee Hooker Jr.
  • John Lee Hooker Jr.

JOHN LEE HOOKER JR. Born in Detroit in 1952, John Lee Hooker Jr. has spent much of his career wrestling—in his music and outside it—with his father's formidable ghost as well as personal demons of his own. (As a young man he battled drug and alcohol addiction and served time in prison.) In recent years, though, his lyrics are as likely to take on themes like urban decay and the effects of the recession on the working class as they are to revisit his tortured past or she-done-me-wrong blues cliches. Hooker has evolved into an electrifying performer: his latest CD, Live in Istanbul, Turkey, is shot through with a celebratory energy that even his sometimes-harrowing vignettes can't dispel. His guitar style is heavily contemporary, with a busy, rock-influenced attack, but even at his most hyperkinetic he plays cleanly, adding subtle harmonic and melodic textures. (Correction: Lead guitar on this album is played not by Hooker but by Jeff Horan and John Garcia.) He's also a master storyteller, capable of reinvigorating even the weariest themes with ironic twists and unexpected punch lines. And he brings an almost cinematic vividness and continuity to more serious subjects, as in the hard-luck laments "Wait Until My Change Come" and "It's a Shame."  9:30 PM, Rosa's Lounge, 3420 W. Armitage, 773-342-0452, $15. —David Whiteis

MELVINS Almost 30 years into their career, the Melvins show no sign of winding down—quite the opposite. In 2006 guitarist Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover, having lost the latest in a long series of bass players, recruited an entire new rhythm section, bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis, both of Big Business. Since then they've released three albums with this octopus-armed double-drummer setup, as well as their long-awaited disc of remixes, Chicken Switch (really more a snack between entrees). The new The Bride Screamed Murder (Ipecac) is, like any Melvins record, heavy as shit, but it's also unusually playful, hooky, and infectious. The band's approach to the less brutal elements of the album—the deconstructed drum line and football-game chant of "The Water Glass," the trippy sci-fi metal of "I'll Finish You Off" and "Electric Flower," the kitschy stadium rock of the first half of "Evil New War God"—is roughly analogous to a big slobbery dog's approach to a chintz-covered sofa that it's chewing to rags. The Melvins have dialed back the slow and sludgy, and the side of the band on display here is less heavy like a T. rex and more nimble like a velociraptor—all the same, though, somebody's face is gonna get eaten off. Totimoshi opens. Fifty ticketholders will be admitted at 6:30 PM to watch the Melvins play Wiffle ball against Double Door staff.  9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 877-435-9849, $25. —Monica Kendrick

the Melvins
  • mackie osborne
  • Melvins


BURGER RECORDS CARAVAN OF STARS Burger Records, a shop in Fullerton, California, has been producing its own product since 2007: vinyl, CDs, and tapes by a veritable who's who of buzzed-about garage-rock acts, including the Black Lips, Nobunny, Ty Segall, and Harlem. The couple dozen bands rotating in and out of the label's monthlong "Caravan of Stars" package tour are a bit more obscure, but a sampling of the ones on the Chicago bill confirms Burger's commitment to catchy, retro-ish guitar rock: Todd Congelliere's "Outhouse Row" gives a nervy, hyped-up reading to the sensitive-dude troubadour thing. Pizazz's "Ocean Liner" is a fuzz-drenched, sweetly stoned take on folk rock, like if the Jesus and Mary Chain got really into the Mamas & the Papas. Cum Stain's "Bachelor's Life" is pure pop candy floss shot through with a thick streak of punk snottiness. Cosmonauts' "Neon Kids" runs swaggering riff-rock through about a dozen effects units. And Audacity's "Teenage Town" is scuzzy protopunk played the way its been played for 30-some years; amazing how it still hasn't gotten old. Congelliere headlines; Audacity, the Pizazz, Cum Stain, and Cosmonauts open.  2 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $5. —Miles Raymer

FANG ISLAND I didn't want to like Fang Island. With its arena-size sugar-high indie rock, this hyperactive Brooklyn-based five-piece makes me think of a bunch of scene kids with clever haircuts high-fiving each other—part of me wants to roll my eyes at how hard these guys are trying to sound like they're just naturally whimsical and high-spirited. (When I learned that the band actually describes its music as "everyone high-fiving everyone," that only annoyed me more.) But I guess I chose the blue pill on my second listen through the band's self-titled second full-length on Sargent House, because I've been won over. Fang Island's three guitarists (including Nicholas Andrew Sadler, formerly of Daughters) split the difference between smart proggy jolts and poppy, steady-rolling riffs you can bob your head to, and the sweeping, layered vocal melodies work mostly like another instrument, only rarely asking you to consider what anybody is saying (the lyrics seem to consist mostly of variations on whoa, oh, and yeah). When they bring it down after a big crescendo, it's almost always so they can start building up again, and a few of the peaks are huge enough to sound like Explosions in the Sky. The infectious playfulness never lets up, from the giddily seesawing guitars to the chorused calliope-like harmonies to the demented, circusy Emerson, Lake & Palmer organ—the album even begins and ends with the snap, crackle, and pop of a shitload of bottle rockets and screamers. Maps & Atlases headline. See also Sunday. 10 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 866-468-3401, $12, 17+. —Kevin Warwick

BERT JANSCH See Thursday. Jansch's set today is part of Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival; doors open at 10 AM and music begins at noon. 2 PM, Toyota Park, 7000 S. Harlem, Bridgeview, 866-448-7849, sold out.

SHANE PERLOWIN See Thursday. Perlowin will play solo tonight; Colorlist headlines. 10 PM, Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, second floor,, donation requested.

SHELLSHAG Shellshag has been down, around, and underground for the better part of a decade, but their new album, Rumors in Disguise (Don Giovanni) seems to have lifted them into the light. The male/female guitar-and-drums duo makes fun, scuzzed-out party punk (think Cramps), though it's a bit too tuneful (think Breeders) to not qualify that "punk" with "pop"—the smooth harmonies, abuse of sleigh bells, and Jen Shag's simple drumming almost give them a veneer of cute, which they gladly bash through with wallops of sludge and distortion. Turbo Fruits headline; Shellshag and Bird Talk open.  10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. —Jessica Hopper

WOVEN BONES After a couple months of having Woven Bones' new In and Out and Back Again (Hozac) on steady iPod rotation, I'd kind of forgotten that the group making such a massive noise in my earbuds only has three members. The record's big, walloping sound is built on as simple a power-trio structure as you can get, run through about as much reverb as you can lay on a song before it dissipates into white noise. A lot of garage-rock bands these days are experimenting with extreme echo, but while most of them are working a trendy dream-pop angle, underneath all of the aural haze of Woven Bones' songs—particularly on "Couldn't Help but Stare" and "Half Sunk Into the Seats"—you can still trace the outlines of something like punk rock. Red Mass, Mickey, and Radar Eyes (see Sharp Darts) open. Woven Bones also play a free in-store at 5 PM at Reckless Records, 1532 N. Milwaukee.  9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. —Miles Raymer


FANG ISLAND See Saturday. This set is part of the Green Music Fest.  4:15 PM, Green Music Fest, Chicago between Ashland and Noble, 312-850-9390 or, $5 suggested donation.

SHANE PERLOWIN See Thursday. Perlowin will play in a quartet with drummer Marc Riordan, bass clarinetist Jason Stein, and bassist Anton Hatwich. 10 PM, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, 773-935-2118, donation requested.


HUNTSVILLE, ON FILLMORE WITH NELS CLINE Norwegian trio Huntsville makes hypnotizing music that can be hard to get a handle on: to engage with its microscopically subtle melodic gestures, you have to listen through a sort of foreground scrim of dense, rapidly cycling percussion. Drummer Ingar Zach combines the percolating output of an electric tabla machine with his elaborate trap-kit playing, which alternates between rhythmic and purely textural, while double bassist Tonny Kluften maintains slowly loping grooves; guitarist and banjo player Ivar Grydeland holds down the center, juggling mesmerizing arpeggios, droning long tones, and brittle, flinty melodic lines. The surface of the music can seem static—its repeating patterns give it a kind of hovering quality—but inside this gorgeous sound world there's a rich vein of nuanced development. Huntsville isn't immune to fits of chaos—the epic "Eco," from their most recent release, the two-CD set Eco, Arches & Eras (Rune Grammofon), erupts in a percussive blowout—but the group's strength is its patience. "Eras," recorded at the Kongsberg Jazz Festival in 2007 with percussionist Glenn Kotche and guitarist Nels Cline (both of Wilco), takes up the entire second disc of the set, but despite the added firepower the music is actually more ruminative, with Kotche adding exquisite clatter and Cline chiming in with contrapuntal fragments and floating sound clouds. This is Huntsville's Chicago debut, and Cline and Kotche will join in for part of the group's set.

Opening is On Fillmore, Kotche's duo with bassist Darin Gray (Dazzling Killmen, Grand Ulena). On their latest album, 2009's Extended Vacation (Dead Oceans), samples of nature sounds and music from the Amazon give their atmospheric meditations a veneer of exotica. Gray plays elegant lines on upright bass, and Kotche sticks almost entirely to mallet instruments—mainly warm, melodic vibraphone and marimba—but as with Huntsville the music is only superficially serene. "Master Moon" repeatedly interrupts its kaleidoscopic bliss with an angular guitarlike pattern that recalls the experimental samba of Tom Ze, and on "Daydreaming So Early" all the instruments drop out momentarily, leaving only wild animal noises. For this rare On Fillmore performance, Cline will sit in; it's hard to imagine how he'll fit into such a well-defined aesthetic, but he's the rare guitarist with the chops and imagination to pull it off.

Huntsville headlines; On Fillmore and Cline open. See also Tuesday. 7:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph, 312-742-1168. —Peter Margasak

SHANE PERLOWIN See Thursday. Perlowin will improvise with ad hoc combinations of Chicago players. 10 PM, Skylark, 2149 S. Halsted, 312-948-5275, donation requested.


HUNTSVILLE See Monday. Apiary opens. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10, limited $5 tickets.


GRANT PARK ORCHESTRA WITH KRZYSZTOF JABLONSKI The Grant Park Music Festival commemorates the bicentennial of Chopin's birthday with "Muzyka Polska," a concert of Polish music in the hands of his compatriots. Conductor Krzysztof Urbansky, not yet 30 and quite unassuming given the success his emerging talent has brought him, champions his country's music wherever he conducts. He leads the Grant Park Orchestra and pianist Krzysztof Jablonski in Chopin's Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, op. 11. Written shortly after his "Second Concerto" but published first, it premiered just before Chopin left his country at age 20. It's both majestic and unashamedly sensuous, and its undernourished orchestral part nevertheless beautifully propels the soloist. The concert opens with Wojciech Kilar's earthy symphonic poem Krzesany, inspired by Goral folk music and dance from the Tatra Mountains of southern Poland. Kilar is best known in the West for film music (e.g., Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula and Polanski's Death and the Maiden and The Pianist). The concert closes with Witold Lutoslawski's rousing Concerto for Orchestra. Colorful, evocative, and wonderfully layered, it's the pinnacle of his folk-based writing: Kurpie melody marinated in modernism. Lutoslawski certainly produced more personal and more challenging music, but this piece is irresistible. There are open rehearsals Tue 6/29 at 11 AM and 3 PM and Wed 6/30 at 11 AM.  8 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph, 312-742-7638. —Steve Langendorf

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