Last night the expanded Chicago version of the Rhys Chatham band delivered two impressive renditions of Guitar Trio (1977), the blueprint for guitar rock minimalism. On the first version drummer John McEntire kept time using only cymbals, while the second version was the full-on rock take. Yes, it was loud, but the beauty was in the harmonics, the way the chords and massed notes just hung in the air, thickening and morphing. I was pretty let down last fall by Chatham's heavy metal project, the Essentialist, so last night went a long way in restoring my faith in the guy.
Still, he's a weirdo. Seeing him in the middle all of those male guitar players was strangely homoerotic, especially with some of the extended stares between Chatham and the rest of his band: at one point I was certain he was going to start making out with Ben Vida. At the end of the performance Chatham consulted a little note pad so he could properly introduce each band member, reading each name aloud in a faux-metal growl--which was especially weird coming from a guy who looks like a fallen priest. And the formal post-performance bows looked just as silly as they did a few months ago.